Find Your Strategic Sweet Spot– Its What Makes a Business Different: Great Companies Always Know Their Sweet Spot…

Share

You often hear– focus on your ‘sweet spot': But, what does that mean? For a business it might mean the intersection of its strengths, its customers’ requirements, its competitors’ weaknesses… and by identifying this intersection it provides clarity, creates opportunity, maximizes success… The concept of a sweet spot is an adaptation of the term in sports, for example; it’s the sweet spot on a golf club, or the sweet spot on a tennis racquet, or the sweet spot on a baseball bat… which when found achieves the maximum results– it’s the ‘spot’ that imparts the greatest amount of forward momentum to the ball for an optimum outcome… According to Rich Schefren; strategic sweet spot in business is the intersection of all its uniqueness– it’s the convergence of all its capabilities, and provides the best possible competitive outcome… However, a strategic sweet spot is never permanent it evolves over time, e.g.; as markets change, as technologies change, as competitors changes, as organizations change, as people talents change… hence, a business must continuously reassess and redefine its strategic sweet spot…

spot1 untitled

According to Frederick Buechner; the strategic sweet spot is the  place where passion, abilities, talents… align with opportunities to solve; economic, social and environmental problems… Finding their strategic sweet spot is an essential for any business– it’s the spot where passion + purpose + potential merges with the needs of a target audience. Finding the strategic sweet spot is not easy, for example; in sports the professional athlete practices a gazillion times to find the sweet spot on their– club, racquet, bat… and the same is true in business, in may take a gazillion failures before a business can find its sweet spot, which will propel it into a leadership role… According to startupprincess; the strategic sweet spot can only be found when the business dives deep into its real purpose, reasons for being, its uniqueness, its competence, its value the business must be strategically aligned with improving customer outcomes at its core foundation…

In the article Hitting the Sweet Spot by Paul O’Dea writes: In business the strategic sweet spot is where a target customers’ needs fit with what’s special about the business… In the proverbial 80:20 rule: 20% of customers deliver 80% of the profit: That 20% is the sweet spot. To grow a business, energies must be focused on finding the sweet spot– and it will provide the clarity, focus, alignment that will propel business grow… However, if you rush to execute a business strategy before finding the right sweet spot, you will just waste time and valuable resources on the wrong customers. Customers outside the sweet spot inhibit growth and should be considered off-strategy. They make you put in effort where there is little hope of being successful… Concentrate on just those customers whose needs match the unique value the business offer… Great companies know their sweet spot customers intimately, and continuously deliver better value than their competition. Their business is tailored around the sweet spot– that’s when customers see themselves as self-select. Also, great companies understand that finding the sweet spot is a continual battle, and it requires a process, discipline, and driven by the top management…

spot imagesFWORTFJR

In the article Finding Your Business Sweet Spot by Dasko writes: Businesses often find themselves producing a whole lot of products and services they struggle to profit from, as well as, chasing after customers they are actually ill-equipped to service… When that happens, it’s time to take a step back and refocus by identifying the ‘sweet spot’ in the business. So, how do you find that ‘sweet spot’? By asking three simple questions; What is the business best at? What do the customers want the most? Where do competitors struggle? The business strategic sweet spot is the intersection of these three elements (e.g., visualize a Venn diagram). Identifying this intersection provides clarity, creates opportunity, maximizes outcome… these, in turn, provide more efficient use of business resources, better focus, greater cost-effectiveness… hence, the final results are more ‘high value’ customers,  greater profitability, better return on investment… The key difference between business that identify their ‘sweet spot’ and those that do not is simply; better positioning, optimal outcome… and leveraging these actions:

  • Identify and pursue the most profitable market segments…
  • Create new products and services which draw on its operational strengths…
  • Evaluate partnerships, alliances… for maximizing business opportunities…
  • More business focus to achieve greater– return on investment (ROI)…

In the article Finding Your Sweet Spot by Rich Schefren writes: Finding your sweet spot is much more than simply picking a niche… In fact, one of the main reasons why so many businesses fail is because they look for a niche instead of their sweet spot… That’s because a niche is solely based on external factors, like a recognized need in the marketplace or a problem needing a solution… In stark contrast, your sweet spot is based on your own internal factors, such as; strengths, talents, experiences, passions… That’s why it’s a mission critical concept: By specifically identifying your sweet spot you will have a significant advantage in the marketplace… It’s the place where all these elements come together, it enables the business to provide unique value to customers… But, finding the sweet spot it’s not easy, it requires much research and introspection to find it… but it’s all worth it– the sweet spot is the unique advantage of a business– so to excel you must find it, engage it… but, don’t just wing-it.

In the article Sweet Spot–Become Extraordinary by Rick Meekins writes: Did you know that ‘you’ have a sweet spot, and that trying to operate outside of ‘your’ sweet spot can actually cause more harm than good over time? Think about it: Most people have one or two things that they are very good at… Most people have a sweet spot in which they operate very well, but are you operating in your sweet spot, now? The important thing is to get an accurate assessment of how– ‘you work best’ (your sweet spot)… Then, the next step is to plan how to ‘fire yourself’ from the work that is outside of your sweet spot, then model your new work such that you operate within your sweet spot most often… And that means finding other people who can do your old jobs better than you, because then; the customers will benefit, the company will benefit, the team will benefit… Being able to get great people around you is what makes great companies great. If you’re a great leader, find a great manager… If you are a great manager, find a great team… this continuum is the extension theory of the sweet spot…

All businesses have strategic sweet spots– it’s the business’ energy source; it’s where the business is most competent, in-sync, unique talent, predictable value, optimal outcomes… It feels like magic, but it’s not: It’s the intersection of the business– strengths, weaknesses, passions, differences… According to Peter Bregman; a poll survey showed that a full 72% of workers admit to doing work they neither excel at nor enjoy… For a business to fulfill its purpose it must have an engaged workforce operating within its sweet spot: Not outside of it… The truth is mediocrity sucks, and if you are not in your sweet spot, you are probably swimming in a sea of lukewarm mediocrity. According to Barbara Spencer Hawk; the sweet spot is the zone where you maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses. It’s that elusive, but powerful place that represents an optimum operating position in terms of– revenues, results, satisfaction… A sweet spot analyses is usually represented as a Venn diagram, and the process is simple, intuitive, self-explanatory…

spot sweet-spot

According to Alfred A. Marcus; great companies move into sweet spots and defended them, but they do not stop there; they deepened their position, they enlarge and extend it, they are focused… Their main concern is meeting the critical needs of customers... Their reach is global and consistent, and they reduce their risks by limiting themselves to their core competencies, steering away from activities that might easily involve failure… Great companies focused on core strengths, and they stuck to their mission… This lesson is illustrated by six traits that great companies exhibit, for example; 1. they streamline the organization by spinning off non-core businesses that detracted from their mission, 2. they stay away from activities that have high risk of failure, 3. they gain flexibility by allowing other companies to assume the risks of development, 4. they exploit brands through sequels and related products, 5. they reach out through new channels, 6. they totally dedicate themselves to the customer… Great companies always know their ‘sweet spot’ and exhibit the following characteristic; they have total focus, their performance is effortless, they are in-synch within the organization and with all stakeholder outside the organization, they display total dominance in whatever they are pursuing, they exercise exemplary leadership…

Share

Job Skills Gap– Eternal Struggle of Unprepared Workforce: CEOs Say the ‘Skills Gap’ Threatens U.S. Economic Future…

Share

 

Skills Gap: What exactly is it? If you ask around you are likely to hear a few different answers, for example; CEOs might say it’s a symptom of an outdated education system that fails to prepare students with the right skills and that threatens the U.S.’s ability to effectively compete in the global economy… Meanwhile other pundits might say– it’s an effort by companies to shift the burden of training employees onto academia and government instead of investing in it themselves. But the most important answer would come from one of U.S.’s 20 million unemployed young people, who might say; It’s what’s keeping me from getting a job… How do workers stay relevant in increasingly automated world? According to Paul Wiseman and Bernard Condon; the trend is clear from giant corporations to university libraries to start-up businesses, employers are using rapidly improving technology to do tasks that humans used to do. That means millions of workers are caught in a competition they can’t win– they are wedged between highly skilled technical jobs and machines that keep getting more powerful, cheaper, easier to use…

skills images40J98NUQ

To better understand the impact of technology on jobs, the Associated Press (AP) analyzed employment data from 20 countries and interviewed– economists, technology experts, robot manufacturers, software developers, chief executive officers, and workers who are competing with smarter machines… The AP found that almost all the jobs disappearing are the mid-skill, mid-pay jobs– jobs with salaries ranging from $38,000 to $68,000– which form the backbone of the middle class… In the U.S., half of the 7.5 million jobs lost during the recent recession paid middle-class wages… According to the Manpower Group’s ‘Talent Shortage Survey'; in a worldwide survey 35% of 38,000 employers reported difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent… But the idea of a ‘skills gap’ has been widely criticized, for example; Peter Cappelli asks whether these studies are just a sign of ‘employer whining’… and Paul Krugman calls the skills gap a ‘zombie idea’ that should have been killed by evidence, but refuses to die… The New York Times asserts that it’s mostly corporate fiction, based in part on self-interest, misreading of government data… the survey responses are an effort by executives to get the government to take on more of the costs of training workers…

According to James Bessen; Really? So, it’s a worldwide conspiracy by thousands of business managers to manipulate public opinion seems far-fetched. Perhaps the simpler explanation is the better one: many employers might actually have difficulty hiring skilled workers. The critics cite economic evidence to argue that there are no major shortages of skilled workers. This issue has become controversial because people define ‘skills gap’ differently… Some public officials have sought to blame persistent unemployment on skill shortages, but according to some experts– there is little evidence to support such an interpretation. Indeed, employers reported difficulty hiring skilled workers before the recession, which illustrates one source of confusion in the debate over the existence of a skills gap…

skills Skills_Gap

However, what is certain is there are two essential skill sets that remain at the top of the list of job requirements for 21st century work, namely: 1. Ability to quickly acquire and apply new knowledge… 2 The know-how to apply essential skills– problem solving, communication, teamwork, technology use, innovation… The skills gap is real and it’s a significant a problem… according to CEOs of major U.S. corporations at an event in Washington DC hosted by Business Roundtable and Change the Equation… The finding is part of a survey of the memberships on U.S. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Skills… According to 126 CEOs who responded, key points that emerged included:

