Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership

Neeraj Monga shares a report on WELL Health Technologies. 

This report demonstrates that investing in WELL Health Technologies (WELL.TO) is not a dream come true but a nightmare. We value Well at $1.00 to $1.50 per share. We believe that there is an 80% – 90% downside to the stock.

The old idiomatic expression “ If wishes were horses, men would fly” aptly describes the predicament of Well Health Technologies Corp. (“Well,” or the “Company”). How does it get off the acquisition treadmill without decimating its stock price and soaring expectations of investors in the marketplace? While Well wrestles with self-inflicted wounds and its philosophical conundrum, we strongly urge all investors to decamp and not wait for the inevitable demise of its lofty valuation and stock price.

There is no proprietary or path-breaking technology at Well. We believe that Well is masquerading as a healthcare company to delude Canadian institutional investors into buying its stock, given that Canada has few investable homegrown healthcare companies. That top management of Well is confused is evident from the change in tone highlighted in the quotes from Q3-2020 and Q4-2020.

Evidently, the CEO is abdicating all responsibility given multiple sub-optimal, high-priced, and value-destroying M&A transactions consummated under his watch. CRH Medical Corporation (“CRH”), the most recent and the largest, described as “monumental” in a recent press release, is also the worst of the lot. We agree that it is a “monumental” fiasco.

We believe Well’s misunderstood position as a virtual care entity, backed by a rising stock price based on COVID-19 telehealth frenzy, is enriching insiders at the expense of outsiders. Top management of Well is using an inflated stock as currency to lull investors into believing in its growth prospects. While all future write-downs at the Company will be non-cash in nature, the imminently significant decline in wealth for those that came late to the Well party, including those purchasing the CRH subscription receipts, is likely to render them in critical care.

We also believe that valuations accorded to two key transactions, Insig and Circle Medical, are borderline duplicity and that investors should be circumspect of the Company’s disclosures.

 

Key points include:

  • Canada’s leading EMR business
  • COVID-19 in the rear-view mirror
  • Li Ka-Shing Helping Well

Access the full report,  Well Health Technologies Corp: It is a Bird, It is a Plane, Noooo! It is a Torpedo. It will Blow-Up, on Antya.ca.

Jeffery Perry shares a post that explores Gen Z  and their move towards financial acumen.

Gen Z is no longer just children. The oldest members of Gen Z turn 25 in 2021 and are demonstrating their own attitudes about money and their financial futures. As the first generation to be completely immersed in digital technologies, from the ease of buying almost anything with a touch of a smartphone, endless subscription opportunities, and cashless payment systems, it is easy to assume Gen Z to be perpetual consumers with limited financial discipline. Quite the contrary, studies reveal that Gen Z is emerging with more financial acumen regarding debt, saving, and retirement compared to their Millennial siblings and Gen X parents when they were at similar ages.

Gen Z is generally defined as those born between 1996 and 2016. Why analyze Gen Z’s attitude towards money? It is because Gen Z will be the driving force in the economy very soon. According to Bank of America research, in less than a decade, Gen Z will represent 27% of the world’s income, surpassing that of Millennials.

Gen Z has witnessed two phenomena from earlier generations that inform their approach to money – massive student loan debt and out-of-control credit card debt. 

Millennials, often Gen Z’s older siblings, have racked up half a trillion dollars in crippling student loan debt. To make matters worse, according to Pew Research Center, there is an 11% default rate and over 50% of Millennials do not see a path to paying off student loan debt given their current career outcomes and prospects. Gen X, often Gen Z’s parents, has routinely racked up the highest credit card debt of any generation from early adulthood through to today. About 50% of Gen X revolve credit card balances with no end in sight. While this extensive use of plastic has fueled the economy, it has left many Gen X trying to reduce consumer debt as they approach retirement age. According to a Schwab retirement study, 42% of Gen X is more focused on debt repayment over retirement savings.

 

Key points include:

  • Student loan debt
  • Credit card debt
  • Savings

Read the full post, Gen Z Shows Early Signs of Financial Acumen, on LeadMandates.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.

In this post, Jessica Lackey identifies the five costs of misalignment and what you can do about it. 

It can be easy to stay super busy by taking action in our lives and businesses. #productivity #hustleculture

But if the actions we are taking are not aligned to our deepest blueprint, our inner knowing, then we aren’t truly operating in our highest gifts that will transform our revenue and results. We might be treading water, or “wasting time”, instead of being laser-focused on what will drive traction.

And acting with misalignment comes at a cost. More specifically, 5 costs.

Missed Revenue

Knowing who you are and being aligned with how you serve in your business is the key to revenue, both for new fans and returning customers.

Are you meant for deep work with a few clients? Or are you meant for creating a large and expansive platform?

In retail, are you known for higher-end, exquisite experiences? Or being able to replicate quickly at scale?

Do you love to teach? Or do you thrive on making and mastery and deliver hands-on, “done-for-you” service?

 

Key points include:

  • Wasted busy time
  • Missing your “Dream Team”
  • Exhaustion and burnout

Read the full article, The 5 Costs of Misalignment, on LinkedIn.

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.

Susan Meier shares a post from Workspace Studio on the office of interior designer Antigone Michaelides.

What do you do?

I tell spatial stories. People ask sometimes, what’s your style? And I say that that’s an irrelevant question, and I refuse to answer it. What matters is that I listen, and I get this raw material, this narrative. And because I have certain tools from education and experience, I can translate that into a spatial story, which the person who gave me the narrative can inhabit comfortably.

Tell us about the space where you work.

It’s a double-height space, and upstairs is my son Leo’s loft. We have this very big solid wood surface that is one desk. One part is for Leo, and I have my working corner. Underneath the desk is a collection of materials, like stone or oak samples. All of my samples, all of my files, all of my stuff is in this little corner of the universe.

How would you describe your creative process?

On one side of my space, I keep what is current. At the moment, it’s an Alexander McQueen book and some things that fell off a chandelier. This is the kernel and the start of the process. There’s the start here of something that looks very feminine, very ethereal, very whimsical, but the underlying premise is very structural and rational, just like Alexander McQueen’s.

For commercial work or for museums or for reference, I use sketchbooks, because I need to flip back and forth. For residential projects, for some reason, I don’t want to use my sketchbook. I do it on loose leaf of paper. I don’t know why; this is a mystery to me. I start sketching, and it’s the beginning of an expression; we rise from the floor up, and onto the walls, and now I know where we’re going. The idea of sculpting space from the inside out is beautiful to me.

 

Key points include:

  • What helps productivity
  • The most important elements of the work environment
  • Rituals in the workday

 

Read the full article, The Design Of Folk Tales, on Workspace-studio.com.

Robyn Bolton shares one simple rule that can help build a culture of innovation and a solid team. 

I do.  We do.  You do.

My Mom taught pre-school.  It wasn’t a job; it was her calling.  Kids gravitated to her like she was the Pied Piper, and she greeted them with unequaled patience, acceptance, and love.  Years later, her students would talk about how she changed their lives when they were only four years old.  And she did it by following one simple rule.

I do.  We do.  You do.

Whatever she was teaching, whether it was sitting still at a table and eating a snack or writing the alphabet, she always did it first so the kids would know that it’s possible and not be afraid to try.

Then, they would do the activity together.  Side-by-side, they would eat a snack or draw letters, the kids occasionally glancing to the side to mimic her and my Mom gently coaching and encouraging.

Finally, she would step back, never disappearing completely, always within sight, but no longer right there.  By doing this, she created the space for them to be independent and to build confidence.

It is easy to say that she was teaching.

It is more accurate to say that she was leading.

It is precisely what executives need to do if they want to build a culture and capability of innovation within their teams and businesses.

I do.

It is not enough to encourage your team to take risks.  YOU need to take risks.  Ask a question in a meeting.  Say, “I don’t know.”  Challenge the status quo.  Be the first to do something different or uncertain, so your people know that it’s possible and aren’t afraid to try.

Key points include:

  • Fostering confidence
  • Avoiding judgment
  • Stepping back

Read the full article, Follow This 1 Simple Rule to Build a Culture and Capability of Innovation, on Milezero.io.

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter asks and answers what features should be free and what should be paid in a freemium subscription?

I get asked all the time what features should be freemium (aka free forever) and what features should go behind the paywall.

The answer is, of course, it depends.

But here are some useful frameworks.

Does your business model depend on VIRAL MARKETING?

If your “free” subscribers are a marketing channel for attracting paid subscribers, you might want to invest in making your offering attractive for free subscribers.

Does your business model depend on a NETWORK EFFECT?

If your free subscribers create value for your paying subscribers, simply by participating in your network, and are part of the product, you might think of your investment in features for free subscribers as part of your product development investment. This could be through their content, through their data, or even through their eyeballs.

Does a significant percentage of your freemium subscribers predictably CONVERT to paid?

If your free subscribers are your best acquisition channel, that’s a good reason for continued investment from your lead gen budget.

There are some other things to consider as well.

Have you ALREADY offered the feature for FREE?

Many businesses launch with generous free offerings, planning to “monetize later”. This can be an effective way to build community or to beat competitors in a land grab situation. However, when you build a trusted ongoing relationship by giving stuff away for free, you might be building an expectation, an implied commitment, to giving it away for free forever. It can be very hard to put something previously available for free behind a paywall.

Key points include:

  • Later monetization
  • Lost leaders
  • The top guiding principle

Read the full post, What Features Should be Free and What Should be Paid in a Freemium Subscription?, on LinkedIn.

 

Carlos Castelan shares a report on the post-COVID impact on high-traffic malls.

Malls in the U.S. continue to experience closures in the wake of the pandemic and changing customer behavior.

The Background:

Walkthrough of “Mall of America” located in Bloomington, Minnesota

Goal to understand changing customer experience in leading malls and how stores are changing amidst the current landscape

Observations supplemented by insights from company websites and publicly available information

Key points include:

  • Mall vacancies and tenant turnover continues post-pandemic (even in high traffic malls like the Mall of America)

  • Design and look & feel are important to an elevated customer experience and brand perception

  • Niche retailers and DTC players are testing brick-and-mortar concepts to engage customers 

  • Continued focus on health and wellness – as well as offerings such as office space – are still being tested post-pandemic

Access the full report, Mall of America visit: Bloomington, on NavioGroup.com.

Chris Moe and Jonathan Willbanks share the results of this year’s Amazon Prime Day.

Hi Everyone,

It’s us again with a mid-year Amazon update – hope you’re having a great summer!

2021 has been an interesting year on Amazon. Supply chain challenges have remained front and center, just like 2020, and this year at times has felt soft versus some of the pandemic highs. That said, with the exception of March and April, most of our clients are seeing strong PoP growth for the months in 2021.

We continue to grow as an organization along with Amazon’s rapidly expanding CPG market. We’re particularly excited to be supporting multiple brands in Fresh and Whole Foods, as Amazon enters the world of same-day and temp-controlled grocery delivery. We’ve also built a knowledge function which helps us consolidate and share some of the best insights from our work. We’ll be sharing these more often in our newsletters and other channels, including our Slack channel.

We’re always looking to partner with great brands looking to make a strong play in eCommerce. Thanks for your support and introductions to brands that you work with.

Looking forward to seeing you in person at some conferences this fall!

PRIME DAY RESULTS 

ROI on Prime Day deals seen in week following: In the week after Prime Day, our brands who ran any type of Prime Deal saw a 36% sales lift and a 77% session lift (traffic), compared to averages of their last 6 weeks. This reflected an improvement by 25- 30% in Sales Rank. 

Prime Exclusive Discount Coupons (merchandised in baby blue) had the largest impact: 3- 5x average sales lift on the sales day, and 90% sales lift the week after Prime Day. This significantly outperformed normal coupons and lightning deals during Prime Day.

