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Hey, I've got something interesting at CIO.com

I came up with "Outcome Quadrants" ... it's a tool to assess initiatives from strategic outcome perspective. Hope it turns out to be useful for organizations that invest in expensive/risky initiatives. Click.
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Strategic leadership ... learning from a win against Turkey

The approach is stunning. In fact, I'm not sure if any country in the history of the world would have used this approach. Quickly go to around 36:32 on this Scott Adams Periscope.

Scott Adams talks about the Kanye meeting, 13th Amendment, and Turkey. With coffee. https://t.co/3vSZ1K1TGc — Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) October 12, 2018

Jargon monoxide by vendors and "experts"

I agree with Stanford professor Bob Sutton. He's heard 75 definitions of "agile" from 75 folks.

I was recently wondering why 75 different vendors and so-called experts were providing 75 different meanings for the term "strategy."

Another abused term is "UX" ("design thinking" is a competing term and is fighting to survive). Don Norman was THE best in human-centric design back when he published the classic "The Design of Everyday Things." Sadly, he now uses the term UX and says the term includes "everything" (like a pizza with everything on it).

In politics, labels (or name-calling) can be entertaining, directionally accurate, and very effective. The label "Avenatti" is currently defined as "a creepy porn lawyer." Avenatti defined himself as a champion of women. That lie didn't stick: He's been profiting by exploiting a woman who works at a strip club. (Typical hypocrite. Sadly, this is the kind…

LIFE

Based on a pretty good amount of research, I came up with this concept that could be life-changing for many. Will provide some explanation as soon as I find time. Meanwhile, notice that VICTORIES are for OTHERS!

If you do not yet know what your life purpose is, discover it now. Don’t waste another second.

Now in the IDG Influencer Network

CIO.com, to which I've contributed a couple dozen articles on strategy translation, is part of IDG. IDG educates tech buyers in 147 countries. The IDG Influencer Network is a community of vetted experts who produce content on behalf of IDG's clients. Happy to be part of this network!

Interviewed by Info-Tech Research Group

Info-Tech Research Group interviewed me. They are a technology research and advisory company that serves over 30,000 tech professionals internationally. Their advice helps CIOs and IT leaders make strategic decisions.

The interview was about how "traditional" tech leaders could adapt to today's strategy-driven digital transformation initiatives.

The output of their research is titled "How to Assert IT’s Relevance During Digital Transformations. Don’t become the next VP of electricity."

Others interviewed for this research include:
Ken Piddington, CIO and Executive Advisor, MRE ConsultingValerie Shannon, Director, Digital Strategy & Innovation, RSA InsuranceAlan M. Capper, Partner, Global Head of Operations & Support, Mercer I have a pre-publication copy of the research, but unfortunately can't share it.

Shiva uses humor to differentiate himself from his opponent

Thanks to David Ogilvy and Al Ries. I can detect a talent for differentiation/positioning/persuasion.

I know about senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai's academic and technical accomplishments, but it was his "talent to differentiate" that caught my attention.

Scott Adams would call it a "talent to use humor to persuade." His interview of Shiva is really good ... lots of ideas on a variety of topics ... watch ...
Scott Adams talks to Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai (running against Elizabeth Warren) about immigration, education, and innov… https://t.co/J7DOr78862 — Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) August 23, 2018

How to make yourself VALUABLE: if you're not best-in-the-world, build a talent stack

Scott Adams writes about two ways to make yourself valuable.

"The first way is to become the best at some specific skill, the way Tiger Woods dominated golf. But not many of us can be Tiger Woods. So that path is unavailable to 99% of the world.

I recommend a different approach. Most people can – with practice – develop a variety of skills that work well together. I call this idea the Talent Stack. For example, I’m a famous syndicated cartoonist who doesn’t have much artistic talent, and I’ve never taken a college-level writing class. But few people are good at both drawing and writing. When you add in my ordinary business skills, my strong work ethic, my risk tolerance, and my reasonably good sense of humor, I’m fairly unique. And in this case that uniqueness has commercial value."

Continue reading Scott's article. And/or read a clarification on Scott's idea provided by a man who combines professional boxing, a physics degree, and publishing – Ed Latimore!
When most…

Great insights for Do-and-Persuade situations

Scott Adams describes how the White House is executing a brutally effective High Ground Persuasion Play. https://t.co/lZF2sVVRia — Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) July 20, 2018
Are you trying to DO something (meet an objective or overcome a challenge)? Are you trying to PERSUADE your audience about you, your approach, and the outcomes? Devising powerful strategies and communications is critical, particularly if you are in business, politics, foreign policy, or war.

