People are our greatest assets. They are the foundation for a strong and positive culture. When people in an organisation are given the skills and authority to make important, autonomous decisions, the result is a group of highly engaged individuals who are driven to succeed.
We believe strongly in our people at why innovation!
They are our coworkers, our friends and our family. To celebrate their accomplishments, we want to shine a little spotlight on each of them. So, sit back, relax and learn a little about our consultant from Hong Kong, Dao Wen Chang!
A teacher, a writer and a spy walked into a bar...
Would have been a good start to a joke if the punchline wasn’t that Dao Wen Chang, Senior Consultant at why innovation! already accomplished two out of three of her childhood dreams; she was a teacher and a published writer!
A Taiwan native who travelled the world in pursuit of knowledge, Dao Wen has two Masters’ degrees, one in math (Statistics) and one in creativity (Innovation). Some might consider these qualifications as opposites with no link between the two, but she believes they are analogous to who she is and what she is doing today.
With math, she trained her brain to think logically, allowing her to pursue a lucrative career as an innovation and agile coach. And with innovation, her creative thinking is empowered, enabling her to concoct creative solutions to problems her clients face.
As a matter of fact, the book she wrote centered on the Yijing, the Chinese philosophy of change, juxtaposed with the Western approach for Innovation.
Written for a project for her Master’s Degree program, the book was titled, Creativity and Tao: Introducing creativity through Chinese philosophy. Bought and published by LAP Lambert Academic Publishing in 2012, it was an exploration of a topic suffused within the spheres of logic and creativity.
Source: Dao Wen
This was a mainstay characteristic of Dao Wen – a characteristic she discovered at a young age and represented by her tenacious desire to constantly learn new things.
But it wasn’t until her first job at the age of 24, where she worked as a software engineer at a telecom company in Taiwan, did Dao Wen discover her passion. Having learned about a workshop on creativity, Dao Wen felt an intrinsic pull toward discovering what it had to offer.
Alas, her manager declined her request, stating a desire to protect her from doing additional, unimportant work.
But with her piqued, Dao Wen would not be deterred from learning more.
Finding true north
“My curiosity had to be fulfilled,” she reminisced when talking about that period in her youth.
She attended the workshop and made up for any lapses in productivity at her day job by working nights and weekends. It was a process, but her sacrifice paid off because the workshop helped her to discover, “a new way of working that fits my personality better.”
Emboldened and empowered by this exciting and novel way to create value at her workplace, Dao Wen quickly utilized what she learned to organize workshops for her office. This was at a time before smart phones, apps and GPS. All value-added services for a business had to be implemented through the website.
Dao Wen’s workshops helped to create infrastructure that would improve the quality of life for customers and the company. Some of the services she helped pioneer were:
- A triangle-based, location tracking of trucks through the map on the telecom’s website, including a feature that allows the customer to call the driver directly
- A management system for canned messages to a personal contact list. Customers can pre-book messages to be sent at a particular time to a pre-selected list of contacts for events like Chinese New Year or Christmas. To illustrate this feature, Dao Wen created a demo whereby she sent a message to 150 participants at the same time simply by clicking a button
Today, these features are taken for granted simply for how easily they can be done on the smartphone. Back then, they were revolutionary features not every company had the means to develop and provide.
Her personal investment paid off as the culture in the office improved significantly. Colleagues were happier now that positive changes were being made to their environment. This inevitably resulted in better business results being produced.
Image source: Dao Wen Chang
During this time when employee sentiment and happiness were high, the company produced many new IPs (intellectual properties), no doubt spurred on by a blast of highly engaged and productive individuals prospering in the new culture at the workplace.
While it was certainly a highlight and strong validation for her decision, it wasn’t destined to be a smooth road. Her supportive boss eventually left, taking with him all the trust and freedom she had. The other managers didn’t understand and appreciate what Dao Wen had done.
And so, at the height of this change, she decided she was going to learn more about this creativity topic and how to turn it into a career. Likening her life to a drama series and driven by her passion for this subject, she made the bold decision to quit.
And, like the hero of her own story, Dao Wen left the company and Taiwan, for the United States to find herself and pursue her dreams.
Working for the dream
In America, Dao Wen upgraded her skills, even landing a job as an Innovation trainer & facilitator at a German company based. She made many new friends in the creative field, further enriching her life experience.
Her upward trajectory would continue after attending a creative conference in Buffalo, New York. Deciding that was to be her dream job, Dao Wen visited their New York office after graduating to carve her next path forward.
Nine rounds of interviews later, she was given two weeks to learn a new topic with a final assessment of teaching that topic to their employees. Out of 145 people interviewed, Dao Wen, who displayed a strong ability to handle difficult questions and stress, was chosen.
