Business Growth

Business Growth

David A. Fields shares a consulting checklist that identifies how to elevate your practice. 

You run a great consulting firm. You can point to glowing testimonials and clients who stick with your consulting firm like fluffernutter pasted to the roof of a six year-old’s mouth.

And while you originally found your consulting firm’s tagline on a pizza box (“You’ve tried the rest, now try the best”), you still believe your team delivers better results and value than the average crew of consultants. Let’s benchmark your performance against the traits of the very best consulting firms.

What does separate the very best consulting firms from the great? Much like this companion article about the very best clients, we can sort consulting firm behaviors into Rock Bottom, Rock Solid and Rock Star.

The list of traits below is purposely incomplete. It desperately needs input from thoughtful consultants like you.”

7 TRAITS OF ROCK STAR CONSULTING FIRMS

  • Declines projects that are outside the consulting firm’s area of expertise, and actively finds an outstanding, alternate resource for the client.

  • Proactively thinks and acts beyond the strict bounds of the consulting engagement to help the client achieve their goals, while alerting the client well in advance if the client’s request or a requirement to achieve the goals is substantially outside of scope.

  • Delivers A-level work ahead of schedule by exquisitely balancing the quality of work with speed of delivery. (A.k.a. “Working to a 95” unless speed of delivery is unimportant to the client, in which case “Working to a 98” is the rule.)

 

Read the full post, 7 Traits That Separate The Very Best Consulting Firms From The Rest, on DavidAFields.com. 

 

Johannes Hoech provides a path to faster revenue growth.

If you want to know how your marketing and demand gen teams performed last quarter, you’re in luck. There’s a slew of marketing and revenue analytics tools geared at measuring historical lead generation and conversion rates and attributing past revenue to lead sources.

But if you’re the CEO of a small to medium-sized tech startup, your true objective is to minimize your time to future revenue – and last quarter’s metrics alone aren’t going to get you there. Sure, historical performance can offer lessons in how to optimize going forward – but, for the most part, the past is the past, especially if the underlying data is insufficient or of low quality. The key to faster and greater revenue lies not in recapping last quarter but in accurately forecasting achievable performance for the rest of the year. That’s what the Board wants. That’s how you identify the resources necessary to hit your number. That’s how you win.

And what tools do today’s CEOs use for their forward-looking objectives? Little more than homegrown spreadsheets full of numbers, distributed across various computers in their companies. Between the CFO’s company model, the CRO’s bottom-up forecast or quota capacity model, the CMO’s marketing metrics, Revenue Operations’ pipeline calculations, and the CEO’s own model, there often are five or more spreadsheets … that don’t talk to each other and that often are based on different assumptions that can’t model the complexities of a company’s growth. And trying to cascade a coordinated set of changes through these disconnected spreadsheets takes days or weeks to ensure everyone is in sync – if ever.

It’s long past time to shift from backward-facing marketing analytics tools or simple, disconnected spreadsheets to forward-looking “Growth ArchitectingTM”. This means investing in planning tools and approaches built to produce reliable company growth plans, enabling CEOs and CROs to actually succeed in their jobs without having to report to the board at the end of the quarter being on the defensive (for a deeper analysis of these risks, see our recent blog, “Are you missing your number or is someone over-forecasting?”). By making these shifts, C-level leaders can accomplish two things:

Faster time to revenue – They’ll have the data-driven plan they need to start producing revenue sooner.

A steeper ramp – Not only will the money come in faster, there will be more and more of it as time goes on.

Key points include:

  • Legacy tools
  • Growth architecting

 

Read the full article, Path to Faster Revenue Attainment – And Steeper Revenue Ramps, on Premonio.com. 

 

Wojciech Gryc shares an article that explains how to bring assets onto blockchain from both a legal and logistical perspective. 

Most of the excitement in crypto today focuses on digital assets: governance tokens, community memberships, NFTs, and more. There’s an incredible amount of innovation here… But how do we bring physical assets onto blockchains?1

Bringing assets onto crypto and fractionalizing them is still a new territory, both legally and from a logistics perspective. We’ll discuss how this is done, but let’s begin with a few examples of what this looks like:

FTX lets you buy tokenized stocks; crypto assets that are tied directly to individual stocks, as well as some of their underlying rights, like dividend distributions.

Klima DAO and Toucan enable you to buy and trade tons of CO2 that have been successfully removed from the environment.

You can buy 2000 lbs of tungsten on OpenSea.

ConstitutionDAO is looking to buy the only privately-owned copy of the US constitution and have members of its DAO fractionally own it.

Bacon Coin enables you to buy coins that are staked to mortgages and houses.

The examples above illustrate just how versatile coins representing real-world assets could be. Whether you’re trading carbon credits, art, or houses, you can do so in a fractionalized manner… This can create completely new asset classes and ways of bartering and exchanging value2.

How does this work?

Building a coin that tracks or is pegged to a specific real-world asset comes with challenges. In most cases, such an asset still needs a centralized authority or owner to monitor and track the underlying asset.

This can be done in two ways: (1) have the team managing the coin tie the asset to the coin itself, or (2) have an external party manage this staking and connection to the coin. For example, Bacon Coin directly manages the mortgage contracts and their tokenization to bHome. The same is true for the ~2000 lbs of tungsten you can buy. On the other hand, FTX and ConstitutionDAO both use (or plan to use, in the latter case) a third-party organization who manages the stocks and assets on behalf of coin holders.

This management of the asset begs the question: do we need an oracle-like entity to merge real-world assets into crypto space? In short: yes.

 

Key points include:

  • How it works
  • The Kilma case study
  • The real-world opportunity of crypto

Read the full article, Putting Real-World Assets on Crypto, on 10MillionSteps.com.

As the year’s end approaches, Ximena Jimenez shares a timely post on how to transform the year-end budgeting process into an additional opportunity.

Year end is, undoubtedly, the moment which most of us choose to reflect on the past and think about the future.

I do not know why, but it seems we need a milestone, a ritual, to stop, observe, analyse and reflect on what we did and what we left undone in the year that we are leaving behind, the achievements we made, those which we are yet to achieve, the triumphs, the defeats, what we learnt and what is left to be learnt…

And along with these observations it comes the setting of goals, the creation of plans and the time to commit. And in this way, we put our hopes into the new year which we will generally start out with energy, enthusiasm and optimist.

I wonder why year end is not similar inside the companies…

Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but in the vast majority of cases I have seen, lived, watched and accompanied (as a business consultant or Board member), year-end is a time of the year that is packed with stress, tension and almost entirely focused on closing the budget exercise for the upcoming year. Unfortunately, in the mainstream of the cases, it is the one and only milestone or ritual that is used to evaluate the previous term and plan for the future.

 

Key points include:

  • Overlooking the context
  • Looking at the entire pathway
  • An entire organisation thought process

 

Read the full article, Year-end and Strategic Remarks, on LinkedIn.

Xavier Lederer explains how to grow your company by focusing on your customers. 

 You are not competing directly against your competitors, you are competing to be unique in the marketplace.

What does your most valuable prospect look like? “Probably a lot like your existing valuable customers. The easiest and most profitable growth will be achieved by adding additional customers very much like your current most valuable customers,” explains Robert Bloom in his book “The Inside Advantage.” Clients you resonate with will bring clients in the same vein. The key question is: Who is your ideal customer – how do you identify and describe them – and how will you solve their problem?

Shifting ideal customers

This wisdom is more relevant now than ever: because of Covid customers have changed. Some have disappeared, others have shifted from in-store to online, and others have increased their purchases. As a result, the assumptions you had about your ideal customers may no longer be relevant. And yet: you really need to know your ideal customer if you want to grow your business.

All customers are not created equal. Your ideal customer is an existing customer (not a hypothetical one), buys from you for optimal profit and refers you to other prospects – new customers who are likely to be remarkably similar to your current, ideal customers. Once you have identified your ideal customer you can find out whether there are enough of them to reach your goals – and define whether you need to expand into an additional segment.

Your ideal customer is a breathing, living human being

The thing is: It is not enough to define your customers as a market statistic – you can’t get to know a statistic. You have a much better chance of selling to someone you really know and understand. If you can’t answer the following questions, chances are that you don’t really know your ideal customer:

How many customers generate 80% of my gross margin, and who are they?

What is the name of the decision-makers of my top 10 clients, and how much do I know the socio-demographic (e.g. age, gender, background) and psychographic (e.g. lifestyle, risk attitude) profile of each of them?

How much do I know the needs and fears of each of these decision-makers? What are their desires? What are their pressures?

How much do I understand the problem of my top 10 customers – not just their surface problem, but also their root problem? Why do they have this problem? Why are they coming to me (and not to my competitors) to solve their problem?

 

Key points include:

  • The Gap brand promise
  • Needs and fears of decision-makers
  • Mapping your customers’ challenges

 

Read the full article, Want to Grow Your Company? Focus on Who, on AmbroseGrowth.com.

Johannes Hoech explains what companies can do to be more confident in their ability to hit their numbers.

In a perfect world, your company would hit its revenue projection every time. In a good-enough world, you’d hit it at least most of the time. Unfortunately, the current reality may not reflect either of those scenarios. Small Business Trends reports that in 2018, 46% of sales reps missed their quotas. According to Forbes, the previous year it was even higher, at 57%.

How did we get here? Why have one-year revenue forecasts proved as unreliable as one-week weather forecasts? And what can companies do to be more confident in their ability to hit their numbers?

When a sales team falls short of its quota goal, the common reflex is to assign the blame to the sales reps and their managers. But in our experience, the underlying problem just as often turns out to be overly optimistic, imprecisely formulated revenue growth forecasts.

With this in mind, it’s important for companies experiencing quota shortfalls to consider a fundamental question:

Is your team underperforming, or is someone over-forecasting?

This report will drill down into this question, diagnose some outdated norms that have led to such high rates of quota shortfalls, and show how teams can create a roadmap to consistent alignment between forecasted revenue and actual revenue using a process we call Growth ArchitectingTM. This will empower teams to:

Improve relations among C-Suite leaders, especially sales and marketing

Keep the company in good standing with the board

Validate their growth strategy without spending three or four quarters on trial and error – leading to accelerated time-to-revenue.

Underperforming vs. Over-Forecasting: A Case Study

A good place to start exploring this issue is with a recent case involving an information security software company. When the company’s CEO announced the coming year’s forecast in Q4, the Revenue Operations teams took it at face value. The CRO mapped out a plan, and everyone was off to the races.

The Sales and Marketing teams were able to deliver expected growth numbers quarter after quarter – but they were one quarter delayed compared to the CEOs original Q4 forecast – and by the end of the year, they had fallen short of the CEO’s projection. Instead of rewarding the best quarter-to-quarter revenue growth the company had experienced in its history, despite the one quarter delay, finger-pointing ensued as the board looked for someone upon whom to hang the failure. In this case, that person ended up not the CEO but the Head of Sales.

Key points include:

  • Underperforming vs. over-forecasting: a case study
  • Why forecasts and actuals get disconnected

  • The fallout from inaccurate revenue projections

 

Read the full article, Are you missing your number or is someone over-forecasting?, on Premonio.com.

Kedar Gharpure shares an article that identifies key factors involved in B2B value-based pricing.

You have likely read articles about Value-Based Pricing (VBP) – after all, the concept has been around for several decades. However, our review of over 50 VBP articles from the top search results highlight that a) there is very little VBP literature geared towards B2B and b) no single article provides a comprehensive and actionable overview of VBP for B2B. 

In this article, we provide a complete overview of VBP, specifically for B2B companies.

First, we would encourage you to take this short quiz

Note down your answers as we would like you to re-take this quiz after you have read the article.

VBP is offering ‘value products’ i.e. cheaper products [True / False?]

VBP makes sense only for truly differentiated products [True / False?]

VBP can be defined only when developing / upgrading products [True / False?]

VBP is less effective when the competition is high [True / False?]

VBP is developed only by the Product and Marketing teams [ True / False?]

Once you have developed VBP you can use it with all your customers [ True / False?]

WHAT is Value-Based Pricing (VBP)?

Value-based pricing is an approach to determine the price of your product based on the value it provides to your customers. A very simple example is from the B2C world – a retailer will sell a bottle of water or a pack of crisps a higher price on the top of a mountain or in a tourist hot-spot, vs. its price in a local supermarket. In this example, the consumer will pay a premium for the convenience of buying the water or the crisps in those locations. We use this example to highlight an important aspect of VBP, that the value you provide to a customer is not just based on the specs and features of your product. After all, it is the same water that is being priced differently.

 

Key points include:

  • Why you should consider VBP
  • When you should develop VBP
  • Who should develop VBP

 

Read the full article, The 6Ws of Value-based Pricing for B2B, on B2BGrowthConsulting.com.

 

In this article, Jeffery Perry writes about frothy mergers and acquisitions, synergy expectations, and integrations.

Despite the business challenges of the global pandemic, global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in 2021 has been at record levels across sectors. For corporations, private equity (PE) firms, and special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), when M&A deals happen, headlines rightfully focus on valuations and strategic rationale. For corporate combinations and PE rollups, synergy expectations and integration approaches garner a great deal of attention as well. However, for M&A to be fully successful, there is a need to navigate through a series of unsung risks, most notably the internal controls environment of the acquired entity. Unchecked controls can negatively impact the achievement of goals and objectives that grab headlines and attention. 

According to Bloomberg, global M&A deal value through three quarters of 2021 reached $4.28 trillion, exceeding the all-time annual record of $3.96 trillion set in 2015. There has been robust activity across sectors including technology, healthcare, financial services, media, energy, and manufacturing. Corporations have led the way, representing 60% of deal value, followed by PE at 32%, and emerging SPACs at 8%. Going forward, there appears to be a strong pipeline of M&A potential through the remainder of 2021, leading into 2022. While supply chain disruptions, inflation, and labor shortages may put a damper on some M&A activity, this has yet to materialize. Buyers thus far have managed to “walk and chew gum” as they pursue deals.