Key points include:

  • Flo Pos
  • Bids rising in response to privacy
  • Reply to reviews

Read the full article, 2021 Amazon Thoughts & Prime Day Recap, on GoCartograph.com.

Bernie Heine shares a post designed to improve leadership skills by avoiding these seven mistakes.

Avoid negative conflicts.

Resolving conflicts, both employee- and customer-related, is an area in which all leaders must excel. To address the conflicts in the right way, it is crucial to understand that there are two types of conflicts:

Productive conflicts: Productive conflicts are good for business. They are based on being trustworthy and vulnerable towards the person you are communicating with. Everyone must have the freedom to create a productive conflict to acquire new and innovative business ideas. A productive conflict is a healthy conversation between people who share the same goal. In his best-selling book, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni states that vulnerability-based trust is essential to achieving productive conflict and building cohesive teams.

Negative conflicts: When there is no trust, especially vulnerability-based trust, there is no productive conversation either. If a leader shuts down all constructive criticism and treats it as an assault on their character, that can only cause mistrust and prevent others from speaking their mind.

Being a great leader means developing emotional intelligence that will allow you to have enough humility to recognize your own mistakes and understand the difference between positive and negative disagreements.

  1. Have a friendly attitude vs. favoritism.

Becoming too friendly towards certain employees can sometimes be a hindrance to good leadership. Having a friendly attitude and beaming with positivity is one thing; becoming too friendly is a whole other situation. A leader who fails to set clear boundaries will face employees who try to take advantage of the situation and ask for special attention. The best way to set boundaries is to treat everyone equally, and of course, adapt to their behavioral style. Do not allow yourself to provide unique benefits for one of the employees and not for others.

The remaining points include:

  • Standing by your words
  • Paying attention to employee needs
  • Sharing the vision

Read the full article, 7 Leadership Mistakes to Avoid, on ProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com.

 

Andrew Hone shares a step-by-step guide to applying top-tier strategic consulting techniques.

What is a strategy review?

A strategy review is a process to identify new value-creating opportunities within a business. It could be about improving the performance of an existing division. Or it could be about taking advantage of a new market adjacency opportunity.

It is also an opportunity to step back from day-to-day operations. You can assess the strategic foundations on which the business is built.

It, therefore, needs to be a clear fact-based analysis of the business opportunity or issue.

When should you undertake a strategy review?

Many companies undertake strategic reviews on an annual basis as part of their strategic planning process.

Other businesses will undertake them on a more ad hoc basis. For instance, when presented with a specific opportunity or problem within the business.

Furthermore, a change of ownership or appointment of a new CEO can often trigger the need for a strategic review of the business. It can be a great way to clarify key areas of opportunity and challenges within the business.

What are the outcomes of a strategic review?

It should lead to a clear set of strategic recommendations. The review should also set out a future roadmap for the business. This roadmap charts the course for the business. This helps enable increased and sustained performance now and for the future.

Delivering a strategic review

Start with the answer

Strategic reviews are often undertaken under considerable pressure to get to an answer rapidly. Every day needs to count. Moreover, you can’t afford to spend time on research or analysis that doesn’t make the final cut.

 The leading strategy firms therefore adopt a hypothesis-led approach to strategy formulation. For instance McKinsey’s Decision Tree or Bain’s Answer First approaches.

Be 80/20

When operating under a severe time constraint, it is critical to be 80/20 in undertaking new analysis.

You should be targeted in your data gathering and research. You can achieve a lot in a short space of time. An online survey to your key customers can be quick to set up. But can yield valuable insights.

You probably can’t build an in-depth financial model in 4 weeks. But you can do some high-level modelling of the main financial levers of your business.

Key points include:

  • Allocating dedicated project resources
  • Documenting the key findings
  • Time to implementation

Access the full guide, The Four Week Strategy Review, on ZenithStrategy.com.

Amanda Setili shares a concise post on the perception of risk and how it affects the team. 

Karen perceives that competitors are moving very quickly, so she feels the leadership team has no option but to be even more aggressive. Jim sees the competitors as foolhardy, so he wants to take a slow and steady path while the competition defeats themselves. Curt keeps waffling back and forth; he wants to pump up revenue growth, but consistently balks at the price tag of every major new initiative.

When team members perceive different types and levels of risk, their organizations often wind up either frozen in place, or making decisions that result in bad outcomes. The differences of opinion can feel irreconcilable.

The smart move is to bring four elements out into the open. Ask each team member to share their…

Key points include:

  • Assessment of the degree of risk
  • Supporting data
  • Mitigation plan

Read the full post, Are Different Perceptions of Risk Weakening Your Team?, on LinkedIn.

In this article, Jared Simmons identifies the difference between intelligence and wisdom and how understanding the difference may improve talent management. 

In large organizations, the nature of the work creates a natural tendency toward complexity. And as a leader, it can be very tempting to advance those who seem to have the intelligence to manage it. But complexity is not a symptom to be managed while you work–it is often the work itself. Its symptoms are a lack of a clear purpose, inconsistent strategy, slow execution, low morale, and missed opportunities. It takes wisdom to see the deeper issues in these situations.

The difference between intelligence and wisdom

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to and solve new mental challenges. Whether it is a crossword puzzle or a 5-year strategic plan is irrelevant–intelligence focuses on solving the problem. Wisdom focuses on meeting the highest need in a given situation, which sometimes means doing the simpler, less complex, more effective thing. Wisdom is about asking the right questions; intelligence is about having the right answers.

Why focusing on wisdom is hard

Hiring smart people requires a leader to sharpen her focus on the wisdom of the team’s actions, which takes humility. Organizations are made up of smart people who are struggling with the unconscious tension between the right answer for the organization and the answer that serves their career. That’s what makes external perspective so valuable.

Consultants aren’t necessarily smarter than your VPs and SVPs–they’re simply less invested in the status quo. It goes against human nature to recommend steps that cause us harm–physical, emotional, reputational. As a result, employees sometimes (often unconsciously) use their intelligence to craft a solution that minimizes personal losses while inching the organization forward instead of maximizing organizational progress. Smart people who are rewarded and compensated by the system have one more constraint than those who are not.

Key points include:

  • The difficulty of focusing on wisdom
  • The difference between wisdom and intelligence
  • The possibilities ahead

Read the full article, Wisdom, Intelligence, and Talent Management, on OutlastLLC.com.

David Burnie shares the second article in a series on the future of P&C insurance in Canada. 

In our first article outlining the future of P&C Insurance in Canada, we discussed how insurers have been and are continuing to invest in digital transformation agendas in an effort to reshape distribution and service in an industry that has been relatively slow to adopt modern business practices. We illustrated how the sector will evolve by focusing on how consumers (both individuals and small-medium enterprises) are beginning to interact differently with carriers and brokers to obtain new policies and have them serviced once those policies are in force.

In part two of our three-part series, we focus on how insurers are changing their underwriting and pricing practices to be more sophisticated, efficient, and profitable.

Underwriting and Pricing

From an underwriting, pricing, and risk selection perspective, two factors will impact risk assessment, pricing, and underwriting in the future:

Data collection and use

Increased use of automation and integration of technology

Data collection and use

Concurrent to the digital transformation wave is the rise of big data. As a result, many insurers are looking at their enterprise architecture and setting up data lakes in the hopes of realizing benefits down the road. The promise of these benefits is high as the variety, velocity, and volume of data continues to increase, and insurers create the infrastructure, capability, and culture to exploit this data. Historically, external data sources have been expensive in Canada relative to other geographies, such as the UK where much of the data used for selecting and pricing risks is free. Still, the provincial regulators and collaborative organizations such as the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO) understand how valuable data can be to the industry. Data enables insurers to underwrite and price policies more effectively while serving customers better, improving combined ratios, and passing collective savings on to customers.

 

Key points include:

  • Intake & Triage
  • Risk Assessment and Pricing
  • Underwriting Processes

 

Read the full article, The Future of P&C Insurance in Canada: Part 2 – Underwriting and Pricing, on the BurnieGroup.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.

 

If you need to improve your firm’s sales system, David A. Fields‘ latest post offers ten components that can help you do it.

What would the perfect, consulting firm sales system include?

Systems are the greatest. They help you master vital tasks and perform them more efficiently and effectively.

That’s why there are extensive personal systems and business systems, such as comprehensive methods for project management, turnkey packages for managing HR administration and, most importantly, a system for learning to cook chocolate desserts that includes recipes, ingredients and the equipment. (In the latest versions, you don’t even have to add your own light bulb to the Easy-Bake oven!)

My team and I identified a range of important components in a business development (a.k.a. BD or sales) system for consulting firms.

Some of the parts are listed below. Admittedly, my view of the list is biased because we’ve developed/installed these systems in many consulting firms.

However, consulting is all about discovery, and I’d love to learn from you. Hence, I left some elements out of the list and kept an open space for you to fill in anything else you think should be in a perfect, consulting firm sales system.

What should the 10th part be to make this a perfect system to help you/your firm succeed at business development? (Or, if you like the list as-is, which of the elements above are most important for you?)

Key components include:

  • Visibility building
  • Task management 
  • Analytics

 

Read the full article, The Perfect, Consulting Firm Sales System, DavidAFields.com. 

Robyn Bolton shares a well-balanced post that explains why 95% of new products fail and how to do the right things in the right ways at the right times to ensure success. 

Most people know that 95% of new products fail within three years of launch.  It’s often cited as evidence of big companies’ inability to be innovative, keep up with changing consumer demands, and respond to the nimbleness of start-ups.

Naturally, companies don’t want to fail in the market, so they try to get better at listening and responding to customers, more comfortable investing in unproven but potentially market-defining technology, and more willing to question and change their business models.

Yet, the market failure rate stays essentially the same.

“Ah-ha!” the experts proclaim, “if companies are doing everything right and 95% of innovation projects are still failing, that means that projects are launching that shouldn’t be.  That means we must get better at killing projects before they launch!”

Suddenly, Fail Fast becomes the corporate mantra.  More projects start because it’s ok to fail.  More projects get killed, a mind-boggling 99.9%, according to one study.  Fewer projects get launched. 

Yet, the market failure rate stays essentially the same.

Why?  Why does the market failure rate stick stubbornly at 95% if companies are doing all the right things, including killing 99.9% of ideas and projects before they even get to market?

Because it’s not enough to do the right things.

You must do the right things in the right ways at the right times.

Here are the three most important ones:

 

Key points include:

  • Right Thing #1
  • Right Thing #2
  • Right Thing #3

 

Read the full article, 3 Things To Do in the Right Way at the Right Time for Innovation Success, MileZero.io.

 

Xavier Lederer provides key steps on prioritization and action.

‘The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.’– Michael Porter

“I don’t have enough time in a day to work on the most important things!” I regularly hear CEOs complain. We all have a tendency to jump on the most urgent problems – because they are urgent and also because, let’s face it: we are addicted to fixing problems.

Why priorities matter – pebbles vs. rocks

The issue is: when we focus on fighting fires we don’t work on what really helps move our business forward. A year quickly goes by and we realize that we have missed some of our goals.

A key to breaking this vicious circle is to agree on 3 to 5 quarterly priorities with your leadership team. The key question is: which ones have the biggest impact on your company in order to reach your 1-year goal and move towards your 3-year goals? There are hundreds of things that you need or want to do to move your company forward. The key is to prioritize and to find the smaller number of possible activities that will make the biggest difference.

This short video with Stephen Covey is about picking what is important first. If you focus on the pebbles first (i.e. the daily fires), you will never make true progress towards your goals. It is only by putting the rocks in first, your 3-5 strategic priorities, that you can build sustainable, profitable growth. Debating annual or quarterly priorities is the opportunity for your leadership team to agree on what is important (and what your team should focus on) vs. what is urgent. By building an execution plan around your priorities and committing time to them, you can regain control over your calendar – instead of letting your inbox control your time.

