First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Geoffrey Moore on Big Data and RFID: An interview by Bob Morris

0c560a3Geoffrey Moore is an author, speaker, and advisor who splits his consulting time between start-up companies in the Mohr Davidow portfolio and established high-tech enterprises, including Salesforce, Microsoft, Intel, Box, Aruba, Cognizant, and Rackspace most recently. His life’s work has focused on the market dynamics surrounding disruptive innovations. His first book, Crossing the Chasm, 3rd Edition: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers, focuses on the challenges start-up companies face transitioning from early adopting to mainstream customers. It has sold more than a million copies, and its third edition has been revised. A majority of its examples and case studies reference companies come to prominence from the past decade. Moore’s most recent work, Escape Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past, addresses the challenge large enterprises face when they seek to add a new line of business to their established portfolio. It has been the basis of much of his recent consulting. Geoff has a BA in American literature from Stanford University and a PhD in English literature from the University of Washington.

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Morris: Before discussing big data and RFID, a few general questions. First, as you reflect on all that has – and hasn’t –happened in the global marketplace in 2014, what do you consider to be of greatest significance? Please explain.

Moore: If I had to pick only one, it might be the change in leadership at Microsoft. It has freed the company to explore a variety of different roles and relationships at a time when enterprise CIOs are particularly concerned about how to manage the expansion of the IT footprint into Cloud, Mobile, Social and Big Data Analytics. Microsoft is uniquely positioned to make a big contribution here if it can realign its assets to meet the new set of demands.

Morris: In one of Tom Davenport’s recent books, Judgment Calls, he and co-author Brooke Manville offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment. That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.” What do you think?

Moore: Well, since “great man” eliminates half the human race, I certainly think it does need to be replaced in some fashion. And there is no question that management is becoming a much more collaborative enterprise, especially as we move away from supervised co-located workforces and toward more virtualized organizations and workflows. That said, when big bets are in the works, and the forces are unstable and hard to read, I do believe that a single individual needs to be at the tiller. Ideally, that person listens well, but also ideally, they are confident enough in their principles to make clear calls in a timely manner. I do not think a group can do this.

Morris: Here’s a brief excerpt from Paul Schoemaker’s latest book, Brilliant Mistakes: “The key question companies need to address is not ‘Should we make mistakes?’ but rather Which mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?'” Your response?

Moore: When the outcome is not mission-critical, and the issues are nascent, for sure “fast failure” is part of a winning modality. The mantra I would add here is “Win, or learn.” Organizations that hold all efforts to the same standard are severely hampered in this kind of situation. Once you are driving to produce mission-critical outcomes, however, failure is not an option. Now if the forces are still nascent, you have to provision the effort in such a way that you have multiple back-ups. This drastically reduces the number of disruptive, mission-critical initiatives one can — or at least should — undertake.

Morris: Looking ahead to 2015, what do you think will be the single greatest challenge to CEOs? Why?

Moore: The challenge I am focused on for this decade is, how can an established market leader in a mature category catch the next wave? I don’t know it if is the single greatest challenge, but it is sufficient to keep me busy full-time for sure.

Morris: Any advice?

Moore: I laid out the problem statement in my last book, Escape Velocity. Now I am in the process of writing a shorter, crisper playbook for how to organize, measure, and compensate teams to actually get this done.

Morris: Now please shift your attention to big data. In your opinion, why has interest in it increased so rapidly and extensively in recent years? To what extent have disruptive innovations (e.g. social media technologies) been a major factor? Please explain.

Moore: Google, Facebook, and Amazon have each applied Machine Learning to Big Data to effectively eviscerate entire industries, driving all the established sector leaders back on their heels. Moreover, it seems pretty clear that this is just the beginning, so the wait-and-see option is looking pretty scary.

Morris: What are some of the most common misconceptions about Big Data? What in fact is true?

Moore: It is not really about Big Data. It is about Machine Learning. The big idea is that one can algorithmically detect actionable signals from the digital exhaust that trails every online process anywhere on the globe. Yes, there is a ton of data, but that is not the critical factor. It’s the analytics that transform it into information, and the connectivity needed to get that information into a decision flow in time to make a difference,

Morris: Based on what I’ve learned thus far, the term “big data” seems to be a misnomer. While its size receives all the attention, the most challenging aspect of big data seems — at least to me — to be its lack of structure. What do you think?