 

Key points include:

  • Synergy expectations
  • Integration approaches
  • The internal controls environment

 

Read the full article, Beyond M&A Flash, Winners Manage Unsung Risks, on LeadMandates.com. 

Ramon Saravia shares an always useful post on how to improve the bottom line by reducing purchasing costs. 

In many companies, the purchasing area is only seen as a transactional function, attached to the routine . In these companies, purchasing is just another function to acquire what is necessary for the company’s operations. Typically, one, two, or three quotes are requested for each order for products or services, and the area chooses the supplier with the lowest price.

This brings a loss of value to companies, mainly due to:

(A) More expensive prices: even when there are eventually some price agreements, many companies do not properly leverage their purchasing power for the main categories – mainly because of the dispersion of purchases among several suppliers, the lack of contracts, or the negotiated contracts inappropriately.

(B) More costly operating model: due to inadequate processes, organization, technologies and/or metrics, for many companies the purchasing area ends up being inefficient – ​​to carry out the same volume of operations, a greater effort is needed (e.g., it is a larger team of people, etc.), consequently translating into an also higher operating cost.

To solve the first of the questions, (A) more expensive prices, the company must review its purchasing strategy:

First, it must perform a purchase analysis and diagnosis: this evaluation includes everything from the analysis of the purchase history, the categorization of purchases, the elimination of non-addressable categories (ex.: JV, contractual agreements, etc.), to the segmentation and prioritization of purchasing categories. At this stage, the action plan and cost reduction estimates by category for the short, medium and long term are also prepared.

Second, the company needs to implement the opportunities identified (in the previous step) : this step includes everything from the detailing of internal purchasing and market information for each prioritized category, the identification of suppliers and negotiation of proposals, to the initial delivery of the expected savings.

To solve the second of the questions, (B) more costly operating model , the company needs to review each of the 4 pillars of the operating model (processes, organization, technology and metrics) , develop them and align them correctly.A company can negotiate a number of very good contracts, but without clearly defined mechanisms for managing and measuring performance, contracts will struggle to achieve the benefits initially estimated. Similarly, purchasing technology can provide all the information executives need to make informed purchasing decisions, but this capability is meaningless if the organization has not well-defined decision rights that identify who decides and who will be responsible for your results. In other words, to ensure adequate and consistent capture of the gains identified in the new purchasing strategy, it is critical to adjust the operating model.

 

Read the full post, Strategy, Implementation, Results, on Ramonsaravia.blogspot.com. 

Xavier Lederer explains a key step to take to help grow your business.

You are not competing directly against your competitors, you are competing to be unique in the marketplace.

What does your most valuable prospect look like? “Probably a lot like your existing valuable customers. The easiest and most profitable growth will be achieved by adding additional customers very much like your current most valuable customers,” explains Robert Bloom in his book “The Inside Advantage.” Clients you resonate with will bring clients in the same vein. The key question is: Who is your ideal customer – how do you identify and describe them – and how will you solve their problem?

Shifting ideal customers

This wisdom is more relevant now than ever: because of Covid customers have changed. Some have disappeared, others have shifted from in-store to online, and others have increased their purchases. As a result the assumptions you had about your ideal customers may no longer be relevant. And yet: you really need to know your ideal customer if you want to grow your business.

All customers are not created equal. Your ideal customer is an existing customer (not a hypothetical one), buys from you for optimal profit and refers you to other prospects – new customers who are likely to be remarkably similar to your current, ideal customers. Once you have identified your ideal customer you can find out whether there are enough of them to reach your goals – and define whether you need to expand into an additional segment.

Your ideal customer is a breathing, living human being

The thing is: It is not enough to define your customers as a market statistic – you can’t get to know a statistic. You have a much better chance of selling to someone you really know and understand. If you can’t answer the following questions, chances are that you don’t really know your ideal customer:

How many customers generate 80% of my gross margin, and who are they?

What is the name of the decision-makers of my top 10 clients, and how much do I know the socio-demographic (e.g. age, gender, background) and psychographic (e.g. lifestyle, risk attitude) profile of each of them?

How much do I know the needs and fears of each of these decision-makers? What are their desires? What are their pressures?

How much do I understand the problem of my top 10 customers – not just their surface problem, but also their root problem? Why do they have this problem? Why are they coming to me (and not to my competitors) to solve their problem?

 

Key points include:

  • Shifting ideal customers
  • Brand promise
  • Key demographics

 

Read the full article, WANT TO GROW YOUR COMPANY? START WITH WHO, on AmbroseGrowth.com.

Ian Mombru shares six takeaways on selling your business to a Chinese buyer. 

Earlier this week, ChemChina’s US$44bn acquisition of Syngenta, the largest ever by a Chinese buyer, took a major step towards completion, securing clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS).  The transaction helped propel the first half of 2016 to an all time record of US$121bn of cross-border deals by Chinese companies, more than the full year total for all prior years.

This trend shows no signs of abating. In pursuit of diversification from a slowing domestic economy and a weakening currency, and supported by favourable domestic financing and regulatory environments, Chinese investors are scouring the globe for potential targets, across an ever wider range of industries.

For M&A practitioners, courting prospective Chinese buyers is an increasingly critical pillar of a successful sales process, yet for many, the experience is an unfamiliar one.

I’ve highlighted six key takeaways from advising on both the buy and the sell side of Chinese cross-border transactions. While these observations are mainly drawn from private M&A deals, the lessons also apply to public offers – subject of course to compliance with any applicable takeover regulations in the target’s jurisdiction.

 

Key points include:

  • Casting a wide net
  • Familiarise yourself with PRC Outbound regulations
  • Subtly managing competitive tension

 

Read the full article, Selling Your Business to a Chinese Buyer, on LinkedIn.

Gather Insights – Reap Strategic Growth

In this article, Caroline Taich shares key steps that can be taken towards gathering insights for strategic growth.

I have been out talking with organizations about strategic growth. It’s a topic I’ve been attracted to throughout my career. When I think about growth there are three principles that I regularly come back to: Get out of the building. Prioritize your energy. Be clear on your definition of success. I’ll talk about the first today.

Get out of the building, watch, and listen. Don’t underestimate the value of talking to customers, competitors, staff, board members, and collaborators to gather insight. For example, one medical device manufacturer that I served early in my McKinsey career asked, how can we improve the performance of our sales staff? One way to answer to this question was to spend time with the top performers. I rode in the car with Michael, one of the highest grossing sales agents, observing him. I learned he was organized, and had a clear, prioritized list of all the decision makers he wanted to visit. I was impressed with his deep understanding of the product and its value proposition. But most importantly? He brought doughnuts on every sales call. Doughnuts got him an “in” to the hospital break rooms where staff hung out; this is where he built relationships, and gathered insight. We put “bring doughnuts” in the sales training playbook, and it helped!

Market research is something that I love to do and over the years I have developed a number of strategies to help me do it. Here are a few of my favorites:

 

Key points include:

  • Use food strategically
  • Give back 
  • Focus and brevity

 

Read the full article, Gathering strategic insights for growth, on LinkedIn.

Belden Menkus shares a podcast interview with Charles Wookey.

Our guest is Charles Wookey, CEO of Blueprint for Better Business, an independent charity whose purpose is to create a better society through better business.

Charles was one of the founders of Blueprint and a key contributor to the thinking behind the Blueprint approach which asserts that people are not solely self-interested and that business is not solely driven by profit. Under his leadership Blueprint has moved from being a small initiative launched in 2012 with a conference that looked at how corporate purpose and personal values could be united to serve society, to an independent charity that is engaged with a growing number of major global companies and whose ambition is to help corporates be truly purpose driven, acting to deliver clear benefits to society as well as delivering long term sustainable performance.

From the outset Blueprint has sought to bring together all strands of society. Charles’s working background across business, government, an economic think tank and, latterly, policy for a major faith institution has helped make this a reality. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant at KPMG in London and holds a BA in Physics and Philosophy and a Postgraduate Diploma in Theology from Merton College, Oxford. Charles worked as a senior research officer at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and as a Clerk at the House of Commons where he was Clerk to the Trade and Industry select committee. He went on to become assistant general secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, where he was principal advisor to the Bishops on domestic public policy issues. Charles is married with four children and lives in Brighton.

 

Listen to the podcast, Charles Wookey – Blueprint for Better Business, on Menkus.com.

David A. Fields explains how your consulting firm could benefit from his experiment with outreach.

There are people you’ve not talked with in years, and it’s a shame. They’re good people, you enjoyed your relationship with them, plus, reconnecting could help generate business for your consulting firm.

But if you’ve been out of touch for so long, is it really possible to renew the relationship? And if so, how, and is more than one bar of To’ak Art Series Blend required?

Any time you sort through your consulting firm’s network to identify your Network Core, you will find dozens (or hundreds or thousands) of previously strong, A- or B-level relationships that have slipped away.

You think, “Oh, I remember Jack! He was a client of our consulting firm years ago.” Or, “I wonder if Alicia is still the head of that trade association. We haven’t talked since the late ’90s.” Or, “Sarah… Sarah… Hold on. I forgot I had a sister!”

I’m no exception. Even though I’m a huge believer in the value of relationships, sometimes it’s hard to keep up and my consulting firm’s contact list harbors more than one A relationship I’ve inadvertently let dwindle.

Therefore, I decided to run a brief experiment on outreach to lapsed contacts.

Our Experiment

My assistant selected a slew of contacts with whom I’d had no contact for more than two years. How he selected these contacts is important, and I’ll get to that in a moment.

I sent a very brief outreach message to each one. The message is also important.

We tracked the response rate.

Because of the selection approach, we included contacts that are notoriously difficult to reach—such as an ex-client who rose to become the CEO of a large company and was too swamped to respond to me when he didn’t need our services.

 

Key points include:

  • Email vs. LinkedIn
  • The impact of revived connections
  • The relationship restarter email

 

Read the full post, How Your Consulting Firm Can Benefit From My Experiment With Outreach, on DavidAFields.com.

Barry Horwitz shares an article that extolls the benefits of reading and reading some more. 

Students in my strategy classes at Boston University often ask: What applicant characteristics matter most when applying for positions with strategy consulting firms? Of course, there are some obvious ones — sharp analytical skills and strong communication capabilities among them. But one that is often overlooked — and yet quite valuable — is possession of a healthy curiosity.

As I wrote in an earlier newsletter, creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems often come from insights garnered outside of an organization’s specific field. A robust curiosity (despite its potentially negative impact on cats!) can lead you to seek additional information and generate creative insights.

Curiosity’s proven value is also why business leaders often design their offices with central gathering points (whether mailroom or kitchen areas), where individuals from different functional areas are likely to encounter one another. As Vinit Nijhawan used to say when he ran the office of tech transfer at BU, he wanted to “minimize friction and maximize collisions.”

Read, Read, and Read Some More

Of course, one of the best ways of gaining insights from a broad range of fields is to work in a broad range of fields. But what if you are early on in your career or if your career journey to date has kept you tightly focused in just a few areas?

The answer is simple: Read… broadly and a lot. Hopefully, that’s obvious. Less obvious, though, is what to read.

 

Key points include:

  • A reading list
  • Email newsletters
  • Serendipity

 

Read the full article, Curiosity Killed The Cat… But It Can Keep Your Business Thriving, on HorwitzandCo.com.

Kaihan Krippendorff takes a look at the history of the music industry to demonstrate how Spotify excels at delivering customers what they want when they want it. 

In 2006, a pair of Swedish entrepreneurs banded together to fight an ongoing problem: Piracy in the music industry was costing artists, retailers, and record companies billions of dollars in lost sales. Customers who had previously gone to CD or record stores to purchase music were now evading legislation to download songs for free, instantly into their music libraries from services such as Napster.

When Napster unexpectedly shut down in 2002, Kazaa, another controversial service, sprung up in its place. Swedish entrepreneur Daniel Ek saw an opportunity to combat illegal online activity through another means: delighting customers.

“I realized that you can never legislate away from piracy,” he said in a 2010 interview. “Laws can definitely help, but it doesn’t take away the problem. The only way to solve the problem was to create a service that was better than piracy and at the same time compensates the music industry. That gave us Spotify.”

He joined forces with fellow entrepreneur Martin Lorentzon to create what is now the most popular music streaming platform in the world. How did they do it? By delivering what the listener wants to hear, when and where they want it—and sometimes before they even realize exactly what it is they want.

THE EVOLUTION OF MUSIC THROUGH A PROXIMITY LENS 

An industry-wide trend is underway. Company strategies and customer desires are shortening the distance between when people decide they need something and how long it takes for them to get it. My friend and writing partner, Rob Wolcott, offers the following definition: “Technology is driving the production and provision of products and services ever closer to the moment of demand.”

Many of us have benefited from the somewhat creepy omniscience of Amazon’s anticipatory shipping—the retailer predicts products we might want and delivers them to a nearby warehouse before we’ve even placed an order. But the research Rob and I have done shows that this extends far beyond retail; proximity is the future across all industries, and it’s been in the works for years. In order to pinpoint where Spotify seized the opportunity to capitalize on proximity, let’s take a brief look at the history of music purchasing.

Key points include:

  • The changing technology
  • Napster and file-sharing
  • Applying proximity to your business model

 

Read the full article, WHAT SPOTIFY CAN TEACH US ABOUT PROXIMITY, on Kaihan.net.

