Tag Archives: culture

Persistence & Determination are Omnipotent

In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins; not through strength, but through persistence.”  — Buddha

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The leaves are browning, the mercury is dropping and the rains are more frequent.  Rather like the changing of the seasons a lot of businesses in traditional industries with traditional ways of working are finding sales, margins and profits are fast browning off like the autumn leaves.  Today many businesses caught in a sales, margin or profit eroding death spiral the typical management reaction is “restructuring or rightsizing” or “cost reduction” which inevitably forgets the most important R – “Rethinking” how we can remodel businesses to be more innovative and ultimately more profitable.

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Starting Creatovate two years ago I decided to focus our consultancy services and efforts to help client’s growth through what I personally believe is the most sustainable growth pathway – Innovation and International Business expansion.  At its most basic definition innovation can be described as “change that creates economic value”.  You must be either reshaping value chains to remove cost and / or create value i.e. reduced cost and/or increase prices to customers and consumers.  You can also typically expand your business into one of 3 new quadrants using the Ansoff matrix – new products or services development to existing markets (bottom right quadrant), enter new markets with existing products or services (top left quadrant) or take the bravest bet which is new products and/or services to new markets (top right quadrant).

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Ansoff Matrix:  http://www.quickmba.com/strategy/matrix/ansoff/

Standing still is not an option in business today.  You will get run over by new entrants, or incumbents who are running faster than your business or sideswiped by other businesses you did not even see out of your peripheral vision who enter from completely different market spaces with new products and/or services that better meet your customers’ needs (top right quadrant innovators).  Starting any new business is not easy and having worked for large multinationals for over 15 years and with well-established clients over the past two years I can honestly say that no one business is safe in the ‘new economy’.  Complacency will be the seeds of your business demise.  From the Board level to the mail room roles will continue to be constantly restructured and re-scoped and I am afraid to say often without enough upfront ‘Rethinking’.

“Industrial Relations” was a widely used word in the 1990s which later became “Human Relations” and is now more commonly titled “People & Culture” in large progressive modern organisations. During my post-graduate Bachelor of Commerce in Management Honours thesis study I examined Industrial Relations in the Airlines Industry and quickly discovered here was an industry that would always be placing immense pressure on the ‘People’ component in the Value Chain of the Airline industry for the simple reason the typical airline cost structure is divided into 3 almost equal components: 1/3 on planes, 1/3 on petrol and 1/3 on people.  As much as an Airline would like to negotiate a good deal on planes that is going to be difficult when your choices are limited to either a Boeing or Airbus Jet plane and as much as Airlines would like a better deal on their fuel bill that negotiation will also be difficult as Shell, Exxon Mobil and BP will have a view on fuel prices and continued upwards direction.  So People become front and centre in the ‘cost reduction’ eyes of management and to this day Airlines management are still in a constant struggle with how to get the best out of their people for the least possible pay!

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Scattered throughout the many loss making Airlines globally there are a few stars making money and my bet is they will have a better strategy and culture to differentiate themselves and possibly a better business model e.g. Southwest Airlines or Air Asia.  Walking into the Ansett NZ head office in 1996 to talk to the Airline Pilots Association union representative I noticed immediately a quote on the wall from Sir Reg Ansett the founder of the Airline that has gone the way of many today post his time in the cockpit “Nothing in this world can take the place of Persistence.”    That quote was on a plaque with Sir Reg Ansett name attached to it but its origins came from the late U.S. President Calvin Coolidge and its full quote is “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.  Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”

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President Coolidge quote and Buddha’s quote brings me to one more thing I have come to realise over the past 20+ years studying, working and consulting.  In the ‘East’ businesses persist and are patient.  Suntory management in Japan became famous for its willingness to wait a long time for results. The company took 46 years to make a profit on beer and 14 years for one of its biotechnology units to genetically engineer a blue rose, thought to be a symbol of the impossible (Kachi & Dvorak, 2014).  Compare this approach to the one most common in the ‘West’ where the constant demands for 10%++ top line and bottom line growth year on year is simply put “unsustainable”, especially if all we are doing is running on the spot and demanding ‘more for less’ from our ‘People’.  Where is the ‘Culture’ that says, ‘persist’, ‘explore’, ‘adapt’, and ‘go again and again and again’ until you turn a dollar, convert a customer, open a new market or create a product or service that solves a new or existing customer’s problem?

