"EMC uses its ‘federation’ business model as a way to allow VMware and a newer big-data division, called Pivotal, to run separately while still collaborating to sell combined offerings to big customers. This also enables VMware and Pivotal to strike partnership deals with companies that compete with EMC’s core business."
While I’m not a fan of his anti-government seasteading movement, which is a bizarre capitalist utopia that I would want no part of, he does have a point here:
“More important than being the first mover is the last mover. You have to be durable.”
“The most critical thing for every startup is to be doing one thing uniquely well, better than anybody else in the world.”
And then just other things he’s said:
“You’re going to start a business you might as well try to start one where, if it works, it will be really successful, rather than one where you’re competing like crazy with thousands of people who are doing something just like you all the time.”
A semi-full list of Peter Thiel insights here.
Image: exponential growth & decay
It’s true. Jeffrey Pfeffer (author of excellent book, Power) says so:
“‘Relationships with bosses still matter for people’s job tenure and opportunities, as do networking skills.’ He notes that research shows hierarchies also deliver practical and psychological value, in part by fulfilling deep-seated needs for order and security. Another is that individuals who believe in their own competence and above-average qualities are more likely to take action at work, says Pfeffer. Taking action on the job provides opportunities for success, and success means advancement at the company — including more power and control over others — perpetuating a hierarchical structure.”
Image: the first org chart looked like this (from the NY-Erie RR)
It is well known in cognitive science that if you are pessimistic, you sound smarter. But pessimism should be seen for what it is — failure of imagination.
Image: biking idyll in Allegany County, NY
My awesome co-worker alerted our entire product team to this interview. Two parts stand out:
"Creative teams are small and very focused. One of the underlying characteristics is being inquisitive and being curious."
"I wish I could do a better job in communicating this truth here, which is when you really are focused on the product, that’s not a platitude. When that truly is your reason for coming into the studio, is just to try to make the very best product you can, when that is exclusive of everything else, it’s remarkable how insignificant or unimportant a lot of other stuff becomes. Titles or organizational structures, that’s not the lens through which we see our peers.”
Image borrowed from BusinessWeek — one of my favorite pubs.
When the “paper of record” speaks — even just to itself — we listen.
The leaked memo that’s gotten so much attention holds a few very interesting ideas for all types of organizations.
I’m hearing that nonprofits and people at businesses are parsing it for ideas, and since I’m big on borrowing ideas from media co strategy, I scanned it for a few brilliant key points that work for all orgs.
Here it is in its entirety:
Here are the to-dos I derived from it:
1) Pull back the curtain on how you do the work you do to teach your customers.
2) Surface content and capabilities (in the app world) based on use.
3) Provide a place for people to tell their stories and surface their best ideas.
4) Make user data perusable by all (anonymized and in the aggregate that is).
5) Ask: what do we wish we could do? And what support structure would enable that?
6) Aim for close collaboration on the dry stuff — tools, workflow, and processes. All this collaboration helps drive tremendous growth.
7) To test how collaborative your org really is, have people name names of people who they are connected to in adjacent teams/divisions.
8) Make sure everyone knows the strategy and what it means for them and their role.
9) Track and share the most important work being done inside the building
10) Set up small teams made up of permanent and rotating positions
11) Make it clear to everyone how to forward/share ideas within and across teams.
12) Know who your influencers are.
13) Recruit or train makers, entrepreneurs, reader advocates, and zeitgeist watchers.
14) Rethink who the competition is by asking every department to develop a list of new competitors for their niche roles, and encourage the backfield to familiarize themselves with new apps and sites.
15) Make competitiveness everyone’s job.
16) Build out of legos, not bricks — the right structure and process today won’t be the same tomorrow. Constantly assess roles and create jobs with expiration dates to provide flexibility in transitional moments.
17) Let — no — encourage people to transfer between teams.
18) Create a fellowship program in partnership with university programs aligned with the org’s mission to ensure talent pipeline.
19) Enable teams to write manifestos like this one (!).
A head of strategy for a consumer products company that everyone on earth knows once told me:
"On a practical level, a strategy is a set of choices that guide behavior and resource allocation… Sometime the external environment is relatively stable and you can use the ‘roadmap’ view that you articulated where I am, where I want to go and how to get there. Sometimes the external environment is much more dynamic."
In those cases, a lighter, more flexible model for strategy development is needed. Start with a good working theory (like HBR suggests), and then build it up to a strategy — if it bears weight.
Out of this, you can build a product, division, or even a completely new business. Here are the key steps I’ve followed:
- Propose a hypothesis that solves a business challenge
- Find a customer or partner
- Create a model and prove it out
- Define what success and failure look like
- Develop metrics
- Improve incentives
- Create/procures a platform that enables
- Do cool stuff with your data
- Decide whether to sell it
- Keep developing demand
- World domination (joke)
There are 12 of ‘em, funny. What would you add?
pic: Moma ladder sculpture
Ask several questions, including: What are the researchers’ hypotheses? What are the independent and dependent variables? How well does the study design address causation? How generalizable are the results? What conclusions do similar studies draw?
They also describe a new model and mindset for management that we must all adopt to adapt:
- "Managers function not as directors but as a peer-level guides, helping to identify and implement innovative approaches to the teams work.
- Managers serve as connectors within and beyond their teams, encouraging collaborative strategy development and problem solving…
- …They live at the whiteboard, pulling team members into deal reviews and planning sessions.
- They encourage innovative thinking and push team members to challenge one another.
- Managers regularly communicate up, down, and laterally. They provide a constant flow of information.
- Managers are constantly in teaching mode, listening to their teams, asking questions, and offering guidance.”
Photo: Flickr (Detroit)
Treat all of your quotidien client conversations as if they major interactions — like deal making, or other high-stakes activity.
In my meetings with clients, I ask myself: how can we reaffirm the value proposition of the relationship? How can we teach and gather feedback and nudge go/no-go decisions in the moment?
Also, it helps to keep a shared open questions list — that you can revisit in every check-in, with the default questions being: what are the next steps to helping make that decision? When do you think we can do that?
“The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.” ― Pablo Picasso
Less is more, and all that, and it’s hitting the app world.
A mobile app or website that serves all your traditional content to a general audience is a fine first step, but only a first step.
Quixotic companies (Facebook, Foursquare, and Google), are learning that their communities often demand less, or something altogether different.
Facebook launched Places for checkins, but location-tagged photos and status updates have proven more popular. Foursquare discovered that members wanted to use it for Yelp-style discovery of local places rather than sharing where they are.
The “great unbundling" is upon us. Prepare to pare.