  • 97% reported the skills gap is a problem…
  • 60% of job openings require basic STEM literacy, and 42% require advanced STEM skills…
  • 28% say that at least half of their new entry-level hires lack basic STEM literacy…
  • 62% of CEOs report problems finding qualified applicants for jobs requiring advanced computer/IT knowledge…
  • 41% report problems finding qualified applicants for jobs requiring advanced quantitative knowledge…
  • Over next five years, employers need to hire nearly 1 million employees with basic STEM literacy and more than 600,000 employees with advanced STEM knowledge…

The skills gap is a serious challenge for business and the entire economy… According to John Engler; if business is going to compete and succeed, then this crisis must be confronted; CEOs are speaking out on the issue, and pursuing solutions in their own companies and urging that U.S. must develop a national strategy to prepare workers for STEM jobs… According to Linda P. Rosen; STEM skills are critical, not only for today’s jobs, but will be essential to tomorrow’s opportunities as well, CEOs know that ensuring a STEM-literate workforce must begin with a strong K-12 pipeline… Policy makers need to think differently about skills and encourage creative solutions, for example; industry certification programs for new skills, partnerships between business and community colleges, apprenticeship programs in skilled trades… Workers must acquire 21st Century skills to earn good pay, and employers must hire skilled workers and train them to stay competitive in the global economy

skills2 images

In the article It’s Man vs. Machine and Man Is Losing by Kathleen Madigan writes: Since the recession ended, business has increased their real spending on equipment and software by 26%… New orders and shipments of ‘capex goods’– defined as non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, increased… For all the talk of uncertainty, the increase in orders is a sign that companies are optimistic about the future… Hence, you can’t fault companies for investing in new machinery rather than hiring new workers… Business’ preference for equipment while understandable from a cost perspective– is also a big reason why policymakers are stymied to find ways to ignite good paying job creation… Indeed, the Federal Reserve‘s pursuit of low-interest rates only widens the cost gap… That’s because it cheapens the borrowing costs for capital projects while doing little to hold down payroll expenses…

According to Ben Hutt; the workforce of the future will need to focus on new ways to apply and leverage their skills so they can add greater value... It’s for this reason that according to the Economist; the top layer of the labor market will sit with individuals with high abstract reasoning, creativity, and interpersonal skills that are often beyond most peoples’ capabilities... So what can you do to better equip the labor market and the next generation of workers? As a starting point, governments and industry need to do a better job of up-skilling and transitioning workers. This does not necessarily need to be by supporting ageing educational and policy frameworks, rather by encouraging, supporting people to be more self-directed and empowered to educate themselves… Investing in people by providing access to and incentives for completion of self-led education, and by providing incentives for business to sponsor relevant job training programs…

In the article Jobs Skills Gap by Allen Wastler writes: What’s more important for getting a job: Being able to write computer code or understanding what your boss says? Either way, there’s a problem, according to a survey of 500 top executives… 92% of them said there’s a job skills gap. And of that overwhelming majority, nearly half believed the gap was in ‘soft skills’– communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration… According to Janette Marx; businesses is saying they are getting applicants who aren’t prepared for the workplace… According to Gary Beach; most surveys focus on the ‘current’ situation, but based on the incredibly poor results for U.S., in PISA test results, I worry much more about the ‘future’ skills gap crisisAnd how do you fix that? Well, that’s the second part of the job skills gap debate: How do you teach the right skills and who pays for it? This typically boils down to a government education versus private business training fight… Indeed, more than half of the respondents to a survey said they didn’t think the U.S. college system was doing a good job of preparing students for the workplace. And the vast majority, 89%, thought corporate training programs and apprenticeships were the better way to go to fill the job skills gap. Of course, many executives believe the cost of developing in-house training programs was a major barrier…

In the article How Corporate America Can Close Skills Gap by Joseph B. Fuller writes: Far too many companies think short-term, poaching talent from each other rather than developing it… The U.S. has indeed failed for years to position aspiring workers to share in economic prosperity. But essential driver of that failure– for which both businesses and policymakers have a measure of responsibility– is not a matter of cash for tuition… The erosion of the skills base of the U.S. workforce, especially for middle-skills jobs (generally defined as those requiring education or training beyond a high-school diploma but less than a four-year degree), is a major threat to U.S. competitiveness. Employers across sectors and geographies have difficulty finding workers with relevant skills; aspiring workers lack insight into which skills are in demand and access to the resources to develop their talents fully…

Companies provide little visibility as to what they currently require or anticipate requiring from workers in the future, and they invest too little in guiding and supporting the educators on whom they rely for talent… companies needs establish a close working relationship with educators to determine what constitutes relevant skills curriculum… Educators, for their part, should recognize that a paramount measure of success is the ability of their graduates to obtain the skills for gainful employment… Many progressive educators understand that, but they lack the resources to forge enduring partnerships with employers…

skills1 untitled

According to Mark Price; the ‘skills gap’ hypothesis is troubling because policymakers can use it as an excuse for government not to take the lead in job creation. After all, if high unemployment is due to significant skills deficits among workers, the solution must be education, training… right? Policymakers must understand their principal role is to clearly understand the challenges of business, workers, and the economy… and to apply resources that support’s constructive job skills programs… Most important, policymakers must recognize the impact of policy decisions on the appetite of employers to hire new workers. However, unemployed and underemployed people can’t just wait around until vaguely defined group of job skills upgrades are defined, initiated… since there is a sense of urgency for many businesses and workers… According to Richard Riley; challenge for society is to prepare workers for jobs that don’t yet exist… using technologies that haven’t yet been invented… to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.

Share

Silicon Valley’s Rise of Unicorns– Predictions of ‘Bubbliciousness': Decline Signs of a Golden Age?

Share

What is Silicon Valley a Place or State of Mind? Silicon Valley is partying like it’s 1999, but there’s a growing realization the good times cannot last forever. According to Marc Andreessen; young technology companies are irresponsibly burning cash at unsustainable rates, and many startups will ‘vaporize’ when the market turns south… The issue is less about the absolute burn rate of $100,000 or $1 million or $10 million per month. It’s about: Do you have enough runway to get to profitability? According to Rob Enderle; if startups begin imploding, the fallout is likely to infect publicly traded technology companies, especially those that are not profitable… a company not very profitable is trading on hopes and dreams. It’s time to wake up. During boom times, investors tend to overlook the blemishes of a company’s business model, inexperienced management team, lack of established track record… Investors typically just assume away the risk because they believe this venture is the next big thing. They never stop to ask whether or not they even have the possibility of making any money…

silicon thSQP7MVMT

According to Will Oremus; the Silicon Valley of the popular imagination is defined by its success stories, but they are the outliers. According to CB Insights, which tracks the venture-capital industry; 75% of startups go nowhere, another 21% get acquired by a larger company, and that leaves just 4% with the chance to make it big on their own. Startups that turn into billion-dollar companies are so rare that they’ve acquired the nickname ‘unicorns‘… Yet they are the ones you hear about in the news every day– the ones that fuel the Silicon Valley dream… So what about the other 96%? What is it like to work for a startup that isn’t destined for fame and fortune? Like so many startups, they start out as a grand idea to disrupt and democratize a market and they end up as a scheme to help e-commerce firms get more people to click on their links…

According to Felix Salmon; Silicon Valley is gripped by a mass delusion– a headlong rush for fool’s gold on the part of hordes of misguided techies who are better off simply getting jobs And, there is a reason Silicon Valley takes failure so lightly, and it has nothing to do with empathy; it’s that failure, and lots of it, is essential for the proper functioning of its economy… So if you are in the 21% group you will reap a small windfall in the form of cash or equity in exchange for selling out. If you are in the 75% group you will get a regular salary and benefits as a– coders, go-for, want-to-be… but then if you are a unicorn (4%), rare as you are, you end up rich beyond belief…

In the article Age of Unicorns by Erin Griffith and Dan Primack write: It was not long ago that the idea of a pre-IPO tech startup with a $1 billion market value was a fantasy. Google was never worth $1 billion as a private company. Neither was Amazon nor any other alumnus of the original dotcom class… Today the technology industry is crowded with billion-dollar startups. When Aileen Lee coined the term ‘unicorns‘ as a label for such corporate creatures, just 39 of the past decade’s VC-backed U.S. startups had topped the $1 billion valuation mark. Now, casting a wider net, Fortune Magazine counts more than 80 startups that have been valued at $1 billion or more by venture capitalists… And given that these companies are privately held, a few are sure to have escaped detection. The rise of the unicorn has occurred rapidly and without much warning, and it’s starting to freak some people out… According to Jason Green; venture capitalists are now hunting just startups with the potential to rapidly reach a $10 billion valuation– or ‘decacorns’… In late 2013 just one private company had crossed that threshold– Facebook; but now there are dozens of companies, for example; Uber and its valuation is higher than the market capitalization of at least 70% of the companies in the Fortune 500…

Technology is driving the boom with; smartphones, cheap sensors, and cloud computing have enabled a raft of new Internet-connected services that are infiltrating the most tech-averse industries, for example; Uber is roiling the taxi industry, Airbnb is disrupting hotels… and investors see massive opportunity in the upheaval… Then there are the broader financial trends contributing to this craziness, for example; a nearly six-year-old raging bull stock market has produced a tailwind for private company valuations and convinced the latest crop of tech entrepreneurs that there will be plenty of time to cash-in… record-low interest rates also have caused some big institutional investors to search for returns in the high-risk, high-reward world of venture capital… Add to that a lack of regulation; after the passage of the JOBS Act in 2012, which aimed to make it easier for small business to raise capital, startups could take on many more investors before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) effectively forced them to go public…

Finally, there is the intangible element of perception: In the startup world, a valuation of $1 billion says that you are no longer a fly-by-night startup with plans to quickly sell out to the highest bidder...Venture capitalists justify these soaring valuations by looking backward. After the dotcom crash, a wave of prudence swept over Silicon Valley, and investors kept valuations low and tried not to overcapitalized their companies. That strategy lasted until ‘Facebook’ came along… If a startup is going to be worth billions of dollars in a few years, why quibble over a few million on the entry price? As a result, the median valuation of a Series-A round of funding soared 135% between 2012 and 2014, according to the law firm Cooley LLP. This has created an echo effect, with new gains setting the bar higher for each subsequent round of funding. So venture capitalists have recruited unlikely new partners in the form of traditional money managers such as; Fidelity Investments (led the latest deal for Uber) and Wellington Management (backed DocuSign and Moderna Therapeutics) to support unicorn-level rounds. Call it trickle-up economics…