Today, with technology front and centre in our lives and as ‘software eats up the world’ around us and computers, apps, robots and systems replace the ‘people’ in many business processes it is doubly and triply important business leaders and their people, Stop! Think! And take a leaf from the wise men and women of the East.  Pause, take the time to reflect, think and then Act! Be brave in your restructures, remodel your business models and take controlled bets with new businesses, new products, and new services into new markets and new and existing customers.  You can no longer win in the bottom left quadrant of the Ansoff matrix and if you are not already moving to the top left or the adjacent right and planning and implementing a manageable bet into the top right quadrant you risk facing the same fate as the late Ansett Airlines.  Every industry is rapidly becoming another Airline industry.  Strategic choices rest with everyone in your business from the boardroom to the factory floor and whether you are a winner or loser in the long race to the finish line depends on how you get the most out of your ‘People’ and create a winning ‘Culture’.

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Dermott Dowling is founding Director @Creatovate, Innovation & International Business consultancy.  Creatovate help businesses create, innovate and growth through sustainable innovation processes and spreading their wings outside their home base.

References:

Hiroyuki Kachi & Phred Dvorak (2014) Wall Street Journal, January http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303819704579320470878396540, viewed on 8th May 2014

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CreatoNews Spring 2013

Spring 2013 CreatoNews

Stop Bitching! Start Pitching 🙂

Do you have more Revenue Generators than Cost Centres in your Business?

Sell something, talk to your customers, preferably face to face…Creating Value from Commodities…Create an Innovation Culture

food-crisis-world

 

Spring 2013 CreatoNews


A case study on reinvention and growth: Swisse is not selling vitamins, its selling wellness.

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Published on anthillonline September 12, 2013 By Dermott Dowling

http://anthillonline.com/a-case-study-on-reinvention-and-growth-swisse-is-not-selling-vitamins-its-selling-wellness/

We have all heard of the 4Ps of marketing but at Swisse they are different.

At Swisse, the 4Ps stand for in order of priority:
1) People,
2) Passion, and
3) Products before 4) Profits

Putting values first and Strategy second, Radek Sali and his co-owners at Swisse Wellness, set about revolutionising the Wellness industry and taking it out of traditional health stores and pharmacies into the mainstream mass market.

In just under five years, revenues have increased from $15 million to a forecast $250 million for FY2013. The brand has been taken into 30,000 stores in the US. And, the company has created an army of celebrity ambassadors, all hitting different target markets.

All of this has helped propel Swisse from a “vitamins only brand” into the mainstream “wellness” market. The result is a lift in brand awareness from 20 per cent to 95 per cent.

All this in just under five years.

Radek Sali, smart dressing and constantly smiling CEO of Swisse Wellness recently shared some insights and lessons about creating exceptional growth to a packed VECCI luncheon.

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1. Building strategic partnerships

Without a doubt, the strategic partnerships the company built in the 1990s helped build credibility that underpinned the company’s growth.

Most doctors will only spend one day in their University course on wellness. Yet, there are already over 15,000 published studies on the benefits of healthy life and diet on maintaining and prolonging your health and wellbeing.

To concentrate on the promotion of wellness in the market, Swisse created a host of partnerships. It invested one per cent of revenue ($7 million over the past 3 years) into R&D in this area. This R&D investment was more than the company profits during that period.

These partnerships have helped to build Swisse credentials in an industry previously tarnished with the ‘alternative’ medicine tag, a categorisation which Radek prefers to call ‘complementary medicine’.  Sali also noted that this category now accounts for 14 per cent of consumers spending on health and wellness.

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2. Ambassadors

Today, it is very hard to avoid the constant barrage of Swisse celebrities selling new remedies to a healthy life, wellbeing and happiness. There is the original ambassador Ricky Ponting, other sports stars and now, more recently, the heavy hitters of Ellen DeGeneres and Nicole Kidman who were a key part of the US market launch.

