Innovating Across Three Horizons

Innovating Across Three Horizons

I will be the first to admit that numbers matter. It matters that you set them, pursue them and achieve them. As leaders, we need to be across the numbers – from revenue targets to cost centers, investments to acquisitions, and everything in between. But not all numbers matter in the same way. I was reminded of this recently, reading startup entrepreneur, Steve Blank’s article on the challenges facing chip manufacturer, Intel. Like most large enterprises, Intel is building and optimizing its business based on its past successes. As one of the most successful technology companies of the past century, Intel has been at the forefront of tech-driven innovation. How many of us remember the “Intel inside” stickers emblazoned across our computers, servers and laptops? But there has been a shift recently. Intel’s last two CEOs delivered outstanding numbers – both in terms of profit and R&D investment. They optimized and executed at scale, with assured expertise. Yet, at the same time, Intel also missed two significant technology trends. As Blank points out, the first was the shift away from desktop computing and the second, was the opportunities presented by collaboration and licensing of technologies. While Intel has recently announced layoffs to the tune of about 11% of its workforce, it’s not yet the end of the road. It’s chip architectures still dominate data centers the world over, it has deep expertise, capability, intellectual property and leadership. But can it look to a different type of number to drive its future performance? The Three Horizons model of innovation provides leaders with a framework for managing current and future growth...
Five Steps to Building a Responsive Organization

Five Steps to Building a Responsive Organization

Transforming a business is hard work. It requires a vision and a program. It means shifting and reallocating resources. It’s about asking hard questions and listening to the equally hard answers. Transformation is both strategic and tactical – and for many organizations, it is exhausting. The challenge of transformation, however, is not about arriving at your “transformation destination” – it’s about building resilience in your business so that change becomes part of your business DNA. Because the kicker here, is that change never ends. But hasn’t this always been the way? Hasn’t change always been part of our business and professional lives? When venture capitalist, Marc Andreesen suggested that “software is eating the world”, he brought a sharp focus to a movement that had been brewing for decades. Building on the learnings arising from the dotcom bubble, a new generation of internet companies are building “real, high-growth, high-margin, highly defensible businesses” – and the reason is that the technology finally works. And accordingly, software is revolutionizing not just the way that a company does business – software increasingly IS the business. The fact is that almost every organization was designed to deal with a world that no longer exists. … most organizations still rely on a way of working designed over 100 years ago for the challenges and opportunities of the industrial age. Team structures support routine and static jobs. Siloed, command and control systems enable senior leadership to drive efficiency and predictability at the expense of free information flow, rapid learning, and adaptability. Software companies by their very nature, however, live in this new world. As Tom Goodwin...
Are Your Top Executives Running on Empty?

Are Your Top Executives Running on Empty?

You know the drill … into the office to get the day started. You are beset by distractions, dramas and issues, all of which keep you away from the important work that is (or should be) your focus. Yet, each and every day you work intensely and return home drained, catching up into the evening on emails that you missed or responses that need attention. In amongst all this, there is a lingering sense that the work that we do continues to mount and that our daily efforts amount to little. Sound familiar? A 2013 Gallup report indicated that just 30% of American employees feel engaged with the work that they perform. This extends across the entire employee base – which means that your top executives and even your leadership team are feeling the strain. In fact, they’re running on empty. To understand how leaders at all levels can address this challenge, Harvard Business Review, in conjunction with The Energy Project, conducted a survey of more than 12,000 mostly white-collar employees across a range of industries. The results were surprising – and enlightening – identifying four core needs that when met, vastly improve employee morale and performance: Physical: We respond well to opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work. This means a physical break of some kind. Emotional: Feeling valued and appreciated is far from a “soft skill”, it’s a powerful motivator. Mental: The opportunity to be removed from distraction helps employees focus and achieve tasks and through this gain a sense of satisfaction. Spiritual: Connecting your work to a higher purpose – beyond oneself – also has...

