Corporate Entrepreneur Interview Series
Jean Marc Landry, Director of Customer Innovation, Atlantic Lottery Corporation
For the first in our series of interviews with corporate entrepreneurs, meet Jean Marc Landry, Director of Innovation for Atlantic Lottery Corporation. Full disclosure, Jean Marc is a client of Market Gravity and we’ve been working on a few different projects for the last year.
Just over a year ago, Jean Marc returned to Atlantic Lottery in Eastern Canada after two years working with the National Lottery in Mauritius (yes, we thought he was crazy too!) We spoke with Jean Marc about his experience over the past year and his journey from innovation novice to an experienced practitioner in the lottery industry.
IM: You’ve done a lot in the past year. What has been key to you?
JML: In my first week on the job, I noticed that the Intrapreneurship Conference was being held in a few days. I booked my tickets and attended the conference with an open mind and a deep desire to learn about how corporates are designing and running successful innovation programs.
I attended the conference and learned about Design Thinking and Lean Startup and probably took 10+ pages of notes. To be honest, I didn’t even know what an MVP was so I spent a lot of time Googling all these new terms once I got back!
I made a conscious effort to follow up with people I’d met — the ones I wanted to speak with and the ones who asked to speak with me as well. Meeting Dan Taylor (former Market Gravity, now GM Innovation at TAL) was a clinching moment, I don’t regret him setting up those calls over and over again!
I’ve learned to proactively set goals and read a lot early on. In the first 6 weeks I was going over stuff in the evening, I didn’t need to do that but I was keen to learn more.
I built my network by knocking on doors trying to meet people. I wanted to get to know things better. Doing that led to more and more introductions. Those introductions have been the basis of a lot of the programs we have in place today.
I’ve also had to be aware not to be invasive on the company. It’s doing what it’s doing and I have to let it do that while I try and help with the future. I try to be humble and not be big headed guy with ‘innovation’ in his title.
Meeting Market Gravity was a piece of this early on. Doing a small piece of work with you guys was helpful for both of us.
IM: Tell me a little more about that.
JML: The experience helped us learn how to work with guys like you, your working style and some of the tools. It also helped you get to know us and the challenges all lotteries are facing right now. A lot of the ideas were already written down but when we got on a big project we could see how customers reacted to them. Whatever momentum we had was increased, you took us from 3rd to 5th gear. You were doing things, bringing them to life. People had day jobs so they would turn around and go ‘holy’.
IM: What about now. You’ve done a lot but where are you looking forward to?
JML: We’ve got momentum, we’ve done a lot but I need to bring something to market quickly. It gets harder in the second year once you’ve got things rolling, but I want to make it real. It can’t stop with prototypes and market tests.
I want a successful launch. It needs to be tangible evidence of the approach. It would give us all confidence.
I feel like I’ve been thrusted into this thought leadership position for the industry, which feels great but I want to keep learning. People keep liking posts from weeks ago which is amazing. I’m not an necessarily an expert and I don’t feel like one.
IM: How are you measuring success?:
JML: We measure it based on concepts that come through to Deliver. We’ve got a goal of 8. So far we’re at about 5. Some of those won’t make it to market for various reasons but it’s about building the funnel.
We’ve got a crowdfunding solution, a retail based solution, a subscription based solution that are close to being ready for launch and we’re in the process of market testing. The subscription one is probably closest which is pretty exciting.
Some of the others in the funnel are about solving pain points which is important. We have others that kind of marry lottery with another existing experience. I think that’s true innovation, the collision of two separate streams of activity. Otherwise it’s invention.
IM: What advice would you give to someone like you 12 months ago?
JML: I’ve been pretty lucky and I think things have turned out well. I’m happy with my approach. There’s been a lot of hard work and planning in there too. That’s good and we’re happy with where we are. Now the focus is on next year so we can say we’ve launched something. These are critical months but you could say that for any time within the first 2 years. It’s hard, there’s an expectation now, but it’s still fun.
