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S1E2: Why UX matter and renewable energy is here to take over with Jared Huke from Daito Design.

Updated: 4 days ago






Mark de Rijk

Hi, dear listeners, thank you for tuning in for the next episode of the SME business podcast. Today we are joined by Jared Huke. Jared is the CEO of Daito Design, the premier firm that helps the energy industry on the areas of digital transformation, user experience, UX and renewable energy.


Mark de Rijk

Jared started his first design firm at the age of 20 after the dotcom bubble burst. He spent over a decade travelling in countries such as Vietnam, Sweden and China. He's a lecturer at the University of Texas as well on the subject of teaching design thinking methods. Jarred, welcome to the podcast.


Jared Huke

Thanks for having me.


Mark de Rijk

I prepped a few questions. as a small business owner myself, I started this podcast to highlight people like yourself and organizations that they run.


Mark de Rijk

So this is a way to highlight what you do and what you bring to the table, because sometimes, as we all know, it can be a bit hard to get some promotion until you get big. And then people will say, hey, I know the guy.


Mark de Rijk

And it's like, but you need support in the beginning. So, yeah, it's nice.


Mark de Rijk

Nice to learn more about each other in this episode. Can you tell me a bit more about yourself and how you got into design?


Jared Huke

Well, thanks for having me and I'm really excited to be here today. I actually come from a pretty creative family. I mean, even going back to my great grandmother who was a fairly well-published poet. My grandmother was a writer. Both my parents were painters, sculptors and filmmakers. So it was kind of a normal part of our family to be creating things, making things. I actually kind of rebelled in high school and was getting really into science.


Jared Huke

And I actually entered the University of Texas as a physics and astronomy major. And that was sort of my anti-creative phase; I guess you could say. But it actually was a good foundation because I went sort of from physics into studio art. It was the nineties which was a very interesting time for education. You could kind of hang out and just go to school as long as you wanted. And so when I finally landed on design, it was a really nice blend of that creative tradition with a little bit of the discipline and rigour of science.


Jared Huke

And that's actually been that sort of duality has been a big part of my career professionally.


Mark de Rijk

Explains a fascinating background that explains like where the design angle comes from because me personally, I'm pretty much I am a hardcore technician if you will. But of course, that comes in your design frame, if you will, for your own career, because you this is something really cool to do.


Jared Huke

Well, it's handy professionally because I'm able to interface with very technical people. You know, we do a lot of work in nuclear power. And so I'm sitting there with reactor engineers and understanding, being able to speak to them around the challenges in chemistry and radioactive decay and understanding what their job is like—being able to connect with sort of our user research group, which is understanding their workflows and understanding their psychology and their behaviours and organizational structures—then being able to connect that with our sort of pure breed designers that are very much the artist creator people and being able to sort of translate from people that are thinking in pure science or pure tech and get that into some kind embedded with the emotional necessities that are required for a successful design project.


Jared Huke

And then getting that made, that's a lot of day at the office right now.



And nuclear reactors, you can't get more critical. Let's be honest. You know, if the user experience is wrong there, it will potentially have fatal consequences.



Yeah, Daito and a lot of the Daito team, certainly a lot of the management teams worked together for many years, actually across several companies. And a lot of us got started out in the oil fields we were designing applications where you're opening and closing oil pipelines with one hand on an iPhone. And so we got pretty; frankly, a little bit scared like, well, what do we get that wrong? Right.


Jared Huke

I mean, people die. Environmental impacts, economic. There's no upside to that kind of mistakes. Right. And so we that's where a lot of our methodology sort of germinated is we wanted to bring the rigour of scientific method to creative execution because we realized that it wasn't just some social media app or some little photographic something or another. This was real people doing real work in very dangerous places. And they were counting on us to get it right.


Jared Huke

And so that's where we started developing this methodology, which obviously came in very handy when we got into the nuclear space because the stakes kind of increase 10x with that kind of work.


Mark de Rijk

Again, fascinating, it is funny you mention, the industrial design. It's an area that I am not necessarily an expert in. Still, I know it is an issue for control in my area industry as in like cybersecurity, where we got remote control as such now that's what used to be safeguarded, if you will, by having to drive to a plant. That plant is now remote-controllable—well, then finding out that the controls are not as great as they are. I read something pretty slightly off a tangent where I read that; there are only a few manufacturers that can manufacture large scale transformers.


Mark de Rijk

And because they're so expensive, they only have a few of them in stock, and they said that that if in like two major power stations the transformers would blow potentially, the rest of the grid could cascade after that, that kind of thing, and then the problem is how do transformers get manufactured ASAP basically?


