On Air: October 21, 2014

George Westerman, Research Scientist: MIT Center for Digital Business

George Westerman (@gwesterman) is a Research Scientist with the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy. His research and teaching focus on digital technology leadership and innovation.

George has written numerous contributions for publications ranging from Sloan Management Review to Organization Science to The Wall Street Journal. He is co-author of two respected books: The Real Business of IT: How CIOs Create and Communicate Value, named the #1 Book of 2009 in its field, and IT Risk: Turning Business Threats Into Competitive Advantage, named one of the top five books of 2007. He is coauthor of a new book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation, which will be published in October.

George regularly conducts keynote presentations and senior executive workshops with companies around the world. Prior to earning a Doctorate from Harvard Business School, George gained more than 13 years of experience in product development and technology leadership roles.

On the show, George talked about how “Digital Masters” are already using the power of digital technology to improve their companies. In contrast to many books, Westerman’s doesn’t center on the Amazons, Apples, and other immediately obvious examples of technology-utilizing firms, instead he talks about how paint, mining, and gambling companies use it. For example, a Chilean mining company uses digital technology to get the best engineers by letting them control the technology from Santiago instead of at the mine, and is working to fully automate the actual mine. A prominent casino uses digital technology to better serve its best customers, but also to give better service to all its customers, in order to raise satisfaction a lot.

On Air: October 21, 2014

Ed Hess, Author and Professor at University of Virginia

Professor Edward D. Hess spent more than 30 years in the business world. He began his career at Atlantic Richfield Corporation and was a senior executive at Warburg Paribas Becker, Boettcher & Company, the Robert M. Bass Group and Arthur Andersen. He is the author of eleven books, over 60 practitioner articles, and over 60 Darden cases, etc. dealing with growth systems, managing growth and growth strategies. His books include Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization, (Columbia Business School Publishing, September 2014); Hess and Liedtka, The Physics of Business Growth: Mindsets, System and Processes (Stanford University Press, 2012); Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Entrepreneurial Businesses (Stanford University Press, 2012); Growing an Entrepreneurial Business: Concepts & Cases (Stanford University Press, February, 2011); Smart Growth: Building Enduring Businesses by Managing the Risks of Growth(Columbia Business School Publishing, 2010); Hess and Goetz, So You Want to Start A Business (FT Press, 2008); The Road To Organic Growth (McGraw-Hill, 2007); Hess and Cameron, eds., Leading with Values: Virtue, Positivity & High Performance(Cambridge University Press, 2006); Hess and Kazanjian, eds., The Search for Organic Growth(Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Smart Growth was named a Top 25 2010 business book for business owners by Inc. Magazine and was awarded the Wachovia Award for Research Excellence.

His current research focuses on applying the science of learning in a business environment: learning cultures, systems and processes.

Hess has taught in Executive Education programs for Harris Corporation, Cigna, Timken, United Technologies, Genworth Financial, Pitney Bowes, Unilever Russia, Marriott International, Westinghouse Nuclear, Alpha Natural Resources, Alegco-Scotsman, FTI Consulting, Dover Corporation, Glen Raven Corporation as well as IESE (Barcelona) and the Indian School of Business.

Hess’s work has appeared in Fortune magazine, JiJi Press, Washington Post, the Financial Times,Investor’s Business Daily, CFO Review, Moneymagazine and in more than 300 other media publications as well as on CNBC,, Fox Business News,, Big Think,,, WSJ Radio, Bloomberg Radio, Dow Jones, MSNBC Radio, Huffington, Business and Chief Learning

Prior to joining the faculty at Darden, he was Adjunct Professor and the Founder and Executive Director of both the Center for Entrepreneurship and Corporate Growth and the Values-Based Leadership Institute at Goizueta Business School, Emory University.

On the show, Professor Hess discussed how the way an organization learns can affect how successful it is. Specifically, he discussed how innovation is fostered by making a company learn better. Management can maximize the learning culture for innovation at their firms by (1) being role models of correct behavior and (2) cultivate an environment in which it is safe to make mistakes. Firms will basically become better learners and better innovators by putting the correct processes in place – processes that encourage experimentation, but also protect the firm from ruin with financial guidelines and so on.

On Air: October 18, 2014

Charles Best, Founder and CEO of

Charles Best leads, a nonprofit organization which provides a simple way to address educational inequity. At, public school teachers create classroom project requests and donors can pick the projects they want to support. Charles launched the organization twelve years ago out of a Bronx public high school where he taught history. is one of Oprah Winfrey’s “ultimate favorite things” and was named by Fast Company as one of the “50 Most Innovative Companies in the World,” the first time a charity has received this recognition. For three years, Fortune Magazine has named Charles to its “40 under 40 hottest rising stars in business.”

