Crowdfunding is not appropriate for every endeavor. Startups still can’t seek money from non-qualified investors (except for friends and family) until the SEC hammers out new rules for these types of investment to protect investors (largely from themselves) and loosen capital.
But despite the narrow definition of a qualified investor, and the fraught nature of giving and receiving, Kickstarter’s process of letting people validate ideas by asking for support fulfills a crucial part of the business development process.
Businesses and bands should front-load this step; it’s what all startups have to go through, and it’s the process by which you learn how stup[endous/id] the idea is.
Social network analysis tells us that the very best outcome is when a project gets funding from its immediate and extended or once-removed community, since these tiers represent the highest potential audience/customer base and the most likely scenario for “viral” or inter-network reach.
I recently gave to a Kickstarter that hit close to home, though I did not know it. I learned about the After School Project initiated by Old Boy Records — which, as it turns out, is in my real-life social network — from Andrew Zimmern — who is part of my online, loose-tie social network. In other words, my online life surfaced a real-world connection. There is strength in loose ties! (Thanks, Mark Granovetter.)
Art: social network analysis nodes: strong ties and weak ones.
Boeing and Lululemon are learning this quarter about the importance of knowing their supply chain, and the tradeoffs suppliers are making on their behalf.
While Boeing’s troubles have an air of danger (burning batteries on their Dreamliner), Lululemon’s are just embarrassing (with its suppliers defending their see-through yoga pants). While I don’t know about these particular cases, they point to a misapplied supplier management strategy.
Both cases underscore a simple principle that scores of Chief Procurement Officers of the biggest companies have told me about in my former role as a consultant in the procurement space, “you may ask your suppliers for speed, low prices, and quality, but the reality is that you have to pick two”.
Hitting the trifecta is impossible, for obvious reasons. To figure out which two you should ask your suppliers to focus on, you have to figure out what your core advantage is and what your customers care about.
Patagonia has done amazing things in terms of ensuring supply quality (and sustainability), because those reflect core principles of the company. Walmart, on the other hand, has to focus on cheap and ensuring speed of distro. This is where your organization’s mission and vision come into play. Choose wisely!
Art: Thank you to this wonderful blog for the art: http://donschaffner.tumblr.com/post/44708995218/half-asse
I had the pleasure of seeing the *mahvelous* Michele Norris interview the indefatigable Sheryl Sandberg at D.C.’s Sixth and I Synagogue last week about her book Lean In, which I have queued up for my long train ride this weekend.
Norris asked the audience to weigh in, as well as lean in:
“In her book, Sandberg looks back at her life, her choices, and her efforts to balance work and family life. For many of us, that balance is a constant challenge, akin to juggling chainsaws on a fast moving train. If you could reach back and give advice to a younger version of yourself, what is the one key piece of guidance you would offer?”
I can’t pick just one, but four come to mind from a recent post I wrote on how not to be a horrible employee (like I was):
1) You are an investment, not a perfectly-formed thinking thing.
2) There is no such thing as a stupid question, but there are under-informed questions.
3) You can’t opt out of a project just because you don’t like it.
4) Try to listen and learn from those around you. I beg of you!
The one I would add is to be fair to the other women in your work life. We’re all struggling together and it doesn’t behoove us to cut each other down.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Photo cred: NPR
Thanks to my friend Mahnu D. who sketched this.
Demand management is actually the process that companies use to reduce costs and manage products and services more efficiently.
Katya Andresen, who is COO at Network for Good, has this advice on improving communications that applies to your sales efforts as well.
“1. Make your goal action, not education…
…The job of communications isn’t to impart knowledge; it’s to connect. Instead of starting with information to communicate, begin with what’s getting in the way of action. Speak to that and solve for that.
2. Tie your topic to something that already has someone’s attention…
…If you really want to communicate, understand that attention scarcity by either 1) linking to the priorities people do have or 2.) becoming a solution to constraints by showing how your idea saves time or money or effort.
3. Remember they are not you…
…The messages that appeal to us aren’t the ones that necessarily resonate with others. I think it’s easy to forget that every assumption should be suspect until we understand what others do.