 

Surbhee Grover shares an interview, recently published in Thrive Global, that focuses on several aspects of her entrepreneurial journey, including a perspective on the beauty business, and insight into launching a start-up in this industry.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always been drawn to creation (and I define “creation” quite broadly). I’ve also realized that money and title are not my primary motivational drivers. As a result, I’ve often wandered off what might be the standard trajectory — at IIM Ahmedabad, where I went for my Masters, I was also involved in choreography and theatre. At NYU Stern School of Business, I traded some of the business credits to learn creative writing. As a global strategy consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton (Booz & Co), where I advised companies on growth and innovation, I once accumulated several weeks of vacation only to spend it doing a film-making course in London. When I look back, there was always a pattern, a consistent theme to what I was drawn towards — discovery, innovation and creation of something that gave me joy.

Around 2015, I was doing a lot of strategy work for luxury, retail and consumer clients and it struck me that while several concepts, ingredients and wellness practices from the Indian sub-continent had made their way into the daily life and lattes in the West, these barely scraped the surface of all the region had to offer, and that brands from that part of the world were woefully underrepresented in the aisles of beauty/ wellness retail. Thinking back, I believe I was staring at a café menu in Brooklyn that served turmeric lattes, when it struck me that I HAD to play a part in this movement… taking these rich, regional botanicals and practices that had yet to make their way outside their native regions, and make them unique, relevant and exceptional for today’s wellness consumers (the “how” for that would come later!). And that’s when the seeds of my latest entrepreneurial venture were sown.

Key points include:

  • Innovative products developed by Love Indus
  • Elements of the beauty industry that inspire and cause concern
  • What you need to know to succeed in the beauty industry

 

Read the full interview, Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry, on ThriveGobal.com. 

Miklos Tomka offers a brief view on his experience when trying to hire a service provider or supplier during the pandemic.

Hello all, I have had the same perplexing experience now several times. I am contacting a supplier as I would like to buy their product. I am contacting a service provider as I would like to use their services. Or I am contacting a company as I would like to send customers to them (most recently, I wanted to send several smaller customers interested in our drinking straws to distributors – as their order quantity is too small for our minimum order size).

And the reply I got every single time – is exactly zero. Nothing. No interest in new revenues (which is exactly what I propose – no hidden agenda). And the companies I have contacted do exist – they serve existing customers, pick up the phone etc. Just their sales function seems to be dead…

I thought businesses (or at least many of them) are struggling and are anxious to grow sales. Maybe there is a different segment that has so much demand that new sales are not needed at this time?

Have you had the same experience – companies not interested at all in new business? Is everybody maybe running at full capacity and so does not want to grow more? I would be interested in hearing from others – is this just me, or is this quite common these days? And if quite common – is this maybe a Covid impact: businesses do not really care at this time about increasing revenues / profits?

Read the full article, Are companies not interested in generating revenue growth anymore – as a result of Covid?,  on LinkedIn.

A Dark Sky experience led Kaihan Krippendorff to ruminate on how to disrupt your industry.

It’s 6:30 a.m. at the Dark Sky RV resort in Utah. I’m sitting out by the gas firepit and everyone else is asleep. The sun is rising, but it’s not one of those sudden appearances that I often see in the Northeast. Instead, the sky is wide open above the vast horizon, and it begins to change colors over the short desert vegetation and red rocks. The rising sun gives a far longer preview of its arrival. It’s bright enough to be nearly daylight now and yet the sun has still not officially peeked over the horizon.

Now, our family is not an obvious RV family. When I tell our friends how often we have journeyed across land in these houses on wheels, complete with nighttime BBQs after arriving late to the site and impromptu stops at unplanned points of interests, I’m often met with wide eyes and expressions of disbelief. But we continue to realize the value of forced family time in close quarters and pushing out of our comfort zone to explore unfamiliar territory.

The other day, we toured the tiny motel strip at Page, Arizona, a road lined with extremely compact motels made for construction workers while they were building a nearby dam half a century ago. Last year, we stopped by the graves of the Gypsy King and Queen in Mississippi.

But the issue has always been where to sleep when the sun went down. Our days of exploration and delightful surprise too often lead to evenings of predictability and frustration. You see, although the RV camping industry in the US is an important slice of the US economy, employing nearly 23,000 people with an average salary of US $30,628 per year, the experience of spending the night at an RV camp leaves much room for improvement.

Key points include:

  • Reform the strategy
  • Prioritize the pain points

  • Rethink each pain point

 

Read the full post, Disrupting Your Industry: Lessons From An Rv Park, on Kaihan.net.

David A. Fields explains why some of the most promising opportunities fail to transpire into contracts, and what you can do to ensure a more positive outcome. 

Your hard work on business development and some good luck resulted in big opportunities for your seed optimization consulting firm: potential engagements with Worldwide Walnuts, Paramus Pecan Co, and NoNutz.com all at the same time. But, somehow none of those opportunities blossom into closed projects. Why?

You may have a “Step 0” problem.

If you’ve read The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients, you’re familiar with the six steps to unlimited clients, starting with Step 1: Mindset and running through Step 6: Propose, Negotiate and Close. (If you haven’t read that book, go here, read this. Don’t pass Go or collect $200 first.)

It turns out that there’s a step before Mindset:

Step 0: Delivery Confidence.

If you aren’t confident that your consulting firm can deliver on a project, you will intentionally or unconsciously sabotage your business development efforts.

Your consulting firm’s Delivery Confidence wanes when you or your team members worry that you lack sufficient capacity or that your capabilities fall short.

A Step 0 deficiency is serious. Instead of winning the easy, NoNutz.com project and possibly cracking open the Paramaus or Worldwide engagements, you end up losing all three opportunities. That’s not good.

Your capacity concerns can be addressed with straightforward tactics, including hiring, delegating, streamlining and renegotiating. (You’ll find 11 capacity-increasing strategies in this article.)

 

Key points include:

  • Questions to ask
  • Confidence in delivery
  • Increase capacity and capability

 

Read the full article, Step 0: The Prerequisite For Your Consulting Firm To Win More Business, on DavidAFields.com. 

 

Rob Ristagno interviewed Tom Barry, Managing Partner of GHJ Advisors, on his podcast where they discuss how to scale your business without working overtime. 

All professional services firms face the same challenges when trying to scale. The product they sell isn’t an item—it’s their team’s time and expertise. When you have a specific number of employees, each with a finite number of hours in the day, how do you grow your business without demanding more time and energy from employees?

Tom Barry, Managing Partner of GHJ Advisors, who’s been with the accounting firm for nearly 25 years, faces this question regularly. GHJ has built a thriving practice, serving privately-owned businesses and nonprofit organizations within their hometown of Los Angeles and across the country. Like other businesses, they’re always looking to grow.

But they never want that growth to come at the expense of their greatest asset: their team. That’s why Tom and his fellow leaders have honed in on four areas of focus to enable sustainable scaling.

The first is a focus on work/life balance. The firm’s #BeMore motto is about finding growth in ways beyond just doing more work. They want to create a space where team members can be more and nurture all areas of their life: family, self, and firm.

From providing weekly meditation sessions in the office to enabling hybrid work arrangements and flexible, capped hours, the team is constantly looking for new ways to help employees flourish.

Tom also cites investments in tech and AI as important ways to expand capacity. When individuals can automate tedious manual processes and tasks, it frees them up to do more high-value client work. Leadership loves testing new ways to create efficiencies with tech, from using new communication platforms to implementing Salesforce to manage client relationships.

The third lever Tom uses to scale efficiently is outsourcing. We live in an outsourced world, and there are many benefits to finding external partners to help handle workflow. Not only does it create additional capacity for your team, but it also allows you to effectively work around the clock. 

Tom says one of GHJ’s outsourcing partners is located in India. The GHJ team in LA makes the most of that time zone difference. They hand tasks off to the folks in India at the end of their workday, and when they wake up and log on the next day, the tasks have been completed overnight.

Finally, Tom talks about the importance of providing value in how you structure your services. When it comes to professional services, it’s not about the hourly rate, it’s about the value derived from that time. He provides the example of a high-profile law firm. Yes, you may pay one of the partners $1,000 an hour, but if they save your company $5 million in the end, isn’t that a bargain?”

Key points include:

  • Outsourcing
  • Providing value
  • Tiered offerings

Listen to the podcast, Scale Your Professional Services Firm Without Working Overtime, on SterlingWoods.com.

 

Jason George shares an article that explores building contingency at the cost of agility, and why taking the safe route may be more costly. 

The next time you travel by airplane, look out the window and see if you can count how many engines are attached to the wings. Chances are pretty good you will find only one on each side. This holds true even on routes with long stretches over water or harsh terrain that provide no suitable diversion sites in case of mechanical trouble.

With few exceptions, most jets in commercial service now come fitted with two engines, a notable change from the status quo in the middle of the 20th century. In those earlier days of air travel the norm was to have four, and not because they provided the optimal ratio of power or efficiency. The main reason for this redundancy was the perceived unreliability of existing engines.

If there were only two to begin with, a blown piston or other mishap would leave just a single engine operating, a prospect too risky for regulators. This led manufacturers and their airline customers to converge on four engines as the standard. (For obvious reasons of symmetrical thrust an odd number wasn’t a popular choice, although some models featured a third engine embedded in the tail.)

What’s more, regulatory bodies like the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. mandated that aircraft couldn’t stray too far from possible landing sites, in case of emergencies requiring immediate help from the ground. This meant routes were carefully plotted not to take the shortest distance between origin and destination but to stay within range of potential diversion airports throughout the flight.

Key points include:

  • The great circle route
  • Known unknowns
  • Getting rid of the safety net

Read the full article, Calculated risks and the costly status quo, on JasonGeorge.net.

 

Amanda Setili shares a short post on the value of trust.

Last weekend, Rob and I camped in a small family-owned campground 15 feet from Pamlico Sound on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. One night it stormed, hard. The wind was gusting to over 30 mph, and the rain was intense. It would have been easy to wonder if our tent would survive.

But I didn’t wonder.

We’d bought the tent from REI, the same company that had made the tent we had recently retired after 20 years of hard use in a variety of difficult conditions.

As we sat in the tent, listening to the rain and wind pummeling the tent, it became obvious to us that our new REI tent was as well-designed as the one we’d had for 20 years.

Companies talk a lot about earning their customers’ trust, and sometimes that talk can feel a bit overblown; after all, how much trust is involved when you buy, say, paper towels? But when a thin layer of material is all that separates you from a crazy-powerful storm, trust really matters. It’s then that you fully appreciate every aspect of your purchase: the materials used, its design and execution.

Key points include:

  • The importance of trust
  • Trust in business
  • Customer loyalty

Read the full post, When the Storm Gets Intense, You Have a Very Different Definition of Trust, on LinkedIn.

The odds of success with mergers and acquisitions are surprisingly low, but in this post, David Gross explains how to give M&A Transactions a larger chance of success.

Trillions of dollars pour into mergers and acquisitions (M&A) annually as companies seek to increase market share, reduce costs, differentiate, diversify, refocus, and capture other sources of value.

Unfortunately, M&A success is the exception, not the rule. A whopping 70 to 90 percent of transactions fail. This means, only 10 to 30 percent of transactions succeed. To put these terrible odds in perspective, let us turn to the gambling capital of the world, Las Vegas. The odds of winning in blackjack are 44 to 48 percent, much greater than the odds upon which companies stake their futures.

Though these statistics may seem grim, there are companies beating the M&A odds, and they’re beating the odds over and over again. But how do these companies, or “M&A Winners,” repeatedly beat the odds? After 20 years of dealmaking, we have discovered 5 hallmarks underpinning their success.  

HALLMARK #1: M&A IS A DAILY ACTIVITY

They say practice makes perfect and consistency is key. The same is true for M&A Winners. These companies have specialized talent, or “dealmakers”, who focus exclusively on M&A strategy and execution. Dealmakers typically reside on the corporate strategy or corporate development team, or on the equivalent business unit team in decentralized organizations. They are adept at marshaling talent, information, and other resources across the company; keeping their eye on critical value drivers and interdependencies; and managing the deal process. Effective and efficient dealmakers pay for themselves many times over. 

An alternative and frequently-taken path is to challenge a leader with operational responsibilities to manage M&A activity day-to-day. Unfortunately, this approach stretches buy-and sell-side leaders too thin and may result in underperformance on the deal and missed operating targets in the existing business. For the sell-side, missed targets may prompt the acquirer to demand a lower valuation and changes to other key terms.

 

Key points include:

  • The benefit of a “dealmaker”
  • “Tuck-in” or “bolt-on” acquisitions
  • Over-investment in due diligence

Read the full article, Reverse the Odds: Give Your M&A Transaction a 70 to 90 Percent Chance of Success, on ConsultSVP.com.

David A. Fields shares a recent post that is designed to help consulting firms identify and address areas that limit growth. 

To achieve the next level of success with your consulting firm, you have to know what inflection point is next on your route (or, where you want to stop and optimize). Let’s briefly walk through the common stages on your consulting firm’s growth journey.

Transitions are hard. When you think about a typical, personal life journey it’s easy to remember (or imagine), the pain and setbacks, missteps and do-overs at each defining inflection point:

You live with your parents → You live on your own → You (successfully) live with a partner → You have kids in the household → You’re an empty nester → Oh no, your kids live at home again?!

Some gateways to a new stage of life are inevitable. None are easy. You shed a fair number of tears during the lead-up to each inflection point.

A consulting firm’s path to success differs from a personal journey in (at least) three ways:

The typical stages of a consulting firm’s progress are less widely known

Consulting firms’ inflection points are more predictable

You can stop at almost any point, optimize your consulting firm’s current life stage, and say, ‘That’s good enough for me.’