As part of her hiring, she would eventually be moved to the company’s Shanghai office. Already pregnant at that time, Dao Wen made the trip to Shanghai with three big suitcases to pursue her passion in innovation and begin what would become a long and illustrious career.
Today, Dao Wen has been an Innovation/Agile coach for more than 15 years.
Her resume is impressive. It details a long list of companies where her skills were used to create an innovative, growth thinking environment, conducive to experimentation and creativity.
The years of studying and honing her craft have given her a marvelous insight into the psychology of a person, including how to deal with team dynamics.
Source: Dao Wen Chang
She believes, rightfully so, that engaged employees are happy employees and that happy employees are self-motivated to achieve business objectives. She also believes in customer-centricity and in creating the right solutions to problems faced by the customer.
After all, the difference maker between business objectives and customer/human centricity is culture.
One cannot exist without the other and only when the organisation’s internal compass is pointed in the right direction, that is, creating a healthy environment for their staff and delivering value to their customers can there be true, positive alignment between the two.
Being committed to a positive culture isn’t just for a professional capacity, however. A true, positive culture – one of respect, honesty and transparency without judgement – will bleed into our personal lives as well.
As a strong advocate for Innovation encompassing topics like Design Thinking and Growth Mindset, Dao Wen exemplifies these schools of thought by applying them to her work and personal life.
Through her years of coaching experience, she understands first-hand that these subjects encourage people to adopt an experimental nature; one that is undaunted in the face of failure. As a reframing of how one thinks about challenges, it creates an attitude of improvement rather than one of resignation (Growth Mindset).
As a consultant, she listens intently to the problems of her clients in order to create unique, specific solutions that not only seeks to solve their problem today, but also sets them up to be sustainable and resilient for the future through cultivation of a Growth Mindset.
Growth in all areas
In person, Dao Wen is a thoughtful, considerate and calm individual. What she has learned and taught to her many clients, she also internalizes as lessons to apply in her life.
And as a mother of one, Dao Wen has had to balance the intricacies of being a parent and a working adult with a hectic schedule that involved a lot of travelling, pre-COVID. Her innovation and creativity background helps her educate and manage the household; not unlike working with clients, challenges and all!
Yet, she doesn’t consider being a working mother as a challenge.
Despite feelings of guilt when she travels, she intimates that it was more important to show her children that both parents can pursue careers they like without shirking their parental responsibilities. It is a give and take relationship born out of respect, mutual understanding and transparency, much like the conducive professional environments she helped many organisations develop over the past decade.
And true to having a Growth Mindset, Dao Wen considers the challenge as a mere balancing act of her time, and not a sacrifice. Admittedly, she has a busy life, but it’s one filled with joy and contentment.
Unsurprising then that her personal philosophy to life is aptly contained in this Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “If life were predictable, it would cease to be life and be without flavour.”
It speaks to her nature of embracing uncertainty and surprises with open arms and a positive mindset toward dealing with whatever life throws her way.
But not one to take herself seriously, she suggests in a self-deprecating manner, that perhaps she, ‘is too lazy to make plans for life so, I have to open my arms to uncertainty and surprises.”
Whatever the reasons, Dao Wen consistently faces challenges with a calm, level-headed approach with an attitude of overcoming the problem.
From growing up in Taiwan, then moving to the US before finally settling down in Hong Kong she has faced her fair share of challenges.
She’s certainly accomplished much. So, what’s next for her?
Dao Wen and fellow why innovation! colleagues, Senior Agile Consultants Vikram Asokan, Garfield Ying & Lola Li
No longer holding the aspiration to be a spy, Dao Wen joined why innovation!’s Hong Kong office a year ago, explaining that the opportunity to marry her innovation background with the agile practice as a reason for joining.
She wanted to learn more about agile and what better way than to join a group consisting of one of the most dynamic and committed agile practioners out there?
Much like her creativity and mathematics background agile and innovation connect and complement each other on a deeply fundamental level.
These days, she consults with many clients, and runs projects & workshops that enable her to interface with people from all walks of life.
As to her burgeoning career with why innovation!, Dao Wen posits that, “If you are looking for some challenging work that’ll allow you to grow and work happily together with talents from all over the world, why innovation! is the right place for you,”
And after why innovation!’s acquisition acquisition by global management consultancy, Wavestone, the agile and change management consultancy is on the cusp of expanding into different industries and providing a wealth of opportunity for new consultants to the firm, in Southeast Asia and beyond.
So, if you are looking for an exciting career full of challenges and the opportunity to develop your skills, join why innovation! and take your career to the next level.
But more importantly, you’ll grow your skills exponentially by working with smart, resourceful consultants like Dao Wen.