Tag Archives: Microsoft

Big Companies Should Not Try to Act Like Startups

Big Companies Should Not Try to Act Like Startups

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

In 2009, Jeffrey Immelt set out on a journey to transform his company, General Electric, into a 124 year old startup. Although it was one of the largest private organizations in the world, with 300,000 employees, he sought to become agile and nimble enough to compete with high-flying Silicon Valley firms.

It didn’t end well. In 2017, problems in the firm’s power division led to massive layoffs. Immelt was forced to step down as CEO and GE was kicked off the Dow after 110 years. The company, which was once famous for its sound management, saw its stock tank. Much like most startups, the effort had failed.

Somewhere along the line we got it into our heads that large firms can’t innovate and should strive to act like startups. The truth is that they are very different types of organizations and need to innovate differently. While large firms can’t move as fast as startups, they have other advantages. Rather than try to act like startups, they need to leverage what they have.

Driving Innovation At Scale

The aviation industry is dominated by big companies. With a typical airliner costing tens of millions of dollars, there’s not much room for rapid prototyping. It takes years to develop a new product and the industry, perhaps not surprisingly, moves slowly. Planes today look pretty much the same as ones made decades ago.

Looks, however, can be deceiving. To understand how the aviation industry innovates, consider the case of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. Although it may look like any other airplane, Boeing redesigned the materials within it. So a 787 is 20 percent lighter and 20 percent more efficient than similar models. That’s a significant achievement.

Developing advanced materials is not for the faint of heart. You can’t do it in a garage. You need deep scientific expertise, state-of-the-art facilities and the resources to work for years—and sometimes decades— to discover something useful. Only large enterprises can do that,

None of this means that startups don’t have a role to play. In fact one small company, Citrine Informatics, is applying artificial intelligence to materials discovery and revolutionizing the field. Still, to take on big projects that have the potential to make huge global impacts, you usually need a large enterprise.

Powering Startups

All too often, we see large enterprises and startups as opposite sides of the coin, with big companies representing the old guard and entrepreneurs representing the new wave, but that’s largely a myth. The truth is that innovation often works best when large firms and small firms are able to collaborate.

Scott Lenet, President of Touchdown Ventures, sees this first-hand every day. His company is somewhat unique in that, unlike most venture capital firms, it manages internal funds for large corporations. He’s found that large corporations are often seen as value added investors because of everything they bring to the table.

“For example,” he told me, “one of our corporate partners is Kellogg’s and they have enormous resources in technical expertise, distribution relationships and marketing acumen. The company has been in business for over 100 years and it’s learned quite a bit about the food business in that time. So that’s an enormous asset for a startup to draw on.”

He also points out that, while large firms tend to know how to do things well, they can’t match the entrepreneurial energy of someone striving to build their own business. “Startups thrive on new ideas,” Lenet says “and big firms know how to scale and improve those ideas. We’ve seen some of our investments really blossom based on that kind of partnership.”

Creating New Markets

Another role that large firms play is creating and scaling new markets. While small firms are often more agile, large companies have the clout and resources to scale and drive impact. That often also creates opportunities for entrepreneurs as well.

Consider the case of personal computers. By 1980, startups like Apple and Commodore had already been marketing personal computers for years, but it was mostly a cottage industry. When IBM launched the PC in 1981, however, the market exploded. Businesses could now buy a computer from a supplier that they knew and trusted.

It also created fantastic opportunities for companies like Microsoft, Intel and a whole range of entrepreneurs who flocked to create software and auxiliary devices for PCs. Later startups like Compaq and Dell created PC clones that were compatible with IBM products. The world was never the same after that.

Today, large enterprises like IBM, Google and Amazon dominate the market for artificial intelligence, but once again they are also creating fantastic opportunities for entrepreneurs. By accessing the tools that the tech giants have created through APIs, small firms can create amazing applications for their customers.

Innovation Needs Exploration

Clearly, large firms have significant advantages when it comes to innovation. They have resources, customer relationships and deep expertise to not only invent new things, but to scale businesses and bring products to market. Still, many fail to innovate effectively, which is why the average lifespan of companies on the S&P 500 continues to decline.

There’s no reason why that has to be true. The problem is that most large organizations spend so much time and effort fine-tuning their operations to meet earnings targets that they fail to look beyond their present business model. That’s not due to any inherent lack of capability, it’s due to a lack of imagination.

Make no mistake, if you don’t explore, you won’t discover. If you don’t discover you won’t invent and if you don’t invent you will be disrupted. So while you need to focus on the business at hand, you also need to leave some resources un-optimized so that you can identify and develop the next great opportunity.

A good rule of thumb to follow is 70-20-10. Focus 70% of your resources on developing your present business, 20% of your resources on opportunities adjacent to your current business, such as new markets and technologies and 10% on developing things that are completely new. That’s how you innovate for the long term.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog and previously appeared on Inc.com
— Image credit: Pixabay

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Four Change Empowerment Myths

Four Change Empowerment Myths

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

We live in a transformational age. Powerful technologies like the cloud and artificial intelligence are quickly shifting what it means to compete. Social movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter are exposing decades of misdeeds and rewriting norms. The stresses of modern life are creating new expectations about the relationship between work and home.

Every senior manager and entrepreneur I talk to understands the need to transform their enterprise, yet most are unsure of how to go about it. They ordinarily don’t teach transformation in business school and most management books minimize the challenge by reducing it to silly platitudes like “adapt or die.”

The truth is that change is hard because the status quo always has inertia on its side. Before we can drive a true transformation, we need to unlearn much of what we thought we knew. Change will not happen just because we want it to, nor can it be willed into existence. To make change happen, we first need to overcome the myths that tend to undermine it.

Myth #1: You Have To Start With A Bang

Traditionally, managers launching a new initiative have aimed to start big. They work to gain approval for a sizable budget as a sign of institutional commitment. They recruit high-profile executives, arrange a big “kick-off” meeting and look to move fast, gain scale and generate some quick wins. All of this is designed to create a sense of urgency and inevitability.

That works well for a conventional initiative, but for something that’s truly transformational, it’s a sure path to failure. Starting with a big bang will often provoke fear and resistance among those who don’t see the need for change. As I explain in my book, Cascades, real change always starts with small groups, loosely connected, united by a shared purpose.

That’s why it’s best to start off with a keystone change that represents a concrete and tangible goal, involves multiple stakeholders and paves the way for future change. That’s how you build credibility and momentum. While the impact of that early keystone change might be limited, a small, but successful, initiative can show what’s possible.

For example, when the global data giant Experian sought to transform itself into a cloud-based enterprise, it started with internal API’s that had limited effect on its business. Yet those early achievements spurred on a full digital transformation. In much the same way, when Wyeth Pharmaceuticals began its shift to lean manufacturing, it started with a single process at a single plant. That helped give birth to a 25% reduction of costs across the board.

Myth #2: You Need A Charismatic Leader And A Catchy Slogan

When people think about truly transformational change, a charismatic leader usually comes to mind. In the political sphere, we think of people like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. On the corporate side, legendary CEOs like Lou Gerstner at IBM and Steve Jobs at Apple pulled off dramatic turnarounds and propelled their companies back to prosperity.

Yet many successful transformations don’t have a charismatic leader. Political movements like Pora in Ukraine and Otpor and Serbia didn’t have clear leadership out front. The notably dry Paul O’Neill pulled of a turnaround at Alcoa that was every bit as impressive as the ones at IBM and Apple. And let’s face it, it wasn’t Bill Gates’s Hollywood smile that made Microsoft the most powerful company of its time.

The truth, as General Stanley McChrystal makes clear in his new book, Leaders: Myth and Reality, is that leadership is not so much about great speeches or snappy slogans or even how gracefully someone takes the stage, but how effectively a leader manages a complex ecosystem of relationships and builds a connection with followers.

And even when we look at charismatic leaders a little more closely, we see that it is what they did off stage that made the difference. Gandhi forged alliances between Hindus and Muslims, upper castes and untouchables as well as other facets of Indian society. Mandela did something similar in South Africa. Martin Luther King Jr. was not a solitary figure, but just one of the Big Six of civil rights.

That’s why McChrystal, whom former Defense Secretary Bob Gates called, “perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat I had ever met,” advises that leaders need to be “empathetic crafters of culture.” A leader’s role is not merely to plan and direct action, but to inspire and empower belief.

Myth #3: You Need To Piece Together A Coalition

While managing stakeholders is critical, all too often it devolves into a game theory exercise in which a strategically minded leader horse trades among competing interests until he or she achieves a 51% consensus. That may be enough to push a particular program through, but any success is bound to be short-lived.

The truth is that you can’t transform fundamental behaviors without transforming fundamental beliefs and to do that you need to forge shared values and a shared consciousness. It’s very hard to get people to do what you want if they don’t already want what you want. On the other hand, if everybody shares basic values and overall objectives, it’s much easier to get everybody moving in the same direction.

For example, the LGBT movement foundered for decades by trying to get society to accept their differences. However, when it changed tack and started focusing on common values, such as the right to live in committed, loving relationships and to raise happy, stable families, public opinion changed in record time. The differences just didn’t seem that important any more.