Mark de Rijk

Right. So it's quite interesting. And that's why UX makes sense as well, because if it's too easy to make a mistake if you will, and the consequences can be drastic, the fragility of our modern life.


Jared Huke

And this is something that I've done on a side project when I was in Sweden. I was actually attending a graduate program on sustainable urban management. And we spent a lot of time looking at what is sustainable societies. Cities are these incredibly efficient machines for living the most large and efficient machines sort of ever created. But they're very fragile. I mean, if you think about living on the 20th floor of an apartment building with floor to ceiling windows, if the power goes out, you obviously are taking the stairs, which is the problem.


Jared Huke

But even more so you are. How do you make food? How do you get water up there carry water 20 flights of stairs and the idea of the power being off for three days, three weeks, all of these things are very likely. I just actually started watching a show last night on I think it was like PBS or something like that. It's called COBRA, and it's about the British like an inner council.


Jared Huke

And there was a coronal mass ejection from the sun, which was going to fry all of the power grid. And, very quickly they realized that they were completely unprepared for anything like that. And those kinds of things actually happen fairly often, at least on a historical timeline.


Mark de Rijk

And they are hidden from the public. And in a way, it's good because it stops people from panicking. But, it's definitely something to look at while we get more digital. So I was wondering as well, how did you get into being a lecturer?


Jared Huke

Yeah, I attended the University of Texas design program. That's where I did my undergraduate degree, and I always sort of wanted to stay in contact with that group. And the original faculty that was in my program sort of got augmented by a huge wave of new faculty, largely from frog design. Their first interactive office was in Austin. And I had some contacts through that group. And the woman named Doreen Lorenzo, she was the former president of Frog Design, sort of took on the reconceptualization of that program.


Jared Huke

And I thought she was a bit of a rock star. And now that I've known her for a few years, I find out that I even underestimated how cool she was. She's really one of the most impactful people in design, even though she's not so technically kind of a card-carrying designer. And I just reached out to her and said, I wanted to meet you, find out what you're doing. This program sounds exciting. And she had just shortly but the day before something decided that she needed to bring a sort of energy and sustainability emphasis to the program.


Jared Huke

And who did she know? If she didn't know, she couldn't think of anyone right off the top of her head. That would be a good fit for that. And then I sort of walked in her office, like, right when she was looking for that. And I don't know she signed me up and I started teaching the same month that I started Daito Design. And so it was a very intense sort of the beginning of both of those things where I was learning how to be a professor and learning how to be a CEO kind of at the same time.


Mark de Rijk

It sounds like an intensive learning period, but it's the best way to do it. You know, it's like sometimes, you have to drink from the fire hose and then just get on with it.


Jared Huke

Yeah, I've always been I've always tended to say yes to things without entirely thinking them through. And it's given me a great amount of flexibility and resiliency. And I mean, it's the same kind of ways that I ended up in Vietnam and China and a lot of other places is that I'm sort of up for it. So let's just go and see what happens. And sometimes you find out you have limits. Sometimes you find out that you have a lot less limitations than you think.


Jared Huke

And a life without some risk is kind of I don't know.


Mark de Rijk

It's like I follow along with the David Goggins school of thought, it's like most people are operating at 40 per cent of their capacity.



We can do more than we think, to be fair, I haven't done anything that adventurous you've done,


Jared Huke

But it's not over yet.


Mark de Rijk

I have taken on projects that initially I was like no way I can do that. And then I said yes, and I still did it. So yet again, this is one of those things to just be like, OK, you know what, I'm betting on myself, that kind of thing completely makes sense.


Jared Huke

I think that people's relationship to failure and, you know, we're bookending this with the failure at a nuclear power plant is an unacceptable failure. And so innovation in that space has much more specific constraints on it because you can lose an entire region of a country if you do that wrong. But I think that in so many areas, in so many ways, people's relationship with failure is too tied into their ego.


Jared Huke

And that if the project fails, if the design fails, if the whatever it is that I'm getting up to fails, that reflects back on them. I guess to some extent I've never taken that. I don't know if that's just the subtle design training from my parents or what it was that allowed it. But I never really I've failed so many times. I've given hour-long lectures on just sort of a litany of all of my failures in my career and all of that, hopefully as a point of inspiration for this youth group that we were that I was talking to.


Jared Huke

But just the sun rises every day. There's a lot you can live with a lot less than you do right now. And so, if you end up at zero, just pick yourself back up and get to it. There's no real giving up. You know, it doesn't work like that. So just go for it.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, exactly how I say this, like, fail forward. You might fail, but you're still moving forward while if you stop trying, then you fail by default.


