Reframing the Problem
Jeffrey Bowman is the co-founder and CEO of Reframe. Through Reframe, Jeffrey is helping companies around the world to build an environment that understands their employees as well as their customers. This has become an increasingly important issue as the global workforce diversifies and many jobs move from a daily drive to the office to working from home, which these days can be almost anywhere. In fact, as Elon Musk’s satellite wi-fi system Starlink expands, people will be able to work from almost literally anywhere on the planet.
Naturally, as a company’s employees spread out geographically, they also diversify culturally. While the different perspectives and modes of thought that come with that can be a great benefit to a company, there are also some hurdles to be cleared. It is often the case that people from different cultures have a hard time relating to and understanding each other. Put that together with the fact these employees aren’t working in proximity to each other, and might actually be on the other side of an ocean, it can be hard to build unit cohesion. These two problems, companies often not really understanding their own employees and the need to better manage a global workforce are what led to the creation of Reframe.
Why the name Reframe? A lot of people use the word “reimagine” to get people to start thinking of ways to solve a problem. The issue is that it results in just another way of looking at a problem. If you reframe the same problem you actually change the structure of the problem. Think of the way Alexander solved the Gordian Knot. Instead of trying to figure out how to undo it, he reframed it and cut it straight down the middle with his sword. Problem solved.
It isn’t only the globalization of the workforce. It’s the fact that historic minorities are both growing in the general population and also working their way through and up the workforce. With that comes more and different cultures interacting with each other that will gradually change the culture in all of these companies. Reframing how these companies handle this is not just a nice and inclusive thing to do, it’s necessary. It will make for a happier workforce and a workforce that is actually retained, rather than being dissatisfied and moving on to something else.
The other aspect Reframe sought to…reframe was the software experience. Too many businesses use multiple apps to manage their work. Slack, Microsoft, Zoom, Skype, there are just too many different programs all with their own logins. Not only is this inefficient, it’s frustrating and keeps your workforce compartmentalized. Reframe set about creating new apps that would act as a hub, allowing people to have just one login for all of their work related activities.
Jeffrey uses the example of Nike as a brand that seems to be heading in the right direction. Everyone knows Nike spent most of its time using established athletes in the major sports to advertise for it, which of course was meant to inspire others to be that kind of athlete. However, in more recent years, it’s been expanding its brand to include less well known sports as well as women’s sports, encouraging everyone to be the best athlete they can be. Even if they will never jump like Michael Jordan.
Another real world example that Reframe was involved in was a hair product company. Like most, it had hair products for some people and then products for ‘ethnic’ people. Reframe was able to help them realize they should change their marketing to hair texture. So their products were marketed for people with wavy, curly, straight, or kinky hair. Race and ethnicity were left out of it entirely, because in reality, it’s irrelevant. What matters for a hair company is the texture of the hair and little else.
Jeffrey and Reframe have worked with a number of different companies, getting them to reexamine their practices and how they relate to both their employees and their customers. In doing so they aren’t just playing to buzz words, they’re building a world that works better for everyone.
Welcome our newest Data Champion.
Alexander McCaig (00:00:00):
Hello everybody and welcome back to TARTLE cast. We have another very special guest on today, Jeffrey L. Bowman, he is the co-founder and CEO of Reframe. And I don't know if you do reframe that I/O the whole thing, but before you jump into the story of Reframe, one of the major things that stuck out to me Jeffrey, is that we do not want to reimagine things, we want to reframe them. So before we even get into what you guys are doing, how you look at the data, what you offer and how that dovetails into the rest of the history here, I want to understand from a philosophical sense, what you mean when you say re-imagining is not the solution, reframing is.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:00:57):
Yeah, no, great question to kick off the session. I want to thank you guys for having me on and I really appreciate the work that you guys are doing yourself.
Alexander McCaig (00:01:08):
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:01:11):
So when thinking about the name at the time, the service we were providing, I had about five years of actually testing and learning a way into this practice. And that was while I was at Ogilvy. And when we would go into the room with CMOs at Ogilvy, a lot of the makeup of the room were people that had great intent and great purpose. But there was really no change in the people that were actually in the room, physical change, number one. And we would always have this conversation about what does the end state look like? And they would use the word reimagine marketing, reimagine digital did for traditional macro. And I went into the dictionary and started looking at words. And when you're doing the naming of the company, it's really important because you want people to articulate what the outcome, without them actually knowing it. And so it wasn't about the same people leading re-imagining their aspirations. It was about them actually, themselves reframing the idea of what does change look like? And so when you think about reframe, you have to have inclusive with the origin of the people that are re-imagining, meaning you need to actually have different people in the room. And so that's how we got to reframing. It's almost like whenever you create a brand, if you can convince your consumers to say, "You, me or I that's half the battle." Because then it's making it very personal.
Alexander McCaig (00:03:17):
To associate them at the point.[crosstalk 00:03:19].
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:03:21):
To associate them, exactly. And that's why we chose the right reframe because it's not just changing the picture, it's changing the actual structure of the outcome that holds us together.
Alexander McCaig (00:03:34):
Do you know, I wonder what Picasso would have to say about that? You can choose me outside [inaudible 00:03:37].You can have this is all well and good, but we've got to change the wind in the background and make it titanium or something.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:03:44):
Exactly. Because at the end of the day, that's what holds it up, right?
