What's it like to be an innovation consultant at Board of Innovation?

Find out from one of our consultants who captured week-long snapshots of her time.

I’m Tarryn Lewis, Innovation Consultant, resident South-African-hug-giver at Board of Innovation.

I was recently asked to name three things I cannot live without lately … Here is my list:

And the water crisis of last winter in South Africa probably exacerbated my relationship with water.

No further comment needed.

As an Innovation Consultant, I’m frequently on the go and always changing it up, so my agenda has really become a reflection of this reality and acts as a plug-in for my life, both personally and professionally.

Hard to say I’m a typical Innovation Consultant – none of us ever have a ‘usual’ day or schedule. But in my case, the typical week is usually spent half in Belgium and half abroad. If you’re interested in what this entails, or you’re willing to apply for an innovation consultancy, scroll down to get a glance of what the life an Innovation Consultant looks like at Board of Innovation.

Monday, 12th of March.

After my usual “office” breakfast (a bowl of oats with almond milk and a cup of peppermint tea), I’m ready to tackle my Monday morning. I start with some catch-up, checking emails and reviewing last week’s to-do list. I check my agenda – priority goes to the 2-day problem fit workshop for ING coming up in Poland later in the week. I take some time then to finalize the deck and workshop materials. And yes, the one in the first picture is my desk, in a rare moment of neatness, with a little flag from South Africa – thanks Klara (Office Manager) and Nele (Culture Lead) for taking care of our national pride (pic 1).

I then had to coordinate with the Unilin team via Doodle for the program plan (workshop dates & topics). We needed to find a date suitable for us all to attend a session in April. We also defined 6 more dates for ideation and inspiration sessions, which need to take place before June. When logging these finalized dates into my agenda I realized that there was a conflict – I would be in Dallas for another client at the time of one of the proposed workshop dates. I quickly had to find another consultant at Board of Innovation with an empty space in their agenda to lead the session in my absence – the problem was swiftly solved. 

It’s already lunchtime and I’ve finished 1,5 liters of water. At Board of Innovation we have lunch together, prepared by our superwoman Klara. For traveling consultants, this is an awesome moment to chat and catch up on what’s happening in the office. We usually have a different soup every day, but today I opted for a salmon wrap.

After lunch, I scheduled all my client calls. I confirmed workshop dates, sent drafts and content plans with Unilin – we’re good to go!

I then had a quick call with the Engie team to finalize their pitches and support needs ahead of their pitch day.

For the next call, I sat together with my circle lead, Vincent, to discuss with GSK the upcoming workshops which I’ll be leading, as well as potential new opportunities.

It’s time for Todora and me to join Yinlei (Human Centered Designer) for onboarding onto the Proximus transformation project. We went downstairs to the coffee shop and we let Yinlei brief us over the main elements of joining the lighthouse projects at Proximus (pic 3).

Back in the office. Spent the next hour adding content to our investment playbook. This is personally exciting for me to be working on, along with Julie (Innovation Consultant). For Van Hoecke, our playbook will guide organizations step by step on how to approach an investment decision, by going through the process of validating a venture and assessing if the opportunity makes sense both strategically as well as financially.

I recently signed up for a 3,5 km open water swim to an island in Italy at a marine reserve in the Mediterranean Sea in October this year. I schedule in moments on my agenda when I’m in Antwerp (not traveling) to head to the pool after work for a solid 8pm – 10pm training session (pic 4). #goals #swimtheisland

Tuesday, 13th of March.

I spent some more time tweaking the deck and aligning with my co-facilitator, Simone (Innovation Consultant) ahead of the workshops for ING in Poland. The key to the problem-fit phase is to really focus on customer empathy, so we added inspiring cases to get the message across.

Sometimes we spice up team lunch. Today we used leftover bananas to make pancakes to accompany our usual soup and sandwiches. This time Simone did the honors. I also decided to take a 5-minute walk in the park near the office for some fresh air (pic 1 & 2).