Moore: I am with you. The reason lack of structure is so important is that we already have the ability to analyze structured Big Data in a timely fashion. It is the unstructured (or rather, non-tabular) data that really are driving this new set of use cases, specifically the log files that sit behind the social graphs, the internet of things, the behavioral targeting, and the like.

Morris: There’s a lot of talk about Big Data, but when you look at retail stores, inventory accuracy is just 65 percent. Supply chains struggle with inventory accuracy, shipping accuracy, and other problems. What’s the value of big data if a lot of the data is inaccurate?

Moore: Actually, this is a different problem. Big Data is orthogonal to Bad Data. But there is an important point to note here. Bad Data claims to be Good Data. Big Data does not make any claims at all—it is just digital exhaust.

Morris: Here are some observations about issues related to big data and analytics by authors of recently published books. Please respond to each. First, from Gert H. Larsen and Jesper Thurlund’s Business Analytics for Managers: “We will move away from static retrospective reporting results toward factual real-time information and analytical knowledge to drive individuals and business processes.”

Moore: Yes, this is the whole point. My one quibble is that we not move away from the static stuff — it is still quite useful — but rather that we will commit increasingly to the real-time data-informed machine-enabled decision making.

Morris: From Christopher Surdak’s Data Crush: “Clouds will grow beyond infrastructure and will begin to migrate into markets higher up in the corporate value chain. This trend will rapidly lead to Everything as a Service (EaaS) marketplaces, where nearly any business outcome will be purchased by an outside provider.”

Moore: I think this is probably the pendulum swinging too far. But the point about migration is very real. Marketplaces are migrating from physical to digital locations, which does enable disaggregation of workloads, outsourcing to specialists, and the like. R.H. Coase had the right formula for the limiting factor here. It is transaction costs. At some point outsourcing imposes more cost, risk, or latency than doing it yourself—that’s where the new inside/outside boundary reestablishes itself.

Morris: From Victor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier’s Big Data: “What we are able to collect and process will always be just a tiny fraction of the information that exists in the world. It can only be a simulacrum of reality, like the shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave. Because we can never have perfect information, our predictions are inherently fallible.”

Moore: Prediction is not really the goal. Fast adaptation is the goal. Darwinism does not require you to know in advance. It requires you to respond in a flash.

Morris: From Eric Siegel’s Predictive Analytics: “Prediction seems to defy a Law of Nature: You cannot see the future because it isn’t here yet. We find a work-around by building machines that learn from experience. It’s the regimented discipline of using what we do know — in the form of data — to place increasingly odds on what’s coming next. We blend the best of math and technology, systematically tweaking until our scientific hearts are content to derive a system that peers through the previously impenetrable barrier between today and tomorrow.”

Moore: Right idea, but the last sentence overstates the outcome. If Eric were actually correct, a reasonable number of money managers would outperform the stock market indexes. But they do not. Once again analytics do not predict. They enable quick recognition of something that was not anticipated but has in fact occurred.

Morris: From Thomas Davenport’s big data @ work: “The greatest barrier to analysis is that we first have to impose structure on big data; most of those 2.8 zettabytes are not currently in row-and-column formats. We have a huge task ahead of us — to start structuring the data, analyzing it, and getting value from it. Not all of it will be useful — one study [‘Big Data, Bigger Digital Shadows, and Biggest Growth in the Far East,’ conducted by John Gantz and David Reinsel in 2012] estimates about 25 percent has potential value — but whatever the number, we are only scratching the surface of what’s possible.”

Moore: I think even quantifying the amount of data is a mistake. I think you want to start with decisions or bets you want to make, and then work backward from objectives and achievables to information that could improve your odds, and then to mechanisms that might generate that information in a timely manner. You would get to the data eventually, but it is never really about the data. Rather, as I have already suggested, what you do with the data.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.