Mark de Rijk

And that's how I see it. So what do you think makes working with the energy industry so special for you?


Jared Huke

I just love it. I mean, it's a complicated subject because, I mean, I am very much a sort of devout environmentalist. And I do see that a lot of the energy companies out there have a mixed track record optimistically. And so there's some complexity there about the kinds of problems they have are just fascinating. How do you deal with, just petabytes of data and try to get A.I. to discover the things that you didn't know that you had?


Jared Huke

And how do you take an organization that hasn't updated anything in 50 years and get them to do all of their work, you know, mobile collaboratively and more effectively? I mean, the problems are not small, and the solutions are, it just draws out the best work of my career every project, it just forces you to just kind of take a step back and go, wow, OK, this is a gnarly problem.


Jared Huke

This is something that really requires some unpacking. And that's where our research arm is so robust in that we really drill into the root cause of these problems and then we're able to design much more specific solutions. And I guess a lot of the reward in that is that we just get such great feedback and it's not the CEOs or the V.P.s that are doing praise. I mean, we get that. But the worker on the ground, the guy in the old steel-toed boots and the hard hat who has been doing this job. And it's been a frankly, a pain in his ass the whole time. And he's finally kind of he's got somebody to make him a tool that makes his life easier. You know that's feels very virtuous. I feel like a very, very rewarding way to create solutions.


Mark de Rijk

Yes. I think I qualify as feedback that matters because it's one thing that the CEO of a client says, you know, this great delivery. But then if it's such that for the person on the work floor, it doesn't improve their workflow if you will then that becomes meaningless while if it's the other way around where the work floor is great and says thank you, that kind of thing. I think in my experience as well; those projects have been more valuable.


Jared Huke

Well, they seem to be more effective so top-down, I think that we're seeing a major shift, mobility being one of the key drivers of this, but just generally sort of location-based IoT and sensor data and all of these kinds of things that everyone is trying to push things down into the edge because that's where the action is. And so I think that we're going to see a bit of a reduction in the layers of management and things like that, because these top-down solutions, they solve a problem for less and less people.


Jared Huke

Now, of course, there's a lot of effectiveness at getting that data pushed up. But really what you need is the people that are right there in the middle of whatever the issue is, to have everything they need to solve that. And that just on the subject of rewards in doing this work, you know, we save jobs sometimes. We do eliminate some positions. But a lot of times in these organizations, they just move to other places, or they're able to get back to what they were trained to be doing.


Jared Huke

And they've been doing a lot of busy work and whatnot. But this saves jobs. It saves plant closures. This saves these companies money so that they're able to actually have money to invest in renewables and the sort of future of energy.


Mark de Rijk

And it's great you bring it up because a lot of people don't like digital transformation. It's like destroying jobs. But actually, statistics prove that it is actually generating more jobs than it destroys.


Jared Huke

I think solar installer is the number one growing job in America, at least in the top five or something like that. Solar, I think employs more people than nuclear, coal and hydro and a few other ones. I mean, it's it is a huge industry, and there's a lot of patchwork in terms of the solutions. There are very, very few solutions out there that really are solving the business, the user's problems and doing the sort of intelligent way of applying that technology so that everyone is sort of getting the results that they're expecting out of it.


Mark de Rijk

Yes, it makes complete sense. So as an enterprise as well, how should they successfully engage with the innovation agency if they choose so?


Jared Huke

Well, I can speak only from my experience, which twenty-five years in agencies, which is I guess a bit, I think that the best relationships that I have seen are usually the ones that grow to an extremely high amount of trust. There really shouldn't be any misalignment of goals between their internal team and your agency because there's already miscommunications and there are two separate groups. There's different cultures and things like that.


Jared Huke

So the closer you can align and incentivize the agency to align with your business goals, the more effective that's going to be in. And at Daito, we take sincerity and trust extremely high. And to that point, we will take sometimes hits on margins or take one for the team kind of moments to make sure that our clients understand that we are one hundred per cent dedicated to their success. We absolutely will do what is right for them, and we'll give them the honest feedback that they need.


Jared Huke

And sometimes it's not feedback that they want to hear. Sometimes we tell them that they've made the wrong decision, sometimes they've made the wrong investment, and this is what we see is the path forward. And it's that approach we have in many ways sort of grown, much less like a weed, which I think a lot of the startup world is like just grow, grow, grow as fast as you can. And many times those startups also deflate just as quickly because there's nothing there.


