Business Breakthroughs– Customers Involvement– Listen to Customers Vs. Don’t Listen to Customer: Understand Differences…

Business breakthroughs shape and redefine markets and industries… a breakthrough is moving beyond incrementalism… great brands lead customers, and not the other way around… however, the concept of business breakthroughs often leads to controversial discussion of– What is the customer’s role in the process?

Some experts suggest that breakthroughs evolves from a shift in customer involvement– from asking customers what they want, to a broader understanding of their needs and drivers… pretty much in accordance with the message of targeting customers on the level of needs, rather than on the level of solutions… Breakthroughs address ‘needs’ that customers often cannot articulate and solutions that they cannot even imagine; hence, the customer’s feedback is mostly marginal when defining breakthrough requirements… in effect, breakthroughs require understanding customers, but not necessarily listening to them…

According to Shaun Smith; of course you need to listen to customers to keep business continuously improving and to identify problems with existing customer experience… But, what customers say they want from you is probably exactly the same thing they tell your competitors too– so if you act on that alone, there is likely to be more in common between you and your competitors than there is that sets you apart. Customers want to be surprised and delighted and to surprise and delight them you don’t have to ask, but you do have to understand them…

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According to  Steve Jobs; it sounds logical to ask customers what they want and then give it to them, but they rarely wind up getting what they really want that way… Seeing beyond customers’ requests is something that is easier said than done… According to Tom Peters and others; the customers that are least likely to help you move on to the next innovation are the biggest customers you have… ask them what they want and it’s likely to be the usual thing– better, faster, cheaper… 

They want a better version of what they already have… Innovative businesses are adept at seeing under the surface of what customers really want, and they understand that customers don’t really know what they want until they actually see it. This ability is best expressed by a German word ‘zeitgeist’; which means the emerging spirit of the age or mood of the moment, and it’s probably best translated as market readiness or customer readiness– the ability to see what the market is ready for, before the market knows it itself… According to Henry Ford; if he had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses…

In the article Delight Customers By Giving Them What They Didn’t Ask For by David Sturt writes: When customers ask you for something, your first inclination is to give it to them. Naturally, your goal is to deliver value to those who pay the bills… And, the customer is always right, right? But it depends; when it comes to breakthroughs, customers can be woefully inadequate sources for new solutions. Inventors of market-disrupting ideas know that what people think will attract them to a new product or service may often be very different from what actually does…

According to Mark Cuban; your customers can tell you the things that are broken and how they want to be made happy: Listen to them. Make them happy. But don’t rely on them to create the future road map for your product or service: That’s your job… Does that mean you ignore customer opinions altogether, and trust only intuitive geniuses to design the future? Or, take the opposite approach and try to get your customers to tell you what’s next? The answer is somewhere in between, and that’s where breakthroughs gets messy, and interesting. According to Steve Jobs; it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them…

True breakthrough is really the art of what product developers call empathic design, and empathic design involves careful consumer observation and investigation– rather than traditional market research– to identify latent, inarticulate needs that customers may not even know they have… In other words, you can’t ask customers to do your thinking for you. But you can become so familiar with customer habits, problems, and patterns that you are able to surprise them with a solution they didn’t even know was possible until you give it to them…

Often the problem with customer feedback, is that they simply can’t get out of the gravitational pull of what currently exists– customer-led breakthrough leads to sameness and incrementalism… According to a ‘Harvard Business Review article on empathic design; sometimes customers are so accustomed to current conditions that they don’t think to ask for a new solution; in other words, customers can’t always tell you what they need, you can only find out by seeing for yourself…

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In the article Don’t Listen to Customers by Sherrie Mersdorf writes: I disagree with the statement that you should ‘never’ listen to customers… without listening to customers it’s impossible to sustain a business… but ‘only’ listening to customers is unsustainable, as well: Obviously there is be a middle ground… Hence, in order for a business to excel and prosper they must develop offerings that not only meet existing customers needs, but also meet needs that their customers don’t even know exists…

Business leaders must always be reminded that– it’s not the job of their customers to ‘know what they don’t know’. In other words, most customers have a tough enough time just doing their jobs, and don’t spend any time trying to reinvent markets or industries… Sure, every now and then, you come across a person at a customer site who has exceptional insights and who can be useful to help you define the next generation product or service, but this person is rare and you cannot bet the business on finding that one person…

According to Alan Kay; the best way to predict the future is to invent it. Of course you need to listen to customers, and take their feedback, hear their pain, listen to what’s broken, and also do something beyond their imaginations. If you don’t do something beyond what customers know they want, someone else will. Most customers cannot really imagine the breakthrough ‘value’ or ‘need’ until they see it and experience it… then, you need to listen to them when they tell you what’s broken and what delights them… Yes, listen to them, delight them, but don’t expect them to create the future road map for your business: That’s your job…

In the article Great Brand Don’t Always Listen to Customers by Bruce Temkin writes: Should business eliminate or ignore their customers insights or abandon the voice of customers in their quest for breakthroughs? No, but they do need to understand basic customer issues, and listen for and recognize value factors that are limiting customers’ performance… Let’s examine a few realities of customer feedback:

  • Customers are grounded in today: Customers are not very good at projecting the future and even less effective at explaining what they need when things change…
  • Customers are most articulate about dislikes: When it comes to bad experiences, customers know it when they see it, and they are more likely to share information about it. According to research; 34% of consumers give feedback to a company after a very bad experience, but only 21% did the same after a very good experience…
  • Customers are least articulate about their desires: It’s very hard to understand what customers truly desire, since they often don’t recognize it themselves, or limit their focus to match their preconceived view of your business…
  • Customers aren’t designers: Customers cannot tell you how to design your products or services. You must have strong people in your organization that can architect the important customer experiences…

In the article Don’t Listen to Your Customers by Leonard Koenig writes: Listen to your customers– that’s what they teach in business school, that’s what most business leaders preach… And it makes sense, it’s the single most important thing successful companies do; well maybe, yes and no… To a certain degree, it’s yes, even necessary to listen to customers, but beware, it’s a fairly shortsighted way of operating a business, and it can put you out of business in the long run… First, by listening diligently to customers, you narrow-in on a specific value network and you may forget to think holistic, broad, big picture… Second, and most important you forget to innovate…

The best– and the worst– way of learning about market demand is to ask the customer: Yes, it’s the ‘best’ way because customers can provide valuable feedback… Yes, it’s the ‘worst’ way because customers really don’t really know what they want; they know what their problems are, and what they like and what they don’t like… And typically, customers just ask for ‘more’; more features, more options, more performance, more, more… Customers will always ask for something based on what they already know or have already experienced… According to Ann Latham; yes you should listen to customers but don’t just do as they say! Too often customers know what they want but not what they need…

Most customers often can’t think out of their current paradigm to consider something new or revolutionary… The only way to really tell what you’re customers will do is not to ask, but to give them a choice and watch them choose… The companies that look beyond what their customers say or what they ask for, and also spend the time to discover what they really ‘need’ seem to be the businesses that really succeed. According to David; give people what they need, not what they think they want. The gap between ‘need’ and ‘want’ is trap that separates ‘good’ from ‘great’ businesses. It’s not an easy trap to avoid and responding to a customer ‘s every expressed whim is process that gives you mediocrity.

