Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Startups Must Be Where Their Customers Are

Startups Must Be Where Their Customers Are

GUEST POST from Steve Blank

“A CEO running a B-to-B startup needs to live in the city where their business is – or else they’ll never scale.”

I was having breakfast with Erin, an ex-student, just off a red-eye flight from New York. She’s built a 65-person startup selling enterprise software to the financial services industry. Erin had previously worked in New York for one of those companies and had a stellar reputation in the industry. As one would expect, with banks and hedge funds as customers, the majority were based in the New York metropolitan area.

Where Are Your Biggest Business Deals?

Looking a bit bleary-eyed, Erin explained, “Customers love our product, and I think we’ve found product/market fit. I personally sold the first big deals and hired the VP of sales who’s building the sales team in our New York office. They’re growing the number of accounts and the deal size, but it feels like we’re incrementally growing a small business, not heading for exponential growth. I know the opportunity is much bigger, but I can’t put my finger on what’s wrong.”

Erin continued, “My investors are starting to get impatient. They’re comparing us to another startup in our space that’s growing much faster. My VP of Sales and I are running as fast as we can, but I’ve been around long enough to know I might be the ex-CEO if we can’t scale.”

While Erin’s main sales office is in New York, next to her major prospects and customers, Erin’s company was headquartered in Silicon Valley, down the street from where we were having breakfast. During the Covid pandemic, most of her engineering team worked remotely. Her inside sales team (Sales Development and Business Development reps) used email, phone, social media and Zoom for prospecting and generating leads. At the same time, her account executives were able to use Zoom for sales calls and close and grow business virtually.

There’s a Pattern Here

Over breakfast, I listened to Erin describe what at first seemed like a series of disconnected events.

First, a new competitor started up. Initially, she wasn’t concerned as the competitor’s product had only a subset of the features that Erin’s company did. However, the competitor’s headquarters was based in New York, and their VP of Sales and CEO were now meeting face-to-face with customers, most of whom had returned to their offices. While Erin’s New York-based account execs were selling to the middle tier management of organizations, the CEO of her competitor had developed relationships with the exec staff of potential customers. She lamented, “We’ve lost a couple of deals because we were selling at the wrong level.”

Second, Erin’s VP of sales had just bought a condo in Miami to be next to her aging parents, so she was commuting to NY four days a week and managing the sales force from Miami when she wasn’t in New York. Erin sighed, “She’s as exhausted as I am flying up and down the East Coast.”

Third, Erin’s account execs were running into the typical organizational speedbumps and roadblocks that closing big deals often encounter. However, solving them via email, Zoom and once-a-month fly-in meetings wasn’t the same as the NY account execs being able to say, “Hey, our VP of Sales and CEO are just down the street. Can we all grab a quick coffee and talk this over?” Issues that could have been solved casually and quickly ballooned into ones that took more work and sometimes a plane trip for her VP of Sales or Erin to solve.

By the time we had finished breakfast it was clear to me that Erin was the one putting obstacles in front of her path to scale. Here’s what I observed and suggested.

Keep Your Eye on The Prize

While Erin had sold the first deals herself, she needed to consider whether each deal happened because as CEO, she could call on the company’s engineers to pivot the product. Were the account execs in New York trying to execute a sales model that wasn’t yet repeatable and scalable without the founder’s intervention? Had a repeatable and scalable sales process truly been validated? Or did each sale require a heroic effort?

Next, setting up their New York office without Erin or her VP of Sales physically living in New York might have worked during Covid but was now holding her company back. At this phase of her company the goal of the office shouldn’t be to add new accounts incrementally – but should be how to scale – repeatably. Hiring account execs in an office in New York let Erin believe that she had a tested, validated, and repeatable sales playbook that could rapidly scale the business. The reality was that without her and the VP of Sales living and breathing the business in New York, they were trying to scale a startup remotely.

Her early customers told Erin that her company had built a series of truly disruptive financial service products. But now, the company was in a different phase – it needed to build and grow the business exponentially. And in this phase, her focus as a CEO needed to change – from searching for product/market fit to driving exponential growth.

Driving Exponential Growth

Exponential Growth Requires Relentless Execution

Because most of her company’s customers were concentrated in a single city, Erin and her VP of Sales needed to be there – not visiting in a hotel room. I suggested that:

  • Erin had to quickly decide if she wanted to be the one to scale the business. If not, her investors were going to find someone who could.
  • If so, she needed to realize that she had missed an important transition in her company. In a high-dollar B-to-B business, building and scaling sales can’t be done remotely. And she was losing ground every day. Her New York office needed a footprint larger than she was. It needed business development and marketing people rapidly creating demand.
  • Her VP of Sales might be wonderful, but with the all the travel the company is only getting her half-time. Erin needs a full-time head of sales in New York. Time to have a difficult conversation.
  • Because she was behind, Erin needed to rent an apartment in New York for a year, and spend the next six months there and at least two weeks a month after that. Her goal was to:
    1. Validate that there was a repeatable sales process. It not, build one
    2. Build a New York office that could create a sales and marketing footprint without her presence. Only then could she cut back her time in the City.
  • Finally, she needed to consider that if her customers were primarily in New York and the engineers were working remotely, why weren’t the company headquarters in New York?