 

Key points include:

  • Defining priorities
  • Timeframes
  • Results focused

 

Read the full article, How To Set Priorities That Move The Needle, on AmbroseGrowth.com

 

Peet van Biljon shares a recently published article on quantum computing in finance.

There are two competing narratives on quantum computing. The first is that the technology is overhyped, still in its infancy, beset by enormous technical challenges and that full-scale, reliable quantum computers are decades away. The second is that many companies, including some of the world’s most prominent financial institutions such as Barclays, BBVA, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and RBS are investing in, and experimenting with, quantum-computing applications and that business impact can be expected in the near term.

Which narrative is the correct one? Perhaps surprisingly, both are true. That creates an urgent need for finance leaders to understand the technology better in order to discern the short- versus medium-term implications for their companies, and to shape a viable quantum-computing strategy.

The information revolution of the last few decades was built on our ability to miniaturise transistors. In modern digital computers, now called classical computers to differentiate them from quantum computers, billions of little transistors switch on and off to execute binary logic. At the lowest level, a logical bit can either be a 1 (the transistor is on) or a 0 (the transistor is off).

Quantum bits, called qubits, are encoded and measured in two equivalent binary states called |0> or |1>, which are usually associated with the up or down spin of an electron. However, two strange properties of quantum mechanics, called superposition and entanglement, allow qubits to take on a continuum of non-binary values and interact with one another in that state to perform calculations. Any measurement collapses superposition, which means that the only two states a qubit can be measured in is either |0> or |1>.

While in superposition, qubits can be manipulated to process exponentially more information than classical bits. In fact, n qubits can process the same information as 2 to the power of n classical bits. When quantum computers eventually scale to hundreds of usable, error-corrected qubits, 2 to the power of n will become a truly astronomical number, allowing more calculations than classical computers can ever do. This explains the excitement about quantum computing technology.

 

Key points include:

  • The processing power of quantum computing technology
  • Managing qubits’ decoherence
  • translate real-world finance problems into quantum computing algorithms

 

Read the full article, Closer than you think – quantum computing in finance, on FinanciarWorldWide.com. 

Anubhav Raina shares a series that presents a model for understanding how influencing works and how you can train yourself to excel at it. It combines his personal observations with the latest research in influencing.

Note this is a three-part series:

  1. Intro (this article)
  2. CIF — Core Influence Framework
  3. Building Trust
  4. Convincing people

Appendices

  1. Using effective questioning
  2. Expanding the size of the pie
  3. Negotiation: sweetening the deal
  4. Using biases to your advantage
  5. Negotiation: When to walk away

Being able to influence someone on a key issue is the single greatest superpower you can have.

From convincing a client or boss to try out your idea, to being able to guide your family into seeing things your way.

Humans are influencing each other ALL the time, and similar to other activities –influencing is a skillset. In fact, it is one of the most useful skillsets you can learn.

Like many other behaviors, influencing too has a large evolutionary basis. We can use this knowledge to develop a gameplan for many situations that require influencing.

Building upon the work done in evolutionary sciences, psychology and management thinking, this short series sets a repeatable framework for building trust and convincing that will help you face each interaction with a solid plan of action!

How it started

I still remember the moment. I was 23 and had just found out what my division head’s year-end bonus was — a sum almost 10x my own bonus.

No one was surprised. It was expected and natural. I was told the discrepancy existed because the boss had “put in the time”, or “had taken more risk”, or “was rewarded for his expertise”, along with a number of other reasons.

But the question never stopped nagging me — what possible value-add could be worth 10x more than my own work?

Many people in my company seemed to have expertise and experience on their side. BUT they weren’t making the same money as my division head.

Could the division boss really be that much more effective at his job?

It took years (and more than a few grey hairs) of observing C-level clients, senior partners at prestigious banks, consultancies & law firms to finally figure out that the answer had to do with one thing alone — being able to influence others.

Let’s explore this thought in greater detail.

Key points include:

  • Core influence framework
  • Expanding the size of the pie
  • Using biases to your advantage

 

Access the full series, Influencing others: The greatest superpower you’ll ever need, on Medium. 

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.

If you feel guilty for reading fiction, Amanda Setili’s article on how fiction books can improve leadership skills will remove guilt. Put your feet up and enjoy.

I’m deep into The Expanse book series, and it never ceases to amaze me how many insights and inspirations I get from reading fiction, especially science fiction.

Fiction makes it easier to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and to understand different perspectives: how others feel, and how they solve problems that might have baffled you.

In The Expanse series, Naomi Nagata is a superb engineer who can solve virtually any technical problem. At the point I’m now at in the series, there’s a war going on between an authoritarian government and a resistance group. Naomi’s role is gathering intelligence and feeding recommendations to the leader of the resistance. This role seems perfectly suited to her skills and temperament. But then the leader is killed and Naomi finds herself suddenly thrust into his former role as leader of a group that spans many solar systems. She finds herself in a position where everyone is looking to her for guidance and instructions. She must learn to act like a leader, which is a role she never wanted. This happens often in business, but seldom do we get such a behind-the-scenes understanding of what it feels like to be forced into this kind of transition.

To share another strategy for leveraging fiction, one of my clients organizes book clubs among their employees, engaging a local literature professor to lead the discussion on a certain novel. One participant summed it up this way: “We learn how each other thinks, because we all read the same thing, yet have completely different observations about it.” What a great way to build trust and understanding.

Key points include:

  • Leadership learning
  • Visualization

  • Thinking beyond your own parameters

 

Read the full article, Why You Should Drop That Business Book and Read a Work of Fiction Instead, on LinkedIn.

Believe it whether you want to or not, exercise can improve your performance as a leader. Jeffery Perry explains how in this article.

John F. Kennedy once said, “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” There is arguably no greater dynamic and creative intellectual activity than personal leadership. Leaders have significant daily demands as they manage teams and engage with internal and external stakeholders. As such, leaders benefit from positive habits that can boost overall effectiveness. Incorporating physical fitness does just that—it can enhance personal leadership, especially in organizational environments fraught with disruption, uncertainty, and change.

While the link between enhanced personal leadership and physical fitness may seem logical, look no further than the general population to see that physical fitness is not universally embraced. According to Harvard Medical School research, over 50% of American adults don’t meet basic activity guidelines of at least 30 minutes most days a week, and over 25% devote no time to active pursuits. While the profile of leaders may not be as dismal, many leaders focus so much time on achieving that they neglect their physical fitness. Extensive travel, team dinners, client entertainment, long work hours, and tight deadlines are often cited as justification for physical fitness placed on the back burner.

Research from the Mayo Clinic and other sources highlight that regular exercise stimulates the body to release proteins, chemicals, and endorphins—the brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters. This stimulation enhances key leadership qualities such as energy, confidence, mental sharpness, and stress management. A physical fitness regimen also requires discipline—commitment to develop a plan, follow-through even during challenging times, and accountability. Building discipline muscle (no pun intended) is a metaphor for the demands of personal leadership.

Key points include:

  • Building discipline muscle

  • Tracking progress

  • The process of physical fitness

 

Read the full article, Physical Fitness Can Enhance Personal Leadership, on LeadMandates.com.

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.

Paul Millerd shares an article that identifies the roads freelancers would be advised to avoid.

Starting your own business is a secret dream of many and with the emergence of more clear paths to make money online, many knowledge workers are deciding to test the waters of self-employment and entrepreneurship.  In making such a leap many people hope to increase the amount of freedom and fulfilment they have with their work.  However, because of how little we think about the way we work, many find themselves caught in one of many hustle traps.

A hustle trap is something that we fall into without asking “why?”  Many of the traps exist because of outdated work beliefs or behaviors we have carried forward from full-time employment.  Many people only realize they have fallen into a trap when they find themselves burned out and noticing that they have created another job for themselves.

Wasn’t the point of becoming self-employed to avoid such a fate?

Let’s dive into ten of the most common traps I’ve seen in my conversations with people on the self-employment journey from around the world.

Hustle Trap (noun): A mental model built on legacy ideas of how one should work and live that leads to burnout, anxiety or the sense of being trapped. Often obvious in retrospect.

#1 The dopamine bomb of internet fame

Creating content on the web is still a relatively new thing and because of this, If you are able to consistently create content, explore topics you are genuinely interested in and develop some way to improve as you go, you will inevitably get some version of 15 minutes of fame. This could come from a famous person promoting your content, getting published in a mainstream publication, economic success or or some piece of content going semi-viral for a few days.

To the self-employed creator that dances in daily uncertainty and self-doubt, this can unleash a satisfying dopamine bomb of approval. It can be so exciting that it can reshape everything you claim to care about.  This effect is so powerful that even some of the most successful media organizations have gone the way of chasing clicks rather than focusing on the content they claim to care about.

Key points include:

  • The productivity trap
  • Chasing audience

  • Chasing status

 

Read the full article, Hustle Traps: Ten Guaranteed Paths To Burnout For The Self-Employed Creator, on Think-Boundless.com.

In this article, Robbie Baxter interviews Alli Harper,  founder and owner of OurShelves, on how an e-commerce subscription can play a role in social impact.

Most subscription entrepreneurs initially are attracted to the model for its predictable recurring revenue, but there are other benefits to having an ongoing relationship with members. Our guest, Alli Harper, works at the intersection of subscription eCommerce and social impact. Her subscription business is an intentional tactic to advance change in the picture book industry and to achieve that impact. Alli is building a scalable enterprise that serves the currently underestimated audience for diverse children’s books. Alli is the founder and owner of OurShelves, a diverse children’s books subscription service and advocacy effort. OurShelves has a dual mission, to connect high-quality curated, diverse children’s books to the families, teachers, and librarians seeking them, and to leverage the collective consumer power to advocate for the many more diverse books still needed. Alli who was trained as a lawyer and community organizer launched OurShelves from her kitchen table in the home she shares with her wife, Jenn and their two children. I featured her launch story in my recent book, The Forever Transaction.

I invited her to share the way she’s using her subscription business to persuade publishers to include more diverse families in the everyday stories they tell in their children’s books. In this conversation, we talk about what it takes to bootstrap a subscription eCommerce business, what metrics are most important when profitability isn’t the highest priority, and how her training in law and advocacy has helped her build a vibrant community of parents, librarians, and schools around her subscription offering.

Key points include:

  • Starting the business
  • Running the subscription part of the initiative

  • What a year of prepay cost

 

Read the full article, How to Use an eCommerce Subscription to Change the World, on LinkedIn.

Barry Horwitz shares a few tips on how to improve communication between the front line and top executives when the organization is large, the problems are complex, and the stakeholders are diverse.

In her book, “Seeing Around Corners,” Rita McGrath notes that insights at the “edges” of an organization — close to the customers but far from the executive suite — can take a long time to reach the top of the food chain, if they get there at all.

This can be problematic for a number of reasons, but it’s particularly troublesome when it relates to the development of a strategic plan.

Here, communication in both directions between the front line and top executives is essential. Not only does this ensure that everyone feels engaged and part of the process, but it also uncovers critical information that may be otherwise overlooked, while limiting the likelihood of important stakeholders being surprised by the final plan.

All fine and good. But when the organization is large, the problems are complex, and the stakeholders are diverse, it may be easier said than done. It’s not like you can fit everyone into a conference room and hammer out a strategy over lunch. Under these circumstances, the “Town Hall” meeting format can be especially effective.

Direct Participation at All Levels

As the name suggests, the idea of a business Town Hall meeting originated in American politics as a way for political leaders — who were literally standing in a town hall — to speak to, and more importantly, hear from their constituents on current issues. During the Jack Welch era, General Electric was well known for using the concept to connect its senior executives to groups of employees for the same purpose.

I’ve used this approach as well in my work. For example, during the strategic planning process for a state university, we were able to successfully engage nearly 1,000 people using this format. This was an organization with many diverse stakeholders (faculty, staff, students, alumni, etc.), and the Town Hall gave participants a chance to have unfiltered, firsthand knowledge of what was being discussed and considered and, if they chose, to have direct input into the overall strategy.