Sali pointed out that Ponting had been a long time Swisse advocate and user of their products during his playing career. He explained that asking if people would become an ambassador often costs less or, no more, than hiring an actor for their commercials.

But, it hasn’t been all epic wins. In the case of Geoff Huegill, Swisse were approached when he was 139kg and committed to reinventing himself as a medal winning swimmer. Sali turned him down. But, he ate some humble pie later when the company went back to Huegill to ask him on board after his gold medal haul at the Commonwealth Games.

Sali considers it a “learn, grow and improve” moment, which underpins the next fundamental lesson.

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3. Values and positive culture

We have seen and heard it several times before in successful businesses: the importance of creating a positive culture and having core values for guiding the company.

Sali noted his own personal ‘reinvention’ from that of the standard Aussie bloke with three suits on rotation, to forcing himself to ‘dress up different’ every day, to be more creative, to consciously smile, say hello to everyone and, create a positive ‘can do’ attitude at Swisse.

An example of how this culture has materialised at Swisse is the “health & happiness” day for employees to take an extra day off anytime in the year to ‘recharge’. This immediately resulted in reduced sick leave and absenteeism.

Another example was the ‘gift’ of ‘feedback’ and embracing the ‘thanks’ that goes with receiving feedback when there is opportunity to improve. Using a sports analogy, Sali pointed out you should not be surprised, or hurt, to receive feedback to improve, just as a coach goes on at quarter and half time giving players advice to lift their game on field.

Some of the perks of working as Swisse include having access to a personal trainer, a masseuse, free organic breakfasts and lunches and, a healthy workplace lifestyle. These elements of the work culture were noted and commented on by Ellen DeGeneres when she visited their Collingwood offices.

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4. Use cash flow forecasts rather than ROI for innovation

Last but not least, Sali spoke about his preference to forecast with cash flows. He believes you should only ‘bet what you are willing and can afford to lose’, rather than chasing illusive ROIs. This is especially true when it comes to innovating in terms of new products, new categories and new markets.

Sali believes it is human nature is to make the numbers work and hit the hurdle rate ROI. However, if you can take the approach of determining what are you prepared and able to bet (and possibly lose) and deciding how bold to be, a business is going to achieve a different outcome.

Sali and the Swisse team have serious and lofty ambition: $1.5 billion in sales in five years’ time. This translates into a massive lift from the $250 million in sales today.

The company has plans to expand into more countries, including Europe and Asia, to create a truly global brand with Aussie roots.

Sali knows it is ambitious and, not without its challenges.

He admits, like everyone he has his ‘oh S**T’ moments and fears but, pointed to the fact everyone is in control of their own destiny and, without asking you will never receive.

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Sali’s six tips to grow your business

In closing Sali, shared the following tips to creating exceptional business growth:

  1. Create a positive culture & values
  2. Work out the ad formula for how to make an impact
  3. Grow into new areas
  4. Get the best team and keep them
  5. Innovate, reinvent and change as needed
  6. You are in control of your destiny

Dermott Dowling is founding Director @Creatovate, Innovation & International Business consultancy. Creatovate help businesses create,  innovate and grow through sustainable innovation processes and spreading their wings outside their home base.


How to start a beautiful organisation

Lessons and confessions of a serial innovator @EvanThornley #ACBC12

The 4 sides to a Beautiful Organisation

Evan Thornley, former CEO of Better Place Australia is a successful entrepreneur who has also served in public office.  Prior to that, Evan co-founded and served as chairman and CEO of Look Smart Ltd. (NASD: LOOK), an Internet search advertising company that remains one of the few Australian technology companies to be taken public on the NASDAQ  and to have delivered a 100x return to venture capital investors.   Evan was also a Founding Director of GetUp!, Online activist network with over 400,000 members.

Evan shared some of his wisdom with the readers of Anthill post his address to the Australian Chambers Business Congress titled ‘confessions of a serial innovator’.  In opening his address Evan noted how the first 6 years of a child’s life are fundamental to his/her success as an adult, not unlike a Start-up!  Here is some of the key out-takes from Evan’s address that hopefully help you start a beautiful organisation or continue to build a beautiful organisation.

