How to Break Free From Constraints

This is Day Thirteen in the 30 Days of Reinvention Video Series [#30DaysReinvention].

Become more mindful of unnecessary frictions.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Hey it’s Rand,

The more fuel you have the greater ability you have to break through inertial constraints, the greater ability you have to overcome roadblocks that can hold you back.

Let’s run through a few question and answer sets to illustrate how this works. You can answer for yourself or for your business.

Do you embrace failure?

Are you A – Failure is never considered a viable option, and I do not encourage a culture of questioning.

Are you B – My culture encourages orthogonal thinking, taking risks, and failure is expected, but this is more talk than walk.

Are you C -My culture encourages orthogonal, out of the box thinking, taking risks, and failure is expected, but this practice is sandboxed to limited groups within my team.

Or finally, are you D – My culture encourages orthogonal thinking, taking risks and failure in all parts of my team.

Here’s another one:

Are your decisions data-driven?

Are you A – I don’t use any machine learning or deep-learning algorithms to make decisions.

Are you B – I use some reporting systems to collate and analyse some data, but decisions don’t hinge on this.

Are you C – Actionable decision-making is driven by the analysis of complex learning algorithms.

Or are you D – I have integrated complex learning algorithms into my activities.

Are you starting to get it yet?

Let’s try another one.

Do you have a mission or meta-purpose?

Are you A – My mission is purely profit-oriented, and based on generating superior products and services.

Are you B – My mission is profit-oriented, and based on generating superior products and services, and also includes a set of core organisational values.

Are you C – My mission is to make a difference for my entire ecosystem of people, be they part of my team, partners or suppliers.

Or are you D – My meta-purpose is to make a difference for the entire planet.

Examples of such a meta-purpose are:

  • Increasing world empathy
  • Organising the world’s information.

How do you rate on this scale?

What is your mission?

What is your meta-purpose?

Let me change tack with another question:

How asset intensive are you?

Are you A – Except for a small number of peripherals, such as printers, all of the assets I use are owned by me.

Are you B – I make use of a limited number of on-demand services, such as cloud computing.

Are you C – On-demand assets and services are used in a number of my activities, such as leasing office space.

Or are you D – On-demand assets and services are used in many of my activities, including mission-critical activities.

Where are you on this spectrum?

Would you consider A to be higher friction than D?

Hopefully you are starting to see a pattern here as I’ve purposefully arranged the answers so that they range from high to low friction: A is higher friction than B; B is higher friction than C; and C is higher friction than D.

Apply this thinking to all of your activities and become more mindful of how many  unnecessary frictions there are that can be removed.

 

 

How to Create a Growth Engine

This is Day Twelve in the 30 Days of Reinvention Video Series [#30DaysReinvention].

Achieve exponential growth by adding fuel and removing friction.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Hey it’s Rand,

The world around you is changing constantly, and today the rate of change seems to be accelerating.

How do you feel about yourself in the middle of all this change?

Are you personally growing or do you feel like you are stagnating?

What does growth mean for you?

I like to think of growth in very simple terms and have developed a Growth Algorithm which you can use to achieve exponential growth. It works like this:

[ Growth involves adding fuel and growth involves removing friction. ]

What ways are you currently adding fuel and removing friction in your life and business?

Do you have a strong support group around you?

Do you attract top talent to align with your activities?

These are 2 examples of adding fuel.

How have you organised your various activities?

Is there a smooth and efficient fluidity between them or are they all over the map?

How well do you manage the people who are assisting you?

How do you motivate and incentivise them to give of their best?

These are examples of removing friction.

In addition to thinking from a fuel/friction perspective, another way of organising your growth-related activities is to divide them into aspirational and operational activities.

Aspirational activities are higher level and include developing a strong sense of what direction you are headed in so that you can always determine whether anything you are doing is directionally-correct. This helps you to measure progress and inspire others to assist you in achieving your goals.

Operationally there are three main levers: engagement, execution, and finances.

The more engagement you have the more efficient your execution and the more financial resources you have at hand the more you can grow your influence base.

Taken together all these activities give you an extremely powerful growth engine

Are you ready to rev your growth engine?

How to Engage With Your Work

This is Day Eight in the 30 Days of Reinvention Video Series [#30DaysReinvention].

Show up completely in your workplace and be more engaged.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Hey its Rand,

Work defines us more than any other activity in our lives.

Of course, we work to generate income; of course, we say that we work to create meaning; that we work to fulfil our passions.

Yet, the percentage of people disengaged from their work continues to rise and rise.

We spend so much of our time at the activity of work what with the concept of the work place having been diffused by technology, yet we paradoxically limit the amount of personality and self we bring to work.

Many people view work in the single dimension of their job title,  or a single role; They are directed by their job specification; they are defined by their corporate culture.

How do you define your work?

Is it a passion?

Is it pure joy?

Or is it a job that you do begrudgingly?

What is your relationship to work?

Think about this from two perspectives:

  1. In the past,
  2. and right now, today.

What work do you see yourself doing in the future?

How far out do you see that future point being?

What work would you do in a perfect world?

What is success to you?

What is failure to you?

Do you bring anything from your parents into your work? How did they relate to work?

Do you show up in your entirety at work? What parts of you show up?

How can you show up completely?

What’s holding you back from doing so?

A World Leading Entrepreneur Growth Program for Leaders

EXOscalr is proud to launch its world leading Entrepreneur Growth Program, which is designed to provide early to mid stage companies invaluable insights into achieving high growth.

The Program runs over 6 weeks and gives senior executives practical advice, algorithms and methodologies that will significantly boost the velocity of their growth.

Announcing the Program, EXOscalr CEO Rand Leeb-du Toit said, “Growth is the perennial focus for business leaders. Yet it is often misunderstood and mismanaged. The Entrepreneur Growth Program dispels the myths and delivers an unfair competitive advantage.”

“This advantage firstly delivers the impetus for growth through a suite of tools designed to achieve a growth boost and secondly, delivers methods for harnessing the ensuing chaos and ensuring it is directionally correct.”

The Program is available to companies globally and brings cutting edge insights from leading high growth organisations, in Silicon Valley and internationally, directly to entrepreneurs and business executives.

In addition, EXOscalr is releasing its 2016 Growth Report which highlights the 10 facets for driving business growth and how to create a concerted front strategy and business-wide operating system for achieving the levels of growth only seen by leading companies.

“Growth is not all lead generation and pitching. There is a much wider set of activities that must be undertaken by dedicated growth groups working across a business. Anything less is tantamount to stagnation in today’s dynamic business environment,” said Mr Leeb-du Toit.

The Growth Report explores what a dedicated growth group should consist of and also what to look for when hiring the right people for it.

The Report can be downloaded from the EXOscalr website and expressions of interest in the Entrepreneur Growth Program can be made directly to Mr Leeb-du Toit via email: rand@exoscalr.com.

Smart Enterprise: The Next Wave

The Australian tech and startup blog, From Little Things, has an interesting post on Why enterprise startups are the place to be.

It includes some quotes from me on why I see this to be an interesting area:

The next big technology wave looks like it will be an extension of the enterprise software market. Leeb-Du Toit thinks Australia is well placed to be at the forefront of smart enterprise: the development of incredibly fast systems which can process large swathes of data, to drive decisions in real time.

“It will be driven beyond cloud through new computer architectures that can achieve greater man-machine symbiosis with computers doing far more heavy lifting, so that knowledge workers can transform data into action in real time,” he says.

Top Four Factors Driving Innovation: For Sydney From Jerusalem, via Auckland

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Chief Science Advisor to the New Zealand Prime Minister, gave a talk on Monday, 5th December titled Innovation through science: the pathway to economic prosperity–a conversation with Auckland.

Much of what he has to say about Auckland could very easily be transposed and repeated largely and boldly in capital letters about Sydney.

His talk is about innovation, of the science and knowledge and based variety,  and how it can be used to boost the economy of a particular city or region through the creation of a well-developed ecosystem.

He defines innovation as being about using knowledge, research and experimental data to generate a product or service which has impact, generally by way of producing something to sell.

He points out that there are two myths that need to be overcome when discussing and developing a thorough understanding of innovation.

The first myth is that innovation is achieved by individuals working as backyard inventors. He rightly points out that the bulk of innovation emanates from multidisciplinary interactions. The reason for this is that innovation is first and foremost about doing things differently and as such requires a major shift from reductionist linear thinking. Such shifts mostly take place when disciplinary boundaries are crossed.

He points out that one of the attractions of big science projects is that they can become the nucleus and focal point for disparate disciplines to work together, leading to great new ideas. He uses the World Wide Web and wireless broadband as examples of incredible innovations that came out of such big science projects.

The second myth is that innovation takes place within a linear process moving in an orderly fashion from basic research to applied research to development to sales that is predictable in direction and time and readily divisible into these four categories. He very correctly points out that in science-based innovation, at least half the products that are developed and sold originate in research in an area of activity well away from that that started it.

He points out that science-based innovation requires at least two major components–firstly a sufficiency of ideas flow and secondly an ecosystem that’s allows the market and scientist to get close together. Statistically, he states that the Israelis believe that they need to evaluate at least 100 ideas that are thought to be of value in order to see one that actually justifies investment. As he says, this gives you an idea of the ecosystem we have to build.

And this is where we can start transposing because he points out that the Israelis don’t have any more researchers than New Zealand, just a better linked up system. The same can be said about Australia.

There are, of course, other components required to create a complete innovation ecosystem, as he points out these include access to capital, to professional expertise in capital raising, in IP management, experts in dealing with regulatory affairs and skills in managing an innovation company–as these are markedly different to the skills required to run a property investment company or, equally relevant to the Australian context, a mining, professional services or agricultural company.

He pauses for a moment to reflect on how New Zealand came to be in the position that it is in. He feels that their failure to move as far as other small countries in developing a knowledge economy is  partly a function of their cultural history. Australia has been called the lucky country and he could very well have been speaking directly about this country, as opposed to New Zealand, when he states: we have been a lucky country, able to live off of farming. Of course, in Australia we would add mining to this picture.

He feels that the lack of a sense of crisis and urgency led to an undervaluation of the role of intellectual activity and science, and contrasts this to countries like Israel and Singapore where a real sense of crisis led them to invest heavily in knowledge and science and science-based innovation. They had to use the only natural resource they really had–the combined intellectual horsepower of their well-educated populations.

We do not yet have a sense of acute crisis but things are starting to change. We cannot get rich by carrying on doing what we do now, and yet there are enormous demands for a better social system, for higher wages, for a cleaner environment. Clearly we have to be richer to achieve these things. And what is our unexploited asset–the very asset other small countries have recognised–we have a good education system and we have clever people, we have a stable society, we are corruption free–we are good place from which to make new knowledge, protect it, exploit it and export it. Even if we were in better shape than we are, there is another reason to invest more in the knowledge economy–we need to diversify, since diversified economies are more robust.

Ditto Australia.

He repeatedly used the term ecosystem in his talk. He did this intentionally. In Australia, as in his country, they have a habit of believing in single interventions rather than integrated systemwide approaches.  He notes that in every country that they looked at as a potential comparator and which has done well, that country has both recognised and acted on multiple points across the whole system simultaneously.

This is a point I have repeatedly made about Australia as well. We have had some great programs over the years but these have been provided from the stance of a single intervention strategy rather than viewing the ecosystem as the complex system that it is.

MULTI-LAYERED INNOVATION ECOSYSTEMS

This part of his talk is music to my ears:

Key to all of what I have been saying is a need to have a multi-layered innovation ecosystem. It has many components. It has to have local government committed to promoting, encouraging and if necessary, part-financing an “innovation city”. It needs the development of technology parks clustering academia and entrepreneurs along with support services. It needs institutions–hospitals, universities, technical institutes–to cooperate rather than compete. It needs venture capital. It needs a commitment to work together and to attract the best and brightest to want to live in Auckland (transpose SYDNEY). We cannot leave it all to central government even though their role is critical–the evidence is clear, local government must play a role.

 We have several academic precincts and we need to work out how to integrate and use each to maximal advantage without destroying their individuality.

WHAT WILL DRIVE MORE INNOVATION?

Four things matter, according to the Israeli experts he has spoken to, in driving more innovation. These are education, basic research, a holistic approach and a risk-taking attitude.

He goes on to talk about the Israeli model for incubators that are owned jointly between investors and the local authority or between the local authority and the local university. He points out that this model is based on a high ideas flow, and aggressive culling, high levels of investment and international management and technology input from the start. New ventures are supported with loans, not grants, to encourage entrepreneurial activity – written off if the product does not make it. Auckland has to work as “Auckland Inc.” to attract more risk capital to Auckland. It is uniquely placed to create an environment for this type of innovation.

Again, ditto Sydney.