Alexander McCaig (00:03:51):
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:03:52):
Because an image just on the wall it's... You have to reframe it, make it stronger instructionally.
Alexander McCaig (00:03:59):
That's a fantastic statement. We've got a pyramid here on this desk, if you consider guys over in Egypt, I don't know if you ever been there, but you can't just throw all that stone on sand, sand tends to shift around. And that essentially weakens the entire structure. You wouldn't be able to have it. So that focus point up at the top, I like where this metaphor is going, that focus point up at the top, you can't achieve it. You know where it is in your mind but actually getting there won't happen because the foundation that would support something like that, hasn't actually been reframed properly.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:04:31):
Right. And this is the first time in human history that what was once considered a minority becomes the majority. And it's not just race or ethnicity. It's also, you think about the Middle East religion, you think about gender in terms of women. I think you just had a pretty significant incident that happened in Afghanistan where you had women actually go the school. So you think about that being reframed in terms of what does that region look like? What's more women are educated? You think about youth where more than 50% of populations that had once been dominated by 40 plus are now dominated 29 below in terms of age. So it's a significant shift that's happening across the world. For the first time what was ever referenced as minority will now become the majority population. And it's almost like the ice age, when humans evolved-
Alexander McCaig (00:05:45):
Tell me about it.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:05:47):
... and became the dominant creatures. And so when you look at it today we're going through that where you think about global warming, you think about all the things from a macro standpoint now have to be reframed or thought about for a whole group of people that are never once been the majority in this inhabited earth so, yeah.
Alexander McCaig (00:06:10):
Listen, Jeffrey, that's a phenomenal point considering the fact that what we may do here in the United States has a large impact on the perspective and mindset and also physical aspects of the locale of other people that may be in Indonesia, that may be in some one-off island up in Russia, up on the coast. Or be in any of the Sub-Saharan African countries, it's so inherently interlinked now. The adoption of de-centralization also requires self-responsibility. And then when all these people become self-responsible and sovereign over themselves, they need to realize that, well, if I want to respect this for me, it's also going to require me respecting it for others. So the reframing of how I begin to appreciate others in their diversity is going to be important because of how diverse the growth, any amount of energy in a younger generation that is less static can actually adopt that. And then when I think in a corporate sense if you're a resource holder, you need to adapt to what this data is showing you, the interlinked processes, that sort of inclusion. Go ahead.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:07:25):
No, you're spot on. Look what we do often times if we go to a senior leader and they hear about us they'll think D and I, if it's changed within the workplace or they'll think multicultural marketing, if it's changed from a marketplace perspective. No, nothing's wrong with those 'practices' but I like to sometimes give my story two to three generations removed from the civil rights era, let's say I was born in 1970. And so when you think about that for people when they immediately go to that, they are omitting or admitting that they think more in terms of integration versus true inclusivity, because when you think about those-
Alexander McCaig (00:08:33):
What's the difference here, let's clarify that for people.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:08:37):
No, I think when you think about D and I and multicultural marketing, these are practices that were essentially developed as America was going from segregated to integrated. And so you take the 1960s and late 1960s, a lot of tension, we had a war globally. You had significant deaths, you had the height of the civil rights movement. And a lot of that tension was at a point similar to what we're going through right now, because it was a changing demographic, educationally, politically both in U.S. and globally but still center power was a U.S. And so when Blacks specifically in U.S. started growing, laws shifted, they started getting an education. What was once dominated by one population and thought as well, now had to make space in places for Blacks still in 1970s.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:09:50):
And so those practices were regionally developed corporate wise, so that you now could integrate people into the workplace, as well as integrate the marketplace in terms of how brands at that particular time were to market and profit from these, apparently now mobile, more educated Blacks in America. And so flash forward, that's integration. Flash forward, now the children and their children's children have become educated. They've moved out of the south, they've gone globally and one would argue, have gotten to levels of SVP, VP and I think there was less than five Black CEOs in the nation in terms of Fortune 500. So now you shift, going from integration and embedding their thoughts, their plans, their aspirations in terms of workplace culture so that not only do you bring them into the company, but you retain them, you retain the intellectual property that they can provide as it relates to value for your company. And that wasn't the case in 1970.