However, as can be seen on the left, which lacks leadership, strategies, and messages that matter, this is not possible unless you free yourself from the dnc propaganda media, which has been making people mentally ill and continues to be a threat to America. (Social media is no different. Good news is PEOPLE are responding. Facebook's stock dropped 20% with a $120 billion loss in value and Twitter lost a million users and its shares plummeted 20%.)

Scott Adams analyzes recent actual events to present insights that would …

Does demand create supply? Or is it the other way around?

Some folks say: There are drug cartels in Mexico and dangerous illegal aliens in America because Americans want drugs. So, America demands and Mexico supplies, according to them.

Will these same folks say that leakers exist because the corrupt media seeks leaks? Media demands and leakers supply, correct?

Former FBI agent Terry Albury just pleaded guilty to leaking classified documents to the media and faces 3-5 years in prison. Good. (And many more to go.)

But, how about also punishing rogue media outlets WaPo and NYT that are seeking and encouraging leaks?

Elon's April 1 tweets: part of an emerging leadership style?

First his tweets and then my comments ...

Tesla Goes Bankrupt
Palo Alto, California, April 1, 2018 -- Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt. So bankrupt, you can't believe it. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 1, 2018
There are many chapters of bankruptcy and, as critics so rightly pointed out, Tesla has them *all*, including Chapter 14 and a half (the worst one). — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 1, 2018
Elon was found passed out against a Tesla Model 3, surrounded by "Teslaquilla" bottles, the tracks of dried tears still visible on his cheeks.

This is not a forward-looking statement, because, obviously, what's the point?

Happy New Month! pic.twitter.com/YcouvFz6Y1 — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 1, 2018
Almost all commenters appear to love Elon's April 1 tweets. But one person commented "CEOs of public companies shouldn't be putting out tw…

Save the world or start a business?

When young people want to help mankind and ask Taleb what they should do, he suggests:

1. Never engage in virtue-signaling (debasing of virtue by using it as a marketing strategy for "save the world"-style messages such as eliminate poverty; virtue devoid of personal courage and personal sacrifice is never virtue)

2. Never engage in rent-seeking (trying to use protective regulations to derive income without adding anything to economic activity, without increasing the wealth of others)

3. Start a business (put yourself on the line ... take risk. If you get rich, spend your money generously on others)

The entire idea is to move us away from the macro, away from abstract universal aims, away from the kind of social engineering that brings tail risks to society. Institutions like the aid industry may help, but they are equally likely to harm.

Doing business will always help. Because it brings about economic activity without large scale risky changes in the economy.


* Slightly par…

TEDx talk: How real is fake news?

Speaker Sharyl Attkisson is a five-time Emmy Award winner and recipient of the Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting and author of two New York Times bestsellers: “The Smear” and “Stonewalled.” Attkisson hosts the Sunday national TV news program “Full Measure,” which focuses on investigative and accountability reporting. For thirty years, Attkisson was a correspondent and anchor at PBS, CNN, and CBS News.


Attkisson was targeted by spy-chief Obama. Read here.

Camden Property Trust: employee retention strategy

President Keith Oden said: Our greatest retention strategy is making sure all of our team members share in the company’s success.

Love the simple communication of a part of the company's strategy.

Hard to implement for most companies? Difficult because companies don't want a socialism-like sharing, where you would "steal" from the best/unique contributors and give it all away to everyone?

Replacing a failed strategy pulled Panasonic back from the brink

President Kazuhiro Tsuga did it, with Elon Musk as his lodestar (“We’ve to use some of Elon’s thinking,” he says).

The old strategy that produced a staggering loss of over $10 billion: Emphasis on Consumer Electronics.

The new strategy that has set the company on a path to profitability: Emphasis on B2B Automotive Electronics.

This story is a bit old and was published in Fortune, but a custom version of it might still work for some companies. At the least, it teaches strategy.

Thinking of farmers

It's nice that people of some states in India have dedicated a day to honor the hard-working farmers. Called Pongal by Tamil-speaking Indians, it may also be viewed as harvest festival. Well, there's more to it, but let's celebrate the farmers and a good harvest. Happy Pongal!

"If you worry about your reputation you don't deserve to have one."

Nassim Nicholas Taleb 1/2:
If you worry about your reputation you don't deserve to have one. Let me add just a bit to Taleb's great quote ...

True reputation is earned based on your positive CONTRIBUTIONS to entities other than yourself and your family: employers, customers, industry, society, Church, country, world, whatever.

Ask yourself: What have I discovered, invented, shared, set up, or built that will be of significant value to another entity for some time?

Contributions are not about our title (director, VP, etc). It's nice to have a big title (I would like to have one, too). At best, titles make us and our family happy. But chasing after titles could be a sign of narcissism. Titles are rarely a trustworthy certificate of contribution. This is true today when titles are increasingly achieved through bootlicking, back-stabbing, even hijacking another's job.

