Jimmy Tomczak’s depth-interview with Scott Hauman, Chief Strategy Officer at NewFoundry
What do you actually do at NewFoundry?
I’m part of the team that helps clients forge their big idea.
My role is the ‘shaper of the theme.’
I help these ideas become grounded to a stance, a point of view. And this gives an idea intent, purpose and trajectory.
A lot of my work is around words – these can be statements, names, labels, territories, platforms, etc. They make up the elevator stories that surround a particular idea or challenge.
My work encompasses research in the form of discovery, vetting, scenario planning, and other insight gathering techniques: talking to users, talking to stakeholders, champions, you name it. We look wherever we can to help frame an idea. What does that mean exactly, frame an idea?
It means giving an idea structure, context, ground and parameter. You need this or things become too loose and ubiquitous.
Every product, thing, or idea has to have an intent. Without it what are we building? First and foremost, at NewFoundry, we are builders. We purposely created this company to be builders.
We’re not just conceptual branders or planning consultants with binders and data.
Our four F’s define everything we do.
The finish part is really important. We don’t believe projects should go on forever. We strive to get to version 1.0 as fast as possible. How did you find yourself in this space? What is your personal intent and how do you finish?
I got into this line of work to be a catalyst, to help others. I’ve worked for a variety of companies and I’ve seen so many ideas never get off the ground. They remain an idea in a binder on a shelf somewhere because someone didn’t have the resources available to shape it and bring it to life.
We set out to create a company to help people get their ideas off the shelf. We can cut through the barriers and red tape that are inherent in companies and organizations
Politics, culture, cash…there are so many things that stop something from getting finished. We wanted to be the go-to folks that people come to when they want to get something finished.
I love the problem solving aspect of creating something.
I love the process of iteration.
It’s like a big ball of clay. Every idea begins as clay. We want to make sure that clay gets in the furnace. So much clay is unshaped. We help folks shape their clay and put it into the furnace for finishing. What role does fun play in all of this? Is there playfulness to the creative act?
Always. Finishing anything is labor intensive. We want the process to be a retreat for our clients and we want them excited to engage us.
We inject fun through our inspiring methods. For example, all of our workshops have Play-Doh.
It is an instance flashback to one’s childhood. It is a very tactile experience. It always brings a smile to folks regardless of their age, and background. We want our sessions to be memorable.
I equate fun with being memorable. And we want our process and methodologies to be memorable. In wanting to make things memorable, what do you want NewFoundry to be remembered for, or what do you want to be remembered for personally?
Finishing great products. We want to be the ones who have helped countless idea owners and inventors build their ideas. It sounds so simple, but we want to be recognized for championing our purpose. That’s to activate and realize an idea owner’s dreams. That’s our role, that’s our purpose, that is why NewFoundry is here.
We enjoy this role, we understand our purpose, and our brand vision: to have thriving communities of purposeful brands. We believe in building purposeful brands, purposeful things, and purposeful ideas and that’s what we’ll be known for. Talk a little bit about how the future will be different than what you described now. Envision this same conversation five, ten, twenty years down the road.
We’re always thinking about the idea owner. More and more people are going to be champions of their own ideas. This tsunami of entrepreneurship is not slowing down. There will be a need for more builders. I hope there are other NewFoundries that will serve these communities. We are dedicated to serving it. The landscape is changing in so many ways: technology, speed, collaboration. These factors are really compressing and challenging our own agile processes. Our processes will get better. Entrepreneurs will get better.
There’s a natural evolution, a progression of everything that we hope to be part of.
We want to build distinctive, purposeful brands. We are unshakeable in that commitment. And that will have a huge impact on our processes moving forward.
We’re rolling with the waves; that’s the best way I can put it. As the market changes, we change, but our role and purpose doesn’t. But the way we deliver will change. The outcomes of our shaping will change. We know that the majority of our work is centered on digital experiences that we’re building. It will continue to go down that path. Google Glass is a great example of completely new territory for us to Forge Big Ideas in. We’ll see where that takes us. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about your life, your future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
I would want to know if I had fulfilled the role I have set out to uphold. That is: honest, helpful guidance and advisory to the people I have touched. That includes family, clients, friends — and that the passion I exude is as fiery twenty years from now as it is today
And that I was true. That’s the best way I can put it. Do you think technology in general will have a positive or negative influence to your answer to the crystal ball question? About being true especially.
I am an optimist and an idealist. It is my hope that technology will influence my paths for the best.
It is my hope that twenty years out, technology will help me stay true. I’m not sure what form that will take, but I think that some cool things are going to happen. What specific tech do you think you’ll be touching, feeling, using, holding? There are a lot of tools you use right now, how will they change in the future?