IM: What companies inspire you?
Intuit come to mind. They make great products that solve a customer pain point. They also share a lot of really useful tools, they don’t need to do it but it makes you respect them for giving it away.
Google are a good example too. They create so many great products that customers don’t necessarily realize they need.
IM: Are there any people in particular that you’ve been impacted by?
JML: Well on top of the Intrapreneurship Conference, Communitech and you guys. I would have to say Shannon Lucas at Vodafone. She’s a great personality and shares a lot of good advice. She organizes round-table conference calls where people can share their learnings. I’ve taken a lot away from that.
IM: What book do you recommend?
JML: It’s easy to say Lean Startup but I think The Innovators DNA resonated the most with me. It made me realize why corporates find it difficult to innovate. It all comes down to having the right mix of people with the right mix of attributes and experiences.
IM: Products or services you currently love?
JML: Nest — it’s just a great product that has a customer, as well as a business benefit. Google Keyboard — because it makes using my phone easier. Hotspot Parking — I say this all the time, and you tease me for it, but it solves a real pain point of parking when you don’t have cash and the machine doesn’t take card simply. I love it.
IM: What are your favourite tools and techniques?
JML: I think the customer experience mapping was so important as it made people think about the customer first, not the business. By mapping their pain points and coming up with ideas that actually solve them, you make change happen. It’s tough and tiring work but thinking that through really does flush out the details you need to focus on. That was a game changer for us.
IM: Any final piece of advice or closing thoughts?
JML: This work isn’t easy, but it’s fun. It’s gritty and can be tiring but at the end of the day, I feel rewarded to be doing new things to make the lottery better.
We also spoke with members of Jean Marc’s team. Julie LeBlanc-Steeves and Mike Sandalis. Julie is seconded in from HR and is responsible for the catalyst program that trains others in the business with the innovation toolkit.
IM: What’s your favourite product or service innovation at the moment?
JLS: I love the doorbell they’ve put in the Victoria’s Secret fitting rooms. Instead of having to change and find something else or a different size, I can call them and make the process smoother. It’s better for me and the shop assistants. Companies can get great wins with such simple fixes.
IM: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
JLS: I’ve had to learn to be comfortable working with uncertainty and making people feel confident in what they’re doing when it’s uncertain. I’ve found that challenging and I’m still learning to deal with it.
It’s also reinforced how teams need different people. For example here, I have my energy, I know I talk a lot and ask a lot of questions. Mike has a different kind of energy, he’s more zen and calm which is a good balance. Jean Marc has a great vision for what we’re trying to do. We work together and the team is greater than the sum of its parts.
IM: What’s been your favourite book?
JLS: Don’t laugh, but I love Defying Gravity. I know it’s yours and people might find that funny but it really taught me about how to keep going back to it when things get tough. I liked the style of how it was written vs. other business books.
Mike Sandalis has been acting as a product manager, driving concepts through to detailed prototypes and market tests.
IM: What’s your favourite product or service innovation right now?
MS: I’m not sure who the scientist is responsible but the FDA just announced an approved Cancer vaccine. I mean what would even compare to eradicating cancer of any type, in this case I think it was prostate cancer so a pretty important one to never actually get. Personally and globally this one hits home. Outside of that I could get cheesy and suggest “the next one” cause at the end of the day that’s the one that will delight us the most.
IM: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
MS: Ideas breed ideas. Maybe I knew it before but seeing it in action is really motivating. Seriously it’s a muscle and the more you use it the better.
IM: What book would you recommend?
MS: Zero to One by Peter Thiel. I love the concept to explore what is the one truth that very few other people agree with you on. The book is all about finding transformative innovations and I think that is a great perspective as it allows or encourages the mind to stretch itself. When you can dream as part of your work it’s like being a kid all day, no?
For more information about Atlantic Lottery’s innovation journey. Check out: