The entrepreneur’s mindset – finding the comfort in discomfort

The entrepreneur’s mindset – finding the comfort in discomfort

Anyone that knows me, knows I love food. When I travel, I seek out textures and flavors. It’s exciting to learn how experiences and cultures intermingle – how the taste of the same dish delivered on opposite sides of the world changes. For example, those of you who have traveled to Japan, know that edamame can vary not just from restaurant to restaurant – but also from city to city and country to country. The edamame I get from my local restaurant is very different to that served in downtown Tokyo. When we travel, we carry with us an expectation, that our favorite foods will be the same, but different. We know this is the case and in most cases we are fine with this. We take that risk – and we take it because we know and understand the reward that comes with the risk. It’s in the food, its flavor and the experience of eating in a new, unexplored place. The risk is very much part of the experience. And as someone who travels a great deal, I have become increasingly fascinated with the power of our own thinking, with our mindset and how it can transform not just our business or our experiences. It can, in fact, change our worlds. As leaders, we are well versed in risk management. We are constantly balancing risk and reward on behalf of our businesses, stakeholders and shareholders. We build processes and governance on the one hand, to help manage risk at an organizational level, while on the other, we seek and push the limits of growth to drive business...
The New CTO – Chief Transformation Officer

The New CTO – Chief Transformation Officer

When we think of technology, we mostly think of the most visible, in your face, technology – like computers or mobile phones. Or we might think of the changes that have occurred due to the digitization of business or our personal lives. But it’s not just in the obvious places that technology is having an impact – and in the world of business, that means opportunity. As I suggested recently, CIOs are being called upon to deliver more innovation and corporate impact. Likewise, the chief technology officer (CTO) is being challenged – not just around the notion of technology, but in the way that technology is transforming the business landscape. Let’s take a look at one small example – wearable tech. Once upon a time, business people would wear pagers on their belts. They would carry BlackBerrys in their pockets. And this would provide them with connectedness – with email and business applications wherever they may be. This meant that the time between client meetings could be productive. It meant that business travel didn’t separate business leaders from the running of the organization.We could not only make calls to prospects, check in on our teams and so on, we could make decisions, email colleagues and act on the information that we received. But wearable technology was still clumsy and simplistic in its impact. Over the last five years, technology has improved and become smaller. We know from Moore’s Law that computing power doubles approximately every two years, and at the same time, that technology shrinks. The average smart phone now carries more processing power than was used to put...
Customer Relationships from the Outside In

Customer Relationships from the Outside In

I can remember when customer relationship management (CRM) was the shiniest new toy in the IT bag of tricks. I was working with Tom Siebel and some of the smartest executives in the industry and we felt like we were ahead of the curve. Back then, contact management systems were the lifeblood of every business manager. We’d live or die by these vital records. And then, at Siebel Systems, we changed the game. We came to market with the right software solution at precisely the time in which enterprises craved these services. We had seen the trend coming and were able to move quickly and comprehensively to claim the lion’s share of the market opportunity. But where had this trend come from and how did we know it was going to reshape the landscape of enterprise technology. In my first article for Forbes.com, I talk about some of the thinking behind the work I am leading with SAP’s Premier Customer Network. You can read the full article here. Photo Credit: Augusto Carmo via...

The Eyes, the Voice and the Shoes of the Customer

Let me start by asking a question – how early did you check your email inbox this morning? And how did you do it? Did you login to your computer from your desktop in the office? Did you use your laptop while eating breakfast? Or did you turn off the morning alarm, roll over, grab your BlackBerry and scroll through the latest and greatest? Let’s move on from email – and ask about social networks. When and how often do you check Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Amazingly (to me), a report last year indicated that 53% of people surveyed check their social networks before getting out of bed. That is significant for business. It is significant because these people work in our teams. For me, it is yet another indicator of what I call the life continuum and the need for us all to manage outcomes, not process. But it is significant for another reason – because these people who check their networks, their email and source their news as a high personal priority are also our customers. As leaders, when we talk about leadership, we often talk about vision. We seem to think that leaders – real leaders – have the ability to peer through the chaos and hectic daily activity of business, perceiving a clear path towards a promised (and promising) future. But, in my view, we are seeing a new form of leadership emerge. One which is less reliant on that leader’s personal vision. This new leader engages in what I call customer-oriented thinking. But it’s more than just thinking – it is about the eyes,...

The Kibbutz Model of Social Media

I have been thinking, for some time, about the different aspects of social media and how they can apply to the day-to-day challenges of leadership and the opportunities of business. In particular, I want to understand where social media can impact customer oriented thinking. Interestingly, for me, social media almost seems like a perfect storm of convergence. For example, just look at how: Technologies are getting easier to use – blogs make it easy for executives and non-technically savvy leaders to publish their thoughts and ideas on the internet People are attracted to ideas and connections – like moths to the flame, we all find topics that we are passionate about and engage in spirited conversation with others who share our passions Conversation and opinion rule – the conversations and opinions of customers are not only important online – they drive web traffic, promote products, deliver feedback, do a great job of marketing our offerings, and they can “encourage” a strong customer service ethic given their public nature Behaviors are shifting – we are becoming more used to “participating” in the online communities that form using social media But while social media applies easily to the marketing arm of your business – it strikes me that there are many ways to align social media and business value beyond just the marketing funnel. One such method would be to look at the complex models that govern the kibbutz. Let’s compare the elements and qualities of kibbutz and social media: Kibbutz Social media A form of unique rural community An online space which allows for the creation and curation of unique...

Customers: Leaders and Followers

Often when we discuss the idea of leadership, we apply it to our own organizations. We think about the various echelons of leaders – from the first line managers through the senior ranks to the role of the chief executive. But it is also important for us –as leaders within our businesses – to characterize and understand the leadership aspirations of different classes of stakeholders who are just beyond the reach of our business boundaries. Think, for example, of your best customers. What can the language of leadership tell us about their experience? What can the lens of leadership reveal about the motivations, interests and level of engagement of your customers and how can this impact your own leadership style? Customer Leaders – Innovators and Early Adopters Just imagine for a moment that you have a group of customer leaders. This is a group who are very closely aligned with your business. You have deep reciprocal relationships across your businesses and leaders at all levels are in regular contact. Quite possibly you have extensive co-innovation or co-marketing arrangements. What’s more, these customers expect to be in the advanced guard of any new innovation that you produce – and they work with you closely to preserve a competitive market advantage. In this way they are what Everett Rogers in his book Diffusion of Innovations calls “innovators.” Following closely behind the innovators are the “early adopters”. These are likely to be your upstart customers – more recent, ambitious customers. They can see the opportunity that close engagement represents and they are open to playing with moderate levels of risk. They engage...