But it does take some planning and an appreciation of the fact that these are not simply meetings to inform about decisions already made. To be most effective, they need to be interactive and informative, with senior leadership in particular genuinely open to feedback and input from all levels of the organization.

Key points include:

  • Setting the stage
  • Responding to challenges
  • Post-meeting input

 

Read the full article, How to Run a “Town Hall” Meeting, on HorwitzandCo.com.

Rob Ristagno shares a post on the benefits of customer segmentation.

The customer segmentation process begins by identifying all the types of customers who buy from you. The next step is to zero in on the segments that generate the greatest revenue with the least amount of effort.

Once you’ve found those high-value segments, it’s time to start engaging with them. When you focus your sales and marketing efforts on your high-value segments, everything becomes easier. 

Your sales cycle shortens because you’re speaking with customers who need what you sell. Your marketing dollars go further because your prospects intuitively understand your value. Even testing and learning new marketing tactics becomes easier—you’re experimenting with your best customers, so you can rest assured that the data you gather from your tests will point you toward other high-value customers in the future.

We’ve seen customer segmentation pay dividends on many occasions. Let’s take a look at a real-life example and then explore how you can begin the process within your organization.

Case Study in Brief: 78 Percent Reduction in Cost Per Lead

We worked with a business that was struggling to get its LinkedIn advertising off the ground. Despite investing $600,000 in a campaign, their efforts turned up zero qualified leads. This was a disheartening result, to say the least.

The good news is that we were able to turn things around with segmentation. We identified the high-value segments and got to the root of what those customers wanted from a company like our clients.

Guided by those insights, we tailored our client’s LinkedIn advertising messaging to prospects who fit their ideal customer personas. Suddenly, things started to shift. Highly qualified leads weren’t scrolling past the ads anymore. They were clicking, calling, and buying.

 

Key points include:

  • Creating segment-specific value propositions
  • Focusing on the Right Channel for Your Target Segment
  • Marketing spend across channels

 

Read the full article, Smarter Marketing Spend Through Customer Segmentation, on SterlingWoods.com.

Paul Millerd offers a new view on Maslow’s Pyramid and offers a different and more interesting lens on life.

‘The biggest losers, we suggest, have been management students’

This was the takeaway of three researchers who dug into the history of the invention of Maslow’s pyramid. We’ll get to that story but first let’s take a look at what has become one of the most sacred ideas in the management world, Maslow’s pyramid: 

The conventional way of thinking about the pyramid is a series of steps that you progress through with the goal of eventually spending more time focusing on self-actualizing. It is often used when thinking about what motivates people at work and thinking about how to improve a culture to drive more productive employees.

The problem? The pyramid is an interpretation of Maslow’s research from the 1940’s which he spent the next thirty years second guessing and adding more nuance. By the end of his life, his investigations were well beyond any sort of neat and tidy pyramid that I had trouble trying to even describe and understand what Maslow thought about human motivation at all.

Let’s dive in.

A hierarchy, but not a pyramid

Maslow’s early research, presented in A Theory of Human Motivation (1943) presents something that feels familiar to someone who has seen the pyramid:

The ‘physiological’ needs: The bodily drives for homeostasis included warmth, coolness and hunger

Safety Needs: Protection from danger and harm such as crime, violence, wars, etc… Some experience this as a lack of money as well.

Love Needs: People have the desire to belong and be part of something

Esteem Needs: The desire to be respected by others and by yourself

Self-Actualization Needs: People that have satisfied their other needs and can spend time on fulfilling their “potential”

In writing about self-actualization, this is where he says that being self-actualization is about meeting the other basic needs first but then goes on to share that he doesn’t really know much about how this is done:

The clear emergence of these needs rests upon prior satisfaction of the physiological, safety, love and esteem needs. We shall call people who are satisfied in these needs, basically satisfied people, and it is from these that we may expect the fullest (and healthiest) creativeness. Since, in our society, basically satisfied people are the exception, we do not know much about self-actualization, either experimentally or clinically. It remains a challenging problem for research.

This is the question that would shape his future research.

 

Key points include:

  • D-Psychology & B-Psychology
  • Where the pyramid came from
  • Later Research: D-Needs and The B-Realm

 

Read the full article, Maslow’s Imaginary Pyramid: Who really invented the pyramid?, on Boundless.com.

Sean McCoy shares an older but always relevant post on why marketing departments need to align marketing spend with direction. 

The CFO says to the CMO, “Let’s boost marketing spend by 1% this month. Where should we spend it?” The ability to answer that question is true north for Marketing departments in B2C industries.

With big data and analytics radically reshaping the marketing function, CMOs now have the power to answer the CFO’s question almost instantly down to the specific market, message, channel, and product. Today’s analytical tools also allow the CMO to state with accuracy the expected incremental sales and profit from that incremental marketing spend.

That level of analytical prowess and business intelligence is true north for marketing departments. From our experience helping B2C firms with marketing strategy and marketing analytics, some marketing departments are already there, but most are somewhere along the journey. When we look at how Marketing departments can create growth and value now, the immediate priority for many companies is to develop a robust Marketing Analytics capability.

For firms we have seen at the beginning of the Marketing Analytics journey, achieving true north by building a best-in-class ROMI (return on marketing investment) tool and acting on the initial insights improved their marketing effectiveness by 10-25%.

Knowing is half the battle

The first step in this journey is the recognition that the old ways of doing things are fading. The old adage that “half of my marketing spend is a waste. I just don’t know which half” doesn’t hold up today when consumers can be tracked through their digital customer journey and digital decision-making process.

Marketing ROI

The second step is to build out the systems and processes to measure customer acquisition and retention at a detailed level. The entire marketing and sales function, including vendors, agencies, and IT departments must work together to understand and measure the journey; from prospect, through lead and first purchase, and finally repeat business.

 

Key points include:

  • Building systems and processes
  • Consumer behaviors and expectations
  • Tracking the customer journey

 

Read the full article, Marketing’s true north capability, on McCoyConsultingGroup.com.

In this evergreen post from Shane Heywood, he identifies the importance of recognizing the difference between the rich and poor.

Non-uniform: Consumer Choices and the BOP

Despite similar low levels of income, low-income households have different product preferences and different shopping styles. Do development practitioners need a reminder of this?

Different folks, different strokes

While working in Bangladesh, with BRAC, one of the world’s largest NGO, on a Microfinance initiative 7 years ago, I met 15 women. All were clients of BRAC’s Microfinance initiative, however each had different uses for their loans, different comfort levels of sharing these plans with their colleagues, and different ways  of tracking their spend.

Travel to a different country – Ghana – in 2016, while working with a local business selling consumer products, a similar sentiment about variations in supposedly similar groups of consumers struck me. ‘Kwame,’ ‘Sarah’ and ‘Jack’ belonged to the same economic classes – yet they had very different preferences about where to shop, what to buy, and how to pay.

For me, my take away from these experiences is hardly the stuff revelations are made of: consumers –rich or poor – have different preferences and, as such, should be treated differently. Yet, it feels like effectively applying this principle might be a surprise to some in International Development.

A world of preferences and channels

First, even within one economic class, consumers have multiple product preferences.

In a presentation on approaches Social Enterprises use to sustainably serve low-income households, Erik Simanis, recalls the story of a low-cost eyewear producer that expanded their product range of glasses to (successfully!) adapt to different consumer preferences (largely driven by demographic traits) while maintaining prices.

 

Key points include:

  • Demographic traits
  • Strategy to address differences
  • Economic classes

 

Read the full post, Non-uniform: Consumer Choices and the BOP, on ShaneHeywood.com.

Joy Fairbanks shares a post that reviews the Lean Launchpad framework for business development.

A timeless framework for testing product/market fit is open to everyone. 

The creators of the Lean LaunchPad movement have been doing this for a while.  Steve Blank is a successful serial founder who launched his academic career and Lean LaunchPad class at UC Berkeley at the request of Jerry Engel, the founding Executive Director of Cal’s Lester Center of Entrepreneurship.  A decade after its launch at Cal, Stanford, and Columbia, the Lean LaunchPad curriculum is taught across the globe at over 200 universities and many private and public accelerators.

The Lean LaunchPad method is an agile approach to business development focused on producing minimum viable offerings to solve customer needs in an iterative mechanism.  It is about constantly listening to what customers want, need, and will pay for in a dynamic environment.  What makes the strategy work is its emphasis on communication, collaboration, and the nonstop validation of product/market fit realized by agile execution.

A Lean LaunchPad class centers on a key business model framework (Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas) validated component by component by talking to hundreds of people.  It is mind boggling that mature companies do not use this approach throughout their entire organizations.  It could save what is left of the legacy retail sectors.  Imagine mobilizing everyone to talk regularly to existing and potential customers to validate product/market fit and prove revenue models?

 

Key points include:

  • Collaboration
  • Programming
  • Agile execution

 

Read the full post, Collaboration in Practice: The Broad Relevance of the Lean LaunchPad Movement, on FairbanksVentureAdvisors.com. 

In this evergreen post from Johannes Hoech, he shares nine tips for startups to get traction with analysts.

Once technology startups close their first few enterprise deals and increase revenue to millions of dollars, they often want the analyst community to recognize their innovations and give them their rightful standing in the marketplace. However, few companies know how to engage analysts effectively, are unclear on whether they should even strive to gain analyst recognition, and if they do participate, are uncertain of budgets needed to attract them.

Much has been and can be said about how to get into the analyst reports such as the Gartner Magic Quadrant. However, we are going to keep it simple. This blog is based on our experience of successfully having placed companies into the Gartner Magic Quadrant and the cool vendor report. In each case, those goals were achieved within 12 months, and in each case, prior negative analyst perceptions had to be overcome.

In our experience, these are nine key elements to successfully engage the major technology analyst firms such as Gartner, Forrester, Sirius Decisions, or 451 Research Group.

1) Clarifying competitive differentiation and customer value-add

Analysts provide advice, market overviews, and vendor assessments to large corporate clients who rely on the key firms to absorb and implement needed technologies. Those corporate clients also account for most of the analysts’ fee intake. This creates a need for analysts to be objective. Their advice has to deliver results for their clients and not push certain vendors.

Most startups are reinventing some technology, while most of their enterprise clients must manage their needs effectively with existing and established technologies. As such, it’s very important for startups to prove that their new technology works and delivers results so that they can be considered for purchase.

This means startups must examine why they are better than their competition and why they deserve special recognition. When doing this, it’s essential not to think inside-out or express overly technical explanations of how something is done under the hood but think outside-in about what is the big problem that this technology solves more cheaply or effectively than the existing alternatives.

To think through your technology’s differentiation, it can help to invite your buyers to comment on the efficacy of your product before engaging with analysts. Carefully listen to objections they might voice. If they express any complaints, the chances are that analysts in their surveys hear the same feedback. When preparing for analyst conversations, any objections should be examined, and counterpoints formulated.

 

Remaining points include:

  • Understanding each analyst firm
  • Leveraging analysts for thought leadership activities
  • Effectively managing analyst engagements

 

Read the full article, 9 Tips for Startups to Get Traction with Analysts, on MarquetU.com.

 

Kaihan Krippendorff identifies how the concept of a flywheel can be applied to business. 

Most evenings, when I’m not traveling, I make time to get in at least half an hour on my Peloton bike. It helps to wind down at the end of the day. I’ll turn on a show (lately I’ve been slowly savoring this season’s episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and waiting in anticipation for season 2 of Ted Lasso) and pedal to break a sweat. As my legs push the pedals around, the wheels spin faster and faster until I need to add resistance to slow myself down.

In the physical world, we who have studied physics are familiar with the coefficient of friction—the amount of force it takes for you to push one object against another. When the object is in motion, like the wheels on my bike, that coefficient goes down. Once I’ve gathered momentum, I don’t need to work as hard to go fast.