There will be more ways of instant collaboration: Calling up trusted sources to provide instant co-shaping inspiration and support. I can imagine an environment where I’m working through a brand challenge or problem, exploring different trajectories of a positioning concept and I simply “call up” a trusted colleague, for example Jimmy Tomczak, to get a very quick test on appeal and adoption in some way. This kind of collaboration is right around the corner I believe. I could reach out to Tomczak, who may be traveling but he is only a screen pinch or swipe away from being connected and I can say, “Hey I need your feedback can you look at this?” What’s the best question you’ve ever been asked?
The best question I’ve ever been asked is, “Why?” Inspired by my children of course.
The question, “Why?” is the fuel this role of insight gathering and understanding how people interact with products and things. How will the youth of the future embrace and use the things you’ve finished?
Responsibly, I hope. Actually, I hope they use the processes and methodologies we’ve created.
My children are close to my work. I invite bring them into the studio often. I hope that they get inspired to create, that they’re inspired to finish. My kids call me, “daddy the logo maker.” I find it funny. But they understand the nature of what I do.
We’ll see if it’ll have an effect on them.
What’s fantastic is that they are a constant reminder of the newness of everyday experiences. I’ll show something to my children and I’m always fascinated about what they draw from and connect with. What about brand power and influence? How will top brands of the future hold their place at the top twenty years from now?
It is my hope that they are purposeful brands, that they are brands that have an appreciation and understanding of their unique points of view. That they’re confident, transparent, and are engaging stakeholders for the right reasons to impact their communities. These are the brands young folks are going to hold up higher. I really consider brands as “voices.” This is big component of my brand thinking. In the future, I hope that, for example, the voice that a particular organization carries is important enough for me to listen to, to understand and to help carry forth through to my extended circles Everybody has his or her unique view on life. You could say we see the world through different lenses. What is your lens and how are you using that to anticipate the future?
Number one: my lens is wide open. Meaning, part of the nature of my work is observation. Observation is a hard thing to master. You have to remove yourself and your biases to observe natural occurrences or you will end up influencing an outcome in a certain way.
I’m always working on my lens. It’s something that I have to keep fresh and uncluttered. My lens, of course, is a process of my own enculturation. It’s one of hope for others and wanting to see people around me succeed. My lens is one of “team” rather than “I.”
I’ve never been asked that question before, “What is my lens?” I hope I don’t have a defined lens because then things get clouded by those parameters. Gates are put up, etc. My lens is as as open and free as I can make it. This is a reason why people seek NewFoundry out and desire our finishing work: we uphold an open lens to their challenges.
How do I anticipate the future? The best way I can.
I always say, it is my job to be one step ahead of my clients. If you’re a trusted advisor, there is responsibility that comes with that stance. The folks we deal with, their lens is only this far. Our lens has look farther.
We always talk about finding open water for our clients, territories where it is most optimal for them to thrive. To find open water, you need a leans that can take the long view rather than the short view. On that note, share something you’ve never shared before.
I want to share a point that I think gets lost in our industry. I never forget that we are in the service business. We’re making things, but we’re helping people. There’s a natural call to duty to being a service provider that I take really seriously. It is our duty to do our best and fulfill. I want people to rely on us. They are relying on us. We have to deliver.
Kyle and I, are very proud of the fact that we’ve never missed a critical deadline. I don’t want that to come off arrogant in any way, but I hope that gives clues to the fact that we respect our clients and believe in the processes we champion. I think a lot of places don’t take the service aspect as seriously as we do. I’m proud of that. I’m really proud of the fact that if I say we’re going to deliver a platform on this day, I’m going to do everything in my power to make it happen. That’s our commitment to our work and our brand.
We believe in delivering.
How I ended up in this business is still kind of interesting.
As a kid, growing up with two brothers, the three of us we’re always fighting for our parent’s attention. It was an interesting dynamic. We all tried to find our own voice, but I never wanted to burden those around me. So I tried to stay out of people’s way and I always stuck to my guns and did what I needed to do – to deliver. I never liked letting people down in any way.
A big part of my life, since the age of five, has always been playing soccer. I don’t talk about my accomplishments in the sport…I like to hear about other people’s experiences with the sport. The position that I embraced was goalkeeper. It reflects my sense of duty and thirst for responsibility. Everything about that position is special to me. It is a role that the team relies on and I like that kind of pressure. And I still play and coach at the age of forty-one.
I still enjoy the call to duty of that position and that responsibility. And I think that mirrors my work. I am one of four partners. My role here is part goalkeeper – keeping our brand winning in the marketplace.
Our line, Forging Big Ideas is packed with purpose and intent. It’s so simple, connected to our identity and authentic. I believe all brand voices should strive to be simple, direct and true. It has become out standpoint and it helps define what we do. Would you ever give a TED talk on that, the question, ‘What do you do?’ Do you find it easy to answer that question?
Yes. Without hesitation: I forge big ideas. Then the conversation unfolds…
“Well how do you do that?”
I frame an idea.
I fabricate it.
I forge it.
And I finish it.
“What are some of the things you finish?
I just finished a website.
I just finished a new product packaging experience.