Great Idea

Great Idea

Long Side #1: Great Idea

Every business starts with a ‘great idea however, Evan shared too many entrepreneurs rush to execution without thoroughly thinking through that idea, testing it, sharing it with others for builds and feedback and miss the two fundamental determinants of a good idea.  Does your idea meet a core set of unmet needs for a group of customers, or solve some problems they never knew they had?  Does your idea measure up on fundamental economics?  It is not enough to have great technology and hope that customers and profitability comes post commercialisation of the idea.  Technology is important but it is only a means to an end and the fundamentals of your idea must stand up to the two tests of a great idea.  Evan shared the example of Better Place founder Shai Agassi who spent two years thinking through, working on his idea and sharing it in a white paper for builds from his government, businesses, investors and the community.  Sir Michael Young who founded the Open University and many other social businesses noted that the true test of a ‘great idea’ is whether it can sustain a team and organisation around itself within the first few years.

Team

Team

Long Side #2: Team

Great ideas that are good from a business and social sense will attract a team.  Evan noted he is approached frequently by passionate creative entrepreneurs’ who he described as ‘lone rangers’.  Great creativity and passion for their idea but without a team around them they will not go onto great success.   Evan’s feedback to these ‘lone ranger’s’ is ‘go away and come back when you have a team of 3 or 4 people around you’.  In filling your team the tips are look for people with strengths and skills that complement the founder.  How good are they?  How passionate are they about bringing your now ‘shared’ idea to reality?  When asked how do you recruit people from paid secure employment into your start-up Evan was quick to point out entrepreneurs have a responsibility not to take people out of paid employment and put them in a high risk start up without explaining the risks associated with a start-up.  People need to self-select if they want to leave the safety net of secure employment for the risk and rewards of a start-up.  Evan also pointed out the only thing worse than not having a great team member join your team is having them join and then freak out when the going gets tough and have them worrying about meeting the mortgage or paying the kids school fees.

Culture & Values

Culture & Values

Short Side #3: Culture & Values

The first of two short sides to a beautiful organisation Culture & Values are the important ‘glue’ or ‘anchor’ that will hold the start-up together and guide it through troubled waters.  The beauty of a start-up is that the founder(s) get to set the culture and values for the organisation.  How those founders treat their people will be fundamental to how that start up performs and is perceived by its customers and stakeholders.  For more on the importance of culture and values in start-ups and organisations see Lesson #3 and Bonus Tip #2 in Are you a winner or a loser?

Governance

Governance

Short Side #4: Governance

The second of the two long sides of a beautiful organisation Governance is often overlooked by founders early in their ventures to their detriment down the line.  Second only to running out of financial runway in terms of problems for start-ups and entrepreneurs’ are problems caused by a lack of Governance.  Fights between founders, between founders and investors, and issues of Governance only get worse the more successful a business becomes as everyone seeks to claim ownership of the entity.  A clear shareholders agreement, a Board of Advisors and if possible a Board of Directors are some of the Governance tools an entrepreneur should not gloss over or leave to later on down the track when starting a beautiful organisation.

For a short video share on the 4 sides to a beautiful organisation go to…

For an in-depth insight from serial innovator and entrepreneur Evan Thornley you can watch his Tedx Talk linked to here…

Dermott Dowling is founding Director @Creatovate Innovation & International Business Consultancy.  Dermott is a strategic, innovative, business professional with a passion for building great brands, businesses and teams with experience and achievements across companies, countries and cultures.


Are you a winner or a loser?

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Here are some lessons learned from time spent listening to and talking to @RosabethKanter @ #ACBC12.  For those readers who have not heard of Rosabeth Kanter, she a renowned Harvard Business Professor who has inspired cutting-edge innovation, strategy, leadership and culture. She has worked a broad spectrum of for-profit and non-profit industries, including celebrated corporations like IBM, Proctor & Gamble and Verizon. I spent some time interviewing Rosabeth at #ACBC12 on behalf of Anthill Magazine and here is a summary of here are 5 key lessons learned from Kanter.

