Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re talking to the amazing Kelly Evans, Producer at the Futures Lab at Salesforce, to learn about innovation and your career.
More about this Insights session: the different ways you can push yourself and your organization to think more creatively, why you never know where a conversation may lead, and the importance of having fun.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Kelly Evans and Gillian Bruce.
The role of the Futures Lab.
As Kelly explains, “the Futures Lab was started by Peter Schwartz, a Salesforce Futurist, really in response to our customers asking us, ‘What is Salesforce thinking long-term?’” To figure that out, “the Lab is charged with creating space, both in time and physical space, for customers and employees to come together and explore ideas. It’s about conversations, it’s about learning, it’s about collaboration,” Kelly says, “that future context, I call it ‘Future’ with a capital F, that we will all be operating in.”
How did Kelly end up on the team? When she joined Salesforce almost 4 years ago, she was looking specifically for somewhere where she could play the role of an entrepreneur in the context of a larger company. She ended up with a role in Ignite, an internal consulting and innovation group at Salesforce, and then eventually worked with the account team that works with the World Economic Forum. “It was working with them to create a program and a platform for Salesforce executives to share their values and our values with the broader community,” Kelly says.
Through that experience, she went to Davos with Peter Schwartz and worked very closely together, which eventually lead to her role at the Futures Lab. As the Producer, her job is designing and creating the experiences the Lab is planning, figuring out who should be included, and “create a space for people to think differently and imagine possibilities,” Kelly says.
The importance of having fun.
When we’re looking at how Admins can apply the lessons learned in the Futures Lab, the first thing that Kelly suggests is to look to the key principles they follow in their work. “The first is have fun and be fun,” Kelly says, “at some point, you need to be really particular about your partners because meeting people and connecting people is key.” There is no remote participation in the Futures Lab because it’s just a different quality of connection in-person.
“The next is diversity,” Kelly says, “for us, diversity in the room is key because that’s what leads to innovation, new thinking, and the challenging of assumptions.” That means a mix of small companies, big companies, young people and those with more experience. “Try to be mindful of what types of people you’re surrounding yourself with, are they hesitant of change or are they imaginative and expansive and optimistic?”
Imagining the future together.
The other core value is imagination. “We get so bogged down in the here and now, the plan and the task and the checklist ahead, but this role has given me the opportunity to imagine and reimagine and reimagine, and I think that flexibility is going to be key. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is so accelerated in speed and change,” Kelly says, “I like that word better than ‘being flexible,” because it brings more creativity, intention, and power behind it.
“The topics that we explore in the futures lab are quite broad,” Kelly says, “for example, future of work, or the future of the industrial Midwest, or what would happen if we had a digital unwinding, if people opted out of the internet, what would the implications be?” The focus is on really big topics. As Peter Schwartz says, “the anxiety that people feel about the future is usually due to a lack of imagination.”
How the Future Lab can help you be a more awesome Admin.
As a Salesforce Admin, you’re the translator between the business problems and the technology that can help solve those problems, so a lot of what Admins have to do is think creatively about different ways to do that and use new tech to help. For Kelly, that means that means you need to “be your own Futurist. Read something you would’ve never read before, a gaming magazine, Popular Mechanics, or whatever that is, to continue constantly learning and getting new ideas. Then be purposeful about sharing those ideas, especially with someone you have nothing in common with, or to create a connection with someone you had nothing in common with before.”
The second thing that Admins can do is “create space with yourself and with others to create and imagine together,” Kelly says. That can be as simple as diversifying your feed, of asking yourself how many people from diverse backgrounds you’re following and making a conscious effort to hear from people of many different ages, industries, etc., that you can.
“Creating stories about the future and imagining puts meaning to facts,” Kelly says, “there’s facts about if you did these things these would be the outcomes, but what about creating stories about that future state that becomes really compelling and fun?” For a really simple example, it’s the difference between getting executive buy-in by explaining all of the benefits of Lightning, versus showing them what a Lightning dashboard could look like.
- Innovate the Salesforce Way Trail – https://trailhead.salesforce.com/trails/innovation_salesforce_way
- Dreamforce 2017 presentations:
- Kevin Kelly – The Inevitable
- Peter Schwartz – The Art of the Long View
- Go to this Website!
We want to remind you that if you love what you hear, or even if you don’t, head on over to iTunes and give us a review. It’s super easy to do, and it really helps more Admins find the podcast. Plus, we would really appreciate it.