 

Key points include:

  • Stages of growth
  • Offloading
  • Sticking points

Read the full article, 10 Stages of Consulting Firm Growth (Where Are You Stuck?), on DavidAFields.com.

Kaihan Krippendorff identifies the importance of proxemics between product and consumer/user as a key component of growth for businesses.

Shuffling through the crowds of Fourth of July weekend shoppers, I spied my prize. The farm stand’s rows were bursting with color—juicy strawberries, rich blueberries, and robust peaches. “Over here,” I called out to my kids to join me. We carefully selected handfuls from the overflowing baskets. Fresh berries would make a perfect addition to our family’s dessert that night.

When I approached the shop owner to pay, I had a brief moment of panic.

“Is it cash only?” I asked her.

“Nope,” she replied, revealing the white square hooked onto her phone. “We take credit cards now.” I breathed a sigh of relief as I handed her my card to swipe through the reader. She smiled and bagged our fruits, and I followed my kids on to the next stand.

TODAY’S CUSTOMERS WANT PROXIMITY 

It would be difficult to stroll through a small-town market or other pop-up shop without seeing a Square reader. These recognizable contraptions, which now include contactless payments for cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, easily connect to mobile devices and empower small- and medium-sized business owners to accept credit and debit card payments on the spot.

No longer do merchants have to turn down sales because the buyer doesn’t have cash on hand. Square is a leader in digital payments, and its onsite and digital point-of-sale systems are part of a bigger trend that’s helping people purchase the goods and services they want exactly when and where they want them.

Today’s technologies have a human mission. Our mortal desires have always demanded instant gratification. Wants and needs arise, and we are driven to satisfy them as quickly as we can. The underlying concept, coined by my friend Rob Wolcott, is proximity—products and services produced and provided ever closer to the moment of demand in time and space. Square represents a proximity technology; it allows a business owner to cheaply and quickly set up a point-of-sale system on the spot at a weekend pop-up event.

If shoppers prefer to stay home, they can order from a small business online and receive their shipment in just a few days. It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend. We’ve come to expect Amazon packages in mere hours. Food deliveries arrive within an hour at our doors. Our doctors and educators enter our homes through video cameras.

Enabled by technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, virtual reality, Internet of Things (IoT), self-driving cars, and 5G connectivity, proximity is occurring at an accelerated pace, and it’s going to continue to transform nearly all aspects of our lives.

 

Key points include:

  • Customer demand
  • Investor returns
  • Three steps to benefit from proximity

Read the full article, How “Proximity” Technologies Are Bridging The Gap Between Demand And Delivery, on Kaihan.net. 

Xavier Lederer identifies a key component that must be considered when building a strategy for growth. 

You are not competing directly against your competitors, you are competing to be unique in the marketplace.”

What does your most valuable prospect look like? “Probably a lot like your existing valuable customers. The easiest and most profitable growth will be achieved by adding additional customers very much like your current most valuable customers,” explains Robert Bloom in his book “The Inside Advantage.” Clients you resonate with will bring clients in the same vein. The key question is: Who is your ideal customer – how do you identify and describe them – and how will you solve their problem?

Shifting ideal customers

This wisdom is more relevant now than ever: because of Covid customers have changed. Some have disappeared, others have shifted from in-store to online, and others have increased their purchases. As a result the assumptions you had about your ideal customers may no longer be relevant. And yet: you really need to know your ideal customer if you want to grow your business.

All customers are not created equal. Your ideal customer is an existing customer (not a hypothetical one), buys from you for optimal profit and refers you to other prospects – new customers who are likely to be remarkably similar to your current, ideal customers. Once you have identified your ideal customer you can find out whether there are enough of them to reach your goals – and define whether you need to expand into an additional segment.

Your ideal customer is a breathing, living human being

The thing is: It is not enough to define your customers as a market statistic – you can’t get to know a statistic. You have a much better chance of selling to someone you really know and understand. If you can’t answer the following questions, chances are that you don’t really know your ideal customer:

How many customers generate 80% of my gross margin, and who are they?

 

Key points include:

  • Shifting ideal customers
  • Going beyond market statistics
  • Brand promise as a solution

 

Read the full post, Want To Grow Your Company? Start With Who, on AmbroseGrowth.com.

 

 

Barry Horwitz identifies why it is important to address the predisposition to the positive and how it often arrests the growth and improvement of the company. 

Back in the early 90s, I joined the senior management team of a regional retail chain. I was new to the company and had moved there from out of town. The rest of the leadership team was made up of longstanding executives — people who had been there for years (in some cases, decades).

Not surprisingly, my colleagues enjoyed telling the positive story of their achievements. And that was fine, they had certainly accomplished quite a bit.

But the market and competitive landscape were changing; they were blind to the ways in which we were being newly threatened. In my view, if we didn’t evolve our strategic positioning, we were in danger of falling behind, or worse.

Were these executives unusual in this way? Not at all, unfortunately. Organizations work hard to build cohesiveness and teamwork among their employees and people like to feel good about the things they are doing well. Toss in the human tendency for confirmation bias and it’s easy to overlook a lot:

Sales were off a bit last month? That may have been due to bad weather or some other factor — it’s probably just a blip.

Donations are down from prior years? It’s probably the economy or the change in tax laws.

Given this predisposition towards the positive, how do you raise issues and deliver news that may not be welcomed? There is a perceived (often real) risk that by pointing out bad news or blind spots — even if it helps avoid bad things from happening — one will be labelled “not a team player,” perhaps getting sidelined or even fired as a result.

Here then, are some suggestions for highlighting — and slaying — those organizational sacred cows….

 

Key points include:

  • Addressing prior beliefs
  • Structuring recommendations
  • Establishing a safe environment

 

Read the full post, Slay the Sacred Cows, on HorwitzandCo.com. 

 

 

In this post, Amanda Setili explains why taking risks may be the safest strategy.

The world is always changing, but lately the changes have felt faster and more extreme. In times like these, your ability to manage risk and uncertainty can give you a huge competitive advantage.

To put this another way, in volatile times, taking on too little risk is dangerous. You may be left in the dust as competitors invest in new arenas that you considered too uncertain.

Some of my most successful clients encourage their teams to swing for the fences AND to have a systematic plan to manage risk. They break the risks into distinct pieces and assign someone to manage each specific risk, such as the risk that suppliers will not be able to perform, or the risk that customers won’t understand the product.

They’re also very clear about the risks that they are willing to take that other companies will not. For example, an organization may choose to self-insure, because they better understand the risks they’re taking than insurers do.

To accept more risk in a responsible manner, it pays to break the risk down into smaller pieces. Then, manage each of these pieces. Set clear goals for what you need to learn in order to mitigate each risk.

 

Key points include:

  • The benefit of risk taking
  • Managing risk
  • Risk options

 

Read the full article, In Volatile Times, the Riskiest Strategy Is to Take Too Little Risk, on LinkedIn.

 

 

David A. Fields shares a post that is a must-read if you are considering partnering with another consulting firm to increase business.

There you are, polishing the sign in front of your catamaran and trying to attract consulting projects from the throngs of prospects meandering along the oceanfront. A boat-owner on the adjacent pier hails you: “Would you like to join forces? I’m sure we could catch more consulting clients together.” What do you think? Will adding more boats to your armada result in more clients?

Take a moment to look at the reality and rules of partnering.

(Note: This article was published in slightly different form in 2015. In the intervening years, I’ve obtained no new nautical knowledge, nor any greater misgivings about grossly overextending a metaphor.)

Reality: Prospects who want berths on ocean liners won’t choose

your skiff, even if it’s tied to a handful of others.

Many boutique consulting firms consider partnering to make themselves more attractive to buyers who lean toward big-name consultancies. “Companies don’t want a small shop like mine,” they reason. “Adding a confederate or two will make me a viable option for more projects.”

But heading in this direction misjudges the currents. Most prospects who will seriously consider a 50-person consulting firm will also hire a 15-person consulting firm, a five-person shop or even a solo practitioner.

In contrast, decision-makers who dismiss single-shingle consultants out of hand typically express equal disinterest in boutiques and loose networks of small players.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking a partner or two will convince a prospect to jump ship from his Crystal Cruises mega-steamer. You’re a different type of vessel, period. Take on the clients who appreciate your sleek lines.

 

Key points include:

  • Reaching prospects
  • Company values
  • Sharing opportunities

 

Read the full article, Partnering with another Consulting Firm, on DavidAFields.com.

 

 

Rob Ristagno shares a podcast with a transcript that illustrates the important role company culture plays in the growth of the company. 

David Kinsley didn’t anticipate taking over the family business. In his teenage years, he dreamed about becoming a Wall Street power broker, vacationing in St. Barths, and living a life filled with the finer things.

But when a chronic illness upended his first two years of college, his life changed course. He finally found relief and recovery in Eastern traditions. That led to a spiritual awakening that guided him back to the organization his father had founded.

He joined The Kinsley Group full-time in 1994 and became President 12 years ago. He’s led the organization through 12 straight years of growth and continues to find new, synergistically linked ways to expand the energy solutions company.

However, when asked about the key to the company’s success, he doesn’t point to a business development initiative or specific product. Instead, he says it’s The Kinsley Group’s team of compassionate, emotionally intelligent individuals.

Every employee goes to work each day striving to fulfill the company’s vision statement: To solve the energy infrastructure and environmental issues of the country. This lofty goal, to improve sustainability and provide top-tier service, is what David identifies as their secret sauce.

David says that his vision statement for The Kinsley Group was inspired by Bill Gates’ mission for Microsoft. In the 1970s, the thought of having an at-home computer would have been completely alien, yet Bill Gates proclaimed that his goal was to make that very thing happen. He dreamed bigger than anyone would have thought possible, and today that dream is a reality.

Similarly, David aims to solve big climate problems with innovative energy solutions. The Kinsley Group does this by designing bespoke offerings to tackle major environmental issues. He offers the example of a partnership with a Vermont dairy farm, Cabot Creamery, and Middlebury College.

 

Key points include:

  • Culture, discipline, and accountability
  • Team leadership and transparency
  • Customer relationships

 

Read the full article, How Company Culture Influences Organic Growth, on SterlingWoods.com.

 

 

For the innovative entrepreneur and business leader who seek transformational categories, Mark Organ shares a comprehensive post that provides the key steps to take for this adventure in growth.

What entrepreneur does not dream of boldly leading the largest and most important company in a hot, rapidly growing category?

As I covered in How To Create A Transformational Category Like A Scientist, Salesforce, Peloton, and Uber are all examples of modern-day “category creators” that have captured our imagination while driving incredible wealth for society. Category creators who dominate their categories often are worth more than the entire prerequisite category they came from – and consistently generate more revenue (2.7x more) and market capitalization (4.2x more) than non-category creators. 

I believe that software categories can be created with a systematic process. In over 25 years of category-creating entrepreneurship, including founding Eloqua and Influitive (and growing them both to 8-digit+ in ARR) – I have discovered, studied and applied this approach – and will now share with you what I have learned.

In this article, I’m going to talk about the 1st step in the category creation process: how to “discover” underserved heroes that will be massively elevated by powerful trends in technology and society – and show some category discovery examples.

But first, a disclaimer…

 

Key points include:

  • My Category Discovery Journey
  • Salesforce – A Category Discovery
  • The Category Inception Pyramid

 

Read the full article, Discovering Your Transformational Categories like a Scientist, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Stephen Redwood shares an article that explores managing resources during disruptive times.

As companies go through phases of growth and decline, innovation and stasis, integration and diversification, resource needs fluctuate in terms of numbers, types and capabilities. Even for eminent companies such as du Pont, General Motors and Sears Roebuck, these cyclical phases have more often than not resulted in – as the professor of business history, Alfred Chandler, once wrote – “Resources accumulated, resources rationalized, resources expanded, and then once again, resources rationalized.”1

 It is an unfortunate reality that the “resources rationalized” part, more often than not, relates to reducing headcount. How best to achieve that is a common source of questions from clients, often hoping for some magical thinking that will enable a rapid and relatively painless outcome. The reality, however, rarely matches those aspirations but not because of a lack of possibility, more because of a lack of method.

QUICK READ

Key takeaways:

Determining the types and sizes of particular resource groups required in the short term versus those likely to be needed in the longer term is a challenging task when faced with the need to undertake a rightsizing transformation. This speaks to the importance of finding the right balance between strategic potential (“doing the right things”) and tactical details (“doing things right”).

A lack of access to adequate data or an understanding of the reasoning behind why things operate as they do only add to the challenge. This is often compounded by variance in job roles and responsibilities across organizations.

Ultimately, though, there is a finite set of ways to look for savings opportunities, but unless changes are made to the flow and volume of work in the business, none of the savings will stick.

Once identified, savings should be prioritized so that a properly managed transformation program can be established to ensure objectives are achieved without upsetting key growth or innovation initiatives.

 

Key points include:

  • Assessing the landscape
  • Restructuring at the top
  • Bending the cost curve

 

Read the full article, Separating the Forest from the Trees, on RedwoodAdvisoryPartners.com.

 

 

Stephen Wunker provides a concise post that identifies four steps that can help build strategies to expand into new markets.

Market expansion is a goal many executives share, and rightly so. Expanding into new markets is not only a revenue driver but also a way to escape familiar competitive dynamics. It has powered giant success stories, such as Netflix’s entry into video streaming and then content production. Moreover, you don’t need to be a Silicon Valley wunderkind company to make it work. Consider Fujifilm’s transformation from Kodak rival to a $20 billion medical imaging powerhouse, or how Ingersoll-Rand grew from air compressors into markets as diverse as air conditioning and power tools.