Alexander McCaig (00:11:15):
Jeffrey you talk about in your book, Reframe and I encourage everyone to get it, and they can get it on Amazon, about Corporate Americas. Because I want to get a little micro here and then the cultural crossroads and you call it a "Perfect Storm". What is the difference are you seeing now, especially with the pandemic that you saw in the late 1960s? Are we ready for this? Do you think now... I know we weren't really ready for it then, the population as a whole.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:11:39):
Yeah, no, I'll take it... One of the reasons we call it the perfect storm is because before we could count impact based on race, identity, gender. So when you look at a lot of report outs that companies will provide as relates to D and I over the last 60 years, that's been the metric. And so that's an amazing metric, but you look at all the people that came into those companies and left. It didn't retain them, it didn't reward them and it didn't promote them. But we had D and I and so when you think about today, how do you build a more culturally inclusive organization? And we define culture based on social science. And I may even go more micro, when you think about culture within the workplace, we restated the problem because when you think about minorities becoming the majority, everything has to be reframed structurally, your strategy, your systems, employees, segments, and your solutions in terms of who you partner with. Because what was once a minority becomes the majority, you're not just doing integration. You actually have to build an entire new culture that reflects the people that are now going to be the dominant demographic population within your workplace.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:13:12):
The reason it's the perfect storm is because part of the reason that the workplace couldn't move as the pace of the marketplace, You think Amazon, you think Dell, you think Facebook, these guys are massive because of what? Adjustable data and the way that you are able to get those adjustable data is because you have a platform. And then you're able to shift attitudes and behaviors in a very dynamic way because there's a multiple points of variables that you have on that consumer when the workplace, it wasn't digitaltized. Pre COVID only 2% of Fortune 1000 companies were digital, from onboarding to exit. Now that you have employee experience platforms, which we built, you're able to get that adjustable data, understand where people are, provide them with the personalization in terms of content, solutions and shift those attitudes and behaviors and very similar to the way that consumer or B2C companies can shift attitudes and behaviors towards the consumers. And so when we think about where do we go with that, much longer runway on the workplace side than the marketplace side. That make sense?
Alexander McCaig (00:14:36):
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:14:37].I am reframing some thoughts right now in my head. If I look at the word integration and you look it at the dictionary, it's almost like I have an opposite and I want to just bring it in. I want it to become a part of whatever the quantitative metric is. And we've looked at that quantitative metric for sometimes and companies are saying, "Oh, we're doing great." But those people don't want to stay because in the legitimate sense, the culture does not align. It's much akin to the fact of most hospitals set their own quantitative benchmarks, "Oh, look, we're doing fantastic." But little do you know, is that half the people that left said, "I'm never going back in there. I don't ever want surgery there again." But they're like, "Look, how many people we got out of the beds, look how efficient this is." But it doesn't breed a culture of come back, stay, trust, all those others.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:15:36):
Alexander McCaig (00:15:37):
Yeah. Bedside manner, all that stuff. So the way I am understanding this then, is that you need to leave the aspects of integration because it only looks at a human being in the sense of a number and a number for the benefit of the corporation. And what you're saying is, let's look at the qualitative measures through a social science first, let's understand the human being as a human being. And let's refine the culture we have here at our corporation to align with human beings, not look at them as hitting a metric to make us be at whatever benchmark we perceive that it needs to be at to look good to other third parties, but truly have something that encapsulates the value of what it means to be a human being, living, breathing, and thinking, and then be able to retain that intellectual property as an employee of that corporation. So then that takes that next obvious bridge where reframe comes in and they're like, "Okay, I'm glad you've hit all these marks but let's talk about what is missed." We started with the qualitative aspects of how we should look and value other human beings.
Alexander McCaig (00:16:47):
And then we applied a quantitative measure to it, rather than saying, let's go with the idea of quantitative measurements first, look at people like cattle in a labor force, make sure that we have the right amount of Angus beef as opposed to just regular [lobe 00:17:01] dairy cows. And then if we have that ratio right, then we're good sailing. But what we're seeing is that the amount of value of diversity, equity, inclusion and other aspects of Corporate America, when they shift over to the qualitative and then measure it with a quantitative stance, knowing how you want the culture to be first at a human level, has a much more dratic impact. One that is stronger in the sense of how society is shifting and changing and can actually work with the dynamicism of what we're seeing today. Is that how we understand how things work from the reframe sense?
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:17:43):
Yes, but I'll add a little bit more context.
Alexander McCaig (00:17:46):
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:17:48):
So sometimes we like to say we're like the McKinsey of culture [crosstalk 00:17:53], the outcome of what we have is cultural transformation. That's the first thing we do. Why is that important? Before you even get into building more inclusive employee experiences. So what we do, we're the McKinsey of culture, we help people leaders, CEOs, CMOs and chief human resource officers build more inclusive customer and employee appearances. And reason we like to state that is because if you look at most companies with the exception of the last 30 years, they came on of the 40s, 50s, 60s, and some 70s, dynamic ones. And so for most companies, they either reflect their founder, the values, the mission, ambition or reflect a set of people that came up with those values, missions, et cetera. Now there's no problem with that. But most of the people that were in those rooms didn't look like me and the generation that's ahead of us. So that's amazing, that's never [inaudible 00:19:20].
Alexander McCaig (00:19:19):
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:19:20):
So whose culture did you design for?