Geoff cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

His website



Saturday, December 13, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Geoffrey Moore: A third interview, by Bob Morris

Moore, GGeoffrey Moore is Managing Director, Geoffrey Moore Consulting; a venture partner with Mohr Davidow Ventures, Chairman Emeritus, TCG Advisors, The Chasm Institute and The Chasm Group; and a member of the Board of Directors, Akamai Technologies and several pre-IPO Companies. He is also an author, speaker and business advisor to many of the leading companies in the high-tech sector, including Aruba, Box, Cisco, Cognizant, Intel, Microsoft, Rackspace, SAP, and Salesforce. Geoff divides his time between consulting on strategy and transformation challenges with senior executives and speaking internationally on those same topics. His latest release, Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers (Third Edition), brings Moore’s classic work on marketing disruptive innovations up to date with dozens of new examples of successes and failures, new strategies for marketing in the digital world, and Moore’s most current insights and findings.

Geoff has written numerous other books including Escape from Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past (2011), his sixth, for business leaders in the high-tech sector looking to reinvigorate their established franchises with next-generation lines of business. He is also an active public speaker who gives between 30 and 60 speeches per year, addressing a spectrum of topics including high-tech market dynamics, business strategies, innovation, organizational development, and industry futures. His other published works include Inside the Tornado: Marketing Strategies from Silicon Valley’s Cutting Edge (1995), The Gorilla Game: Picking Winners in High Technology (1999), Living on the Fault Line, Revised Edition: Managing for Shareholder Value in Any Economy (2002), and Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution (2008).

Here is an excerpt from my third interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.

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Morris: When and why did you decide to have a third edition of Crossing the Chasm? What new material do you provide in it?

Moore: I was getting feedback from entrepreneurship classes that, while the theory of crossing the chasm was as applicable as ever, the examples in the book were out of date. So this new third edition has all new examples from the past ten years, featuring companies like Salesforce, VMware, Box, Aruba, Rackspace, Lithium, Rocket Fuel, Infusionsoft, and the like.

Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Moore: I think the biggest change in the past decade has been the explosion of consumer computing, completely transforming our culture from end to end, and more recently, the transformation of enterprise computing as it seeks to integrate social, mobile, analytics, and cloud technologies into its legacy architectures. This led me to include a new appendix to the book focused on consumer adoption of technology, something that plays out sufficiently differently from the chasm model to require its own framework, which we called the Four Gears.

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned for the third edition?

Moore: I worked very hard not to change the argument of the book itself, only the examples and references. But the chapter on Distribution and Pricing simply would not admit of that approach, given how dramatically the consumer side of things has changed. Other than that chapter, however, people will encounter the same frameworks as in the original edition because they have held up surprisingly well over the years.

Morris: To what extent do you develop in much greater depth insights shared in the previous editions?

Moore: This was not my intent. Rather, each of my books has sought to build on the frameworks of the prior books, a kind of “backward compatibility” approach that seeks to maintain coherence across a set of models as it builds outwards to address a broader landscape. Thus Inside the Tornado took the Technology Adoption Life Cycle beyond the chasm all the way through to its conclusion. It was followed by The Gorilla Game which applied these ideas to an approach to high-tech investing. That was followed by Living on the Fault Line, which applied ideas from the Gorilla Game to the general idea of managing for shareholder value. Then Dealing with Darwin took on the challenges established franchises have with getting a good return on innovation, and the most recent book, Escape Velocity, extended that work to address how best to onboard and integrate a next-generation line of business into an established franchise. The thread that runs through all these books is the market dynamics that underlie the introduction of disruptive innovations into any community of customers and suppliers.

Morris: To what extent is material in Chasm 3 entirely new? Please explain.

Moore: The appendix on the Four Gears is entirely new. It is about how markets develop when the technology is not disruptive to the consumer but the business model is hugely disruptive to the status quo. It focuses on four stages of adoption, or “gears,” which we call Acquire, Engage, Convert, and Enlist. The idea behind the model is that you need to get all four gears spinning in unison to create a self-reinforcing “network effect,” and that therefore the key imperative at any given point in time is to speed up your slowest gear.

Morris: What are what you characterize as “the erratic results of high tech marketing”?

Moore: When companies spend most of their marketing energy talking about themselves and their products, the results are erratic because, in most cases, nobody cares about either topic anywhere near as much as the company itself does. Effective marketing requires you to work backward from the audience and the audience’s interests and find the nearest point of intersection with your interests and messages. The Technology Adoption Life Cycle is one of a number of frameworks that allows you to segment audience by interest in technology, and that is why it has had such a big impact on high-tech marketing.