In a similar vein, when Paul O’Neill took over Alcoa in 1987, the company was struggling. So analysts were puzzled that when asked about his strategy he said that “I intend to make Alcoa the safest company in America.” Yet what O’Neill understood was that safety goes part and parcel with operational excellence. By focusing on safety, it was much easier to get the rank and file on board and, when results improved, other stakeholders got on board too.

Myth #4: You Will End With The Vision You Started With

When Nelson Mandela first joined the struggle to end Apartheid, he was a staunch African nationalist. “I was angry at the white man, not at racism,” he would later write. “While I was not prepared to hurl the white man into the sea, I would have been perfectly happy if he climbed aboard his steamships and left the continent of his own volition.”

Yet Mandela would change those views over time and today is remembered and revered as a global citizen. In fact, it was the constraints imposed by the broad-based coalition he forged that helped him to develop empathy, even for his oppressors, and led him to govern wisely once he was in power.

In much the same way, Lou Gerstner could not have predicted that his tenure as CEO at IBM would be remembered for its embrace of the Internet and open software. Yet it was his commitment to his customers that led him there and brought his company back from the brink of bankruptcy to a new era of of prosperity.

And that is probably the most important thing we need to understand change. In order to make a true impact on the world, we first need to change ourselves. Every successful journey begins not with answers, but with questions. You have to learn how to walk the earth and learn things along the way. You know you’ve failed only when you end up where you started.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog and an earlier version appeared on Inc.com
— Image credit: Pixabay

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Building a Learn It All Culture

Don’t Be a Know It All

Building a Learn It All Culture

by Braden Kelley

Trying to be a “know-it-all” is a flawed goal.

It is impossible to know everything.

This is by design.

This is by intention.

In much the same way that programming languages have garbage collection built in, the human brain is built to prune. The human brain is built to forget more than it remembers. Instead of trying to override our natural tendencies, we must embrace them and see instead see how they empower us to be continuous learners.

“Garbage collection is the process in which programs try to free up memory space that is no longer used by objects.” — FreeCodeCamp

Where Insights Come From by Braden Kelley

And while knowledge is important, it is perishable, it is transitory, and it is not the highest aspiration.

  1. An understanding of data allows the creation of information
  2. The consumption of information allows the creation of knowledge
  3. The exploration of knowledge allows the creation of insight
  4. The connections between insights allow the creation of wisdom

Curiosity fuels the transformation of data and information into insights and wisdom, while knowledge funnel progression is driven by a quest for efficiency.

Knowledge Funnel

Knowledge FunnelThe knowledge funnel is a useful concept learned from Roger Martin in the Design of Business. The concept highlights how any new area creating information (and hopefully knowledge) starts very much as a mystery, but as our understanding of the topic area increases, we begin to identify heuristics and make sense of it. For me, this is where we begin to move from data and information to knowledge, and then as our knowledge increases we are able to codify this knowledge into algorithms.

Importance of Curiosity to a Learn It All Culture

If you want to build a learn-it-all culture, it all starts with curiosity. Curiosity leads to inquiry, and inquiry leads to learning. The achievement of insights is the ideal outcome for learning pursuits, and insights power innovation.

I’ve been writing about the importance of curiosity and its role in innovation since 2011 or before.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

At an event I attended in New York City in 2011, Peter Diamandis of the XPRIZE Foundation talked about how for him the link between curiosity and innovation is the following:

“What should be possible that doesn’t yet exist?”

In my article Key to Innovation Success Revealed!, on the topic of curiosity I wrote:

The reason that curiosity is the secret to innovation success is that the absence of curiosity leads to acceptance and comfort in the status quo. The absence of curiosity leads to complacency (one of the enemies of innovation) and when organizations (or societies) become complacent or comfortable, they usually get run over from behind. When organizations or societies lack curiosity, they struggle to innovate. Curiosity causes people to ask ‘Why’ questions and ‘What if’ questions. Curiosity leads to inspiration. Inspiration leads to insight. Insights lead to ideas. And in a company or society where invention, collaboration and entrepreneurship knowledge, skills, abilities and practice are encouraged, ideas lead to action.

