Cambrian Berry in front of a workshop wall

Catalyzing innovation: an interview with Cambrian Berry

May 31, 2022

Professionals working in the experience innovation field represent an array of skills and knowledge: Designers and managers, researchers and engineers, data-driven and creative folks, CX, UX, EX… the profession has many faces. We are thrilled to have a truly inspiring CX expert share some of his background, his learnings, and a few insights into his work: please meet Cambrian Berry!

My job / my role/ how I call myself

My current job is working as an “Innovation Catalyst” in the Mental Health and Wellbeing space. I am currently working with an organisation called Ember Innovations to help create systems change and nurture the conditions for innovation for people who want to change the way we look at and respond to wellbeing. There’s a lot of jargon for you! However I really like the term catalyst, I like being able to see patterns, and to work in the space between organisations and form relationships that have never existed before.

a profile image of Cambrian Berry

My service design background

I got the opportunity to learn Service Design kind of by accident when I was offered the chance to work on a project focussed on equity and financial access to home ownership for different cultural groups living in our city.

My original training in Ecology really helped me to see patterns and connections within systems, so I could excel at this type of work.

Through this project I got offered a job working at an amazing Service Design agency in New Zealand called Thinkplace which focuses a lot of its work on projects that have an impact on positive social outcomes. At Thinkplace I was immersed in the world of CX and Service Design and learnt a lot of the fundamental skills that I carry through my work to this day. Learning how to connect with people, understand their needs and how we are able to structure society using these insights has been an invaluable skill throughout my career.

How I got into service design

Pure luck! Sometimes it’s amazing how small opportunities can turn into life-changing moments. I guess what has kept me in this space is the belief that everything has latent potential, it’s just waiting to be unlocked. I believe that humans are incredibly intelligent, we often just end up using our tools to exploit others, rather than raise them up. By harnessing powerful business tools, then applying them to social issues I can have a positive impact on the world around me, and I find that very satisfying.

My unconventional skill that helps me with service design

I’m not afraid to pick up the telephone, or write an email, or connect with someone on linkedin. For me Service Design is a real learning adventure, and to learn well you must be able to connect with others.

When the confidence to connect is paired with an attitude that is aligned to purpose, great relationships are able to form, from which new realities are able to be created.

I think another unconventional skill I have is the ability to turn anything into a metaphor, this really helps me look at a problem from many angles, to communicate it to different audiences and to see unique approaches that might otherwise be hidden.

Having a melting pot of a brain is helpful for creativity and pattern finding, just not always the best for remembering people’s names (I’m working on it!)

A great success moment of my career

My lifelong passion is focussed on Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Through my own lived experience I have felt the shift from someone who is insecure and afraid to one that has progressively more self acceptance and self esteem. Feeling this shift has given me an undying passion to have an impact in this space as I can see the impact our emotions have on every aspect of our lives, from our relationships with family and friends, our ability to contribute through work or to have a positive impact on the world around us.

I was offered a job in the last year working in the space of Mental Health and Wellbeing looking at systems change and I consider this to be one of the greatest successes of my career.

When you can combine your skills, passion and ability to contribute to the world around you into one job you get a great sense of alignment and reward.

I hope a lot more people get to experience this in their careers.  

The main skill of a service designer

I think the main skill of a Service Designer is the determination to break down as many assumptions as possible around a certain subject, then use this knowledge to help create new experiences that genuinely help people.

This can be done in a number of ways, however core to this is the idea of compassionate attention. Empathy Interviews are a great way of doing this, giving your attention solely to someone else, to see their situation through beginners’ eyes, to understand their perspective without our previous filters or points of view. I have to work constantly at this, to understand that generalisations are always subject to change, and to always pay attention and to put aside my own ego story of how I want things to be.

My secret way of working that helps me to be successful

I understand things by drawing them out or articulating them in words. A whiteboard is my happy place where I can freely draw out models, connections or processes. Recently because of the pandemic I have been using Miro a lot to dump out the contents of my brain into a convenient place. Not only does this allow me to articulate my own thinking, it also allows me to invite people into the way that I am thinking about things and I can share ideas very easily.  Using tools like this as well allows for collaboration and quick workshopping of ideas and thoughts.

I am also a huge fan of learning by doing. Prototyping is a skill that I continue to develop.

There is so much magic in simply converting a theoretical idea into something tangible that you can work with. I want to be constantly moving forward with momentum, I am only able to do this with testing and reflective learning. To speak with authenticity about anything you must be able to experience and contrast different experiences, prototyping is a great way of doing this.

One thing I would love people to know: Anybody can innovate. All it takes is the willingness to see how you could add value to the lives of others, and the initiative to take some original action that creates that value.

It could be as simple as opening a window in a meeting where people need air to think properly, or as complex as creating a new app that helps people feel connected and valued. In this way everyone can innovate and create positive outcomes in the world around them.  

You can follow Cambrian's work on the following channels

  • Cambrian enjoys talking about mental wellbeing, innovation and how we can create thriving ecosystems that support people’s health.
  • Cambrian on LinkedIn
  • Cambrian's wellbeing blog on Instagram: Alldayawareness

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