I Hate New York

As we dug into these issues, I was pretty surprised to hear her say, “I spent a big part of my career in New York. I thought coming out to Stanford and the West Coast meant I could leave the bureaucracy of large companies and that culture behind. Covid let me do that for a few years. I guess now I’m just avoiding jumping back into an environment I thought I had left.”

We lingered over coffee as I suggested it was time for her to take stock of what’s next. She had something rare – a services company that provided real value with products that early customers loved. Her staff didn’t think they were joining a small business, neither did her investors. If she wasn’t prepared to build something to its potential, what was her next move?

Lessons Learned

  • For a startup, the next step after finding product/market fit is finding a repeatable and scalable sales process
  • This requires a transition to the relentless execution of creating demand and exponentially growing sales
  • If your customers are concentrated in a city or region, you need to be where your customers are
  • The CEO needs to lead this growth focus
  • And then hand it off to a team equally capable and committed

The full article originally appeared on Steve Blank’s blog

Image credits: Pixabay, Steve Blank

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Top 100 Innovation and Transformation Articles of 2022

Top 100 Innovation and Transformation Articles of 2022

2021 marked the re-birth of my original Blogging Innovation blog as a new blog called Human-Centered Change and Innovation.

Many of you may know that Blogging Innovation grew into the world’s most popular global innovation community before being re-branded as InnovationExcellence.com and being ultimately sold to DisruptorLeague.com.

Thanks to an outpouring of support I’ve ignited the fuse of this new multiple author blog around the topics of human-centered change, innovation, transformation and design.

I feel blessed that the global innovation and change professional communities have responded with a growing roster of contributing authors and more than 17,000 newsletter subscribers.

To celebrate we’ve pulled together the Top 100 Innovation and Transformation Articles of 2022 from our archive of over 1,000 articles on these topics.

We do some other rankings too.

We just published the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022 and as the volume of this blog has grown we have brought back our monthly article ranking to complement this annual one.

But enough delay, here are the 100 most popular innovation and transformation posts of 2022.

Did your favorite make the cut?

1. A Guide to Organizing Innovation – by Jesse Nieminen

2. The Education Business Model Canvas – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

3. 50 Cognitive Biases Reference – Free Download – by Braden Kelley

4. Why Innovation Heroes Indicate a Dysfunctional Organization – by Steve Blank

5. The One Movie All Electric Car Designers Should Watch – by Braden Kelley

6. Don’t Forget to Innovate the Customer Experience – by Braden Kelley

7. What Latest Research Reveals About Innovation Management Software – by Jesse Nieminen

8. Is Now the Time to Finally End Our Culture of Disposability? – by Braden Kelley

9. Free Innovation Maturity Assessment – by Braden Kelley

10. Cognitive Bandwidth – Staying Innovative in ‘Interesting’ Times – by Pete Foley

11. Is Digital Different? – by John Bessant

12. Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021 – Curated by Braden Kelley

13. Can We Innovate Like Elon Musk? – by Pete Foley

14. Why Amazon Wants to Sell You Robots – by Shep Hyken

15. Free Human-Centered Change Tools – by Braden Kelley

16. What is Human-Centered Change? – by Braden Kelley

17. Not Invented Here – by John Bessant

18. Top Five Reasons Customers Don’t Return – by Shep Hyken

19. Visual Project Charter™ – 35″ x 56″ (Poster Size) and JPG for Online Whiteboarding – by Braden Kelley

20. Nine Innovation Roles – by Braden Kelley

21. How Consensus Kills Innovation – by Greg Satell

22. Why So Much Innoflation? – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

23. ACMP Standard for Change Management® Visualization – 35″ x 56″ (Poster Size) – Association of Change Management Professionals – by Braden Kelley

24. 12 Reasons to Write Your Own Letter of Recommendation – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

25. The Five Keys to Successful Change – by Braden Kelley

26. Innovation Theater – How to Fake It ‘Till You Make It – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

27. Five Immutable Laws of Change – by Greg Satell

28. How to Free Ourselves of Conspiracy Theories – by Greg Satell

29. An Innovation Action Plan for the New CTO – by Steve Blank

30. How to Write a Failure Resume – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.


Build a common language of innovation on your team


31. Entrepreneurs Must Think Like a Change Leader – by Braden Kelley

32. No Regret Decisions: The First Steps of Leading through Hyper-Change – by Phil Buckley

33. Parallels Between the 1920’s and Today Are Frightening – by Greg Satell

34. Technology Not Always the Key to Innovation – by Braden Kelley

35. The Era of Moving Fast and Breaking Things is Over – by Greg Satell

36. A Startup’s Guide to Marketing Communications – by Steve Blank

37. You Must Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable – by Janet Sernack

38. Four Key Attributes of Transformational Leaders – by Greg Satell

39. We Were Wrong About What Drove the 21st Century – by Greg Satell

40. Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire – by Braden Kelley

41. Now is the Time to Design Cost Out of Our Products – by Mike Shipulski

42. Why Good Ideas Fail – by Greg Satell

43. Five Myths That Kill Change and Transformation – by Greg Satell

44. 600 Free Innovation, Transformation and Design Quote Slides – Curated by Braden Kelley