Contributions have longer life. They cannot be erased overnight. Five hundred years after German professor…

One of America's best PROCESS INNOVATION projects?

How regulations in America looked in 1960. How they look now. And a promise: regulations will be less than how they looked in 1960.



If done within reasonable time, this would be one of the best examples for the world on process innovation. There's more.



Notice the use of experiential communication. Stacks of paper representing the then and the now. Cutting of red tape. Fantastic lesson on how to communicate ideas!

Do not blindly trust "experts"

What the media told you to do before election ...



What's happened now ... The Dow is up 6680 points since his tweet.

Black unemployment: 7.3% under Trump, 16.7% under Obama

The leftist media won't tell you this because they want to DUPE YOU -- blacks (and everyone) -- into thinking that Trump is a racist. Reason: they want your votes. Here's more shocking facts.

It was the democratic party that started using you as slaves. Here's the shocker: they have continued to use you as slaves -- to this day. To this day.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for black Americans is the lowest it has been since the year 2000, 17 years ago.


America has unprecedented things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving

Stock markets have never been this highSix trillion dollars added to economy since Nov 2016Consumer sentiment highest in about 17 yearsLowest unemployment rate in about 17 years (unemployed are those who want jobs, but cannot find)Lowest jobless claims in about 44 years1.5 million fewer people on food stampsThe biggest of them all: America dodged a bullet on Jan 20 – a woman who's been a disgrace to America, a woman the world considers an international criminal.

The user interface is not always about "experience"

The same strategic objectives driving "higher" level steps in strategy translation must drive all steps right until the end. The steps include the task of designing the user interface (UI) architecture.

If we're translating corporate strategy, it's important to know a UI factor that most practitioners don't seem to have mastered. This factor is about taking a process view and designing for productivity.

Read the CIO article.

When the US is simplifying tax, India is complicating it: Chetan Bhagat's thoughts

Since the Indian government is willing to improve its recent Goods-and-Services-Tax (GST), Chetan Bhagat shares his thoughts:

1. Rates are too many
2. Rates are too high
3. Luxury should not be taxed more
4. Returns process is too complex
5. GST is based on the belief that Indian business folks are thieves.

The result: businesses and entrepreneurs are suffocating.

Read the article.

Folks who created DIGITAL BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION speaking

Folks who created DIGITAL BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION at their world-leading companies are sharing their experience at an online conference. For example, Jim Smith, VP Digital Transformation, Saint-Gobain will be talking about  “How to get 200,000 staff to embrace digital culture.” The event is on April 5, 2017. More info and tickets.

Corrupt media: lessons for better behavior

During the US election cycle, so-called "liberal" media outlets have been misleading the people of America and the world. They focused our attention on Trump's bad WORDS instead of on Clinton's bad ACTIONS. Even their polls and predictions were totally wrong.

Post-election, they continue to fuel division, violence, and racism.

US election reporting in India too has been hate-filled (Chidanand, for example).

In the midst of all this is a fresh, objective voice. Chetan Bhagat is not only an intellectual, but a rare truth-speaker. Here are 5 things he tells the elitist media:

You are not as smart as you thinkPeople are the keyUnfair criticism always backfiresDo not impose your views on othersGet out of the bubble.
Here's his original article.

Change as strategy

In business, "more of the same" is almost always required. We need to sell more of our products and services. Then there comes a time when change is needed. We need to change our products and services and even our business model. Interestingly, the rate at which we need to change seems to be always increasing. So today we devise transient strategies that anticipate and execute change.

Like businesses, governments too need to occasionally change. According to a recent CBS News poll, 55 percent of American voters want “big changes,” while 43 percent want “some changes.” That is, 98% percent of voters want change. Reason? According to Rasmussen Reports, 70% of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. If so, it appears that in the November elections, only a change strategy will work.

“Something is happening, and I need you to help me”

Helen Marriage works with artists to create extraordinary events that bring huge audiences together. For one of her projects, she needed the help of the planning manager of the London buses. She faced resistance.

The planning manager eventually agreed and actually became the project’s biggest champion.

Helen’s secret to make change happen: engage people in a task rather than seek permission.

Source: April 11-24, 2016, Bloomberg

Blue Ocean Strategy driving Trump wins?

In the US 2016 primaries, GOP’s “splitter” strategy was crafted to make Jeb Bush win the Republican nomination without winning the base. The reality is, not every strategy works — especially when it meets a better one.

You could blame Jeb Bush or his back-up Marco Rubio for poor performance. But look at the front-runner Donald Trump’s three policies: (1) End of political correctness (I strongly support this policy) (2) Large changes to immigration (3) Redoing trade deals so they’re not lopsidedly in favor of the other country. “The more vocally on the wrong side of these three issues a candidate was, the faster they dropped,” observes Sean Malstrom.

