To jump-start growth, flip priorities


R “Ray” Wang recommends flipping company priorities to jump-start growth in his recent HBR article.

The punishing forces of quarter-to-quarter performance expectations have forced business leaders to scramble for short-term profit gains at the long-term expense of the organization.  Because of those short-term bets and strategic pivots, organizations are struggling to meet ever-changing customer needs, are challenged to drive margins, and find themselves vulnerable to non-traditional competitors and unattractive to potential employees.  This confluence of forces has led 52% of the Fortune 500 to be acquired, merged, go bankrupt, or fall off the list since 2000.

Business leaders aren’t oblivious to this. We know it.  We feel it.  We all wonder why we insanely continue to do the same thing.

So what’s the problem? Why do we have such a hard time spurring more rapid growth?

HIERARCHYOFBUSINESS - TraditionalFirst, look at how your organization allocates time and money to its various priorities. Most organizations follow what I call the business hierarchy of needs.  Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for individuals, with safety and physiological needs (food, water, shelter)  at the base and ego at the top, the business hierarchy of needs has five stages.

Let’s look at each stage, from top to bottom.

Brand: priorities focused on expanding the image and appeal of an organization’s outside perception including building connectedness.

Strategic differentiation: priorities that create game changing transformation or business model disruptions including the adoption of newer social enterprise apps or connected business solutions.

Sales and growth: priorities that drive top-line improvements.

Operational efficiency: priorities that drive business efficiencies including cost optimization, process transformation, and elimination of redundancy.

Regulatory compliance and controls: priorities that keep organizations from being sued, fired, or run out of business.

Unfortunately, the pyramid is the major barrier to new business growth because it allocates too much time to the low-value categories of regulatory compliance and operational efficiency.

Regulatory compliance is only at the base of the pyramid because it is mandatory, time-consuming, and complicated. The problem is that organizations can spend up to 20% of their efforts spinning their wheels just keeping up with the changes. This is way too much time, and it keeps organizations from using their resources on activities that add more value, or more differentiation from competitors.

The same goes for operational efficiency. If a task or process is mind numbing or too slow for a human to do, it’s time to operationalize these tasks. This automation will free up workers for training in higher-value jobs as well as reduce potential work injuries.

With that in mind, the goal should be to spend less time and effort on those categories, so you can free up resources for revenue growth, business model transformation, and brand because these are the business priorities that help  organizations grow and compete.  In other words, you should flip the pyramid.


Facebook’s global dominance of messaging, in two maps

Originally posted on Quartz:

A new study by GlobalWebIndex, a digital market research firm, looks at how some 48,000 people in 33 countries use social media. One of the more interesting findings is a list of the most popular messaging app by country. It is particularly striking in visual form.

The world—at least the bits of it surveyed by GWI—is split between two dominant players, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, with the former largely in developing countries and the latter primarily in the rich world.

There is another way of looking at the map since Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion last year: how much of the messaging is dominated by apps owned by Facebook versus those owned by everyone else.


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The 6 Skills of the “Creators”

Amy Wilkinson@amywilkinson ), author of The Creator’s Code, describes key characteristics of today’s leading entrepreneurs.

What’s Next

Epocs of Consumer Tech - Ben Thompson

From Ben Thompson’s post – “The State of Consumer Technology at the End of 2014″

While the introduction of the iPhone seems like it was just yesterday (at least it does to me!), we are quickly approaching seven years – about the midway point of this epoch, if the PC and Internet are any indication.4 I sense, though, that we may be moving a bit more quickly: the work/productivity and communications applications have really come into focus this year, and while the battle to see what companies ride those applications to dominance will be interesting, it’s highly likely that the foundation is being layed for the core technology of the next epoch:

  • Wearables is a possibility, and it certainly seems that Apple is trying to accelerate the category with their ambitious Apple Watch rollout. However, no matter how good the Apple Watch is, I’m not sure it’s an epoch definer, especially if it cannot truly standalone
  • Bitcoin is a definite possibility, particularly if there ends up being a “tick-tock” to epochs: device (PC), then protocol (Internet), device (smartphone), then protocol (Bitcoin). Blockstream, an attempt to create sidechains for non-monetary applications that run on top of Bitcoin, is particularly interesting in this regard
  • Both of the mobile applications that I identified could be core technology for the next epoch: were Uber to become ubiquitous, could businesses be built on top of it? What would such an operating system look like? An out-there idea to be sure, but in the realm of possibility.

More likely is that the messaging services become so dominant that they render the underlying mobile platform unimportant. This too would be similar to the effect of the Internet on the PC: the biggest reason the Mac was able to make a comeback from near death was because the Internet – and web apps – ran everywhere. It didn’t matter what browser6 or OS was on your actual PC. Similarly, if all essential apps and servers are routed through your messaging service, then the underlying OS – whether iOS or Android – is increasingly irrelevant. In fact, I strongly believe this is the future in China in particular, one more reason why Apple is investing so strongly in non-tangible qualities like fashion.

In response, Fred Wilson offer’s his perspective on the core technologies critical to defining “What’s Next”:

Ben’s framework is roughly similar to ours but his conclusions are a bit different as follows:

1) I would substitute personal mesh for wearables

2) I would substitute the blockchain stack for bitcoin

3) I would bet on messenger as the next mobile OS over anything else. We have already seen that happen in China.

Platforms and crowdsourcing: The office of the 21st century

Originally posted on Gigaom:

“Disruption” is one of the most overhyped concepts of the last ten years. A Google Trend search for “disruptive innovation” shows a steeply rising graph, and you can hardly open a professional news website without reading stories about whole sectors being disrupted. Given that “business as usual” is apparently undergoing a profound transformation, how this will impact the people doing the actual work in our economy? One logical consequence is that the way people work and earn money will also radically change. How this will be different is a direct result of the new dominant organization model that is currently emerging.

What do YouTube, Airbnb, and bitcoin have in common that distinguishes them from CNN, Hilton Hotels, and the average bank? The answer is that the former are all platforms. We are witnessing the death of the decades-old industrial organization model, which is being replaced by the organization model of the…

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Personal Data is You

Personal Data

“Personal data isn’t property.

It’s people.

It’s as much a part of you as your eye color, the way your heart calms when you see beauty, and your world view.

It may not be inside your skin but that doesn’t make it any less you.

It’s you.

It is you moving through time and space. It’s you in action and asleep. It’s you interacting with people. It’s you thinking aloud and witnessing the world. It’s your backup brain, your legacy, your self.

It’s you. ”

Phil Wolff

Collaboration 3.0