Alexander McCaig (00:19:23):
You designed it only for that one individual that's like, "Well, this is hard to see [inaudible 00:19:29]" But he values that's his culture.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:19:31):
Or the generation that were the founders of those companies. And even with tech companies today, if you look at Silicon Valley, you look at who's been funded? It's still one dominant culture. I think I read something where Stanford, Harvard,[inaudible 00:19:53], maybe three or four other institutions that account for 70% of the people that make funding decisions, so whose culture? Even if you went to those institutions, whose culture are you still designing for? So that's why we took it to culture, not demographic. Because there could be Black and Brown people that went to those institutions that are in that club, but they still think, act and do a certain way, which creates barriers to letting other people come into those ecosystems. So that's what we call a monocultural piece of thinking. And so-
Alexander McCaig (00:20:35):
And seeing how bad mono cropping is for the environment so monocultural thinking is probably just as terrible.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:20:40):
Just as terrible, because it's a human impact to it. And there is a social economic impact as well when you think of globalization. So that's number one, number two, the reason we wanted to do social science versus race and identity is because you need both. Okay. And not just one or the other, you need to see that you are diversifying your organization as an entry point, you get no rewards for doing that. Because true change happens when there's a cultural shift. So now that you've got a diverse organization, how do you make it inclusive culturally? And so we came out with an assessment tool because if you think about change management, you have to have what we call a maturity model. And so when CEOs want to do digital transformation, you have to have a maturity model to see here's where I'm at, here's where I need to get to. Same thing with quality, Six Sigma. If you're in the quality automotive, the 70s and 80s, the U.S. is getting their asses kicked with regards to Nissan, then eventually Toyota came, TQM.
Alexander McCaig (00:22:03):
I've got a Toyota, how re you guys doing? I remember the famous story, they said, "Why aren't you hammering the door?" Because they went over to view the factories over in Japan. And they were like, "Why don't you hammer the door and put it in place?" And they said, "Well, we designed it to fit right the first time."
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:22:17):
Yeah. And Six Sigma was a lot of... So it was a maturity model. What was missing was okay, how do you take it beyond diversity? How do you create true cultural inclusion? And the third piece, how do you measure it? Using similar systems that every organization uses for transformation. And so yeah, we came up with the development, an instrument that measures how culturally mature an organization is. Just number one, two things missing, restate the problem and two, what's the definition of crazy? Doing the same thing-
Alexander McCaig (00:23:01):
Classic Einstein quote, yeah very [inaudible 00:23:04].
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:23:06):
That's number one so let's restate it. Okay. We can't say the same thing and then use the same application, "Oh, we're going to get it right this time."
Alexander McCaig (00:23:14):
I keep telling Jason that, he's just... I'm like, "Restate the damn thing."
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:23:19):
Restate it so we did a study and found out that corporate America, it's two to three generations culturally removed from the New America. Culture is a mono, multi, cross, poly and trans. Those are the five stages as relates to culture from social science. So now [crosstalk 00:23:39].
Alexander McCaig (00:23:39):
Carl Young is rolling right now over [inaudible 00:23:42]. He's in his grave, Carl Young, he's just like, "I'm so much informed mostly by Jeffrey [inaudible 00:23:48]."
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:23:48):
So these are things that have been done since the 1930s, social science. But nobody was applying it to this problem because it hadn't been restated. So that was number two, number three, okay, how do you take a sample size of the organization? So we go in and we do one-on-one interviews and we assess the company structure, the strategy, segments, systems and solutions. Once we come back with that sample size, that's the qualitative aspect of it. But we score them and when we were designing these or doing assessments in designing this space, we would hand over to the chief human resource officer, IT, whomever, but they didn't have the software.
Alexander McCaig (00:24:44):
Then how did they implement?
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:24:45):
They had single use applications. So they have Slack for messaging. They maybe had an ERP but it took them five years to do, or they had Microsoft, which at the time was productivity software. And then they had maybe a talent acquisition piece, but all those people were in separate functional areas and they never really talked to each other. But you, as a user, as an employee, you just saw multiple logins. And so we built software to scale and sustain that change that we designed from a service side of our business.
Alexander McCaig (00:25:28):
So [crosstalk 00:25:29].
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:25:29):
And that gets to the part piece that you're talking about.
Alexander McCaig (00:25:33):
Yeah, thank you for bringing that about in a roundabout process. I really do appreciate that, the guys over at Slack and Silicon Valley are probably just like, "This Jeff."
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:25:44):
Yeah, [crosstalk 00:25:45].
Alexander McCaig (00:25:46):
Jeffrey, if you don't mind, I want to get into, because in your book, you talk about brands. And I want to get specific like Nike, Patagonia, Trader Joe's, Lululemon, how are these brands getting it right in this area?
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:26:00):
So I think that there's a couple things to unpack, there's inclusive customer experience and there's inclusive employee experience. And when you think about Nike, over the years one could argue that they played to the athlete and they played to the experience before it was a thing. And when you think about Nike as a brand outside, people were able to champion and rally around the promise, just do it, aspiration. And they did it over and over and over again through what we deem today as influencers, okay. Now what just recently happened at Nike, they had somewhat of an issue in terms of inclusive activity in terms of women in high roles and positions and Black and Brown. So again, these things were great up to a certain point, but now you have more women in the workplace. Now you have more women in sports, now you have other dynamics as it relates to disabled, a more diverse pool of people that they now have to source from. And so I think Nike has had a long roadways. The question will become, now can they do it for another 40 to 50 years doing it the way that they've done it for the last 40 to 50 years?
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:27:59):
So that's what I'd say to Nike and the rest of the brands, I think the best job that they've been able to do at least outside is create and build those experiences that are culturally inclusive. Because when you think about Nike, you think about some of the brands that are really doing a good job today. I think that more than anything, they've been able to build those brands by being inclusive from a cultural standpoint, which is a lot different than what someone argue our diversity as a whole.
