The Disruptors

Why your organization sucks at change, and what to do about it.

An episode of The Disruptors

By Sean Johnson
Ideas, tools, techniques and advice from the people and organizations who are transforming our world.
More places to listen
Ideas, tools, techniques and advice from the people and organizations who are transforming our world.

More places to listen

The Future of Professional Services, with Fiona Grandi
Professional services firms have undergone dramatic shifts in the last 10 years, and many are predicting complete disruption in the next 20. As automation, broader access to information and other trends converge, smart professional service firms are looking to aggressively transform themselves. Perhaps one of the more ambitious firms in this regard is KPMG. My guest day is Fiona Grandi, National Managing Partner for Innovation & Enterprise Solutions at KPMG, and in this fascinating conversation we discuss how KPMG organizes itself internally to pursue innovation initiatives, how they embrace a bottoms-up approach to surfacing and executing on ideas, the impact things like automation will have on professional services in the future, and much more.  Full disclosure, KPMG has been a client of Digital Intent, and we’ve been able to see first-hand how Fiona’s team thinks about enabling consultants to use technology to deliver better work. After seeing our team interact with theirs, it was fun for me to hear directly from Fiona on the why behind what they do and where she sees them heading. It was a fascinating conversation and I think you’ll get a ton of practical value of out it. For more ideas on how to disrupt your own organization visit us at And if you enjoy the episode please leave a review!
December 3, 2019
Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO of Policygenius on managed marketplaces and taking the startup plunge
Many of the students in my class at Kellogg come from the world of big consulting, but have been bitten by the startup bug. But how do you successfully leave the relatively stable, comfortable, prestigious walls of corporate America and successfully launch your new venture? My guest is Jennifer Fitzgerald, and after helping financial services organizations as a consultant at McKinsey, she are her colleague took the plunge to start Policygenius, an online managed marketplace for insurance. In this episode we discuss the genesis of Policygenius, how she systematically de-risked the idea early on, how she managed to build both sides of her marketplace business without heavy reliance on paid acquisition, and much more. We also get into her advice for folks lookin to take the plunge themselves, strategies for executing at a high level, for recruiting early team members, and for leveling up yourself as your organization starts to scale. For more ideas on how to disrupt your own industry, visit us at And if you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review!
October 15, 2019
The future of healthcare, with Dr. Stephen Klasko
Nearly everyone is in agreement that healthcare is an industry that desperately needs transformative change. But the legacy technologies, interrelationships between providers and mayors, and other systemic issues typically keep such transformation from happening.  One exception is Jefferson Health, which has transformed itself dramatically in dozens of ways in an extremely brief period of time, embracing various emerging technologies and reinventing the way they approach training clinicians and delivering care.  My guest today is Dr. Stephen Klasko, CEO of Jefferson Health and one of Fast Company's most creative people. In this discussion we dig into how he went about transforming Jefferson into a nimble, tech enabled organization, how he managed to drive culture change so quickly to make these initiatives stick, and get into a number of fascinating, counter-intuitive initiatives he’s spearheaded to facilitate that change. For more ideas on how to transform your own organization visit us at And if you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review!
September 25, 2019
How X, Alphabet’s moonshot factory, pursues innovations and the future of energy, with Kathy Hannun
For most organizations working on innovation, their emphasis is on incremental, horizon one types of initiatives. Far less common are truly disruptive, moonshot initiatives that can transform industries if successful. My guest today is Kathy Hannun, and for 7 years she was a product manager for the rapid evaluation team at Google[X], tasked with product development and diligence for their biggest moonshot initiatives. One of those initiatives she eventually spun out into Dandelion Energy, a home geothermal company where she now serves as CEO. Kathy was recently named one of Fast Company's most creative people. In this conversation we discuss what Kathy learned during her time at X,  and how organizations can be more successful with disruptive technology. We also get into detail on Dandelion and the massive opportunity geothermal presents in changing the way we heat our homes.  ---- For more ideas on how to transform your own organization visit us at And if you enjoy the episode please leave a review!