A flywheel takes this a step further, by accelerating a large rotor to very high speeds and maintaining the energy in the system as rotational kinetic energy. It takes a great amount of effort to start turning the flywheel, but once it’s in motion it builds momentum to keep picking up speed.

In the world of data, the concept of a flywheel is being used to increase customer centricity and satisfaction. My recent podcast guest, Ash Fontana, and the insurance company Lemonade Inc. show us how.

THE DATA FLYWHEEL 

Any company that has at least dabbled in data analytics or artificial intelligence (AI) knows that it takes time to get started. In order for big data and AI to provide their desired benefits, a company must build a reservoir of customer information. This process can take years and can cause many companies to give up before realizing the effects.

 

Key points include:

  • The AI flywheel
  • Lemonade’s flywheel for customer centricity
  • How to identify AI opportunities

 

Read the full article, THE CORE CONCEPT THAT IS DELIGHTING CUSTOMERS, 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. 

 

Self-doubt can stop the best talent from moving forward, but for all those who struggle with a negative voice, Rahul Bhargava provides practical steps that can be taken to deal with doubt.

We all have experienced self-doubts, especially when it came to undertaking significant life decisions. Whether it is the selection of a career or prospects of a current job, we all have been there.

There is that voice ringing in your head that constantly says that you cannot do it. But the remedy to that pessimistic voice is acting to the contrary and doing what you desire. Acting and getting your ambitions fulfilled is how you silent them forever. They are a part of our experiences as we grow up.

What causes you to doubt yourself?

The lack of confidence and the air of uncertainty gives space for doubts. There are things around us that we cannot control which often cultivates reasons for concern and anxiety. I will share my example here

I have always strived to be perfect at everything, like becoming the best artist, the meritorious student, the perfect wife, and so on. However, I never took a pause and thought, what is the definition of perfection?

For a long time, I was trapped in the self-doubt prison of my creation. Humans were not born to be perfect, we were born to be real, and to have emotions, to make mistakes and learn from them. The attribute of perfection belongs only to our creator.

Sometimes we fixate on a certain outcome which creates an immense level of fear.

 

Key points include:

  • A healthy amount of self doubt
  • Psychological means to justify behavior
  • When self-doubt becomes depression

Read the full article, How To Believe In Yourself And Eliminate Self-Doubt, on PurpleCrest.co.

In this post, Peter Costa offers one man’s perspective on gender and leadership.

There are mountains of research on the importance of diversity in building high-performing organizations. There is at least as much insight on the nature of leadership, including that there is no one “right” leadership style. The most effective leaders are true to themselves, their strengths, and their values. At the same time, different situations call for different leadership styles. Are these conflicting ideas? Perhaps, but if the current situation shows us anything, it’s this – the women are getting it right.

Just my unscientific opinion, but female political leaders are performing far better than their male counterparts. Not to say that all the women are getting it right or that all the men are getting it wrong, but consider these facts:

72% of Germans approve of how Angela Merkel’s government is handling this pandemic (DW News).  

88% of New Zealanders trusted the government (led by 39-year-old Jacinda Arden) to make the right decisions about addressing COVID-19 (The Atlantic).  

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen’s approval rating is 68.5%, up from a nadir of 24.3% just over a year ago (Nikei Asian Review).

If you want to see what effective leadership in a crisis looks like, watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vT8e7lkjl8

All of these women moved decisively AND effectively; the results speak for themselves. Taiwan has had just 6 known coronavirus deaths in a country of 35 million. Germany has seen a far lower coronavirus death rate than most other developed countries and seems to be well past peak new infections. New Zealand has good reason to believe it has stopped community transitions. All three countries are starting to reopen their economies. (Business Insider, US News and World Report, The Economist).

These leaders are succeeding because they are very effectively drawing on what is traditionally considered to be “feminine” leadership traits: empathy, collaboration, and even humility – the humility to admit they don’t have all the answers and to draw on the people who do.

 

Key points include:

  • Leadership traits as cultural artifacts
  • Authenticity and empathy
  • Intentions

Read the full article, Gender and Leadership – One Man’s Perspective, on Capmanllc.com

In the latest Subscription Stories podcast from Robbie Baxter, she identifies how  YPO gets CEOs to engage in membership community, even though they’re really busy.

Scott Mordell was the CEO of the Young Presidents’ Organization or YPO from 2011 through 2020. Prior to that, he was a YPO member as the result of leadership roles at Chamberlain Group, HeathCo LLC, Duchossois Industries and Arlington International Racecourse. The YPO Community includes more than 29,000 members in more than 140 countries. Membership is limited to executives and entrepreneurs who have achieved significant leadership success at a young age. Combined, they lead businesses and organizations contributing $9 trillion in annual revenue.

What I find fascinating about YPO is how intense and powerful the community is. People I know who are members will move mountains to make sure they can attend their regular meetings despite the fact that they’re among the busiest people I know. Many of them fit the bill of superusers, my word to describe members who go beyond just being good members who pay their dues and get value from the offerings, but contribute significant time and money of their own to benefit the organization. Scott and I discussed what YPO has done structurally to attract, engage and retain CEOs around the world, how they’ve managed to recreate the magic globally and how they transform members into superusers.

 

Key points include:

  • The friction-laden process of identifying ideal members
  • Leadership as a whole-person experience
  • Keeping a high level of community and culture even as you grow, expand and evolve

 

Read the transcripts or listen to the full podcast, How YPO Gets CEOs to Engage in Membership Community, Even Though They’re Really Busy, on LinkedIn.

Robyn Bolton challenges an article posted in Fast Company that claimed the most popular design thinking strategy is BS.

How might we ruin a perfectly good and useful tool?”

This might not be the question that innovators, design thinkers, and brainstorm facilitators wanted to answer.  But it seems that it’s the one they did.

“The most popular design thinking strategy is BS,” proclaimed the headline on a June 28 article in Fast Company.  “The ‘How might we’ design prompt is insidious, and it’s time to bury it.”

I’m a sucker for provocative headlines, especially ones that challenge that status quo, so I clicked and read the article.  And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

The reason “How might we” (HMW) is so insidious, the author asserts, is that the “we” in HMW refers to the people in the room, not to the users, customers, or populations for whom teams are designing their products and services. The prompt looks inward instead of outward, encouraging people to build solutions that suit their own needs and experiences. They end up with offerings that don’t serve customer needs and may even hurt the people they’re meant to help.

The problem (and solution) of “We”

  1. Fair.  As I recounted in last week’s episode of “What Matters in Innovation,” I saw this exact worry come to life when I was an Assistant Brand Manager on Swiffer WetJet.  While the brainstorming promotional ideas as a brand team, the most senior member suggested a Valentine’s Day promotion encouraging men to buy a WetJet, then priced at $50, for their wives “because she’s worth it.”  Everyone in the room nodded in silent awe and acceptance, except one person.  Me.  The only woman in the room.

 

Key points include:

  • The solution (and problem) of “How might”
  • The problem (and solution) at the end of “How might we”
  • HMW is not BS.  How we use it is.

Read the full post, “How Might We” is not BS. How We Use It Is, on MileZero.io.

 

Wojciech Gryc shares a post on how GPT-3 impacts the user experience.

A great deal has been written about GPT-3 and its potential impact and hype on AI, machine learning, and data science. This post aims to look at the user experience around GPT-3 instead. Specifically, why do some people see GPT-3 as a magical innovation? What does this tell us about AI-driven products we don’t fully understand?

I’ve been exploring GPT-3 for the past few weeks and have been incredibly impressed with its ability to take my natural language prompts and generate helpful responses. More importantly, I’ve organized a few demo events and discussions about GPT-3 and have seen people play and interact with it.

The GPT-3 Click

When a user first logs into the GPT-3 Playground (i.e., demo interface), they are met with an empty text box and several modeling options. You’re expected to write, to chat, or input some text–what you say or do is up to you. It can be overwhelming in its simplicity.

There are sample text prompts to show you how to generate a Q&A session, or an English/French translation, or a story… What is critical, however, is that the entire interface is a text box–as the user, you simply provide text (i.e., the prompt) and ask GPT-3 to do the rest.

 

Key points include:

  • New User habits
  • Lessons for AI-driven Products
  • Play and forgiveness, speed and scalability

 

Read the full article, User Experience and AI: the GPT-3 ‘click’, on 10MillionSteps.com.

 

Indranil Ghosh has launched a new podcast where he unpacks the success stories from his network of champions in impact business.

For over a decade, I have been working companies which have made a material impact on the environment, on human health, and on social equality—while also returning extraordinary financial returns to shareholders along the way.

Each week starting August 10th, I will unpack the success stories of entrepreneurial champions from my network, digging deep to find the winning practices that listeners can use in their own ventures and ESG investment portfolios.

Guests will include Javier Cavada, President and CEO of Highview Power, who will talk about the company’s pioneering CRYOBattery which is pushing the frontiers of energy storage. Highview offers a clean, cost-competitive solution to store energy at grid scale for hours and even days—much longer than Li-ion batteries which are suited for 1-2 hours of storage.

I will also be talking to Glen Martin who will introduce his fourth venture Hyox Space—an exciting new venture with a blueprint to revolutionize aviation and ground transportation with clean hydrogen at a lower cost that today’s carbon-based fuels.

There are many exciting discussions to look forward to. I hope you will tune in every week on Acast, Apple iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast channel. 

 

Recent episodes include:

  • Clean Hydrogen for Transportation, featuring Infrastructure Innovator & Aerospace Engineer, Glen Martin
  • The Food-Energy-Waste Circular Economy, featuring President and Chairman of Empire State Greenhouses, Louis Ferro
  • Building a Climate Impact Investment Platform, with Founder & Managing Partner at Greenbackers Investment Capital, Robert Hokin

 

For more details, check out the Impact Unicorns website at www.impact-unicorns.com.

 

Dan Markovitz shares a short but insightful post and an introduction to a workshop on the importance of word choice when problem framing to ensure a positive outcome. 

In 1971, President Nixon declared a “war on drugs.”

In 2017, President Trump declared a “public health emergency” to battle the opioid crisis.

These two declarations were essentially about the same thing: dealing with the financial, emotional, and social scourge of drug abuse that was destroying individuals and communities. But the framing of the problem—a “war” versus a “health emergency” makes a huge difference in the countermeasures that citizens, politicians, and communities are ready to consider. 

If you’re fighting a war, you’re thinking about military action. You’re going to mobilize soldiers, deploy aircraft and other weaponry, and erect barbed wire barriers. If you’re responding to a health emergency, you’re thinking about hospitals, counselors and social workers, treatment centers, and medical interventions. The countermeasures are radically different. 

This is one of the exercises I’ve used with a corporate client that’s enrolled my Conclusion Trap workshop. Based on my latest book, this workshop helps participants become better problem solvers by improving their ability to frame problems. 

To the extent that anyone outside of General Motors remembers Charles Kettering, he’s most famous for saying, “A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved.” Which sounds great—except that he never defined what a well-stated problem is. As my students discovered (and you can see from the example above), the phrasing of the problem has enormous consequences for the kind of countermeasures you develop. This kind of exercise helped them move from weak problem statements such as, “The problem is that we’re too busy to meet the milestones set by the project manager,” or “The problem is that we don’t have enough time to write and test the necessary code.

Key points include:

  • The Conclusion Trap workshop 
  • Consideration of countermeasures
  • Defining a well-stated problem

Read the full article, PROBLEM FRAMING IS MORE CONSEQUENTIAL THAN YOU MIGHT THINK, on MarkovitzConsulting.com.

Carlos Castelan provides key steps that can be taken to improve disconnects and find opportunities throughout times of change and functional issues. 