Her advice is equally applicable for new businesses as it is to established businesses.

Lesson # 1) Good moods, stickiness & parties!

When people in business are winning they are in a good mood and its contagious infecting others with more energy, there is less absenteeism, and people turn up even when they do not have to and take initiative rather than waiting for instruction.  Winners get invited to the best parties and thus, the opportunity to network with more successful organisations. Losers are left out.  Networks are vital and why many small companies flourish and grow.

Winner tip: Act bigger than you are if you are small and network with successful companies. Start-ups that dominate their industries usually had better partners early in their start up life.

Lesson #2) Warning! Winning can be boring! It’s hard work.

Just like an Olympian you need to practice every day and not become complacent.The people who make up teams in winning organisations may change but, the culture that perpetrates the organisation keeps the team winning.

Likewise, the complete opposite can occur for losers. There’s a U.S. college football team that lost every game of for nine years! The members of the football team changed, but the culture and attitude didn’t, so the team kept losing.

Winners monitor and measure their performance. They live by the saying ‘what gets measured gets done’

Winner tip: Use key success indicators with precision meticulously, to get things done.

Lesson #3) Winners are leaders who take responsibility.

Winners are leaders who take responsibility. Winning companies are run by people who are not afraid to say the three hardest words to say in business: ‘I was wrong.’

Losers love cover ups and do not say these words.

Winning businesses have a strong set of values and core purpose. P&G, founded in 1837, codified its values 20 years ago when it acquired Richardson Vicks.

P&G created its PVP (Purpose, Values, and Principles) to guide and unify the company with a common cause. It helped to create the company’s growth strategy of ‘improving more consumers’ lives in small but, meaningful ways, each day’. The PVP inspires P&G people to make a positive contribution every day.

These lessons are highly applicable to start ups, many of which are now writing and codifying values and purpose. Kanter pointed out a growing recognition that people cannot share in something they do not create. A PVP is a core part of a business, any business, that can be created by the whole team, not just the Founder.

Winner tip: Know what you stand for. Make sure your team does, too.

Lesson #4) Winners think small as well as big

Winners focus on small wins and one step at a time.  They get right back to work the day after a success.  If all you have is a big vision for your business then you will get demotivated  This is because the gap between the now and the vision, is too big.  Toyota changed from five year plans to five week plans. If you have a five year plan you will only start working on it in the 11th month of the 4th year!

Winners use open brainstorming, their initiative and feel everyone can make a difference to the business.  Losers go it alone, set unreasonable goals and, think no one else has valuable input.

Kanter’s advice is to focus on ‘small wins’, especially in tough times. Winning companies will provide teams with tasks and goals they can achieve.

Winner tip: Break it down; project by project. Focus on achievable components to build on success.

Lesson #5) the real difference is how winners handle losing

Winners like to get together with other winners, and share their experience. They are more likely to share mistakes and take on board feedback and, tips to improve.  Losing becomes an opportunity to learn for a winner.

Losers, by contrast, need to improve but, are less likely to heed conversations about losing. Nor do they take on board feedback to improve.

All winners have bad patches, or products or services that do not go well. They make changes, learn and stay focused and resilient.

Businesses that are resilient can always come back. McKinsey & Company gave free consulting to U.S. businesses post the GFC in the knowledge those companies would bounce back and appreciate their help in tough times. Then, when the opportunity arose for the company to engage a consultancy, McKinsey would be at the top of the list.

Winner tip: Remember Kanter’s law: Everything can look like a failure in the middle. Refocus, redirect and you can become a winner.

So, those are the five key lessons to help you and your company, be a winner and not a loser.

But wait! There’s more!

Bonus Tip #1: Innovation – be courageous but not stupid!

Kanter recalled how businesses often call her asking how they can be more innovative and immediately follow up with: ‘what are other businesses doing?’

It takes an innovator with courage to bring out something radically different and, not just something incremental. I mean, really, how many different varieties of toothpaste do we need? Do something different!