Five Keys to Building a Learn It All Culture

Change is the one constant, and it is continuous. If it wasn’t, all of us would still be hunting animals and collecting berries. Embracing continuous change and transformation allows us to accelerate our understanding of the universe and how our organizations can serve their missions more effectively and efficiently. Continuous change requires continuous learning. To prepare our people and our organization to succeed at continuous learning we need to do these five things:

1. Develop Good Learning Hygiene

Learning is a skill. To build an organization of continuous or lifelong learners, we must first help people learn how to learn. Two of the most important learning skills that we are not taught how to do in school, but that are crucial for success at innovation and other modern pursuits are the following:

  • Deep Thinking — Few of us are good at deep thinking and as a result, deep learning. Getting people to put all of their devices away is the initial challenge. Feeling comfortable not knowing the answer and sitting at a table with nothing more than a blank piece of paper is really hard. Teaching people how to meditate beforehand can be quite helpful. The goal of course is to get people into the state of mind that allows them to think deeply and capture their idea fragments, nuggets of inquiry and micro-inspirations. This will provide the fuel for collaboration and co-creation and the next key learning skill.
  • Augmented Learning — We live during amazing times, where if we don’t know something we can Google it or ask Siri, Cortana or Alexa. All of the assistants and search engines available to us, serve to quickly augment our human knowledge, skills and abilities. Knowing how to build good search queries is an incredibly powerful life skill. Teach it.

2. Reinforce Growth Mindset Behaviors

There has been much chatter about the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. It’s not really a new concept, but instead modern packaging for the level of maturity shown by those successful professionals who are willing to say:

“I don’t know.” and “Let me find out.” and “Failure is an opportunity to learn.”

Two ways organizations can demonstrate their commitment to a growth mindset are to:

  • Celebrate Failure — Create events or other ways to share some of the most important failures of the month or quarter, and what was learned from each.
  • Fund Curiosity — If you’re hiring curious people with a growth mindset, then every employee will be curious about something. Find a way to fund their investigation and exploration of what they’re curious about – even if it is not work-related. This is a great way of demonstrating the importance of curiosity to innovation and your commitment to it.

3. Make Unlearning Socially Acceptable

We all want to be the expert, and we work hard to achieve mastery. Meaning, often we hold on too tightly as new solutions emerge. And, to adopt new ways of solving old problems, often we have to unlearn what we think we know before we can learn the new ways. Smart organizations constantly challenge what they think they know about their customers, potential partners, product-market-fit, and even where future competition might come from.

4. Flex Your Reskilling and Retraining Muscles

With the accelerating pace of change, the organizations and even the countries that invest in reskilling and retaining their employees (or citizens) are the organizations and economies that stand the best chance of continued success. As more organizations commit to being purpose-driven organizations, the costs of recruitment actually increase, making it even more important to keep the employees you attract and to reskill and retrain them as your needs change. Especially as the pace of automation also increases…

5. Create Portable Not Proprietary Knowledge

If you gave an employee ten hours to spend to either:

  • Earn a professional certification
  • Complete company-created employee training

Which do you think most employees would choose?

Sorry, but most employees view company-created trainings somewhat like the dentist. They do it because they have to.

Work with professional associations to influence certification curriculums towards the knowledge, skills and abilities you need.

Find more and better ways of encouraging mentorship.

Invest in internal internship and innovation programs that allow employees to explore the ideas and the other areas of the business they’re passionate about.

Conclusion

Transitioning from a know-it-all to a learn-it-all culture is no small feat and requires commitment and investment at a number of different levels inside the organization. I’ve highlighted the five keys to building a learn-it-all culture inside your organization, but only you can take the keys and unlock these capabilities inside your organization. Now is the time to invest in your learning transformation.

But smart countries will be thinking bigger. Smart countries will be thinking about how they can transform their educational systems to create a continuous learning mindset in their next generation, finance a move from STEM to STEAM, and commit to ongoing worker reskilling and retraining programs to support displaced workers.

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AI Has Already Taken Over the World

AI Has Already Taken Over the World

by Braden Kelley

I don’t know about you, but it’s starting to feel as if machines and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have already taken over the world.

Remember in primary school when everyone tried really hard to impress, or even just to be recognized by, a handful of cool kids?

It’s feeling more and more each day as if the cool kids on the block that we’re most desperate to impress are algorithms and artificial intelligence.

We’re all desperate to get our web pages preferred over others by the algorithms of Google and Bing and are willing to spend real money on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to increase our chances of ranking higher.

Everyone seems super keen to get their social media posts surfaced by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tik Tok, and even LinkedIn.

In today’s “everything is eCommerce” world, how your business ranks on Google and Bing increasingly can determine whether you’re in business or out of business.

Algorithms Have Become the New Cool Kids on the Block

According to the “Agencies SEO Services Global Market Report 2021: COVID-19 Impact and Recovery to 2030” report from The Business Research Company:

“The global agencies seo services market is expected to grow from $37.84 billion in 2020 to $40.92 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1%. The market is expected to reach $83.7 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 19.6%.”

Think about that for a bit…

Companies and individuals are forecast to spend $40 Billion trying to impress the alogrithms and artificial intelligence applications of companies like Google and Microsoft in order to get their web sites and web pages featured higher in the search engine rankings.

