Continuous Innovation with Kevin Fuller
Thursday, July 26, 2018
At Nu Skin, we live and breathe innovation. We were founded on innovative principles of doing things differently and believing that cosmetic and personal care products needed to be better than they were. Without innovation, Nu Skin would simply cease to exist.
However, what drives the Nu Skin innovative process are the people in our Nu Skin family — people like Kevin Fuller, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing. Kevin joined the Nu Skin team in 2005, and has spent almost 15 years advancing through several roles and wearing many creative hats. We sat down with Kevin to learn about his professional journey, and he gave us four tips on how to be continually innovative:
1. Don't be afraid of failure
2. Work cross-functionally
3. Look through other people's eyes
4. Never stop looking for new ideas
Don’t be afraid of failure.
To Kevin, failure is an essential part of the innovative journey. He says successful innovators learn to stretch themselves and take reasonable risks. You cannot learn anything new by following the same path every day. Learning, Kevin says, comes from pushing yourself, and failure is a huge part of that.
Kevin taught himself early on to model his mindset on inventor and businessman Thomas Edison. Edison believed that failure was merely a discovery of how not to do something. Every time he comes across failure, Kevin walks away with a better understanding of how to be better next time.
A sports tragic, Kevin bridged the connection between failure and innovation in an example about baseball. The very best baseball players in the world accurately strike the ball somewhere between a quarter and a third of the time. The rest of the time, they are essentially “failing.” Can you imagine what it would have been like if Babe Ruth decided that he was a failure because he wasn’t hitting a homerun every time he stepped up to bat?
It’s imperative to approach innovation in the same way. If you think that every time you sit down to sketch out a new concept that it will be a success, you’ll be disappointed because that’s not how innovation happens. Most innovation results from combining multiple existing elements in an entirely new way to create a totally new solution to a consumer problem. Although, it doesn’t happen with the first attempt – it requires persistence, curiosity, and a willingness to test and break things.
Kevin says LumiSpa is a prime example of Nu Skin innovation. “If you look at LumiSpa, we compared cleansing and treatment solutions and we realized that they could be combined into a single device,” he said. “By creating the LumiSpa technology, we could accomplish two different tasks at once without using two separate devices. There were some new insights to this existing solution, such as the ability to move the skin in a particular way, but we used existing technology to develop new benefits.”
You must have a growth mindset and build upon the solutions that already exist around us to truly develop something innovative.
Kevin says working cross-functionally with other Nu Skin teams is one of his favorite parts of his job. In order to improve processes, Kevin’s team decided to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The only problem was that his team didn’t have the whole picture — they only had their piece of it. They couldn’t see the issues with their ideas and work that were apparent to other teams.
Because Kevin knows firsthand how complex the process of taking a product from idea to launch is, his team spends a lot of time working cross-functionally with other teams such as: Product development, project management, supply chain and more. “We do a lot of work in cross-functional teams and the results are always the best when we have a really eclectic group,” Kevin said. “Lots of different perspectives, personalities and experiences all come together to create a powerful force of creativity that opens the door for innovation.”
Look through other people’s eyes.
Any Nu Skin team member will tell you: One of the greatest things about Nu Skin is that every single person has the same opportunity to be involved with something beautiful. It doesn’t matter which part of the world you come from or what your job title is, the Nu Skin family takes pride in diversity.
According to Kevin, one of the most important things you can do is spend time working with people that are different from you, and who have different skills and abilities. By spending time with people who come from different backgrounds, you are going to become more well-rounded and develop new ways of thinking you hadn’t had before. Seeing the world through another’s eyes is something that is rare in today’s fast-paced, inward-looking society, but is crucial in the world of innovation.
Kevin offered observations about seeing things with a different perspective, that he learnt from Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In that book, Covey writes about taking a step back to look at situations from a different perspective. The philosophy encourages the reader to reflect on their situation and question whether a) they are using the right tool for this particular scenario, and b) the right person is using the tool.
Never stop looking for new ideas.
Ideas don’t necessarily lead directly to a marketable product — those are built-upon over a discarded. When creativity is blocked and ideas dry up, innovation can seem out of reach. Kevin says the biggest barrier to innovation is actually mental. One of his favorite ways to avoid a mental innovation block is to evaluate ideas according to the Six Thinking Hats, a system designed by Edward de Bono that describes a tool for group discussion and individual thinking involving six colored hats. Six Thinking Hats allow us to review idea processes without shutting down creativity through early criticism. The creative that allows us to ask ourselves how we can make an idea better, assuming there were no limitations. The black hat looks at the issue to determine what is broken or wrong. There is also a bright, sunny yellow hat, which can help determine the great parts of an idea and how they click into place to make it happen.
Ideally, users would go through each of the six hats and the associated process. This tactic is especially beneficial when working in groups, because it can help identify the appropriate times for criticism and creativity, with no limits. This helps to move the discussion forward and allows each idea to grow into all that it can be without being smothered by criticism.
Kevin says another important thing to remember is that if you get stuck — change venues. In other words, you can be online, researching trends about a new product or industry, undertaking a passive method of learning. You may soak up as much information as possible by reading articles and scouring the internet, but eventually you can become burnt out and unable to retain all that you read anyway. But if you physically go somewhere such as a conference or a brainstorming session where you interact with other people, you’ll can have an experience ten times more energizing and beneficial simply because you are actively engaged.
Kevin Fuller is an example of the innovation synonymous with the Nu Skin brand. He exemplifies continuous innovation and applies the above principles to his daily routine. In his role as VP of Global Marketing, he encourages his teams to take risks. He believes that there are two ways to create an innovative work environment: Encouraging healthy risk-taking and creating a safe place to fail.
Kevin is currently working towards a goal of creating a team that is truly happy in the work they are doing, because he says when people are happy and comfortable, their creativity flourishes and they produce their best work. They are satisfied and engaged. He believes this concept advances a sustainable business model in which Nu Skin management is confident in its employees as they produce their best for the company and its customers.