Incremental strategies reach a peak. In order to get more success, you need to have more failures. You need to try more ideas, more often, before you find the one that works.

Bonus Tip #2: Values matter! Your business is bigger than you!

Kanter points to a greater need today for openness in organisations today.  Founder-led companies can fall into bad habits because the founders can think they know everything. However, an autocracy cannot flourish.

Founders need to be surrounded by great teams. They also need to accept that they may not stay on as the CEO forever.

Bonus Tip #3: Partnering skills matter most!

Business alliances come and go and, they are really difficult to do well. Take Verizon and Google, for example. These two huge companies partnered to create the Android phone but, that alliance no longer stands.

The best alliances have a very specific outcome and an end. It needs to be recognised that the interests of the companies in the alliance can, and will, change.

What every start-up needs is the skills and knowledge to identify and make alliances with the best, and most suitable, partners.

If you are interested to read more on the differences between winners and losers, go to Kanter’s blog.

This article was published on http://anthillonline.com/are-you-a-winner-or-a-loser/ on 14 Sep 2012.

Dermott Dowling is an Innovation & International Business Consultant with a passion for building great brands, businesses and teams. He is the founding Director @Creatovate.


Aim, Fire! Adjust :-) Lead, Learn & Innovate like an entrepreneurial startup

You don’t have to be a start-up to learn, lead and innovate like one…

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1. Entrepreneurs are built, not born 

By correlation we can imply all businesses have innovative capacity and building that capability can be through strategy, resource allocation, process, culture and leadership.  Most importantly having a go!  After all is not the best form of learning the practical as opposed to the theory.

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2. Start-ups are unique

They are not small versions of large companies and hence traditional business thinking tends to stifle the start-up.  Likewise if a large organisation is looking to innovate and ‘learn by doing’, they need to be open to start up ways of working, managing, funding.  Less ruling by command & control and more by seeking, solving, encouraging and seed funding.

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3. The Search for a Business Model

Under lean start up models the founders search for repeatable and scalable business models, rather than settling on one when the venture is launched.  For larger corporates they tend to apply new ways of doing things through existing business models more often than not as the ‘status quo’ police of middle management apply traditional ways of reaching customers and consumers.  Instead a healthy start point might be a small venture team based diverse group of individuals starting with a blank sheet of paper literally and saying ‘without constraint’ what is the best way we can create value from this idea/insight/trend/unmet need and take our product or service to customers and consumers in new and innovative ways.  Senior leadership should give encouragement for the venture teams to take this approach and be open to growing some babies or children outside the corporate home or traditional business model.

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4. Run Fast

Successful start ups observe when their business model is struggling, respond to new facts, decide which parts of the business model require urgent change, and act.  Less time on detailed business planning and more time on testing in market with real live tests.  How often do you sit in board rooms with your peers either a) presenting or b) picking apart detailed business cases on products or services with 5 year business revenue and profit projections that could be better spent on inquisitive questioning like “how can we test this for small dollars to get large learning”.  What are some creative entrepreneurial ways we can find out if this is going to work before we scale it and go full blown national launch for example?

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5. Pivot and Turn

Pivoting is about iteration, testing and validation, and can be as simple as realising you have priced a product or service incorrectly.  Start up founders realise that several pivots maybe required in the early years to reinvent the venture.  They ensure the culture and staff are flexible enough to turn on a dime if required.  By correlation in many corporate cultures its often launch and leave or launch and run in case things don’t go well.  Culture is an integral part here of creating a testing, learning and adaptive team based culture where the venture teams are kept together post product/service launch and report back in frequently with learning and recommendation to pivot, stop, start again, push harder, invest more/less, etc.  Some large businesses realise that traditional leadership structures or meetings and forums do not allow for this type of learning and iterative process and set up incubators, skunk works, or get senior grey haired veterans to run these entrepreneurial business units.  Cell based structures may also be appropriate and leaders will need to work out how and when the satellite businesses are brought back into the mother ship or scaled and grown by the battalion as opposed to continuing to operate like the special forces.