The same can be true for companies and individuals trying to make a living selling on Amazon, Walmart.com and eBay. The algorithms of these companies determine which sellers get preferred placement and as a result can determine which individuals and companies profit and which will march down a path toward bankruptcy.

And then there is another whole industry and gamesmanship surrounding the world of social media marketing.

According to BEROE the size of the social media marketing market is in excess of $102 Billion.

These are huge numbers that, at least for me, demonstrate that the day that machines and AI take over the world is no longer out there in the future, but is already here.

Machines have become the gatekeepers between you and your customers.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

(insert maniacal laugh here)

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Encouraging a Growth Mindset During Times of Organizational Change

Encouraging a Growth Mindset During Times of Organizational Change

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

Organizational change is a formidable undertaking. It navigates the volatile waters of market dynamics, technological advancements, cultural shifts, and competitive pressures. Change initiatives falter when they fail to resonate with the human element within the enterprise—its people. At the heart of successful change lies a resilient culture, one that embraces a growth mindset. This article will explore how to nurture such a mindset and present two compelling case studies illustrating its transformative power.

The Essence of a Growth Mindset

Coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, a growth mindset is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. This contrasts with a fixed mindset, the belief that talents are innate and unchangeable. In an organizational context, a growth mindset fosters perseverance, adaptability, and enthusiasm for learning—all crucial for navigating change.

Strategies for Cultivating a Growth Mindset

  1. Promote Continuous Learning: Encourage employees to take ownership of their development by offering training, workshops, and access to educational resources.
  2. Celebrate Effort over Success: Recognize and reward the process of learning and improvement, not just the outcomes.
  3. Provide Constructive Feedback: Offer feedback that emphasizes growth and potential rather than pointing out flaws.
  4. Lead by Example: Leadership should embody and reinforce a growth mindset by demonstrating learning and adaptability.
  5. Foster Psychological Safety: Create an environment where employees feel safe to experiment, make mistakes, and share ideas without fear of reprisal.

Case Study 1: Microsoft

When Satya Nadella assumed the role of CEO at Microsoft in 2014, the tech giant was facing significant challenges. Its culture had become siloed, and innovation was waning. Nadella’s solution? Inject a growth mindset into the organization.

Steps Taken:

  1. Cultural Transformation: Nadella initiated a cultural shift from a know-it-all to a learn-it-all mindset. He emphasized the importance of empathy, curiosity, and continuous learning.
  2. Leadership Development: Managers were trained to support and develop their teams rather than command and control.
  3. New Metrics: Success was redefined. Instead of focusing solely on short-term financial metrics, the company began tracking progress in learning and innovation.
  4. Encouraging Collaboration: To break down silos, Microsoft encouraged cross-team collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Results:

Microsoft’s transformation is nothing short of remarkable. Financially, the company’s market value soared from around $300 billion in 2014 to over $2 trillion in recent years. More importantly, the internal culture became more collaborative, innovative, and driven by continuous improvement.

Case Study 2: Procter & Gamble (P&G)

Procter & Gamble, a global leader in consumer goods, faced stagnation in the early 2000s. Sales were sluggish, and the company was perceived as bureaucratic and resistant to change. A significant shift was needed to regain its competitive edge.

Steps Taken:

  1. Purpose-Driven Change: CEO A.G. Lafley revitalized the organization by focusing on a clear purpose: “Touching lives, improving life.” This higher purpose inspired a culture of innovation and customer-centricity.
  2. Empowering Employees: P&G introduced initiatives aimed at empowering employees to experiment, learn from failures, and share insights. This included the “Connect + Develop” program that encouraged external and internal collaboration for innovation.
  3. Embedding Growth Mindset Principles: The company promoted the idea that abilities could be honed and that contributions and improvements were valuable regardless of their immediate success.
  4. Leadership Support: Leaders were tasked with cultivating environments where teams felt supported in pursuing bold ideas and taking calculated risks.

Results:

P&G experienced a renaissance in both market performance and corporate culture. Products resulting from the “Connect + Develop” program generated billions in revenue, and employee engagement soared. The company’s ability to adapt and innovate significantly improved, paving the way for sustained growth.

Conclusion

Embracing a growth mindset is more than an individual choice; it is a cultural imperative, especially during times of organizational change. As the cases of Microsoft and Procter & Gamble illustrate, fostering such a mindset can lead to profound transformations, driving innovation, collaboration, and resilience.

Organizations embarking on the change journey should remember that the path to success begins with nurturing the belief that everyone can grow, learn, and contribute to a shared future. By committing to continuous learning, celebrating effort, providing constructive feedback, leading by example, and ensuring psychological safety, leaders can create an environment where a growth mindset flourishes, ultimately enabling their organizations to thrive amidst the inevitable tides of change.