September 12, 2019
How to hack Kickstarter, build a hardware company, and stop companies from spying on you, with Richard Stokes
Privacy is a hot topic these days, as people for the first time are starting to realize the extent and magnitude of the data companies are gathering on them. And not everyone is okay with it. My guest today is Richard Stokes, founder of Winston Privacy. And in this discussion we talk about the genesis of Winston and how he’s trying to help consumers address their privacy concerns in the simplest way possible. We also get into a super interesting discussion around how he built a hardware business and the landmines you can run into and how he de-risked the business early on. And coming on the heels of one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time, he dives into a bunch of tactics and strategies for how to make the most of crowdfunding.  For more ideas how to disrupt your own industry, visit us at If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review!
August 29, 2019
The future of book publishing, with Maja Thomas
How do you innovate inside a company with decades of rich history, with business models that are firmly entrenched, delivering on a product people have consumed effectively the same way for centuries? My guest today is Maja Thomas, Chief Innovation Officer for Hachette Livre, one of the largest book publishers in the world, and the Director of the Hachette Innovation program, focusing on the intersection of publishing and digital innovation. In this conversation we discuss some of the challenges to innovation in the publishing industry, the rise of voice interfaces, the future of augmented reality, how publishers leverage big data to improve the publishing process, and much more.  For more ideas on how to innovate with technology in your own business, visit us at And if you enjoy the episode, we'd love a review on whichever platform you use. Thanks for listening!
August 1, 2019
Why your organization sucks at change, and what to do about it.
One of the most consistent issues with organizations looking to innovate is the idea of change management. How do I get an organization that’s used to doing things a certain way to embrace change and bake innovation into its DNA? My guest today is Jillian Chown. Jillian teaches at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in the Management and Organizations department, and her research focuses on change management, most recently focusing on healthcare organizations and the use of incentives to drive change.  In this discussion we dig into the various challenges preventing companies from changing, the role of leadership at different levels of the organization in driving change, how incentives can play a role, and the different strategies and techniques necessary to drive incremental vs. disruptive change.  For more ideas on how to transform your organization using technology visit us at And if you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, Spotify, or the platform of your choice. Thanks as always for listening!
July 18, 2019
How Salesforce helps clients jumpstart their innovation initiatives
One of the largest trends in enterprise innovation has been the adoption of large platforms like SAP and Salesforce. But many organizations don’t realize the full potential of what these platforms are capable of, and don’t know how to extract that value. Salesforce has tried to help their top-tier customers innovate more effectively with Salesforce Ignite, which is effectively an innovation consultancy within the company.  Brian Vellmure was previously one of the partners of Ignite, and is now the Global Lead of Execute Thought Leadership for Industries and Senior Director in the office of innovation. In this episode we discuss the origins of Ignite, how it differs from typical design thinking processes, as well as some of the more common mistakes Brian has seen innovation groups when embarking upon innovation initiatives, and some of the technology trends he’s most excited about. To learn more about how to disrupt your own organization, visit us at If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review!
July 1, 2019
IoT at Scale: The creator of Disney MagicBands, FastPass Plus, and Carnival's Ocean Medallion
Many organizations talk about improving customer experience as one of their primary innovation initiatives. But what does it look like to create a truly transformative experience that is orders of magnitude better than anything else out there, and to do so at scale? My guest today is John Padgett. John is the Chief Experience and Innovation Officer at the Carnival Corporation, and his team has created arguably the most complex and successful implementation of an IoT driven guest experience platform in the world with the Ocean Medallion. Carnival was named one of the most innovative companies in the world by Fast Company due to the work John and his team have done. He was also one of the masterminds behind the Disney MagicBand and FastPass Plus experiences, which completely transformed the way guests experience The Walt Disney World resort. In this episode we dig into how John thinks about creating the vision for such massive undertakings and the tools he’s used to successfully drive disruptive innovation. The vision he’s created to provide a truly personalized, adaptive one to one experience at scale is pretty incredible, and I think you’ll find the conversation fascinating. For more information about how your organization can transform itself with technology, visit  If you enjoyed the episode, please leave a review!
