13 Minutes on Stage with Todd Rovak That Changed the Way We Think About Corporate Innovation

Recently at a team meeting, our Director Jason McDonald mentioned an interview he conducted at La French Touch Conference in New York in June 2016. He talked about how the interview started to change his thought process about working with corporates and how he’s adapted Stringcan’s approach thanks to the interview. With that in mind we thought it would be useful to share the interview in an effort to push the inspiration forward. The interview was with the CEO of Fahrenheit 212, Todd Rovak.

We hope you enjoy...

What is F212 and how does Capgemini leverage it’s mercenaries without domesticating them?

Fahrenheit 212 is what’s known as an innovation strategy and design firm. They design new products, new services, new experiences, as well as provide innovation consulting. They like to think of themselves as a team of seventy entrepreneurial mercenaries that are payed by Fortune 500 companies to define their next three, four, or five products and with that, often, the future of the business.

An interesting dynamic, Fahrenheit 212 just got acquired by a much bigger French company, Capgemini. In addition to keeping his role as CEO of Fahrenheit 212, Todd Rovak is now the CEO of Capgemini Consulting North America. When a company the size of Capgemini acquires a company the size of Fahrenheit 212, there are many possible factors that could jeopardize the identity of the smaller company, it can ultimately be the fastest way to disappear, and Todd Rovak did not want that. One of the attributes that both sides strived for was to keep their DNA, culture, product, and methodology in tact. While Fahrenheit 212 is part of the larger Capgemini organization, the latter is set on keeping the soul of it. Fahrenheit 212 has its separate office space, its separate way of training, its unique product. The goal is for both sides to learn from each other, and this was pre-negotiated.

What made Fahrenheit 212 so interesting to Capgemini?

Many a time, when firms talk about innovation they start and end with ideation and the execution part is not necessarily undertaken, so the results are already forgotten before the new ideation starts. Fahrenheit 212 differentiates itself from other firms by operating in an opposite manner, they are only focused on the results of the ideation.

“Ideas are easy”, so candidly asserts Todd Rovak. Fahrenheit 212 was built on the idea that it was going to measure everything that came out. Ideas have to be piloted, hit their sales targets, be launched nationally and internationally. “In innovation, we tend to celebrate failure”, explains Rovak, “We should treat innovation for what it is: discipline, something to learn from, and something you can get better at.” Fahrenheit 212 does not bill their clients by the hour, which is not typical in this industry. They have an upfront fee, a go to market fee, and then a success fee. So with each idea, they are risk taking in that product being a success, but ultimately gaining reward on the backend. They have created a process and a culture whose DNA is all around moving forward and making the right decisions. They’ve instituted a culture of people that loves to make things; and that is exactly how they define their own success.

How do you get through to large companies like Fahrenheit 212 has?

“What gets through a large organization is what we call ‘money and magic’”, Todd Rovak informs, “The magic part is the incredible consumer experience, the money part is the unique business model behind it.” To get through large companies, you must have an idea that is a lot more commercial than just consumer-focused.

To watch the whole interview, as well as all of the French Touch Conference talks, visit their YouTube channel:

La French Touch Conference

Fiona English