It also doesn’t hurt that U.S corporations have record-breaking stockpiles of cash on their balance sheets, for example; Facebook had people scratching their heads when it paid $19 billion for instant-messaging startup ‘WhatsApp’, then followed-up by shelling out $2 billion for virtual reality headset maker ‘Oculus VR’. In 2014, Google paid $3.2 billion for smart thermostat maker Nest, Apple acquired headphone maker Beats for $3 billion, and Microsoft spent $2.5 billion to own the Swedish gaming startup responsible for Minecraft… All of this has begun to feel ‘bubblicious’, especially to those who lived through the last cycle. According to Alan Patricof; people are buying traffic growth, revenue growth, but it’s the ‘emperor has no clothes’ theory… At some point all of these companies will be valued on a multiple of EBITDA… If IPO market goes away, or for any reason there’s a blip in the outlook, people could be left holding a lot of inventory they wish they didn’t have… But, on other hand, proponents of the ‘unicorn’ boom posit that this time; no seriously! is different…

In the article Dear Silicon Valley: Here is Your Wake-Up Call by Henry Blodget writes: For the past 15 years or so, ever since the tech industry began its recovery from the dotcom bust, observers have rushed to declare a new ‘bubble’… With each successive increase in the valuations of companies like– Google, Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Pinterest, Snapchat… skeptics have dismissed the growth as a ‘fad’ and the extraordinary and real value created as a delusion… However, for the past 15 years these skeptics have been wrong, and insofar as they dismiss today’s tech environment a ‘bubble’, and they are still wrong. Today’s investment climate is still a far cry from the bubble years of the late 1990s… But, just because today’s environment is not a ‘bubble’ that does not mean that you will escape a day of reckoning: You won’t… The tech industry has always been cyclical: Booms have always been followed by busts, and this time will be no different, but the only question is ‘when’?

silicon1

No one knows the answer to that question, but a few of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest say that alarm bells are ringing… Silicon Valley, to its credit, has always been a hotbed of optimism and the future is always bright and opportunity is always everywhere, and failures are always just part of the innovation process. So if you want to get pumped up about where the world is heading and excited about the future, you just head for the Silicon Valley However in normal times, Silicon Valley’s optimism is thoughtful and calculated; it’s fact-based: Ideas are hotly debated and risks are respected, understood… But in ‘boom’ times, like in late 1990s, and healthy skepticism and dialogue disappears, and ideas, no matter how fanciful are assumed to be sound, and success is assumed to be guaranteed… Moreover, when basic assumptions are challenged, typical establishment response is– dismissive; saying that– you skeptics just don’t get it…

silicon2

The important story here is that some of the smartest minds in Silicon Valley appear to have stopped thinking critically, and instead after being surrounded by 15 years of unbridled, unpredicted success in the face of highly vocal skepticism, they have gotten caught up in their own natural and admirable enthusiasm and have begun to regard it as a given that anything they dream up will come to fruition… some skeptics remember when that happened in the late 1990s… And, it wasn’t long before ‘boom’ turned to ‘bust’. Maybe the current cycle has another year or two left; no one can predict with confidence when cycles and markets turn… And for the prudent skeptics– the alarm bells are now ringing…

silicon3

It’s a story told over and over again in Silicon Valley: You are growing at rates you have not seen since the bubble in 2000 and, According to the 2015 Silicon Valley Index; Silicon Valley’s job growth rate is at 4.1%, the highest it’s been since 2000, adding nearly 58,000 jobs. Average annual incomes in Silicon Valley and San Francisco are at $116,033 and $104,881, respectively, compared to $61,489 in the U. S… On the investment side, Silicon Valley and San Francisco lured $20.2 billion in venture capital in 2014… The report says there were 275 U.S. Initial Public Offerings (IPO) in 2014; 23 of which were Silicon Valley companies, and five of which were San Francisco companies…

But not all the news is good: There is a growing wage gap, nearly 30% of the region’s population does not make enough money to meet their basic needs without public assistance… The median income for high-skilled workers in the region is $118,651, while the median wages for low-skilled workers is $28,847… And the income gap between the sexes is worse in the region than nationwide… Further, not everyone agrees with Silicon Valley’s sunny outlook; skeptics point to the public valuation of Internet companies as grossly overvalued… According to Jeffrey Pfeffer; there are enormous amounts of money sloshing around and valuations are high… And it’s not a healthy economy when service workers can’t afford to live in these communities– bubble or not– things must change…

Evidence continues to mount that certain sectors of the tech market are experiencing a speculative bubble similar to the one that developed during the late 1990s. According to Bill Gurley; excessive risk taking is apparent given the sheer number of people working for money-losing companies in the technology field. He also argued that the expansion of this behavior is self-reinforcing… According to Robert Ackerman; the innovation economy is at risk of overheating as investor expectations in certain market sectors run ahead of pragmatic realityAccording to Igor Sill; the recent astronomically overvalued pre-IPO prices awarded to dozens of tech companies is craziness… According to Mark Cannice; it remains to be seen if there will continue to be enough public market and corporate inquisitor demand to absorb the growing number of highly valued private ventures and sustain the currently robust venture environment…

The reality of Silicon Valley is problematic; there is absolutely no reason why VCs, angels, investment firms, talented developers… should be geographically limited to Silicon Valley… The technologies that were born and developed in Silicon Valley will ultimately humble Silicon Valley– technologies that enables many companies to be located in just about any geographical location on the planet and still innovate– there is no longer a reason for talented innovators to be tether to Silicon Valley… Presently, the amount of new businesses being created in Silicon Valley is outweighing the amount of businesses leaving. But the rate is on decline; it’s happening slowly but it’s happening.

Share

PSSST! Gossip in the Workplace–Sucks: Dirty Little Secrets May Sound Harmless But, Left Unchecked, It Destroys

Share

Power of Gossip: Gossip in the workplace may sound like a harmless, unavoidable by-product of corporate life, but don’t be fooled: Left unchecked, gossip can wreak havoc on company morale, efficiency… Nearly two-thirds of adult conversation are devoted to people who aren’t in the room, which translates to more than two hours a day… Gossip is one of the greatest causes of distrust and consequently under-performance in any business… According to Peter Vajda; gossip is a form of attack that empowers one person while disempowering another… gossip, in its worst manifestations, is likened to a form of workplace violence… And in response, some organizations have gone so far as to craft formal policies against gossip, but this doesn’t get to the root issue… According to Mary Abbajay; when gossip runs amok it can be dangerous, destructive in the workplace. But what is the difference between an idle chatter and gossip? While idle chit-chat and other light conversation can be ‘value’ neutral, gossip is often negative, inflammatory and embarrassing to the company or person being spoken about… But, for all of its real hazards and potential harm, some researchers think that what goes by the name of ‘gossip’ is not all bad…

gossip Gossip

But then, where is the line? Call it gossip or just plain ‘talk.’ Either way, it can be harmful or helpful. It can create an impression that is positive or negative. It can create relationships that are supportive or cut throat. A workplace culture is a reflection of intentions and the words chosen… According to Handel Group; the irony about workplace gossip is that it’s often about things that really matters to the company or team and should be addressed directly… According to Lisa Swan; while it may seem like no big deal, there are several reasons why workplace gossip can be destructive, for example; It’s two-faced: talking about people and situations behind their backs will almost never have positive results… It rips teams apart: instead of working towards a common goal, gossip will tear the team apart, causing negativity and dissent instead of finding common ground… It doesn’t fix anything: whatever steam that gets let off with workplace gossip it’s temporary– it will continue to fester and cause ongoing problems, until the core issue is resolved…

A study by the Georgia Institute of Technology examines the effects of gossip in the modern workplace… They defined gossip as– the absence of a third-party from the conversation… and researchers set out to discover its role in workplace dynamics… The researchers reached the following conclusions about all that gossipishness; key findings:

  • Gossip has four main purposes: information, entertainment, intimacy, influence…
  • Gossip is ‘all-pervasive’ and is common at every level of an organization…
  • CEOs are a frequent source of gossipy emails…
  • Gossip is as frequent in work communications as it is in personal ones…
  • Some employees are constant ‘gossiping’ while others are merely ‘listening’…
  • Gossip is 2.7 times more likely to be negative than positive…

In the article Workplace Gossip by Mike Myatt writes: Allowing gossip in the workplace is like encouraging your employees to swim with sharks. Let me cut right to the chase – real leaders don’t participate in gossip, and likewise they don’t tolerate gossip from others. Gossip destroys trust, undermines credibility, and is one of the greatest adversaries of a healthy corporate culture. While the emotional distress associated with gossip can be dealt with fairly easily, the political discord that can erupt in an organization can be nothing short of disastrous… Gossip is one of the most divisive undercurrents pervading business as it allows for the unnecessary dispersion of negative innuendo for pleasure of a few, and to detriment of many… Show me a person that participates in gossip and I’ll show you someone who cannot be trusted. People who participate in gossip often times view their activity as being politically savvy when in fact, gossip is the tool of insecure, rank amateurs… Another definition for gossip is: Gossip is talking about a situation with somebody who is neither a part of the solution or a part of the problem… If you have a problem with a person or take exception to a particular situation, go directly to source, and have the courage and integrity to hit things head on…

gossip imagesVR1M7NIJ

In the article How to Manage Gossip at Work by Susan M. Heathfield writes: Gossip is rampant in many workplaces. Sometimes, it seems as if people have nothing better to do than gossip about each other. They talk about the company, their coworkers, and their managers. They frequently take a partial truth and turn it into a whole speculative truth… It’s unavoidable to expect a certain amount of gossip in the workplace; people want to know what is going and they like to discuss work issues with co-workers and others… However if you, as a leader, find yourself having to address gossip frequently, maybe you should examine your workplace to better understand the ongoing themes in the gossip, for example; consider that you may not be sharing enough information with employees. Or, it’s possible that employees don’t trust you and are afraid to ask about important topics… If gossip has not been managed in the past, gossip tends to become a negative aspect of the work culture. So, don’t let negative gossip go unaddressed– manage gossip exactly as you would manage any other negative behavior in the workplace; confront it, examine its root cause, resolve it…