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According to Michael Krigsman; customers can be extremely helpful in identifying gaps in products, but real breakthroughs doesn’t usually come from customers. Yes, you should absolutely listen to customers, but don’t expect that they will always lead you to the place you want to be… According to Gary Hamel; the future is already with us, and it’s just at the edges… What starts off as fringe ends up mainstream. So, if  you are going to listen to customers you may want to start with those noisy, complaining, fringe customers who are always asking for something completely different from what you are currently offering, of course, providing they are really your target customers…

Remember that true business breakthroughs, true change, will never happen through simply listening to customers… Finding the perfect balance between listening to your customers on one hand, and maintaining a broad, holistic, and sustainable strategy, on the another hand, is very challenging…

But just listening to your customers is a sure-fire way to set yourself up for short-term success and long-term failure. Stay curious, stay open, stay creative, keep innovating, keep pushing for breakthroughs; think different, think big… business’ job is to give customers not what they want, but what they never dreamed that they wanted; then when they gets it, they recognizes it as something they wanted all along…

Navigating Disruptive Business Shifts– Create Relevance, Adapt Change, Leverage Creativity: Business Darwinism…

Many believe that disruptive business shifts through innovation (i.e., shifts that either threaten the very survival of an organization, or provide a hyper-growth opportunity) is the ‘new normal’… and leaders must have specific competencies that enable them to navigate through a wide-range of business ambiguities, uncertainties…

Meaning that business leaders must be able to push personal boundaries, challenge assumptions, take steps into the unknown with the view that failure is not failure but rather a stepping stone for business sustainability… To lead disruptive innovation leaders must disrupt their most fundamental mindsets and established behaviors… According to Soren Kaplan; leaders must acknowledge and embrace a life of continuous ambiguity and uncertainty as they navigate through disruptive change and create breakthroughs that leapfrog traditional ways of doing business…

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Webster’s dictionary defines disruptive as– to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way, to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something)… and for business enterprises this can be very powerful stuff… What do disruptive businesses have in common? According to Steve Faber; most business disruption has at least one of the following: 1) They are not satisfied with the status quo and delivered a user experience that customers did not even know they wanted until they got it… 2) They broke the business model mold and rationalized that just because everyone else markets a certain way does not mean it’s the only way, or best way, they looked for something new… 3) They created an exceptional value proposition… Fundamentally there are no set rules for disruption– disruptive business is about doing things differently, it’s about redefining the user experience, it’s about revolutionizing the customer…

It’s the Holy Grail for many companies– disruptive business innovation that transforms or creates new markets, for example; music, entertainment, computing, mobile phone, book publishing, photography, healthcare industries… all have experienced dramatic change due to new technologies, business models, distribution channels, government regulations, market expectations… Companies in these industries have been forced to experiment and change, and not just to compete but to survive…

Research suggests that successful disruptors typically work to bring about change in two or three links in the chain, simultaneously, for example, consider Apple’s concurrent innovations in– supply chain, manufacturing, and customer experience: The product itself is simply the most visible link in the disruption chain… According to Charles Darwin; it’s not the strongest of the species that survive; it’s the ones most adaptable to change… 

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In the article How Your Company Can Harness the Future by Mary O’Hara-Devereaux writes: Business and the economy are changing so fast it is hard to keep up… Few things last forever, and it’s common for organizations to think their strategy, business model or unique technology are forever sustainable… but it’s leadership’s job to determine what aspects of an organization are unsustainable, e.g.; strategy, process, product, structure, customer base…

They must ask themselves: When will the useful life of any of these elements end? When is the best time to cease investment in it and switch to a new ‘growth curve’ early enough to be a leader? It’s leaderships’ job to identify and track the ever-present ‘signals’ that indicate the fate of their business; signals of potential ‘big things’ are all around the business on the periphery of awareness… leadership must pay special attention to signals that have the potential to be transformative, and that can greatly impact their business…

Leadership must look beyond the usual line-of-vision to other areas of society, industries, geographies… since often big changes germinate outside of their normal boundaries… Conventional wisdom can be described as those sets of beliefs that have become deeply embedded in a business culture, organization… that guides their behavior and decision-making, often semi-consciously. And, in many businesses conventional wisdom becomes a ‘sacred cow’, similar to a strategy; which over time decays and loses relevance, and far too often these sacred cows persist long after they have outlived their usefulness… When the business is being driven to respond to massive shifts; conventional wisdom becomes a serious impediment to sustainability and survival…

In the article Leading Disruptive Business Innovation by Soren Kaplan writes: Perhaps the most defining characteristic of disruptive innovation is the great uncertainty that it creates for leaders, organizations, entire industries… However, while a disruptive innovation can be seen and understood in retrospect, it’s debatable whether it can be transferred into a formal, repeatable process. In today’s turbulent environment, leading disruptive business innovation is more like– best principles than best practices, and it requires a disruptive approach to management itself…

According to Gary Hamel; new problems demand new principles and put bluntly, there’s no way to build tomorrow’s essential organizational capabilities, i.e.; resilience, innovation and employee engagement– atop the scaffolding of 20th century management principles… Leaders must embrace ambiguity, live with uncertainty, confront the critiques of naysayers, inside and outside, of an organizations… According to Jeff Bezos; any time you do something that’s disruptive there will be critics… Navigating disruptive business innovation is a critical leadership challenge, and a strategy that contains specific principles that form the basis by which leaders can harness the associated uncertainty and  ambiguity to reinvent their business, organization, industry, include the following:

  • Listen– Start with Yourself, Not the Market: Contrary to conventional wisdom, disruptive leadership is not about analyzing customer needs, creating specifications to meet each need, and building great products, services to meet them, for example; Steve Jobs at Apple never conducted market research, rather they defined products and user experience that they, themselves, wanted. Asking a market what it wants is fruitless, since consumers don’t know what they are missing until they are given it… Disruptive innovation come from those who ‘innovate for themselves’ because they want to make a difference for others…
  • Explore– Go outside to stretch the inside: Leading through disruption requires an agile mind that appreciates ambiguity. Disruptive innovators know that uncertainty contains as much opportunity as it does risk.  But to make this mindset practical, it’s essential to ‘push’ personal, team, and organizational comfort zones… When leaders remain safely rooted in how things are done today, they miss the kind of insight and market impact needed to protect themselves from, or create, a true disruption… Leaders must push themselves, their teams, and their organizations out of the proverbial corporate comfort zone and into uncharted territory…
  • Act– Take small simple steps, again and again and again: Disruptive business leadership involves putting a flexible ‘stake’ in the ground for a specific opportunity, then taking a series of actions to intentionally challenge assumptions and rapidly change direction as many times as necessary. Leading business disruption requires a mindset of continuous adaptation, where leadership determines which specific small steps will have the greatest impact. While taking this approach can indeed help minimize risk, it requires leaders to approach ‘planning’ in a flexible way that allows for major shifts in goals, metrics, timelines…
  • Persist– Take the surprise out of failure: Leaders who face the fear-of-failure head-on are most prepared to use business set-backs as springboards to success. Leading disruptive business innovation involves taking action in the face of uncertainty; then viewing the results and learning from them, then modify assumptions and behaviors based on these results. Even when the results are ‘negative’, the goal is to persist in using the insights gained from the experience… This mental model feeds optimism, inspires further action, which results in type of ‘optimistic persistence’ required to weather the tough times…
  • Seize– Make the journey part of the (surprise) destination: The path to disruptive business innovation is not predictable or linear, and ‘luck’ can play a significant role in long-term business success. Leaders who capitalize on ‘good luck’, and who are best prepared for ‘bad luck’, achieve far superior results than peers. Most business view uncertainty and, especially ‘surprises’, as things to prevent and avoid: The underlying assumption is that predictability and control are the cornerstones of leadership… Leading disruptive business innovation, however, is fundamentally laden with surprises, which are the essence of uncertainty. Managing ‘surprises’ with purposeful agility – versus– disregarding the insights or messages they may contain is critical for business sustainability…