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To read the complete interview, please click here.

Geoff cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Geoffrey Moore website link

Geoffrey Moore Amazon page link

Geoffrey Moore blog link

Geoffrey Moore Twitter link

Please click here to read my first interview of him.

Please click here to read my second interview of him.

Friday, March 14, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Secret to Innovation: Think Like a Kid

SecretHere is a brief article by Tim Brown for LinkedIn in which he shares his thoughts about how naturally creative children are and how important it us for all of us to help children sustain their creative confidence. His comments remind me of an observation by Pablo Picasso that he had spent most of his adult life (he lived until age 92) struggling to see the world again as a child. To check out all of Tim’s articles, please click here.

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“I’m not a creative person.” I hear that all the time from clients when they first start working with IDEO. It’s an offhand comment, meant as an excuse for not being able to come up with innovative ideas on their own, but behind it lies a fear of failure -— of being judged by others. While it’s tempting to blame oppressive corporate culture for this crisis of creative confidence, its roots can often be traced to the classroom.

If you’ve ever watched young children play, you know what uninhibited creativity looks like. Toddlers will belt out off-key tunes at the top of their lungs, dance with abandon down the aisles of a supermarket, or color on walls and floors, never questioning their ability. But somewhere along the way—maybe because of a remark by a parent, teacher, or peer, or maybe because of their own insecurities—many kids lose confidence in their creative instincts, especially during their high school and college years.

Inspired by Tom and David Kelley’s new book, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, our friends at the open-innovation hub OpenIDEO have launched a global design challenge to help reverse this troubling childhood trend. In the past, the OpenIDEO community has rallied to address such issues as healthy aging, human rights, and urban revitalization, creating breakthrough services, campaigns, and social enterprises in the process. Their current challenge is about generating inspiring ideas to help teenagers and young adults around the world nurture their creativity. The question they’re asking anyone interested in participating is:

How might we inspire young people to cultivate their creative confidence?

The world is full of complex, thorny challenges that require innovative solutions. It’s critical that young people start flexing their creative muscles today so they can take the lead in addressing those challenges in the future.

If you haven’t yet contributed ideas to the challenge, I encourage you to do so before November 20, when the initial Ideas Phase ends. Afraid your ideas won’t measure up? Take the Kelley brothers’ advice: “The best way to gain confidence in your creative ability is through action, taken one step at a time.”

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Brown, TimTim Brown is the CEO and president of IDEO. Ranked independently among the ten most innovative companies in the world, IDEO is the global consultancy that contributed to such standard-setting innovations as the first mouse for Apple and the Palm V. Today IDEO applies its human-centered approach to drive innovation and growth for the world’s leading businesses, as well as for government, education, health care, and social sectors. Tim advises senior executives and boards of Fortune 100 companies and has led strategic client relationships with such corporations as Microsoft, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Steelcase. He is the author of Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, published by HarperBusiness (2009).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Digital Footprints: The Journey from Business Intelligence to Analytics

MooreHere is a brief article by Geoffrey Moore for LinkedIn. To read entertaining as well as informative articles by other thought leaders, please click here.

Photo: alengo / Getty Images

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Big Data and Analytics are still a hot ticket, both in the venture community and in the IT budgets of selected verticals—including any of the e-commerce enterprises competing directly with Amazon, any of the online transaction companies voluntarily exposing their sites to increasingly clever purveyors of fraud, or the media properties seeking to move beyond print and broadcast to get a real foothold on the Web. What underlies all these pockets of deep investment? The search for clues among our digital footprints. It’s a whole new era for enterprise IT.

Traditional enterprise IT vendors with strong Business Intelligence practices have sought to position themselves as the natural bridge to this new era. But there is a lot of water to cross over here. Traditional BI sits on top of a data warehouse that aggregates a history of structured data from an enterprise’s own transaction systems. Big data analytics sits on top of a Hadoop data engine that aggregates log files from a partially overlapping set of transaction engines and seeks to extract inferences from them that can be acted upon in real time. Even more basically, BI is for people and is about the past, present, and future state of things, of nouns. Analytics is for machine learning and is about drawing inferences from the traces left by actions, by verbs. They really are as different as chalk and cheese.