Deck completed and forwarded to the local team in Poland and other relevant stakeholders ahead of our session this week. We also printed all the materials and packed the workshop bag for the problem fit workshop – good to go (pic 3)!

Tuesdays are Proximus days 🙂 The internal BOI Proximus team gathered to share and align regarding the various projects currently running. 

Straight from the office at 5pm and off to Brussels airport for the 15th time this year. My flight took off at 07:05pm and I had time to eat at my favorite airport restaurant in Frankfurt during the layover (pic 4). The restaurant staff knows me well from eating there every single flight I have via Frankfurt (17 already). It’s safe to say I’m a VIP at Coa by now 😁 I also manage to sneak in some work there usually, which is great for boosting productivity. Simone and I caught our connecting flight just in time and finally landed in Katowice at 11:00pm. After another 40-minute cab ride, we finally reached our hotel. Time for a well deserved nights rest and some chocolate before bed. #dobranoc

Wednesday, 14th of March.

Back to the fitness at 6am and even had some time to spend 15 minutes in the sauna ahead of our second day of workshops.

In this session, we focussed on developing interview techniques to have the first customer interviews to explore the real needs of customers related to the challenges. We wrapped up with next steps and a short Polish goodbye as I would be back one week later for 1-on-1 coaching with each team. #tak #dobje

The flight took off in Katowice at 07:05pm, we had another layover in Frankfurt where of course we eat at Coa again (predictable) (pic 2, 3 & 4). I finally landed in Brussels at 22:25pm and took the train back to Antwerp. Again, I had a comforting piece of dark chocolate before tucking into bed at 12:30 am #noshame

Thursday, 15th of March.

A few hours of sleep later and straight to the hotel fitness center at 6am (pic 1). When frequently traveling, it’s crucial to make time for taking care of your body. I tend to include it in my agenda to really convince or remind myself to go 😅 This workout was followed by a healthy breakfast at the hotel as fuel for a full day of facilitation (pic 2).  

At the session, we entered the first phase of problem-fit by really focussing on customer empathy and how to do customer interviews. We covered customer journey mapping, value proposition defining and then extracting the underlying assumptions (pic 3 & 4).

Friday, 16th of March.

It’s Friday. At 8 am I traveled from Antwerp to Sint-Niklaas with Julie to do a factory tour at Van Hoecke, innovative furniture manufacturer (pic 1).

After the grand tour of the showroom and factory, Julie and I had our final conclusion meeting to wrap up the project we recently completed with them. We looked back on the steps involved in venture validation, shared insights and spoke about the investment playbook. We also sent them a few great books to read as resources for running lean organizations. 

It’s been a long week! Decided to catch up with Peter, a colleague from marketing at BOI. We went out for our ritual once-a-month brunch (pic 2). #its2018 #nomenu #weorderfrominstagram

I had a briefing and alignment meeting with Jentzen and Yinlei for the Design Thinking Academy, a three-day Design Thinking Sprint including a Crash Course, we will host for Proximus at the beginning of next week! 

At BOI we are organized in self-steering circle’s – basically mini BOI’s within BOI. Our Marula circle (Marula is a fruit, eaten by elephants in Africa 🐘), includes Vincent, Julie, Nick, and Claire. Twice a month we have an office day at BOI (a full day & a half day). On these days, most consultants try to schedule a time to be in the office and we are able to find moments for standup meetings with our circle’s to update and share with each other (pic 3).

The program in Katowice, Poland is in full swing, and I am already preparing the planning for the workshop, as well as the next cycle which is set to kick off in Istanbul, Turkey. I started the alignment and planning for the workshops and coaching sessions with the teams who will be taking up challenges from their backlogs.

6pm comes around, and it’s finally weekend! Julie and Mike organized a poker night and quite a few colleagues have decided to test out their best poker faces with each other. I was satisfied with being a stealthy observer and watching our co-founder, Phil, come out victorious!
This was all topped off with pizza’s and washed down with Belgian water (read Stella) (pic 4). #pah #pah #pah #pokeface #pah #pah #pokeface 

Inspired & ready for your next job in innovation?