Jared Huke

Right. It's all just balloon with nothing inside. We try to grow more like oak. It's been slower. And we were talking sort of before the podcast a little bit about the six months to hit revenue or something like that we will be four years in December. And I would say that just in the last five, six months have we arrived at what I would call a solid 1.0 of where the agency what I intended the agency to be.


Jared Huke

We have consistency with our clients. We have trust with our clients. And I think that that's really important you have to try to find a way to afford to have the patience to let these things happen because working in an enterprise, it moves slower sometimes.


Jared Huke

Yes. Sales cycles can be one to two years. I definitely see that.


Mark de Rijk

How do you feel user experience design or UX design drives adoption of tech innovation efforts?


Jared Huke

Well, I think it is obviously a critical part of that. I mean, if people don't want to use your product, you're going to find resistors. A few years ago, we were doing a project for drilling foremen on offshore drilling rigs. And these are not the most welcoming people in terms of new technology or outsiders or a bunch of designers running around their rigs.


Jared Huke

And so the comment from them was, if the UX on this application, isn't good if it's hard to use, these iPads better float because we're going to fling them off the side of the drilling platform and we'll just go back to doing it on paper. So there's a pretty high bar there for driving adoption. So UX is a key part of it, but it's not all of it. So you have to understand that there is the organizational structure of these groups, and inside this organizational structure, there's the social structure.


Jared Huke

So you may have a person who is not a manager, who's not a ranking person of that organization, but they're the one that everybody goes and asks when they have a question, it's old Tony or whatever that person is. The person that sort of decides what the sort of micro societies inside these groups what their opinions are. And you have to identify these people that are potential detractors and message and engage with them in the design process to make sure that those people can overcome and understand that this is done with the right intentions and will have the right results for them.


Jared Huke

And so understanding those micro societies inside the organizational structure is one of those key ways. Change management is a whole subject. But I think a lot of times it's something that's kind of glossed over, sort of if you build it, they will come. If you have this great new app, everybody will use it. But the data doesn't support that. It's very rare in the enterprise, honestly, that a bottom-up, which is from the user to the managers to the executive level, applications are really designed in that way and designed with these little societies in mind as a way of driving consensus around whether or not this product is a success.


Jared Huke

And many times those things are determined before the product even launches. They're coming up with a new application. We've seen this one hundred times. I'm not going to use it. And all of a sudden that happens in the break room and then all of a sudden this entire group is resistant to change., that was done very much for them.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, and I've seen as well where you have a list of like these other stakeholders, and then you find out there are two other people that have no management, let's say line responsibility. But if you don't convince them, then that whole process will just not work. So, it's good to find out who the key people are. You have to convince and then get them on board and get the feedback, because like you said, depending on the audience, it can be severe like we'll take the iPad and throw it into the ocean.


Mark de Rijk

Exactly. So that's not what you want to have. So I was wondering as well, how do you drive the adoption of new technology?


Jared Huke

Yeah. And I think that is a lot of it. I mean, a lot of technologists and that's the engineers. That's the I.T. people. Even some designers get a little bit dazzled by the sparkly objects. We need drones, or we need A.R. we need A.I., pick an acronym and throw it in there. But they're not contextualizing these efforts. And the context arrives, when they, when the product is delivered into the workforce, but the alignment towards the business goals.


Jared Huke

So how does this project connect to what the business is trying to do? How does this connect down to and understanding what the actual workers are trying to execute? And then again, the change management and social aspect of how is this going to affect the way they're working now and actually test and iterate on that extremely human-centred approach to that, because they a lot of times I think companies just struggle so much with the technical implementation that they're like, great, we're done, it works, lights are on and all that stuff.


Jared Huke

We work with a client recently that deployed a multi-million dollar large enterprise software packages. Huge success for the executives and the managers, they could all get the data that they wanted, and it took a simple task for their end-users from five minutes a day to forty-five minutes a day. And there was nearly a rebellion on their hands as a result of this. And to that company's credit. They did a great job of saying, OK, we hear you.


Jared Huke

And they brought us in to find out what, what are the number of the key issues and how do we resolve those and get those fixed. But, you know, you're digging out of a hole at that point. And it's always so much better to go in and take the time to understand your user's concerns and challenges and what they're actually doing. Because these organizations have five thousand, ten thousand, one hundred thousand employees and a manager in another department, sometimes in another country doesn't understand the impact that this will have and whether it's just frustration or whether it's putting them potentially at risk because they're trying to input data on an iPad. They're pinching and zooming in on a ladder.