The media, the so-called experts, the politicians/establishment, the anti-Trump colluders, the politically-correct, and those who want to appear civil: All have been proved wrong — again and again and again. All conventional forms of analysis was wrong. The reason is, according to Malstrom: “you cannot analyze non-voters. But non-voters ar…

A master acquirer's many strategies

Italian billionaire Stefano Pessina has been working a broad strategy: Convinced that the drug-distribution business was destined to consolidate, Pessina keeps swallowing increasingly bigger companies. The result — at least one of the most recent — the merger of US-based Walgreens and Switzerland-based Alliance Boots into WBA. These two are significantly different companies, but here's Pessina's strategy for US retail: Infuse the Sephora-like stylishness of Boots into the efficiency and convenience of Walgreens stores.

Pessina is not done yet. He's eyeing CVS Health, but faces a giant challenge. While Walgreens pushes consumer products, CVS Health has positioned itself powerfully around health. Two opposing strategies! If Pessina can combine the two companies, it would be very interesting to see what his strategy would be.

Source: Fortune February 1, 2016

America views learning differently

Former CEO of multibillion-dollar companies Willie Pietersen recalls the time when he became an American citizen and attended the event where his two US-educated children were awarded degrees. He says,

"Where I was raised in South Africa and also where I studied in the UK, these events are simply called “graduation.” The attendant idea is that this is the end of something. However, I was struck by the fact that in the US, this ceremony is called “commencement,” meaning the beginning (or at least the continuation) of something. I love this concept. It exactly captures the essence of learning as a lifelong journey."
Learning indeed should be a life-long journey. Make it cross-disciplinary learning and the advantages can be big. A personal illustration ... I enjoyed learning Physics between 1981 and 84. However, without the skills I learned from Intel's Stan Uffner in 1987, I could not have set up TCS' tech writing practice. Without the insights I learned at UC Berkeley…

Why social welfare states are scaling back

Social welfare policies of Scandinavian nations such as Swedenhave been admired.

However, here's what an article in the Feb 1, 2016 issue of Fortune points out:

Scandinavia built wealth that its citizens enjoy today long before leftist ideas took holdIn fact, when Sweden's welfare state began to expand, economy noticeably slowedNot only do the larger welfare states of Italy and France have less robust economies, Scandinavia is slowly returning to its free-market roots.
Will the US presidential candidates strike the right balance between welfare and economic growth?

Source: Fortune Feb 1, 2016

Software implementation will not automatically translate strategy

To execute business strategy through technology, start with a focus on strategy translation. Make the Business phase of software practice a strategy translation phase, rather than just a requirements analysis phase. Ensure that what you would eventually implement, deploy, and use has strategic potential.

Read more:

http://www.cio.com/article/3027923/business-alignment/if-tech-implementation-is-not-the-first-thing-to-focus-on-what-is.html

Take a look!

Why execution rarely delivers on strategy's promise

"Research indicates that relatively few firms execute their strategies effectively, and, on average, companies deliver just 50% to 60% of the financial performance that their strategies promise." - Frank Cespedes, HBR October 2014.
When we complain about poor outcomes due to poor execution, we're obviously assuming that the strategy is good. Let's momentarily stick to that assumption. The problem then is, we're thinking that execution is largely about project (or program) management. What we're clearly missing is the crucial activity of strategy translation.

When it comes to investing in business software, strategy translation is about "embedding" targeted organizational strategic outcomes into an architecture that can then be implemented. If this activity is not done right, neither a great strategy nor effective execution can generate targeted outcomes.

For approaches to strategy, see The Strategy Palette

Price for compassion? Or price for absence of leadership?

Compassion is a beautiful rare thing. European countries allowed hundreds of thousands of migrants. The US leadership too is bringing migrants. In European media you may have watched how the host people are trying to architect innovative housing for the migrants and constantly debating how to make the migrants feel welcome, how to integrate them, how to get them jobs, etc.

Then this thing happened -- the attack in Paris by people (among others) who were allegedly smuggled into Europe along with the migrants.

Is this the price for showing compassion? Or is this the price of inadequate leadership? How do today's and tomorrow's Western leaders balance compassion with practicality? What is practicality, by the way? Is it about having a strategy and proactive execution or is it about being reactive?

For thoughts on America's current and future leadership, read: Superpower: Three Choices for America's Role in the World

To see how Jesus combined compassion with practicality, …

Leadership: your teammates your enemies?