June 17, 2019
The Creator of the Design Sprint, with John Zeratsky
The Design Sprint methodology has spread like wildfire, both in the startup community and the world of enterprise innovation. My guest today is John Zeratsky, one of the creators of the Design Sprint methodology and coauthor of The Sprint Book and Make Time. In this episode we dig into how the Design Sprint methodology came about and how it’s evolved over the years. John shares dozens of practical suggestions for how to structure sprints and get the most out of them, as well as some lessons he’s taken from the Sprint process and applied to his own life. For more information on how you can help your company bring disruptive new products to the world, visit And if you enjoyed this episode we’d love a review on iTunes or whatever platform you use. Thanks for listening!
June 3, 2019
How Uber, Twitch and Cameo grew marketplace businesses with Jessica Messinger
The common wisdom around creating a marketplace business is to start with supply. The logic is that without the supply side you can't capture the demand side, which is typically how a marketplace business monetizes. Jessica Messinger is the head of growth at Cameo, and previously grew the supply side of both Uber and Twitch. And in this episode we go into a ton of detail around how to grow the supply side of a marketplace. Jessica has a ton of insight and some fantastic stories, and I think you'll find this one super interesting. To learn more about how you can disrupt your own organization with technology, visit us at And if you enjoyed this episode, we'd love a review on iTunes, Spotify or whichever podcast platform you prefer.
May 20, 2019
Community Building - How LEGO built an empire with the help of its fans
The LEGO Ideas initiative is perhaps the most famous example of successful community building and open innovation. In this episode we talk with Tim Courtney, who helped run the LEGO Ideas community for over 7 years. We discuss the history of the LEGO Ideas movement, the characteristics that make community building efforts successful, pitfalls to avoid and much more. To learn more about how you can disrupt your own organization, visit us at And if you enjoyed this episode, we'd love a review on iTunes, Spotify or whichever podcast platform you prefer.
May 6, 2019
Innovation in residential real estate
Welcome to Season 2 of the Disruptors Podcast. How is technology going to transform the way we choose where to live?  Chad Curry is currently the Director of Technology Partnerships for eXp Realty, and formerly the Managing Director of CRT Labs, the think tank for the National Association of REALTORS.  In this episode we discuss:   - How autonomous vehicles will dramatically alter the places people choose to live and work.  - What will happen when homeowners become net producers of energy.  - How blockchain, augmented reality and other technologies will impact the home purchasing and living process.  - How agents are taking advantage of all these technologies to reposition themselves in the marketplace. It's a fascinating discussion, one that will impact every one of us in the next 10 years. I hope you find it interesting. --- To learn more about how DI can help you transform your business, visit
April 12, 2019
How to scale 10x and then scale 10x again - Elan Mosbacher from SpotHero
How do you scale something 10x and then scale it again? The answer is surprisingly simple, and yet very few organizations have the discipline to do it. My guest today is Elan Mosbacher, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Operations at Spothero. In this conversation we talk about how Elan and his team made went about growing SpotHero to the largest mobile parking platform in the country. Elan has a ton of experience around building marketplace businesses, pursuing strategic partnerships and more. He’s also very thoughtful about the future of mobility in general, and we get into a pretty fascinating conversation around autonomous vehicles and where things are headed.
December 13, 2018
How to get 1,617,418 customers: Mike Rome's crash course on building a growth team
One thing many startups have in common is the growth team - a multi-disciplinary group tasked with moving bottom line product metrics. Unlike traditional marketers that focus on acquisition, they are tasked with iterating on the product to improve things like retention, referral, and average revenue per user. Mike Rome leads growth at Eat Street, and in his career Mike has helped acquire millions of users for a number of startups. In this discussion Mike shares how he approaches growth, his methodology for prioritizing experiments, the components of a good growth team and more. For show notes, visit And if you leave a review, be sure to enter the contest to win a pair of custom DI sneakers at Thanks for listening!