Jared Huke

And it's just not a safe way to work. All of these little things, it's harder. And I think that the adoption challenge is typically that you're using the same tools you used ten years ago. You're using developers, using I.T. managers you're running scrum. And that's great. But that isn't enough anymore. You need people that actually do humans well, as a part of this mix, social psychologists, experts, designers, etcetera. That can craft those more subtle and more contextualized solutions.


Mark de Rijk

Yes, and it could be as simple as colours, like placing the buttons in the right way in the right spots.


Jared Huke

Yeah, we did a project not that long ago that was it was working with people out in the field in one country and the people's head office in another country. And what we noticed is that they had a different vernacular. One group would call this a thingamajig. The other one would call it a doohickey or something like that. And so there was a lot of confusion about what they were asking them to do because they didn't use that same terminology to describe the same thing.


Jared Huke

And so we actually had the end-user using one set of language, and they had the head office using another set of language so that they were it was essentially a Rosetta Stone for the inside of an organization. And it's a simple thing, right? I mean, this is a text string. It doesn't require a lot of technology to do something like that. And the impacts and results and the reduction of errors or potential incidences can be extremely high, especially with if you're dealing with explosive or radioactive materials.


Mark de Rijk

Yes, it completely makes sense. I've seen examples as well all with an ERP system where the shipping department got a new form and then instead of it being a two-page process before it turns into an eight-page process. And so they actually had a problem with it because it only meant that they had to take more time. But it also increased the potential points of error because they had to confirm fields that always defaulted values anyway manually. And then, of course, it was pushed from one end, but then the other end they still had the productivity targets. So you can imagine how that conversation went off.


Jared Huke

Between a rock and a hard place?


Mark de Rijk

Yes. Yeah, sometimes, you know, back in the day, in the weekend, I would help out in a warehouse just to get a first point of view, like the first-person view if you like. OK, how is this helping, and where is it not helping? And it could be like a simple like a terminal where like, we had these terminals for years, but the batteries are starting to retain their charge less, which means that actually I now have to change my terminal twice a day.


Mark de Rijk

Do that times a hundred order pickers you can imagine the damage.


Jared Huke

You just sort of reminded me of it was it was for forklift operators and a large, large industrial warehouses. And, going back to what should you do to drive adoption, get out in the field. Well, look at your users, even an hour of users in their natural environment will teach you so much about how this technology exists.


Jared Huke

Anyway, the forklift operators, they had a very kludgy like keyboard and mouse system for processing orders and all this stuff. And so a researcher was out in the field. He saw they would load up a truck. They would park their forklift, walk back into the office, get a digital camera, take a picture, go back into the office, print out the picture, put it into the bill of loading and all of the shipping documents and then run that to the thing and then lock up the truck.


Jared Huke

Meanwhile, we were going to be designing an iPad application that was going to be mounted on the forklift, aiming at the back of the truck. And so all we needed to do was add a button, take a picture, add it to the documents. And we could have saved 15 minutes per truck per warehouse. And I think there were something like 60 operators at this warehouse, times like eight warehouses. You know, that's just that's huge savings across the organization with just the being on-site and going.


Jared Huke

Now, why are you doing that? You know, is there a way that we can help you not have to do that? And those are the things that would never show up as a requirement. Certainly not from the head office point of view.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, because those people in the store, in the warehouse might not get the ear of the people in charge. Yeah, I spent a similar time in a warehouse where they had to then feed information into the hand terminal about which shipping method to use. So we used a drop-down menu, which of course, you can imagine that that's not something you want to do in a tiny screen. And so the simple thing was I, hey, you know we will generate Q.R. codes.


Mark de Rijk

Because there are only three shipping methods? And literally, you put like one, two, three on your truck and using it, you scan and then inputs the value. So guess what? You know that saves, I don't know, like a few seconds per item picked.


Mark de Rijk

And then if you do that, I think fifteen thousand items today, you can imagine as you go into like, wow, I just scan it is like, well that's how it should be.


Mark de Rijk

And so, yeah, I would also make sense. I'd like to walk around and be like, hey, you know, is this actually helping you or is this stopping you from doing business?


Jared Huke

I think that a lot of the design thinking or user-centred design or UX methodologies, a lot there basic deliverables or basic methods and process is really just doing the minimum due diligence in documenting what is the actual situation today. They say empathy and all this. We do appreciate empathy and trying to understand the user's experience, but we really try to measure what's going on right now objectively. Right, let's establish a clear baseline.