Imagine you are interviewing a potential candidate to lead a department in your company and he says, "I consider some of the folks in that department my enemies." This is a most unlikely comment in a business interview, but we heard it at an interview for the world's most important leadership position. At the recent CNN democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was asked to name her enemy – and she responded, “probably the Republicans.” Thankfully, Joe Biden later corrected her saying it's critical to “end this notion that the enemy is the other party.”

Volkswagen success: thanks to its strategy

At a time when Volkswagen is battling dozens of lawsuits, I'm talking about what made the company great. Bad timing perhaps, but why stop learning from the company's strength?

Volkswagen owes its success to: its STRATEGY.

And the strategy? Cars share components.

Karan Girotra and Serguei Netessine writing in HBR say, "Although the strategy does not protect the company from general demand swings, it reduces demand variability for individual components, because shared components make it easy for VW to switch production at its plants from one model to another whenever the demand for car model shifts."

Would Cleveland Clinic have gone from good to great without Kara's political incorrectness?

CEO of the mighty Cleveland Clinic, Dr Toby Cosgrove is a pioneering surgeon who had operated on over 22,000 patients. He just finished delivering a speech to Harvard students.

The students admired the speech, but Kara Barnett stood up and said, "Dr Cosgrove, my father needed surgery, but we decided NOT to go to your hospital in spite of your great results because we heard you had no empathy."

Kara was politically incorrect. She not only said something offensive about someone and his institution that the world considered the best, but embarrassed Harvard that brought an outstanding speaker.

Dr Cosgrove responded, "Not really" and moved on. However, Kara's statement kept his mind busy. He imagined redefining medicineas patients experienced it rather than as what hospitals provided. He questioned the very foundations of doctors' specialist silos. What he eventually did changed the lives of many. His change initiative was hugely risky, challenging, and inspiri…

We know very little about strategy translation

Today we may know what strategy means, but "we know a lot less about translating a strategy into results (HBR, March 2015)." Here, strategy translation means strategy execution. The latter comprises many activities including project management, which many managers have mastered. But "execution" includes the critical activity of "embedding" targeted strategic outcomes. Without this, you could be brilliantly managing the wrong project. There is even less information available about this critical activity.

Strategy Map: the Marriott example

Talking about Marriott's much-admired employee-first culture, CEO Arne Sorenson says that this culture "drives loyalty of our folks, which drives better service, which drives customer preference. which drives higher retention, which reduces costs."

The flow is obvious: from Assets to Process Performance to Customer Value to Financial Performance. A nice example of how to use Strategy Maps (Kaplan & Norton)!

Strategy: keeping focus while widening product range

Two examples ...

1. Carlos Ghosn wants to move Nissan from good to great. His STRATEGY: “mobility for all.” By that he means, being present in every market in the world and in every segment in every market. So, the Nissan alliance produces 110 different models in 170 different markets.

2. Jonathan Goldberg wants BBL Commodities Value Fund to keep an eye on short-term opportunities as well as on the horizon. His STRATEGY: Trade oil “across the barrel” — refined products as well as crude itself.

We have to wait for their financial results to see how well their strategy is working. In the meantime, I love their compelling mottos expressed in just 3 words and yet covering both focus and range! Take another look.

Does treating employees well hurt the bottom line?

In many cultures (mostly non-Western), top management denies basic employee rights or even basic human rights because they believe this is how they can grow and make profits. WRONG.

Companies on Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For are "shining examples of a different way of doing business that puts to rest the old notion that treating employees well might hurt the bottom line." One example: the Marriott philosophy: "Take care of associates, and they will take care of the customers."

Consider the 12 companies that have made the Fortune list every year since they published the first in 1998 ... They're the top job creators ... They outperformed the S&P 500 index by a ratio of nearly 20 to 1 ... They're winners in the marketplace as well as in the workplace!

Source: Fortune, March 15, 2015

How design thinking gave a young firm an early advantage

For a while, “design thinking” was business world’s most fashionable concept. Companies tried it, sent their employees for training, and so on. Then things changed. Now Google’s frequently used search phrases include “design thinking is bullshit” and “design thinking is dead.” If you read the naysayers' articles, the common rant is “there’s nothing new.” I do not agree with the Google phrases, but I do agree with the claim that there's nothing new in design thinking. Here's why.