KEEPING IT LOCAL

Much like Sydney, and the rest of Australia for that matter,  Auckland suffers from a major brain drain. All too often  we/they lose great entrepreneurs and scientists to other parts of the world. Recognizing this he highlights that while it’s one thing to build knowledge-based businesses, it’s quite another to keep them locally. Essential to doing that is to create an environment that keeps the R&D function in our city.

We have to build a city and a country that really values knowledge and science and entrepreneurship. We need technology parks, we need an intertwining of researchers, in the public and private sector, we need a world-class university and a vibrant knowledge-based ecosystem.

Spot on, and ditto Sydney.

The investment needed is partly fiscal, but so much more of it is psychological and motivational. Let us do the things that enable Auckland to brand itself as a city of innovation; a smart city in a smart nation.

Well said, Sir Peter!

At one point Sydney seemed to be heading in the right direction. We had a focus on brand Sydney, but I think we’ve lost the way – let’s focus laser-like on Sydney Inc or we will soon be shown up by our southerly neighbours!

 

Globalizing Game Mechanics, Foursquare At A Time

At Seggr, we are both huge fans of game mechanics and the way in which Foursquare has embraced  their uncanny ability to tap into our deepest human needs and grow community. As the Foursquare user community explodes globally, so too are we finding that brands are starting to recognize Foursquare as a thought leader in bringing them deeper engagement via the use of funware.

Jennifer Van Grove has captured the essence of the way in which Foursquare is leading the charge in this arena. Her Mashable post is titled 5 Ways Foursquare is Changing the World, and in it she sets out how this location-based service is playing out in the real world.

The five key points that she makes are:

1. Social Media as Currency –  customer loyalty, as she points out, is stuck ina pre-digital plastic quagmire of cards and anachronistic point tallying. However, Forsquare’s check-in model is leading to social media being treated as a currency and we predict a major shake up of loyalty systems.

2.  Gaming social activity –  thanks to Foursquare, Twitters initial “what are you doing” has morphed into “who has the most interesting life“.  Foursquare mandates that you check into physical places, which means that your friends can be notified not only what you are doing, but also where you are doing it. Exponentially,  this maps out into significant benefits for those who participate as well as the economy as a whole and for individual businesses.

3.  Localized brand loyalty –  Jennifer points out that Foursquare is redefining what it means to be a regular:

…mayor-only rewards are cropping up everywhere Foursquare is played (which is now nearly everywhere) and they’re creating customer loyalty battles that are good for regulars and great for businesses…. Foursquare has found a way to make being a regular at your favorite pizza joint mean something tangible.

4. Personalizing place –  businesses are able to engage with their ” socially-active customers” at a much deeper level through services like Foursquare, while also using this engagement as a way to market themselves more widely. As Jennifer points out this two-way street builds community “on a whole new level”. Expect to see a healthy growth curve over the next 18 months in the number of people who can be defined as being socially-active. Consider as a benchmark where we were at in this respect circa mid 2007 and you’ll see how more social, more transparent people have already become.

5.   Verticalized game mechanics –  universities should all see themselves as ” more than classrooms and buildings…(as) an interconnected community of people, ideas and experiences, and (and should) actively (pursue) ways to enhance those connections.”

Jennifer is quoting (above) Perry Hewitt, Harvard University’s Director of Digital Communications. They have pulled a campus-based game based on Foursquare as a way to build connections between students, staff and other members of the broader Harvard community.

It looks like 2010 will be the year that game mechanics  is elevated beyond being seen as purely consumer-based gimmickry.

Social business design: Humanizing the company at every turn

Kara Swisher has done a fun interview with Ford’s social go to guy, Scott Monty, in which he does his impersonation of Bill Cosby’s cocaine skit:

Cosby: I said to a guy, “Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful,” and he said, “Because it intensifies your personality.” I said, “Yes, but what if you’re an asshole?”

Scott’s message is that “social media is the cocaine of the communications industry“. If you have crappy products, if your company behaves like an ahole…people are going to find out about it way quicker through social media. The glass half full stance does point to the same holding true for great products and companies too.

It’s a memorable analogy, but the key take out for me from this interview is Scott’s comment that for Ford, “social media is absolutely key to everything we are doing“.

Take advertising, for example, Ford has moved to using 15 second spots with real people telling their stories. “Advertising is social mediaesque“.

Scott also essentially defined social business design: Its about humanizing the company at every turn, whether in HR, product development, customer service, PR or other areas.