Jared Huke

And then from that, we can understand what of those points we can optimize. And that is essentially giving you a breakdown of requirements that you can put costings to, and you can start to group different requirement sets to clear ROI's. That's a great way to get your project funded in an organization, is if you can say if we build this, this and this, we will save this ten million dollar a year. And we've tested and prototyped it.


Jared Huke

And we can confirm that we can achieve 80 per cent of those total savings with this amount of certainty. When you put that in front of procurement departments or through upper management to get your projects funded, it takes it away from I want a cool new shiny object with a nice looking design like nobody wants to buy you toys in business, but, oh, you're going to save us a lot of money. We're all going to get bonuses.


Jared Huke

OK, go on. Let's hear more about your plan right now. So that's what we try to do, is in terms of like packaging that stuff up. And I think that's where UX design thinking all of these things, their basic strength and a lot of it lives in Post-it notes and what not right now. But a lot of it is just written it like really know the area that I know the context that this is going to exist in.


Jared Huke

And in doing those exercises, you will almost certainly make a better project or better product, even if you have just the most minimal creative or design capabilities. But just that understanding their space and trying to solve it and then go back and see how it works and try to try to be aware of your own biases as you do that so that you're not saying, you like this, right? I mean, that's not the right way to test it, to get some objectivity in there about how well did you do.


Jared Huke

And don't be afraid to you know, as we were saying earlier, don't be afraid to fail at your first one or two rounds of where you're going with something. If you're out in the field and you're talking to people, it will be better. It will improve.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah. And talking about improving, how do you feel about how you can design solutions that incorporate A.I. for a benefit as in how it can actually improve? Because from my own experience, what I've seen was that a lot of it could be, let's say, almost like a marketing flavour. But then look under the hood sometimes it's not A.I., or it is A.I., but actually, it is not actually benefiting the end-user in the end.


Jared Huke

I mean, A.I. is still very much in its infancy there are neural networks for ways of processing data and machine learning algorithms we've seen some definite real-world applications of how this is cutting processes from six months to six hours, those kinds of things. I think that one of the challenges that we see consistently come up with a lot of these A.I. projects is, again, kind of going back to that trust. So the computer tells us here's oil or right.


Jared Huke

Here's something that we want. Do we trust it? Is that is that, like do we spend a million dollars drilling based on what that says? What is the level of confidence that we have in that? How did it get to that decision? Right. And so I think a lot of where A.I. especially because it's coming from data science people, very computer science people, all of the people that are not, again, as trained in focusing on user needs.


Jared Huke

How do they make their amazing algorithms and amazing code transparent enough to somebody who is a specialist in their field but isn't able to read the code and really understand how that output came about? You have to create a human, not just the result, but you have to sort of show your work. You have to show the proof behind why this outcome is better than any of the other outcomes that we saw. So I think that is one of the huge gaps in that space is that the connecting the logic to the human because ultimately humans are going to have to make a decision on that still until we really just plug A.I. into everything and it's running the show.


Jared Huke

We still need to understand how it got there and be able to course correct or improve the model in some manner through a very human interface.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, it makes complete sense, and this is something, it's always a hot topic. With large corporations, where do you feel they're going wrong with UX design and how could they do better?


Jared Huke

I mean, I think that there's a lot of challenges around bringing UX inside large organizations over the last 15 years, I want to say there are some dozens of design firms, great design firms, cutting edge, highly performant, extremely vibrant culture, design firms that have gotten absorbed by large organizations and had the life force crushed out of them almost instantly.


Jared Huke

It's a pretty typically whenever there's a new design firm that got acquired; I can usually set my watch for about 12 to 18 months between there's usually some a little bit of golden handcuffs on all of the executives and whatnot. But all of a sudden there's going to be new design firms popping up or a bunch of new designers on the market they flee their sort of corporate overlords. So it is a very hard thing to for, I think a lot of corporations to understand how very subtle changes for them have huge impacts on the performance of a design culture.


Jared Huke

And so just don't buy any more design firms for a while because you're just really bad at getting your value out of them. A lot of times you end up with a fancy office with a few stragglers in there.


Jared Huke

But it really does it does reduce the satisfaction of all the creatives working once they get acquired by large corporations.



Great point that I think is showing the power of small and medium-sized business there because large organizations can kill that innovation culture that you see more commonly with smaller firms. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but that often happens in tech spaces. Well, you get small startups that get bought, and everything gets worse after that.


Jared Huke

Yeah.


Mark de Rijk

So I was thinking as well. So what do you feel governments around the world could do better to help small businesses grow?