In today’s world where change is one of the only constants, we often hear of companies undergoing a transformation to reinvent themselves and revitalize their customer offerings. This is a natural function of the organizational life cycle where companies grow and organize in a variety of ways along the way, including around services or products. However, in focusing on efficiency and processes to enable scale, organizations lose some measure of tight collaboration and team agility that comes from regular innovation. So, how can companies avoid having to regularly undergo transformations? One way successful businesses do this is through the identification of gaps in team collaboration through a Customer Correction tool that allows teams to find opportunities and cooperate to improve where disconnects may be occurring and resolve issues before they impact customers.

Functional issues cause established companies to have difficulty with transformations and innovation to meet their customer’s needs. As an example, we recently saw a team dedicated to measurement of new initiatives struggle to meet key milestones and deliverables due to the novelty of the project and complexity of data. This resulted in a high likelihood of failure for the business team to understand the customer benefits of the innovation.  The business team raised the issue several times to leadership but, over time, the business team had to accept the problem and figure out a work-around. The acceptance of the issue led to many hours of lost productivity and countless meetings to try to close the gaps which went unresolved.

To get ahead of functional issues within a company, we’ve seen forward-thinking organizations adopt a regular exchange of notes by each member of a group (team) to assess for the purpose of improving collaboration and performance. We have all worked with managers, co-workers or teams that affect others and we understand the impact that poor collaboration and communication has on each step of their process. So, how can concerns be raised in an objective manner for management to course correct before they become larger issues?

Key points include:

  • Team collaboration
  • Customer correction
  • Team feedback

Read the full article, Leveraging your company’s greatest asset to improve the customer experience, on TheNavioGroup.com.

 

Amy Giddon reflects on what social wellness means and how to expand the reach and benefits.

July is social wellness month.

Although the World Health Organization has defined health in terms of physical, mental, and social wellness as far back as 1948, neither the concept nor the term was firmly planted in our cultural landscape until about 5 years ago, when the loneliness epidemic became more widely acknowledged. And still, even with the 31 days of July dedicated to it, there is not a consistent understanding of what social wellness actually is. The most common description I see is that social wellness is the quality of our closest social connections and the personal capacity to create and foster those intimate relationships.

There is no doubt that those relationships are essential to our wellbeing. There are myriad data demonstrating the physical and mental health benefits of social connection, including boosting our immune systems, staving off depression and anxiety, protecting our heart health, and bringing more joy and fulfillment to our lives. Conversely, loneliness and isolation have been linked to a variety of poor health outcomes, including an increased risk of early mortality.

Being able to nurture the relationships that support us is fundamental to our health. The relational skills such as listening, empathy, and accountability that allow for mutually supportive relationships to flourish are essential. We can’t be socially healthy without an intimate circle of people that feel like home: where we are known, loved, and accepted.

But is social wellness bigger?

Key points include:

  • Relational skills
  • Social empathy
  • Collective social wellness

Read the full article, Creating a Bigger Social Wellness Movement, on LinkedIn.

Paul Millerd shares an evergreen post on the challenges and benefits of following a self-employed path.

Over the past two and half years I’ve been navigating unknown territory, grappling with the deep philosophical questions of how to live life and wondering how my parents’ generation, the boomers, lived life as if they had a map.

For most of my life, I pretended I had a map. It seemed that was what you were supposed to do as an adult. In job interviews I lied about my career path and intentions to stay at that company. In my grad school interview I outlined a very specific plan that also happened to align with the goals of the program. The scary things is that I had almost started to believe my map was right.

Before I left my full-time job in 2017, I had the sense that things were going to be okay. That there was a plan. That life made sense.

Self-Employment Opened My Eyes & Made Me Curious

The truth was I had no idea and it took taking the leap to self-employment to open my eyes. Here is what I wrote a year into it:

A career is an artificial path which you must always manage, have a story for and be networking so that you can take the next step. The next step being up, of course.

Being self-employed, there are no promotions or paths to judge yourself against. Other people’s confusion with this fact comes out when people invariably ask “what’s your plan?” or “how’s business doing?”

While this question has no answer, I respond with what I know to be true: “I am following my creative energy and seeing where it takes me.” This tends to drive a lot of people who are deep into career thinking a bit mad.

As I’ve spoken to hundreds of people that have been carving their own paths and researched how people navigate life and stay sane along the way, a new kind of map has emerged. Not one that gives a perfect sense of certainty or comfort, but one that helps give language to feelings that are hard to name.

Key points include:

  • Taking the leap
  • A map for navigating the pathless path
  • Embracing a “new train of thought”

Read the full article, Life Without A Map: Navigating The Pathless Path of Self-Employment, on Boundless.com.

Sanjay Gandhi shares an article that discusses strategies for companies and High Net Worth families and individuals that can provide a silver lining amidst the tough news and provide long-term benefits when valuations rise again.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in significant public market losses, as reflected in daily stock market gyrations and volatility. Private companies, asset and debt values have equally been affected by the pandemic. For High Net Worth individuals and companies, certain strategies can provide a silver lining amidst the tough news and provide long-term benefits when valuations rise again. For many private holdings, COVID-19 will provide some downward impact on value. This can result from significant disruption in operations, revenue/margin drop off, challenges in accessing capital, slower growth and delayed exit timelines. Certain direct impacts can already be seen as the market for secondary sales has started to shrink. Another immediate impact is revision of near and medium-term cashflow projections.

What’s Different?

COVID-19 is a “Material Disintermediating Event”

For valuation purposes, we often consider past performance when looking at value. This can include recent financing rounds or historical financial performance of a company and market transactions/sales of companies. However, COVID-19 is a “material event” which can disrupt the assumption that historical data points are presumptively the foundation of the future.

This triggers the need for a fresh look to consider the value of a company in light of its prospects in current and future economic circumstances.

Key points include:

  • Top strategies
  • Factors impacting valuation
  • How to estimate forward-looking performance?

Read the full article, Smart Strategies in a Lower Valuation World, on OxfordVP.com.

Often the best-laid strategies of consultants come to a grinding halt at the people level. Amanda Setili shares a post that offers a few practical steps you can take to encourage others to take action.

The biggest obstacle to your progress is often something you can’t see, hear or even name. It is not something tangible and obvious. The biggest obstacle is… a quiet unwillingness—perhaps even reluctance—to do the things that you need someone to do.

You ask Engineering to create a better system for collecting payments from customers, and nine months in a row they have told you to wait “just one more month.”

The Sales team tells you (a Product Manager) that they will start selling your product at meetings with prospective clients, but week after week they come back from sales calls and say they ran out of time before bringing it up.

The reasons why this happens vary widely, but the essence of getting someone to do what you want basically comes down to three things:

 1.) Do they have the ability to do what you want?

You can’t expect a media buyer to audit financial results, and you can’t merely ask someone to double their performance. Pure and simple, the other person may lack the capability to do as you wish, and there are times when this could be too embarrassing to admit.

The first step is always to do a reality check to determine if someone has the skill, experience and knowledge to do what you wish.

If you determine they lack the skill, you have several options. You might, for example, help the person learn a new skill or you could turn to a different person or group.

Key points include:

  • Belief in assessment
  • Cost value
  • Reasonable risk

Read the full article, When Others Won’t Do… What You Need Them To Do, on LinkedIn.

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.

 

Bernie Heine shares an article on marketing that focuses on using neuroscience to improve marketing tactics. 

Spending money can be painful. Brain scans of people buying experimental stuff with experimental money show physical pain centers being activated by perceptions of poor value items. Price is a big part of this, of course, but perception is even bigger.

Bundling lots of product features under one big price tag is a good way to prevent customers from “flinching.” Car option packages are a good example of this. They avoid lots of separate “pain points” for the leather seats, the “infotainment,” the electric windows, etc.

It’s not just the price either! Perceived unfairness in a purchase can cause pain too. You need to review your whole marketing offers from your target customer’s point of view and eliminate the pain points.

If your prices are higher than your competitors’ prices, it is vital that you explain to your customers exactly how you give them better value.

“Priming” can give you a competitive advantage. Giving people subtle psychological leads can guide their buying decisions your way. For example, images of cash money increase self-centered behavior, and telegraphing big numbers in a negotiation can ease the acceptance of a relatively higher bid.

Dan Ariely “Our daily behavior is irrational. We are influenced by all kinds of invisible forces.”

How’s this for an intriguing bit of psychology? Prof. Dan Ariely at Duke University primed subjects with random numbers – the last 2 digits of their own social security numbers. He then asked each of them how much they would pay for a wi-fi keyboard. The higher the priming number, the more they were willing to pay!

Are your prices ‘anchored’ or flexible? How much do you know about your customer’s price expectations when they browse your wares?

Key points include:

  • The five senses and the buying/decision-making areas of the brain
  • The three groups of consumers
  • The power of priming

Read the full article, Top Insights From Neuroscience Can Improve Our Marketing, on the ProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com.

Paul Millerd shares an article that explores how the mindset towards work changed and moved towards the concept of careerism.

Modern work critics blame Frederick Taylor for the hyper-optimization of the modern workplace. The accepted narrative is that Taylor kicked off a movement that looked at work as something that could be optimized and managed and that his efforts kick-started a 100+ year movement of steadily increasing optimization.

Sounds good but it’s not true. Today’s hyper-optimized workplace would not exist except for the emergence of a new kind of worker: the career-driven knowledge worker.

Taylor was mostly concerned with the manufacturing world and he believed that an embrace of his principles would help not only managers, but production workers:

‘The principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee.Frederick Taylor, Principles of Scientific Management, 1911

He wrote in a time in which the kind of service and knowledge work that is common today barely existed. While his techniques did gain popularity in manufacturing, it would take another 30 to 40 years for analytical and measurement techniques to gain widespread adoption.

It took the emergence of a new kind of work.

The Career Path & The Need To Perform

After world-war II as the US repurposed its military workforce there was a boom in employment in the business world and for the first time. the goal of working for a big corporation became a common goal.

William Whyte famously called them “Organization Men” and wrote more than 400 pages making sense of this new type of worker that started to identify with a company above any other affiliation in their life:

The ones I am talking about belong to it as well. They are the ones of our middle class who have left home, spiritually as well as physically, to take the vows of organization life, and it is they who are the mind and soul of our great self-perpetuating institutions. William Whyte, The Organization Man, 1956

This was a dramatic shift from the age-old conflict between labor and the owners of capital. Once that had existed from the earliest days of capitalism.

Key points include:

  • Continuous improvement and the “Theatre Of Work”
  • A new kind of worker
  • Changes in our mindsets

Read the full article, The Knowledge Worker Mind & The Birth Of Careerism, on Boundless.com.

Anders Corr shares an article he wrote for Epoch Times that explains why China’s billionaires are fake.

Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai apparently can’t afford their own private jets. They had to borrow money from Credit Suisse to get them, despite each having cashed out over $5 billion in stock since 2017. Where’s all that cash gone? Is it even real? Do they keep it in banks for which they have to get Chinese Communist Party (CCP) permission for withdrawals? That is to say, is it really their money, or not?

According to Kyle Bass, chief investment officer of Hayman Capital Management, “Tsai and Ma are only billionaires because the CCP says they are. As the world has already witnessed, it can and will change in an instant.”

Bass stated that Ma and Tsai’s “need to borrow from western banks to fund their luxurious lifestyle” is a mystery. “It’s entirely possible that any US dollars they harvest through share sales must [be] paid to CCP party members,” he wrote.

A request for comment sent to Ma and Tsai via Alibaba only yielded a link to Alibaba’s prior comments. A spokesperson for Alibaba Group there characterized Chinese billionaires who do things like hock stock as collateral for jet loans as “ordinary.” They pointed out that Ma is no longer an executive at Alibaba.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange while the price of Alibaba Group’s initial price offering (IPO) is decided, in New York City on Sept. 19, 2014. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

“Share pledges by senior executives of US companies, including Elon Musk of Tesla and Larry Ellison of Oracle, are well-documented in the news, and based on even a cursory survey of public filings of other US companies, including Amazon, Bank of America, Bristol Myers Squibb, General Electric, Netflix and Walmart, it is clear that many companies do not prohibit share pledges by executives,” the Alibaba spokesperson wrote.