There are fundamental disruptive business shifts underway driven by major structural shifts in the economy, as well as, business model innovations, dramatic changes in technology… It’s an era where technology and society are evolving faster than business can naturally adapt. These sets the stage for new era of leadership and new generation of business models, which are charging behind a mantra of ‘adapt or die’…

Perhaps the most important takeaway from research is the pure ambition to make business relevant in a digital era… According to Brian Solis; business is faced with a quandary as it invests resources and budgets in existing technology and business strategies– it’s business as usual- versus- shifts of unknowns within markets, customer behavior…

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Leadership for disruptive business innovation requires a new way of thinking. A mindset focused on ‘leapfrogging’, which means approaching the world with intent of changing the game, or the way the game is played: Creating or doing something radically new or different that produces a significant leap forward… These opportunities are not limited only to products and services, but also they include; reinventing business processes, revolutionizing business functions…

Navigating disruptive business change involves finding creative solutions and opportunities within seemingly impossible challenges. When you push beyond the limits of your comfort zones, you increase your creative problem solving, strategic thinking capabilities… According to Soren Kaplan; disruptive business innovation is no longer the occasional exception, it’s the rule… If business leadership is not proactively creating disruption, they will eventually need to respond to it…

However, most organizations are set-up to promote and reward the virtues of predictability and control, which are the exact opposites of what characterizes periods of disruptive business innovation… According to Dee McCrorey; there’s no guarantee that playing it safe will keep you safe and, in fact, it’s highly unlikely…

Paradigm Shifts in the Concept of Ownership: Changing Consumption Models and the Rise of DisOwnership…

Concept of Ownership– there is a whole lot of shifting go on, and many businesses are being re-defined… What used to work does not anymore because the world is changing and paradigm shifts are happening whether you recognize it or not… For example; the traditional concepts of ownership is fading, and it’s being replaced with people’s desire to connect with products, services in a more meaningful way, such as; protect the environment, regain sense of community, create more applied value in their lives…

According to Torben Rick; there is shift away from ‘ownership’ to ‘access to assets’… The new world of ‘digital’ is very disruptive; it’s creating new business models, changing value streams, provoking faster and more change in the way business is done, than ever before. It’s changing the way business interact with customers, and each other… And for those businesses that think hunkering down and letting it all blow over will spare them just like other trends, well; Forget it…

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This is not a trend, it’s a permanent shift– no industry seems to be immune, for example; people are stream music instead of buying CDs, and renting movies instead of buying DVDs… And, don’t forget the whole sharing economy, which has started to impact core business models: Technology has made it possible for people to conduct new kinds of transactions that were never practicable before… People are moving from a world that was organized around ‘ownership’ to one that’s organized around ‘access to assets’…

According to Claro Partners; constant technological and societal shifts are shaping people’s evolving attitudes towards ownership and opening up opportunities for new models of value exchange. These shifts include the expanding reach and capability of digital technology; it’s future of fewer resources and less space, time and attention… and it’s emergence of alternatives to the traditional ownership models– like subscription models…

The Ownership Culture Report: Research over the last 25 years has shown that employee ownership can motivate employees and improve company performance, but only under certain conditions… No one would deny that employee ownership is about sharing the financial benefits of company success, and many leaders believe that in the minds of employees it all comes down to cash, either current or deferred… but some data indicates this is not the case.

The power of ownership seems to arise from harnessing both the financial and the non-financial aspects of employee ownership. The data suggests that, at its most effective, ownership gives employees not just a financial reason to perform but a reason to belong... Many company leaders appreciate that a shared definition of ownership is needed if employee ownership is to make a positive behavioral difference. However, the word ‘ownership’ has a myriad of meanings in the minds of employees…

According to the Ownership Culture Survey™ (OCS), in a survey designed to measure the psychology of ownership it asked employees– what is the first thing that comes to their mind when they think of ’employee ownership’: A sampling of the responses include: ‘investment’, ‘incentive’, ‘teamwork’, ‘equality’, ‘benefits’, ‘involvement’… and others ask ‘what is ownership?’

In other words, the primary association with ownership can be any one of a vast array of meanings, for example; participation in decision-making, benefit plan, camaraderie, short-term financial payoff, long-term financial payoff, a gimmick, a chance for egalitarianism… The potential for very disparate opinions about ownership is greatest in large companies with multiple locations and diverse work forces, but even in small companies conflicting interpretations of employee ownership can be substantial…

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In the article Changing Models of Ownership by Rich Radka writes: In societies saturated by hyper-consumption, the joy of acquiring and holding the new object in your hands and knowing with satisfaction that it’s yours, is familiar. Equally recognizable though, is that creeping anxiety when the sheen starts to fade and your mind gets distracted with a new, better, life-improving version and at this intersection ownership becomes a pain, a burden...

The product’s value is outweighed by concerns of maintenance, optimization of use, and finding a good home for your once-loved product, be it through recycling or re-use. This cycle seems to becoming ever-shorter, especially in the Western world where gadgets rule and electronics are designed to fail, and both people and businesses are developing strategies to deal with the highs and lows of ownership…

Despite the infinite diversity of the human race, we’re actually quite similar in the kind of things we want to achieve on a day-to-day basis, and collectively we’re beginning to realize that there’s little reason not to share the resources necessary to achieve goals. With increased connectivity through modern technology, networks at both a global and local level are growing rapidly and new communities are developing and flourishing through digital channels. These channels, in turn, allow for resources to be shared, swapped, borrowed, traded… while providing platforms where the meaning of having exclusive belongings are irrelevant…

According to Rachel Botsman; there are several factors to consider, including; environmental, reduced spending power, resurgence of communities, new technological platforms… which are facilitating rise of collaborative consumption as an alternative to traditional ownership and it’s starting to look like a good trade-off; that is, rather than having ‘stuff’ unused on shelves, or cars unused in driveways… 

Some experts says that– ownership in the digital world is an oxymoron, and the rules of digital ownership are incompatible with the traditional concepts of ownership… This discord lies at the heart of digital governance and is a grey area across most societies that are touched by technology and the Internet, for example; there are various incompatible strategies between traditional ownership and digital ownership, particularly in the context where ownership is a synonym for control.. more obvious there are restrictions, loopholes affecting whether something can be fully owned once having entered the online domain of the Internet…

Question: Does Internet ‘neutrality’ and lack of clear Internet governance (legal jurisdiction) trump ownership? Some experts suggest that the very nature of an open and neutral Internet trumps the concept of traditional ownership for ‘all things’ on the Internet…

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In the article Why Millennials Don’t Want To Buy Stuff by Josh Allan Dykstra writes: Compared to previous generations, Millennials seem to have some very different habits that have taken both established companies and small businesses by surprise: They don’t seem to enjoy buying things. But, what if this particular behavior is not an ‘age thing’ at all? What if this strange new behavior (or rather, lack of behavior) is not a generational thing, but a basic ‘ownership shift’ that is not just isolated to the Millennials? A writer for USA Today suggests that– all ages are on this trend together and instead of an age group, he blames technology… but technology cannot be the cause because it’s simply an extension of the way people think… In fact, people are starting to think differently about what it means to ‘own’ something…

This is why a similar ambivalence towards ownership is emerging in all sorts of areas, from car-buying to music listening to entertainment consumption… Although technology does facilitates this evolution and new generations champion it, the big push behind it is that people’s thinking is changing… According to Rich Radka; belongings which used to be the standard by which to measure personal success, status and security are increasingly being borrowed, traded, swapped, or simply left on the shelf.