In the article Gossip in the Workplace by Julie Tappero writes: Gossip can be good, bad, and ugly, depending on the form it takes. Why does gossip take root in the workplace? We can start with the fact that we are social creatures with curious minds. We are a society built on information and we like to be in the know, knowledge is power… People gossip or spread rumors when information is not in the open or shared in abundance… Remember the saying; when in doubt, make it up. People, especially in these uncertain times, want to know information about the company, its finances, their jobs, their departments, coworkers, sales, strategies, plans… If the information doesn’t flow their way, they’ll seek it out anyway they can… so encourage an open workplace environment providing real facts and that will dispel gossip. Hence, managers must make a conscious effort to be accessible to everyone in the organization and become a trusted listener… Dispelling rumors and quelling gossip is a lot easier to do when employees feel free to ask for clarity or facts from someone who knows what’s going on…

In the article Damage of Gossip in the Workplace by Elizabeth Layne writes: For many employees, gossip in the workplace is a frequent guilty pleasure. According to Beth Weissenberger; although it occasionally provides insight into and understanding of the nuances of office personalities and colleague relationships, it often hurts the individuals involved and damages the organization. At very least, workplace gossip is unproductive; it prevents effective communication about important workplace issues, it isolates people and, at times, it can be the cause for a lawsuit… According to University of Virginia Health System; people who gossip believe that it helps them fit-in with their co-workers or it gives them a sense of importance… According to Tim Hallett; malicious gossip, e.g.;  saying that a person in the workplace is involved in criminal act or uses drugs damages careers, reputations and even health, it can result in a lawsuit for defamation, invasion of privacy, malicious interference with employability… Both employer and employees who gossip can be held liable for damages…

In the article Workplace Gossip and Rumors by Martin Seidenfeld writes: Gossip and rumors are most likely to spread when there is a lack of clear, frequent communication between management and workers… If you allow yourself to participate in workplace gossip, you perpetuate it and damage your own image. Especially if you have leadership aspirations, or you are already in a position of leadership, any participation in gossip is mostly viewed negatively and as a blow to team cohesiveness… Gossip is usually aimed at undermining the credibility or likability of another person. Gossipers tend to moralize and may subtly, or not so subtly, flaunt their ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. Gossiping helps them to get the attention they crave… However, you must also consider the possibility that gossip about a specific situation or worker may point to a real problem that needs to be examined… Resolving the subject of the gossip just might just help the organization, team, workplace… to improve.

gossip 264b

Is the gossip fact or fiction? The truth is that it just does not matter. Gossip and rumors are a destructive force in the workplace… Employees who start rumors and spread gossip may not intend to cause harm, but what needs to be considered is the gross negative impact on the entire organization. Lives are affected in immeasurable ways; careers can come to a crashing halt, families fall apart and companies may even close their doors… Oscar Wilde once wrote; there is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about… gossip is self-perpetuating: The more people talk about you, the more important you become; and the more important you become, the more people talk about you– it’s a twisted badge of honor…

According to Jack and Suzy Welch; the biggest dirty little secret in business is absence of ‘candor’ and it’s single largest roadblock keeping companies from being effective.The concept is simple but its consequences are huge. Without of an open culture of frank, sincere and exhaustively honest talk, people feel left out of important conversations… Focus on open, honest, and regular communication, and build a culture of mutual respect and integrity– You won’t ever stop all gossip completely, but you can create more trust and harmony within your workplace and the organization… Be proactive: Build a culture of mutual respect…

Here is a ‘gossip’ test: Consider the impact of what is being said: Does it cast negative aspersions? Does it create rifts? Does it exult in the misfortune of others? Does it have a negative emotional charge? Does it serve to perpetuate conflict or negativity? Is it hurtful or damaging?

Share

Murky World of Corporate Spying– Its a High Growth Global Industry: Who is Spying on Your Business?

Share

Corporate spying is commonplace and it represents the greatest transfer of wealth in human history… Economists estimate– that U.S. intellectual property is worth about $5 trillion, which is nearly half the country’s economy. They also estimate that the theft of trade secrets may cost companies $300 billion per year… According to SANS Institute; the increasing high stakes game of corporate spying (or espionage) is being played by many individuals, corporations, countries… worldwide. These players use any ethical and/or unethical means to acquire data that will give them a competitive or financial advantage over their competition… According to Eamon Javers; there is so much money at stake that everyone is spying on everybody else. We live in an information age where data is money, and if you get more data than the next guy, you have the edge…

spy th54CDUS0G

What is the difference between industry espionage and corporate spying? According to Sarah Brumley; the difference between industrial espionage and corporate spying is 20 years and $10 million; that’s maximum penalty under the U.S. Industrial Espionage Act for stealing trade secrets for money, or for the benefit of a foreign country. Whereas, corporate spying refers to information gathering- where some is legal and some is not-taken from employees and companies without their knowledge or consent… Corporate spying is not a crime, if the methods used to conduct it are legal, for examples; hiring secret shoppers to evaluate retail stores or simply hiring an investigator to eavesdrop at a trade show. The term is also used to describe using the Internet to collect information… Also, when a company tracks web searches and keystrokes of employees who are using its computers, it’s not breaking the law. However, often organizations do step over the line by obtaining information illegally…

Corporate Spying; according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary– spying is defined as: the practice of using spies to obtain information about plans and activities of a foreign government or a competing company… Although the term sounds very cloak and dagger and makes us think of cold war era spying; it has recently been used more to describe what companies around the world and in most industries, are doing to each other. Corporate spying is seen as a way to gain a competitive edge, a market advantage or perhaps to embarrass or put a competitor out of business… There are various types of spying or reconnaissance that are intended for commercial purposes, rather than solely for national security objectives, and they have become more widespread in recent years with globalization and fair trade initiatives… Most often for commercial purposes these are misappropriation of trade secrets, which include; stealing, copying, transmitting, buying, or even destroying trade secrets… these are considered criminal acts under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA)… The law makes it illegal to steal trade secrets, as well as; copy, duplicate, sketch, download, or communicate them to others…

According to an estimate by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); billions of dollars are lost every year to foreign and domestic competitors who intentionally target business intelligence from U.S. industries and technologies as well as commercial technologies by exploiting information and trade secrets. The FBI notes that foreign competitors criminally seek intelligence by recruiting insiders or establishing ‘cover’ business relationships or by acts of– bribery, theft, wiretapping, covert surveillance, cyber invasion… Corporate spying is international in scope, and transpires between businesses, companies, corporations… One of the most significant misconceptions is that high-tech criminals, sophisticated spies, and computer hackers conduct it, but more often than not, corporate spying is carried out by very simple and preventable measures, for example;  with so much focus today on computer security, corporate spies can more easily slip into an unlocked office or neglected conference room to tap into information sources like the trash. desk tops, vulnerable telephones… Or secrete a small listening device that can be remotely triggered, in a company’s executive conference room or an executive’s office. As a general rule of thumb, a good spy will always look first to the path of least resistance.

However, from a corporate prospective there are two things that exacerbate the problem; 1. lack of awareness of general security practices by employees, 2. lack of proper valuation of intellectual property and company information… One simple example is the handling of draft documents, which are often discarded with less caution than the finalized version– and yet they contain much of the same information… According to an American Society of Industrial Services (ASIS) Report; several major trends in the industry, include:

  • Information assets in all formats (e.g.; paper, electronic, oral, prototypes, models…) are being targeted for possible compromise…
  • Deliberate actions of current, former employees are a primary threat to proprietary information…
  • Exploitation of trusted relationships, including; those involving vendors, customers, joint ventures, outsourced providers… is a threat to proprietary information…

In the article Corporate Spying– Spies are Among Us by Janelle Brown writes: It may seem a little farfetched but perhaps that seemingly benign salesman sitting in the next cubicle is one of them. Or, maybe its the executive you saw breezing through the airport, briefcase in hand… According to Adam Penenberg and Marc Barry; many corporations worth their salt are using spies these days. It’s just one of the costs of doing business… Every once in a while, corporate spying stories slip into the mainstream media… Most of the time, corporate spying is cloaked in euphemisms, for example; the average corporate conglomerate may have a million-dollar budget for secret information gathering, but the internal responsibilities are hidden from public and shareholder scrutiny, many with seemingly innocuous titles, such as; the title of ‘competitive intelligence’ is common and it’s a growing industry…

The Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (i.e., basically, corporate spy central) has 7,000 members, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that $25 billion in shareholder money is lost every year in intellectual property theft. In the information age, intellectual property is money; so it’s not any wonder that most multinationals are trying to get ‘intelligence’ on what their competitors are up to… For most companies, the target is data; business plans, patents, pricing lists, product details, markets… which are easily obtained by a seasoned sleuth… But despite some nifty gadgets, corporate spying relies mainly on good old-fashion stealthy research. The typical spy is not very sexy, most lack the intrigue or drama that you would normally associate with spying, e.g.; no miniature camera, no disguise, no midnight break-in, no ‘Bond’ gadgets… most corporate intelligence gathering is not very scintillating…

In the article Corporate Espionage: Fact, Fiction by Andrew Beattie writes: Corporate espionage is probably not what you think of when you hear the word spy; there is nothing blatantly illegal about this profession. The freedom of information act can, with some imagination, be stretched to protect the collection of any kind of information as long as you abide by two Rules: 1. You have not signed a non-disclosure agreement… 2. You do not use fraud or break any laws while gathering information… When corporate spies are caught, they are usually charged for breaking Rule-2… There are several reasons that you don’t hear much about corporate espionage: If a corporation admits that it has been the victim of cloak and dagger activities, then it appears vulnerable. This could potentially attract more freelance spying on the basis that the company is a ‘easy target’… It also shakes shareholder confidence. Corporate spying is a much more compelling headline than a company’s earnings report, so the news of a breach would almost certainly receive publicity that would cause the company’s stock price to drop…