The amazing thing about log files is that they really do let you see what people are doing. This is incredibly revealing if for no other reason than we have yet to develop masking behaviors on line to disguise what we are up to. Did you go to the site? Did you stay? Where did you linger? Did your mouse pause above a button? Did you leave quickly without participating? Did you buy anything? If so, what? And who else bought that? What other sites do we know they visited? What other ones did you visit? Who is in your cohort? Who has the most influence in your cohort? How many cohorts are you in?

Whether it is Omniture tracking the traffic on your web site or LinkedIn or Facebook drawing your social graph, there is much to learn about you just from the records in their logs of your comings and goings. A lot of people want to make this a privacy issue—which it certainly can become—but that is a red herring. Privacy can be protected, albeit through sacrifices on many sides. Perhaps more to the point, neither you nor I are really all that interesting, so our privacy, important though it may be to us personally, is not actually what this is all about. Instead it is about behavioral targeting, fraud prevention, business process reengineering, marketing optimization, health diagnostics, and the like. And at its best, as I said, it is amazing stuff.

So do not be fooled. This is not people drawing inferences from reports and charts. This is computational engines grinding through billions of data points in real time to extract probabilistic inferences that can move the yield on programmatic initiatives by a few percentage points. It is hardly personalization yet. But it does have big economic impact, enough to catapult the leaders in this field to the top of the stack, and leave the uninitiated grasping at straws.

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

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Geoffrey Moore is an author, speaker, and business advisor to many of the leading companies in the high-tech sector, including Cisco, Cognizant, Compuware, HP, Microsoft, SAP, and Yahoo! He divides his time between consulting on strategy and transformation challenges with senior executives and speaking internationally on those same topics. His latest book Escape Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past, keeps this intent in mind and is the result of his years of experience working with large enterprises. He cordially invites you to check out the resources at his website by clicking here.

Link to my first interview of him

Link to my second interview of him

Thursday, November 21, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Take the Metaskills Quiz 2.0 and discover your talent


I am deeply grateful to Marty Neumeier for sharing the Metaskills Quiz 2.0, developed by the Liquid Brand Agency with which Marty is associated as its Director of Transformation. Here is Marty’s introduction, followed by a link.

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We have just released the Metaskills Quiz 2.0 and I am inviting our friends to see which of their talents are most developed: Are you intuitive, or studious? Empathetic, or logical? Imaginative, or driven by process? The quiz takes only a few minutes and it will immediately generate a “talent handprint” which I’d like you to share with us. By doing this you will contribute to a study we’re conducting to better understand links between metaskills and success. Also, the first 25 people to share their talent handprint on Facebook will receive a signed copy of my new book Metaskills. So, what are you waiting for? The link is below. Have fun!

Please click here.

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Marty Neumeier is a designer, writer, and business adviser whose mission is to bring the principles and processes of creativity to industry. His latest book, METASKILLS, explores the five essential talents that will drive innovation in the 21st century. His previous series of “whiteboard” books includes THE DESIGNFUL COMPANY, about the role of design in corporate innovation; ZAG, named one of the “top hundred business books of all time” for its insights into radical differentiation; and THE BRAND GAP, considered by many the foundational text for modern brand-building. He has worked closely with innovators at Apple, Netscape, Sun Microsystems, HP, Adobe, Google, and Microsoft to advance their brands and cultures. Today he serves as Director of Transformation for Liquid Agency, and travels extensively as a workshop leader and speaker on the topics of innovation, brand, and design. Between trips, he and his wife spend their time in California and southwest France.

Friday, October 25, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tim Brown asks, “What’s Stopping You from Being Creative?”

Brett Myers (center) and his team at State Farm Next Door; A chalkboard calendar of events at Next Door's bustling Chicago café and co-working space

Brett Myers (center) and his team at State Farm Next Door; A chalkboard calendar of events at Next Door’s bustling Chicago café and co-working space

Here’s a brief article by Tim Brown for LinkedIn Today. To check out a wealth of other superb articles, please click here.

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“In our experience, everyone is the creative type.”