Jared Huke

Man, something, it's interesting, so we're opening up our Dutch office next year, and it's been an interesting study for me as a business owner to look at compare and contrast between setting up a business in the U.S., which obviously has lower taxes and maybe somewhat less regulations with the Netherlands, where it's actually extremely pro-business country.


Jared Huke

I mean, the regulations and all of that are actually very comparable. And I think it pierces a little bit of the veil of the American exceptionalism around. This is the pro-business environment, et cetera. This is you know; the U.S. is a good place to run a business in some ways. But things like, I had to start buying my own health insurance, mortgages and all of those things don't stop when you create a company.


Jared Huke

And so I took a huge risk. I have two small kids in setting up a business. And frankly, I had a great network and great friends and great luck that allowed us to to get through sort of the initial infancy period of our company and get into sort of a little bit more of the maturity that we're in now. And I think that is a lot of small businesses that fail because they've got families and they've got to be able to eat.


Jared Huke

So getting people through that first let's say twenty-four months where you know, you're still trying to figure out the right people to bring into your organization. You're still trying to figure out how to how to sell your product. You thought you knew, but maybe it's adjusting and all of this getting your operations in place, making sure you build all of those things that seems easy on the outside. But there's a lot of painful learnings and a lot of different ways that you can sort of do that wrong.


Jared Huke

I think that would be an area where I think governments could help a lot, where it isn't you're not kind of literally putting your family in jeopardy, to go start something would be a great option. I think that could taper off. I can only speak from sort of the Daito experience right now. But after four years, we feel like we kind of we have a good lawyer, we have good insurance, we have a good banker, we have a stable management team.


Jared Huke

We've got a great client base. Like all of a sudden it's like, OK, we're good. And now we can sort of be kind of left to fend for our own to some extent. But the first couple of years, I mean, it was me, two small children, while teaching at the university, trying to build this and work with these enormous companies that, you know, some of them have an 11-month procurement process.


Jared Huke

Oh, you want to become a vendor? Well, you know, it's not happening this year, right. And so want that client wants to work with you. How do you survive that long? So it isn't necessarily access to loans. I don't think it's necessarily about money, but there's a lot of other infrastructures that can make or break your small company. And I would say that to any policymakers that are listening to this, that would be a great area to sort of add a little bit of a safety net so that that people with good ideas can afford to take that risk.


Jared Huke

I think they should be held accountable financially for how they run their company and how they go on. I mean, that's business. But there are some of those other things that I think can be huge distractions and put up much resistance to small companies succeeding.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah. And I have that same thing like a family as well. You take a risk and sometimes you are left empty-handed, that kind of thing. As small businesses, a lot of them are struggling. So I was thinking one of the things I thought about like governments creating like a digital procurement layer for organizations to more easily procure from smaller companies.


Mark de Rijk

Because people end up with the usual suspects, and then it's one of those things where they might want to deal with a smaller supplier. But then if they're not in their network, they might not know about it. So I'm not saying we should bring YellowPages back that ship has sailed, but yeah, that there must be other means to help the 99 per cent, I don't know if it's 99 per cent in the U.S.


Mark de Rijk

But let's be honest, small business is a large part of the economy.


Jared Huke

I think that would be great. I mean, the only reason that we were able to start working with these large companies was that I had been working either with them directly or with similar companies previously. And so we had my team and me, I should say, had a reputation with these companies that they knew they wanted to work with us. And so they were going to help cut through the paperwork to get us in there, at least on our first couple of projects.


Jared Huke

Now, once you get one or two of those, then all of a sudden you legitimize it for the other large companies that want to work with you. And those companies have requirements like you need to have 10 million dollars in cybersecurity insurance to set foot on our property. Well, that's not something that most small businesses usually budget for, right. And it's not particularly cheap. But those are the table stakes.


Jared Huke

Right. Those are the things that are required for you to be doing the work that you're doing. So any of those barriers that are normal for large companies but are real challenging I think that would be great. I mean, the procurement process is usually the number one challenge. And that's something that we've gotten we have several people in our organization that are speaking fluent procurement. And that has been hugely helpful in getting paid.


Jared Huke

You know, lines of credit, I think are also very useful that can be abused very easily or misappropriated and things like that. But, when you have clients that have between 40, five, 60 and 180-day payment terms, there's not a lot of small companies that can wait that long. And so that kind of goes back to trying to find a way to have the patience, to afford to have the patience to succeed, because it does take a lot of patience in business.


Jared Huke

You can you can push, you can push, you can push. But that's not really how they work. And so you have to kind of be alive once they're ready. Right.


Mark de Rijk

So if a budding entrepreneur would ask you for one piece of advice, would it be?