Art of Corporate Spying: Corporate spies begin by gathering all the information they can on a targeted firm by requisitioning documents via the Freedom of Information Act, the Internet has a wealth of information, also if a company listed the bowling scores of the previous office outing on a webpage– voila, the spy has a list of management, personnel to research… Then, little more digging reveals how much they make, any shifts in position that may have left a disgruntled employee ready to dish the dirt, and so on… Facebook and Twitter have eroded the idea of personal privacy to the point where people rarely give a thought to their professional confidentiality… Then further, corporate spies may pose as journalists for some unknown local paper wanting to write a company profile or a story about the management team– and why not? It’s free advertising… However, a  company’s weakest link is not its corporate vanity or vastness of the Internet, but the ‘people’ themselves within the company…

spy th2RD6V1E9

The world of corporate spying is very real and its far from being glamorous, but knowing a competitors next product line, bid price or other sensitive data can give a rival company a real competitive advantage– provided they don’t get caught. The temptation is strong, so corporate spying will continue– whether you hear about it or not… According to George Chidi; I’m a competitive-intelligence researcher (or, a spy of sorts)… I don’t break the law, but I always feel like I’m right on the edge of it, and the information I gather is given freely and obtained legally, and I don’t lie to get it, but in the back of my mind I’m always thinking: You (the target business) probably don’t want me to know this

According to Paul King; it’s difficult to know exactly how common corporate spying is because most victims never report the attack, being fearful of the consequences of going public… the best you can do is monitor your systems carefully and if you hear of an attack on another organization, ensure that it couldn’t affect you… The question isn’t whether you know you’re vulnerable to corporate spying, it’s knowing ‘how’ vulnerable you are… Protecting trade secrets and competitive advantage must be an immediate top priority in any company… Companies walk a tightrope when it comes to investigating crimes of spying; publicity damages brand reputations, and has negative impact on shareholder confidence, value…

Share

Solving Business Problems– Stop Trying to Fix Symptoms, Instead Find, Fix the Root Cause: Think Beyond Symptoms

Share

Solving real business problem is thinking beyond just the ‘symptom’… it’s thinking about finding, fixing the ‘root cause’ of the problem… A symptom is just one indicator that a problem exist, but knowing the ‘reason’ (or root cause) behind the symptom is the critical factor… For example; in the medical profession, a doctor must be concerned about treating the root cause of a patient’s problem rather than just the symptoms; otherwise the problem may even get worse… treating only a symptom, in most cases, does not uncovering the true root cause, which in a medical situation can be a matter of life, death. According to Edward Hodnett; if you don’t ask the right questions, you don’t get the right answers. A question asked in the right way often points to its own answer. Asking questions is the foundation of diagnosis, and only the inquiring mind solves problems. The effectiveness of an organization is a function of how well– individuals, groups… within the organization; analyze, document, communicate, solve problems… For true problem solving an organization must understand ‘why’ a failure or problem occurred…

root LeveragePoint_ProblemSolvingMap

Uncovering the specific details of ‘why’ a problem happens is essential for knowing exactly what needs to be done to ‘fix-it’. According to Dawn Mentzer; a symptom is simply a sign that something’s wrong; it’s not, however, the actual thing that is wrong: It’s an effect. Symptoms exist in business and when things go wrong, it’s important to look beyond the effect and find the cause. When you are faced with symptoms that are affecting the health of your business, you must do four things: 1. Acknowledge them; 2. Assess their impact; 3. Quickly step into diagnosis mode to determine their root cause; 4. Take action to treat and alleviate the root cause… Those steps take courage and an open mind because in some cases you might find that ‘you’ are part of the problem… In nearly every situation, you can do something to make a change for the better as you progress from– symptom, to root cause, to cure…

Root Cause Analysis: The primary goal of ‘root cause analysis’ (RCA) is to find a lasting solutions to business problems… Leaders who put in the effort to find the true ’cause’ will improve the business, and drive it– further, faster… and better results. The ‘root cause analysis’ approach provides a structure to ensure nothing is missed, and it’s the basis for better decision-making… One often used technique is known as the ‘5-Whys’. 5-Whys is an iterative questioning technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem… The number ‘5’ is derived from empirical observation on the number of iterations typically required to resolve a problem…

It’s important to remember that the answer to each question then forms the basis of the next question. A disciplined approach to this principle ensures a logical flow as one digs deeper into finding the root cause… However, the questioning could be taken further to a sixth, seventh, or higher level, but five iterations of asking ‘why’, is generally sufficient to get to a root cause. The key is to encourage the trouble-shooter to avoid assumptions and logic traps, and instead trace the chain of causality in direct increments from the effect through all layers of abstraction to a root cause that still has some connection to original problem…

While the ‘5-Whys’ is a powerful tool, it has been criticized as being too basic a tool to analyze root causes to the depth that is needed to ensure that a problem is fixed. Reasons for this criticism include: Tendency for investigators to stop at symptoms rather than going on to lower-level root causes… Inability to think beyond the investigator’s current knowledge–cannot find causes that they do not already know… Lack of support to help the investigator ask the right ‘why’ questions… Results are not repeatable–different people using 5-Whys come up with different causes for the same problem… Tendency to isolate a ‘single’ root cause when several root causes might exist…

root thV9GJU8RN

In the article Most Effective Ways Leaders Solve Problems by Glenn Llopis writes: Problem solving is the essence of what leaders exist to do. As leaders, the goal is to minimize the occurrence of problems – which means you must be courageous enough to tackle them head-on.. you must be resilient in your quest to create and sustain momentum for the organization and customers you serve… Leaders who lack this insight, view problems with a linear vision – they just see the symptoms that are directly in front of them, and as such; they never see the totality of what the problem really represents… A leader must view a problem as a strategic enabler for continuous improvement and opportunity to improve the organization... Whether a leader for a large corporation or a small business, here are several ways to approach solving problems:

  • Transparent Communication: Problem solving requires complete transparency where everyone’s concerns and points of view are freely expressed. Often it’s difficult to get to the root of the matter in a timely manner when people do not speak-up… As fundamental as communication may sound, don’t ever assume that people are comfortable sharing what they really think. Great leaders challenge their team to expose areas within the  organization that require improvement…
  • Break Down Silos: Transparency requires the break down of silos, and the enabling of a boundary-less organization whose culture is focused on a healthier whole. Organizational silos are the root cause of most workplace problems and are why many of them never get resolved… Breaking down silos is less about corporate politicking and more about making the organization stronger…
  • Open-minded People: Breaking down silos and communication barriers requires people to be open-minded… Problem solving is about people working together to make the organization and the people it serves better. Therefore, if you are stuck working with people who are closed-minded, effective problem solving becomes a long and winding road of misery…
  • Solid Foundational Strategy: Never shoot from the hip when problem solving. Avoid guessing. Take enough time to step back and assess the situation and the opportunities that each problem represents… Problem solving is the greatest enabler for growth and opportunity…

In the article Real Root Causes for Problems Your Company Is Facing by Andy Birol writes: All organizations have problems; just ask any CEO the question: What keeps you up at night? The likely answer is: Worry that a customer, employee, vendor or investor might lose confidence and leave… But when you probe deeper with a few more questions, you will probably find that the CEO’s first response is just stating a symptom, where a symptom is an obvious or acute issue, which anyone can see and everyone can agree on. But rarely are symptoms the problems, whereas root causes are the fundamental reasons behind business challenges… Symptoms are often mistaken for root causes. Companies are notoriously guilty for dwelling on symptoms, while ignoring root causes. Don’t fall into this trap, or your root causes can result in more and greater problems… So, the key trait of a successful business is not to confuse– symptoms with basic root causes, for example:

  • Symptom: Company sales are not growing: Root cause: There’s a mismatch between what the company sells and what the customers want to buy…
  • Symptom: Underperforming staff: Root cause: The company delegates tasks but not the responsibility or authority to get the job done…
  • Symptom: Gross margins, profit margins are shrinking: Root cause: The customers’ perception of the value of the company’s products is declining…
  • Symptom: Unmotivated, younger generation/entry level labor pool: Root cause: The company fails to provide an engaging working environment…

The purpose of ‘root cause analysis’ is simple; to determine the underlying reason or reasons for a problem, and to eliminate those reasons. According to Lisa Jo Rudy; the process, however, is not quite as simple. There are multiple tools and multiple steps along the road to analyzing a root cause. No matter which tool you choose, you’ll go through the same basic steps: Define the problem… Determine the reasons for the problem… Determine the underlying conditions that give rise to the reason for the problem… Design a solution for the problem… Implement the solution… Evaluate the success of  the solution…

root thDGVNA05T

According to Alaric Tan, Kepner-Tregoe; a holistic approach to problem solving is to study the situation from two angles, before deciding which is more suitable, which allows you to make more informed decisions about where to focus your efforts and resources… Overly focusing on actions that are adaptive without investing any resources into the corrective actions may result in a similar issue recurring again and again (much like the doctor who treats symptoms instead of the actual illness). However, by placing too much emphasis on the corrective actions (i.e., the search for root cause) could result in a loss of revenue and business, such as; losing a customer to a competitor due to unfulfilled commitments… Hence, you might consider a two-pronged approach which allows the possibility of handling both customer and organizational needs, while giving more time to find and fix the root cause, for example:

  • Corrective action: Focus on finding the ‘root cause’ of the problem. Once the root cause is found, the next course of action is to find ways to correct or fix it.
  • Adaptive action: Focus on the harmful effects of the problem, and take the adaptive actions that can address them. These are often referred to as stop-gap measures or workarounds.