45. FutureHacking – by Braden Kelley

46. Innovation Requires Constraints – by Greg Satell

47. The Experiment Canvas™ – 35″ x 56″ (Poster Size) – by Braden Kelley

48. The Pyramid of Results, Motivation and Ability – by Braden Kelley

49. Four Paradigm Shifts Defining Our Next Decade – by Greg Satell

50. Why Most Corporate Mindset Programs Are a Waste of Time – by Alain Thys


Accelerate your change and transformation success


51. Impact of Cultural Differences on Innovation – by Jesse Nieminen

52. 600+ Downloadable Quote Posters – Curated by Braden Kelley

53. The Four Secrets of Innovation Implementation – by Shilpi Kumar

54. What Entrepreneurship Education Really Teaches Us – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

55. Reset and Reconnect in a Chaotic World – by Janet Sernack

56. You Can’t Innovate Without This One Thing – by Robyn Bolton

57. Why Change Must Be Built on Common Ground – by Greg Satell

58. Four Innovation Ecosystem Building Blocks – by Greg Satell

59. Problem Seeking 101 – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

60. Taking Personal Responsibility – Back to Leadership Basics – by Janet Sernack

61. The Lost Tribe of Medicine – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

62. Invest Yourself in All That You Do – by Douglas Ferguson

63. Bureaucracy and Politics versus Innovation – by Braden Kelley

64. Dare to Think Differently – by Janet Sernack

65. Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Reality – by Braden Kelley

66. Innovation vs. Invention vs. Creativity – by Braden Kelley

67. Building a Learn It All Culture – by Braden Kelley

68. Real Change Requires a Majority – by Greg Satell

69. Human-Centered Innovation Toolkit – by Braden Kelley

70. Silicon Valley Has Become a Doomsday Machine – by Greg Satell

71. Three Steps to Digital and AI Transformation – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

72. We need MD/MBEs not MD/MBAs – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

73. What You Must Know Before Leading a Design Thinking Workshop – by Douglas Ferguson

74. New Skills Needed for a New Era of Innovation – by Greg Satell

75. The Leader’s Guide to Making Innovation Happen – by Jesse Nieminen

76. Marriott’s Approach to Customer Service – by Shep Hyken

77. Flaws in the Crawl Walk Run Methodology – by Braden Kelley

78. Disrupt Yourself, Your Team and Your Organization – by Janet Sernack

79. Why Stupid Questions Are Important to Innovation – by Greg Satell

80. Breaking the Iceberg of Company Culture – by Douglas Ferguson


Get the Change Planning Toolkit


81. A Brave Post-Coronavirus New World – by Greg Satell

82. What Can Leaders Do to Have More Innovative Teams? – by Diana Porumboiu

83. Mentors Advise and Sponsors Invest – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

84. Increasing Organizational Agility – by Braden Kelley

85. Should You Have a Department of Artificial Intelligence? – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

86. This 9-Box Grid Can Help Grow Your Best Future Talent – by Soren Kaplan

87. Creating Employee Connection Innovations in the HR, People & Culture Space – by Chris Rollins

88. Developing 21st-Century Leader and Team Superpowers – by Janet Sernack

89. Accelerate Your Mission – by Brian Miller

90. How the Customer in 9C Saved Continental Airlines from Bankruptcy – by Howard Tiersky

91. How to Effectively Manage Remotely – by Douglas Ferguson

92. Leading a Culture of Innovation from Any Seat – by Patricia Salamone

93. Bring Newness to Corporate Learning with Gamification – by Janet Sernack

94. Selling to Generation Z – by Shep Hyken

95. Importance of Measuring Your Organization’s Innovation Maturity – by Braden Kelley

96. Innovation Champions and Pilot Partners from Outside In – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

97. Transformation Insights – by Bruce Fairley

98. Teaching Old Fish New Tricks – by Braden Kelley

99. Innovating Through Adversity and Constraints – by Janet Sernack

100. It is Easier to Change People than to Change People – by Annette Franz

Curious which article just missed the cut? Well, here it is just for fun:

101. Chance to Help Make Futurism and Foresight Accessible – by Braden Kelley

These are the Top 100 innovation and transformation articles of 2022 based on the number of page views. If your favorite Human-Centered Change & Innovation article didn’t make the cut, then send a tweet to @innovate and maybe we’ll consider doing a People’s Choice List for 2022.

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 1-6 new articles every week focused on human-centered change, innovation, transformation and design insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook feed or on Twitter or LinkedIn too!

Editor’s Note: Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all the innovation & transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have a valuable insight to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, contact us.

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Trends in Medical School Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education

Trends in Medical School Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

Biomedical and health entrepreneurship continues to expand around the world. Driven by global pressures to optimize the allocation of scarce resources, life science bioentrepreneurs are creating innovative products, platforms, service and systems that deliver more value. As a result, the demand for biomedical and health professional entrepreneurial talent has increased and biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship education and training (BEET) programs are growing to fill the gap.