Alexander McCaig (00:28:37):
So I'm just in considering this for a second, you said the brand has grown because of the culture of the company itself, is the company the driver here, or is it the people that interact with the company, the driver? I take the stance personally and we do here, that we are not the champions in this.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:29:06):
Alexander McCaig (00:29:07):
Yeah, we may have a good culture. Yeah, we've been doing this, but at the end of the day, we're the Sherpa for the rest of the world. In the world, every individual is their own champion. And we understand that if it wasn't for their interaction with us, that we would cease to exist. And I feel like that is missed so much. So when I hear that the culture of the actual company itself has grown the brand, that seems extremely centralized in the aspect of what is going on in a very decentralized format. Does that make sense?
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:29:39):
Yeah, since we use them, I think Nike is at a pivotal point. And what we like to say is how do we future proof your brand? So you take Nike, for instance, at one point it was heavily retail driven in terms of distribution. It was heavily centric in terms of television, the use of traditional athletes, football, basketball, the billion dollar sports activities at that particular time. So let's say Nike pre 2000, now in the last 20 years, what has Nike done? It's created ways that are much more decentralized. Number one, they created an app that you can reframe you're the athlete now, you being you, not something that was extremely, you can't jump like Michael Jordan. But if you run, you can create a community of other people that are like you. The other thing I think they were really good at doing, they went beyond your traditional sports.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:31:11):
They got into partnerships with the women athletes, with musicians, although that went a little bad in terms of the influence piece. But I think they really got closer to that end user whereas before I don't think they have been as close or that close. And heavily personalization in terms of you being able to design the shoe for you. So I think to your point, it became very decentralized but I also think that they're just scratching the surface when it comes to what does that future look like?
Alexander McCaig (00:31:52):
Now I think that's interesting and Jason brought up Patagonia. That's an environmental aspect that they're very strong in and if you think about, the clothing was a tool, that's all it was. The clothing was all but a tool and a billboard for people to say, "This is what we stand for." It's not really about the Nikes, it's not about the micro puff jacket. It's about what the human being sees in the future and go ahead
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:32:30):
Yeah, no, I want to use... I have an advertising background as well as brand. And oftentimes we would talk about the HEX, the human experience. I think those are wonderful words as long as we have all different types of humans.
Jason Rigby (00:33:00):
I love where he's headed with this.
Alexander McCaig (00:33:04):
I love where he is headed with this, this is great. [crosstalk 00:33:04] Nike golf ball. And you've got your Nike stuff on, you're going to... Oh, keep going.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:33:09):
No, and I think that's why when we think about the idea of future-proofing your business or your brand is that we can use those words, but at the same time, that's where the diversity piece comes in. You have to have representation at the table or in the room or in the club or in the community to get to that outcome that's reflective of humans. And so that's the only thing that I've seen where we'll be presenting a piece of creative and we're talking about the human experience. And then we ask them, "Well, what was your sample size?" And you look at the research that they did, and it's not all the different types of humans that are inclusive of that.
Jason Rigby (00:33:59):
Well, the show went to target.
Alexander McCaig (00:34:01):
Well, I think the prime example is Rihanna here recently where she did a genderless with reveal with her makeup and then the fashion show and everything was genderless. And the TA, that was just all over Twitter and everything else. I think that's a perfect example of what you're talking about and it's sad. It's sad because you can see it when you go, even just, if you're looking at clothes or micro jackets and just look at the models, it's like, where is the diversification? Where is it there? Where's an American that's Iranian? Where's that at? You know what I mean?
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:34:33):
Jason Rigby (00:34:34):
We've talked to you guys, you'll diversify your risks financially but you won't diversify people within your own culture. Come on, if you're thinking about risk, talk about an unseen one. It's the human beings and you can't even make a decision to diversify risk if you don't have a human being right there actually doing that decision.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:34:51):
Yeah, you look at some of the biggest tech companies, they have fame if you look at every one of them and for some reason they can go out and solve, building communities in the world but they can't build inclusive community within their far walls. So I think part of the issue there is that they're not being innovative in terms of how they approach building the future of their workforce. And we'll use old models like, "Well, let's start a tech campus on HBCU." And I'm like, well, you think about I think it was Google that started an HBCU campus at Google at the time. And I'm like, "Wait a minute. Why don't you just get off your lazy asses and go recruit at those campuses and bring them in. You don't have to set up this infrastructure. That should be a part of your job." And it fathoms me that sometimes you have all of these resources, but you sometimes lean back on your biases and your belief system that's not consistent with where the world's going.
