We’re changing things up a little with the RMG newsletter! I’ll be summarizing my weekly Thought Sparks and pointing you to other useful resources as we go,
We’re used to thinking of competition as the biggest challenge for getting customers to buy from us. But a much bigger challenge is non-consumption – especially when the reasons people aren’t buying have more to do with friction than with what you’re selling.
A recent article in the New York Times got me thinking about how clueless we often are to the barriers that get in the way of potential customers becoming actual customers. It describes a big population of people who haven’t gotten a COVID vaccine yet, but they aren’t hesitant about it. They’d gladly get vaccinated and put as much of COVID behind them as they can, BUT… the barriers to doing so are for some folks, insurmountable. And the people trying to “sell” to them don’t get it.
A guest post by Ron Boire, Valize partner.
Throughout my career, I’ve lived by the simple idea that everything you do either creates or destroys value.?There is no such thing as a steady-state until, of course, you are in the ultimate steady-state.?This is an idea that I have tried to impress upon the important people in my life, my family, the people I work with, and the community members I encounter.
Today, every business leader should be thinking about their organizations being in a state of?constant transformation?in support of value creation.?This precept was reinforced over the past few weeks with two simple examples; one of a business that has been in a perpetual state of transformation and value creation and one that has been less so.
Big changes seldom announce themselves conveniently at the conference table at headquarters. They bubble up, instead, at the ‘edges’ of the organization, where things are most exposed. This short story from Buffer illustrates.
In?Seeing Around Corners,?I make the point that it’s vital to get out to the edges of an organization if you want to really “see” where big changes are happening. It’s one of the reasons so many senior leaders get blindsided by changes they weren’t expecting.?The more senior you are, unfortunately, the more your organization will try to prevent you from seeing and hearing the brutal truth.?And the more successful one has been in the past,?the less eager to hear potential bad news.
The United States suffers from a proliferation of bad jobs.?Squeezing every nickel out of labor costs might seem efficient, but no one is counting the price in terms of lost competitive advantages.
Bad jobs – those that offer very low pay, few benefits, unpredictable hours, no opportunity for advancement and even dangerous working conditions – are plentiful in this country.?This despite massive amounts of research by?Jeffrey Pfeffer,?Zeynep Ton,?Bob Sutton?and many others which clearly show that bad jobs are not only bad for society (think “social pollution”) but not all that good for the companies that offer them.
Even with the best intentions, reward systems in corporate life all too often mean that most of the people you need supporting innovation work flee from it.?Here are some ideas for getting a better balance.
One of the?most impactful articles?on the topic of reward systems was written by iconic HR expert?Steve Kerr, who went on to legendary roles in talent and leadership development at GE and Goldman Sachs.?It was called “On the Folly of Rewarding A while Hoping for B.”?In it, he shows how clueless systems of perverse incentives all too often lead us to outcomes that are terrifically unwelcome or even dangerous.?Real innovation killers.
Strategic inflection points create a 10X shift in your business – 10X more efficient, 10X more convenient, 10X easier – you get the idea. But they take a while – let’s look at one in progress, the emergence of practical uses for XR technology.
Science fiction writer William Gibson famously proclaimed “the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet!” This insight is core to figuring out where strategic inflection points may be brewing, what stage they are in and when they might cross an actionable tripwire that suggests you should be doing something about them.
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In the Press
- 5 Secrets for Dealing with Too Much Work – Fast Company – Article
- Episode 128: Anticipating the Future and Seeing Around Corners – FutureProof Show – Podcast
- Will Mooc’s ever take off and take over? – People Matters – Article
- Innovation Spotlight: How Lockheed Martin Is Building For The Future Of Aerospace And Defense – CB Insights – Article
George Stalk is a legend in the field of strategy. He was called a “Johnny Appleseed” at respected strategy consultancy BCG, invented a concept called time-based competition and has introduced many other ideas that have fundamentally shaped the field. He’s had a huge influence on my thinking and I’m thrilled that he will be joining me for a chat by the fireside!
And now for something completely different! I first learned about category-defying artist Dessa from her brilliant Hamilton-style rap song in honor of Janet Yellen, the first female secretary of the Treasury. She’s a singer, songwriter, author, speaker and just all-around fascinating person and I’m really looking forward to sharing an hour learning about her world. She has an acclaimed book “My Own Devices” and actively publishes new songs every Wednesday. And wouldn’t it make sense that someone I’d be talking to would write a rap song called “Terry Gross.” Join us – it will be a lot of fun!
Valize Partner, Ron Boire is taking the lead on this one. As he says, very few CEOs are good at stopping bad projects. The result is higher costs, lack of innovation, and unmotivated and fearful employees. Why is it so hard to stop a project that has not and will not deliver on its goal? In his experience, there are three factors: fear of failure and the results of that failure by managers and leaders, organizational momentum or culture, and lack of processes that produce transparency. According to published research, these three factors contribute to between 70 – 90% of new products failing. But, the problem is not the failure rate; the problem is how long it can take to kill a bad idea. Hear about Ron’s experiences at Sony and what lessons you can learn from them.
July 15: The Evolving Leader Podcast
The Evolving Leader Podcast is a show set in the context of the world’s ‘great transition’ – technological, environmental and societal upheaval – that requires deeper, more committed leadership to confront the world’s biggest challenges.
Replay Past Events
June at Valize
As you may know, I founded a company, Valize, with the intention of turning great thoughts into great actions. We help companies with changing their thinking, solving thorny strategy and innovation problems and with simple point solutions such as assessing team effectiveness and evaluating your organization’s level of innovation mastery.
If you’re feeling stuck or wondering what the next best strategic move is, drop me a note at email@example.com and let’s see what we can do.