Authors of a 2019 analysis of 171 allopathic medical schools conducted an exhaustive search of the published literature and websites of existing medical school innovation and entrepreneurship (MS I&E) programs, with an emphasis on answering the following three questions:

1. How are I&E programs organized and integrated with the medical school curriculum?
2. What are the core competencies of the I&E program?
3. How are the core competencies measured/evaluated?

Twenty-eight I&E-oriented medical education programs were identified from 26 schools; all of the programs integrated faculty leadership with backgrounds in medicine, engineering, and/or business/entrepreneurship. Of the programs, 57% (16/28) had been launched within the past four years and 75% (21/28) based program enrollment on a selective application process. Nearly all (27/28) incorporated lecture series and/or hands-on modules as a teaching technique. The most prevalent metric was completion of a capstone project (22/28; 79%). At least 15.2% (26/171) of American and Canadian allopathic medical schools include the option for students to participate in an I&E curriculum-based program.

In a few short years, educational offerings in MS I&E have accelerated, in part due to the impact of the COVID pandemic. Trends include:

  1. Sharing lessons learned teaching medical students innovation and entrepreneurship
  2. Experimenting with various program business models
  3. Creating medical student entrepreneurs
  4. Rethinking MS I&E
  5. Designing a curriculum map and defining learning objectives, entrustable professional activities and knowledge,skills, abilities and competencies
  6. Mentoring and guiding medical students
  7. Offering non-clinical-career options
  8. Providing exit ramps
  9. Rethinking how we select medical students
  10. Resetting the future of academic medical center work
  11. Using principles of medical education reform and what we should be teaching in MedEd 2030
  12. Training MS I&E faculty
  13. Encouraging interprofessional and transdisciplinary entrepreneurship programs
  14. Integrating premed, medical student and postgraduate programs
  15. Encouraging life-long learning

We should teach innovation, entrepreneurship and the business of medicine in medical schools, not MD/MBA programs. MBE programs are a better option for those interested in getting an idea to a patient.

Here are the many reasons why physician entrepreneurship is important and why we are likely to see more of the international design, development and deployment of MS I&E programs in both allopathic and osteopathic schools as well as other health professional schools, including nursing, pharmacy and public health schools. Ultimately, as a result, patients and sickcare systems will be the beneficiaries and doctors will be better and happier.

Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

What the Current Round of Layoffs Tells Us

What the Current Round of Layoffs Tells Us

GUEST POST from Geoffrey A. Moore

When layoffs hit one or two companies, you might blame it on management, but when they hit market leader after market leader, you know something structural is afoot. The important thing then is to extract the signal from all the noise. Here is my cut at it.

First of all, it is the digital consumer sector that is under fire—not all of tech. But note that when you click on the Tech Section of any major publication, all you get is consumer tech news. B2C has eclipsed B2B in the public perception of what tech is all about. The downturn may not change this for consumers, but it sure will for investors. B2B tech actually has the opportunity to thrive in a downturn if it focuses on solving urgent problems that have short time to payback.

Second, the digital consumer model has such attractive economics when it is operating at scale that it led to a massive overvaluation of the sector per se. As with prior bubbles in tech, overvaluing is primarily due to extrapolating present growth as perpetual and ignoring global economic and geopolitical downside risks. Downturns simply call this out and demand a recalibration of valuation based on a more balanced mix of positive and negative factors.

Third, when enterprises have hyper-valued market caps, management does everything it can to sustain them, eventually to the point of counterproductive actions driven more by inertia than any sensible investment strategy. Given the peer pressures of investor relations, this is almost impossible to stop, so ultimately we end up where we are, in need of a correction that everyone saw coming, but no one acted upon. And to be fair, guessing when the correction will come is not a winning play. Better to accept the dynamics you have in front of you and then adapt as fast as you can once they change.

Net net, it is time to own the correction, put our houses in order, accept the deflation in stock price, refocus on our core mission, reset our performance metrics, and get back out on the field.

That’s what I think. What do you think?

Image Credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Should a Bad Grade in Organic Chemistry be a Doctor Killer?

NYU Professor Fired for Giving Students Bad Grades

Should a Bad Grade in Organic Chemistry be a Doctor Killer?

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

A recent article described the termination of an NYU organic chemistry professor in response to a student petition. When the professor pushed students’ grades down, noting the egregious misconduct, he said they protested that “they were not given grades that would allow them to get into medical school.” The reporter noted that, in short, this one unhappy chemistry class could be a case study of the pressures on higher education as it tries to handle its Gen-Z student body. Should universities ease pressure on students, many of whom are still coping with the pandemic’s effects on their mental health and schooling? How should universities respond to the increasing number of complaints by students against professors? Do students have too much power over contract faculty members, who do not have the protections of tenure?

And how hard should organic chemistry be anyway? One faculty member said, “Unless you appreciate these transformations at the molecular level, I don’t think you can be a good physician, and I don’t want you treating patients.”

I know the feeling. While organic chemistry is termed a “doctor killer” by premedical students, getting any grade less than an “A”, typically in science, technology, engineering, or math subjects, can doom your application. When I saw that B I got in physics in my junior year of college, I started thinking about Plan B. Then I really learned the gravity of the situation.

