Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership

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.

 

 

Joy Fairbanks provides an article that offers guidance for founders and investors evaluating market opportunities.

There are three tiers of scale commonly used to calculate the market opportunity for a startup’s product or service offering:  TAM, SAM, and SOM.  These are acronyms for Total Addressable Market, Serviceable Available Market, and Serviceable Obtainable Market.  The purpose of these market assessments is to determine not what is, but what could be. 

Founders, you may be struggling with calculating and interpreting these familiar concentric circles. Let’s begin with the understanding investors would like to derive from them.

What investors seek. Investors are looking for your insight and applicability.  What are the key trends to justify your estimates and action now?  What type of a market are we talking about?  What is the competitive landscape?  Is this a billion dollar opportunity? 

State your market type.  Market type drives your TAM.  There are three market types:  existing, re-segmented, and new.  Launching into an existing market involves luring customers from existing competitors with better features, service, or pricing.  Re-segmenting a market entails luring customers from adjacent markets by satisfying unmet needs.  Creating a new market requires educating a new class of customer on an innovative offering.  The type of market affects the cost of market entry, the sales cycle length, the adoption rate, the time to profitability, and the cash you burn.  Investors need to know this.  

Estimate need.  Size the opportunity fit.  This differs from using existing data for current products and services in a general category.  It requires honing in on the customer’s pain point your offering targets but may not entirely serve.  Uber did not get a billion dollar valuation by presenting a TAM that was too large and unwieldy (the all-inclusive global transportation market) or one too narrow and short-sighted (the existing ride hailing market).  The relevant TAM represents a specific need:  people needing to get from point A to point B on demand (and locally) without driving themselves.  (Yes, a separate TAM should be calculated for the need to move “stuff” from point A to point B locally for UberEats, etc.).  Estimating market size by need is more conducive to assessing innovation potential and new customer segments than by predicting it on existing products and services.

 

Key points include:

  • Calculate bottom-up vs. top-down
  • Show your assumptions.
  • TAM/SAM/SOM and LAM

 

Read the full article, TAM/SAM/SOM The Meaning Behind the Metrics, on FairbanksVentureAdvisors.com.

 

 

Jeffery Perry explores what the new normal may look like as the return to the office begins.

People want to get back to normal as the world emerges post-pandemic, but this has different implications across aspects of life. Back to normal may apply in social situations like visiting family and friends, dining at restaurants, going to bars, attending sporting events, and enjoying live concerts. However, for people who traditionally work in office settings and who worked remotely for over a year, there is no rush to get back to normal. Employees state a desire for flexibility they experienced through the dark days of the pandemic. Businesses are navigating a next normal, a delicate balance of considering greater flexibility of how and where work gets done, needing employee productivity, wanting cultural connectivity, and ensuring employee retention. 

The first mistake a business can make is to frame the dialogue as a return to work. This implies that people were not really working during the pandemic. Nothing could be further from the truth. People were often working more hours virtually, were highly productive, while managing school-age children in virtual school. The pandemic accelerated the potential of remote work with businesses pivoting on a dime to ensure commercial continuity. While technology-enabled, the resiliency of employees made the difference in an unprecedented period no one wants to relive. 

The issue is really about a return to the office. The second mistake a business can make is to declare blanket return to the office mandates. In a study by global staffing firm Robert Half, 34% of professionals who worked remotely through the pandemic would look for a new job if required to return to the office full-time. Now that people have had a taste of greater remote flexibility and productivity enabled by technology, there is a desire to continue some of these features going forward.

 

Key points include:

  • Blanket mandates
  • Employee performance
  • Time management

 

Read the full article, Next Normal Is Not Back to Normal, on LeadMandates.com.

 

 

David A. Fields shares a post that illustrates the value of naming the intellectual property of your consulting business to encourage client buy-in.

In today’s world of smartphones, texting, and in-car wifi, the 1970’s CB radio craze hovers somewhere between quaint and weird. Yet, one aspect of that short-lived fad will help your consulting firm win more clients and, importantly, deliver higher perceived value to your current clients.

In the parlance of CB radio fanatics, your handle was your short, memorable on-air nickname. A CB-er would refer to herself with a moniker like “Big Tuna” or “Boombox” or “Sir Burpsalot”.*

The genius of handles for a consulting firm was revealed to me over 20 years ago. I had developed a sophisticated, market ranking methodology for one of my clients, and the approach delivered excellent results.

However, my algorithm would have been a one-time, geeky solution had my boss in the consulting firm not said, “David, this methodology needs a handle.”

We named my approach the “VQ Model” and our clients contracted well into seven figures worth of VQ consulting projects.

Clients loved the VQ Model and perceived the results as robust and valuable. Simply having a name made the model far more sellable and higher value.

 

Key points include:

  • Where to Apply Handles
  • Avoidable Handles Mistakes
  • Quick Tips for Developing Handles

 

Read the full post, Consulting Firm Razzle Dazzle: The Art of Handles, on David.A.Fields.com.

 

Zaheera Soomar provides a comprehensive article that explores how the principles of Shūrā (consultation) in Islam may provide a solution to the impact of automated processes in mining on economic participation and equitable community participation.

Mining is a human activity that has negatively disturbed the environment and is linked to significant social impacts, inequalities (Carvalho, 2017), economic power and greed (Zorrilla, 2009). The key question that has been posed for decades is “how can the various stakeholders use their diverse interests and needs to generate mutual benefits for all, while respecting the environment and striving for sustainability” (Milano, 2018). More recently, the emphasis has shifted from mutual benefit to one of equity instead. Best practice has shown that good engagement and participation, across all stakeholders, builds trust, leads to resolution on disputes, strengthens the local economy and generates sustainable practices (Milano, 2018).

With the mining and energy industry moving to more automated processes, not only will communities be negatively impacted by economic participation, but equitable community participation will drop even further as societal license from local communities will become harder to obtain (Carvalho, 2017). In this article, we look at the principles of Shūrā (consultation) in Islam and see what lessons we can draw to strengthen the principles of community participation in the consultation process to ensure communities are fairly and equally represented, now and in the future.

While the concept of Al- Shūrā will be discussed in this paper, in relation to the natural resource sector, they can be applied to many areas requiring consultation such as in the position of ruler or judge, political, civil, military spheres of administration (Al-Raysuni 2013) and technology, which has been attracting increasing attention to their products, use of social media and the harm caused in society.

Key points include:

  • Working with indigenous communities

  • Shūrā – the Quranic Principle of Consultation

  • Equal decision making through popular consent and collective deliberation

 

Read the full article, How Shūrā aids community participation: The case of mining of natural resources, on ResearchGate.net.

 

As we move towards the end of the pandemic and a surge in business, Geoff Wilson provides a post for leaders to help navigate the next economic journey.

We are in a world of opportunity and hurt.  Demand is high, spirits (and prices) are up, and supply is constrained.  What’s a leader to do?

When I was a young man I learned microeconomics on the back of a simple diagram with two lines…one for demand (always downward sloping) and one for supply (this one goes up).

Turns out, the microeconomists were right.  Mostly.

We are living in a fever dream at the moment.  It comes with the pleasure fog of rising demand for…well…everything as people regain the confidence that they can interact and transact with one another without threatening lives. It also comes with the tormenting nightmare of not being able to hire, source, or build the products and services that they need.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. The most plausible explanation is that we are simply mired in the midst of a massive supply chain bullwhip that is synchronized around the world for once. As positive and negative information trickles out across industry chains, individuals firms attempt to adjust…and they do so badly.

Add the labor-market distortions brought by extended unemployment benefits, extended school and family support organization closures, fear of the unknowns around coronavirus reoccurrence, and general inflation; and you have a multi-faceted political and commercial game that would make George R. R. Martin blush.

But all of this is couched, at least for the moment, within a massive environment of opportunity.  Demand is popping for most of the economy, and poised to pop for much of the rest.

So (as I’m often wont to ask), what’s a leader to do?

Here are a few ideas.

 

Key points include:

  • Prioritizing the opportunity
  • Time to innovate
  • Explore new supply chain structures and mechanisms

 

Read the full article, Revenge of the Microeconomist in the Real World, on WilsonGrowthPartners.com.

 

 

Robbie Baxter shares a roundup of key insights from this year’s D2C (direct to consumer) summit.

A perk of my work as a speaker is that I get to go to a lot of conferences.

It’s one of my favorite ways to learn, and to build my community.

This month, I’m taking it a step further, and co-creating a new conference, along with my friends at FIPP, the global media association based in the UK. Definitely more work, but also a greater opportunity for learning and connection.

Next week, we are launching the first D2C Summit, where we will explore the world of direct-to-consumer revenue models, which are critical to the success of media businesses today.

I’m personally hosting “fireside chats” with 10 experts and practitioners for the conference, so I have been busy the past few weeks, researching their stories, and developing outlines for each conversation. Many of these stories center on subscription and membership offerings, my area of focus, but each has a different angle and I’m learning so much.

Here are some tidbits of what I’ve learned from this early preparation.

If you think you would find it useful and interesting, join us at d2c.global. And, as a subscriber to my newsletter, enjoy this 20% off code: SPEAKER20

A SNEAK PEEK OF KEY INSIGHTS FROM THE D2C SUMMIT

From David Lorsch, CRO, Strava, who will be speaking on Building a Subscription Business in a Social Platform

Key Learning: There’s a fine balance when your subscription is based on participation in a social community, and the organization needs to have a clear philosophy on what features should be free, and what goes behind the paywall.

From Ira Ehrenpreis, Partner, DBL who will be speaking on How Profit and Purpose are Combining to Create The New 21st Century Iconic D2C Companies like Tesla, The Real Real and Farmers Business Network

Key Learning: Your organization’s mission is increasingly important to investors, employees and customers alike, particularly in direct-to-consumer businesses, and how to balance longterm goals around impact with short term goals around revenue.