Alexander McCaig (00:36:23):
It's the Procrustean bed. You're talking about a group engineers, right? Their foundation was on engineering. They think that they can engineer people, that's the thing. Here's the size of the bed let's cut their legs off to get them to fit the bed rather than why don't you just fit the bed to the people. And they're forcing stuff into these buckets. And that's where you've seen the issues with the marketing and like the sense of control, because that human element is completely mixed. The way they operate is in this very engineering focused operation, all for the technology, all for this, all for the cherry picking. But it was like, well, what about for the human being? I'm glad you guys have evolved so quickly and you've helped other people adopt this technology, but you've lacked your own evolution internally.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:37:09):
Alexander McCaig (00:37:09):
So you don't have that balance, you have a huge weakness and it doesn't matter how large you are.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:37:14):
Yeah. And I think we're going to see some of that play out. If you think about the way that tech has evolved and like let's fall purposes, gen one, let's say 80s and 90s, gen two 90s, 2000s, gen three, 2000 to the current state. It's almost like FinTech. When people started giving data specifically to consumers, it was done through credit cards. There was a whole swath of communities that didn't trust the internet. I don't know if I'm dating myself, but they didn't [crosstalk 00:37:58], if you swipe here they're going to get all your information. So a lot of time Black and Brown and underserved communities didn't use their credit cards. So imagine all that data that wasn't deposited that really didn't understand the attitudes and behaviors and then you went to a different generation from a tech perspective. So a lot of those decisions from a science standpoint was based on only the people that swipe their card, because obviously they're caught up.
Alexander McCaig (00:38:30):
Thank you. You're doing great. Why don’t you just come over here and work with us. You're doing great.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:38:43):
So those decisions, sciences that were being modeled at the time, now you have higher speeds to where you went from punched cards to actually modeling and then obviously cloud came. But you still had those trails of Pixies, digital footprints that were not inclusive. So then social media comes up, guess what happens, shifts the entire landscape of tech. Why? Because the creators and what is the creator taking, being under-resourced and creating something that's of value for the masses and who are those people that are the best graders in most cases? Black and Brown people because of the under-resourced that they have to now create. When social media came who got all the little blue thumbnails? The creators.
Alexander McCaig (00:39:41):
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:39:41):
The creators, who didn't necessarily have the transactional. And now you build the transaction with the cultural piece, you got something really powerful in terms of what comes next. And so when you think about where we're going with tech, tech to me in terms of impact is going to happen in those under estimated as [inaudible 00:40:08] liked to say and globally. Because that's where the growth is.
Alexander McCaig (00:40:16):
Jason, would you mind just sharing a story about why someone asked us why our focus isn't strictly on the U.S. as a U.S. tech company?
Jason Rigby (00:40:24):
Yeah, it's so funny. We're in 200 something countries but it's funny when we talk with investors and they just want to focus on the United States so much. It's like, do you devalue these other countries? And I said, "What if we had a billion users in everywhere but the United States? Oh, that'll be great, okay." What is the difference between a user in Brazil compared to a user in Canada, compared to a user in the United States?
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:40:52):
Right. Now our engineers are in Brazil, by the way. And when you look at untapped opportunities it's really outside of the U.S.
Alexander McCaig (00:41:08):
Yes. Thank you. Yes.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:41:13):
And that's truly where the growth is. Now that people have access to the tools they're going to create there. If you think about everything in U.S. it's primarily centralized, it's primarily race or identity based in terms of outcomes, in terms of the haves and the have nots. Where if we go outside the U.S., in my opinion and this is why we say from a cultural standpoint, D and I was not created for people outside of the U.S.
Alexander McCaig (00:41:42):
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:41:44):
The Western practice that went Eastern just like corporations did. And so when you think about culture, social science, cross-cultural as a practice was developed in the 1930s and escaped the U.S. because the U.S. was still monocultural, till this day it's still predominantly monocultural. And then went to Europe, then went to other places and spaces because they were already diverse in terms of language, in terms of their makeup and their thinking. So that's why when you think about opportunities it's really outside the U.S. that we believe we're going to be able to make an impact as much, if not more.
Alexander McCaig (00:42:29):
Yeah. I think that's super sharp. And honestly, our data supports that. And we always want to share that when you describe somebody as a user in technology, it sounds like someone that's doped up on heroin. When we are looking at this and I had asked this question, I was like, why is it that you think the human being in the United States is worth more than the human being that might be in Chad or Nigeria? And then they're just stopped right there in their fucking tracks. And then they're caught for a moment. They're like, "Yeah, you know what? It's like I did screw up in that thought process." My thought was not reframed to where it should be. My perspective of value is that people in the United States derive a higher dollar value than an individual who might be in another country that does not work. That old model is not sustainable. And so when we expand upon this I love the aspects of what you guys are doing at Reframe. I love that you look at the culture and then you say, "Okay, now that we have the culture in place, now we can really diversify for what needs to happen with our decision-making." You can look to more opportunities because you're not blind to them. You don't have a bias perspective to say that the U.S. is where it's at.
Alexander McCaig (00:43:56):
No listen, now that we have this truly inclusive culture and understanding culture of the value of a human being, we can look to the rest of the world for that value. There's 330 million people in the U.S. that leaves you to 7.2 billion people everywhere else. If any person would look at that in any reasonable sense of the data, they'd be like, "Well, forget, what's going on in the U.S. let's go look at everything else that's happening here." Let's drive opportunity and understanding to those who understand what it means to be in an integrative culture, to come with different languages and backgrounds and have that sort of cross-pollination that's happening.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:44:29):
Yeah. No. Look, I'll give you a world example of the company we won at Ogilvy, Ogilvy was like our testing ground. We won a piece of business from Unilever and this is all public information now, it's been some years. Unilever had just acquired a company I think it was Alberto-Culver. And their brand from the acquisition was based on ethnic profiles. You had perm hair, if you walked into any drugstore, there was an ethnic section and then there was all other-
Jason Rigby (00:45:22):
Target still has one. I don't know why they still [crosstalk 00:10:11].