On the show, Charles spoke significantly about the ways that grew and developed out of his classroom. His innovation non-profit charitable organization helps make it extraordinarily easy to give targeted gifts to schools, but also for teachers to request the help they need in plain language, and to receive it easily – DonorsChoose purchases the items and delivers them, so there’s no need for a teacher to pay taxes, deal with cash or checks, or even go and purchase their items. In addition, he spoke about his long-term goal of not only helping more schools and teachers, but also to open up the data the firm is building on where and what needs are to genuinely help change schools for the better before they need charitable help.

On Air: October 14, 2014

Dave Gray, Founder, XPLANE, Co-Founder Boardthing

Shana shares her experiences running an incubator for design entrepreneurs.

In this clip, Shana explains how accomplished designers ran into some unexpected mental blind spots while learning about the business side of things:

Listen to Clip

Dave Gray is the founder of the business design consultancy XPLANE. His primary focus is the complex problem of unlocking new capabilities to help drive innovation and change in large organizations. Dave has authored two books on design, change and innovation. He also serves as a strategic adviser to a select group of clients. His current project is Boardthing, a collaboration platform for distributed teams. Dave delivers keynotes and hands-on workshops on topics related to innovation, culture and change.

Dave spoke at length about the looseness an organization requires in order to really achieve innovation. Many American firms have succeeded by being rigid in order to increase efficiency, however this needs to be scaled back and reevaluated somewhat as firm success is today tied to how well employees are allowed and incentivized to create and try new processes and ideas. Innovation requires room to function and blossom.

On Air: October 14, 2014

John Hunter, Associate Professor of Comparative Humanities at Bucknell University

John Hunter was educated at Toronto (BA) and Duke (PhD) and began his career teaching early modern literature at the University of Toronto. His early publications were on memory as an epistemological category in early modern culture, and he also edited Renaissance Literature: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), a standard classroom text in the field. Since joining the Comparative Humanities Program at Bucknell, his teaching and research have moved on to analyze the intersections between the humanities and neuroscience and the transformations of memory in digital culture. He is also helping to start a digital humanities initiative at Bucknell and was a Faculty Fellow in the Bucknell Innovation Group, which seeks to create and encourage teaching and research opportunities that fall outside the conventional silos of the academy.

On the air, John explained in detail how the term innovation has evolved – from an insult hurled by the likes of Shakespeare, innovator has become a highly valued title. This innovation movement really is good for society, in Hunter’s opinion. It is puzzling not that more innovation is taking place with more technology, but it is puzzling that willingness to try out innovation does not seem to exist in the general population with regards to systems of government and justice in the same amount as exists with regard to iPhone apps and so on.

On Air: October 14, 2014

Gary Smith, CEO of Polartec

Mr. Gary S. Smith is an Executive Affiliate and Industry Advisor at Kilmer Capital Partners. He focuses on consumer products at the firm and helps to source and evaluate opportunities in the branded consumer apparel, footwear, and gear industry as well as undermanaged industrial manufacturing opportunities. Mr. Smith has been the Chief Executive Officer of Polartec, LLC since November 1, 2012. He is the owner of two companies in the cycling industry. Mr. Smith served as the President of Outdoor Group & Enterprise Portfolio at The Timberland Company. He served as Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Management at Timberland LLC from February 2002 to December 2007. Mr. Smith was a Partner of McKinsey & Company’s from August 1994 to February 2002. He was on the board of McGregor Hosiery.

On Innovation Navigation, Gary Smith discussed what it was like to help create the first successful synthetic fleece, and then how Polartec has continued to succeed in a competitive marketplace without patent protection. Keys to the firm’s success were noted to be constant innovation and offering a portfolio product to customers – often a fabric is so innovative that Polartec needs to teach firm’s how to manufacture it, but also how to design garments that best take advantage of its innovative characteristics.

On Air: October 14, 2014

Nicole Clemens, Senior VP of Programming, FX

Nicole Clemens is a former television executive at Spelling Television, former head of Rod Holcomb Productions at NBC/WB, and a former partner and head of the motion picture literary department at the prestigious agency ICM Partners. Nicole represented clients from Sons of Anarchy, The Karate Kid, Death at a Funeral, Modern Family, 1600 Penn, True Blood, The Office, The Pianist, and more. She moved to FX in August, 2012, and is now the Senior VP of Programming at the network.

On the show, Nicole discussed the unique challenges of managing highly creative people, how FX does such an excellent job of consistently channeling creativity, and why many network channels seem to fail at this. Importantly, she spoke about the importance of being supportive, but making it clear to creative people, through experience and reputation, that the firm will not hijack or distort the creator’s vision. This trust causes creative people to gravitate towards FX and produce their best work.