SPECIAL BONUS: The very best change planners use a visual, collaborative approach to create their deliverables. A methodology and tools like those in Change Planning Toolkit™ can empower anyone to become great change planners themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Innovative Strategies for Disrupting Traditional Industries

Innovative Strategies for Disrupting Traditional Industries

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

There’s a buzzing chorus reverberating across industries, from tech realms to manufacturing hubs: “Innovate or perish.” More firms, innovators and thought leaders are challenging traditional business operations to tap into a world of possibilities. The catalyst? Innovative strategies. These tactics have the capacity to disrupt existing industries and birth new paradicms. Today, we’ll examine some of these game-changing strategies with an analytical lens, focusing on two case studies to drive the point home.

1. Systemic Innovation with a Human-Centric Approach

Emphasizing systemic innovation means understanding that an industry’s fundamental frameworks and processes aren’t exclusive compartments but interconnected systems. Today’s innovators are levering this invision and merging it with a focus on enhancing human experiences – customers, communities, and the workforce.

Case Study: Airbnb

Consider Airbnb, which flawlessly implemented this strategy to disrupt the global accommodation industry. Airbnb realized that the essence of travel was not just in accommodation but an enriching, personalized experience. It redefined the customer experience by leveraging underutilized resources—vacant rooms and homes, allowing homeowners to become service providers. The travel industry: disrupted – the user experience: elevated.

2. Harnessing Advanced Technologies for New Value Propositions

Advanced technologies have wired us into a new era of business. They are powerful tools offering novel ways to deliver value. Beyond product improvements, they offer newer models of business, partnerships, and customer engagements.

Case Study: Tesla

The automotive industry is a poster child for such disruption, with Tesla, Inc. at the forefront. Tesla harnessed advanced battery technologies and stepped outside the internal combustion engine’s boundaries. Tesla’s innovation didn’t stop at product; it extended to challenge traditional dealership models by selling directly to the customer, thus fostering a closer customer relationship. Additionally, they leveraged software to provide continuous improvements via over-the-air updates, turning their cars into upgradable software platforms.

3. Embracing Strategic Alliances, Collaborations and Open Innovation

Innovative corporate strategies no longer limit companies to go about their innovative journey alone. Strategic alliances, collaborations or open innovation are reshaping products, services and the nature of competition itself.

Case Study: Microsoft and Linux

In the IT world, an example of profound disruption is Microsoft’s admission into the Linux Foundation. Once fierce competitors, Microsoft realized the power of Linux’s open-source software and adapted an open innovation strategy that embraced collaboration over competition. The unexpected alliance shook the industry and spurred Microsoft’s evolution.

Conclusion

These case studies are simply enlightening tips of the disruptive iceberg. Innovative strategies are not about obsoleting traditional models. Instead, they’re about deconstructing, questioning, and re-imagining traditional systems to create new pockets of value. From a holistic perspective, our mandate as business leaders should not just be to ride the wave of industry disruption, but to seek, facilitate, and manage these waves of transformation.

Adopting innovative strategies may not be optional anymore, but the exciting reality is the capacity for every organization to become a change-maker, a disrupter, and a leader in its own right. You might just be a game-changing strategy away from rewriting the rules of your industry.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: misterinnovation.com

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Friday Funny – Unexpected Blackberry and Apple Problems

Thanks to Bettina von Stamm for bringing this comedic gem to my attention:

It does a great job of highlighting how technology companies come along and completely change parts of our common language.

For my non-European friends, Orange is a French mobile telecommunications provider (aka France Telecom).

I hope everyone has a funny Friday and a great weekend!


Accelerate your change and transformation success

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Change Communication Strategies

Effective Ways to Engage and Inspire Employees

Change Communication Strategies: Effective Ways to Engage and Inspire Employees

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, change has become the norm. Organizations constantly face the challenge of adapting to keep up with market demands and technological advancements. However, implementing change successfully requires more than just defining strategic objectives; it necessitates effective communication strategies that engage and inspire employees. This article explores two case study examples that highlight the importance of tailored communication approaches in facilitating successful change initiatives.

Case Study 1: Zappos’ Holacracy Implementation

Zappos, the renowned online shoe and clothing retailer, decided to adopt Holacracy, a self-management system that redistributes decision-making authority throughout an organization. Recognizing the potential resistance and confusion among employees during this major structural change, Zappos employed effective change communication strategies to engage and inspire their workforce.

Firstly, Zappos adopted a transparent approach to communication by sharing the rationale behind the change and its potential benefits. Jeff Weiner, CEO of Zappos, held numerous town hall meetings to address employees’ concerns and provide a platform for open dialogue. This facilitated a deeper understanding of the change’s purpose and ensured that employees felt heard and valued.