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:45:24):
Yeah. But here's the thing. We went in with our thesis as it relates to cross-culturalism. Now, we were not the first to do this. I had someone that had a company called Hair Rules here in New York. And we approached the pitch, not based on ethnic hair versus 'general market' hair, it was around texture based hair. So think about most hair profiles, you either got kinky, curly, wavy or straight, no matter what race, ethnicity you are. So that's first, the human side.
Jason Rigby (00:46:10):
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:46:12):
And so when you do that, and when we did that, the question became, well, what happens to the other products? We have two sets of products, the acquisition, and then all the other products that are made predominantly for white [inaudible 00:46:26] centric hair. And we said, "Well, what if you thought about your portfolio based on texture base versus ethnic base?" So when we did that, it opened up the entire world in terms of product and profiles. And so when we wanted the business, we won the $3 million piece of business, we not only won in U.S., we won Africa, we won Asia in terms of certain parts of Asia. And it was really around this idea of what if we went to market in a texture base outcome and profile versus ethnic base. Now it also presented an issue for them because they had acquired all these other brands that were ethnic driven versus texture base. But if you look at the hair-
Alexander McCaig (00:47:17):
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:47:17):
Yeah. It just makes so much sense.
Alexander McCaig (00:47:19):
That's not even a problem, I'll do it.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:47:23):
And if you look at the category now, a lot of the category today is texture based. And obviously there are some nuances, but more importantly, if you think about more from a global perspective, you opened up new categories and you opened up new revenue streams that you never even thought about before.
Alexander McCaig (00:47:39):
No, you're correct. So I use an awfully expensive hair product called Prose. And I go in there and they ask me, first of all, what's the texture of your hair? They didn't ask me if I was Black, white, yellow, Christian, Muslim. They didn't even give a shit. They said, "What's the texture of your hair?" This is how we're going to help make the solve happen. And then we go through that sort of process, not asking me what's my ethnic profile, how much money do I make, that has nothing to do with me making my brand truly valuable. One that actually generates a real return. And when you have the human focus first, then it generates a real return.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:48:22):
Absolutely. I always go back to this and having just met and read about your company that approach is great if you're just starting out as a product or brand. What sometimes gets people in trouble is if they've been in business for like 50 years and they want to jump to that. And we call that going from a monocultural to cross-cultural. Well, a lot of the data, a lot of things that you have from a research and insights perspective, either you have nothing or you have a little bit of something. And so you have to go through that next evolution before you can just jump to the HR or the human experience, because what will happen is you haven't developed the cultural maturity to just jump to the human experience. You still got to do the work.
Alexander McCaig (00:49:25):
That's what I wanted to ask, is you have very mature firms and I only use mature in the sense of their age, not in their mindset. Have you seen that it has been successful for people to go and adopt a new cultural reframing that's happening here and the ability to maintain that? And on top of that, have you seen where firms try to just jump right into it all head forwards without the proper evolution steps, and then it fails.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:50:00):
Right. Look, I get that question, I get this question a lot. We're just in the beginning phases. We developed our thesis about 10 years ago and it didn't exist anywhere else. And I can say that with a high degree of confidence, McKenzie wrote the first white paper, 1966, the image is in the book Reframe the Marketplace. McKenzie wrote this white paper that talked about essentially the changing face of America. If you think about 1966, that was really the impetus of both D and I and multicultural marketing. So 1966, and the reason they wrote the white papers, because CEOs were at this crossroad. You had riots, you had MLK, you had Malcom X, you had the Kennedys, it was beyond imagination. And so how do we solve this? So McKenzie wrote the white paper. It was about being this total market place, think about it holistically.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:51:15):
And the CEOs are like, "No. We got to be very focused." And so they chose to focus on ethnic outcomes, because you can measure it, you can see it impact. Are my sales going out within the Black community? Am I attracting and retaining the Blacks in terms of workforce? Because Blacks at that time were the majority of minority. Flash forward 2010, when we re-introduced the topic, people have to remember there was no change operating system. There was none. Everything had been done either D and I or multicultural marketing. So we had to first develop the operating system. There was no change operating system for the type of outcomes that we provide as it relates to building inclusive employee and customer experiences. The other thing, the second thing I'll say there was no operating system and then when those practices were developed, there was no tech, period. And so then 2019, we started building the software to operationalize and scale what we designed from an experience standpoint. So when you asked the question, like who's doing it? Who's getting it right? I'd say very few.
Alexander McCaig (00:52:45):
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:52:46):
You take GM for instance. I don't know if you guys know, but last year with George Floyd, Black Lives Matter caused a global sense of awareness in terms equity and inclusion. GM comes out, "Hey, we're going to make the personal statement." That's amazing. And then you had other companies that came out and made pledges, all those are amazing things, but you don't do the work in terms of operationalizing change that reflects this New America.