On Air: October 7, 2014

Ron Ashkenas, Managing Partner of Schaffer Consulting, Author of Simply Effective

Ron Ashkenas is a Senior Partner of Schaffer Consulting and an internationally recognized consultant, executive coach, and speaker on organizational transformation, post-merger integration, and simplification. He also holds an appointment as an “Executive in Residence” at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

Ron’s clients have included many of the Fortune 500 companies, as well as prominent financial, governmental, and non-profit organizations such as Cisco Systems, Bausch + Lomb, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Merck, Pfizer, The World Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Zurich Financial Services, Lloyds TSB, Thomson Reuters, and ConAgra Foods. Ron was part of the original team that collaborated with then-CEO Jack Welch to develop GE’s Work-Out approach for creating a faster, simpler, and more nimble organization. He also helped to develop GE Capital’s approach to acquisition integration.

Ron is the author of Simply Effective: How to Cut Through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done, as well as the co-author of Rapid Results!, The GE Work-Out, The Boundaryless Organization, and The Boundaryless Organization Field Guide. In addition to his books, Ron’s publications include dozens of articles. He is also a regular blogger for Harvard Business Review and Forbes.

Ron received his BA from Wesleyan University, his Ed.M from Harvard University, and his PhD in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University, where he has also held several teaching assignments. He has conducted executive education programs at Case Western Reserve, the Kellogg School of Northwestern, Stanford University School of Business, and the University of Michigan – and has lectured in Israel, South Korea, Canada, Germany, the U.K., and many other countries around the world.

On Air: October 7, 2014

Claudia Kotchka, Led Innovation at P&G

Claudia Kotchka is a senior executive and change agent who successfully led an innovation culture transformation at Procter & Gamble. A pioneer in innovation practices, she is acknowledged for strategic thinking, organization development, and financial acumen. Currently, Claudia advises Fortune 500 companies on innovation, design, and culture change. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerry, and serves on the Board’s Strategic Planning Committee. Claudia retired from P&G in 2009, completing a milestone-filled 31-year career. While at P&G, she led the growth of the Design Organization from 30 to more than 300, creating world-class design capability.

In recognition of her leadership, innovation, and management expertise, Claudia has received numerous awards, including her selection by BusinessWeek as one of the 25 most innovative global business leaders in 2006 and as one of five executives selected by Fast Company as a Master of Design in 2005. Her success as an innovator and change agent has been featured in The Game-Changer by A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan,The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley, The Design of Business by Roger Martin, and Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown. Her accomplishments have also been reported in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Fast Company, AdWeek,Business Management, Design Management Review, Epoca Negocios Magazíne, The Financial Times, The Globe & Mail, The Journal of Business & Design, La Tribune, Women’s Wear Daily, and on the TODAY SHOW.

Claudia is a member of the Board of Trustees at the Smithsonian Design Museum at the Cooper-Hewitt in New York City. She is an advisor to the Stanford University Institute of Design (the and served as a juror for the 2009 International Design Excellence Awards sponsored by the Industrial Designers Society of America.

On Air: October 7, 2014

Joni Fedders, President of Aileron (Associated with book, Run Your Business, Don’t Let it Run You)

As a past business owner, Joni understands the risks, rewards and challenges that ownership and professional management bring. She had the opportunity at Iams as a Brand Manager to live in a professionally managed organization where she saw first hand how strategy, strong leadership and culture can fuel a company to do great things.

After Iams, Joni co-founded a technology services company and became an Aileron client herself, taking the Course for Presidents, establishing an outside Board of Directors and utilizing strategic planning. The company grew from 2 to 100 employees in five years, was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Cincinnati Entrepreneur of the Year award, and was named by the Cincinnati Business Courier as one of the 25 fastest growing companies in the region. After selling this business, she and her husband bought a second business in decorative packaging that they operated for seven years before successfully selling.

In her role as President, Joni oversees Aileron’s strategic direction, culture and operational activities. Her leadership and energy inspire and motivate the Aileron team and the community as we strive to raise the quality of life, one private business at a time.

Joni was honored with the “Forty Under Forty” award and received her bachelor’s degree in business from Miami University (the real one, in Ohio). She obtained her MBA from Xavier University. As college sweethearts, Joni and her husband Jim have been married for 27 years; they have three great children, a golden retriever and a small mutt who thinks he’s a cross between a mastiff and a pit bull. Joni and her family enjoy skiing, tubing, running, fishing, sports, eating Chipotle, family events and vacations.