Where Do Good Ideas Come From?

March 26, 2016

I’ve come to realize that as modern professionals, we’ve largely inherited a view of leadership built on an era long gone – the industrial age.  That age taught us to value incremental improvements (make the car a color other than black!) as well as efficiency (how can we crank out 10 more axles per hour?). Our “strategic planning” efforts involving giant 50-page Word documents filled with untested assumptions are testament to the way things used to work. The problem with all of this is, of course, increasing complexity and rate of change. This increased pace of change and knowledge creation puts us in an era where the old rules don’t cut it. Instead, we need creativity. We need ideas. I’ve found that many modern professionals don’t know how to inspire great ideas. Instead, the knee jerk reaction is to analyze the problem until it relents. But it never does. Richard Buchanan from Carnegie Mellon University does a good job of explaining why: “We […]

Walk A Mile In Their Journey

March 13, 2016

I recently had a chance to get a business contract with a non-profit that has teamed up with USAID and the American Refugee Committee to build sustainable businesses in the Eastern Congo area of Bukavu. I was there to do a situational analysis of the project. I knew in advance that they had hired an organization called IDEO, who has popularized the idea of customer journey, all over the world. Before I tell the rest of the story, let me give you one definition of customer journey I like: customer journey is the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just a snapshot on time, but through the entire arc of being a customer. It actually had its start in the product design world where one way of saying it simply is this – if you are going to design a chair, design it with an understanding of how the person who is going to sit […]

Business Strategy before Digital Strategy

March 5, 2016

Do you have a digital strategy? It’s a loaded question that gets asked frequently these days. Before we can jump into this question, we have to ask the question before the question. What does “digital strategy” mean? If you ask 10 professionals this basic and fundamental question you’ll likely get 11 different answers. What do some of those answers sound like? Here are some examples: It’s a way to find more leads using paid search advertising It’s selling products and services online It’s banner ads desperately trying to get people to click on them It’s an digital CRM system that allows my sales team to track prospects and turn them into clients It’s developing a website that naturally draws traffic through organic search and quality content It’s mobile technology that allows users to find restaurants and quickly read reviews and ratings It’s equipping a salesforce with tablets and personalized presentation content so they can better conduct face to face selling […]