Various factors and arguably the most important being an increasingly connected and digitally networked society are the cause for these revolutionary global shifts in behavior, for example; as quickly as a new laptop becomes yesterday’s technology in a brittle plastic shell, or a power tool idly collects dust in the garage… it seems that many possessions are changing from treasure to junk, from security to liability, from freedom to burden, and from personal to communal…

We are living at a time when a major shift in attitudes is bringing on a new era– one in which people get more value by owning less property. While it’s not a person ‘s traditional dream, it makes sense if you think about what’s defining communities today: Some say it’s an era of sharing Sharing driven by online communities that have taken collaboration to new levels…

According to Lynn Jurich; thanks to the Internet people are sharing, trading… a whole universe of things they once had to be bought… People are beginning to realize that they can reap the benefits of ownership without the expense, hassle of buying  things… And after living through a large economic downturn people are learning that relationships and experiences are more important than– stuff, more stuff…

The new status symbol is not what you own– it’s what you’re smart enough ‘not’ to own. And the companies that recognize this shifting customer behavior and adjust business strategies to embrace these changes, they are the companies that will grow, prospers in this new economy.

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A new attitude toward ownership is occurring everywhere and once you recognize this change; you can leverage it, or you can fight against it (which is the tendency of many companies and leaders)… you can help your organization thrive in this strange new marketplace by going with the flow and embracing the new consumption business models and accept the ‘fading’ trend of traditional ownership… To ‘own something’ in traditional sense is becoming less important; products and services are powerful because of how they connects people to something or someone, or how they can do something worthwhile, or how they say something about the person… and not because they are just another asset…

As leaders and entrepreneurs, you just have to think more about the ‘stuff’ you sell in a slightly new way. Since people aren’t shopping to ‘own’ things in the traditional sense anymore, and as you watch the old definition of ‘ownership’ just fade: Think about how will you can leverage the unique connections of your product or service; it could very well mean difference between developing a sustainable business or just surviving.

According to Rachel Botsman; savvy businesses are embracing this trend and offering the flexibility of ‘access’ to a vast array of products, services… offering a range of sharing and consumption models, which means that consumers can access many goods and services that would be otherwise unaffordable, and it also means that companies can access new emerging economies that would be otherwise unavailable to them…  

Validating Your Business Strategy; To Get Strategy Right, it’s an On-Going Process: Validation Keeps It on Track…

Validating your business strategy is critical for business sustainability… But what should you validate? Validate everything having to do with the basic assumptions of the business, for example; two key factors include:

1. The ‘Problem’ you are trying to solve: You must ensure that the intended problem is ‘real’ and in fact, it’s an important issue that creates tangible pain or cost for the target customers…

2. The ‘Solution’ that’s being proposed to solve the intended problem: You must ensure that your solution, in fact, solves the intended problem and eliminate or mitigates the target customer’s pain or cost, and it does so by providing great value…

According to Greg Githens; CEOs regard the ‘correct business strategy’ as the #1 success factor for strategic initiatives: Validation means getting it right… Moreover, you have a valid or correct strategy– when you have matched a ‘distinct problem’ or opportunity with a ‘effective solution’ and assured that your solution is adequately resourced and structured for implementation; that is, it’s a strong, logical coupling of a distinct problem/opportunity with a distinct solution…

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It’s important, from time-to-time, to ‘stand-outside’ your business and look at it from a customers’ perspective… while engaging the customer, face-to-face, so as to better understand the ‘work’ that they are trying to accomplish and how they are trying solve their pain… Then from these first hand lessons learned, you might determine that your business strategy is not working because you are trying to solve the wrong ‘problem’ or trying to solve the ‘problem’ in the wrong way… then, your remedy is to ‘pivot’ your business strategy: Update or completely change it, and repeat the process until you get the ‘solution’ right…

Also, stand-outside the business to better understand the end-to-end customer buying process, identify the leverage points and if you find that your engagement is wrong, then again ‘pivot’. Throughout this process you must change course whenever you discover that the course is wrong… Understand that the key steps are; 1) identify the assumptions, 2) stand-outside the business to test the assumptions, 3) validate the facts by engaging customers face-to-face, then ‘pivot’ as needed…

Validating your business strategy can be a very disruptive process for a business; not every stakeholder in your business will agree with a proposed ‘pivot’, that is, a change in the coupling of the existing ‘solution’ with the ‘problem or opportunity’… An important leadership role is to meet and work with key stakeholders and get them to better understand the justification for a proposed ‘pivot’… Hopefully these interactions create a more solid framework for developing, strengthening, and validating the business strategy, at least temporarily…

However, if there are disagreements you may have, at least, gained some useful feedback about the issues and concerns from key stakeholders, which may be useful for making adjustments, as needed… According to Paul Ricoeur; the logic of validation allows you to move between the two limits of dogmatism and skepticism...

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In the article Validate Your Vision And Strategy by Guy Rigby writes: A business with a clear ‘vision’ and a strategy designed to achieve it, will be far more likely to achieve success. Vision gives way to strategy: Once you have a ‘vision’, you should describe exactly what you want the business to look like (to become) in several years, using just a couple of brief sentences– you must be realistic and consider all available resources… and develop it from an analysis of the market, competition, opportunities and threats… as well as from a visionary prospective…

Also, identify just a few (three or four) key ‘success factors’ that the business really hinges-on; critical factors that the business will depend-on in order for it to meet its multi-year goal… Describe each one of the factor in a couple of brief sentences, specifying targets and metrics that are to be used to show that the business is on-course to fulfill the vision, over the next several years…

Strategy gives way to tactics: Against each critical ‘success factor’, identify the tactics to be used to ensure successful delivery of each success factor, over the next several years… Also, clarify the specific responsibility for each delivery, and consider the risks, what could go wrong, and how you would reduce or manage these risks… Involve the team: Get the team actively involved in development of the ‘success factors’, since they can provide ideas, insights…

By working through the process with the team you can develop a detailed understanding of the business objectives and success factors, and how they can be achieved… Implementation and execution is everything: Strategy is pointless if it’s not implemented and executed effectively, so make sure that people’s actions and responsibilities are clearly established at the outset and managed relentlessly… Circumstances change and strategy is emergent, so don’t be afraid to change plans and priorities, but in all cases there must be validation…