Design of experiential marketing
Beginning in the late 90s, I created and upgraded experiential marketing for a young software firm where I was employed. This is not about brochures, white papers, and such standard things of questionable value. This comprised the following set of items designed and laid out in a purposeful and human-centric way:
Gallery: A casual, standup conversation facility. Here, we had
conversation-starting posters. The posters had quotes by customers and others. Some showcased…

Companies that moved to BT are winning, research shows

Forrester Research has slightly redefined BT (business technology), but they continue to champion the move from IT to BT for one basic purpose: business success. A research they conducted shows that companies that moved to BT have positioned themselves well for success. Read more: http://www.zdnet.com/article/business-technology-focused-companies-win-in-the-age-of-the-customer/

The oil-drilling model for discovery-and-design that I created helps actualize the purpose of BT as regards software/digital technology. More about the method: http://www.prescouter.com/2013/08/software-practice-for-the-business-technology-age-lessons-from-oil-drilling/

How to stop IT from going under: McKinsey's suggestion versus mine

Business and IT executives continue to worry. Based on McKinsey's 2015 survey, their article "Why CIOs should be business-strategy partners" reports that executives’ current perceptions of IT performance are decidedly negative. A few reasons:

“widespread concerns over IT effectiveness" beyond providing basic services and managing infrastructure“fading confidence in IT’s ability to support key business activities, such as driving growth.”“little awareness of or agreement on how IT can meaningfully shape a business’s future.”
Note that these are the same "findings" that organizations have complained about for years and years and years.

The McKinsey suggestions
Here are two (of three) suggestions provided in the article:

1. Reimagine CIO role so they help shape business strategy. Some ways to enable the change include "getting the CIO to report to the CEO, establishing clear partnerships between IT and corporate-strategy functions, and holding both busine…

Who said, if it isn’t impossible, there must be a way to do it?

In 1938, a London stockbroker canceled his skiing vacation to Switzerland. Instead, he organized a daring rescue of 669 kids — from Hitler. He then took care of them. A lot of Brits volunteered to help, but costs were so high he made up the difference himself. He is Sir Nicholas Winton. An enormous human being.

Winton died a few days ago at age 106. His compassion can inspire transformation among those of us who are selfish. His risk-taking can inspire the leaders among us.

Documentary on DW TV: Click here

Drive up customer outcomes. Meet James Dodkins at the Club.

I caught up with James Dodkins and he was happy to answer a few questions. James is a consultant and thought-leader in customer experience and process improvement. His clients are well-known international brands. James co-created the customer-centric process improvement framework called CEMMethod and is the author of Foundations for Customer Centricity. He recently founded a private online community called Compass Business Club.


We've seen several process design methods like BPR, BPI, QuickHits, and Lean. What's new or different in your book, "Foundations for Customer Centricity”?
Great question Pradeep, every method that has ever been invented has been built on top of our current org chart. This causes chaos, especially in a service organisation because this org chart originally came out of the work done By Adam Smith in the Scottish Pin Factory. We treat it as if there is no other way to organise ourselves. In the book I outline a radical new method of org structure tha…

And the trend is: Thinkers and creators are becoming the source of business value

Human capital is growing more valuable every day, in every business. An increasing number of people are becoming thinkers and creators. Even a manufacturer like Stryker gets 70% of its value from intangible assets (derived from human capital). As we know, intangible assets largely reflect human creativity and include like innovations, patents, copyrights, brands, and goodwill. "They are by far the biggest source of business value," says Geoff Colvin in Fortune, March 15, 2015.

Design lessons: the world's biggest publication is not a magazine

Some of the "books" that taught me design lessons in the 80s were IKEA catalogs! Today IKEA catalogs come in 32 languages and 67 versions. At 217 million copies, the IKEA catalog is probably the biggest publication of its kind in the world. IKEA of course is the world's largest furniture retailer.

I liked IKEA's minimalist design so much that I designed the interior of my home around Gautier furniture – the closest to IKEA that I could buy in the city where I lived in the 90s (sadly, the Swedish company is, it seems, still struggling with red-tape in trying to set up stores in India despite promises to invest $2B over 10 years).

Where he once collected food stamps, Jan returned to sign a $19B deal

Jan Koum toiled at Yahoo for nearly ten years. His attempt to get a job at Facebook was turned down. Jan developed WhatsApp. The number of users quickly surged to hundreds of millions. This time Facebook bought his firm for $19 billion – the most expensive acquisition ever for a venture-backed startup. Jan signed the deal papers at the site of the social-services office where he once stood in line to collect food stamps. This only happens in the US!

Singapore success and the US connection

The nation of Singapore is admired the world over. Founding father Lee Kuan Yew (who died recently) envisioned the big picture as well as sweated the details to take Singapore FROM a country of unruly politics, high unemployment, high inflation, and evaporating economy TO a country with the world's busiest port, top airline, and tenfold increase in GDP (between 1965 and 80). Lee had a US connection. He remained – until the end – a fan of American entrepreneurship and ingenuity. To help keep peace in Asia, he provided safe harbor for US warships. Besides, much of the foreign investment that poured into Singapore was from US tech companies.

More: Time, April 6, 2015

Would execs forgo innovation-spend if it meant missing earnings figures?