But great care is required as dangers abound. All too often, these efforts become pet projects of senior executives, and they scale up before the customer needs or business model are truly worked out. Conversely, they can also linger in a zombie-like state, moving forward aimlessly with an unclear list of priorities, too little funding to spring to life, and no ability to kill off struggling ventures.

Who gets market expansion right? Look to venture capitalists for inspiration. Their profession is to assess new markets and figure out the best bets to make on them. Of course, if you have an established business, you should have a leg up on the VCs, as you have strategic advantages you can also leverage. The trick is to stay market-focused (not inwardly-focused) and not to transpose preconceptions from your existing business into new ones.

So, how do you do it? Here are four steps to expand into a new market:

 

Key points include:

  • Go-deeper techniques
  • Strategic theses
  • Prioritize market expansion ideas

 

Read the full article, 4 Steps to Achieve Market Expansion, on NewMarketsAdvisors.com.

 

 

Sugath Warnakulasuriya explains how to take the first step in accessing the digital value in an old-school business model.

For leaders of traditional industrial and business service companies operating in eroding markets, the typical daily experience is one of keeping existing customers from leaving, holding onto already scant revenue and margins, and staying alive. Entertaining thoughts of getting lots more new customers or becoming more profitable is a rare luxury amidst constant fear of new digitally native attackers turning the industry on its head, or existing competitors retooling themselves to take away what little of the market is still up for grabs.

If you are a CXO or senior leader of such a company, you already know that the deep and disciplined operating expertise and relationships you’ve built over time are indeed very valuable, but also wonder how you can turbo-charge that with “Silicon Valley magic” so you can become the cool new digital, data-driven kid on the block. At the same time, you are skeptical of the hype around “digital transformation” and suspicious of consultants and vendors pitching proprietary solutions as the way to unlock digital value. All of this can be confounding!

So, what’s the clear-headed, strategic way to get your arms around all of the potential new digital value you could generate if you were to “reimagine” parts of your business, or simply make better use of existing and new data and insights to make smarter decisions on how you operate? How do you know what the right priorities should be, what the key risks are, and what kind of investment and organizational commitment is needed to take on this challenge? 

The very good news is that the first “no regret” step to getting started is actually pretty clear, though surprisingly still a secret for many.

 

Key points include:

  • Diagnoses
  • Value levers
  • Digital opportunities

 

Read the full post, The Very First Step in Unlocking Digital Value in Your Old-School Business, on LinkedIn.

 

 

The future of work, agriculture, education, and even relationships are all areas facing change thanks to AI technology. David Edelman extols the benefits of AI in this post.

The digital explosion, accelerated by Covid, has not made life on the front lines of sales and customer service any easier. In fact, when customers are able to do more research on their own, salespeople face tougher unanswered questions, and more of an inquisition about competitive differences, granular product details, or use cases they’ve never considered. Service reps have to handle the calls of customers facing challenges they could not resolve online, likely meaning customers who are more frustrated or who have very complex situations, often demanding special treatment or deeper investigation. And if they cannot work in a call center setting, getting help from colleagues or managers is simply more challenging logistically. 

No matter what prognosticators say about AI automating away jobs, there will always be a need for front line roles (even if fewer people can handle many more calls) and AI can supercharge them by augmenting the capabilities available at the rock face of customer interaction. Reps will be more effective, and as their efficiency in “handling the difficult” goes up, they will become more scalable. The business cases are getting powerful.

 

Key points include:

  • The new powers of augmentation
  • It’s a brand issue
  • But the tools are not enough

 

Read the full article, AI to the Rescue, as Call Centers Struggle

 

 

Aneta Key was interviewed on Cloudflare’s Strategy Spotlight where they discuss how to navigate growth, change, and uncertainty to rapidly scale.

How to navigate growth is a fundamental question that underpins many of my clients’ corporate priorities, though it comes in different flavors. For example, leaders address:

  • How to chart a growth strategy, align around it, and put it in place
  • How to keep everyone pulling in the same direction in an organization growing in size and complexity
  • How to improve operational excellence after a rapid growth phase 
  • How to scale operations throughout digital transformation 
  • How to enable growth through leadership capability building

In March 2021 I was interviewed LIVE on the Strategy Spotlight segment of Cloudflare.tv discussing scaling teams and organizations at hyper-growth companies. It was a fun conversation mixing pragmatic advice for leaders and teams with explicit definitions and geeky humor on distributed/diverse teams.

 

Watch the full interview, Strategy Spotlight: Scaling Best Practices, on Aedeapartners.com.

 

David A. Fields shares a post on key steps to take to grow your business.

Clients hire your consulting firm in part because you know more than they do. You’re an expert. Wise in the ways of management, marketing or the musk beetle (or whatever your area of expertise happens to be).

How expert are you, though, and what are you doing to continuously upgrade your knowledge?

Domain knowledge is one of the three ingredients you mix together to whip up a consultant. (The others are consulting skills and s’mores.) Examples of a domain include: an industry, function, methodology, technology platform, geography, or particular situation, problem or aspiration.

New consultants at your consulting firm often need to polish their consulting skills and supplement their domain knowledge. Plus, of course, newbies need to learn your consulting firm’s IP and family recipes inside and out.

Ideally, you’ve developed onboarding and training materials to fling newcomers up the capability curve.

After that initial bolus of learning, however, the vectors of learning in many small consulting firms narrow down to one: experience.

Similarly, as a consulting firm leader, you’ve gained the lion’s share of your valuable wisdom from experience on projects.

Experiential learning is huge. It’s real-world, and directly relates to your clients’ needs.

 

Key points include:

  • The true value of experiential learning
  • Creating a domain knowledge ladder
  • Identifying the knowledge source

 

Read the full post, The Ladder You Must Climb To Grow Your Consulting Firm, on davidafields.com.

 

David A. Fields shares a post designed to help the independent consultant accelerate revenue growth.

If you’re having trouble accelerating your consulting firm’s revenue growth, it could be because you’ve forgotten to create a stable revenue base.

“Bread and Butter” work (outlined in this classic article) is the most common and straightforward path to establish a solid, bedrock of revenue for your consulting firm. However, you have another interesting option:

Your consulting firm houses a treasure trove of assets, all of which are sellable to create a steady revenue stream that supports your consulting work.

A half-dozen assets that you could possibly leverage into cash flow are outlined below:

People

You can rent out your people to clients at a fee-for-time rate. This is staff augmentation, not consulting, and it’s a tried-and-true revenue generator.

In some industries, such as IT, staff augmentation margins are razor thin; however, some of our clients earn north of 50% margins on staff augmentation engagements.

Processes

Clients hire your consulting firm in large part because of your approach to solving their problems. You understandably guard your approach jealously and view it as a secret sauce that you don’t want to share. However, that precious resource could also line your coffers.

Licensing or franchising your consulting firm’s approach can yield generous income streams while potentially boosting awareness and demand for your services.

 

Key points include:

  • Developing freestanding software content
  • Developing an online academy
  • Monetizing connections

Read the full post, Alternative Revenue Sources For Your Consulting Firm, on davidafields.com.

 

 

Xavier Lederer shares an evergreen post from his company blog that explains why your management style and communication needs must change as your company grows, and how it can hinder growth if you don’t. 

“My company has great growth potential, but I am so stuck in the damn dailies, I can’t find time to work on my business.  And my team, they just don’t seem to be pulling in the same direction.  I have a clear vision of our future, but they are just not executing.” sighed the 55-years old CEO of this mid-market manufacturing company. He started his company 15 years and successfully grew it – but over the past few years, growth had stalled. His efforts to re-boot his growth engine have failed as well. In short, he felt stuck. How could he un-stuck himself?

His plan was simple: grow the company and then sell it in 5 years. For him, the next step seemed obvious: he needed to hire a new salesperson.

“What happened to the last sales guy?” I asked naively.

“He left! I can’t find someone who will stick with us long enough to have an impact. The same happened to the sales guy before him. I don’t understand this new generation; they have no loyalty.”

Like many other CEOs he identified and focused on symptoms, rather than on the root cause of his company’s issues. His company had outgrown his management approach.

Complexity increases faster than size.

As your company grows, it adds more employees and therefore more complexity. When you started in your garage people management and internal communication was very efficient: your leadership team (of one) was perfectly aligned on strategy priorities, communication was seamless from strategy to execution, and customer feedback went straight from the sales team (i.e. you) to the product development team (you as well). Then you hired a couple of people, and complexity increased: you needed to divvy up work, make decisions together, follow up on other people’s work,… Complexity increased much faster than your team size: When your team went from 3 to 4 people (+33% increase in team size) your complexity doubled!

The larger the team size, the more complex its management. Managing complexity is a challenge – but the biggest challenge is to regularly adjust your management approach to increasing complexity.

 

Key points include:

  • Complexity increases faster than size
  • Management approaches for each stage of growth
  • Roadblocks to growth

 

Read the full article, My Growth Engine Has Stalled! Where Do I Go From Here? on ambrosegrowth.com. 

 

 

Rahul Bhargava takes a look at thriving startups and shares the key factors that led to their success. 

Recently, one of the startups I am working with, asked to ‘decode’ a post by Michael Stewart he had read about success factors for a startup. This post itself was a further assessment based on the TED talk by Bill Gross, founder of Idealab, given in March, 2015 on the topic. The talk and further assessment by Michael assessed 5 factors for startup success – Ideas, Business Model, Team, Funding and Timing – and gave verdict on Timing as the most important success factor amongst these.

To assess the impact of Timing, Bill asked the following questions (not exhaustive) from 100 Ideallab companies and 100 non-Idealab companies: Is the idea too early?  Is the world not ready for it?  Is too much education of the customer required? Or is it too late, giving the competition too much time to be competitive?

The question asked from me was – How do we decide if the timing is right for our startup? I shared with them a version and then thought of taking it to a wider audience for inputs.

Overall, a large number of factors that influence a startup could be taken care off by the other 4 parameters (Funding, Team, Idea or Business Model). I believe that those factors that are not completely under your control, are the ones to be considered under Timing.

 

Key points include:

  • Product development
  • Customer acceptance
  • Scale up requirements

 

Read the full post, Decoding the biggest success factor for Startups, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Amanda Setili explains how innovation is key to the evolution of an organisation, and how leaders can take action to speed the process.

As much as leaders like to talk about innovation, a more accurate term for the process they wish to employ is evolution. Success in business comes from a lot of small actions and insights that accumulate and work to evolve the organization to a completely different state.

In nature, an individual organism mutates and if it proves successful, then that animal is more likely to reproduce and thus perpetuate their proven trait in subsequent generations. That’s how species evolve, and that’s how your organization needs to adapt.

Almost every day, someone in your company comes up with a better idea, tactic or strategy. In most cases, these advances have a relatively small impact because only a few people know about them. Even within a single department, it’s possible for someone to come up with a better idea and keep it to themselves. So, one sales person gets more effective, but her colleagues don’t adopt her approach, because they are unaware of it.

The way leaders speed up evolution is to help their organization establish a habit of identifying and sharing these incrementally better ideas. (In a similar manner, they can help to eliminate weaker ideas that haven’t made the grade.) To be clear, I’m not talking about giving orders from on top, but rather about reinforcing outcomes that have already emerged within your organization.

 

Key points include:

  • Team leadership
  • Employee recognition
  • Sourcing innovative tactics

 

Read the full article, Speeding Up the Evolutionary Process of Your Company, on LinkedIn.

 

 

David A. Fields shares three ways consultants can expand their market. Bonus information and insights in the comments section.

There’s a rich, hidden vein of project opportunities for your consulting firm—projects that your consulting firm may not have been in the running to receive. With the proper outlook and actions, you can reveal and win them.

Usage of certain consumer products such as toothpaste and toilet paper are fairly constant—you’re unlikely to persuade consumers to use more of them or to use them on more occasions.

However, manufacturers of other types of fast-moving consumer goods, such as tahini, cheese and chocolate chips know that the right marketing and promotion strategies can increase usage and purchases.* Manufacturers call this “expandable consumption.”

Can your consulting firm tap into expandable consumption, or is consulting a fixed-consumption product?

Logical answer: Consulting is fixed consumption.

Consulting isn’t an impulse purchase like chocolate bars, parmesan crisps or Teslas. You can only win a consulting project when a client has a need for your consulting firm, and needs aren’t expandable or discretionary.

 

Key points include:

  • Actively building visibility
  • Focusing on hot buttons
  • Creating  high-touch engagements

 

Read the full article, 3 Tips to Expand Your Consulting Firm’s Market, on davidafields.com.

 

 

Dan Markovitz explains why training without a goal is a waste of time. 

 

“Just in case 2020 wasn’t challenging enough for you, here’s a brilliant example of how to waste time, money, and credibility in 2021.

The HR department at a company approached me recently about teaching employees process mapping. This company recognizes the utility of process mapping in continuous improvement and decided that a class would be a good place to start. 

Sounds sensible. But with all due respect to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), I can’t imagine a bigger waste of time or money­ than this class. Not because training has no value—of course it does, in the right circumstances—but because this class was completely disconnected from any process that needed improvement or business goal. Training done for training’s sake, without linkage to some sort of goal, is like a cattle rancher taking vegan cooking classes: intellectually interesting, but kind of pointless. 

In my experience, the half-life of classroom knowledge is somewhat shorter than the time it takes employees to walk from the conference room back to their offices. Without a connection to a desired business outcome, training becomes a strictly academic exercise that will be forgotten after the next bite of a danish. And even with a connection to a business outcome, you’re in race with the danish.” 

 

Read the full article, One Easy Way To Squander Time, Money, And Credibility, on MarkovitzConsulting.com.