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In the article The Hidden Dimension of Business Strategy Validation by johnrchildress writes: It’s a sad truth but too often the only way you find out whether your business strategy worked or not is after its implementation… And even then it gets very confusing as to what actually caused it to fail. Was it a bad a strategy or was it just badly implementation-execution? This chicken and egg argument is rampant in academic business circles and in the literature on strategy…

Hence, one of the first things you must do is spend time validating the business strategy before implementation… Most strategy validation exercises conducted by the big consulting firms involve lots of market research, weeks of data analysis, and analyzing the business strategy versus current and future market trends. This is an important piece of the business strategy validation process…

However, in many cases it’s surprising that even when the business strategy gets the green light from the consulting firm, it may still fail. Ah, then you say– its poor execution, that’s the culprit. Maybe you are right, but it would be great if there was a better early warning signal that the business strategy might fail, instead of waiting for months or years to determine the outcome… A complementary approach to business strategy validation has less to do with market and customer analysis and more to do with evaluating the internal company management alignment and commitment of the senior leadership team…

It’s this alignment, or lack of alignment at the top, that is a critical factor in deciding whether a business strategy is valid or not, or will be successful or not… And this deciding factor is often overlooked and undervalued for its impact on the ability of a business to perform… Strategy validation is more than just analytics and market insights; there are people issues as well…

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Most business strategies don’t work because they are not ‘real’ strategies, in fact, they are just ‘hopes’ or something that the business management ‘wishes’ will happen… many stakeholders within an organization and even customers, often don’t really understand what a business might call a strategy, and even if they did understand it, they probably wouldn’t be able to implemented it…

It’s vital to understand difference between a business management ‘intention’ versus what is ‘actually’ delivered… To be ‘validated’ a business strategy should pass several simple tests, for example: Does it really deliver the ‘right solution’ to the customer? Is it ‘rational, relevant, timely’ in its delivery? Is it ‘worth’ it, does it provide ‘real value’ to the customer? Evidence suggestions that many strategies do ‘actually work’, but only a small percentage are able to convincingly demonstrate that they provide ‘real value’…

According to Mike Moore; it’s important to look back at what worked (or didn’t)… validating a business strategy consists of adopting a reverse view: Look at the tactics that are being used: How successful are they? How did you arrive at these tactics? What actions would be more effective? Has the marketplace shifted? Examining all the strategic assumptions and analysis that are behind the game plan is critically important… The intellectual integrity of a business strategy should be vetted with all key stakeholders, including; entire management team, boards of directors, employees, customers, vendors…

According to Travis Newton; What is validation, you ask? I know what you’re thinking, for example; if the market is growing and all the research shows that this is a viable market, then why worry about validation? However, just because a market is purchasing a specific item, then what makes you think they’ll purchase yours? Validation of specific solution is critical for business sustainability…

According to Steve Blank; one of the major outcomes of validation is a proven and tested business road map, and you can create this map, for example; by engaging a small set of early visionary customers, and the goal of this step is to validate your solution and identify a scalable and repeatable business strategy that works…

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Business is highly competitive and an ever-changing environment with new opportunities and threats arising at every turn, for example; technology change, increased regulation, globalization, development of international supply chains… these are just some of the factors driving change within domestic and international industries… And counter to popular thinking, the problem that many businesses face is not necessarily due to an absence of opportunity and choice, but rather its proliferation…

A business must not only choose the markets they compete-in and their level of commitment, but also decide how to deploy finite resources to achieve progressively higher performance… the struggle of some organizations to effectively realize their business strategy is a real challenge, which includes; replacing dead-end business initiatives that don’t quite deliver the performance required– with relatively simple, easy-to-understand, implementable initiatives that can be validated with real evidence of success…

According to rianstefan; adapting your business strategy to changing competitive dynamics involves ‘risk’ to the business, which means that a business must plan ahead and examine alternative options before taking any action to modify existing business strategic, for example: Examine the ‘key performance indicators’: Look at revenue, sales and other metrics… Review industry benchmarks to see if there might be a long-term industry shift that may impact the business… And most important, evaluate your business strategy every six months or so, and make adjustments, as necessary…

Then, analyze these results and expand the business initiatives that show promise, and cut back or refine those that don’t… According to Michel Besner; sometimes good ideas are not ready for the market, yet. If customers don’t see the value or need– don’t just keep pushing because you think you are right. In some cases, it’s not a bad thing to park an idea for a while and focus on something else until the market is ready for your grand business strategy– the key is validation before committing to a specific business strategy…

Commercial Drones are Big Business with Huge Economics: But First FAA Must Draft Regulations ASAP, or U.S. Losses…

Commercial drones or, as the industry calls them, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles ( UAVs) are set to take over the skies soon, and become big business… According to Alistair Barr and Elizabeth Weise; the drone economy is booming abroad and an underground economy is growing fast in the U.S… But currently, it’s illegal to fly public commercial drones in the U.S… however, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is preparing to draft regulations for commercial drones in 2015.

But, many companies and entrepreneurs are saying that’s not quick enough, and many players are preparing their drones for private commercial use now, for example; thanks to drones’ ability to shoot aerial photos and video, as well as collect other data cheaply, drones are being used in many sectors, including; agriculture, construction, energy, mining, movie-making and television, sports… Most of the drone activity is outside the U.S. because of regulatory uncertainty, but despite the uncertainty the commercial potential of drones has begun to attract big investors and venture capital… The sky is the limit for drones when it comes to increasing profits and driving new sources of revenue… drones thXCOWPPRE According to some experts; once the FAA drafts its drone regulations, which will integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into U.S. airspace, then that could boost the economy by at least $13.6 billion in the first three years, and the economic benefit may top $82 billion between 2015 and 2025… It could also create more than 70,000 new jobs, including; 34,000 manufacturing positions, in first three years… but, according to other experts these numbers don’t account for impact of future regulation, focused on safety and privacy, which could increase the cost of operating drones and reduce the value of the technology…

According to Trevor Timm; there could be up to 30,000 drones flying in U.S. skies by 2020… According to Andrea Stone; right now the global market is worth $6 billion but it’s supposed to double to over $11 billion within the next decade… There are a number of obvious and many less-obvious applications that haven’t even been thought of yet, for example: According to Brad Mathson; the biggest opportunities, at least initially, is agriculture, for example;  using traditional methods, about 100 to 300 acres of farmland can be monitored a day, but by using drones that number can rise to 2,000 or 3,000 acres a day…

According to Ryan Kunde; drone can monitor on how grapevines are growing in vineyards– they can spot which grapes are developing quickest, which helps workers to decide where to harvest first… According to Gene Robinson; search and rescue service uses drones with high-resolution cameras and infrared sensors to track missing people, and helping authorities get access, more safely, to dangerous remote land areas. There many opportunities for entrepreneurs to apply drone technology for developing custom drone solutions for customers…  drones th In the article What to Know About Commercial Drones by Steve Dent writes: Do you know why you don’t see drones flying commercially  in the U.S.? It’s illegal. The FAA does not permit public– filming, crop-spraying, spying, tour-guiding, pizza delivery or any other commercial drone applications (however, you can fly one privately)… The FAA is charged with keeping the skies safe, and since drones could pose a danger to commercial aircraft, and also drones could be used to spy on individuals illegally, thus the FAA has been tasked with drafting  appropriate regulation for safe, legal operations.