So true. The quote comes from Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, the new book by my good friends and colleagues, Tom and David Kelley. The book comes out on October 15, and I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the manuscript. It’s an engaging collection of personal and professional stories about people who have overcome their fear of failure and rediscovered their creativity.

Reading the Kelley brothers’ inspiring anecdotes reminded me of a conversation I had recently with Brett Myers, the jovial Program Director of Next Door, State Farm’s design-savvy café and co-working space that offers financial coaching and classes free of charge. Friendly and approachable, Brett exudes creative confidence, but that wasn’t always the case.

“I grew up in a small town in southern Illinois. I was the second of nine kids and was super-quiet and shy,” Brett told me. “I would say I had ideas as a child, but I wouldn’t have described myself as capital ‘C’ creative.”

This is a common belief. “Many people equate being ‘creative’ with ‘artistic.’ It’s a myth,” Tom and David Kelley write. “Creativity is not a fixed trait, like having brown eyes.”

Brett was good with numbers and wanted to run a business, so he went to school for accounting and eventually landed at State Farm. He was working as a research analyst there in 2010 when he was put on the Next Door project.

The hands-on experience of prototyping the new retail space, service, and brand, getting feedback from consumers, and then quickly iterating left a lasting impression on Brett. He started thinking like a designer.

“The whole idea of aiming for progress, not perfection, was incredibly liberating,” Brett said. “I learned you didn’t need to solve everything before trying stuff out. Sure, there were failures along the way, but we learned from our mistakes and our ideas got better because of it.” The Kelleys would describe this as having “permission to fail” and cultivating a “do-something mindset.”

Three-and-a-half years later, Brett continues to apply this approach to his work. He tells his 15 Next Door employees, “not every idea is going to be great, that’s why you have to have a lot of them.” Tom and David call this the “surprising mathematics of innovation.”

When I asked Brett what his biggest “a-ha” moment was while working on the Next Door prototype, he said: “I used to think creative was a type of person. Now I know creativity is a way of being.” The Kelley brothers couldn’t have said it better.

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Tim Brown is the CEO and president of IDEO. Ranked independently among the ten most innovative companies in the world, IDEO is the global consultancy that contributed to such standard-setting innovations as the first mouse for Apple and the Palm V. Today IDEO applies its human-centered approach to drive innovation and growth for the world’s leading businesses, as well as for government, education, health care, and social sectors. Tim advises senior executives and boards of Fortune 100 companies and has led strategic client relationships with such corporations as Microsoft, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Steelcase. He is the author of Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, published by HarperBusiness (2009).

To read Tim’s other articles, please click here.

Friday, September 27, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rajat Taneja on “What I Learned from Steve Ballmer”

BalmerHere is an excerpt from an article by Rajat Taneja for LinkedIn. To read the complete article and check out others, please click here.

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Steve Ballmer recently announced his retirement setting off a firestorm of analysis of his career at Microsoft. I don’t want to get into the pluses and minuses of someone’s career — that’s for history to decide — but we should acknowledge a very simple fact: Very few people have contributed as much to society as Steve Ballmer.

Along with Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer democratized computing for the world. The two of them had a vision to put a computer on every desk and in every home, and in 20 years flat they achieved a level of unprecedented scale in that mission. No one can really debate the impact of MSDOS and Windows in bringing affordable computing to the mass market. Think about that. It’s really an astounding achievement that wholly changed global society. There are very few people you can say that about. And with today’s news that Microsoft will acquire the handset and services business of Nokia to strengthen their mobile offerings, Steve’s influence will continue to have a lasting impact well after his career at Microsoft is over.

As someone who worked with Steve very closely for a number of years I wanted to share a few things I learned from him, which have helped me tremendously during my own career. Working alongside Steve I learned some of the most valuable lessons of my career, many of which I’ve chronicled here on LinkedIn. But as I reflect on my many interactions with Steve spanning over 15 years, I have been most impacted by 5 lessons.

[Here’s the first.]

Courage and Convictions

The hallmark of the best leaders is to think big and to stay the course despite short-term adversity. Steve was exceptional at thinking big and with a long time horizon. That led to the creation of a brand-new Xbox and Xbox LIVE business which now underpins a revolutionary connected entertainment strategy. That led to the formation of a huge server and enterprise business and now underpins Azure cloud services. That led to the formation of a new communications business which includes Lync and Skype and underpins a whole new way to think about productivity and collaboration. Very few companies have gone from being a successful one-trick pony to being successful multi-trick pony. It requires deep belief and courage to follow the true north with conviction. Steve taught a whole generation of leaders how to handle short term adversity for the right long term innovation.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Rajat Taneja is Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Electronic Arts.