Despite the noise and groaning, medical school applications continue to rise, driven by many factors. However, the medical school education model dates back to the Flexner report issued in 1910. Many are trying to address the challenges of how to train the biomedical research and practice workforce to win the 4th industrial revolution, but progress has been slow. Here were the challenges facing medical schools in 2015. Things have not radically changed. Medical educators, particularly those in public medical schools, will continue to face several basic problems in the coming years. The “invisible enemy” has exacerbated many.

We should rethink how we recruit and accept medical students.

Here are some questions that should inform that transition:

1. Do doctors really need to be that “smart”? GPAs can vary significantly across different medical schools, so it pays to do your research before applying. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported an average GPA for medical school of 3.60 across all applicants for the 2021-2022 application cycle. For the same year, applicants had an average science GPA of 3.49 and an average non-science GPA of 3.74.

2. What kind of intelligence do doctors need to meet the needs of their stakeholders and communities?

Types of Intelligence by Mark Vital

3. Do patients really care what grade their doctor got in organic chemistry, or, for that matter, whether they graduated last in their class from medical school?

4. How has the pandemic and the persona of Gen Z changed medical education?

5. What do doctors and patients need to know to win the 4th industrial revolution? Organic chemistry?

6. How does the present system and its reliance on undergraduate STEM academic performance impact inequitable socioeconomic and demographic acceptance rates?

7. How should we transform premedical, medical, and post-graduate pedagogy? Examples are project-based learning and peer reviewed feedback.

8. Why do we insist that undergraduates declare a major?

9. Is the purpose of a medical school education solely to graduate students who have the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies to take care of patients, or should we provide them with exit ramps too?

10. How do we balance a medical culture of conformity with a culture of creativity?

11. What will be the future of medical work?

I’m lucky that I dodged the bullet. But I still have Plan B.

Image Credits: Adioma (Mark Vital), Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

The Problems with ‘I’ll eat what you kill’ Arrangements​

The Problems with 'I'll eat what you kill' Arrangements​

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

As more health professionals get involved with biomedical and clinical innovation and entrepreneurship, some are becoming advisors, mavens, salespeople, consultants and connectors. As such they are hired to help potential clients or employers meet benchmarks or the next critical success factor. In many instances, that means finding investors or helping to raise money for their early-stage company, newco or startup.

The success fee model also applies to sales and marketing, where the advisor is hired to source leads, leverage their relationships and networks and work around the gatekeepers of decision makers. They only get paid if contacts eventually buy the product.

Most say they do not have money to pay a retainer or recurrent cash payment so, instead they offer equity or some form of incentive or success fee model. Unfortunately, if you are considering such an “I eat what you kill” model, it comes with some problems:

  1. You might be running afoul of SEC regulations concerning raising private money if you are not a registered broker dealer
  2. If you are compensated with equity, the vesting schedule and amounts may not be mutually agreeable
  3. The company might not have the business development, sales operations, CRM or customer success infrastructure or people to follow up on leads and convert them to investors and track them back to you
  4. The client does not give you regularly scheduled updates on performance
  5. The client has unrealistic expectations about your ability to raise money from members of your network
  6. The client does not have a valid fundraising plan with the appropriate target investors
  7. After making an introduction or handoff, the result is no longer related to your efforts, much like a dating service
  8. There may be conflicts of interest for the advisor
  9. You may damage your reputation or personal brand if you are not transparent about your role
  10. You may not have the necessary education, skills, attitudes and competencies to raise money

11. The company or CEO you work for does not have the infrastructure, people or knowledge to close deals that you have sourced or people you have referred. Here are some reasons why and what they can do about getting a bigger ROI on their digital marketing tactics.

If you are asked to help a startup raise money, keep these issues in mind before agreeing to negotiated terms and conditions. Better to find your own meals than relying on eating what someone else kills.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Five Ways Discomfort Could Lead to Your Next Breakthrough

Five Ways Discomfort Could Lead to Your Next Breakthrough

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

The disclaimer on investments is that “past performance is not an indicator of future results.” In other words, don’t get too comfortable with the past. All you have to do is look at the stock performance through last year (2021) compared to this year’s performance to know this is true.

Yet when it comes to people, the opposite is often true. Past performance is often an indicator of future results. Most people get comfortable and stay where they feel safe. But, what if you were willing to be uncomfortable? What if you were willing to go against the status quo, learn something new, regardless of difficulty, and take more risks? How would you feel living in a state of discomfort?

Sterling Hawkins, author of Hunting Discomfort: How to Get Breakthrough Results in Life and Business No Matter What, shares how successful people thrive on discomfort. These are the people whose past performance won’t always indicate what to expect in the future. They thrive on risk, stepping out of their comfort zones, and are fueled by something new and different.

In the book, Hawkins teaches his five-step process that produces results:

1. Expand Your Reality: Just because you were taught that something should be a certain way doesn’t mean it has to be that way. Some might call this “thinking outside the box.” It’s shattering paradigms and challenging the status quo.