On other hand, the UAV industry is already large despite the handicap of being arguably illegal… Once drones became powerful enough to carry cameras, a cottage industry sprang up with services at a fraction of the price of manned aerial photography, or satellites… So, U.S. companies are pushing the FAA to approve public commercial drone usage, ASAP.

But, FAA is being very careful with their rules, since drones could negatively impact air safety. For starters, it’s easy to imagine a package-laden drone dropping out of the sky and injuring or killing bystanders. The tightly controlled airspace system around airports is also vulnerable right down to ground level (drones are banned at any elevation in those areas)…

Despite potential economic benefits of drones, single accident would create a storm of negative publicity, particularly if it involved fatalities… Given complexity of the current airspace system, throwing tens of thousands of drones into the mix could create chaos. There have already been high-profile near misses between drones and commercial aircraft, including one incident that had the pilot actually bracing for a collision… drones3 th BI Intelligence Report says that there are issues and opportunities that will impact how the drone industry development, for example:

  • U.S. regulators plan to phase in public commercial drone flights beginning in 2015, starting with limited flights of small drones weighing 55 pounds or less.
  • Retail and e-commerce– along with the related logistics and shipping industries– arguably have the most at stake in the wide deployment of civilian and commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Drones might be the missing link in the shipping chain that allows for nearly immediate e-commerce deliveries…
  • Currently, military applications dominate the global UAV market, but commercial applications will quickly ramp up over the next 10 years, particularly after 2020.
  • Privacy and safety concerns still pose the greatest risk of public commercial drones in many markets, but if UAVs are rolled out gradually they believe benefits of drone commercial applications, such as; environmental monitoring, shipping, agriculture… will ultimately prove to provide significant economic value…

In the article The Potential For A New Drone-Powered Economy by Marcelo Ballve writes: Not too long ago, when most people heard the word ‘drones’, they thought of unmanned military aircraft engaged in highly controversial clandestine operations. But when Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon was testing the delivering of packages via drones, he made drones within popular commercial application suddenly seem like a viable proposition.

It’s estimated that 12% of an estimated $98 billion in cumulative global spending on aerial drones over the next decade will be for commercial purposes While drones are unlikely to become a part of your daily lives in the immediate future, they will soon begin taking on much larger roles for businesses and individual consumers, for example; delivering groceries, e-commerce orders, private security, farmers managing crops, and perhaps even aerial advertising… drones7 th In the article Drone-Assisted Farming are Taking Flight by Michelle Locke writes: Once strictly a military machine, drones have been slowly moving into civilian life. However, civil rights groups have raised concerns over possible invasions of privacy, especially in the context of law enforcement use… Commercial drones are not new, companies have used drones for agriculture spraying in Japan for over 15 years, and there are many companies interested in using drones in viticulture, for example; a Canadian company has modified a drone to resemble a hawk, initially using it to scare away grape-eating birds from vineyards, and they later realized they also could collect useful data on things like insect populations and diseased vines during the flights… But before the concept of vineyard drones takes off, grape growers are not convinced, yet…

According to Daniel Bosch; using the drone to fly along vineyard rows to get an idea of different levels of ripeness doesn’t save that much time, since it takes a while to watch the videos… On the other hand, there is potential to use drones to map vineyard temperatures more accurately than airplanes, since it can fly close to the vine canopy… However, an interesting use would be if an entire process could be automated, such as drones programmed to fly, complete a task, then return with the information…

Regulators are trying to crack the riddle of how to integrate drones into U.S. skies without jeopardizing air safety– but many drone developer describe the FAA process as a ‘frustratingly long wait’ for a solution… According to Robert Becklund; drones provides a great opportunity to shape a new age in aviation… there is no doubts that the ‘unmanned aircraft’ are absolutely going to change the civilian aircraft world. It’s already happening, all around us…

But despite the excitement around drones as the next chapter in aviation history, there is a growing frustration about the ponderous speed at which the new automated technology is being integrated into the national airspace. Under current FAA regulations, almost all commercial use of unmanned planes is strictly prohibited… aviation experts and UAV developers are concerned that the FAA’s slow rate of progress will jeopardize U.S. technological commercial leadership in unmanned aerial vehicles… According to Brendan Schulman; the U.S. may have already lost its edge… If you are a U.S. company with a promising drone product it’s very difficult to develop it in the U.S., so many are going to Canada, or UK, or Australia… where the regulatory environment is more friendly… drones5 th A U.S. Congress report on the proliferation of drones has confirmed a huge rise in the number of countries that now have unmanned aerial systems… The report states that between 2005 and December 2011, the number of countries that possess drones rose from 41 to 76… The report states that ‘the use of UAVs by foreign parties to gather information on U.S. commercial activity is already taking place…

The report reveals that between 2005 – 2010, the U.S. approved over $380 million of drone exports…  In total, the U.S. government approved transfers of complete UAV systems in 15 cases over that period of time, and eight of the 15 countries names in the report, included:  Denmark, Italy, Lithuania, United Kingdom, Australia, Colombia, Israel, Singapore…

According to Dr. David Bridges; people are chomping at the bit to use unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes… The goal is to develop procedures that will safely integrate unmanned aircraft into airspace with piloted aircraft…

Business is driving to deliver their goods and services– Faster! Cheaper! Better! And they see the use of drones as one place where these market drivers are converging. Direct warehouse to consumer shipping and reduction in manual labor are converging to change the mindset of delivery… Use of commercial drones will change, significantly, the economics and solutions for many businesses…

Challenge of Managing Business Risk– Basis for Sustainability: Know and Understand Uncertainty and the Risk Landscape…

Risk is defined as the probability of an unforeseen incident, and its penalty on the business… Whatever the purpose of an organization, the delivery of its objectives is surrounded by uncertainty which both poses threats to success and offers opportunity for increasing success…

You can safeguard your business and increase its success rate by having an effective risk management policy in place. By identifying the risks before they occur, you will have the time and space to prepare and to put solutions in place if needed… Risk management may seem scary when you are planning your business. But by having business risk plan in place, you can ensure that you protect the viability of your business…

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Risk is defined as the uncertainty of outcome, and it must be assessed with respect to a combination of the likelihood of something happening, and the impact if it does actually happen. Risk management includes; identifying and assessing risks (‘inherent risks’) and then responding to them… The resources available for managing risk are finite and so the aim is to achieve an optimum response to risk, prioritized in accordance with an evaluation of the risks.

Risk is unavoidable, and every organization needs to take action to manage risk in a way which it can justify to a level which is tolerable. The amount of risk which is judged to be tolerable and justifiable is the ‘risk appetite’.  Response to a risk situation may involve one or more of the following actions:

  • TOLERATE: The business’ exposure may be tolerable without any further action. Even if it’s not tolerable, the ability to do anything about some risks may be limited, or the cost of taking any action may be disproportionate to the potential benefit gained…
  • TREAT: The greater number of business risks will be addressed in this way. An action is taken to constrain the risk to an acceptable level…
  • TRANSFER: For some business risks the best response may be to transfer them to either reduce the exposure of the organization or because another organization is more capable of more effectively managing the risk, however, some risks are not (fully) transferable…
  • TERMINATE: Some risks will only be treatable, or containable to acceptable levels, by terminating the activity, and this might become more clear when the cost/benefit relationship is in jeopardy…

Effective risk management requires understanding more about what you don’t know than what you do know. In particular, it must recognize when new risks are emerging. Too often, risk assessment plot the usual ‘known knows’, leaving executives and directors under-whelmed because the process doesn’t really tell them anything they don’t already know…

World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2013 Report is an annual survey of more than 1,000 experts from industry, government, academia and civil society who are asked to review a landscape of 50 global risks. .. The global risk respondents rated most likely to manifest over the next 10 years is ‘severe income disparity’, while the risk rated as having the highest impact if it were to manifest is ‘major systemic financial failure’.