Jared Huke

You have to be trustworthy. You have to absolutely be both internally with your people and externally with your clients. If you are not an honourable person, if you're not, there's a certain amount of business that you've got to be crafty. I mean, you need to be selfish enough to be able to sort of survive in the intensity of the business world.


Jared Huke

But at the end of the day, it comes to business, comes down to doing business with other people. And if you're not likeable, if you're not trustworthy, if you seem sneaky, you may not know it may not affect you today, but it will affect you, and it definitely will affect your long term growth. That's not to say so much about reputation. It isn't about spreading how cool you are or how whatever. It's not about a wide net.


Jared Huke

It's every interaction you have with a customer. You need to be the best point in their day. You need to be someone that is solving their problems always. And Daito has some of the roots in many of us in some version of martial arts. I'm a very novice version of one, but I study Aikido, which is a sword-based martial arts, among other things. And this idea of the sort of samurai and to serve is a really important idea.


Jared Huke

They have other people they can work with, and they're taking a risk by working with you. And you need to make sure that that is the best decision they ever make, because when you do, they will come back from war, or at least that has been our experience. And so we try to live by that. We try to live by the idea of service and humility and integrity in everything we do. And I think that that is something that I don't find as much as I wish out in the world.


Jared Huke

And it is something that I think our clients appreciate with us because when we tell them to do something, they can believe it. Yes.


Mark de Rijk

You know, very important to make sense. And then a bit more personal. If if you had a magic wand, what would you want to happen?


Jared Huke

Oh, gosh, you know, I. I'm going to go, there's a lot of things I can say, and I will not mention the state of the U.S. right now because it is something that is very hard to ignore. I honestly believe that the world is going through the chaos and madness that it is right now is actually on a great path.


Jared Huke

And I don't think that I would want to change anything right now, because it's I think that some wisdom is coming out of what we're going through. And it is very painful wisdom. We're planning to send our kids to school after doing home learning. And this is a scary thing, right? Is this inviting disease and destruction into our lives? But I think that all of this upheaval that we're going through with real suffering by a lot of people, we've been extremely lucky.


Jared Huke

But for the world to wake up to things like climate change, which we've been very, very, very passive about or even actively against in some groups. I think that we have to kind of wake up. And so I would hope my magic wand would be that we would gain this wisdom faster than we are because it has to come. And I don't know if it's coming fast enough for all of us.


Jared Huke

But, yeah, let's vote for the world, realizing that we're one group of people and that this is the only rock we have. You know, I just drove through Wyoming on the way to Yellowstone a few weeks ago for vacation. And I can tell you; it looks a lot like Mars with a couple of shrubs. So the idea of betting that we're going to go live on Mars and that's going to solve all of our problems, not the case.


Jared Huke

We know we need to get what we have going and everyone just sort of wake up a little bit would be my request.


Mark de Rijk

You know, renewable energy is a big thing there.


Jared Huke

Yeah, the thing I love about that Mark is working in oil and gas and nuclear. In Texas, it is a wind kind of place. It's an oil and gas place. It's becoming a solar place. We've got Tesla's new Gigafactory going in Austin, right down the street. The renewables are here. The economics have changed to the point that for probably 60, 70 per cent of our grid is going to be renewables just due to market forces. And I think that is a really important threshold.



And it's some good news for everyone who cares about that, is that while oil and gas is still a very dominant part of our lives, the writing is on the wall. It is changing. And that is encouraging. So I think that we're actually on a great path. This is an incredibly uncomfortable year. And I do worry that twenty, twenty-one isn't going to be much of an improvement. But I think that we're going through an extremely intense global learning process.



Let's see if we pull the right lessons out of it. Hopefully so.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, exactly. Those where my questions for you today. It was a pleasure speaking to you. I hope you had fun as well. Thank you for your time today. I was going to say a shout-out. Can you tell the listeners where they can find you and Daito Design?


Jared Huke

Well, Mark, thank you so much, this was a wonderful conversation. I really enjoyed it. And I think that you're doing a great thing with this podcast and I'm very honoured to be a part of it.



You know, just to sign off, Jared Huke of CEO Daito Design so DaitoDesign.com we're largely based in Texas, we've got offices in Austin and Houston, and we're expanding into Europe as soon as the borders open, and we're able actually to do that. So you'll be finding us in the Netherlands before too long.



OK, thank you and thank you for your time. And then have a great day. And for all the other listeners, I'll talk to you next episode. Thank you for tuning in this episode. I hope you enjoyed the show and I look forward to having you tune in again next episode. See you next time.



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