But according to Ryan McMorrow at the Financial Times, “Share pledging, whereby banks accept stock as collateral for loans while the borrower retains ownership of the shares, is risky and most US companies limit its use by executives. Any forced selling of pledged stock can exacerbate the fall of a company’s share price.

Key points include:

  • Banks risking their client money for the CCP
  • Borrowing against Alibaba stock
  • Stock pledges as a common method to raise cash

Read the full article, “China’s Billionaires Are Fake”, in the Epoch Times. 

 

Johannes Hoech shares a post that identifies five key components of a strong marketing message.

Digital marketing techniques, like “Account-Based Marketing,” for example, heavily depend on high-quality content that can draw a crowd. Now, to stand out from all the other marketing content from organizations trying to get attention also requires offering compelling thought leadership content with a differentiated point of view that highlights your advantages, but without degenerating into a sales pitch.

Prospects typically start their “customer journey” by browsing the web for answers to their problems want to be informed and persuaded, and in control of when and how they are being approached. Rarely do they want to be sold to the right off the bat? For example, when’s the last time you clicked on a LinkedIn ad in your feed or accepted an invite from a pop-up chat window?

Considering those challenges, how effective is your marketing message? Creating a marketing message that differentiates your company’s product and services is one of the hardest things you will have to do. But formulating a highly differentiated message is essential in beating your competition, successfully swaying analysts and influencers, and making your online presence more compelling. When done well, highly differentiated messaging will drive demand and increase your market share.

In this blog post, we’ll go over five key things your B2B cloud software startup should consider when creating a message that will be compelling enough to be effective.

Knowing What Your Company Stands For

Shared values build relationships and are the power behind purposeful action. Of the consumers surveyed by Harvard Business Review, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason to have a relationship with a company. This applies as much to B2B as it does to B2C and is the very essence of a strong brand. Before you even start creating your message, you need to know what your company stands for. Why? Because those values will reflect in your voice, your visuals, and your interaction with customers.

Key points include:

  • Listen to Your Sales Team as if They Are Your Customer
  • Search Your CRM Tool for Purchase Patterns
  • Answer the “So What?”

Read the full article, 5 Things to Consider When Creating Killer Marketing Messaging, on MarqetU.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.

Robyn M. Bolton shares an evergreen post on the benefits of thinking visually for business, and how to do it. 

Last week, I wrote about Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a process of using art to teach visual literacy, thinking, and communication skills.

Typically, used in primary school classrooms, VTS has made its way into the corporate setting, helping individuals and teams to build and strengthen their problem solving and critical thinking skills, ability to communicate and collaborate, and effectiveness in delivering and receiving feedback.

While I did my best to capture the Why, What, and How of VTS in that post, there’s no substitute for learning from an expert. That’s why I asked Suzi Hamill, former Head of Design Thinking at Fidelity and the woman who introduced me to VTS, to share her experience using the tool.

Hi Suzi. Thanks for sharing your VTS wisdom and experience today. I understand you’ve been doing a fair bit of VTS-ing lately.

Suzi: Yes! Just a few months ago I was at Oxford University coaching 30 Chief Marketing Officers from large global corporations on how to apply Visual Thinking Strategies to their work and their teams. And just last week, I led a session with a group of women on the West Coast of the US.

 

Key points include:

  • VTS for business leaders
  • How it helps people quickly internalize new insights
  • Moving from knowing to doing

 

Read the full article, VTS with the Best: An Interview with Suzi Hamill, on LinkedIn. 

As advances in technology improve processes and operations, business leaders must still deal with the prevalent issue of human behavior, especially when it is problematic and recurring. Mark Ledden shares four key steps that can change the negative habits towards the positive.

While Kenning coaches do sometimes help our clients learn how to invent and adopt entirely new behavior patterns, we often are asked to help our clients bring behaviors they already exhibit in one context to a different context.  As Ishan (name changed), an SVP I recently worked with, put it, “My boss, the CIO, tells me I need to be more assertive in steering committee meetings. I feel like I am actually pretty good at being engaged and even challenging with my peers and my teams, but I know what she is talking about.  When I am dealing with our CEO and Board, I feel reluctant to jump in.”

When I asked what seemed like a pretty straightforward question, “So, why don’t you act the way you do with your peers with the executive team?,” Ishan’s answer was at once surprising and predictable: “I guess I don’t want to look foolish or embarrass myself. Speaking up feels risky.”

Rationally, Ishan already knew perfectly well that it was probably much more risky for him to maintain this two-mode split than to bring more of his “working with peers” style to senior team meetings, but he was legitimately unsure why doing so seemed so hard, or at least so unsafe. Clearly there was a sense-making challenge in play that would need to be addressed for him to achieve lasting, self-generative growth as a leader.  At the same time, though, while a strictly behavioral approach might not be sufficient, Ishan did have a reasonably large and straightforward opportunity to simply act more like he already did in some places.

The fundamental process for bringing a part of yourself that you show in one context into another entails the same basic four-step process we recommend for trying on new behaviors to break unhelpful habits:

 

Key points include:

  • Identifying triggers prospectively
  • Noticing habitual behavior
  • Having a clearly articulated alternative in your mind

 

Read the full article, Grip trip: Four steps for changing problematic behaviors, on KenningAssociates.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.

From his company blog, David Burnie shares the first article in a three-part series on the future of P&C insurance in Canada and how the sector is evolving within. The series explores distribution, pricing and underwriting, and claims.

For many years, the insurance sector had been notoriously slow to evolve. Customers viewed insurers as difficult to do business with, while insurers saw little need for change. Products were largely commoditized. To “win,” many insurers had to form stronger relationships with brokers than customers to get a bigger piece of the pie, while sufficiently maintaining these key relationships to promote positive risk selection and maintain profitability.

What has changed in P&C insurance?

Over the past five to ten years, insurers reached a tipping point where fundamental change was inevitable. Legacy policy administration platforms were ageing and no longer supported, which exposed the sector to increased risk; insurers could no longer ignore the need for updated technology. Although the motivation for this transformation was to stabilize the business for continuity purposes, modernizing technology offered ancillary benefits in the hopes of creating more nimble and efficient organizations, supporting customer-centric cultures, and accelerating the pace of overdue innovation and change sector-wide.

Changes are the most apparent in the way insurers serve their customers. Customers can now interact with insurers in ways that they hadn’t been able to do in the past. Digital quotes are now virtually ubiquitous amongst carriers, and brokers and aggregators are evolving to enable digital purchases, though this is in its infancy in Canada. Moreover, insurers are beginning to offer customers the ability to service their policies online or through their mobile apps. Perhaps the most significant changes are emerging out of claims groups that are now starting to offer a complete end-to-end digital experience, which we will elaborate on in the third part of the series.

Insurers were late to the game, but they are beginning to meet the minimum expectations of customers in an ever-increasing digital world. Though many large-scale platform implementations are completed or underway, we’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg since many of these implementations are still going through growing pains for myriad reasons, such as:

Large-scale programs have been descoped in this age of minimum viable product (MVP) to get the core system off the ground and meet time and budget constraints.

Add-on technologies such as CRM and/or specific Insurtech products that will unlock benefits by integrating with core systems but were not included in the initial business case and require their own independent cases to get off the ground. In many cases, these have stalled or have their own long-term implementation time-horizon.

Insurers continue to adapt their long-standing processes to new ones to meet the out-of-the-box configuration offered by vendors or pre-configured cloud-based system integrators.

The transition from legacy to modern platforms is challenging. Moreover, converting policies from old to new is not without errors and inefficiencies when teams must work in two separate technology environments.

 

Key points include:

  • Distribution and service
  • Cost savings
  • Digital innovation

Read the full article, The Future of PC Insurance in Canada – Part 1 – Distribution, on BurnieGroup.com.

Bernie Heine explains why your employees are key to the public perception of your brand, and what you should do to ensure a positive message is shared.

A recent study found that about 64% of global consumers have avoided a brand because of a bad experience they had within the past year. Almost half say they have avoided a company because of its reputation or negative social reviews. We’ve seen this happen many times, even with big corporations. For example, after the Volkswagen chaos of 2015, when the company chose to “cheat” emission testings, the public willingness to buy the brand fell by 28%.

Reviews and public perception are the bread-and-butter of consumer behavior. One study suggests that 97% of participants consider the customer reviews a factor in their buying decisions, and 92% of consumers hesitate to buy products or services when there are no customer reviews. 

Benefits of Employee Happiness

Now, customer reviews and employee happiness might not be a clear connection at first. But, when employees are unhappy and not fully engaged, they’re much more likely to leave, which leads to higher turnover rates. In addition, training new employees to treat customers to the standards you have takes time and money. Not to mention, unhappy employees are much more likely to pass down their frustration to your customers. Thus, potentially damaging the company’s public perception. 

On the contrary, when employees are happy and engaged at work, they’re more likely to stay, stay committed to bettering the customer experience and work towards the brand’s benefits.

 

Key points include:

  • Greater Productivity
  • Better Work Environment
  • Increased Creativity

Read the full article, 4 Ways Happy Employees Impact Public Perception of Your Brand, on TheProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com. 

 

Jesse Jacoby shares key steps for leaders to help their team accept and manage change.

In your role as a leader, you will likely encounter resistance to change at some point from one or more of your own team members. Resistance may come from a variety of sources:

An individual with a difficult personality

Someone anxious about impending change

A person who disagrees with your vision

Resistance is usually demonstrated in one of four ways, each with the potential to create roadblocks for you:

Lack of Communication – Leaving you out of the loop in terms of key information or not discussing issues openly

Lack of Support – Foot-dragging on key initiatives you try to implement

Counterproductive Criticism – Being overly critical of you and your ideas

Passive Aggressive Behavior – Agreeing to do something, but then not doing anything

Overt & Covert Resistance Action Steps

Resistance may be expressed directly (overt) or indirectly (covert). Overt resisters may be quite open with you or others about their discontent. Covert resisters, on the other hand, may behave in a passive-aggressive manner, agreeing with you verbally but participating half-heartedly or ineffectively with no real commitment. Although overt and covert resistance each present unique challenges, the best way to tackle either is to be prepared to encounter them. Be curious about their causes and direct in identifying them to the resister.

Here are a few practical steps you can take as a leader to address change resistance within your team:

Be alert to signs of resistance, and meet with the resister if it begins to create problems. Use active listening to gather information and gain an understanding of the employee’s perspective. Listening and showing that you understand a point of view do not mean you agree with a given behavior. Act as a “mirror” to the person, and point out your observations.

Without criticizing, identify the roadblocks you have observed.

Seek the individual’s perceptions of the situation.

Invite the resister to share any concerns. What would he or she like to see done differently?

Share your perspective and provide the individual with descriptive feedback about the impact of the behavior on the team and on you.

Define the positive behaviors you want to see, and be clear about your expectations.

Let the individual know that you want him/her to be part of the team and that you will value his/her contributions.

 

Key points include:

  • Signs of resistance
  • Defining positive behaviors
  • Understanding Resistance & Planning Your Response

Read the full article, How Leaders Can Manage Team Member Change Resistance, on EmergentConsultants.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. 

 

Ushma Pandya shares a blog post from his company’s website that highlights key statistics on the use and recycling of plastic and how a new act will affect your life. 

In March of 2021, a new version of the 2020 Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act was reintroduced into Congress. The federal bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA) will be the most extensive set of policy solutions to the plastic pollution crisis ever introduced in Congress. In the rest of this article, I will explain: How we got to this point, what the BFFPPA hopes to achieve, how it will affect you, and how you can help get it passed.  

Plastic and the overall pollution that comes with it is one of the largest existential crises we are facing today. Here are some quick facts about plastic and why it has become such a huge problem. 