There are also two risks appearing in the top five of both impact and likelihood; ‘chronic fiscal imbalances’ and ‘water supply crisis’…Unforeseen consequences of life science technologies’ was the biggest mover among global risks when assessing likelihood, while ‘unforeseen negative consequences of regulation’ moved the most on the impact scale when comparing the result with last year’s…

Resilience is the theme that runs through this report. It seems like an obvious one when contemplating the external nature of global business risks because they are beyond any organization’s or nation’s capacity to manage or mitigate on its own. And yet these global risks are often diminished, or even ignored, in current enterprise risk management. One reason for this is that global risks do not fit neatly into existing conceptual frameworks, and fortunately this is changing…

The report advises that building resilience against external risks is of paramount importance and alerts directors to the importance of scanning a wider risk horizon than that normally scoped in risk frameworks… When considering external risks, directors need to be cognizant of the growing awareness and understanding of the importance of emerging risks…

The 2014 annual Emerging Risks Survey (poll of more than 200 risk managers predominantly based at North American re/insurance companies) reported the top five emerging risks as follows: Financial volatility (24% of respondents). Cyber security/interconnectedness of infrastructure (14%). Liability regimes/regulatory framework (10%). Blowup in asset prices (8%). Chinese economic hard landing (6%)… It’s interesting to observe the diversity in understanding of emerging business risk definitions. For example; Lloyds: An issue perceived to be potentially significant but may not be fully understood or allowed with respect to– insurance terms and conditions, pricing, reserving or capital setting… PWC: Large-scale event, circumstances beyond direct capacity to control that impact in ways difficult to imagine today… S&P: Risks that do not currently exist…

In the article Managing Risk: Where Are You on the Curve? by Ralph Jacobson writes: The management of business risk is now forefront for senior leader’s key agenda items. Knowing how to assess risks and properly manage them is a critical organization competency that must be fostered for long-term business sustainability. To do so requires new language and tools to facilitate effective strategic thinking, decision-making, and decisive action…

Here are some thoughts to help senior leaders transition to a world characterized by significant risk, for example; the S-curve is effective for evaluating risk and determining the various kinds of action that should be taken at specific points in time. The curve suggests that growth and change happen along an almost predictable trajectory of three distinct phases… Knowing where issues falls on the curve determines most effective action.

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One of the powerful attributes of the model is that it can provide a timely way to determine when a new discontinuous change occurs and its relationship to the current state. The S-curve can be used to determine the types of organization and leadership issues that will be encountered on the journey… It’s a Collision of two worlds: The generic S-curve suggests that when a few pioneers start a new S-curve (green line) they are initially ignored by those who remain intent on achieving the historical performance metrics and objectives… The existing stakeholders (pink line) view the green line as an unnecessary drain on resources at a time when financial and people assets will be at lower levels because the organization is experiencing ‘stage-3’ decline..

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Caught between these forces are those who resist change and those who under-appreciate the accomplishments of the past… senior leaders must help each side understand the need to do both; maintain the past approaches long enough to reap short-term benefits and focus on establishing the successful implementation of the new-to-achieve long-term benefits… The concept of the S-curve helps leaders frame the situation so that players depersonalize their negative energies, and help each side find value in the other. It’s in this manner that the senior leader can help balance such risks the ‘long and short-term’; current financial model and the new model…

Historically companies have viewed business risk through a functional lens (financial risk, human capital risk, supply chain risk, etc.), and by focusing on one distinct ‘silo’ you can miss the interrelatedness of risk to a company. that is, miss those connections and you may misfire when attempting to manage it… According to Robert S. Kaplan and Anette Mikes; Organizational biases inhibit the ability to discuss risk and failure. In particular, teams facing uncertain conditions often engage in ‘group think’: Once a course of action has gathered support within a group, those that are not yet on board tend to suppress their objections, however valid and fall in line… Which means that many business rather than mitigating risk, they actually incubate risk by tolerating minor failures and defects– treating early warning signals as false alarms– rather than alerts to imminent danger…

According to Gerard Joyce; managing business risk makes company’s actions more predictable, thus more successful. The ISO 31000:2009 standard outlines principles and guidelines to follow in implementing a structured process for managing business risk effectively Managing business risk in a systematic way can be an enabler,e.g.; decision-making is more informed, presumptions and assumptions are challenged, and actions taken are more likely to achieve desired outcomes. A structured process highlights the ‘Key Risk Indicators (KRIs)’ or early warning signs that need to be monitored. These enables the organization to take pre-emptive action to avert or mitigate significant outcomes…

According to Jeanne Lauf Walpole; business risk management is identification, assessment and economic control of those risks that can endanger assets and earning capacity of business… Once a complete list of risks has been established, then each risk should be assessed for its probability of occurrence, for example: Very likely to occur; Some chance to occur; Small chance to occur; Very little chance to occur… Also, it’s important to evaluate potential financial damage that can result from each risk, and respond appropriately. Business risk management decisions must be based upon preventing, as much risk as possible although complete eradication may not be realistic, and/or mitigating risks at a level that’s at least tolerable for the business…

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According to Peadar Duffy; risk and strategy are intertwined, and one cannot exist without the other, and they must be considered together. Such consideration needs to take place throughout the execution of strategy. Consequently, it’s vital that consideration is given to ‘risk appetite’ when business strategy is formulated– and that requires a well-conceived business strategy and superior execution, on the one hand… and very serious risks assessment and process, on the other…

According to Adi Alon, Wouter Koetzier, Steve Culp; most companies opt to reduce uncertainty by leveraging the traditional– stage-gate innovation process. Stage gates are designed to identify the best ideas by putting them through multiple reviews or gates… This concept, in principle, is extremely effective but in reality new opportunities tend to be defined very narrowly.

As a result, promising news ideas that are a little off center are often smothered. And while many of innovation initiatives that do gain approval are low risk, they offer only low returns– incremental improvements that usually do little more than maintain market share. Whereas, prudent risk-taking when managed properly is the foundation for business growth and sustainability…

Crisis of Truthfulness in Business– Truth-Telling Without ‘Spin’– Lost Virtue in Workplaces: Lessons on Truthfulness from Islam…

Truthfulness is a critical building block for business success, and yet truth-telling is becoming a lost virtue in many workplaces. To be truthful means being honest, not deceitful or deceptive in everyday business engagements with– employees, customers, partnerships, suppliers, stakeholders… also, being truthful with yourself…

Being truthful is not always easy, since truth is not absolute and often it’s never black and white; it depends on the prevailing culture and the perspective of the participates… For some people truth-telling is very uncomfortable; it can create conflict, negative emotion that can have a very negative impact on workplace productivity… The reality is that businesses are less efficient, and prone to poor decisions when truth is systematically kept hidden… truthfulness can even be obscure with the ‘unspoken truths’ that most organization have– its mokita (a New Guinean word meaning; truth everybody knows but nobody speaks).