Secondly, Zappos utilized various mediums to communicate the change. They created informative videos, conducted webinars, and shared success stories from other organizations that had successfully implemented Holacracy. By utilizing a multichannel approach, Zappos ensured that employees received consistent and accessible information, increasing their comprehension and acceptance of the change.

The combination of transparent communication and a multichannel approach resulted in engaged and inspired employees at Zappos. By involving employees in the decision-making process and providing adequate support and information, Zappos successfully navigated the complexities of change and strengthened its workforce’s commitment to the new Holacracy system.

Case Study 2: Microsoft’s Cultural Transformation

Microsoft’s cultural transformation journey under CEO Satya Nadella serves as another compelling example of effective change communication strategies. Nadella aimed to shift the company’s culture from a slow-moving bureaucracy to a more agile, innovative, and growth-oriented organization. To achieve this, he implemented various communication strategies to engage and inspire Microsoft’s diverse workforce.

The first crucial step in Microsoft’s transformation journey was establishing a clear shared purpose. Nadella effectively communicated his vision of empowering every individual and organization to achieve more. By articulating a compelling purpose that resonated with employees’ values, Microsoft created a unifying narrative that inspired employees to embrace the cultural shift.

Next, Microsoft recognized the importance of continuous communication throughout the change process. Nadella participated in numerous internal events, global town halls, and leadership forums, actively engaging with employees and listening to their concerns. By consistently providing updates and seeking input, Microsoft fostered a culture of collaboration, transparency, and trust, crucial elements for successful change management.

Furthermore, Microsoft focused on building a learning culture and invested in employee development programs. They introduced new initiatives such as “OneWeek,” an immersive event where employees could explore the latest technologies and collaborate on innovative projects. This not only upskilled employees but also created a sense of excitement and possibility, reinforcing the cultural transformation.

By combining a compelling shared purpose, continuous communication, and investment in employee development, Microsoft successfully transformed its culture. The engagement and inspiration of its employees played a vital role in aligning the organization with its strategic objectives, fostering innovation, and ultimately driving success.

Conclusion

Change is an inevitable part of organizational growth, and effective communication strategies are essential for engaging and inspiring employees during these transitions. The case studies of Zappos and Microsoft demonstrate the power of tailored approaches to change communication, emphasizing transparency, multichannel communication, shared purpose, continuous updates, employee engagement, and development opportunities. By implementing such strategies, organizations can navigate change successfully, ensuring their employees embrace and thrive in the new reality.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

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Change Leadership: Overcoming Resistance and Managing Stakeholders

Change Leadership: Overcoming Resistance and Managing Stakeholders

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, change is not only inevitable but also a key driver of success and competitiveness. However, successfully implementing change within organizations is often met with resistance and challenges from stakeholders. Change leaders play a crucial role in navigating these obstacles and ensuring a smooth transition. In this article, we will explore two case studies that exemplify effective change leadership, including strategies to overcome resistance and manage stakeholders.

Case Study 1: Microsoft’s Transformation Journey

Microsoft, one of the world’s largest technology companies, embarked on a significant organizational transformation under the leadership of Satya Nadella. The change involved shifting the company culture, adopting a growth mindset, and focusing on cloud-based services. While this transformation was necessary for Microsoft’s long-term success, it faced resistance from internal stakeholders fearful of change.

To overcome resistance, Nadella employed several strategies:

1. Visionary Leadership: Nadella clearly communicated the vision of the transformation, emphasizing the potential benefits and aligning it with Microsoft’s core values. By painting a compelling picture of the future, he inspired stakeholders and created a shared purpose.

2. Empowering Employees: Nadella empowered employees to embrace change by fostering a culture of learning and experimentation. He encouraged risk-taking and provided resources and support to develop new skills. This approach instilled confidence in employees and helped them overcome fear and resistance.

3. Continuous Communication: To manage stakeholders effectively, Nadella prioritized transparent and consistent communication. Regular updates, town hall meetings, and open forums allowed employees to voice concerns or ask questions while understanding the rationale behind the change. This approach built trust, minimizing resistance.

These strategies facilitated Microsoft’s successful transformation, resulting in a renewed market position and increased innovation capabilities.

Case Study 2: Zappos Holacracy Implementation

Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer, aimed to transition from a traditional hierarchical structure to a Holacracy-driven organization. The Holacracy model involves self-management and distributed decision-making authority. However, implementing such a radical change faced resistance not only from employees but also from external stakeholders like investors and customers.

Zappos utilized the following tactics to manage stakeholders and overcome resistance:

1. Transparent Communication: CEO Tony Hsieh communicated the motivations and goals behind the Holacracy implementation clearly. He engaged employees in ongoing conversations about the change, ensuring they understood the long-term benefits of self-management and decision-making authority.