This reminds me of the story that the late, great Zig Ziglar used to tell about a family dinner that included four generations. As the dinner was being prepared, a little girl asked her mom, “Why do you cut off the end of the roast before you cook it?” Mom said, “That’s the way your grandmother taught me to cook the roast.”

The little girl then went to her grandmother and asked, “Grandma, why do you cut the end of the roast off before you cook it?” Grandma said, “That’s the way your great-grandmother taught me to cook the roast.”

The little girl then went over to her great-grandmother and asked, “Great Grandma, why do you cut the end of the roast off before you cook it?” Great Grandma said, “A long time ago, the ovens weren’t as big as they are today. We had to cut the end off for the roast to fit into the oven.”

Just because we’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean we should keep doing it that way. Expanding your reality is just looking beyond the usual and ordinary.

2. Get a Tattoo: Hawkins believes you should commit so deeply to something that you’re willing to have it tattooed onto your body. You may disagree, but you do get the point. This is about commitment. The tattoo is a metaphor. You don’t really need to permanently put your feelings on your body, but consider this …

Scott Ginsberg is known as The Nametag Guy. While in college, he found that more people would talk to him if he wore a nametag. It made him approachable. He wrote a speech and several books about how to be more approachable. He committed to wearing a name tag every day. After five years, he made the ultimate commitment to his idea. He had the name tag tattooed onto his chest. That’s commitment!

3. Build a Street Gang: Surround yourself with people who will not only support you but also hold you accountable for your potential. According to Hawkins, having a trusted accountability partner can increase the likelihood of your success by up to 95%!

4. Flip It: The book covers a process for not just overcoming problems or obstacles, but instead using them to your advantage. To Flip It isn’t about seeing the reverse. It’s more about seeing the problem or challenge from a different perspective, starting with a complete understanding of the problem, obstacle, challenge or goal.

Hawkins quotes inventor Charles Kettering who once said, “A problem well stated is a problem half-solved.” Before you can solve a problem, you must first understand it. Clarity is paramount. You must be sure that the problem is not confused with the symptom. The problem becomes a challenge, and you must be clear about what impact solving that problem will mean to you or your organization. Most often, there is a larger purpose to the challenge. What’s the true end goal? For example, you may want to run a 10K race, but the larger vision is to be in good enough shape to run it.

5. Surrender: This isn’t about giving up. Instead, it’s about acceptance. Embrace inevitability and unpredictability. Be flexible and pivot when necessary. Sometimes you’ll find a breakthrough in the middle of the darkest problems. During the pandemic of the past two years, when faced with huge obstacles, some companies and brands not only survived but also found ways to thrive. The same is true for people.

We are in a world where change is happening at a faster pace than ever. We are faced with opportunities that are often disguised as problems and challenges. Hunting for the discomfort in your life and seizing it as the chance to have a breakthrough is what successful people do.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image Credit: Shep Hyken

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Six Simple Growth Hacks for Startups

Six Simple Growth Hacks for Startups

GUEST POST from Soren Kaplan

Building a new business is tough. These strategies will help your startup succeed without a big investment.

As many of my readers know, I usually write about strategy, innovation, and leadership. But recently I’ve been asked a lot about how I helped establish Praxie.com as a destination website for hundreds of best practice digital tools and templates using growth hacking strategies. That’s because it’s incredibly hard to cut through the noise and establish a new brand, website presence, and business model in today’s increasingly cluttered competitive world.

So, here’s what we did to build a brand and drive tens of thousands of visitors to our website each month, all without any significant marketing investment. Anyone who’s focused, methodical, and willing take the time can do it.

1. Create Expert Content

Content is king. You can create it yourself or provide a platform that encourages users to contribute content as part of your business model. Content drives the brand and engages customers. Plus, Google and other search engines index and prioritize pages with solid content, so your specific webpages with noteworthy content will get a boost in SEO rankings and see increased traffic over time. Content comes in many forms: articles, blog posts, listicles, white papers, templates, and videos.

2. Syndicate Content to Grow Backlinks

Backlinks are the lifeblood of SEO. The more that reputable websites link back to your website (or sub-pages on your site), the higher you’ll rank will be in search engines. And the higher your rank, the more organic visitors you’ll receive. Whatever you’re doing or providing as part of your business, position yourself as the expert. Become a source of knowledge and insight for the press, get interviewed on podcasts, write articles for other sites, or do anything else that gets your name (and backlink) out there on the net. This strategy also builds your brand.

3. Become a Video Star

Content isn’t just about the written word. YouTube is now the number-two search engine in the world, right behind Google. Video content highlights your expertise. It gets shared. And it drives traffic to your website that can convert to newsletter signups, subscriptions, and product purchases. Be sure to include keywords in the titles and descriptions of your videos. Also include a plug at the end of the video for where the viewer can learn more (e.g., your website). Re-purpose your videos on social media and embed videos into your website to further reinforce your content expertise.