Alexander McCaig (00:53:28):
Thank you. Yeah.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:53:29):
Alexander McCaig (00:53:30):
I'm thinking of GMs board-
Jason Rigby (00:53:31):
Yeah I know.
Alexander McCaig (00:53:33):
All Black guys that smoke cigars.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:53:37):
And so when you think about, we have a client restaurants, associates. 80% of the employees are Black and Brown. What we did with them over the last year and a half was help them culturally transform through this assessment, getting their scoring and working with the ex-co executive committee during the report out, then the experience design. Every company has an experience from an employee standpoint that needs to be reframed, cultural inclusive, take the sample, redesign it, and then scale and sustain that. And if a company is not doing that, you're using an old approach to a new group of users.
Alexander McCaig (00:54:33):
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:54:35):
And so that's what we mean in terms of doing that work. And it takes two to three years at a minimum because you've been in business for 50, 60, 70 years all geared toward one group, a majority population.
Alexander McCaig (00:54:51):
Yeah. No, that's hard. I don't know if your parents are still alive-
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:54:55):
Alexander McCaig (00:54:56):
That's like going to a family dinner and then trying to change everybody's mindset.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:55:01):
Oh, it's tough.
Alexander McCaig (00:55:03):
Right. Am I off with that analogy here? I feel like that's what it is.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:55:11):
No. You're not. Look, you're spot on. Imagine the family types of conversations you have too and the tension associated with that. So that's why we have to be evidence-based. Some people say, "Well, [crosstalk 00:55:26] Jeffrey why is it that you just don't..." To your point, we talked about investors, we've talked to a couple of VCs and they immediately want you to go to software. We're software as a service, we're a software service company. We say that intentionally, because you're not going to solve this problem just software alone, the services sets up the software. And if not, great, we'll take your money, but you're not going to solve the problems strictly based on software, because you're then assuming your customers or your clients know how to solve it and they're just using a software to enable it and that’s [crosstalk 00:56:09].
Alexander McCaig (00:56:08):
You should have used the Reframe software on the VC.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:56:11):
Alexander McCaig (00:56:12):
I got to tell you the benchmark is real low, yeah.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:56:15):
It's so hard. You guys have been out there, sometimes it’s like, guys hard mentality, good luck with that.
Jason Rigby (00:56:26):
It's actually comical. Well, I got to tell you, we're creeping up on the hour here.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:56:34):
Yeah. That was quick. Oh my goodness.
Jason Rigby (00:56:37):
Well, it’s nice, because you get in the zone and every time you tee me up and you say, "Look, you got my attention. I'm watching." You know what I mean? I'm waiting for that good thought to roll out.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:56:47):
Jason Rigby (00:56:48):
So other than the fact that everybody should sign up and use your software that's bar none-
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:56:53):
Jason Rigby (00:56:54):
Yeah. Software and services. I'm sorry. It's that VC mindset again. So Silicon Valley of me. What is it in terms of a message you would like to leave not only for the executives of these larger Fortune 500 or Fortune 1000s, but what is the message you want to leave for all of the people across the world that interact with these brands to know that what you are doing is trying to create that bridge from an internal aspect and then the external aspect? Can you please share with us what you'd want to leave with them?
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:57:31):
I think that for companies that truly want to build a brand or a company for generations to come, every brand, every company needs to culturally transform. And when we think about the way that organizations are addressing change today we need these companies to address change in the same way that they would address a change of going from analog to digital. It needs to be an approach that's structurally different and sustainable as it relates to that change, that reflects this New America or a new world. And that's really the message there. I continue to look at my industry that I came from, advertising and marketing. Every major media company today in 2020, that's coming out with pronouncements that we're going to invest in Black media. Okay. Now, why is that an issue? Well, the marketing communications industry is about $700 billion global industry. And when companies decide to do things strictly based on race and identity, that means you designate a percentage of your spend to this community. Well, I'm a Black owned business. I'm not only wanting to get the Black dollars, but I want to get all the dollars.
Jason Rigby (00:59:43):
Jeffrey L. Bowman (00:59:44):
So there in itself another example of the wrong approach. I want to compete for the entire $700 billion, and not the 5% of the $700 billion. And so that's what I mean in terms of structural change that needs to happen for companies and approaching it from a 1960s mindset.
Jason Rigby (01:00:17):
Jeffrey L. Bowman (01:00:19):
Does that make sense?
Jason Rigby (01:00:21):
That makes abundantly clear sense to us over here. Okay. So Jeffrey, thank you again so much for coming on the TARTLE to share this. If any of your clients need a truly representative global statistical set of people to really understand what's going on, feel free to send them our way.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (01:00:45):
[crosstalk 00:25:33] over here. Awesome.
Jason Rigby (01:00:49):
But you championing this message is phenomenal. It's completely uphill for you to work with these corporations. I feel like you're going to every dinner table in America, but just remember you have the rest of humanity behind you and all of us. So thank you again for all of your work.
Jeffrey L. Bowman (01:01:07):
Well, thank you guys for your time. All right.
Jason Rigby (01:01:10):
Speaker 4 (01:01:18):
Thank you for listening to TARTLE Cast with your hosts Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby where humanity's steps into the future and the source data defines the path. What's your data worth?
Jason Rigby (01:01:37):
Was that clear?