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Adapting a Biblical principle: The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off (quote: Gloria Steinem). Truthfulness is credibility, and it can easily be destroyed with just one simple untruth that’s told in a brief moment when you are; just trying to create a good impression, or deny involvement in an issue, or refuse to acknowledge that an incident had occurred…

Recall Aesop’s Fablesboy who cried wolf: The boy lied so many times about the wolf being after the sheep that when the wolf really did attack, none of the villagers responded to his cries for help. Hence, if you are not truthful at all times, then people will be suspicious about your truthfulness: The moral of this story is always (well almost always) tell the truth!

According to Annual Edelman Trust Barometer; Public trust in leaders has fallen substantially; leaders are not seen as leading. People think leaders– just can’t get around to telling truthThe crisis of leadership is leading people to having a very different view of who they take seriously and actually listen to: An online survey queried 31,000 people in 26 countries, and then broke down the results between the general population and smaller sample of university-educated, higher income people dubbed members of ‘informed public’.

Among ‘informed public’ group, 69% viewed– academics or experts as credible people, while 61% viewed ordinary people as credible (people like you)… CEOs lagged at 43% among this group. The most trusted business sector was technology, with a 77% credibility rate, while ‘banks and financial services’ trailed with 50%; just behind ‘news media’, which polled 53%…

According to Samuel A. Culbert; it’s time for corporate leaders to face the fact that they are the ones responsible for managing the culture of truth-telling in their workplaces… it’s time for leaders to understand that without careful vigilance for the truth, their companies can become a workplace of fear and intimidation… a workplace where truth is– only sometimes spoken and then only in the shadows… According to Laurie Weiss; it’s often difficult to find a balance between telling truths and protecting the feelings and reputations of everyone involved. Not only that, but honest well-intentioned people don’t always agree about what is the truth… 

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In the article Truth About Lying At Work by Lydia Dishman writes: Yes, admit it! You have called-in sick to work when you were not officially down with the flu, or some other contagious illness: It’s a common fib, especially when there are major sporting events… A global survey found that as many as 58% of employees call-in sick on days when they want to watch or attend a sporting event, even though 80% of them admit to feeling guilty for doing it.

According to a study; this simple kind of twisting the truth can cost organizations  8.7% of payroll each year. According to Jeffrey Pfeffer; telling a lie is incredibly common in many businesses, for example; there is so much lying on financial statements that Dodd-Frank was passed to get CEOs to attest to the truthfulness of their financial statements… and even more troubling, some of the best leaders are great at self-deception and the best liars… for some leaders truth-telling is almost impossible. It was Mark Twain who said; if you tell truth, you don’t have to remember anything, just remember what actually happened and what words were actually spoken, rather than trying to remember a made-up story or a distorted version…

In the article Spinning Truth by Mark S. Putnam writes: Somewhere between the truth and a lie, there’s ‘spin’… We hear about politicians spinning bad news in their favor. We see journalists and pundits spin news stories to reflect a certain point of view: It’s easy. You too can spin if you look at data, filter it through your biases, and preach it like gospel. The rationale is that it isn’t really lying, just putting a bias on what is already true…

Spinning is like any other kind of dishonesty, it’s wrong… It makes old-fashioned lying sound clever and trendy: It can be said that stupid people lie and smart people spin… For most people, it’s not so much about telling the big whopper lie as much as getting tangled in exaggerations and spins… Adding ‘spin’ to favor your side of a story doesn’t require much premeditation, in fact it may seem perfectly natural to talk fast and spin your response when your back is against the wall. Besides spin is not a real lie, because if you get caught you can always back out, spin some more or stand by the original spin and just say it’s a personal ‘opinion’…

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In the Be Open and Truthful by Cindy King writes: In a business, it’s not always easy to understand truthfulness in the context of cross-cultural international business relationships… Most people thinks of being open and truthful, but when dealing with many cross-cultural communication you must look a little closer… it’s easy to realize that different cultures have different interpretations and different ways of being open and truthful. There are many factors that come into play, for example; there are cultural taboos, which can be both direct and indirect communication… Cultures have different boundaries for what they consider as truthful:  Some accept distorted versions of the facts, while others do not.

Some cultures can accept to– avoid the real issue and still consider they are truthful, while others consider this as untruthful… Even when you strive to be truthful there will always be circumstances to challenge your own definitions. When this happens, it can become a personal exercise for understanding and developing stronger cross-cultural skills. The question of how truthful you are perceived by other cultures is vital to your international success. Being truthful and trustworthy are part of the core of business basics… And, If you are not perceived as being truthful then you lose trust, which means that nobody will do business with a company or person that they cannot trustHence, be aware of how your truthfulness is being perceived…

Most people hate being lied to and you would like to think that any information given to you is truthful. In a survey in Germany, the vast majority of responders felt– lying on minor issues to protect oneself or to protect others from harm is permissible and, in some cases, even necessary so that people get along with one another. And, a journalist wrote: to tell the truth and only the truth at all times is a noble ideal but, boring…

Could it be that you prefer other people speak truth, and yet, at times, you eel that you have good reason not to speak the truth? Does it matter whether you tell the truth or not? But, why do people have the tendency to lie? ‘Greed’; its selfish ambition that is still very much the motivation that impels some people to lie…  Also, ‘Fear’; fear of consequences or of what others may think, if the truth is told… is probably the biggest reason for lying in the workplace…

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Many businesses create an atmosphere that discourages people from ‘telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth’… As a result, many bad decisions are made, not because of the information provided to leaders but because of information withheld for fear of retribution. Fear of the truth usually emerges when leaders have a ‘arrogance of knowledge’ or, conversely, when less than competent leaders dread exposure of deficiency, or the natural strata of a bureaucracy often appear designed to entomb the truth…

The reality is that businesses are less efficient, prone to poor decisions when truth is systematically kept hidden… According to Ron Ashkenas; showing customers or partners what’s truly behind the curtain could undermine credibility and threaten the deal. The wiser course in many cases is to limit the truth and figure out how to ‘deliver’ it later… It’s easy to be judgmental about all these situations and to insist on absolute truth at all times, but people don’t work that way, and neither do organizations. As managers, the best you can do is to be more aware of why you avoid or shade the truth — and make sure that it’s an appropriate time to do so…

Islam and The Truth On Truthfulness (summarized and paraphrased): Truthfulness comes at the top of the list of morals and Allah considered it to be the foundation for all principles. Truthfulness, besides being an honorable trait, is a necessity in all public lives and perhaps it’s the greatest gate to happiness of individuals and their entire communities. For example, when one wishes to make a purchase, they will look for a salesperson that is known for their honesty.

The most just and accurate scale of measuring a nation’s advancement is in the truthfulness of its people, whether in words or deeds. It’s a major crisis when trust is lost, and when people are dishonest in their dealings with one another. When this happens, lying spreads among the people – lying in words, deeds and intentions… Islam considers truthfulness as key to righteousness and lying as the key to evil… Lying is cowardliness, degradation and a transgression of boundaries… Beware of lying, even if it’s only once, as it will open the door widely for further lying: He who lies once will lose his position and trust in the eyes of the people…