4. Build Email Relationships

While just about every email inbox is cluttered with spam these days, when someone gives you their email address, they’re essentially giving you permission (opting in) to connect with them. While the same principle applies to social media, email is still a unique, higher-touch, form of connection-making. As compared with social media, email is like pinning a flyer up on someone’s front door versus hoping they see one that has been posted on the corner telephone pole as they walk by. So, create easy ways for people to sign up for newsletters. Connect with others on LinkedIn, where most profiles include email addresses. Focus on building a list and providing high-value communications that use expert content to connect with your audience versus just trying to sell them your product. Many free or inexpensive tools can get you started like Mailchimp and Constant Contact.

5. Measure Everything Using Dashboards

The only way to gauge progress is to measure it. Use Google Analytics to track your most important metrics, like the number of visitors, landing pages, conversion rates for your newsletter and purchases, and more. Use free tools like those provided by Moz and Similarweb to benchmark yourself against the competition. Connect social media metrics and advertising into a dashboard that provides a holistic picture of the business. But don’t spend too much time cobbling together data. Keep it simple so you can get a quick read on how you’re doing while spending most of your time doing the things that grow your business.

6. Test, Retest, and Test Again

Google recently introduced a great tool called Optimize. Optimize allows you to quickly run tests on your website or individual web pages. By creating A/B tests that serve up different page headings, product prices, button colors, etc., you can gain insight into what works and what doesn’t based on what you’re trying to achieve. Track which market positioning statements result in the most newsletter signups or which price model delivers the greatest revenue. Running tests should be an ongoing activity which essentially means you’re taking the winning formula from your A/B test and then running another A/B test using that as the baseline. Connect your tests to your data analytics to track what works (and doesn’t) over time.

Most small startups don’t have big funding. That’s why growth hacks are so important. Use a little elbow grease, coupled with savvy customer engagement strategies, to build the basis for market traction. You might need to give it a little time to yield results, but that’s also what’s needed to create an enduring business.

Image Credit: Getty Images (acquired by Soren Kaplan)

This article was originally published on Inc.com and has been syndicated for this blog.

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Driving the Next Era of Growth: Leveraging Data to Innovate

Driving the Next Era of Growth: Leveraging Data to Innovate

GUEST POST from Teresa Spangler

“50% of US executives and 39% of European executives said budget constraints were the primary hurdle in turning Big Data into a profitable business asset. Rounding out the top 5 challenges were data security concerns, integration challenges, lack of technical expertise, and proliferation of data silos.” (Capgemini)

“The biggest challenges companies face when implementing Big Data are budget constraints” (Capgemini)

Data analytics is continuously evolving as AI and machine learning applications get faster and smarter. The benefits that may be gained by analyzing massive data sets identifying in seconds patterns, signals, and relationships between nonaligned and aligned areas is intoxicating for savvy companies seeking to innovate. We recognize that companies can make faster and better decisions with strong analytic teams interpreting the findings. Look at what information-driven analytics has done already in cool improvements around us. There are so many good examples of this. Take transportation systems, the use of information analytics to course vehicles round congested areas in actual time is one simple example. Another, that literally may have saved the restaurant industry during the pandemic, is meals delivery services which depend on data collected to forecast demand on menu items, key order times, navigation around cities and streets not to mentioned detailed knowledge individual’s meal preferences. Data helped to optimize driving routes for more efficient delivers.

As data analytics becomes more sophisticated, we might anticipate revolutionary disruptions. However, economists report spending greater funds per capita on research, yet there is a significant decline in rate of successful innovation output. One motive for this could be that we are mistakenly focusing an excessive amount of on R&D instead of on innovation output which takes exceptional justification, funding, and resources. What does data analytics have to do with innovation? Everything! Research is crucial but just one part of a puzzle for developing new products and services. Today, innovation requires a sophistication in data analytics interpretation. There’s also a need for the curiosity, for human evaluation and a bit of intuition and intelligence. Companies need an astute cleverness like no other time in history and an ingenious approach to taking research and turning it into something new and worthwhile.  The process must be diligent, but it must also be agile. Too frequently, organizations get bogged down within the details of research and improvement, without truly questioning outside the boundaries of a container process. As a result, we have delays in the process often stalling out for lack of resource allocations. Even worse, companies not focusing on deep understanding of their data may misinterpret the analytics leaving more to chance that to solid pathways.

It’s worth saying, placing a greater emphasis on creativity and innovation is imperative vs. traditional research and improvement methods. As is deeply dissecting the data in your business. Where does all that data live? What are the hidden signals of the data, what types of converging uses (products/solutions) could you turn that data into?

We are in an era of new growth. Poll your customers! They are changing rapidly and challenged with keeping up with the speed of change but know they must. Where are they doubling down their efforts? How well do they understand their own data? What products and services are they developing, who are they collaborating with and a better question, why are you collaborating with them to innovate around their future needs? Are they investing in developing a more tech and analytic savvy organization? Better question, is your company?

As cliché as it is data is the new oil. Data will be producing its own data (it’s happening today) known as synthetic data. According to Gartner, “By 2025, synthetic data will reduce personal customer data collection, avoiding 70% of privacy violation sanctions.” This begs to question the emphasis companies are placing on developing the skills sets of the organization around analytics and data. And simply put, as oil has an expansive array of products and uses, we’re now in an era of inventing new energy sources to reduce even eliminate dependencies on oil. How might data fit into the effort to transform these dependencies? Data is essential for electric and autonomous vehicle development. Innovative companies are undertaking long tail efforts to drive the next generation of IoE (Internet of everything). Data is the fuel. Let’s explore four ways that organizations can use records analytics to power innovation and stay ahead of the competition.

