Patrick Goldsteen (Talpa Radio and JUKE) “If we don’t make mistakes, we’re not experimenting.”
This is the sixth in a series of interviews with innovation managers in Dutch corporates. Follow the Hacking Innovation publication and stay up to date.
Interview with Patrick Goldsteen (37), Innovation Director at Talpa Radio and JUKE
There’s a jungle of pink and green post-its populating the glass wall in Patrick’s office. From left to right, you can read the name of 15 product owners and team leaders he manages and the projects each person is working on. “This is a nice illustration of how my head can overflow here and there,” he laughs. Aside from having chats with people each week — “I try to take on a coaching role” — he’s constantly engaged in forming new connections; a format from Talpa TV that can be introduced at TV 538, for example. One day, he’s busy with a strategic consult for Talpa Network, and the next he’s got a meet-up with a few product owners to ensure they’re still on track with their apps and website performance. “Then I often throw in strategic goals from Talpa Network in the conversation, because together, we still end up finding cross-connections.” This last one is critical, according to Goldsteen, because you only make leaps when you mix in all kinds of creations together. And that’s his super power.
The new world
If you ask Goldsteen what he does exactly as Innovation Director (because he gets that a lot), he just points at the colourful collage of post-its on the wall. “I work for Talpa Radio, which is a part of the bigger Talpa Network. My work varies a lot: think of preparing new teams from product to content, implementing growth hacking, experimenting with product development, launching Voice Skills and creating new formats for TV 538 or our YouTube channels. Our goal for this, for example, is to know how to find our young 538 target group.” Talpa Network must become the media company of the future, says Goldsteen. “These days, it’s quite something to run such a big company that manages so many forms of media. That’s why we invest such much in digital media at Talpa Radio: we want to make leaps, not small steps.”
”You only make leaps when you mix in all kinds of creations together.”
Music streaming service JUKE is an example of such a leap, which Goldsteen keeps under his wing. JUKE is a start-up within Talpa Radio, in partnership with MediaMarkt. “In a nutshell, it’s the bridge between radio and-demand streaming,” he tells. “All of our customers’ listening needs come together here: we offer 50 million songs, the first podcasts, special audio formats, live radio and the best of on-demand radio. It’s all in one place.” Goldsteen calls JUKE “the embodiment of our transformation,” precisely because of the innovative method of working. “We built JUKE together with our users. We do design sprints, users get test panels, we experiment with prototypes and work, for example, with a business model canvas instead of a crystal-clear business model. We do this with an Agile-Scrum team, so we have all the disciplines we need in our team.”
It’s OK to make mistakes
Go ahead and call Goldsteen a full-blooded corporate troublemaker, because there are very few moments during which he’s not swimming against the stream, he laughs. “I’m a bit restless by nature, sometimes things don’t move fast enough for me. That’s why I’m a good fit for Talpa, things here can move fast. Everyone here has a bit of that restlessness. On the other hand, the radio business has been going really well for decades. And here I enter with my ‘full funnel marketing’ and the idea that our distribution model has to change.”
“It’s OK to make mistakes, to dare launch a new format that doesn’t get any viewers at first.”
According to Goldsteen, there’s still some danger lurking around, of him running too far ahead of his troops, with the risk of his team not keeping up. “It’s important that I tell my story really well, so that my team can keep up. And certainly not change things arbitrarily, because that’s really not necessary.” He gives 538’s YouTube channel as example. “There we took the decision to try out different formats; new faces with the combination of our own DJs.” According to Goldsteen, that takes guts. “It’s OK to make mistakes, to dare launch a new format that doesn’t get any viewers at first. This can work out really well if your new show reaches a million, though sometimes another show doesn’t get past 10,000 viewers. It’s too bad, but then you tried it out and you can learn from it.”
“At JUKE, there’s a poster on the wall on which we still write our 10 biggest mistakes. If the list is full, then it’s bitterballen time.”
Goldsteen says that making mistakes by daring is essential. “At JUKE, there’s a poster on the wall on which we still write our 10 biggest mistakes. If the list is full, then it’s bitterballen time.” It’s necessary, he finds, because “if we don’t make any mistakes, we’re not experimenting. And if we’re not experimenting, we’re not going forward.” It’s a fine line, though, he admits. “When you make a mistake, you’re not meeting your targets for the month. We’re still a business.” But then, he wonders, how can you convince someone about a well-thought-out idea that doesn’t work, although its rollout has been executed with all kinds of quality characteristics? In that respect, Talpa Radio learns from JUKE’s way of working, he explains, where it’s common to constantly try out new things. “We’ve had a lot of discussions with the management team, during which I show how we experiment at JUKE, we teach people to suggest a hypothesis beforehand, to make it work, to validate it and make it live. If there’s a solid method, no one should oppose that.”
If Goldsteen does this job right, Talpa Radio is going to be ubiquitous in two years. “Even more than we are now,” he laughs. “As listener, you’ll find radio in whichever way you want it. The entire listeners’ experience is going improve constantly. For example, as you walk in your living room, you tell your smart speaker: ‘Hey Alexa, turn on Radio 538.’ Then the program picks up where you left it off, in the car or at work.” It all sounds so simple, but it’s a complex matter, says Goldsteen. “We have to deal with all kinds of issues. Take the self-driving car, where can be driving hands-free, for example. There, you could safely watch radio instead of just listening. The visual aspect of radio becomes even more important. That’s an issue we also need to deal with during distribution. Before we had our FM antenna and a broadcasting license, now we’re shifting more and more towards listening to digital radio and watching on all kinds of devices.”
There’s always a small risk that while Goldsteen is too busy with the process of optimizing the organization, he ends up with too little time to use his other super power: coming up with new ideas. “The challenge I give myself is to turn the department around. I get energy from launching something like the JUKE Voice Assistant, with which you can talk to the speaker while you’re still listening to the radio.” On the other hand, he’s had a good day if he and his team have come up with that small thing that brings listeners a little closer, he admits. “The best is when we as a team, have managed to reach, or switch on people, as we say here. So, if I watch the aftermovie from a 538 concert that was in the Ziggo Dome, or if I launch a new app with the product team, then I think: cool, together we’re still really shaking things up!”
Current position: Innovation Director at Talpa and JUKE since January 2017
Education: Business Administration and Computer Science at the Amsterdam School of International Business (1996–2001)
Previous positions (selection): Digital Director at Talpa (2015–2017), different positions at Sanoma: from product manager to editor-in-chief at Playboy (2005–2015)
Favourite innovation book: All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin
Essential gadget: Smart Speakers from Amazon or Google
Impressive innovation: SpaceX from Elon Musk
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