Finding the ‘root cause’ is not a new concept, it’s well-known in most organizations– and the basic approach is– if you can define/find the ‘real’ problem (i.e., not just symptoms), then you can usually fix it… However, finding/fixing the real problem, especially in the complex systems of many business, is not an easy matter… and, even when the problem is ‘found’ and ‘fixed’, other question still remain, for example; moving beyond the– finger-pointing, blame-making… all the distractions that are a direct consequence of problem solving. However, many organizations must learn to embrace challenges, accept responsible as a team, and move forward to build a sustainable business… According to Dwayne Spradlin; organizations must become better at asking the right questions so that they tackle the right problems… The rigor with which a problem is defined is a critical factor in finding a suitable solution; moreover, all problems are not of equal status– some are more critical than others… Hence, organizations must be more proficient at ‘problem solving’, which means– being able to distinguish between a problem and a symptom of a problem, applying the rigor of a ‘root cause’ analysis, and articulate the solution– clearly, concisely…

Share

Copycat Innovation, Karaoke Capitalism, Imitation Economics: Dare to Be Different or Play the Imitation Game…

Share

 

Innovate or Imitate: Take a stand, dare to be different… Business is all about choices, decisions, expectations, and you face options daily when you must– dare to change, dare to be different, or sing the same song… But you live in the world of the karaoke–where most of the time you are imitating someone else, you are singing a song written by some else; this is what happens in capitalism too… According to Jonas Ridderstróale and Kjell Nordstróm who wrote the book ‘Karaoke Capitalism’ say; the philosophy of imitation is engrained in the corporate mindset… The only way to survive is to chuck convention, to embrace your company’s individual personality and promote it through everything you do, constantly honing what works and abandoning what doesn’t… But even here there is still a sense of uneasiness that ‘playing it safe’ could just be another phrase for ‘heading toward business oblivion’… Competing in a world of karaoke capitalism is about daring to be different, it’s about writing the songs of the future and not focusing on the tunes of the past… there is a new reality for most corporations– its innovation… But are you taking the wrong route to innovation, is there a better way… consider; ‘copycat innovation’…

kar thPH5NQ1EA

Copycat innovation is about adapting a proven solution to create another innovation, thereby minimizing risk and optimizing success. In short, it’s about taking what works best and improving it… It’s about measurable, result-driven, fast-track innovation, which optimizes success by minimizing risks, time, resources… According to Prof Oded Shenkar; the best and most efficient route to innovation is not just imitation or copying, but copycat innovation, and cites a study over a period of more than 50 years which found that 97.8% of innovation value goes to the imitators, and only 2.2% goes to the pioneer innovator who carried great risks… According to Harvard Business Review; imitation is under-valued; it can be a more important growth factor than innovation. Imitation is not mindless repetition; it’s an intelligent search for cause and effect… After all; new ideas (innovation) = old thinking put together in novel ways…

In the article Karaoke Capitalism: Daring to Be Different in a Copycat World by Jonas Ridderstrale, Kjell A. Nordstrom writes: To succeed in business, you must ‘dare to be different’… In the world of karaoke capitalism, success is not about getting a back-stage pass; following the rules is merely an imitation of life. Only imagination, authenticity places you on front-stage. And the future, as always, belongs to those at the ‘frontier’… No matter how talented you are in a karaoke bar, you are going to end up being a pale copy of an original… you must realize that it’s better to be a first-rate version of yourself, rather than a second class copy of someone else… This brand of business philosophy says companies can only achieve success if they think, act… differently from the competition…

The trouble with business is that the karaoke club is home to institutionalized imitation: Copy-cats abound. Only imagination and innovation place business on center-stage… The sad truth is that business schools and the quest for the established best practice only transforms the world of commerce into a super-group of karaoke copying companies. And imitating someone else will never get you to the top– but merely to the middle… Businesses are being re-shaped by the forces of individualism and information technology revolution; and these changes have made abnormal the new normal. In reality, the important shift is not the one leading you into a bubble economy, but the one bringing you into a double economy; a place with increasing differences between the ‘best’ and the ‘rest’. Here, a flourishing middle-class and mass-markets are on the list of endangered species…

Hence, forget about appealing to the average– success is about exploring ‘extremes’. Modern companies are facing the prospects of a two-front war: held hostage by talent and under siege by customers. To thrive, organizations must master the arts of capitalizing on competencies and customer creation… But old solutions no longer work: In a world of economic Darwinism, survival is a question of being ‘fit or sexy’, which is competing on models and moods. Fitness boils down to using market imperfections to advantage in developing unique business model. Masters of mood exploit imperfections of people by seducing or sedating customers. Excellent companies accept no imitations; bound by no limitations…

kar images

In the article Good at Copying Is At Least As Important As Being Innovative by The Economist writes: In the real world, companies copy and succeed. According to Oded Shenkar; the pace and intensity of legal imitation has quickened in recent years, for example; among the social-gaming firms copying and accusations of copying, are rife. One boss is said to have told his employees: I don’t fucking want innovation. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers… History shows that imitators often end-up as winners… Copying is not only far commoner than innovation in business, but a surer route to growth and profits… studies show that imitators do at least as well, and often better from any new product than innovators do. Followers have lower R&D costs, and less risk of failure because the product has already been market-tested…

Firms seldom admit to being copycats: First, it’s bad for egos. Second, it can be legally risky… Though copying is fairly common, lots of companies fail to do it effectively… According to Mr. Shenkar; U.S. firms, in particular, are too obsessed with innovation, as compared with Asian companies that have excelled at legal imitation… According to Joseph Schumpeter; if innovators do not get enough reward from new products because imitators were taking so much of their profit, they would spend less effort on innovating– hence, the justification for granting inventors temporary monopolies in the form of patents. But that is not the immediate concern of corporations; copying is here to stay; businesses may as well get good at it…

In the article Copycat Innovation: Practical Route to Profitable Innovation by Innovation Management writes: Are we taking the wrong route to innovation? According to Dr. Yew Kam Keong, Ph.D; copycat innovation, the act of adapting a solution that has been used successful in another industry or profession, is a more reliable and affordable route to innovation... Innovation has been touted by practically every government, political and business leader as magic bullet to cure-all the woes of economic stagnation, governance, social issues, poverty, competitiveness and every other thing you can think of. This is well supported by the ‘media’, which gives great prominence to many innovation in business, entertainment, governance, social entrepreneurship… And, many organizations have jumped on the bandwagon, creating countless awards to– recognize, acknowledge, and bestow fancy awards for innovations… But in this relentless quest for innovation, many have forgotten or cast aside the power of imitation…

According to Drake Bennett; as invaluable as innovation may be the relentless focus on it may be obscuring the value of its much-maligned relative, i.e., imitation… Imitation has always had a faintly disreputable ring to it; presidents don’t normally give speeches extolling the virtues of the copycat. But where innovation brings new things into the world, imitation spreads them; where innovators break the old mold, imitators perfect the new one; and while innovators can win big, imitators often win bigger. Indeed, what looks like innovation is often actually artful imitation, e.g.; tech-savvy observers see Apple’s real genius not in how it creates new technologies (which it rarely does) but how it synthesizes and packages existing ones…

kar imagesN8K8C7ZU

What exactly is wrong about imitation? Are copycats always bad for the companies they copy? And why do we insist on treating good business ideas like works of art that should never, ever be imitated? According to Oded Shenkar; it’s like a religion; U.S. businesses have come to place an unreasonable emphasis on innovation, ignoring the fact that many great companies– for instance, Southwest Airlines, Walmart, and everyone’s beloved innovation case study, Apple– have been great imitators… To have a start-up based on imitation is almost repulsive in the U.S.; and that is ‘nuts’. As long as a company plays by the rules and does things legally, everything is legitimate. Why isn’t it legitimate to use a business model that’s been successful elsewhere in the world?

According to Steven P. Shnaars; imitation is not only more abundant than innovation, it’s actually a much more prevalent road to business growth, profitability… According to Accenture; more businesses are grabbing great ideas wherever they can get them, e.g.; elsewhere in their industries or beyond… And history shows that the true business high performers are actively creating systemic competitive advantage by elevating their imitation game… In a world of economic Darwinism, fitness boils down to using market imperfections to your advantage. According to Adam Harvey; masters of mood exploit imperfections of people by seducing or sedating customers… Excellent companies re-invent innovation and re-energize the corporation…

 

Share

Power of Color– Know, Understand the Meanings of Color: Color Matters in Business, Branding… But, Cultures See It Different…

Share

The Power of Color– Color is the most direct and immediate non-verbal communication method of conveying messages and meanings… Often called the ‘silent salesperson’, color will immediately attract the holder’s eye, convey the message of what the business is about, create a brand identity, and most importantly help to make the sale… Much of human reaction to color is subliminal– customers are generally unaware of the persuasive effects of color… According to Meghan Casserly; Google is one of many major corporations researching the power of color in the working world, assessing everything from work spaces to marketing, branding… it’s still early in the research but it has already found a clear link between color and satisfaction with a person’s work area; the simple element of color can boost employee creativity, productivity… At first glance, color says much about a business; it forms the brand identity, and it’s an important factor in influencing customers perceptions about your business. According to Elyria Kemp; typically it takes a customer less than 90 seconds to decide if they want to engage your business, messaging… and more than half of their assessment is based on color alone… many companies are researching their color choices to the tune of millions of dollars…

color1 untitled

Globally, every culture has an association with different colors, and business must know and understand that it’s extremely important to employ the persuasive force of color in their business, marketing efforts… Every color symbolizes some– emotion, action, belief… and it’s important for business to understand and leverage all these associations in order to create a relevant business identity… Understanding the meanings of color in business is essential– the psychology of color effects people’s lives in so many ways, and yet you often don’t realize the impact of color choices in business branding, image, e.g.; website colors, stationery and packaging, office space, branding, in fact, all business activities. Color has a powerful subconscious effect without even saying a word. According to Emil Hagopian; color tends to excite people and makes them feel like they are in a better space– color adds to the total feeling of security, comfort… However, the challenge for business is picking the right color, as well as, understanding the meanings of color…

In the article Power of Color In Doing Business Across Cultures by CompuKol writes: People react to other people emotionally, e.g.; people in networking situations connect with other people on that same emotional level as themselves… And, at a subconscious level, the application of specific colors cause people to react in different ways to business or other people… Color is a form of non-verbal communication and when doing inter-cultural business, you must understand the effect that color has on the interpretation of the messages being transmitted to different cultures… There are two ways in which colors acquire meaning: 1. natural universal association of specific colors. 2. color symbolism based on individual experiences, culture, values… for example, black is typically used for funerals in most western countries, while in China white is the color of mourning… When doing business globally, check the meaning of each color for each country: Color symbolism impacts business and personal brands through your messaging, e.g.; websites graphic design, packaging, branding, corporate identity… The significance of some colors is universal, whereas many colors have meanings that shift in various cultures…

When using the Internet for online advertising, businesses must be very careful about cultural differences in color symbolism, since color is first thing that is seen on a website or banner, even before the person understands the language or what the message says… A mismatch between colors and meanings in website content is counter productive, and potentially ruin the business objectives. The customization of a color pattern for each country is becoming more critical as the population profile of Internet users is shifting rapidly… In increasingly global, competitive, and interconnected market, communication needs to be carefully targeted. Few companies have a brand that is powerful enough to generate the same response worldwide. For most companies, it’s important to understand what the impact of communication and color will be on the targeted group. Therefore, it’s not only important to know and understand the meanings of color in cultures, but also to find the applicable rules for translating them as friendly to the culture… Colors play a very important role when it comes to business networking, and it’s very important to know and understand the effect that colors have on your target audience, and that your colors give the perception of positive messaging… There are many things that go into a successful business and the meaning of color is among one of the most important ones…

color imagesKHWHHJ1J

Power of Color: According to research, color communicates more effectively than non-colors, such as; black and white… Here’s what the research says:

  • Color visuals increase willingness to read by up to 80%…
  • Using color can increase motivation and participation by up to 80%…
  • Color enhances learning and improves retention by more than 75%…
  • Color accounts for 60% of the acceptance or rejection of an object and is a critical factor in the success of any visual experience…
  • Using color in advertising outsells black and white by a whopping 88%…

In a customer survey, 3M asked users to share their attitudes and perceptions about color, and the results of their survey is as follows:

  • 50% felt that using color made the presenter appear more professional…
  • 77% agreed that– presentations that use color are able to communicate better than those that use black and white…
  • 72% agreed that– presentations that use color are remembered longer than those that use black and white…

While these statistics are interesting; you need only look to your own experience to make the most compelling case for color: Think about it. Why are the Sunday comics the most savored and fought over? Even if it were cheaper, would you choose to buy a new black and white television? When you’re driving, is it the color ‘red’ or the letters ‘STOP’ that make you put your foot on the brake? You probably even use color ‘highlighters’ to draw attention to important points on printed articles and reports… Each year over 700 million color highlighter pens are sold to focus people’s attention on important information. But, there is a lot more to color than meets the eye, for example: Color communicates and  speaks to people in universal language which sometimes eliminates the need for words altogether. Around the world, color-based signage is used to convey meaning, e.g.; airports, roads, hospitals… Color is a powerful device for illustrating both similarities and differences, e.g.; meteorologists rely on color to communicate dramatic weather… And, if you’ve ever tried to read a weather map that is not in color, then you understand just how much additional meaning and information is carried in those subtle shades of color…

In the article Color and Psychology of Branding by Jill Morton writes: Brands and color are inextricably linked because color offers an instantaneous method for conveying meaning and message without words… ‘Branding’ is a word commonly referred to by advertisers and marketing people, but what does it actually mean? Marketing experts define ‘brand’ as the ‘name, term, sign, symbol, design, or combination of them intended to identify a company’s products or services’… In other words, a brand communicates the ‘idea’ of company or product: Brands communicate meanings with the language of– color, shape, image… Brands and color are inextricably linked, and color offers an instantaneous method for conveying meaning without words. Color is a visual component that people remember most about a brand– followed closely by shapes, symbols, numbers, and finally words… Many of the most recognizable brands in the world rely on color as a key factor in their instant recognition… Research shows that color increases brand recognition by up to 80%… and that 60% of the time people will decide if they are attracted or not to a message– based on color alone!

In the article Using Color Psychology For Effective Business by Fitz Villafuerte writes: Theories in the psychology of color can play an important role in business, marketing… Research shows that colors have the power to alter the physiology and mental states of a person, and marketing managers, brand managers, business managers… use this insight to effectively promote favorable business perceptions and influence in initial customers engagement. Just look around, and you will see evidence of this marketing strategy, for example; fast-food restaurants are usually red and orange, banks and financial firms are often blue, while luxury products are typically packaged in black… But, always remember that colors may have different meanings across various demographics and cultures, so be very mindful about target markets, and understand the meanings of color as related to your specific markets… However in the final analysis, it’s the value, quality, and level of excellence of the deliverable that determines the sustainable of the business… much more important than any brand aesthetics…

color thNA4LTGGX

Color is used as a catalyst for affecting human mood and behavior in business and other organizations for centuries. Today, similar principles of the psychology of color are being utilized across the Internet to influence the interaction and emotional of onlookers and customers alike… Numerous studies have attempted to decipher the correlations between colors and human behavior, and while some professionals remain skeptics, many  others  are not… According to Keri; color is a constant, it’s ubiquitous, there is no escaping it… Color is a powerful tool to entice and engage a target audience, and if properly used it can be extremely effective… According to Ann Smarty; color is a crucial element of a brand identity, and website color scheme can influence behavior, e.g.; visitors to a website will leave immediately, or to stay depending on color… People will remember your website or business identity at first glance, if you put a little thought and effort in designing the color component of the business… Remember; color gets people interested in your business; color gets people to remember your business; color is a critical factor in your business branding… Hence, select your business color(s) carefully…

 

Share

Widening Gap Between Technology Advances and Legal System: Giving Rise to Absurdities–Thorny Legal Issues…

Share

Gap Between Laws and Technology: Thorny legal issues are emerging between laws and regulations, and technologies that are evolves at breakneck speed… Anyone who owns a smart phone knows that just keeping up with advances in technology is insane. But, What happens when technology moves faster than the law? Case(s) in point; drones, driverless cars, digital media ownership, gene therapy… People are being sued for– posting on social networking sites, privacy, defamation, intellectual property… all virtually unimaginable 25 years ago. According to Milo Yiannopoulos; widening gap between technology advances and the justice system is giving rise to absurdities. What’s at stake? How about: Financial interests of inventors, researchers, users, artists… but, most important, innovation and creativity itself. Now there are only questions; answers will certainly come; but, will they come fast enough to keep pace with technology? According to Henry Perritt, Jr.; laws have always lag technology because the ‘common law’ tradition says that the law and legal system should not predetermine course of technology. 

laws thBXY46XN3

Traditionally, technology innovation was embraced by early adopters who were followed by the masses… Today, technology innovation is embraced by early adopters who are followed by lawyers… According to Larry Downes; technology innovators must improve by anticipating legal challenges at the heart of their innovations… Most challenges don’t come from the government but from competitors who use the legal system to slow or stop the progress of innovations that they find threatening… Often the tendency for technology innovation to change the rules of industry is invariably faster than the industry wants to change: Laws are one of the principal weapons of resistance… Modern business law is remarkably complex even in just one country, but add globalization and complexity of laws is off the charts… According to  Ray Kurzweil: analysis of the history of technology shows that technology change is exponential, within few decades machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, technology change is so rapid, profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history…

In the article Laws Must Keep-Up With Technology by Milo Yiannopoulos writes: There is a rapidly widening gap between the speed of technology innovation and the laws set-up to govern. Worse there’s an enormous cultural gulf between the general public and judiciary, whose job it is to interpret and apply those laws. Ignorant of the nuances of the Internet and mistrustful of the milieu from which social media types emerge, judges are simply not qualified to determine the appropriateness or effect of a tweet… Increasingly, debate in the public square is being carried out online, on permanent and public social platforms. These platforms are fast-paced, aggressive worlds that encourage rapid-fire debate and quick thinking, and they are adversarial by nature… In other words, these platforms are changing the flavor of public discourse. The widening gap between technology advance, Internet culture and the law has already led to expensive, pointless absurdities being played out in courtrooms…

In the article Laws and Ethics Can’t Keep Pace with Technology by Vivek Wadhwa writes: Laws and ethical practices have evolved over centuries. Today technology is growing on an exponential curve touching practically everyone, everywhere… Changes of magnitude that once took centuries now happen in decades, even years, months… And, we haven’t come to grips with– what is ethical, let alone with– what laws should be, for technologies, such as; social media… Consider for example; smartphones track your movements and habits, Internet searches reveal your thoughts, wearable devices and medical sensors are being connected to smartphones providing  information about a person’s physiology and health in the public domain… Where do you draw the line on– What is legal and ethical? There will be similar debates about– self-driving cars, drones, robots… These too will record everything you do, and will raise new legal and ethical issues. What happens when a self-driving car has a software failure and hits a pedestrian, or a drone’s camera happens to catch someone skinny-dipping in a pool or taking a shower, or a robot kills a human in self-defense? Thomas Jefferson said in 1816; Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions…

The Law (Legal System) and Change in Technology: This article is an adaptation of an article by Scott Brinker. There are two things that are true: 1. Technology is changing very rapidly and these changes seem to be accelerating… 2. Laws and the legal systems are also changing; they are changing– how they think and how they behave… but they are changing very slowly and not keeping pace with technology… Consider the chart (below) with– Y-axis representing  ‘change’, and X-axis representing  ‘time’. As disclaimer: this chart is an intuitive estimate of change and is not a rigorous scientific formulation…

laws7 download

Technology advances exponentially as shown in the sharply rising ‘blue curve’, which is a generally accepted phenomenon, for example; Moore’s Law is the exponential growth of computing power… Metcalfe’s Law is the exponential value of interconnections on expanding networks… and futurist Ray Kurzweil identified exponential technological progress on many fronts as part of a ‘Law of Accelerating Returns’… Of course, some kinds of technology changes are harder to quantity, for example; how should you measure how fast social media is changing? Very difficult; but it’s reasonable to suggest that the velocity of technology change can be characterized as something faster than– steady or linear growth. Whereas laws, typically, ‘absorb’ change logarithmically– as shown in the chart with the much slower rising ‘red curve’– It takes the legal system much greater time  to understand, deliberate, execute… The legal system and its laws is a highly complex structure with– precedent, process, cultural, institutional resistance…

Hence, one of the great dilemma of the 21st century is the relationship between these two curves… The simple fact is that technology is changing much faster than laws can absorb change. That is crux of technology management: We cannot adopt all technology changes, but we can consciously choose some. Great technology management is choosing which changes to absorb into laws and how the laws will accommodate new technologies. It’s up to lawmakers to pass laws and courts to uphold them. In the absence of new legislation specifically addressing technology advances, courts must decide cases based on laws in place and cases already decided… Before businesses incorporating new technologies they must consider the legal traps that might be involved…

In the article Can Laws Keep-Up With Technology? by Manav Tanneeru writes: Legal experts say that it’s difficult for the law to keep pace with emerging technology, and there are several reasons why laws tends to play catch-up. The first is that it’s typically difficult to predict or anticipate technology innovations… Another reason is that it’s difficult to handle cases that deal with the Internet because it confronts a fundamental schism: Is the Internet a unique, separate space or is it really an extension of real space? That concept might be a little bit abstract, but think of it this way: When a person dies, a house, property or car owned by that person can be passed on, relatively easily, to a family member or an identified heir… But what about online property like account profiles, passwords, digital content? We really haven’t thought about this much because there haven’t been many generations of users with copious digital assets to even trigger the need to think about what happens if they pass away… Another challenge for the law is the way the Internet crosses state and international borders.