  1. Design new products that think for themselves: understanding data from a variety of sources may trigger new types of needs and possible new products that could be developed. For example: understanding water needs for new smart and innovative cities being designed takes enormous planning. A partner to Plazabridge Group, designs digital twin environments for the water sector. Cites like Singapore, Houston, Dubai, must anticipate the growing needs for water and plan design and building based on anticipated needs but also, they must plan for worst- and best-case scenarios. They must plan for leakage, or contamination or other possible scenarios that may impact water supplies. Digital twinning these environments is the most cost-effective way to simulate new innovative methods. Leveraging as much data as possible as well as generating newly created synthetic data cities can plan more economically, they can execute faster and prepare for events that may occur. Understanding these models around water, suppliers may produce products that help cities build these digital environments. Not just for water systems but for any part of businesses today; manufacturing, facilities management, construction…
  2. Not all innovation has to be moonshot inventions. Simply identify unmet wishes of customers, consumers or the market creating engaging products and services. UBER goes from just carting us around leveraging an incredible inventive back in logistics infrastructure to launch UBER eats! Why not, the drivers are already out and about, the data collected indicates the most popular spots riders go to for coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks… UBER analysts have vast information on customer interests in turn turned from few riders during a pandemic to delivering food as an essential business during the pandemic. A pivot turns into a scalable source of augmented revenue as the shelter lifts and people get back to riding.
  3. So much opportunity exists to improve customer engagement: records analytics can assist businesses to better understand their clients and their wishes. This expertise can then be used to improve customer service and support future-proofing your business.
  4. Extend efficiency: data crunching algorithms, digital twinning, AR/VR simulations and access to remote experts will help corporations to streamline their operations, digitally transforming themselves for greater efficiency. This increased efficiency can lead to price savings, which can be reinvested in innovation.“90% of CEOs believe the digital economy will impact their industry, but less than 15% are executing on a digital strategy.”

— MIT Sloan and Capgemini. Seek out experts and industry mentors to help your organization make these shifts. We often fear what we cannot see, the beautiful thing about the digital world is you can build a virtual environment visualizing the unseen, and plan for all types of scenarios. A model we developed (not dependent on virtual or digital anything in fact) at Plazabridge Group is around the CIA’s The Phoenix Checklist. Strategies for Regenerating is our formula for going deep into understanding problems, future opportunities, needs, anticipating deeply the “What ifs” of every possible scenario.  When done leveraging data and analytics the possibilities become endless.

Original Article

Image credits: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Land Mines of Intrapreneurship

Land Mines of Intrapreneurship

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity under VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) conditions with the goal of creating user/stakeholder defined value through the deployment of innovation using a VAST business model.

Intrapreneurs are employees trying to act like entrepreneurs within their organizations or non-profits. Here is the textbook of physician intrapreneurship.

Here is how to get your ideas noticed:

If you are trying to develop and deploy an AI solution in your sickcare organization, have you answered these questions?

Here are some reasons why your initiative will fail.

Do you have a VAST edupreneur business model?

Studies show that around 60 to 80% of new products fail. The same is probably true for programs and new educational offerings. It is difficult to determine the exact number of unreported cases, because who would like to talk about his innovation flops? The odds are against you.

So, what are the landmines to detect and avoid?

  1. You did not do your homework because you where unwilling, unable to do so ,or ,you do not have an entrepreneurial mindset and think because you already have 2 people who said they were interested that you could forge ahead.
  2. You did not have an exit strategy.
  3. You did not read the field manual.
  4. You don’t have the right sponsor with staying power.
  5. You tried to bite off more than your stakeholders are willing or able to chew.
  6. You are a bad rebel and chalk it up to “being authentic.”
  7. You do not have the right clinical champions on board.
  8. You have empty seats on the bus or the wrong people sitting in them.
  9. You are making these rookie intrapreneur mindset mistakes.
  10. You are not addressing the dysfunction of teams.
  11. You are not aligned with your organization’s strategy or vision.
  12. You are working in the wrong place with a toxic or fixed culture or for the wrong person.
  13. You don’t have an innovation strategy
  14. You don’t get sales and marketing
  15. You didn’t ask and answer these four questions before you started
  16.  If you’ve got a major change on the horizon, here’s how to avoid three of the most common saboteurs of company transformation. First, understand that significant change will be harder than you think it will be to achieve. Next, be realistic about your organization’s capacity to implement changes. Finally, make sure your organization understands how and why the transformation is important to you.
  17. You have not learned how to win at Survivor  1) Don’t expect friendship. Invest in relationships outside your company to meet your emotional needs; 2) Manage sideways. Your reputation with your peers becomes an important factor as you’re being considered for senior ranks; and 3) Hone your political skills.

If you get too far ahead of your troops, it is hard to tell the difference between you and the enemy. De-risk yourself. Be careful out there.

Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.