4. Be clear in what you’re asking…
… Be sure to be crystal clear what you are asking, how to get started, and what comes next. It may be people want to be on board - but aren’t sure how to climb on.”
Fewer patients die at hospitals with more Facebook “likes”, a recent study found. And heart-attack patients have a markedly better prognosis if they’re treated at a hospital that is popular on Facebook.
When I asked a doctor friend about this he explained why this is likely the case:
“1. It’s well known case volume predicts outcome. Higher volume = larger hospital = more likes
2. In my experience, employees are prone to “like” the hospital at which they work. Academic centers have more young people (housestaff and anecdotally nurses) who are on The Facebook. Academic centers deliver better care.
3. Hospitals with a modern PR presence may also be more likely to be forward thinking in their delivery of care.
4. I would imagine that even today Facebook membership still trends loosely with SES. Poor folk have worse outcomes.”
The problem is that deluded managers expect unreasonable returns from their investment. They think you can get the best from people by thinking the worst of them. It just doesn’t work like that. You can’t crack the whip with one hand and expect a firm handshake with the other.
If you want star quality effort, you need to provide a star quality environment. No, window dressing like a free meal is not it. It can serve as a cherry on top, but if the rest of the cake is full of shit, that’s not going to make it any more appealing.
A star environment is based on trust, vision, and congruent behavior. Make people proud to work where they work by involving them in projects that matter and ignite a fire of urgency about your purpose. Find out who you are as a company and be the very best you. Give people a strategic plan that’s coherent and believable and then leave the bulk of the tactical implementation to their ingenuity.
A million times yes. People rise to the level of trust you put in them, the guidance you give, and the vision you express. Want to hire and keep good people, startups? Forget the ping pong table and treat them like adults.
A chief strategist for a Fortune 500 company (and a former client) shared this perspective on creating a strategy:
“On a practical level, we think about strategy as a set of choices that guide behavior and resource allocation, with the key words underlined. Simple as that. Sometime the external environment is relatively stable and you can create a roadmap view: where I am, where I want to go and how to get there. Sometimes the external environment is much more dynamic. But just because the environment is dynamic does not mean you can’t have a strategy and you can’t make choices.”
Art: Olaus Magnus’s Carta Marina (1539) — map of Scandinavia and surrounding regions.
Get more big things/ideas implemented by cleaning out your to-do list and emptying your brain.
Use a sequence of five steps to optimize your focus and resources:
1) Capture what has your attention.
2) Clarify what each means to you.
3) Organize reminders of your resulting to-do lists
4) Regularly review and reflect on the whole inventory of your commitments and interests.
5) Start using your time to address what matters most.
Excerpted from: When Office Technology Overwhelms, Get Organized, The New York Times, March 18, 2017
My former employer, CEB, recently published this research:
“To ensure continuous growth in productivity, organizations need to rethink their traditional definitions of performance as well as the usual levers that they pull to get people to perform better.
Networked environment, flatter organizational structures and more dispersed workforce mean that employees’ performance in individual tasks is now only one part of the performance equation. Employees network effect – their ability to improve others’ performance and use others’ contributions to improve their own performance – has become equally important. As a result, employees are now expected to not only do well in their own job, but actively contribute to and enhance others’ performance as well.”
It’s up to the manager to ensure he/she has the right team to get the job done.
Art credit: Yup, that’s a Titian.
It’s easier to start something than to see it through. Challenges arise, small setbacks abound, people lose steam, etc. Yet, psychologically it’s harder to pull the plug on something that has a bit of momentum. People become irrationally attached to their work, even when it doesn’t yield much. What this means for managers is they have to set a high bar for new projects and initiatives.
Challenge: you can sound negative if you’re always saying no to new ideas. Solution: don’t say no, but ask pointed questions instead.
A really popular posture at large companies — where egos can be huge and inflammatory — is to ask questions like: What are the bigger goals and objectives? what does success look like? What is success contingent on? What tripwires (Yes, they say tripwires) do we set so that we know when we’ve failed and can exit the project?
This stance puts space between your personal opinion and puts the onus on others to define their terms, so to speak. Usually in the course of this discussion — unless your teammates are brilliant orators — the cracks will begin to appear and more senior people will begin to have doubts. Or, the idea will start to sound better to you.