 

 

Barry Horwitz explains why he believes industry experience is overrated and provides examples from Ford, Staples, and health organizations to back up the claim. 

 

“In September of 2006, Boeing executive Alan Mullaly was named the new CEO of Ford Motor Company. Not only did he have zero experience in the auto industry, he drove a Lexus (shocking!).

The hiring decision was widely panned by industry experts and “regular people” alike. But Mullaly wasn’t fazed. When asked how he was going to tackle something as complex and unfamiliar as the auto industry, particularly given the financial shape Ford was in at the time, he replied, “An automobile has about 10,000 moving parts, right? An airplane has two million, and it has to stay up in the air.”

In the end, Mullaly was credited with having led a significant turnaround of Ford, which was also the only major auto manufacturer that didn’t require a government bailout during the great recession.

Industry Expertise is Overrated

When speaking with prospective clients, I am often asked whether I am an expert in their particular industry. While there are a few industries in which I have spent a number of years (e.g., retail, consumer products, health & human services, disease-based nonprofits), there are many more in which I have not.

In practice, however, lack of industry-specific experience is not usually a limitation. While it’s true that some understanding of the industry is critical, an outside resource can draw on the expertise that resides within the client organization, and from speaking with industry participants and analysts.

The truth is, if you are seeking creative and innovative ideas, they often come from looking at things from a different perspective — a perspective that is more likely in the possession of those with experiences across multiple and different industries.

There are many examples of this…”

 

Key points include:

  • The benefit of a broad experience
  • The intersection of industry innovation
  • Hiring strategically

 

Read the full article, Respect the Unexpected, on HorwitzandCo.com.

 

 

Aneta Key shares a concise post that explains the purpose and benefits of her company’s GrowthKey programs.

One way to increase the leadership capacity of your organization is to invest in the development of your people and build organizational capabilities. The GrowthKey Programs help you do just that.

GrowthKey blended learning approach

The GrowthKey professional development programs develop critical strategic, problem-solving, and interpersonal capabilities to elevate the confidence and performance of leaders, high performers groomed for cross-functional assignments, up-and-comers, partners, project managers, and consultants. 

The programs may mesh one or more of these elements depending on your unique needs:

Synchronous (virtual or in-person) “intensives” to galvanize learning — A core element that kick-starts learning. Custom content is developed based on client objectives and needs assessment for learners (e.g., High Potentials, Team Leaders, Project Managers, new hires). Durations last from multi-day “boot camp” formats to half-a-day “deep-dive” formats.

 

Key points include:

  • The comprehensive global program
  • The targeted local program

 

Read the full post, GrowthKey — Blended learning model for custom corporate training programs, on the Aedeapartners.com.

 

 

Amanda Setili shares a few practices designed to help you excel at both long-term and short-term thinking. 

Every one of us knows well the constant tug-of-war between long and short-term thinking. You want to lose weight, but you also deeply desire that double chocolate cake. You want to put a new roof on your house, but you also have your heart set on a restorative summer vacation.

Long-term big thinking is the foundation of all major accomplishments. From the interstate highway system to the automobile manufacturing plants that populated it, such accomplishments are the result of decision makers’ choice to invest—sometimes painfully–now to create impact across many decades. But they also are the result of countless individuals working one day at a time.

So—as you already know—the trick is to excel at both short as well as long-term thinking, each in its place. But that is harder to do than it sounds. Here are a few practices I’ve found helpful:

 

Key points include:

  • Incent short-term behaviors that have long-term benefits 
  • Work on both fronts at once
  • Progress of all sizes

 

Read the full article, Navigating the Constant Tension Between Long and Short-Term Thinking, on LinkedIn. 

 

 

Sean McCoy identifies key steps a business may take to alter the operation model and improve  productivity.

We are in the initial stages of a productivity mega-trend. Forced by wage growth and enabled by technology, leading companies are already redesigning their operating models to make their people more productive.

The forces creating the productivity mega-trend

Wages are rising and look set to continue rising. Labor’s share of GDP is at a 90-year low, and we are seeing a reversion to long-run historical averages. 20 states raised their minimum wages in 2018, impacting 17M workers, over 10% of the country’s workforce. New technologies are radically re-shaping the processing of data and the interacting with prospects, leads, and customers. Repetitive work is being automated, and customer engagement is going digital. Extend the evolution of these two trends, wage growth and new technologies, and a firm can expect to experience one of two outcomes over the next business cycle: margin dilution or productivity growth.

How to join the productivity mega-trend

The first step to participate in the productivity mega-trend is to understand which of your business functions will be impacted. Functions with large spans of control and a large share of entry-level positions will be affected the most by wage growth. Functions where “data shuffling” is a common activity will be affected by automation technologies. Customer-facing functions will be impacted by the new customer-experience technologies. When listing functions that meet two or three of those criteria, at the top are functions such as inside sales, customer care, and customer service, and corporate functions such as Accounting, Finance, and HR.

 

Key points include:

  • Wage increases
  • How leads and customers interact with business
  • Shifts from strategy to execution

 

Read the full article, The Productivity Mega-trend You Can’t Ignore, on McCoyConsultingGroup.com.

 

 

In this article for Forbes, Stephen Wunker reveals how this small business led the charge in innovation, safety, and customer service during the height of the pandemic.

You might not think of an auto body shop as a hotbed of business innovation – but you’d be quite mistaken. Consider the story of one small chain that shows how businesses can go on offense during the coronavirus pandemic, seizing the initiative to remake customer experience, business relationships, and competitive position. This is how one company made its Great Reboot happen.

Today’s Collision, a 64-employee chain of three auto body shops based in the Boston suburb of Malden, saw the pandemic happen at an unfortunate time. Boston had a relatively mild winter with little snow, and – sorry to tell you – auto body shops expect people to have more accidents when the weather is nasty. However, owner Bobby Cobb had a realization: if the winter was tough for his relatively well-capitalized company, it must have much harder for the mom-and-pop firms that were already just eking by. As the coronavirus hit and the plummeting level of road traffic foretold still fewer collisions, Cobb knew that shops across the industry faced dire circumstances. For him, this was the time to seize the initiative.

 

Key points include:

  • Changing the customer experience
  • Expanding your business partnerships
  • Seizing market share from weaker rivals

 

Read the full article, How a Local Business got on the Front Foot during COVID, on Forbes.

 

 

With the pandemic slowing the pace in how we live and work, many of us may feel stuck. Luckily, Mike Ross shares a quick tip to help set movement in motion. 

I’m lucky to spend a lot of my time working with highly intelligent, motivated people; helping them think through decisions for themselves and their organizations. Some big decisions, some small ones, but these conversations often share a striking similarity – the people I’m speaking with usually already know what to do. 

They know the answer. They’re just stuck. 

And what makes them stuck is fear. Fear of getting it wrong, of making a mistake, of screwing something up and regretting it. And they come to me (and people like me) to validate their ideas. Sometimes we find a piece of evidence or a fact that they overlooked that helps them to re-think their idea and chart a new path, but in many cases, they would be just as well served by trying their ideas out (on a small scale to begin with) and learning as they go. And that’s usually the advice that I give them. Try it and see. 

They don’t really need a consultant or an adviser or coach. They just need the starting point of a plan and permission to move. 

 

So here’s a quick hit to help you get unstuck…

 

Key points include:

  • Tackling risk
  • Gathering ideas
  • Breaking through fear

 

Read the full post, Permission to Change, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Tim Worboys shares the strategies behind the success of a leading US insurtech company.

Hippo, a leading US insurtech company, announced yesterday that they had raised $150M in a Series E round, valuing the business at $1.5B post fundraising.

As the global economic conditions continue to prove challenging due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic we are beginning to see a split in the market – some insurtechs are going public or successfully raising significant amounts of funding and others like Metromile are either having to lay off and furlough significant numbers of staff or closing altogether like Coverly. So why are Hippo in the former group and continuing to be so successful? In my view there are three key reasons:

Hippo chose a great “niche”

All insurtechs entering a product market have to focus on an initial country and product combination (a niche). This niche is critical as it defines the parameters within which they operate and hence significantly influences their chances of success. Hippo chose to enter the US homeowners market – this market has a number of key advantages that help increase their chances of being successful:

Large size –at ~$100B there is a lot of opportunity for new entrants. Even at a retention rate of 85% there is $15B of new business premiums to compete for in a given year. Hippo at ~$270M currently will only be looking for 1-2% of that per year so can focus on the type of business/customer/states that they wish to target and have a lower chance of challenges such as adverse selection.

 

Key points include:

  • Consistent growth
  • High average premiums
  • Simpler supply chain and less complexity of claims vs Auto

 

Read the full article, Hippo – getting a lot of things right – sustainable profitability the final challenge, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Are you failing to attract the talent you want at your company? Paul Millerd takes some time to analyze what does and doesn’t work on a company career page with examples taken from a review of 100 sites.

Why Stripe has the only good career page on the internet (okay maybe Costco too)

January 30th, 2021: Greetings from Taipei. It’s day 9 of our quarantine here in Taiwan. We were lucky enough to stay in Angie’s parents apartment so we’ve been able to walk in and out of different rooms to keep us occupied. Thank you to Arvind and Peter for becoming paid supporters of the newsletter and greetings to the 75 new subscribers, hitting the 3,500 subscriber mark.

This week’s picture features Angie’s rock painting creations, a hobby she picked up only a few months ago. Crazy!

#1 Stripe seems to be the only company that has put effort into their career page

This week I went through more than 100 career pages. It started because I have been writing about how our expectations of work have changed dramatically since I graduated in 2007. When I graduated careers pages were simply a listing of jobs available.

However, somewhere in the last 15 years things started to change. Companies started to market working at their companies and use language like “find your calling” or “do the most important work of your life.” AirBnB’s page tells people that they can “life their best life” at AirBnB.

This is a big shift and has led to a vicious cycle of increasing expectations and bolder language around what the company claims to offer. This is great except I’m not sure that most companies can guarantee that people will live their best life or do the most meaningful work of their careers. Most jobs, well, just aren’t all that exciting.

Someone suggested I walk through the Stripe site and explain why there site is so good. Here are five things they do:

 

Key points include:

  • Authenticity
  • User experience
  • Effective communication

 

Read the full article, The Career Page Crisis | #126, on Boundless.com.

 

 

Sugath Warnakulasuriya shares an article that explores a strategy many companies take to develop a path to profitable growth. 

Many traditional high-share, low-growth companies find themselves in a similar predicament: they’re burdened with large, fragmented account portfolios, likely from inorganic market share binges. They often have hybrid asset bases, widely dispersed points of distribution and sale, large workforces, and complex logistics, all of which make margin growth very difficult. The legacy nature of these businesses also prevent access to accurate and timely customer and operational data, further limiting clear paths to profitable growth.

A few companies have battled this dilemma by rethinking how they operate, with judicious use of inexpensive digital engagement, devices, data analytics and innovation techniques. The typical playbook involves creating new digital customer experiences that introduce convenience and drive use, providing the workforce with mobile tools that make it easier to do their job, and deriving insights from newly collected data to improve operations altogether. With emergence of low-cost IoT, some companies even instrument and connect their distributed assets, opening the flood gates to granular, up-to-date and highly useful data. Bringing it altogether with modern data infrastructure and analytics, and operationalizing key insights paves their way to profitable growth.

 

Key points include:

  • Creating new digital customer experiences
  • Digital dashboards to monitor hidden patterns
  • Connecting distributed assets

 

Read the full article, “Cash Cows with Millions of Udders” and Digital Paths to Profitable Growth, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Robbie Baxter shares valuable advice on how to build and manage a network in a comfortable and authentic way.

A few years ago, my sister asked me to co lead a workshop to help a group of her fellow psychologists build their professional network.

Here’s how she opened the event: “I know most of us really don’t like networking, and I’m glad you’re here anyway. For most of us networking is worse than a sharp stick in the eye”

I heard murmurs of agreement and saw heads bobbing up and down. These people hated networking. But I came to learn that a big part of it was how they defined networking and the approach they believed they had to use to build and nurture their networks.

I have come to learn that for many people, networking feels inauthentic and cheesy, and seems to take them away from the real work of helping clients and doing the work.

And yet, your network can be a tremendously powerful tool in “doing the work” and your investment in building your network can be among the most authentic and meaningful parts of your day.

In my work building engaged communities and forever transactions for all kinds of organizations, I have spent a lot of time teaching people how to build their networks in an ethical and comfortable way.

Here are some tips that can help you build yours!

 

Key points include:

  • Communication tips
  • Strategies for segmentation 
  • Developing opportunities

 

Read the full article, 30 Days to a Stronger Network in 2021, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Barry Horwitz explains why developing strategy is even more important when instability and uncertainty are the norm. 

‘There has never been a time in which managers did not invoke the idea that the world is changing faster than it’s ever changed before.’

Nitin Nohria, just-retired Dean of Harvard Business School

Pandemic, rampant unemployment, economic uncertainty, climate change, political upheaval.

And that’s just what you’ll find above the fold in today’s newspaper. Given all the turmoil and confusion across the board — about today, let alone tomorrow — is there even any point in developing a strategic plan for your business?

Of course, as someone who trades in strategy, my position on this question is pretty easy to guess: The answer is a resounding YES.

Two reasons…

First, because as Dean Nohria and many others have observed over the years, we humans are biased towards believing that change today is happening more rapidly and more broadly than ever before. It’s not. The specifics may be different, but rapid change has always been a given.

Second, it depends very much on what you envision when thinking of a “strategic plan.” If your answer is, “a fancy, dust-gathering binder full of financial projections and dozens of pages of text assembled to spell out specific plans for five years into the future,” then I agree, it’s a waste of time.