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6. Lean and Learn 

True learning comes from testing aspects of the business model and market hypothesis early and quickly. Rather than spending months researching start ups get their minimum viable product (MVP) to market quickly and let their customers inform them.  Speed is the imperative and their most precious asset.  In the age of ‘accelerate everything’ where we live by the mantra ‘I want it now!” and I can find it in 7 seconds or less on Google this is a very potent message to large corporations.  Research is often done to reassure internal stakeholders and appease layers of management the homework has been done before the big artillery of $$$ of Advertising and Promotion are spent in the market to support this new product or service.  More thinking can and should be devoted to how multiple controlled live tests can be launched simultaneously for e.g. 7 different products in 7 different states and review and learn after 6 months which 1 or 2 continue and we invest redevelop and roll out.

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7. Feedback Loops 

Start up entrepreneurs create feedback loops to measure customers response to new products, at least at the very start, to decide whether to ‘pivot or perserve’ with their business model.  They constantly source customer feedback and let it  shape their business model.  With the advent of social media this process of continuous feedback loops should arguably be much easier for the larger corporates than the start ups.  They have the millions of likes on Facebook constantly feedback criticism or favourites on new products and prototypes.  Corporates often have very sophisticated customer engagement models and survey tools as well through third party providers.  Turning these tools towards active engagement on product and service beta development, controlled market tests and post launch analysis with equally prompt redesign and redelivery will increase customer and consumer engagement and arguably make the large corporates a more nimble and liked business by their customers.  The challenge is on the big to be ‘small & nimble’ far more so than the other way around in the modern age of instant gratification, response and listening.

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8. The Critical Formula 

Under lean entrepreneurship thinking, chaos + speed + pivots = success.  Start ups  realise they need to operate in environments of extreme unpredictability (chaos), use great skill to change quickly as circumstances dictate (speed) and reinvent aspects of their business model (pivot) to respond to threats and opportunity.  This seemingly choatic, manic, back flipping or zig zagging appearance will not sit well inside many corporations where the mandate is often 10% topline and 10% bottom line growth year on year.  However, entrepreneurship be that corporate or start up is never 10% steady year on year growth and its up to senior leaders to create ‘gambling funds’, set aside intrapreneurial seed capital and manage their own intracompany adventuring like a venture capitalist.  Not all bets come off and provided the company accepts that some bets and teams are like the house money in the casino but that it could be the next one or the next one that comes off they are on the road to learning and the more they learn by doing the more that appearance of fast, pivoting, chaos will start to feel like the new normal around here and that will be a demonstration that culture has come to match the business innovation strategy, they have succeeded in allocating scarce resources to new ventures and they have a process that is producing results.

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9.  Entrepreneurship is Management 

While it may not sit well with many strong minded entrepreneurs or creative innovators, Ries notes entrepreneurship is essentially another form of management.  The start up management style recognises the uncertainty of entrepreneurship with its increased risk and reward profile and the need to adapt and develop a stream of constant innovation.   For many large corporates like conglomerates who operate across different industries, geographies or have multiple business units they are already a great example of using multiple business models and management styles.  To them entrepreneurship may not be new and maybe something we have been doing for years without the name tag e.g. Wesfarmers, Tata, China Resources Enterprise to name a few.  For other large corporates who have not yet tackled this head on or are thinking about tackling it head on I can recommend a couple of immediate things to do.  Step 1 Pick up a copy of Lean Start Up and note down everything as you read that is interesting and new, anything you learn and lastly but most importanly, what you can take and apply to your own context.  Step 2 immerse yourself in the learning process.  Go and see some start ups in action in your industry or adjacent industries.  Go and seek to understand how large conglomerates can operate with multiple entities and entrepreneurial divisions inside a large business structure.  Step 3 and the most important step.  Get the strategy out, make sure it has an innovation strategy component and invest some ‘gambling chips’ into starting some ventures.  Back those ventures and applaud their bravery across the business until what seems unnerving, unnatural and unreal becomes the new ‘way we do things around here’

It might take a lot of guts, determination and persistence but then again so does starting your own business as any entrepreneur out there will tell you over a coffee or cold beer or glass of wine.

Create Innovate Grow 

Dermott Dowling @Creatovate


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