For example; let’s say a Facebook user in UK sues another user in Australia for defamatory comments posted on a website. Who has jurisdiction over the case, which country’s laws should be applied: UK, Australia, U. S., where Facebook is based? One last hypothetical: Let’s look at a Facebook or Twitter network of 10 people. Half of them are co-workers; the other half are not. One co-worker is offended by something another co-worker says: Do harassment laws apply? Does the company that employs some of the people have any liability? There’s an increasing breakdown of the traditional social boundaries between workplace, personal, public information… It’s a time of cultural shift and this is going to take a while to stabilize itself and shake out and, apparently, the process has begun…

laws6 images

In the article Can Law Keep Up with Technology? by Heather Bussing writes: Laws are based on people, places, things… But technology and the Internet aren’t: The Internet is not a place, it’s everywhere and nowhere in particular… Digital information is not a thing: It flows in tiny packets and exists in multiple copies just to be seen and used… And, people are becoming great files of data as companies track everywhere you go online, how long you stay, what you look at and buy, where you go in the world, who your friends are, and how you interact with them… Technology and the ways you use it is changing the role of law and lawyers. Companies and their attorneys need to start thinking about how to make a difference in digital and data driven world. Courts and legislatures are struggling to keep up with the fast pace of technology: New laws and cases are quickly outdated… State legislatures are rushing bills into law to protect employees, job applicants… But, neither Congress nor legislatures are capable of keeping up with how fast technology is moving…

Applying old existing laws to today’s digital landscape can be challenging for the legal system and risky for individuals and businesses… According to Markland Hanle; the legal community is not ready for the issues that emerging technologies bring… Ask most law firms what they know about biotechnology, nanotechnology, Internet, social media… and, in fact, for most technology advances and all you’ll get is a blank stare… Sadly, most law firms are no more familiar with emerging technologies and scientific advances than the juries that they are trying to convince. As technology advance, the education of the legal community must advance as well… Advances in new technology demand new breed of lawyers, judges, juries– people who can understand the complexity of technology, and more important, its impact on business, society… 

Share

Cowbell– Every Person, Every Business Has at Least One– It’s Your Remarkable, Unique Talent, Skill… Bagpipes Don’t Work.

Share

Cowbell– every person, every business has at least one– it’s the unique talent people pay to see, or it’s a company’s unique competitive advantage… It’s something that delights people– gives them value, pleasure… and when you discover it and share it, you gain success and happiness for both yourself and others: It’s a win-win… In the book by Brian Carter and Garrison Wynn; they framed the ‘cowbell‘ as a principle: It’s the Cowbell Principle. And they write; the key to happiness and success is knowing who you are and how you can make other people happy… As simple as this Cowbell Principle sounds, few people or businesses harness its full power; many individuals struggle to find their unique strengths and they toil on things that they love, but no one else appreciates or cares about them; these interesting but underwhelming strengths, skills, talent… are called ‘bagpipes’, they are not ‘cowbells’…

cow4 download

The key for success is to find and ring your true cowbell; develop it, communicate it. it’s your empowerment for a higher level of performance… However, the real challenge is to defy mediocrityif you’re too vanilla (i.e., ordinary), it’s hard to be successful, because you don’t stand out: It’s mediocrity that goes along with low expectations, lack of ambition, lack of motivation, little or zero passion– it’s sleepwalking through life. If you’re good at something or even great at it– tell people, show them, don’t deny it, don’t hide it, don’t be embarrassed about it. Hence, if you have remarkable– gifts, talents, skills, you have cowbells. According to Joel Comm; your greatest fear should not be about surviving, but about– mediocrity, powerlessness; if you are just keeping-up with the crowd, you are actually falling behind– treading water is not swimming, it’s just controlled drowning. So find your cowbell, and forge your desired path; it’s the only way to move forward to get enough opportunities for fame, fortune, and doing the thing you enjoy…

In the article Amazing Business Insights In Cowbell Principle  by Charles Franklin writes: Your cowbell is specific– strength, talent, skill… which sets you apart from all others; it’s something that only you can provide. It’s the ‘remarkable competitive advantage’ that people are willing to pay… This concept is not new, e.g.; the principle behind Seth Godin’s ‘Purple Cow’ and ‘Linchpin’ is about being indispensable and valuable… But the thing that makes ‘The Cowbell Principle’ different is that it requires others in a community or business to be involved; it must be played within an ensemble, because if it does not help others it’s just experiment in psychotic selfishness! A cowbell must add real value to a community or business; it must give you important role to play. The cowbell is rhythmic, it meshes within a community, business… Identifying your cowbell is not an easy task: For something to be a remarkable strength, talent, skill… and hence a cowbell, it must have two characteristic: 1. It must bring you personal happiness, satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment… 2. It must delight your community or business with real and unique value…

cow1 th

In the article Why Exceptional Leaders Focus on More Cowbell by Paul Rulkens writes: An exceptional leader sees their organization as one big– ‘superhero convention’, where people are stimulated to exchange their talents, and start applying their strengths to the maximum extent possible… And, for those individuals who do not distinguish themselves with some remarkable– strength, talent, skill… they will probably get stuck in a rut… Only the organization and individuals that show courage, and build on unique and remarkable strengths are they able to unleash their full potential… Exceptional leadership is about success, not perfection… Here are a few practical ideas on how exceptional leaders inspire ‘More Cowbell’ in their organization:

  • Get rid of Dysfunctional Performance: Focus on peoples’ strengths and build well-rounded high performance teams that compensate for any individual weaknesses…
  • Reinvent Delegation: Everyone is wired differently and playing to your strengths is often enjoyable and fun. When delegation is applied well, you will be surrounded by people who love to do what you detest doing…
  • Apply Principle of Highest and Best Use of Time:  Throughout an organization the most, highest and best use activities are: Activities that an organization is ‘best’ skilled at… Activities that an organization is ‘most’ passionate about… Activities that an organization can create (massive) ‘highest’ value to others…
  • Lead by Example: Exceptional leaders see themselves as Trim Tabs’: A Trim Tab is a little rudder, which moves a big rudder, which consequently moves a massive oil tanker. It is a metaphor for the ability of leaders to change an entire organization by consistently adjusting and applying necessary corrections…
  • Nurture Superhero Talent: Exceptional leaders inspire others to become aware and accelerate their ‘superhero’ talent. There are three ways to quickly find your own super-talent: 1. It’s used to solve most complex problems… 2. People frequently come to you for help, advice… 3. You are eagerly engaged in learning by– reading, watching, listening, doing…

In the article When Dumbest Idea Is Best One by Brian Carter writes: Sometimes the dumb idea is the best one; and you often confuse simplicity with stupidity. It’s easy to think that if something is simple, it must not be the best or most effective: Wrong! Often an idea may seem dumb because you are being dumb… Try something stupid; even though you might be afraid to do something that you think is a good idea but you do not do it, because you think that others might view as stupid? Well think again, sometimes exercising a stupid idea leads you to a better idea. Sometimes the only way to genius is through being stupid. Are stupid ideas a good idea? Maybe: Since when is the first idea the best idea? If the first idea were indeed the best idea, then progress makes no sense. Show willingness to be crazy: some of the greatest innovations where, initially, thought to be crazy… Sometimes it takes a little craziness to disrupt an industries…

The Cowbell Principle is not about following ‘your’ passion and making money; it’s about bringing joy, delight, value… to others and that makes money, which then becomes a true cowbellian experience… Your cowbell is the biggest, most remarkable talent you have, and it must delight other people (or it’s not a cowbell)… remember bagpipes are not cowbells… Ultimately, your success means clearly understanding everything about your cowbell… According to Oscar Wilde; be yourself; everyone else is already taken… Bagpipes many give you joy but not fortune… and there’s another class of obstruction called ‘killer skills’, which are not nearly as awesome as they sound: No, it’s not the 1980s version of the term. These are killers in the sense that they ‘kill your spirit’: Ouch! Killer skills are things you’ve learned to do that make you money, but they’re not a passion; in fact, they’re the opposite of a passion, they are the necessary evils– things you must do to support you, your family, and they are slowly killing you. According to Joseph Campbell; you must be willing to let go of the life you planned so as to have the life that is waiting for you…

cow2 images

The reality is that there’s ‘not’ very many things that most people, companies can really excel at… So when you identify that remarkable talent, skill, strength… you are doing yourself and every member of (your team)– a disservice if you did not play the hell out of it– your cowbell… even if you risk looking like a fool. According to Brian Carter; the freedom of fear about other people’s opinions gives you the freedom to excel, and the fear of being who you really are creates failure. If you’re not being who you really are, then you won’t achieve what your remarkable talent, skills… are meant to accomplish. Confidence is contagious: To win big you must play big and those who risk the most win the most… Confidence and hope is so very important that you should do whatever you need to do in order to have it, e.g.; some people do religion or spirituality, some people drink green tea, some take antidepressants… It does not matter what it is… The only thing you have to lose from being ‘irrationally optimistic’ is you might be disappointed sometimes. But there is so much to gain; it’s worth it!

According to Bryan Kramer; geniuses often do a type of copying that not everyone else thinks of; they copy a ‘process’ not the substance. Anybody can copy the ‘what’ of something, and you call that intellectual property theft.. Geniuses copy the ‘how’ unless it’s patented… Don’t copy ‘what’ a good idea is; copy the ‘how’ that made the ‘what’, and then make your own good idea… It’s your creativity, your cowbell, that makes it happen and it’s your competitive advantage: It’s when you find different, faster, better ways to do something… it’s how creativity works: Yesterday’s solutions created today’s problems; today’s solutions create tomorrow’s problems; it never ends, and you can’t give-up if you want to stay on top… knowing, understanding, using your cowbell is the key asset you have for getting to the top…

According to Debra Jason; life is short, and people live the life they create. So what better life can you create than one that’s based on you doing something you love, and that other people love too? According to Albert Schweitzer; your success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to your success… If you really love what you do you are successful. Moreover, until you experience real joy from your own ‘uniqueness’ you won’t shine and you certainly won’t get to enjoy the awesomeness of a cowbellian life. So your challenge, if you agree to accept it, is to– find, develop, ring your cowbell and experience highest level of joy for yourself, and the greatest level of delight for others…

Share