Facebook had a humble IPO and yet earned about $3 billion in profits last year. Twitter had a great start with shares rising 282% from its offering price and yet shares are back where they started. Here's another example. Apple's stock price fell roughly 25% the year it introduced iPod, and yet it was iPod that started "the greatest corporate turnaround in the history of capitalism" with 9 Apple iDevices sold every second today.

Why is it that stock prices of innovative firms do not always reflect company value? Wall Street analysts typically help set stock prices based on a firm's one-year cash-flow projections, whereas making money from innovations takes time (perhaps 3 or more years). Generally, there is such short-term focus that a study by National Bureau of Economic Research found that "80% of executives would forgo innovation-generating spending if it meant missing their quarterly earnings figures."

Sources: Fortune March1, 2015 and Time April 6, …

Einhorn speaks and crashes fracking stock!

I have heard of stock price tumbling in reaction to an expert's comments. But it was almost surreal actually watching Bloomberg TV show two live events side by side. On the left, it was hedge fund billionaire David Einhorn speaking at the Sohn Investment Conference in NYC, while on the right it was fracker Pioneer's stock chart tumbling – in realtime!

Does spending $11 billion on CRM-software help understand CR?

"Despite the $11 billion spent on CRM software annually, many consumer companies don't understand customer relationships at all. They aren't aware of the variety of relationship types and don't understand what kind their customers want." That's what Jill Avery, Susan Fournier, and John Wittenbraker say in Unlock the Mysteries of Your Customer Relationships (HBR July-Aug 2014)

Today: a lot of innovations, but mostly trivial

Today's innovations and startups are:

Smaller than what we saw 20 or 30 years agoApps masquerading as platforms, platforms masquerading as breakthroughsComing from startup incubators, not labs or garagesRarely push the boundaries of basic or even applied scienceTrivial or even laughable ventures than truly disruptive technologies.
There's a lot happening today (thanks to democratization of entrepreneurship with easier funding), but the disappointment is that these innovations/startups are not changing the world.

Source: HBR Oct2014

Today: P&G and other large firms are refocusing on "focus"

"Focus" has returned to the boardroom! Folks at large companies such as P&G, GM, Ford, Pfizer, and GE are questioning the benefits of scale and the wisdom of managing multiple/divergent product lines.

Take P&G. Since around the late 90s, CEO AG Lafley was celebrated for building P&G into the world's largest consumer-product company – through acquisitions and product innovations. He retired, but was coaxed back to the corner office in 2013. Now he is dismantling what he built, dropping as many as 100 product lines.

Is this a return to the concept of positioning that Al Ries & Jack Trout gave us in the 80s (I've used positioning to set up and run practice groups at behemoths TCS and Cognizant)? Or are these changes simply the workings of transient strategy that Rita McGrath has written about recently?

How to hunt down profitable ideas

Imagine you know a person who has not only advised 100s of top brands as varied as Victoria's Secret and IBM, but also (through a high-growth innovation firm he founded) continually learns from thousands of businesses, innovations, innovators, and innovation methods. Imagine he writes a book on innovation. How would you describe his book? Battle-tested, I'd think!

The person is Jeremy Gutsche. And his book is "Better and Faster." To me, the only not-so-interesting thing about the book is the title, but the point is, you get BETTER at overcoming innovation inhibitors and FASTER at exploiting profitable opportunities.

"Better and Faster" makes a good start, right at the Prologue. The Prologue describes Robert Lang's amazing story of connecting the ancient art of Origami to tech-intensive work at NASA and at other organizations that invent the future. The book goes on to provide many more such well-researched stories that inspire us to generate our own pr…

Value-capture innovation

Most companies focus their innovation efforts on value creation – investing in setting up and running R&D labs, etc.  They assume that if value is created, rewards will follow. Some of these companies may get away with "only value-creation" if they're able to sell their new offerings through existing approaches. Others need to think about value-capture innovation as well.

Stefan Michel describes: "When Netflix became a mortal threat to Blockbuster, it was easy to chalk up its victory to greater value creation ... But, the death blow came from the value-capture side. The brick-and-mortar incumbent's revenue model relied heavily on late fees. Netflix innovated a subscription model that milked higher revenue from the same tendency to be tardy – without vilifying customers in the process."

So, by value-capture innovation, we don't mean doing stuff like changing the price tag from $9.50 to $9.99. Value-capture innovation is strategic. Michel provides a c…

Grace needed for leadership

Generosity, respect, redemption, and sacrifice may sound spiritual, but they are all going to be required for leadership, said Warren Bennis, who is regarded the pioneer of the field of Leadership. In an interview with Harvard Business Review, he used the word "Grace" because he believed that it embedded those characteristics. Source: HBR October 2014

Grow with English, but also be grateful to them that gave it

Thanks to the English language, Indians with spoken English skills are successful in India.