But that’s not what an effective strategic plan looks like.

 

Key points include:

  • Strategy to determine purpose
  • Strategy is direction
  • Strategy recommendations

 

Read the full article, Is Strategy Still Relevant?, on HorwitzandCo.com.

 

 

Amanda Setili asks us to think about how interaction with clients has changed and what expectations will be in the years ahead.

Imagine that it’s three years in the future, in 2024. Largely gone are the days of flying somewhere to meet with a customer for an hour or two. Customer expectations have changed dramatically; they want substance more than just a few hours together.

Instead of a social call, customers in 2024 want substantive gatherings of talent. For example, they value it when you can set up a virtual gathering between your customer, an engineer in California, a SME in New York, and an entrepreneur in Germany.

The way things are done in 2024 are a direct result of everyone going virtual in 2020, plus three years of effort to make virtual gatherings substantively better, rather than just socially distant. It’s become far easier to share data, see and interact with other people, swap ideas, break out into small groups, and even to look the other person in the eye.

No one—myself included—can accurately predict all the innovations likely to take place over the next three years, but I’m pretty certain that many will combine to make virtual gatherings far more effective.

 

Key points include:

  • New skills and perspectives
  • Changing expectations
  • Changing operations

 

Read the full article, How Will You Interact with Customers in 2024?, on LinkedIn.

 

 

To ensure companies have the talent that will grow the business, Stephen Redwood explains how a multi-track career model is the better choice for today’s agile and lean requirements.

In a world where attracting top talent is increasingly competitive there is certainly a case for focusing attention on that special and small number of company roles that are deemed critical to success. Those roles may well shape the agenda, define points of focus, and be responsible for creating much of the potential business value, but it is important not to lose sight of the fact that it is the collective performance of the whole employee population that ultimately delivers the actual results. In thinking of a suitable metaphor, I was reminded of the poem Where Many Rivers Meet by David Whyte. The title conjured just the right image for the way career models should combine the flow of capabilities across organizations to support strategic goals and individual ambitions alike with a force like ‘the mouths of the rivers sing[ing] into the sea.’

The narrowly defined career paths of the past, that reward climbing a hierarchy of increasingly administrative general management roles, no longer fit with the leaner, agility-focused, diverse and dispersed operations of today’s companies. Nor do they fit with the expectations of an increasingly mobile, diverse, remote and ‘gig-minded’ talent pool of today’s society. More flexible career paths are the order of the day, yet in many cases the need lags behind the reality.

 Clients often ask me what they should factor into their thinking as they evolve new designs that allow for multiple career paths, providing opportunities for a wide range of skill sets and capabilities.

 

Key points include:

  • Addressing the practical realities of the global labor market
  • Balancing individual and organizational needs
  • Offering different career tracks

 

Read the full article, Where Many Rivers Meet – Building Multi-Track Career Models That Work, on LinkedIn.

 

 

In this article, Kaihan Krippendorff identifies one major, but hidden, competitor you may not have recognised and explains how this may help you build a more competitive strategy.

If you’ve spent time developing your organization’s strategy, chances are you’re familiar with your competition. You know your competitors’ offerings, their strengths and weaknesses, and how you can deliver where they don’t. But when it comes to preparing for the future, there is one alternative competitor, less obvious but omnipresent, that may not have crossed your mind: nonconsumption. Keep reading to find out why nonconsumption may be a threat to your organization and how to address it.

NONCONSUMPTION: YOUR INVISIBLE COMPETITION

At last year’s Reimagine the Future Summit, I had the opportunity to meet backstage with Efosa Ojomo, Nigerian author, researcher, and speaker at Harvard Business School and the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. He introduced me to the concept of nonconsumption as a major competitor in the market.

He explains, ‘Nonconsumption occurs when the vast majority of people in an economy would benefit from access to a product or service, but due to obstacles such as cost, expertise, time, or availability, they are unable to afford the product.’

If left unchecked, nonconsumption can become one of your biggest competitors, but it can also lead to untapped market potential and strategic opportunities.

 

Key points covered include:

  • Your invisible competition
  • Four reasons for nonconsumption
  • How Chinese virtual currency addresses nonconsumption 

 

Read the full article, Have You Addressed Your Hidden Competitor?, on Kaihan.net.

 

 

David Burnie shares a post that explains why now is the time to refresh your growth strategy.

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted businesses worldwide. Globally, governments have put economies on pause, and businesses have shuttered their doors to try and limit the virus’ spread. Factories have idled, and customers have sheltered in place as the world weathers the storm. Whether or not this strict response was necessary, or an overreaction, is a side debate – it happened. As we move from the frenetic pace of survival into recovery, businesses now need to seize the opportunity that has been presented.

Deloitte Canada’s recent September 2020 Economic Outlook noted that Canada’s economic activity is not expected to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels until the second half of 2021. Businesses still operating have withstood the immediate shock to revenues and survived the initial downturn; now they need to leverage this recovery period and set the foundations for future growth.

There are 5 key reasons outlined within this article as to why businesses need to invest now in refreshing their growth strategy:

To convert crisis urgency into future momentum

To gain first-mover advantage on emerging trends

To adapt to a technology-focused market

To take advantage of the robust talent pool

To build resiliency into their strategy

By heeding to these reasons and acting to refresh growth strategy, businesses can position themselves for success in the recovery and post-pandemic world. They will better understand their customers’ problems and what they as a business can do to solve them, thus working towards increasing market share, entering new markets, and growing revenues.

 

Key points covered include:

  • Converting crisis urgency into future momentum
  • Gaining first-mover advantage on emerging trends
  • Adapting to a technology-focused market

 

Read the full article, Why Now is the Time to Refresh Your Growth Strategy, on BurnieGroup.com.

 

 

Jeff Perry shares a post that identifies the positive potential of divestitures in a company’s growth portfolio. 

Houston, do we have a problem? While many companies talk about the need to regularly reshape its portfolio, divestitures are too often considered aborted missions. Quite the contrary, divestitures can be rocket fuel for other business priorities of the parent company.

Divestitures are unsung in portfolio-shaping. When businesses are rumored to be for sale, many questions are raised internally and externally: Why is the business on the block? Is it underperforming? Was it starved investment? Was required management talent lacking? Why would the business be of more value to someone else?

Divestitures are not typically afforded the buzz and attention of their M&A cousins. When companies announce major acquisitions, there is often great anticipation and excitement regarding how the newly acquired entity will drive growth, expand geographic markets, expand products and services, and/or improve supply chain efficiency. High potential leaders in the business lineup for roles to help in acquisition and integration processes.

When divestitures are considered, first, there are fewer people “in the know.” When it is more known that a business may be a divestiture candidate, in addition to the questions highlighted above, high potential leaders often run for the hills. People may experience changing allegiances throughout the divestiture process as well. While everyone starts thinking on behalf of the parent company, some will shift to wearing the hat of the divested business, especially if they are ring-fenced and going with the deal.

 

Key points include:

  • The barriers to overcome
  • Creating value
  • Capital raised

 

Read the full article, Divestitures Can Be Rocket Fuel, Not Aborted Missions, on LeadMandates.com.

 

 

Nora Ghaoui shares the top three ways she built her business as a solo consultant during the difficult year of 2020.  

Building a consulting pipeline is tough in any year. In 2020, the uncertainty caused by the pandemic made companies cautious, so it was harder to get projects agreed and started.  I tried out different actions to build my project pipeline, and some worked better than others. Here are the top 3 things that made a difference to building my business as a solo consultant.  They might not be what you expect!

Spend your time wisely

Time gets away from you when your established routine is broken.  Without strong deadlines or direct feedback, it’s easy for actions to be postponed, half-done or forgotten in the jumble of dealing with lockdowns and working from home. 

So the most important success factor is: Be very intentional about how you spend your time.  What you spend time on, and what you get done, makes the difference between building your business or seeing it languish.  It sounds obvious, but it can be hard to do in practice.

As an “army of one”, all the work has to be done by you, although you can outsource parts of it.  This work includes refining your positioning, creating and publishing your marketing, building and nurturing your network, prospecting for leads, pitching for projects, negotiating with clients, working on projects, doing administrative overhead, keeping your expertise up to date, and, last but not least, having fun and enjoying what you do.

 

Key points include:

  • Questions to help you prioritize
  • Reviewing progress to stay on track
  • Expanding and maintaining connections

 

Read the full article, Keep building your consulting pipeline (in a tough year), on Veridia.nl.

 

 

In this  article recently published in the El Economista, David Uriarte explores how COVID-19 has encouraged medical and social experiments on sustainability, the economy, and the management of companies.

One of the ways in which human beings have managed to advance our knowledge and civilization is through experimentation. Experimenting means testing in order to explain or understand the nature of reality. Experimentation is one of the building blocks of innovation . Experimentation is based on changing the things we normally do .

Experimenting is often expensive and time consuming. It also forces us to get out of our comfort zone and seek new realities.

Covid-19 is posing a huge humanitarian challenge with, for now, more than 1.5 million deaths. In addition to its profound negative impact, it is generating new processes of innovation and digitization, because we are forced to experiment, we are forced to do many things differently.

All crises generate experiments, innovation and knowledge. World War II inoculated us against fascist ideology and advanced technology to hitherto unsuspected limits.

You just have to walk through the Royal Air Force Museum in London and see what airplanes were like before and after World War II to get an idea of ​​this transformation.The sense of urgency and need to obtain a vaccine for Covid-19 has meant that a large amount of resources have been dedicated to its research and development. Thanks to this, new platforms based on RNA and DNA have been generated to obtain vaccines that may be used in the development of new vaccines in the future. With these technologies, vaccines can be developed more quickly because they do not require culture or fermentation and billions of people will benefit from them in the future.

 

Questions posed in this article include:

  • What happens to pollution in a city
  • What happens to an economy when millions of people cannot work
  • How do organizations develop if their workers are related only digitally

 

Read the full article, COVID-19: The Great Experiment, on El Econimsta.es.

 

 

Dan Markovitz shares a free workbook to accompany his latest book. 

Response to my latest book, The Conclusion Trap, has been strong, but I’ve heard from some readers that they’d like a workbook to accompany it. 

Done. 

You can download the Conclusion Trap Workbook here. For free. Gratis. No charge. $0.00 dollars. 

In it, you’ll find a recap of each of the four steps, along with questions, and recommendations you can use to experiment with the approach in your work (or personal!) lives.

 

Access the link to the workbook through the post, The Conclusion Trap Workbook Is Out (And It’s Free), on MarkovitzConsulting.com.

 

 

In this post, Bernie Heine identifies what the business community has learned from the Coronavirus pandemic. 

We are all learning to live by the new rules in all aspects of our existence; we also realize what we can do.

For the past ten months, businesses all around the world have faced various challenges. Some have suffered terrible losses. However, others managed to emerge from the crisis more potent than ever – even without proper coaching. We continue to see how flexibility stands out as a prominent feature that often determines the fate of a company.

Many business lessons learned amid COVID-19 are here to stay, and that, it turns out, is a positive thing. 

Agility Means SurvivalAs gamers will know, building a fighter’s agility is crucial in many fighting games. Strength, dexterity, and health are vital, but it’s agility that will determine whether you will beat or be beaten. It’s similar in business; flexibility will decide if you will sink or swim. During these turbulent times, it is of the utmost importance to have the ability to assess the situation instantaneously and have quick reflexes. Only then will you succeed in adapting to newly developed conditions and ensure survival.

The sudden explosion of the COVID-19 pandemic left many businesses with their back against the wall. They had to make the decision, and they had to make it fast. Were they going to try and adapt or close their door for the unforeseeable future? The rapidly changing business scene has forced many to get out of their comfort zones. In some cases, such actions have revealed the companies’ hidden weaknesses. The smart ones used the newly acquired information to their advantage, fixed the underlying issues, and got out of the gutter even stronger.

 

Key points include:

  • Increasing the talent pool
  • Fostering productivity
  • The need for social interaction

 

Read the full post, 5 Business Lessons Learned amid COVID-19, on ProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com.

 

 

Susan Hamilton shares a thoughtful post on creative thinking and the pursuit of possibility.

September has always been my favorite month. The smell of new notebooks, the crispness in the still-warm air. A season full of unknowns, full of possibility. This year, the back-to-school season presents a different riff on unknowns to be sure, but I am still filled with a sense of excitement at the possibility that awaits.

People who are open to seeing possibility have a powerful competitive advantage. They notice opportunities others miss. They discover new ways forward that others may not have imagined or may have written off as impractical. 

Tony Petito was a man who saw possibility. 

While growing up in New Jersey, Tony’s love of theatre was a puzzlement to his family of plumbers. Undeterred, he organized extravagant musical productions, earning him a commendation from his town’s mayor. He went on to earn an MFA in directing from the Goodman School of Drama of the Art Institute of Chicago and pursued a theatre career in Chicago and New York. 

When he was offered an unexpected opportunity to work in management consulting, he took the leap. While it drew him away from the theater, his time with Booz, Allen & Hamilton took him on adventures across Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore and provided a secure life for his growing young family.

In Singapore, a community theatre approached him seeking an artistic director. Where others might have dismissed the role, imagining nothing more than staging Gilbert & Sullivan musicals for local expatriates, Tony had a vision. What if it were possible to transform that theater, leveraging its staff and supporters, to create a professional, international company?

 

Read the full post, In Pursuit of Possibility, on SusanMeierStudio.com

 

 

Barry Horwitz shares a recent post on digital transformation in business, and how it can provide a clearer understanding of business wants and needs — both internally and customer-facing.

In a recent webinar, Harvard Business School professor Joe Fuller (author of Managing the Future of Work) shared this mouthful: More work will be more digital more often… soon.