 

Key points include:

  • Determining the use case for the B2B2C buyer
  • The power of storytelling
  • Strategy in phases

 

Read the full article, Best Practices in D2C Subscriptions and the Power of Professional Development, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Stephen Wunker shares a post that identifies how the pandemic has presented aggressive businesses with an opportunity, and why the key to success lies in customer service.

 ‘Consumers don’t trust real estate agents,’ says Jimmy Mackin, whose business is selling software to…real estate agents. He continues, “There are minimal requirements to become a licensed real estate agent. The industry tends to attract the get-rich-quick crowd.”

How could someone with such a dire assessment of an industry make his living selling to it? And what are the lessons others can draw from how COVID is accelerating a long-overdue industry transformation?

​Lessons from a Vendor

Mackin runs a business called Curaytor, which provides marketing services to tech-enabled real estate agencies. The COVID pandemic has been a boom time. In Mackin’s view, it all makes sense. “We’ve seen a significant increase in the use of Matterport, a tool that enables an immersive 3D home tour with an interactive walkthrough and floorplan. It was once considered a luxury in our industry and it is now becoming a requirement.”

But the need for virtual solutions is just the tip of the iceberg. To Mackin, COVID has simply turbo-charged a pre-existing trend that separates full-time professionals from part-time hobbyists in his industry, and this explains his overall optimism. “Consumers are demanding a personalized experience, and the more you can be of service, the more you can learn about your customer’s needs.” The professionals invest in software, proactive service, and personalization.

​With COVID, consumers are demanding virtual tools and responsiveness to their particular concerns, and the more service-oriented agents can deliver the goods. He summarizes, “In order to earn your commission, you’ll have to be more than a glorified Uber-driver that gives someone a tour of a house. The role of the modern real estate agent is to be an expert advisor, not merely a facilitator.”

The transformation of real estate is part of The Great Reboot affecting industry after industry. Rather than seeing the pandemic as a pause between normal periods, forward-thinking businesspeople seem to be jumping on the moment as a time to do major updates of longstanding practices.

 

Read the full article, How COVID is Transforming a Profession Few People Love, on NewMarketsAdvisors.com.

 

Luiz Zorzella shares a summarized evolution story on Open Banking. 

If you are thinking your response to what is happening around Open Banking, this will provide you with some valuable historical context on how events evolved to get us where we are today:

It all started with online banking.

Before Open Banking, banks thought it would be a good idea to give their clients access to their accounts using the internet. 

So, since clients could access their accounts using online banking – some start-ups realized that if these customers provided them with their bank login information, they could log in on these accounts and manage them on their behalf.

Also, at that time, legislation was evolving.

In most of the World, there is customer data that banks cannot share, even if authorized by the customer.  For example, credit data.

However, in recent years, if, on the one hand, you see a tightening in data privacy protection, on the other hand, you also see the relaxation and regulation of financial data sharing.

These two factors – the spreading and deepening of online banking and the regulation of financial data sharing, beget a whole generation of fintechs. 

These start-ups had algorithms that logged in your account, copied the information displayed on the screen, interpreted that information and used this data to populate their database to provide you with their services.

 

Key points include:

  • The fallibility of algorithms
  • Accessing client data and functionality
  • Three types of APIs

 

Read the full article, Trailing the Peculiar Origin and History of Open Banking, on Amquant.com.

 

 

Peter Costa shares a concise article that identifies the benefits of what are generally considered to be feminine traits.

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).

 

Key points include:

  • Evidence of success
  • The benefits of feminine leadership traits
  • How to move towards a feminine leadership style

 

Read the full post, Gender and Leadership, on Capmanllc.com

 

 

Paul Millerd shares his understanding of hamsternomics: printing money, the future of work, and what we want or need in life.

Right now, as citizens of the United States we may become that hamster.  Near term, we don’t really have a choice.  Long term, we might have a choice.

A lot of people have asked us what printing money means. Like, what actually happens and why should we care? That simple question turned into a long investigation. 

The result is this piece, which aims to give you a better understanding of the whole economy using hamsters. Hamsters are fun. They’re playful. We understand their need to run faster and faster on wheels.

But, my friends, the joke is on us. WE are the hamsters right now.

We’ll explain WHY we, U.S. Citizens participating in the global economy, are just like that hamster and explore WHETHER we want to remain on the hamster wheel. 

It’s an ambitious agenda, requiring us to do a first principles explanation of a bunch of economic concepts, including:

What money really is

How it powers the economy and as a result, our hamster wheels

Why fast is never fast enough on the hamster wheel (hint: it’s greed!)

What happens when hamsters lose interest in the hamster wheel?

What does the future look like? Wheel or no wheel?

 

Key points include:

  • Unleashing trillions of dollars into the economy
  • The Hamster Prize
  • The Hamster government

 

Read the full article, Hamsternomics: Printing Money, The Economy & Work Beliefs, on Boundless.com.

 

 

Supriya Prakash Sen shares an article that encourages practical, and wholly necessary, steps towards repairing our ecosystems.

This young orphaned monkey looking out at us from the ravaged wasteland behind him is symbolic of the shambles we find ourselves in.

However, many complain that there is still no consensus on what the Green New Deal should comprise of for the planet as a whole, or what should be the biggest investment priorities for fixing this rapidly worsening situation. Also, that terms like “green growth”​ and “ESG”​ and “sustainable finance”​ are all the rage, yet the difference between various terms is confusing at best.

To such commentators, I like to point out a simple framework put forth by Oxford Professor Kate Raworth in what she calls “Doughnut Economics”​.

See the inner ring of the Doughnut? This is the #socialfoundation – below which lies shortfalls in human well-being, massive deprivation as we see in so much of the world today.

And beyond the outer ring of the Doughnut- the Earth’s #ecologicalceiling- lies an overshoot of pressure on our planet’s life-giving systems, through climate change, land conversion, etc.

Thus this is the pressing task facing humanity today- i.e to bring all of humanity into that safe and just space, that sweet spot, between the two rings of the doughnut.

However, incrementalism is not going to cut it.

The argument of the #GreenGrowth advocates is that when GDP grows faster than resource use (through water and energy efficiency measures etc), we can achieve relative decoupling of GDP from ecological impacts. But unfortunately, considering the deepening crisis we are in, it would not be enough to get us all into the ring. So, absolute decoupling will be necessary. Mainly, by:

 

Key points include:

  • Shifting energy supply
  • Circular economy
  • Dematerialized consumption

 

Read the full article, A Simple Framework for Ecosystem Restoration – why we should care and how we should deal, on LinkedIn.

 

 

As we move towards the end of the pandemic and a surge in business, Geoff Wilson provides a post for leaders to help navigate the next economic journey.

We are in a world of opportunity and hurt.  Demand is high, spirits (and prices) are up, and supply is constrained.  What’s a leader to do?

When I was a young man I learned microeconomics on the back of a simple diagram with two lines…one for demand (always downward sloping) and one for supply (this one goes up).

Turns out, the microeconomists were right.  Mostly.

We are living in a fever dream at the moment.  It comes with the pleasure fog of rising demand for…well…everything as people regain the confidence that they can interact and transact with one another without threatening lives. It also comes with the tormenting nightmare of not being able to hire, source, or build the products and services that they need.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. The most plausible explanation is that we are simply mired in the midst of a massive supply chain bullwhip that is synchronized around the world for once. As positive and negative information trickles out across industry chains, individuals firms attempt to adjust…and they do so badly.

Add the labor-market distortions brought by extended unemployment benefits, extended school and family support organization closures, fear of the unknowns around coronavirus reoccurrence, and general inflation; and you have a multi-faceted political and commercial game that would make George R. R. Martin blush.

But all of this is couched, at least for the moment, within a massive environment of opportunity.  Demand is popping for most of the economy, and poised to pop for much of the rest.

So (as I’m often wont to ask), what’s a leader to do?

Here are a few ideas.

 

Key points include:

  • Prioritizing the opportunity
  • Time to innovate
  • Explore new supply chain structures and mechanisms

 

Read the full article, Revenge of the Microeconomist in the Real World, on WilsonGrowthPartners.com.

 

 

In this post, David Edelman tackles the issue of data collection for marketers and why the customer experience will lead the way forward.

With the much publicized rollout of Apple’s app transparency tracking framework, and the elimination of third-party cookies on Chrome, marketers are about to lose cherished sources of data that have long powered their targeting and attribution initiatives. When you look at most of the advice popping up on what to do though, it tends to focus on broad recommendations to “build up your first party data,” “look at results in a more aggregate way and refine your media mix modeling capability,” or even “build products with broader appeal so they don’t have to be so finely targeted.”  I am not going to argue with any of that.  Of course, it makes sense, but it is so vague. There are other, specific, tactical imperatives marketers need to consider as we enter a new world where data is still the currency of the realm.  

Not the end of third-party data

Even with all of the pressures to protect privacy and security of individuals, consumers still want experiences that use the power of data to make life easier, faster, more entertaining, and more empowering. Know me when I call in.  Let me go seamlessly from my home to my vacation hideaway without paper or talking to a person.  Let me know what I should be doing next to improve my health. Give me ample warning to prepare for a storm. The list is endless, and the bar is now at a height where this is all expected. Brands will compete based on how the experiences they offer use information for the benefit of the customer.

Doing this will likely require more information than most companies have within their own walls.  Information to improve targeting models, attribution models, next best action models.  Information to enrich your understanding of a customer’s context — their location, surrounding conditions, competitor engagement, demographics. Information for modeling changing conditions that should drive parallel changes in how you allocate spending across channels, on keywords, on promotions. Even without third-party online tracking data, there are still rich troves of data for marketers to tap. The better ones have full transparency of how they are captured, what degree of privacy they protect, what permissions they manage, and how timely they are.

 

Key points include:

  • Third party data
  • Data Supply-Chain Management as a Core Competency
  • The “Open Data Marketplace”

 

Read the full article, Hey, Where Is My Data??, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Bernie Heine shares a post that can help business owners plan an exit strategy when leaving their business to facilitate a successful succession. 

The Importance of Estate Planning for Small Business Owners

Of course, no one likes to think about a time when they can no longer serve an active role in their business. Much like why people delay writing a will, business owners often delay estate planning. But, not planning can leave the struggle left to the company, your family members, and business partners.

If it comes to a point when you can’t lead the way and no clear instructions of what to do when it happens, your business can quickly go down and out of business.

Estate Planning for Small Business Owners in 4 Easy Steps

The process of estate planning for small business owners is long, detailed, and with many hiccups. Work with a lawyer or a specialist to draft a traditional estate plan that focuses on your needs as a small business owner. As you start this process, you’ll likely go through these four basic steps of estate planning.

Start with the basics

  1. Start with the basics.

The core of your business estate plan looks very much like a traditional estate planning document and includes:

  • A will that states your wishes about your business, property, and estate should be divided upon your death. 

  • A power of attorney appoints a legal advisor, business partner, or family member to manage your finances and undertake any business transactions in the event you’re incapacitated.

  • A healthcare directive appoints another individual, usually a family member, to make medical decisions for you if you’re incapacitated.

 

Key points include:

  • Plan for tax efficiencies
  • Draft buy-sell agreements
  • Create a succession plan

 

Read the full article, Business Owner Estate Planning – 4 Easy Steps, on the ProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com.

 

 

Aneta Key shares a 2-minute video from a series that dives into how to assess the situation. 

This sequence of videos emphasizes that strategic decision-making starts with assessing the situation. 

The prior video discussed “speed” as a dimension and this one focuses on another important dimension — the gravity of the decisions leaders make. This simple consideration can have a profound impact on how execs allocate their scarce leadership capacity given all the decisions they need to make.

Key points include:

  • The upside and downside
  • Time pressure
  • Leaders’ response

 

 

Watch the full video, Sizing up the Situation – Gravity, on YouTube.

 

Andrew Hone shares a post that highlights the reasons strategies fail and what to do to implement them successfully. 

Developing the strategy is the easy part

You’ve just put the finishing touches to your business strategy. You’ve spoken to customers, researched the key market segments, and projected the financials.

The Board and shareholders are aligned and agree on the priorities to take the business forward.

That was the easy part!

Translating a strategy into action is a significant challenge. All too often, the benefits that were promised are delivered late, or fail to materialise at all.

Management teams get distracted by the day-to-day challenges of running the business. Cross-functional initiatives fall between operating silos, budgets get reallocated and the initial momentum is lost.

High failure rates

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.

Despite strategy implementation being seen as a key priority by most senior executives, fewer than 15% of organisations consider themselves to be successful when it comes to executing strategy.

Estimates for strategy implementation failure rates range from 50% to 90%.

Our experience in implementing strategy

We have spent over twenty years helping clients translate strategy into action, working with a range of clients from start-ups through to large corporations and public sector organisations.

Through this, we have identified a number of key principles that can help you to avoid common implementation pitfalls.

By applying these principles, strategy implementation can be a more predictable, transparent and repeatable process.

 

Key points include:

  • Why do strategies fail?
  • Strategy Implementation Framework
  • Underpinning strategy implementation

 

Read the full article, Implementing Strategy, on ZenithStrategy.com.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Key points include:

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Key points include:

  • Reaching prospects
  • Company values
  • Sharing opportunities

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Key points include:

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

 

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

 

 

Robyn Bolton recently had an article published in Forbes that is designed to help business leaders and managers get the best results from proactive employees. 

One of the first pieces of professional advice many people receive from their managers is, “Bring me solutions, not problems.”

From my perspective, this is good coaching because it teaches people to be problem-solvers, to think critically about the problems they see and to take ownership for solving them.

But if you have ever followed that advice and brought your manager a solution instead of a problem, you might have been left feeling your manager wanted neither the problem nor the solution. The reason? In my experience, most solutions are met with silence. The manager might nod, thank the person for bringing the problem to their attention and suggesting a solution, and carry on as if nothing happened.

This reaction is likely not because the solution isn’t appreciated but because no one ever gave the manager advice on what to do when someone does bring a solution instead of a problem. In these instances, I recommend asking the following five questions when someone brings you an idea:

 

Key points include:

  • Identifying the problem
  • Investigation of the solution
  • The passion driver

 

Read the full article, Five Questions To Ask When An Employee Brings You An Idea, on Forbes.

 

 

For everyone who has ever struggled with identifying a clear, concise, and compelling value proposition, Barry Horwitz shares an article that clarifies the issues and identifies the pitfalls. 

In his book, Your Music and People, Derek Sivers addresses a problem faced by musicians: being asked to describe the kind of music they play.

Saying “all kinds,” doesn’t help. That, according to Sivers, is like saying, “I speak all languages.” Nor does claiming to be unique, since all musicians rely on “notes, instruments, beats, or words.”

A better approach, he advises, is to come up with an interesting phrase that will get people thinking. Something like, “We sound like the smell of fresh baked bread.”

Sivers wasn’t talking about “value propositions” per se. But he was making a related point — the way you describe your organization’s work can have a profound impact on both how well you are understood and how long you are remembered.

What is a Value Proposition?

A value proposition is a simple concept (maybe that’s why the really good ones are so rare). One definition I like is:

“A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered. It’s the primary reason a prospect should buy from you.”

Notice that it is fundamentally based on the customer’s perspective, something that distinguishes it from its sometimes jargony brethren, the vision statement, mission statement, and purpose statement.

What a Value Proposition Is Not…

… full of business or technical jargon — and simply descriptive:

Here’s an example a student submitted to me as stated by the CEO of the startup at which he was interning a few years ago:

[COMPANY] is a SaaS-based technology platform that leading organizations use to design, run, and measure positive impact programs, including, but not limited to, corporate culture, well-being, social impact, and sustainability.

In addition to the excessively formal phrasing (“including, but not limited to”), and the large number of buzzwords, this description is generic; it could be applied to all sorts of organizations serving any number of markets. It may capture how those inside the company think about their offer, but I doubt it connects with prospects, investors, and others on the outside.

… a list of features:

As the old business adage goes, people don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole.

Likewise, people don’t select your product or service because of its features, but because it fulfills a need or solves a problem. Your value proposition should focus on that.

… a tag line:

While it is possible for a tag line to also work as a value proposition, these are the exceptions; in most cases, the two are not the same and serve different purposes.

 

Key points include:

  • The music analogy
  • Value propositions for non-profits
  • The tagline value proposition combo

 

Read the full article, Music that Sounds like Fresh-baked Bread, on HorwitzandCo.com.

 

 

Susan Meier shares a recent interview where she explains the importance of humanizing your brand, and steps you can take to make sure your branding reflects your values.

Creativity and strategy: Two words that seem vastly different but oftentimes go hand in hand.

Right and left brains must balance in the world of branding, leveraging intuition and data. And when you have the right branding strategy,  you’ll attract your ideal audience, and build their trust in your company.

So how do you keep your branding authentic to you, while also being relevant to your audience?

Listen to Wings today to learn about one inspiring entrepreneur who is on a mission to dispel the myth that creativity and strategy are at odds to help business leaders electrify their work and amplify their impact.

 

Key points include:

  • What it means to “humanize your brand”
  • What a brand promise really means to your customers
  • Common mistakes people make with their branding strategy

 

Listen to the full podcast, How to Stay True to Yourself And Be Relevant to Your Customers, on the Wings podcast.

 

Mark Ledden shares an article from his company blog on leadership and action in diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization.

This past year has caused tectonic cultural shifts. The same is certainly true within organizations. With the pandemic, many organizations have jumped feet first into remote working, flexible work schedules, and new ways of engaging their teams. At the same time, virtually every organization we’re aware of is seeking to respond to the calls for justice and equity across racial, gender, and sexual identity, both in the U.S. and globally.

This reckoning has profoundly impacted organizational thinking about culture – especially as it relates to how healthy organizational cultures can achieve optimal diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workplace.

Through our client collaborations, especially our work on culture diagnostics and development , we at Kenning have also been expanding our thinking. Below are some themes we’ve noted over the past year, and some related questions that have proved helpful for further consideration. Given our focus on development, we call out implications for how to approach DEI efforts as an opportunity to learn.

Strategy, accountability, and engagement

DEI strategy has a powerful connection to the broader organizational strategy. We have seen the value of connecting DEI into a fuller organizational strategy. Making connections between DEI and business strategy can unify an entire organization, even if there is not unanimous agreement about how to approach the specifics of DEI internally.

Questions to explore:

How can we evolve our organization’s thinking by explicitly designing with a diverse and inclusive client and customer base?

How can we create space for conversations about how to enhance that goal through internal alignment?

Momentum and empowerment go hand in hand with accountability across the entire team. As with any strategy, an organization’s approach to DEI needs engagement from top leadership. However, by definition DEI demands centering perspectives that have been previously marginalized. This means bringing an eye toward inclusivity of experiences and perspectives throughout the organization, well beyond those found in the C-suite or among leadership teams.

 

Key points include:

  • Strategy, accountability, and engagement
  • Momentum and empowerment
  • Unfolding external and internal events

 

Read the full article, Taking a learning approach to DEI, on KenningAssociates.com.

 

 

Mark Hess shares an article from his company’s blog on the principles of strategy.

In broad strokes, strategy is decision making—but not in the way one might think. The most important part of your strategy is deciding what you’re not going to do.

What is Strategy?

Strategy, simply stated, is how you get from Point A (where you are now) to Point B (where you want to be). You want your organization to grow from $100M to $500M. That requires decisions on which customers to serve (and not serve), what products/services to sell, where to focus the company’s resources and what capabilities you need on your team. It might seem simple to read here in black and white but in practice, it’s not simple; in reality, strategy requires clear and objective data, and often, help from someone outside the business to assess the current situation. Think of it as you would self-diagnosis when you’re not feeling well: sometimes you know what to do and you heal swiftly, but sometimes, when the situation is serious, it’s best to call a doctor—an expert trained to assess, diagnose, and solve the problem.

The same reason you’d trust a doctor to diagnose an illness is the same reason you should trust a consultant to craft your strategy. Consultants make decisions based on clear vision, on sound data, and with no agenda in mind other than helping you get from Point A to Point B. Consultants know what constitutes good strategy and, maybe more importantly, we know how to implement what we know so you can reach your goals.

 

Key points include:

  • Requirements of good strategy
  • Big dreams aren’t strategy
  • Growing pains

 

Read the full article, Principles of Strategy, on Maven-Associates.com.

 

 

If you wonder whether writing a periodic newsletter is a waste of time, Robbie Baxter’s latest article may help you understand when and how a newsletter is a valuable marketing tactic. 

I don’t know about you, but my inbox is full of newsletters. 

Some of these newsletters are really just daily ads, reminders from manufacturers and retailers to come back and buy more. Some are from software and media organizations, encouraging me to use the features and read the content I’m entitled to through my subscriptions. Some are calls to give money to, or volunteer for, causes and candidates. And some are updates on ideas and activities of organizations or individuals.

Some of them I delete immediately. 

In fact, about once a month, I go through my newsletters, with the help of an email management app, and delete many newsletter subscriptions entirely.

But that doesn’t mean that newsletters are not valuable, or that newsletters as a concept are “dead”.

A “newsletter” is a tactic that can be deployed in service of a strategy.

And some strategies are better than others.

If you are on the fence about your own subscription strategy, take a step back and make sure you’re clear on a few things:

 

Key points include:

  • The goal
  • The value
  • The results

 

Read the full article, Are Newsletters Dead?, on LinkedIn. 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

But first, a disclaimer…

 

Key points include:

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

 

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

 

 

Peet van Biljon shares a white paper on the benefits of ethics-driven innovation.

Is your company innovative? No doubt, you would like to say yes. Everyone wants to be innovative, which is why the word “innovation” appears frequently in annual reports and press releases. However, there can be a large gap between saying we are good at innovation and being truly good at it. How to close this gap is the topic of a multitude of publications on innovation management, and keeps many innovation consultants busy.

Is your company a force for good in society? Again, yes is probably your answer. Claims about how a company’s business activities benefit society are quite common, as evidenced by the promotion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in glossy publications, press releases, and well-produced videos. But again there can be a gap between words and reality, as seen in corporate scandals and day-to-day business actions that contradict claims of caring for stakeholders and communities.

Now let us combine these two questions and ask a third one: Do your company’s innovations contribute to the greater good of humanity? This is an important question that needs to be asked more often,  because innovation and ethics are deeply intertwined.

While it is possible to be “innovative” without serving a positive social purpose, and conversely possible  to be “socially responsible” without being innovative, most companies strive to be both. So how can a company achieve these values? This paper introduces Ethics-driven Innovation®[i], an innovation process designed to meet this challenge. The good news – as we shall see – is that knowing why you want to innovate, and whom you want to serve in society, will make you better at both innovation and ethics.

 

Key points include:

  • The inadequacy of traditional CSR
  • Portfolio of initiatives
  • Constraints-based creativity

 

Access the white paper, Good at Innovation or Innovating for Good, on EthicsDrivenInnovation.com.

 

 

If you’re running low on motivation, Rahul Bhargava provides a post that explains how high achievers stay motivated, and it may just help you get back into work mode.

Few years back, I was part of a ‘merger/acquisition management’ project. These projects are unusually stressful. As a professional, you are not sure of your next role for weeks or months. It’s like the phase after an exam and before the results. One just waits, and waits.

The numerous failed attempts of mine always keeps me curious about the secrets behind successful weight loss journeys. This journey of persistence also seems interesting as decoding its secrets will give insights that can be applicable in being motivated for most business and life goals.

“How did you stay motivated throughout?”, I asked my friend.

“I have tried losing weight countless times. Trying almost every method in various phases, right from Keto diet, Yoga, Running, I realised that there was no problem with a particular method. All of them are good.”, he said.

Then with the looks of an authority on this topic, he added “Then one day I learnt about Motivated Manny, and Frustrated Frank and this time I knew I got the solution.”

“My understanding is that motivation is a myth created to give an excuse for no action” , he continued.

Cliche as it sounded, I thought my friend was getting philosophical. But then, he went on to tell the story of his transformation, and I had no second thought about believing the statement he made.

Ever since that conversation, I have adopted the principle for any goal that I pursue. The results are highly satisfactory, and I believe that most high-output achievers have a similar principle of operation.

 

Key points include:

  • High-intensity efforts
  • Motivated Manny, frustrated Frank
  • The myth of motivation

 

Read the full article, How High Output Achievers Stay Motivated, on PurpleCrest.co.

 

 

Robyn Bolton shares introspective insights and answers on working from home during the pandemic.

In middle school and high school my dad and I would have massive arguments about my math homework. And by “massive,” I mean arguments that make episodes of The Real Housewives look like polite differences of opinion over tea and crumpets.

The issue was not my struggles to understand the work (though I’m sure that played into things) but rather my insistence on knowing WHY I needed to learn the content in the first place.

My dad, a metallurgist before becoming a computer engineer, seemed to think the answers to “Why?” were (1) you will need to know this in the future and (2) because this is the assignment.

To which I would respond, (1) no I won’t because I’m going to be a lawyer or a writer and even if I’m not those two things I can say with 100% certainty I won’t be an engineer and (2) that is not an acceptable reason.

As you can imagine, things would escalate from there.

In the decades since, with the exception of some single-variable algebra and basic geometry, I have yet to use most of the math that I was forced to learn and I still insist that “because that’s the assignment/the rules/how things are done” is not an acceptable answer.

Usually I apply that same stubborn curiosity to help my clients find and capitalize on opportunities to do things differently and better, create value, and innovate.

But, in the last week as I, like most Americans, find myself largely confined to my home, my curiosity is extending to my own environment and habits and I’m not always prepared for the insights that emerge.

 

Key points include:

  • Why am I trying to maintain all my pre-pandemic habits?
  • Why am I watching non-stop news?
  • Why are there 6 dozen eggs in the refrigerator?

 

Read the full article, 5 Whys of Working from Home, on Milezero.io.

 

 

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

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

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

QUICK READ

Key takeaways:

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

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

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

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

 

Key points include:

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

 

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

 

 

In today’s accelerated pace of business, there are benefits to going slow on strategy execution. In this post, Sean McCoy explains why.

Leaders of all types of organizations – businesses, non-profits, government departments – often want their organizations to move faster. Once leaders develop clear vision and strategy, they want the organization to move as fast as possible in executing the strategy.

We have worked with numerous organizations across various industries on their “speed of execution”, and some patterns have emerged. We have seen 10 common reasons why organizations execute strategies slowly.

Layers – More layers mean more time is spent delegating and not doing. Once work is finally completed by frontline staff, each layer means another step of review. Also, each layer in the org has its own interpretation of the strategy, so more layers means more degrees of separation from the CEO’s original strategy.

Gaps in responsibilities – A CEO provides a clear vision and strategy to achieve that vision, yet organizations can still move slowly because work slips through the cracks. This usually happens because the division of labor for an activity was not clearly defined.

Overlapping responsibilities – When multiple people think a decision or activity is in “their lane”, the organization slows down while ownership is sorted out. Too many organizations are familiar with the turf wars that often ensue.

Unclear communication – When a CEO brings a new strategy, everyone silently asks themselves “what does this mean for me?”. Unclear communications make it difficult to answer this question. As a result, the organization develops a reluctance to embrace a course of action with unclear consequences.

 

Key points include:

  • Culture mismatch
  • Excessive hand-offs
  • Speed not measured

 

Read the full article, 10 Reasons Organizations Execute Strategies Slowly, on TheMcCoyConsultingGroup.com

 

 

Norbert Paddags co-wrote this article that explains why private banking can grow and become more profitable, in a good way.

Sustainable investments continue to gain in importance, driven by investor expectations and regulation. This creates challenges for portfolio management and the pricing of cost-intensive ESG services. If these are mastered, one can do good and earn money in the process.

On March 10, 2021, the “Regulation on Sustainability-Related Disclosure Obligations in the Financial Services Sector”, or Disclosure Regulation for short, will come into force and thus one of the central components of the EU’s ESG regulations. The ordinance, which, among other things, is intended to increase transparency about which financial products are more or less “green”, has been widely discussed in the specialist press, from the setting of objectives to implementation. Even if the goal of reducing “greenwashing” is a very sensible one, some private bankers will be reminded of the introduction of MiFID II and be slightly or more annoyed: additional regulatory effort in the case of requirements that are still unclear and have to be implemented at short notice.

Beyond the fulfillment of the minimum regulatory requirements, which one simply cannot avoid, the question arises for every company how it would like to deal with the topic of ESG now and in the future. A minimalist approach would be to include individual sustainable investment solutions in the range so that the customer can say “We also have something in green” when asked. Even if this approach may seem resource-saving and therefore sensible in the short term, it negates two important points:

ESG is one of the dominant social issues, and therefore also a financial market issue, and will develop into the market standard, which can be demonstrated, among other things, by the growth of AuM

Regardless of how practicable it is to implement them, ESG-related regulations will become increasingly important over the next few years, from investment advice to the identification of EU-specific ESG criteria.

If you follow these two theses, a comprehensive alignment and implementation of ESG topics is necessary.

 

Key points include:

  • The growth of green market
  • Requirements for ESG portfolios
  • Sustainable pricing models

 

Read the full article, Do good and earn money with it – how private banking can grow and become more profitable with ESG, on Paddags.com.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Key points include:

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

 

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

 

 

It’s always interesting to take a look back while stepping forward. In this older post from Supriya Prakash Sen, the use of AI technology in the workplace was explored. How does it compare to today’s outlook?

The news has been awash with provocative articles about the future of jobs in our society. The exponentially advancing nature of Artificially Intelligent machines, after AlphaGo turned out to be a better Go player than any human – combined with the power of the collective mind, makes it an urgent question to debate. There seems to be almost no job or field of endeavor that cannot be disrupted – from routine and manual jobs to non-routine and cognitive jobs, all are now at risk of being replaced by intelligent machines. 

Simple example- the other day I saw a conscious robotic arm in the pharmacy of the hospital, which is already dispensing medicine packages more accurately, efficiently and in a more space-saving way than any human could possibly do. Similarly – robotic arms that sort through waste at landfills are more productive, and also cheaper in the long run, albeit replacing work for humans who sort through garbage (sadly, often the first form of entrepreneurship for the disenfranchised). This raises the question, that maybe humans should let the work be done by machines after all- why fight it – we humans were meant for more higher pursuits anyway? Meanwhile robot bartenders are already employed in ships, see video clip: Robot Bartender on Cruise Ship.

Machine vs. Man was never a fair fight. From cameras and telescopes to ships and airplanes and drones, to the newest generation of “thinking” computers- there are hardly any jobs that machines cannot do better than humans.In fact, recent advances in technology and networked intelligence can lead to massive changes in entire societies, in the space of less than a generation. For just a small instance, look merely at what Fitbit can accomplish through scale and peer-pressure – rippling through an entire population, changing habits and behaviors in a relatively short period of time- and compare this with the impact a Personal Trainer can have with one client in a long set of focused one-on-one interactions.

 

Key points include:

  • Extending human capability
  • Universal basic income
  • Virtual rewards replace money

 

Read the full article, The Power and the Fear – Artificial Intelligence and its impact on Jobs and Society, on LinkedIn.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Key points include:

  • Diagnoses
  • Value levers
  • Digital opportunities

 

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

 

 

Giving feedback is a delicate process. It is a conversation that involves feelings, egos, judgment, bias, and misunderstandings. Xavier Lederer co-authored this article that provides the key steps on how to give feedback to ensure constructive outcomes. 

When I was a young manager, I was panicked by the idea of giving feedback – until I was given a clear 3-step methodology to have ego-less, collaborative, and actionable feedback conversations. Having a feedback conversation is about preparing yourself mentally in order to avoid being judgmental – towards yourself or towards the other person. Our previous post was about overcoming your fear of feedback. This article lays out three simple steps to give constructive feedback in a way that contributes to your team members’ personal development.

  1. Prepare the conversation

Remind yourself why you are giving feedback. Your goal is to improve the situation or the person’s performance. You won’t accomplish that by being harsh, critical or offensive. Focus on the person’s personal development needs: what can the person learn from your feedback? Similarly, feedback is not about venting your own frustration. Rather it is about clearly explaining the rational and emotional effects on you or the organization/business of the other person’s behavior. This is also why it is important that you describe your own emotions: don’t let the other person make assumptions about them.

Double-check your facts. Good feedback needs to be fact-based. Take the necessary time to gather all the facts and to cross-check them. Get input from several people: we all have our own biases, and you want to develop an objective picture of the reality. It also shows that you have taken the time to prepare it. The last thing that you want in a feedback conversation, is to start debating whether you have your facts right.

Stick to the facts and never make assumptions. Don’t assume people’s intentions: you don’t know what is happening in other people’s minds. A wrong assumption in a feedback conversation can be considered infuriatingly unfair by the person receiving the feedback. Your own interpretation of the facts and emotions is exactly what can create destructive feedback. Facts are things that you can observe if you would film the person. For instance: “Getting angry” is not a fact. However: “Raising your voice” or “Turning red” are facts that you can bring up in a feedback conversation. Start with describing the behavior. And if you really have to explain your assumption, make it clear (eg “I notice this behavior of yours, and I assume that it means X. Is this a correct assumption?”).

Put yourself in their shoes: for which good reasons would they act the way they did?

Ask for permission to give the feedback. Accept that the person says “no”: sometimes it’s not the right time or we are just not in the mood for feedback, even if it is well crafted. A simple “Hey, would you have time at 3 pm this afternoon for a feedback conversation?” can help the receiver be mentally ready for it.

Choose a moment in the near future – the sooner the better. If the situation upsets you though, wait a few hours until the emotion settles.

And last but not least: Build trust with your team. Asking for feedback first (instead of waiting for it) is a great way to build vulnerability-based trust – especially at the top. Our next article will deal with this topic.

 

Key points include:

  • Framing the conversation
  • Stating the facts
  • Dialogue

 

Read the full article, Feedback is a gift… when you know how to unpack it, on AmbroseGrowth.com.

 

 

From Sven Beiker, a short and informative post and video on how electric batteries are priced. 

After having discussed battery performance improvement last time and figuring out how something like Moore’s Law actually can be applied, this month I am looking at cost decrease over time. One often-used model for this is Wright’s Law, named after the aeronautical engineer W. P. Wright who observed efficiency improvements in aircraft manufacturing in the 1930s.

Some of this can be applied to batteries for EVs as well, however as those are not as labor intensive to produce like aircraft, it is good to use some combined approach out of Wright’s and Moore’s Laws to model cost.

This gives a funnel that the cost for batteries might come down from roughly 140 $/kWh today to 65 $/kWh by 2025 and even 35 $/kWh by 2030. That actually means that a 350-mile range EV might cost less than a gasoline powered car. Great times ahead!

 

Key points include:

  • Battery pricing curves
  • Moore’s vs. Wright’s Law
  • Cost and performance

 

Access the video, Battery Cost – How to project cost of batteries for electric vehicles?, on SiliconValleyMobility.com.

 

 

Tobias Baer shares an article that questions the current, popular credit strategy of instant gratification with delayed payments. 

Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) is hot – and that makes it increasingly controversial, as it was made clear by Monday’s article in the Financial Times. Retailers love it as a way to increase sales, FinTechs as a way to build new, appealing lending propositions. But from a consumer’s perspective, is it good or evil?

The question whether BNPL is good or evil obviously would inform the regulatory stance as to what extent it should be regulated and even curtailed. Nevertheless, I believe that it is the wrong question. Very often, not least when it comes to regulating the financial industry, we pretend that the product is the problem. What if the problem is the consumer – or more precisely, the consumer choosing the wrong product? In the following, I will briefly argue the good and bad sides of BNPL before suggesting a better approach for regulating financial products.

Good arguments exist to let BNPL prosper

In the ideal case, BNPL creates a clear and positive effect for consumers. For some, BNPL allows to get the benefits of a certain acquisition earlier (e.g., the earlier you upgrade to a safer motorbike helmet, the lower is the risk of a debilitating injury). There even can be a good business case to use BNPL for certain groceries (e.g., it can enable a cash-strapped family to save money by buying certain items in bulk even though the family needs 100% of its current income to feed itself).

 

Key points include:

  • Regulations curtailing access to BNPL
  • Four reasons why some view BNPL critically
  • A better approach to regulating consumer finance

 

Read the full article, Is Buy-Now-Pay-Later Good or Evil?, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Kaihan Krippendorff provides insight into the rising valuations of tech stocks and attributed the rise of cryptocurrencies, and NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

It’s been a while since Saturday Night Live was a staple of Monday morning conversation, but this week as our team gathered around the Zoom screen to join our check-in call, the sketch comedy show was top of mind. I can’t imagine many missed it, or at least the news surrounding it, but last weekend’s episode featured special guest Elon Musk.

In his opening monologue, Musk commendably revealed for the first time his Asperger’s diagnosis, while poking fun at his unbelievable track record of innovation: “I reinvented electric cars and I’m sending people to Mars on a rocket ship. Did you think I was also going to be a chill, normal dude?” Musk joked about Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency which, along with NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and other blockchain-based value exchange systems, has taken over headlines recently.

Musk’s statements during the show around Dogecoin’s validity sent it into a downward spiral, while his follow-up statements that SpaceX would accept it as legitimate payment for a mission to the moon sent the cryptocurrency skyrocketing. At the same, his decision to halt acceptance of bitcoin for Tesla payments based on environmental factors caused the digital tokens to plummet.

These volatile reactions to Musk’s statements, brought about primarily by posts on Twitter and reactions in social networks, echo GameStop’s stock surge earlier this year. They demonstrate the power of communities, virtual and in-person, to self-organize around a common cause, whether it’s a well-loved retail videogame chain or a parody cryptocurrency that began as a meme.

All jokes aside, those who have been following the news this year around the valuation of cryptocurrencies and NFTs combined with blockchain technologies will recognize broader implications for how we conduct business and exchange goods in the future of our society.

 

Key points include:

  • Volatile reactions to stock trading
  • Power from coordination of resources or services
  • The convergence of two strategic trends

 

Read the full article, Elon Musk, Dogecoin, And NFTs: Coordinating Without An Official Coordinator, on Kaihan.net.

 

 

James Black provides an update on how COVID-19 forced museums and cultural institutions to reshape how they interact with the public and still provide an engaging experience.

As the WSJ noted, “With galleries and museums closed due to Covid-19, online offerings blossomed—giving viewers the chance to experience outstanding exhibitions and masterpieces in a new, digital way.” (12/13/20).

From an analysis of the activities of 20+ institutions around the world, completed via desk research and interviews with various CEOs, board members, curators, and heads of advancement and marketing, among others, several themes emerged.

WHAT did museums and cultural institutions do during the shutdowns?

Covid made more institutions realize that live and digital programming are complementary, not competing. Many institutions built out online offerings; those with pre-existing platforms and capabilities had a distinct advantage in building engagement. Unsurprisingly, musical institutions may have had a head start in cultivating alternative channels (e.g., radio, digital, etc.) But museums quickly adapted to the new situation, expanding and intensifying their existing online activities. A number of smaller players, like the Frick in NY, were scrappy, driving creative executions, perhaps driven by their need to sustain visibility and raise funds.

Audience interest in programming was strong. As the Director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC noted, “Audiences are clearly hungry for diversion, learning, enjoyment, and connection during this crisis.”

SO WHAT did they learn from this experience and reapply as they reopened?

 

Key points include:

  • Audience rewards
  • Improvement of production value
  • How to best reach and engage audiences in the “new normal.”

 

Read the full article, COVID-19 has served as a prism to reframe museums & cultural institutions, their activities, and how they serve their audiences as they have reopened, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Indranil Ghosh shares the latest episode of Powering Prosperity Weekly. In this post, he shares an interview with Rachel Ziemba of The Street where they discuss the fiscal and infrastructure proposals in Biden’s US congressional address.

Welcome to this week’s edition of Powering Prosperity Weekly.

This newsletter looks at issues relating to the Global Economic Transition that will play out over the coming 20-30 years (see my introductory article on LinkedIn for additional context).

 As President Biden completed his first 100 days in office, I took the opportunity to talk to many folks in policymaking, business, and investing circles to take stock of what’s been achieved and what the priorities should be for the next 100 days. 

 In an article appearing in The Street, Rachel Ziemba and I dissected the fiscal and infrastructure proposals in Biden’s US congressional address. And in a Chief’s Forum sponsored by the Washington Times, I discussed the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in a livestream with former Whitehouse Chiefs of Staff and C-suite execs from across the economy. 

What to Look for in the Next 100 days?

For supporters of sustainable development, the general policy direction of President Biden’s first 100 days has been a refreshing tonic. Averting climate change, fighting inequality, supporting working families, and racial equity are finally centre stage in the American political dialog.

 

Key points include:

  • Biden’s tax proposals
  • $30 billion in Farm Aid
  • The sustainable investing framework

 

Read the full article, The Next 100 Days, on LinkedIn.

 

 

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

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

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

 

Key points include:

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

 

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

 

 

In this article, Amanda Setili explains why conflicting opinions are a necessary part of growth.

Back when I was applying for admission to Harvard Business School, one of the essays I had to complete was “when did you confront an ethical dilemma and how did you handle it?”

I remember being stuck on this question for quite a while, because as a young engineer, it seemed to me that every question had a correct answer. There are no ethical dilemmas, because once you find the right answer, everything is clear… or so I mistakenly thought.

Fortunately, I somehow managed to answer that essay question and get admitted. HBS quickly corrected my lack of understanding. Day after day, I sat in a classroom with 90 people who were all smart, and yet had completely different solutions to any given problem. Time after time, I thought: Wow. I would never have thought of what s/he just said.

The world, I learned, has many shades of gray.

These days, I worry whether too many businesses—and professionals—close themselves off from this sort of valuable learning. How many times in recent years have you sat in a room with other talented folks who think utterly differently than you do? How many times have you been encouraged to disagree and debate with your peers? My guess: not often.

 

Key points include:

  • Challenging consensus
  • Challenging bias
  • The value of different opinions

 

Read the full post, The Case for More Disagreements, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Alex Sharpe shares a post from the archives that illustrates the pertinence and importance of social media as critical infrastructure. 

“If you can spy on a network, you can manipulate it. It is already included. The only thing you need is an active will.”Michael Hayden, Former Director, NSA and Former Director, CIA.

Social Media is getting lots of attention especially with the upcoming election. There is good reason, but Social Media is not only an election issue.

Social Media has changed the way we work and live. It has helped us navigate national emergencies like Covid-19, wildfires, tornadoes and floods. It has created new business models. Social Media has created entire industries and countless jobs. The average person is more affected and more dependent on social media than they realize. Social Media is used every day without giving it a second thought.

According to the Pew Research Center, three fourths of adults in the United States get their news from Social Media and email. What chaos would ensue if Social Media suddenly disappeared or you could not trust what was there? How much more difficult would your life have been during Covid-19 without Social Media to inform, to communicate or to stay connected?

Is it time to consider Social Media a Critical Infrastructure (CI) like telecommunications, transportation, and our financial system? The rest of the world seems to think so. Maybe it is time to make it official. 

According to Infragard, Critical Infrastructure is defined as:

‘…the assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.’

 

Key points include:

  • The incapacitation or destruction of social media
  • The perception of social media as a free service
  • Social Media based attacks

 

Read the full article, “Is Social Media Critical Infrastructure?“​, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Robbie Baxter shares the latest interview from Subscription Stories. In this article, she interviews Matt Fielder of Vinyl Me on beginning his business and scaling up.

What comes next, once you’ve launched your subscription model, you’ve proven that there are people who wanted what you were offering and that those people would continue to subscribe after joining?

You’re holding everything together with paper clips and duct tape, maybe with your kitchen table as global headquarters now it’s time to operationalize your business. You need a real team, systems to support your processes, and metrics to let you know how the business is doing.

I recently talked with Matt Fiedler, the Cofounder and Chairman at Vinyl Me, Please, a record of the month club and online record store, about how he grew this business from kitchen table to $15M in revenue. After launching in 2013, Matt successfully scaled Vinyl Me, Please into one of the largest direct-to-consumer vinyl retailers and one of the most admired and respected brands in music. I recently spoke with Matt about how he scaled Matt scaled Vinyl Me, Please from a labor of love for a few fellow music fans to a $15 million business, how he operationalized that business without losing the personal touch, and how he decided when the time was to step back as a founder.

Take me back to the day when you sent out your first shipment. Can you tell me what that day was like and who you were sending those early boxes to?

 

Key points include:

  • Building credibility in a subscription business
  • Challenges in acquisitions
  • The promise that motivated membership 

 

Read the full post, When & How to Scale Your eCommerce Subscription Operations with Matt Fiedler of Vinyl Me, Please, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Dan Markovitz provides an article that explores what it means to be a healthy company.

What is a healthy person? We can argue over specific metrics, but we’d all agree that we have to account for physical as well as mental/emotional health. What is a healthy organization? As with 

individuals, there will be disagreement over metrics, but clearly we have to consider financial performance, internal stakeholders (employees), and external stakeholders (community). Healthy organizations recognize the importance of all three areas, and while a specific decision might prioritize one over the others, in aggregate, healthy organizations make decisions that, on average, address all of those needs. 

Financial Performance

Milton Friedman is the primary exponent of the belief that a company’s sole purpose is making a profit: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits,” he wrote in 1970. In the past decade there’s been a backlash to that one-dimensional view, most notably by the Business Roundtable. In 2019, the organization announced that corporations should be governed to benefit all stakeholders— customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.

But many companies have long subscribed to this more holistic—and I’d argue, healthier—mantra. As Jim Collins wrote about visionary firms such as Merck, 3M, General Electric, Boeing, and Disney in Built to Last.

 

Key points include:

  • Profit maximization
  • Internal Stakeholders—Employees
  • External Stakeholders—Community

 

Read the full post, What Is a Healthy Company, on MarkovitzConsulting.com.

 

 

Nils Boeffel shares a post that identifies how to ask the right questions to get the information you need. 

Many managers are confronted with complex decisions to make, and not enough time in which to make them. One way to help make better decisions more quickly is knowing how to ask questions that get to the core of the subject, and not just tiptoe around the edges.

Let’s look at an example. If you ask what your marketing budget is being spent on, and you get the answer “We’re spending X amount and have a market penetration of nearly 38%”, do you just have more facts to remember, or does that really help you make a decision and act on the information?

Odds are, it really doesn’t help you. It doesn’t help you understand if the money is well spent or not, and it surely doesn’t help you make any critical business decisions. So how do we ask the right questions, and how do we know when we’ve got a good and helpful answer?

A good question seeks to understand, and a good answer helps to decide.

How do you ask a good question?

Asking good questions gets you halfway to a good answer.

Don’t stop at fact-questions, ask knowledge questions: Consider the questions “What is our marketing budget” vs. “how well is our marketing budget being spent?” The first question will get you an answer, but the second will help you understand what the answer means and what is significant about it

Focus on the penetrating “why” and “how” questions instead of the simple fact-seeking “what”, “when” and “where” questions

Ask “why” five times: many people are afraid to dig deeper into an issue, and will only provide relevant information after some “digging”. You will be surprised where the answers lead when you keep digging.

 

Key points include:

  • Ask knowledge questions
  • How do you know you’ve got a good answer?
  • Getting to the bottom of the real issues

 

Read the full article, How to Ask the Right Questions, on NilsBoeffel.com.

 

 

Paul Millerd shares an article that comments on a capitalist system that has revived Calvinist attitudes towards those who may be less financially fortunate.

One thing I absorbed from the culture I grew up in was that someone who didn’t make a lot of money or that spent their time at something deemed a “low-skill” job was of questionable character. There were always carve outs for people you might become acquainted with, but generally people that had more money were better people.

If you only could understand one thing about American culture it’s that money is the most important thing. We say all sorts of other things about what matters but when it comes down to it the fastest way to get respect and admiration is to be rich. Our reaction to an infectious disease was to deliver four rounds of financial stimulus to the economy. Our biggest celebrities are now billionaires getting divorces rather than movie stars getting divorces.

People have a lot of feelings about money and I’ve written about how money is often just a placeholder for deeper anxieties about life. It seems people will amass millions of dollars before they try to stare the feelings that make them stressed in the face. Many people seem to get the money but never satisfy the worry. A successful real estate investor still worries about being poor1:

‘If somebody tries to screw me over, I think back to all the people who screwed my father out of money, and I react very viscerally to it because I am afraid of being poor still.’

 

Key points include:

  • The hidden force of work: shame
  • Guilt vs. Shame
  • Who has the wheel?

 

Read the full newsletter, Money, Guilt, Shame & What Matters, on Boundless.com.

 

 

If your home office is a little lacking in motivational and inspirational energy, Susan Meier’s new project may help you redesign a creative space. The project she co-founded with photographer Hallie Burton showcases the inspiring home workspaces and the stories of those who work there. This post profiles the home office and insights of art director Marcus Hay. 

What do you do?

I’m an art director or creative director, and my main focus is creating imagery for photoshoots. I also do interior design and prop styling. It’s a mixed bag of different fields, but they all interrelate, and I use the same skill set throughout the different areas of my work. 

Tell us about the space where you work.

I work in the living area. It’s a small space. I used to have to move around with my computer to wherever the light wasn’t hitting, so that I could see what was going on on the screen. I finally got blinds installed last week, and it’s been a godsend, because I can actually sit at my designated “desk” now, which is the dining table. It’s a very simple Saarinen tulip table, and, for me, it’s perfect. I like to work on a desk that’s white, because everything kind of pops off it. It feels clean and harmonious. I regularly clear it, and it becomes a blank canvas each time I start a new project. I have foamcore pin boards with inspiration swipes and paint swatches and sketches. And then of course I love my sketchbooks. I love working with pen and ink, so I have a good collection of brushes and ink pens and black India ink, which is my go-to. I try to have everything so it can fold up and be put away at night.

How would you describe your creative process?

When I art direct a photoshoot, everything you do has to consider what the ethos of the company is and what impression they want to leave on their customer. Then I delve into research, and that could be Pinterest, books, movies, anything. It’s a gradual process of pulling together inspirational swipes, textures, color combinations.

It’s largely digital, but because I do have a large collection of things, so it can be very tactile. It’s an organic process. My job is to bundle everything up in a package, so it becomes a visual language that everyone on the photoshoot is going to understand. Then you hope the weather behaves.

 

Key points include:

  • What helps Marcus be most productive
  • The most important elements of his work environment
  • How his workspace has changed as a result of the pandemic

 

Read the full post, The Interior Soul., on workspace-studio.com.

 

 

Barry Horwitz shares an article with a few key pointers on communication best practices that gain better results from research.

If you hope to develop an effective strategy, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the external forces that impact your organization. Much of this, of course, can be learned through the inevitable Google searches — finding news items in mainstream press, public reports from organizations, or trade journals.

But to really gain a clear perspective, you’ll want to speak with people who are (or were) working in the field. Frequently, the best insights come from folks who are not part of your internal team or even your customer base. Rather, they are industry players or experts who are familiar with the space in which you operate… or, sometimes, “adjacent” or even different spaces.

But how do you get their attention? And, once you do, how do you get them to share the information and insights you seek? For the most part, it comes down to effective interviewing.

Some suggestions for doing this well…

What’s in it for me?

You’ve no doubt heard the catchphrase, WIIFM: “What’s in it for me?” Well, when reaching out to people who will not benefit directly from your work and asking for their time (whether in person, phone, or video), you need to consider WIIFM and incorporate that into your request for a meeting.

Fortunately, many people are naturally inclined to be helpful — but that alone is not usually enough. One thing that can tip the balance is an offer to share a generalized summary of what you learn in your research. People are often interested in discovering how others in their field answer certain questions, so they benefit by participating.

 

Key points include:

  • Drafting a discussion guide
  • The benefit of honesty
  • Respect as a tactic

 

Read the full article, Research through Interviewing, on Horwitzandco.com.

 

 

With Mother’s Day comes memories of small moments that had a big impact. Robyn Bolton shares a wholly amusing, moving, and inspirational story on innovation found in unlikely places.

My Mom was a nursery-school teacher. It was more than her profession, it was her gift. Long after my sister and I were grown and out of the house, my mom chose to spend her days with 4-year olds, teaching them everything from the ABCs to how to use the WC.

Like all moms, she was an innovator. She was constantly creating something different that had impact. Admittedly, sometimes “different” was just weird and “impact” wasn’t always ideal, but it’s only just recently that I’ve realized how much my mom (probably accidentally) role-modeled the traits of a world-class innovator.

The genius of stealth prototyping

In an effort to save a bit of money, I spent the summer before business school living with my parents. One day, while folding the laundry (it took less than 20 minutes!), I found one of my Dad’s white athletic tube socks. But it wasn’t like the other white athletic tube socks. This one had three circles drawn on the bottom of it in what appeared to be black Sharpie.

“Mom, what’s up with this sock?”

“Oh, I needed a ghost puppet for school so I just used one of your dad’s socks.”

When my dad got home from work, I showed him the sock and asked if he had noticed the black circles on the foot. He had not.

 

Key points include:

  • The infectious nature of optimism
  • The life-changing power of empathy

 

Read the full article, Mom: Innovation’s OG, on MileZero.io.

 

 

Luiz Zorzella shares an article on the growth of open banking, the factors that “repress” adoption, and possible solutions. 

As you probably know, worldwide, Open Banking is one of the hottest trends in financial services. 

Not only is it growing at a breakneck speed, but also its success is inspiring regulators and players in other sectors like finance and insurance who now wonder how to replicate the model.

This article is a high-level review of what is happening in Open Banking today.

Growth

As I said, Open Banking is growing.  To understand how fast it grows, consider that the UK (the pioneer in adopting it) formally started this journey less than three years ago, followed by Hong Kong, the EU, South Korea and Singapore. In the US, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau joined the race in 2019.  Twenty other countries followed suit, including Canada, Australia, India, Japan, Israel and India.

As a result, high growth rates in each market are being compounded by the entry of new markets.

For example, in Europe, when a market opens, it has explosive growth, which tends to stabilize in the single digits range (per month) once it reaches ~8 API calls per inhabitants per month.  But, as the UK “stabilizes”, new entrants like Italy, Germany and France push the averages up.

 

Key points include:

  • Debottlenecking
  • Screen scraping solutions by Fintechs
  • Emerging intermediaries

 

Read the full article, Open Banking Market Unleashed, on Amquant.com.

 

 

A crisis often kickstarts innovation in technology and shifts in culture. As working from home options become a more normal structure, how will this impact performance and growth? Kaihan Krippendorff takes a look at the company culture of Netflix to explore the impact of no rules rules.

When we think about culture and responsibility in the workplace, companies generally fall into one of two categories. Some seek to monitor their employees and keep them in a structured order by implementing rules and policies for every interaction. This is more common and tends to happen as companies scale and become more established. The result is a thick handbook and a set of employees who don’t need to think as much about what to do, because the thinking has been done for them. 

The alternative seems more chaotic: companies that have very few procedures and regulations in place. This is most often seen in startups or businesses with few employees. Employees are given the freedom to make their own decisions, which often inspires creativity and innovation. This freedom usually lasts until the business begins to grow, and limitations are imposed. Controls seem necessary; a few wrong budgeting decisions might have a major impact on a growing business.

So as business scales, how do we give employees the freedom to make decisions while keeping chaos in check?

NETFLIX: CREATING A CULTURE OF FREEDOM AT SCALE 

Lucky for us, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings experienced both scenarios, and he and Erin Meyer, a bestselling author and international culture expert, have written the book on innovative culture in the workplace. Last week, I was fortunate to attend Erin’s Thinkers50 and Insight to Impact webinar: No Rules Rules (replay available here).

In the webinar, Erin described Reed’s experience launching his first business, a software troubleshooting company. At first, there were no rules. But as the business began to grow, Reed started implementing more policies. He found that the new restrictions drove his most creative employees out of the company.

 

Key points include:

  • Creating a culture of freedom at scale
  • Culture is about reconciling dilemmas
  • Three steps to employee freedom

 

Read the full article, No Rules Rules At Netflix: Rethinking Culture As We Return To Work, on Kaihan.net.

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

David Burnie shares a post from his company blog on how automation in the first step of claims processing can help streamline the process. 

The First Notice of Loss (FNOL) – the first step in claims processing – is one of the most crucial customer touchpoints for an insurer. Yet, for most carriers, FNOL continues to be a lengthy, manual, call centre-based service requiring extensive data gathering. This process translates to high operational costs and cycle time and a less than satisfactory customer experience.

Providing a fast, streamlined and transparent claims intake process is no longer aspirational; it is table stakes for customers who expect nothing less from their interactions with all their service providers, including banking, retail, and entertainment.

Luckily for insurers, the intelligent automation landscape has advanced significantly over the last few years, enabling insurers to innovate rapidly and cost-effectively.

Traditionally, the key barriers to change for insurers included long-established processes that rely on legacy systems and a workforce under strain. A transformation roadmap for claims starts with re-imagining the end-to-end customer experience at each stage of the claim. Intelligent automation and artificial intelligence (AI) offer a proven pathway to produce a better claims service while leveraging core legacy systems. Intelligent automation brings systems, both legacy and new, into the process to create a seamless experience.

 

Key points include:

  • Automating FNOL in auto insurance
  • Automating FNOL in travel insurance
  • Benefits of intelligent automation in insurance

 

Read the full post, How Automation Can Support First Notice of Loss (FNOL) Reports, on the Burniegroup.com.

 

 

Thomas K Hamann recently published two chapters in the book Managing Work in the Digital Economy.  

New Forms of Creating Value: Platform-Enabled Gig Economy Today and in 2030

by Thomas K. Hamann & Stefan Güldenberg

Abstract

This chapter explains the origins and development of the so-called gig economy and it provides a typology for the platform-enabled gig economy, including all types of gig work reaching from location-independent microtasking towards location-bound and interaction-intensive knowledge work. In addition, the importance of the platform-enabled gig economy for households as well as for the labor market and the various industrial sectors is examined. Both the positive aspects and opportunities associated with the platform-enabled gig economy and its disadvantages and risks are presented in the form of short propositions. Finally, an outlook is ventured on the probable further development of the platform-enabled gig economy up to the year 2030.

 

Values Versus Technology? Why We Need to Consider a New Foundation for Work

by Thomas K. Hamann

Abstract

This chapter explores the two key drivers of change in our world of work: First, a change in the values prevailing in society as younger generations gradually replace their predecessors and, second, the spread of digital technologies. These two key drivers make the actual organization of work, and people’s needs drift further and further apart. Based on a discussion of this incompatibility, a possible development of a new way of living and working is laid out with respect to all three relevant levels: the general sociopolitical conditions, the inter-individual organization of work, and the individual with their needs. Furthermore, a likely scenario for the year 2030 is developed.

 

In addition to the book, he has produced several webinars on this topic.

The first webinar on “The Jobs of the Future” took place on April 28, 2021, and can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK_OXPrkRTI

Access webinars based on the book  on the following YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCnbtAynH4nHIxT9Vw1bYwA/videos

 

 

Xavier Lederer shares a purposeful post that offers practical steps that can be taken to maximize the efficacy of meetings when the goal is executing the priorities of a strategy.

Many of us hate meetings. Many regular meetings are boring and ineffective indeed. They don’t have the right agenda (or no agenda at all), are not well facilitated, and don’t accomplish much.

Yet the right meetings lead to faster and better decision-making, increase accountability throughout the organization, and improve communication. In short: efficient meetings get your quarterly priorities accomplished. Together with aligning your leadership team around the top 2 to 3 quarterly priorities and measuring what matters, implementing a consistent meeting and communication rhythm enables you to focus and execute on your strategic plan.

How do you go from boring meetings to impactful meetings? Start with a good planning and communication rhythm with your leadership team, which ideally includes 5 meetings:

  • Daily huddle.
  • Weekly accountability meeting.
  • Monthly check-in and education session.
  • Quarterly planning and education session.
  • Annual planning retreat.

Each of these meetings has a different goal with a different agenda. The key is to maintain the discipline to stick to the agenda and the goal of each meeting. When you do not, meetings get too long, become ineffective, and people start skipping them. For example: While it can be tempting to discuss strategic changes in a daily or weekly meeting, this is not the right place: table this until your next quarterly meeting.

 

Key points include:

  • Synchronizing the team
  • Moving the strategy forward
  • Aligning key priorities

 

Read the full post, Meeting rhythm: the key to consistently executing on your strategic priorities, on ambrosegrowth.com.

 

 

Robbie Baxter shares the latest post from her Subscription Stories series. In this episode, “Freemium, Free Trial and Free Surprises with Elena Verna of Reforge. When Does It Make Sense to Give It Away, and When Doesn’t It?”

In my work with subscription and membership models, one of the books that influenced me the most was Free: The Future of a Radical Price. Free was written by Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of WIRED Magazine and published in 2009 by Hyperion. That book got me thinking about the role of Free in subscriptions in a more strategic and systemic way. If your business hasn’t analyzed the possible role of free in your business model, whether it’s a free trial, a free sample, or a freemium offering, you’re missing out. The judicious use of Free can be one of the most powerful tools in your subscription pricing toolkit. Our guest, Elena Verna, is a growth enthusiast and pricing expert. She’s been responsible for growth at companies like Miro, SurveyMonkey and Malwarebytes. Now, she’s at Reforge, a membership-based learning community where she teaches monetization. In this conversation, we’re talking about the role of Free, the rise of growth as a discipline and what it means to truly be data-driven.

 

Key points discussed include:

  • What Elena is teaching in her monetization class
  • Intuition versus data and the combination of the two
  • The many uses of ‘free’ within a business model

 

Read the full interview, Freemium, Free Trial and Free Surprises with Elena Verna of Reforge, or listen to the podcast at Robbiekellmanbaxter.com.

 

 

Stephen Wunker shares a few key tips to help develop a customer experience strategy that is effective during times of crisis

If the customer experience for your company hasn’t changed in the past year, you are unusual. In industry after industry, from consumer goods to B2B technology, the distancing, fear, and economic turbulence caused by the coronavirus are affecting the sales process, customer selection criteria, the way products and services are consumed, and even what customer service means. Designing experiences for the coronavirus world is a fundamentally different proposition than what people responsible for CX were doing just 13 months ago.

A Pressing Need To Keep Customers Loyal

With the economic fallout from the coronavirus broad and durable, it’s more pressing than ever to keep your customers loyal. Their relationships with companies – be they restaurants or IT service vendors – may well consolidate as a result of the crisis, and you want to be one of their chosen partners going forward. Four steps provide a roadmap to do so:

  1. Determine What Changes Are Occurring In Key Jobs To Be Done

It’s critical in a crisis to understand what underlying motivations – or Jobs to be Done – are driving customers’ behaviors and preferences. The Jobs approach is a powerful way to think broadly about your business and how you might be relevant to people in ways you’ve barely considered. If there was ever a time to use these methods, it’s now.

For an example, look at restaurants – one of the industries most challenged by COVID-19. The Job of impressing a date is no longer relevant. Rather, restaurants that are still operating can target contemporary Jobs such as staying healthy while in confinement and feeling like a good parent. Step back, determine what’s driving priorities today, then chart which of these Jobs might relate to your business. Start by being expansive; you can winnow down the list as you proceed.

 

Key points include:

  • Map the customer’s current journey and potential leverage points
  • Consider new approaches and opportunities
  • Get inspired by what others are doing

 

Read the full article, Customer Experience Strategy In Times Of Crisis, on Newmarketsadvisors.com.

 

 

Sanjay Gandhi shares insight into deal terms, valuation, and the importance of understanding your exit hurdles. 

We’ve seen a significant increase in founders talking to us about deal terms in the current funding environment, especially as the earliest signs of economic tightening and downrounds are starting to appear. Many ask, “How do I get the highest valuation” and our answer always is “That’s only part of the story, and usually not the most important part”. It is reminiscent of the comments received from a talk we’ve given around the country called: How Much Would You Get if You Sold Your Company for $100M? A surprising number of founders don’t know the answer to this, and it couldn’t be more important as you navigate through the funding landscape on the way to an exit.

What’s important to keep in mind is that venture-backed outcomes tend to be clearest at the extremes.  When the company is a homerun with a hockey stick trajectory, everybody wins BIG.  When the company is ill-fated early, you pack it up and move on. However, in that messy middle zone, which represents far and away the vast majority of venture deals, adroitly dealing with the issue of valuation vs. deal terms can make the difference between founders walking away with life-changing money or a cup of coffee.

What’s important to keep in mind is that venture-backed outcomes tend to be clearest at the extremes. When the company is a homerun with a hockey stick trajectory, everybody wins BIG. When the company is ill-fated early, you pack it up and move on. However, in that messy middle zone, which represents far and away the vast majority of venture deals, adroitly dealing with the issue of valuation vs. deal terms can make the difference between founders walking away with life-changing money or a cup of coffee.

 

Key points include:

  • The terms that make a difference
  • How multiple rounds of funding change the game
  • Knowledge is Power – know your exit hurdle

 

Read the full article, Do You Know Your Exit Hurdle?, on Oxfordvaluationpartners.com.

 

 

Shelli Baltman shares a post from an intern at her company that gives all team leaders, bosses, and managers insight into introverted employees and how to help them integrate. 

As someone who’s always been the quiet person in the room, I never could have imagined that I would end up in an organization like The Idea Suite. An unconventional innovation agency teeming with energy, enthusiasm, and passion, we unlock the creative potential of people and businesses through innovation – which in a digital environment can be challenging, since that energy and enthusiasm needs to be transmitted through video calls rather than in person. For an introvert like me, joining this team has been a wild, challenging and ultimately extremely fulfilling ride.

So how have I managed to fit into a group of mostly extroverted, passionate, and energetic individuals you might ask? I’ve adopted a few tactics and made small changes that make it easier to leverage my introverted tendencies as strengths.

So here are 5 tools that helped me navigate a virtual environment as an introvert:

  1.     1 on 1 coffee chats. 

I can sometimes disappear in large groups. I tend to stay quiet and even if I have something to add to the conversation, I always seem to miss the right moment to say it! To someone who identifies as an introvert, it always feels as though extroverted folks are just better at making conversation. But there’s a way around it! I’ve found that arranging 1 on 1 meetings with my colleagues and supervisors is incredibly helpful. Not only is it less intimidating to have a conversation when there is only one other person there, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to express any interesting ideas or opinions that I may not have had the chance or the courage to say in larger meetings or to ask questions that I might otherwise feel uncomfortable raising.

 

Key points include:

  • Team player technique
  • Quality communication
  • Progressive growth

 

Read the full article,  Navigating My Way through a Virtual Internship, on theideasuite.com. 

 

 

From David A. Fields, a post that can help the discerning consultant decide whether a project is too big for their current capabilities. 

Wouldn’t it be great to land a massive, game-changing new project for your consulting firm? Maybe. However, huge assignments have equally huge downsides, and there’s a better way to grow your consulting firm.

You may have bumped up against an opportunity or two to win a whale of a project—perhaps even dethroning Deloitte or some other big name consulting firm to secure an engagement that would dwarf your typical assignments.

It’s understandable that you’d covet a mega-assignment that could instantly double your revenue and lift your consulting firm to the next level of success.

However, rather than angling for whales, you’ll build a more successful, healthier consulting firm by hauling in netfuls of trout. And if you’re already landing plenty of trout, then start reeling in salmon.

A giant project could potentially swallow your consulting firm.*

Consider some downsides:

Higher Risk of Failure. You’re not currently built to deliver a project that is 5-10 times the size of your typical engagement. You probably don’t have the people nor the proven systems and templates required to deliver A+ work on a much larger scale. Similarly, you may not be built to handle the large leap in complexity that accompanies a mega-project.

 

Key points to consider include:

  • Elevated Client Scrutiny and Expectations
  • Distorted Portfolio Risk
  • Post-Project Vacuum

 

Read the full post, Too Big? The Correct Way To Tell If A Project Is Right For Your Consulting Firm, on DavidAFields.com.