November 19, 2018
Innovation in Financial Services
The financial services industry impacts us in broad sweeping ways, perhaps more than any other industry. And technology is forcing legacy institutions to adapt while juggling massive compliance, security, and legacy platform concerns. In this discussion with Jason Henrichs we talk about how financial services companies can adapt more successfully, leveraging unique frameworks that keep the existing business moving while enabling rapid tests and decision making. We also discuss how various emerging technologies are going to impact financial services going forward. Get show notes and more at If you enjoy the podcast, would love a quick review on iTunes or Stitcher. Thanks for Listening! IN THIS EPISODE: - Innovation and Regulation in Financial Services - Bimodal IT in Financial Services - Using Innovation Accounting - Innovation sandboxes in financial services - Measuring the success of innovation initiatives - Unbundling in financial services - The rise of robo-advisors - Leveraging data for financial services innovation - Blockchain in financial services - AI in financial services - Basic income - The opportunity for fintech to create social good
October 9, 2018
How Amazon Builds Remarkable Products
Amazon has developed a unique culture that allows them to execute across a variety of industries. My guest today is Chris Durbin, as a product designer for Amazon she's seen first hand what makes Amazon's approach unique. In this episode we discuss what she learned leading the design for the Apple Watch app, why Amazon's culture of writing is the key to its success, and why Amazon believes the phrase "Minimum Viable Product" should be outlawed. Get show notes and more at If you enjoy the podcast, would love a quick review on iTunes or Stitcher. Thanks for Listening!
September 4, 2018
Technology trends in the hotel industry
The hotel industry is full of opportunities to leverage innovative new technologies. My guest today has made it his mission to help hotels navigate the hundreds of solutions out there and provide objective, unbiased advice. His name is Jordan Hollander and he’s the cofounder of Hotel Tech Report In this episode we talk about the unique operating structure of hotels and the challenges that presents to innovation. We discuss how one hotel in particular is navigating those challenges and doing some very novel things, and we get into dozens of solutions smart hotels are using to make their teams more effective and improve the guest experience. For more advice on how to become a disruptor for your own organization, visit us at If you enjoy the podcast, would love a quick review on iTunes or Stitcher. Thanks for Listening!
August 3, 2018
Using data science to transform the social sector
Data science has infiltrated most enterprise organizations. But it’s also being used to improve the efficacy of organizations in the social sector. My guest today is Andrew Means. Founder of Data Analysts for Social Good and Big Elephant Studios. Co-founder of BrightHive. Previously he was the founding executive director of and Associate Director at the University of Chicago’s Center for Data Science & Public Policy. Andrew is an internationally recognized speaker on issues of data and philanthropy. On this episode we talk about how smart non-profits are taking advantage of data science to improve transparency and impact, how they’re overcoming issues around lack of data through unique collaborative models, and how organizations can grow a data competency in house. For more advice on how to become a disruptor for your own organization, visit us at If you enjoy the podcast, would love a quick review on iTunes or Stitcher. Thanks for Listening!
July 10, 2018
The Politics of Innovation
In this episode, DI partner Sean Johnson discusses why politics often get a bad wrap inside of organizations, and why they're vital to making your innovation initiatives happen. He then discusses 20 specific strategies you can leverage to build influence, break logjams and move ideas through your organization. We'd love to hear what you think about these ideas or the podcast in general - please leave a review! If you'd like to learn more about how amazing organizations are transforming themselves with digital innovation, visit us at
June 26, 2018
The 11 Laws of Product Development
Welcome to the Disruptors podcast. In this episode, DI partner Sean Johnson explains why so many digital products fail, and outlines 11 specific, actionable ways you can make smarter product decisions to maximize the likelihood of success.
June 6, 2018
Make your own podcast for free with Anchor!