Seeing is Believing

It’s one thing to know a fact – but often times quite another to understand it. Sometimes it takes a while to sink in. Sometimes we just choose to ignore the situation in light of the facts. We can – in effect – choose to listen to another story. A story that we would prefer to hear. One that accords with our own world view. Sometimes. Just sometimes, we need to see something to believe it. Sometimes the facts need to be laid out before us in a way that shows a situation in its broadest as well as most specific context. So I was interested to see this infographic from SocialCast.on the Techi website. It shows, as I have said before, that we need more women in technology companies. But this is not just about gender – it’s about performance – especially for startups. Not only are the high-tech companies that  women build more capital-efficient than the norm (with higher revenues and less committed capital), there are fewer failures. And that is a good thing for us all. Nina Nets It Out: We all absorb facts in different ways. Some of us absorb knowledge through stories, others through deep reading, and others visually. The infographic above clearly shows that while 2010 marked a change in the nature of our demographic data – with women making up the majority of the workforce – we still have a way to go before we have that level of participation in the high tech...

Striking the Right Balance

President Obama recently sparked an interesting dialogue about empathy when he stated that he would nominate a Supreme Court justice “who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract theory. … It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives,” to replace the outgoing Justice David Souter.  In short, he wants someone with judicial empathy.  This has caused outrage from some and applause from others.  Regardless how you feel about this issue, it is interesting to see so much attention being paid to empathy within the context of the Supreme Court. Personally, I am a definite believer that empathy has a place in leadership and business in general.  That said, it must be properly balanced with power in order for long-lasting, sustainability to be achieved.  Karl Long wrote a wonderful piece discussing this balance.  Leaders must find a way to appeal to those that they lead and simultaneously command the respect of these individuals.  Some people respect a leader who demonstrates care and concern for them.  Others respect a powerful authority that leads based on a command and control approach.  I have written about a related topic in the past in a piece entitled “Democratic Dictatorship“.  In this piece I made the point that a leader is ultimately responsible to the organization’s best interests, not those of any particular individual.  However, to be clear, this does not imply that a leader cannot show empathy toward individuals within the organization.  On the contrary, it is often in the organization’s best interests to keep the people who work there satisfied.  In fact, loyalty expert Fred Reichheld, has...

Seventh Annual American Business Awards(SM)

The Stevie Awards has named nine executives who will chair specialized final-judging committees for its Seventh Annual American Business Awards. I am proud to say that I have been selected as the chairwoman for the Management category. The American Business Awards (www.stevieawards.com/aba) are open to all organizations operating within the U.S.A. – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small. Entries will be accepted through April 30 in dozens of categories from Executive of the Year, Company of the Year, and Best New Product or Service to Best Web Site and Best Annual Report. The nine committees are based on the categories that will be judged. The appointments are as follows: Company Categories: Ted C. Mesa, founder, president and CEO, Pointandship Software, Inc., Walnut Creek, CA Corporate Communications & Public Relations – Richard Ramlall, Senior VP for Strategic External Affairs, Programming, and International Marketing, RCN Corporation, Herndon, VA Customer Service – Troy Carrothers, Senior VP-Credit, Kohl’s Department Stores, Menomonee Falls, WI Human Resources – Rosemary Haefner, VP-Human Resources, CareerBuilder.com, Chicago, IL Information Technology – Anyck Turgeon, Chief of Market Strategy and Security, Crossroads Systems, Austin, TX Management – Nina Simosko, Senior VP of the Global Ecosystem & Partner Group, SAP Americas, Palo Alto, CA Marketing – Mimi San Pedro, VP-Global Marketing, Acxiom Corporation, Little Rock, AR Product Development – Glen Tindal, Chief Technology Officer, Intelliden, Colorado Springs, CO Sales – Sanford Brown, Chief Sales Officer, Heartland Payment Systems, Princeton, NJ Finalists in The 2009 American Business Awards will be determined in preliminary judging to be conducted in April and May by volunteer professionals nationwide. Final judging, led by...