BIMA 100 2022, an interview with Katz Kiely

By BIMA
17 May 2022

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We sat down with Katz Kiely, CEO of Frontline Live and beep, and BIMA 100 finalist in the Entrepreneurs & Visionaries category for 2022.

Congratulations! You made it into the Entrepreneurs & Visionaries category. What does it mean to you to be one of the BIMA 100 this year?

My schtick is harnessing the power of digital technologies to help humans connect, collaborate, support each other. How digital can help us be better humans.

The entrepreneurial spirit permeates my approach to life and work- whether I’m working inside or outside a company. If there is a problem, the more complex and chunky the better, and I can imagine a way to use digital to fix it – I can’t help myself.

The last couple of years have been challenging for us all. For me, it’s been a time of  learning by doing. It’s been fascinating and jeez have I done and learned a lot.

But there is a mythology that surrounds the entrepreneur, the visionary, the pioneer. That myth is somewhat misleading. Not taking the “path most travelled” can be lonely and challenging.

So I am truly humbled and honoured to be recognised for the work I’ve done. It means the world to me. This award is also a tribute to all the amazing, courageous humans who have supported my journey by dedicating their time, energy and expertise to help turn ambitious ideas into impactful reality.

You have been nominated for the amazing work you’ve done for healthcare workers during the pandemic. Tell us a little bit more about Frontline Live.

I have three key driving principles :

  1. If a vision is strong and clear, people will want to partner to make it happen
  2. If a problem is “unhidden”, people will rally around to solve it
  3. Everything can be better. Always. If you wait for perfect you’ll wait forever.

Best to get something out there, see how people respond and use customer feedback to drive continuous improvement.

Beep, my business, is all about that. We help companies surface hidden blockers and show them how to empower colleagues to collaboratively find and test solutions

Frontline.Live is another manifestation of these principles. It is a winning charity based around an open-source crowd-mapping platform. Developed to address the PPE crisis at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, the decentralised, digital technology was designed, built and delivered by a global network of volunteers. It empowered frontline health care workers to report when PPE supplies ran short, and pinned their needs to a web-based digital map so non-traditional suppliers / citizen activists / makers could see and respond rapidly to those needs.

The platform, and our ecosystem of partners (inc. The Fourth Angel, The Fifth, SnapChat, Microsoft, The Times, MyHermes and many more) delivered half a million items of PPE to our healthcare workers on the frontline.

And not one penny changed hands. Thus is the power of a clear, compelling vision and partnership.

When there is a crisis, people want to help. Technologists, innovators, citizen activists find smart solutions. The crisis wanes. People go back to their day job. The solutions and learnings are lost. The next crisis begins and the cycle starts over.

Frontline Live was built with this challenge front of mind. We built an open source platform that is easy to replicate, deploy and amend according to specific contextual needs. Built, tried, tested and tweaked “in the field” Frontline.Live now has a robust platform that charities can easily and quickly replicate to crowdsource essential supplies in any crisis

The best learnings from each new version of the platform will be merged into the central codebase. Into an infinitely scalable, continuously improving platform that can be used and owned by the public, third and not for profit sectors

We launched Frontline Live Ukraine today. People on the frontline in Ukraine will be able to report when they run out of supplies ( frontlineliveukraine.org) so that people who are crowdsourcing aid can get them what they need, quickly, to keep them safe and healthy in this dreadful time.

Next up is Frontline Live Food to crowdsource just-in-time and mobilise community action to alleviate the burgeoning food poverty crisis. The possibilities are endless.

You have also launched the Humans Leading Humans podcast. Tell us a bit more about that.

Humans Leading Humans is another labour of love. We need better leadership to have a sustainable economy and this podcast is my contribution to spark a movement towards more humans centred leadership.

Experience and research has shown that work environments based on certain conditions support innovative, productive, efficient, collaborative behaviours. In humans centred cultures, people make less mistakes, better decisions and are less likely to leave.

We thrive when we are thanked, rewarded, respected, When we are clear about what we’re doing and why – and are trusted to get on with it.

It’s commons sense. But common sense is not so common in most organisations – private, public, academic.

To many leaders hold tight to traditional operating models built on pillars that are diametrically opposed to the conditions that get the best from people.  Even though the science is clear, the traditional mental model of leadership remains ; alpha, “command and control” “Do what I say, not as I do.” “Stick within the walls of your role and silo.”

Most leaders hold onto the myth that humans make rational decisions. That stats beat stories.  That mandate beats desire.

I’m lucky to have built a network of global leaders who have proved that by creating cultures in which humans thrive – you get more done, more quickly, more effectively.. and have more fun doing it.

But change is hard. Leaders need inspiration and information.

So I decided to collecting and share real, lived leadership stories; warts-and-all lived experiences, the good the bad and the impact of being brave; to inspire leaders to adopt better ways of leading humans towards a future of work that works for people.

I’ve developed a culture audit tool called the CREATE framework which distils of the conditions in which people thrive.  Each of my amazing guests tell three authentic stories of how they have harnessed the power of CREATE to get the best results from their teams.

Every single conversation validates what we all really know to be true. Treat people with respect and they will give you their best. The best thing of all is that guests always thank me for the experience. That’s humbling.  As leaders, we spend so much time doing we don’t allow ourselves the time and space to really focus on what good leadership means

I have interviewed some incredible leaders and behavioural scientists over the last 11 months including :

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