91% of plastic is never recycled – breakfreefromplastic.org 

More than 350 million metric tons of plastic are produced each year – Nature.com 

The United States generates more plastic waste than any other country in the world – Sciencemag.org 

10 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans annually – plasticoceans.org 

50% of all plastic produced (380 million tons per year) is for single use purposes only – plasticoceans.org 

World plastic production has increased exponentially from 2.1 million tonnes in 1950 to 147 million in 1993 to 406 million by 2015 – National Geographic 

There will be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050 – The Ellen MacArthur Foundation 

 

Key points include:

  • The BFFPPA
  • How the BFFPPA will affect your life
  • How to get involved

 

Read the full article, Break Free from Plastic Pollution, on ThinkZeroLlc.com.

 

 

Robyn Bolton reflects on lessons learned as a child that she brings into her field to help problems solve and drive innovation. 

Innovation is all about embracing the AND.

Creativity AND Analysis

Imagination AND Practicality

Envisioned Future AND Lived Reality

Looking back, I realize that much of my childhood was also about embracing the AND.

Mom AND Dad

Nursery School Teacher AND Computer Engineer

Finger paint AND Calculus

A few years ago, I wrote about my mom, the OG (Original Gangster) of Innovation.  She was what most people imagine of an “innovator” – creative, curious, deeply empathetic, and more focused on what could be than what actually is.

With Father’s Day approaching, I’ve also been thinking about my dad, and how he is the essential other-side of innovation – analytical, practical, thoughtful, and more focused on what should be than what actually is.

In the spirit of Father’s Day, here are three of the biggest lessons I learned from Dad, the unexpected innovator

Managers would rather live with a problem they understand than a solution they don’t.

When Dad dropped this truth bomb one night during dinner a few years ago, my head nearly exploded.  Like him, I always believed that if you can fix a problem, you should.  And, if you can fix a problem and you don’t, then you’re either lazy, not very smart, or something far worse.  Not the most charitable view of things but perhaps the most logical.

But this changed things.

If you’ve lived with a problem long enough, you’re used to it.  You’ve developed workarounds, and you know what to expect.  In a world of uncertainty, it is something that is known.  It’s comfortable

Fixing a problem requires change and change is not comfortable.  Very few people are willing to sacrifice comfort and certainty for the promise of something better.

 

Key points include:

  • Keeping things in perspective
  • The importance of letting go
  • Standing up when others are sitting down

 

Read the full post, Dad: The Unexpected Innovator, on MileZero.com. 

 

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.

 

 

Susan Meier shares a behind-the-design post from Workspace Studio. This week, in an interview with Amanda Hindlian, she discusses the form, function, and favorite aspects of her home office. 

What do you do for work?

I’m the Global Head of Capital Markets at the New York Stock Exchange, which means that any time a private company is thinking about ways to tap into the public capital markets, I’m there with my team to help them through that process. 

It’s fun because it’s global. I have a big pitch on Friday with the largest IPO of the year, and it happens to be a Chinese issuer. I have a team in China, and I’m spending a lot of time with them. Even though I can’t be in the meeting because it’s going to be fully in Mandarin, I want to make sure that they’re prepared. 

Tell us about the space where you work.

I have an office in my apartment in the city. It’s one of my favorite rooms in the entire apartment. There’s a TV on one wall, where I have CNBC on all the time. There’s a cozy orange chair that I really, really wanted for whatever reason. It’s wide, it’s sweet, you can really curl up in it and read and think. In a job like this, you can get heavily into execution mode and forget that there are longer term things that you want to spend your brain cells on. I love the fact that my home office has that space for me to do that.

How would you describe your creative process?

Thinking and trying to creatively problem-solve is my favorite thing to do. I don’t enjoy executing as much – it’s not as fun. In my current role, the creative thought process is around the core business – what’s our pitch? what’s the value proposition that we’re selling to a private company? are we doing it effectively? I’m also trying to bring into my role the bandwidth to think about the general trends affecting the world, because I think it’s something that will be interesting to potential issuers and where we can have a thought advantage in the field.

 

Key points include:

  • Protecting your time
  • Sources of counterproductivity
  • Daily rituals

 

Read the full post, The Grande Dame Of Wall Street, on WorkSpaceStudio.com. 

 

 

How do you inspire creative thinking in your team without engaging the muse or adopting questionable practices? Stephen Wunker provides six practical steps that won’t break the law but will help break through constraints of the mind.

How do I get my team to show creative thinking?” Under normal circumstances, many executives we work with routinely face this challenge. But with the pandemic transforming the way we do business, bold thinking has turned into a necessity.

Several obstacles block innovative thinking, especially at established firms with a deeply engrained corporate work practices. People have busy schedules, work in siloed teams, and have trouble breaking away from longstanding assumptions about their market. They might lack the confidence that they can be creative and are worried their ideas will reflect poorly on them. They may be coming up with the same old answers because they keep asking the same old questions, not reframing their challenges or bringing new information to the table. And with COVID-19 thrown into the mix, engaging colleagues in a remote brainstorming session has become all the more challenging.

So what can executives do to encourage creative thinking? In our work, we’ve identified six best practices that companies can adopt to unlock bold ideas internally.

​1 – Put your team in the right mindset ahead of time

​Creative thinking doesn’t simply happen on the spot – you have to set the stage first. Before holding your workshop, make sure you communicate the urgency of the situation and the need for innovative ideas. Ideally, share around some data on your business’s performance, market trends, and upcoming threats to support your ask.

When it comes to prework, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, make sure your team is aligned on what problem they are solving for – by holding a question-storming session before the main workshop, for instance. Then, make any prework as easy as possible for your colleagues by providing templates and clear guidelines on what’s in scope and what isn’t. This will help them save time and structure their submissions in a consistent, focused way.

 

Key points include:

  • Identify focal areas
  • Look beyond borders
  • Identify and address assumptions and biases

 

Read the full article, 6 Ways To Inspire Creative Thinking In Your Team, on NewMarketsAdvisors.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. 

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter takes a look forward at the future of subscription-based business and the application of a popular pricing tactic.

Subscriptions are everywhere. Big companies, small companies, public, private, venture-backed, bootstrapped, and across virtually every industry.

And many are starting to complain of “subscription fatigue”.

They might feel that the subscription pricing isn’t justified by the offer (a Product/Market Fit problem).

Or maybe they feel bad about fact that they aren’t taking advantage of all the great value their subscriptions provide–too many unread New Yorkers, uneaten Blue Apron kits (Subscription Guilt).

Or maybe they’re just angry that it’s so darn hard to find the cancel button.

I am a big fan of subscription pricing. I have dedicated more than twenty years to helping organizations use subscription pricing as a tactic in building deeper, more trusted relationships with their customers. But they’re not for everyone and they aren’t right for every situation.

Increasingly, people are wondering if subscription pricing is here to stay, or just a fad.I was motivated to write this article by these questions and in particular by product strategy guru Gib Biddle, who asked me to weigh in for his Ask Gib PM newsletter on Substack.

Subscriptions are not new–people paying recurring fees in exchange for access to content, commerce and/or community benefits for hundreds of years. What is new is that technology is extending the infrastructure that enables the kind of trusted relationships needed to justify subscription pricing.

With the rise of things like cloud computing, subscription billing, usage analytics and community platforms, it’s never been easier, operationally, to implement subscriptions as part of a business strategy.

Subscriptions support a more customer-centric approach. To be successful with a subscription, an organization needs to focus on delivering ongoing value, that supports a subscriber’s ongoing goals or problem solving-needs. Therefore, in many cases, the subscription offering provides more value. I don’t need to own a car–I need to get to work every day. I don’t need a CD collection–I need access to the music I love.

 

Key points include:

  • The ongoing impact of using subscriptions
  • Going beyond the traditional ways of paying for value
  • The value of using impact data

 

Read the full article, Will Subscriptions Work Forever? The Future of a Popular Pricing Tactic, on LinkedIn.

 

With global demand for food reaching peak levels, and climate change and diminishing farmland impacting food production, Kaihan Krippendorff’s article on the future of agriculture addresses both the issues and possible solutions. 

Earlier this year, I met up with a friend for lunch at a restaurant out on the water. As I twirled fettuccine noodles and chunks of New England lobster around my fork, I couldn’t help but appreciate the connections that I’ve been able to form over shared meals.

Food is an integral part of my life—a means to explore new cities, a tool to bond with friends and family members, and a method to connect to the medley of cultures that make up my ancestry. As much as I try not to, it can be too easy to take these meals for granted, forgetting that 9% of the world, over 690 million people, do not have secure access to food and frequently go to bed hungry.

The friend I shared lunch with is an analyst who invests in small public corporations. He was particularly excited to tell me about one company, Raven Industries, that is taking on national and global challenges in food production, population growth, and agricultural sustainability with a mission to improve our world.

GLOBAL CHALLENGES IN FOOD PRODUCTION 

The global demand for food is reaching peak levels. The world’s population is growing; it is predicted to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. At the same time, available farmland is diminishing. Our farmers are pressed to feed the world with fewer and fewer resources. According to Forbes, farms around the world will need to increase global food production by 70% in the next 40 years to keep pace with population growth. To meet the demands for global food supply, farmers and companies in the agriculture sector are turning to technology-driven solutions.

 

Key points include:

  • Global challenges in food production
  • Shifting consumer food preferences
  • How companies are preparing for future challenges

 

Read the full article, The Future of Agriculture: Smart and Sustainable Food Solutions, on Kaihan.net. 

 

 

John Murray shares a post that addresses the debate between fear and fun when dealing with COVID-19 and outdoor concerts.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced this week in a playful video with Health Commissioner Allison Arwady that Lollapalooza will be returning to Chicago this summer without capacity restrictions!

That is a major announcement to be sure, given that Lollla routinely draws 400,000 attendees over four days to enjoy more than 170 artists on multiple stages placed throughout Grant Park.

Reactions have been mixed, with some critics contending it is too much, too soon and others questioning the move given remaining capacity restrictions on smaller venues who have been shuttered for more than a year.

Others are cheering the move, pointing to the dwindling case rates and increasing vaccination numbers, as well as the CDC’s recent announcement to end mask & social distancing requirements for outdoor gatherings and even indoors for vaccinated individuals.

I fall in the latter camp. I have argued in previous Dispatches that there has been a lack of intellectual honesty and consistency in positions across the board, and this is clearly a case where the science is showing that there is virtually no risk of transmission outdoors, especially for vaccinated individuals.

 

Key points include:

  • Government support
  • Fear-inducing media coverage
  • Vaccine dodgers

 

Read the full article, Are You Ready for Some Lolla?, on LinkedIn. 

 

 

Amanda Setili offers a concise post to help team leaders provide feedback that motivates their team.

It amazes me how motivating I’ve found the feedback from the sensor I use while kiteboarding, which tells me how high I jump and how my jumps compare to other kiters around the world. That got me thinking about how when I change my technique or equipment, I can immediately see the impact on my results.

How, I wondered, can we make feedback at work this helpful, and energizing?

That thought led me to create six principles that can transform feedback from annoying to amazing: 

1) Feedback should come from the work itself: The best feedback comes from the work itself, rather than from an employee’s supervisor. Make it easy for employees to see the results of their work, every day. For example, funnel customer comments directly back to the employees involved.

2) Feedback should be close to constant: Employees need frequent feedback, so that people can see how they’re doing and so they can adjust course as conditions change. Think daily… rather than weekly, monthly or annually. That’s one reason you should design the work so that feedback comes directly from the work itself, with no intermediary (point #1, above) — as a manager, you won’t have the time to personally give feedback to every team member every day.

 

Key points include:

  • Frequency
  • Guidance towards goals
  • Going beyond results

 

Read the full post, Six Ways to Use Feedback to Energize Your Team, on LinkedIn.