2. Piloting Approach: Zappos implemented the Holacracy in pilot teams, allowing employees to experience the system and provide feedback. This approach enabled leadership to address concerns and iterate on the implementation strategy based on real-world experiences.

3. Customized Training and Support: Zappos invested in comprehensive training and development programs to equip employees with the necessary skills to thrive in the new decentralized structure. They also provided ongoing support and coaching to help employees navigate the change successfully.

Despite challenges, Zappos achieved a remarkable transformation by aligning stakeholders and empowering employees. The Holacracy implementation led to increased autonomy, creativity, and employee engagement, fostering a culture of innovation.

Conclusion

Change leadership is about more than merely implementing new processes or structures. It involves effectively managing stakeholders and overcoming resistance to ensure the change’s successful adoption. Microsoft and Zappos provide valuable insights into how change leaders can navigate these challenges by fostering a shared vision, empowering employees, and maintaining open lines of communication. By applying these strategies, organizations can drive transformation and position themselves for long-term success in an ever-evolving business environment.

SPECIAL BONUS: Braden Kelley’s Problem Finding Canvas can be a super useful starting point for doing design thinking or human-centered design.

“The Problem Finding Canvas should help you investigate a handful of areas to explore, choose the one most important to you, extract all of the potential challenges and opportunities and choose one to prioritize.”

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The Role of Open Innovation in Nurturing Creativity

The Role of Open Innovation in Nurturing Creativity

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, fostering creativity and innovation has become a top priority for organizations seeking to stay ahead of the curve. Open innovation, a paradigm that emphasizes collaboration and knowledge sharing beyond the boundaries of a company, has emerged as a powerful tool in nurturing and fueling creativity. This article will explore the role of open innovation in fostering creativity and provide two case study examples highlighting its impact.

Open innovation breaks down the traditional barriers and silos that often hinder creativity within organizations. By opening up the innovation process to external partners, customers, and even the general public, companies are able to tap into a diverse range of perspectives and ideas that can spark creativity. This collaborative approach enables the pooling of resources, expertise, and insights, ultimately driving the development of novel and groundbreaking solutions.

Case Study 1 – Lego Ideas

One notable example of open innovation’s role in nurturing creativity is the LEGO Group. Facing tough market competition and declining sales during the early 2000s, LEGO embraced open innovation to revitalize its brand and reignite creativity. The LEGO Ideas platform was launched, allowing fans and enthusiasts to submit their own designs for potential LEGO sets. Users could vote for their favorite designs, and the ones receiving enough support would be considered for production. This open approach not only engaged customers more deeply but also provided a constant stream of new ideas for LEGO to leverage. The result was a resurgence in creativity, with sets like the LEGO Ideas Exo Suit and LEGO Ideas Saturn V becoming highly popular. This open innovation not only reinvigorated the brand but also significantly expanded the creative possibilities in the LEGO universe.

Case Study 2 – Microsoft Garage

Another compelling case study highlighting the impact of open innovation on creativity is the software giant Microsoft. In a bid to encourage innovation through open collaboration, Microsoft launched the Microsoft Garage initiative in 2009. The Garage encourages employees from different departments to collaborate on side projects and experiment with innovative ideas. Through this open innovation platform, employees are provided with time, resources, and a supportive environment to explore new concepts and technologies. One notable success story from Microsoft Garage is the development of the Microsoft HoloLens, a groundbreaking augmented reality device. Initially a side project of a few employees, the HoloLens gained significant traction within the company and ultimately became a flagship product, revolutionizing industries like healthcare, gaming, and architecture. The open innovation culture fostered by Microsoft Garage nurtures creativity within the company, leading to groundbreaking products that have a profound impact on the industry.

Conclusion

Open innovation’s role in nurturing creativity goes beyond specific case studies. By embracing collaboration, knowledge sharing, and external input, organizations can create an environment where new ideas thrive. Through platforms like crowdsourcing, innovation challenges, and co-creation initiatives, companies can tap into the collective wisdom and creativity of a diverse range of stakeholders. Such open approaches to innovation foster a culture of creativity and enable organizations to continuously adapt, evolve, and stay ahead of the competition in a rapidly changing world.

Open innovation plays a pivotal role in nurturing creativity within organizations. Through collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the inclusion of external stakeholders, companies can tap into a wealth of diverse perspectives and ideas. The case studies of LEGO and Microsoft demonstrate the transformative power of open innovation in driving creativity and innovation. By embracing an open approach, companies can unlock the full creative potential of their employees and stakeholders, leading to the development of innovative solutions that shape industries and define the future.

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