What does that mean? Well, what it does NOT mean is that companies should simply do remotely or digitally what they have always done before.

“Digitizing” something that was conceived decades ago is not transformation. This is like how the first cars were called “horseless carriages” (and looked exactly like a horse-drawn carriage minus the horse) and the first attempts at “digital newspapers” were simply PDFs of the printed paper attached to an email.

No. What Fuller and others are saying is that it’s time to consider new combinations and envision a novel, better approach. Not only can this protect your business from getting left behind, it has the potential to open doors that might have otherwise remained closed.

Some examples worth chewing on…

Higher Education. Mid-semester (the first full semester under COVID conditions), many schools are still struggling to figure out the best way to proctor remote exams. One option is software that monitors — Big Brother style — a student’s every move during a test; a bad combination of intimidating and creepy. Maybe it’s time to rethink our approach to learning assessment, in ways other than through closed-book exams.

Supported Living for Consumers With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). Rich Johnson, CEO of Ohio-based ViaQuest, envisions a future for I/DD services that is virtual, hybrid, and home-based, enabling consumers with I/DD to live with families and friends, instead of in 24-hour-staffed group homes.

 

Key areas of digital transformation include:

  • Higher education
  • Retail
  • B2B sales

 

Read the full article, Digital Transformation Is Coming For Your Business, on the Horwitz and Company website. 

 

 

In a recent podcast from Subscription Stories, Robbie Kellman Baxter shares the secrets behind building a successful membership community. 

We crave community.

More than ever, community is what ties us together and motivates us to be our best selves every day. Increasingly, we’re finding those connections online. From clothing manufacturers to conference organizers to professional services providers, community creators struggle to build authentic, sticky, and even profitable communities.

Gina Bianchini knows the secrets to strong communities.

She has dedicated much of her career to ushering in a new era of digital community. In addition to MightyNetworks, the community platform, she also co-founded Ning and grew it to over 100 million users in 300000 active networks.

I recently sat down with her to talk about how to launch and build community as part of a broader Forever Transaction. In our wide-ranging conversation, we also discussed how to incorporate other elements of value into your community, such as content, digital courses and subscription commerce. Enjoy!

 

Key points discussed include:

  • Distinction between the ad business versus the subscription business matters
  • Identifying sticky content as opposed to quantity of content
  • Subscription overwhelm and subscription fatigue

 

Read the transcripts or listen to the podcast, Secrets to Building Membership Communities, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Using the rise and fall and rise again of the national public radio system as an example, Kaihan Krippendorff explains why a “betting on the past” strategy has caused the downfall of giants.

In March of 2008, the United States’ national public radio system (NPR) seemed to have a fatal and too common choice: to bet on the past rather than the future. It’s the kind of decision that has initiated the fall of many once-great companies: Toys “R” Us, Polaroid, Borders, Macy’s, RadioShack, and BlackBerry, to name a few.

The pattern often begins with a shift in the “point of demand” that the incumbent chooses to ignore. BlackBerry ignored that the point of demand of mobile phones was shifting from IT managers to working consumers who started to demand they be allowed to bring their own devices to work. For innumerable retailers it was the shift from stores to online. For Polaroid and Kodak, it was the shift of demand from paper to digital.

When the point of demand shifts, some companies cling hopefully to the possibility demand will shift back. Others follow the point of the demand, shifting how they produce and deliver value.

By 2008, NPR had been following an historical shift in how people were consuming radio. As podcasts started taking off, NPR was early to the game. They had launched their podcasts three years earlier, offering a collection of nearly 200 programs. They quickly could claim 5 million downloads. When an NPR fan, a college student, launched an NPR Facebook page in 2008, NPR quickly took over its management.

 

Key points in this article include:

  • The shifting point of demand
  • Walking the line between innovation and tradition
  • How media consumption has evolved over time
  • The spectrum of NPR’s strategy

 

Read the full article, How NPR Leapt Forward in Proximity, on the Outthinker website. 

 

 

Christophe De Greift explains why now is the time to plan your analytics transformation, why you should, and the first step to take.

Artificial intelligence is a relatively young discipline in companies and in constant evolution. However, the experience of pioneering companies in various sectors and continents confirms their high value generation when accompanied by a true transformation of the company. Those who have not yet internalized their analytical transformation plan should start now to be able to arrive on time, as I explain below.

Being analytical is increasingly necessary to stay competitive

Many important business decisions are better when supported by data. Neuroscience has recently confirmed what common sense has always allowed us to understand: man can be irrational, biased and even blind. The machine is not 100% reliable either; the key is to precisely define the role of man and machine for each decision, as explained in a previous article . In very repetitive problems such as forecasting the demand for mass consumer products in retail stores, the most advanced and successful companies limit human intervention to exceptional cases. In more sensitive problems such as medical diagnoses, the radiologist is assisted by artificial intelligence.

Across all sectors, the competitiveness gap between analytics pioneers and the others is growing, threatening the sustainability of the latter. Those who have succeeded in analytics redouble their efforts and investments to become even more analytical, creating the virtuous circle explained in a recent MIT and BCG article.

Being analytical requires a transformation at the people, organization, processes and technology level.

 

Key points include:

  • Data as an opportunity
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Planning

 

Read the full article, 3 reasons to plan your Analytics Transformation now, on christophedegreift.com.

 

 

Amanda Setili was interviewed on the Quest for the Best podcast where she shared how to identify and act on opportunities in a fast-changing world for small business leaders.

I would have to say (I was inspired by) my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Tidwell. She grew up on a farm and she’d tell us stories about growing up on a farm and what it was like, and she had a great experiment that she ran with her kids every year, which was to take fertilized chicken eggs and put them in an incubator, and every few days we’d open one, just to see what the state of the growing chick was, and it was just a great example of, kind of running experiments, seeing for yourself, and just getting really immersed in the physical world of how things really work that really helped to foster my lifelong love of science and experimentation. 

…I thought, when I was in college, that I wanted to work in R&D because I thought that was where you’d get to invent things and find new theories and things like that, and so my first job was at Kimberly Clark in R&D, and it did not suit me at all. It was interesting that your interest as a kid doesn’t turn out to be the correct direction to go, so after I had worked in R&D for a year and a half or so, I was just kind of thinking, ‘this is just moving to slowly’ and I’m spending too much time thinking and writing, and I want something more immersive, and luckily at that time there was an opportunity available to work in a production facility, a mill, so I moved there, working in a small town, in a mill for Kimberly Clark, and I just loved it. It was everyday something happening, working with a small team to optimize operations and develop new products, and there was never a boring minute at all.

 

Key points covered in the interview include:

  • Agility as the ability to see what’s going on in the marketplace 
  • How marketplace changes create new opportunities 
  • Finding a way to create something good whatever changes

 

Listen to the full podcast, How to Take Advantage of Marketplace Opportunities, on myquestforthebest.com.

 

 

Barry Horwitz shares a post that explores how the pandemic has spurred accelerated decision-making and action-taking strategies in ecommerce. 

Maybe you’ve had a similar experience…

You call your doctor’s office for an appointment because the nagging pain in your foot, back, or some other body part, isn’t getting any better. They say, “Of course, how’s Tuesday at 10am?” The difference now, though, is that Tuesday’s appointment will be virtual — held via a secure video conferencing link.

Is it the same experience as going into the office? No. But, depending upon your particular ailment, it’s surprisingly effective, much more convenient, and less expensive for all concerned.

Interestingly, it took a worldwide pandemic for telehealth applications — long explored but little used — to increase from very limited to nearly 100% in some services.

This is just one example. Over the past six months, many long-evolving trends have suddenly accelerated. Indeed, McKinsey notes that we have accomplished ten years’ worth of ecommerce penetration growth in just three months.

Something else has accelerated in recent months: the pace of decision making within organizations. Apparel companies, seeing a sudden shift in the market, altered production from shirts to masks. Full-service restaurants that had never before offered takeout, were suddenly rolling out online ordering, delivery and curb-side pickup.

In industry after industry, things which would normally take months were being accomplished within weeks, or even days.

 

Key points in the post include:

  • Ecommerce penetration growth
  • Proctor and Gamble’s response to toilet paper shortage
  • How homegrown methodologies can hamper growth

 

Read the full article, The Pandemic’s (Positive) Impact on Urgency, on Horwitzandco.com.

 

 

As more companies seek mega mergers to dominate the marketplace, a new alliance is going to revolutionize how you access your meds. Kaihan Krippendorff uses Amazon’s recent expansion into pharmaceutical distribution to illustrate the importance of proximity in expanding and improving business offerings. 

 

If you want to predict the path of innovation in your industry, consider one unifying strategic concept: proximity. Introduced by innovation guru Rob Wolcott, proximity is the theory that the production and provision of value moves ever closer to the point of demand. Viewing your industry through this lens can reveal new opportunities, help you clarify where to focus your innovation efforts, and help you better anticipate which innovations will thrive and which will fall.

Consider TJ Parker, a second-generation pharmacist who came to realize the pharmacy industry was broken. Over the years, he observed how convoluted the experience was for patients, particularly those with multiple prescriptions, to get the drugs their health depended on.

Multiple prescriptions meant multiple trips to the drugstore. At home, they had to handle multiple bottles of drugs and keep track of how often they took each one (some once per day, some multiple times per day, others only on certain days of the week). They might sort the pills at home into pill organizers. But, still, the time and effort was onerous, resulting in low compliance and poorer health.

 

Key points covered in this article include:

  • The pharmacy industry system
  • The pillpack system
  • The value of proximity 

 

Read the full article, Pillpack, Proximity, and The Amazon Future of Pharmacies, on Kaihan’s website. 

 

 

David A. Fields identifies two issues consulting firms must overcome to win projects and asks four pertinent questions that can help you take the action needed to move forward.

Your consulting firm has probably encountered more resistance from prospective clients than usual over the past eight weeks. Fortunately, you can understand and overcome the elevated stumbling blocks.

The basics of winning consulting projects haven’t changed. Keep them moist and use lots of butter. No, wait. That’s for sheets of phyllo dough. To win consulting projects, your consulting firm still needs to outperform every alternative on The Six Pillars of Consulting Success.

However, the change and uncertainty that have swept the globe have also spawned two shifts in how prospects evaluate your consulting firm’s offerings.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Heightened Risk Sensitivity
  • Extended Time Horizon

 

Read the full article, Two Issues Your Consulting Firm Must Confront to Win Projects in Uncertain Times, on David’s website. 

 

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter shares expert tips on how to build revenue through a subscription business model. 

I’ve been noticing something funny recently.

As I make my rounds being interviewed by podcasters, influencers and subject matter experts, the conversations turn from ‘advice for listeners’ to ‘advice for the host.’

In other words, these solopreneurs, subject matter experts, and social media celebrities are trying to figure out how to build a viable, profitable business around their own community and expertise. They’re not just trying to provide useful information to their audiences–they’re struggling with their own revenue model.

Don’t underestimate the power of the “forever transaction” for small businesses.

Subscriptions can be a powerful tool for virtually any organizations–public, private, big, small, venture-backed, family-owned, non-profit, old, emerging, and across all industries. It can be a particularly effective tool for the smallest businesses.

This week, I presented my work to several hundred small business owners through BNI Global, and was inundated with questions. They wanted to know how to apply the principles to their accounting firms, restaurants, car washes, real-estate businesses and solo-consultancies.

Membership models and subscription pricing work great for most small businesses, subject matter experts and even celebrity influencers.

 

Included in this article:

 

  • Identifying  the value
  • Segmenting the audience
  • The ROI of Free and Freemium

 

Read the full article, How Influencers, Subject Matter Experts and Small Business Owners Can Build Subscription Revenue on LinkedIn.

 

 

Luiz Zorzella takes an adventurous look at two choices innovation-based businesses may or may not choose to pursue to illustrate how emotion is an underlying driver of innovation. 

Companies that decide to compete on innovation-based businesses have 2 potential paths to choose from: with or without “emotion”.

Years ago, my wife and I traveled to the NorthEast of Brazil. There, we went on a tour on the sand dunes on a buggy.

Fifteen minutes into the tour, I was convinced that that was going to be the high point of our trip. The dunes were beautiful, the tour was fun and the driver knew exactly where to stop to get the best pictures.

Then he turned to us and casually asked: ‘so… with or without ‘emotion’

He can speak in code because most tourists already know what it means: do you want to continue the rest of the tour like the first fifteen minutes (which were great) or do you want him to ride the dunes like a lunatic, flipping the buggy and sliding large dunes sideways? That is the “with emotion” option.

Companies that decide to compete on innovation-based businesses have 2 similar options:

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • The two choices
  • The pros and cons of each choice
  • The most commonly preferred option

 

Read the full article, The Exciting Path Of Strategic Innovation, on the Amquant website. 

 

 

David A. Fields shares a post that identifies the benefit of extending your reach and imagination to find partners and connections that can help your business grow.

Many of your consulting firm’s prospects are caught in the eddies of crisis and battling to stay afloat. While they appreciate your relationship-building calls, unfortunately, they’re too preoccupied to fully engage in deep conversations with you.

On the other hand, you know who’s in the same boat as your consulting firm and casting about for new ideas and connections?

Fly fishermen. Partners.

Plus, the right partner can contribute more to your consulting firm’s health over the long term than any one client.

A partner is any individual or firm that helps you with your consulting cycle (Winning Engagements and Profitably Creating Value), and/or whom you can help.**

 

The five categories (and examples) of partners are:

  • IP Creators
  • Influencers
  • Connectors
  • Value Extenders
  • Distributors

 

Read the full article, 5 Partners Your Consulting Firm Should Call This Week, on David’s website.