English has also given them success abroad. For example, it gave them an early advantage over many other Asians such as the Chinese. Even back then in the 80s and 90s, the chinese could develop software code at least as good as the indians, but did not have the benefit of spoken English skills. "Of particular significance is the English language advantage," points a McKinsey report. English skills therefore played an important role in the success of India's IT outsourcing industry.

Given India's overall negative brand, which is a result of corruption, poor living conditions, etc and given the typical Indian's inability/refusal to integrate with cultures/countries where they travel, it is possibly the English language that gave them the acceptance abroad.

Unfortunately, I'm yet to hear people expressing gratitude to the folks – the Brits – that gave them the language an…

Curbing religious violence: Bhagat's take

Many religious texts contain violence as well and some groups interpret them as a call for violence. Chetan Bhagat says, "(The Hindu text) Gita's famous saying 'a virtuous war must be fought' can be seen as justifying violence." How come this phrase is not interpreted more often as a call for violence? Bhagat answers, "Hindu radical groups don't have as much power as Muslim radical groups do." By power, he means financial, military, political, and media power. "This power needs to be curbed" is Bhagat's solution to the problem of violence based on any religion. Click to read his article.

This Christmas, India is unsure whose birthday to celebrate

December 25 is not only a day marked to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ, but is also the birthday of scores of others including a former Indian prime minister Atal Vajpayee. So, India's HRD ministry sent out circulars telling hundreds of schools to celebrate Vajpayee's birthday (Times of India). The ministry denied the news, Times provided evidence, and the debate goes on.

Author and journalist Sagarika Ghose says, "For the millions (yes, MILLIONS) of Indians educated in missionary schools, Christianity was hardly the religion of fear that the Sangh Parivar may believe it to be. We convent-educated types were never in danger of conversion, we decorated Christmas trees, sang carols, and ate Christmas cake because of the plural non-denominational festival of fun that Christmas was and is ..."

Medical education in India: Black market sale

A substantial percent of students simply BUY seats at medical colleges in India. They need not qualify for admission. "In most places, seats are sold even before the results of the All India Common Entrance Test were declared," reports Times of India (Dec 18, 2014). On average, students pay the equivalent of $100,000 for admission. Seats for graduate degrees (called "post-graduate" in India) can cost the equivalent of $450,000.

Like everything in India, the numbers are large – there is a large number of medical colleges in India. Times of India did the math and says the black market sale of medical seats is as big as the flow of black money out of India in 2010 (and India is among the worst 3 countries (along with China and Russia) in terms of black money outflow).

What is the root cause? Who will fix?

What 3 key Indians are saying about innovation and India

The chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, Ratan Tata, says, "Indians could solve problems given to them, but they weren't so accomplished at identifying new problems to solve."

CEO of Infosys Vishal Sikka says, "We are trained to solve problems, not trained to find problems."

One of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, Chetan Bhagat,  says Indians have an anti-innovation mentality.

Isn't the specificity of their comments potentially helpful in correcting the situation (compared to general and dubious claims of superiority)?

Doing business in India: the Uber experience

India's sales pitch is "Come and do business here," but the actual experience for foreign firms is often hostile. The banning of Uber is merely the most recent example. Times of India TIMES VIEW today says, "This paper has reported that the entire police verification exercise is more often than not a cosmetic exercise if not a complete sham ... (The ban on Uber) flies in the face of the Modi government's avowed efforts to make it easier to do business in India." Chetan Bhagat advises, "Fix the country itself first. Then, when we are really ready for business, sell."

Thank you mom and dad!

Multi-talented Marcus Cicero said, "A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues." Go ahead and thank someone today. A family member ... a friend ... a neighbor ... your alma mater ... a boss .... a team member ... someone who gave you your first job ... someone who shaped you to be who you are today .... your employees, if you are the CEO or founder of an organization ... alumni who contributed to your organization's success ... Happy Thanksgiving!

A company's original story can still be powerful

Nike has a marketing staffer whose ONLY job is to tell the original Nike story to all new employees.

Apple University, set up by Steve Jobs, inculcates employees into Apple’s business culture and educates them about its history.

IBM celebrates its past innovations and innovators.

Legendary companies celebrate their past successes as well as their alumni who made those successes possible. Turns out, these celebrations help make the organizations even more successful.

Unfortunately, many companies are too narrow-minded to use and benefit from this approach.

Structure or strategy: which one first?

"Structure must follow strategy – not the other way around," say Marc de Swaan et al in HBR (they show how the marketing organization can connect to corporate strategy).

That aligns with what Kaplan & Norton suggest in Strategy Maps.

Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur