The Tortoise and the Hare in Innovation – Go Slow to Go Fast

The Tortoise and the Hare in Innovation – Go Slow to Go Fast

Aesop's fable of the Tortoise and the Hare is well known from our childhood. The braggartly Hare spent his time gloating about how fast he was until the Tortoise finally had enough and challenged him to a race. Laughing at the slow Tortoise the Hare happily accepted the challenge. When the race started the Hare sped off and looking back yelled: "How do you expect to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow pace?" As we remember the Hare found himself so far ahead that he stopped to rest and take a nap and fell asleep. Slowly and steadily the Tortoise continued in the race and won the day while the Hare was caught napping. It's a familiar story, but for some reason we seem to have forgotten the message when it comes to business and in particular Innovation. The moral that Aesop shared was "Don't brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!". ...
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ROI Comes From Customer Value Creation

ROI Comes From Customer Value Creation

I read a post the other day looking at the ROI (Return On Investment) in immediate payment systems (banking speak for instant payments) and one particular statement made by the author made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. In fact, the real driver may not be the ROI but just keeping up with customer and regulatory needs. ROI can't come from regulatory needs and cost savings to be successful. It has to come from customer value creation if you want to be sustainable. If the ROI is some sort of fuzzy "feel good" or "customer experience" story without strong numbers most businesses won't invest in these types of problems. In this example, if all of the major banks in a country (such as Britain or Canada) decide that "instant payments" don't have a positive ROI they will all choose to not build that capability since it isn't "worth it". If they do choose to build it it will be...
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Leading to Outcomes

Leading to Outcomes

One of the more successful strategies I have seen managers take in their organizations has been shifting their focus from managing the process to leading to outcomes. In the age of employee empowerment, one of the best ways to allow your team to feel like they have a say in the work is to allow them some flexibility in the process and approach. As long as they deliver the desired outcome, they should be able to define the path. The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it. Theodore Roosevelt I would suggest that the act of simply managing for outcomes isn't enough in the current corporate environment. Setting goals and offering flexibility in the approach by Leading to Outcomes is a far more effective approach. If you retain the concept of managing in the approach, you won't achieve the full...
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Breaking the Fire Fighting Cycle

Breaking the Fire Fighting Cycle

As traditional organizations look to address the new competition and rapidly increasing pace of change in today's competitive marketplace I am seeing some very interesting common struggles. Traditional markets and industries are seeing unprecedented changes to their customer's expectations, now competitors who are chipping away at their traditional profit centres, and even changes to their employee base with the emergence of the new millenial workforce and the retirement of many of their long standing organizational leaders. (more…)...
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Modifying Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions

Modifying Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions

In his book The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, Peter Drucker offers a tool for self-assessment and transformation in his "Five Most Important Questions You Can Ask".  The questions are designed to drive action and create focus on doing the right things to drive exceptional performance within your organization, only when I read them they fall short of delivering on what matters most.  So in the interest of challenging one of the greatest management thinkers of our time (and someone who I have great respect for) I will offer my own version of the Five Most Important Questions You Can Ask. As a starting point it's a good idea to provide some context by providing the five questions that Drucker proposed and a little bit of background as to why and with what I disagree.  Druckers questions are as follows: What is our Mission? Who is our Customer? What does the Customer Value? What are our Results? What is our Plan? When...
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Interesting Small Business Statistics

Interesting Small Business Statistics

While these statistics aren't particularly new (they come from a 2005 Industry Canada report) I came across them this week while working on a white paper and I think they bear some brief discussion here. In Canada, 94.6% of businesses by number are 'small' meaning that they have less than 50 employees.  The actual number startled me a bit when I read it so I felt I had to dig deeper.  Looking across the provinces and territories, the numbers are fairly uniform - all within one percent or so - something that really surprised me.  I would have expected to find higher percentages in the prairie provinces where there is a higher percentage of agriculture or in Ontario and Quebec, the hotbeds of economic activity.  The report really gets interesting when you look at employment and GDP however.  These same small businesses that make up almost 95% of the business environment employ only 40% of the population (26.7% in goods producing sectors and 73.3%...
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Value is in the Eye of the Beholder

Value is in the Eye of the Beholder

I've had some great conversations with some really smart people in the past couple of months since I got started working with small businesses and new Entrepreneurs in this capacity.  There is one common theme that seems to be emerging though as I work particularly with young technology entrepreneurs: unclear value. Perhaps a good way to start this discussion is with a quote from the yoda of business management, Peter Drucker: "Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality." To illustrate an example of unclear value I'm going to use an example from a recent discussion (the names have been changed to protect the innocent). ...
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What is your Unique Value Proposition? (UVP)

What is your Unique Value Proposition? (UVP)

I was sitting with one of my trusted network centers of influence on Friday discussing opportunities and business and she asked me what should have been a simple question to try to identify any connections she could make for me: "What is your unique value proposition?  What is it that you do that makes you stand apart from everyone else?" I went in to a 5 minute diatribe about people, process, structure, and start-ups and finally she stopped me.  See, the problem is that I never really identified anything that I do that sets me apart.  I forget sometimes that at the senior level, anyone that a start-up brings in can handle the people, process, and structure part (or they wouldn't be considered senior).  What she wanted to know was what I did differently that would help a start-up succeed so that they wouldn't have to call her in (she is a turnaround expert) in six months. In addition to simply identifying my...
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