Friday, September 13, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tim Brown on “The Next Big Thing in Design Is….”

The NextHere is a brief article by Tim Brown for LinkedIn in which he explains why design is no longer the province of the lone practitioner; rather, it has become a broad, collaborative process.

Photo courtesy of IDEO Boston

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Just 10 years ago, design was considered to be a professional priesthood. The Designer (capital “D”) would be given an assignment — create a more attractive widget, say — then disappear into a back room to reemerge days later with a prototype. The result: better-looking widgets, not much else.

In my book, Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, I chronicle the end of Design with a capital “D” and the rise of “design thinking,” a more collaborative, human-centered approach that can be used to solve a broader range of challenges. Design thinking harnesses the power of teams to work on a wide range of complex problems in health care, education, global poverty, government — you name it. By taking this more expansive view of design, you’re able to have much greater impact.

Design thinkers are inherently optimistic. They have the creative confidence to initiate the change they want to see in the world. That mindset, empowered by the proliferation of new tools such as 3D printers and crowd-based sites like Kickstarter, Etsy, and even our ownOpenIDEO, has propelled two new developments: the democratization of design and designer founders.

Here in Silicon Valley, it’s becoming more and more common to see designers at the helm of startups. YouTube cofounder Chad Hurley has a design degree; Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia graduated from Rhode Island School of Design and went on to start Airbnb; and Pulse, the newsreader recently acquired by LinkedIn, was the brainchild of Stanford d.schoolstudents Ankit Gupta and Akshay Kothari. It used to be that a game-changing technology was the formula for startup success. That’s no longer enough. To grab the market’s attention, today’s young companies need compelling, user-centered design in addition to great code.

The decade-long evolution from Design to design thinking to democratized design to designer-founders has been lightening-fast in Darwinian terms. And I’m sure we’ll see several more iterations 10 years hence, because if there’s one constant in design, it’s that it’s always keen for a redesign.

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To check out Tim’s other posts, please click here.

Tim Brown is the CEO and president of IDEO. Ranked independently among the ten most innovative companies in the world, IDEO is the global consultancy that contributed to such standard-setting innovations as the first mouse for Apple and the Palm V. Today IDEO applies its human-centered approach to drive innovation and growth for the world’s leading businesses, as well as for government, education, health care, and social sectors. Tim advises senior executives and boards ofFortune 100 companies and has led strategic client relationships with such corporations as Microsoft, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Steelcase. He is the author of aforementioned Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, published by HarperBusiness (2009).

To read Tim’s other articles, please click here.

Thursday, September 5, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet David Robertson – Author of Brick by Brick – September FFBS Selection


That’s the book I present on Friday, September 6 at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  You can register here.







I found this biography on his website.  I thought you might find it interesting.

David Robertson is a Professor of Practice at the Wharton School where he teaches Innovation and Product Development in Wharton’s undergraduate, MBA, and executive education programs. From 2002 through 2010, Robertson was the LEGO Professor of Innovation and Technology Management at Switzerland’s Institute for Management Development (IMD), which received the #1 worldwide ranking by the Financial Times for its executive education programs. At IMD he was Program Director for IMD’s largest program, the Program for Executive Development, and co-Director of the Making Business Sense of IT program, a joint program between IMD and MIT Sloan.

“Robertson is the author of Brick by Brick: How LEGO Reinvented its Innovation System and Conquered the Toy Industry, and co-author of Enterprise Architecture as Strategy. He has published in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, and many other journals. Robertson has consulted and led educational programs for a wide range of companies, including EMC, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Georg Fischer, Braskem, Banco Santander, Skanska, Swisscom, Russell Investments, Novozymes, GMAC, Grundfos, BT, Microsoft, Heineken, Philip Morris, Globe Telecom, Tieto Enator, and AXA.

“Prior to IMD, Robertson was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, a consultant at McKinsey & Company for 5 years, and an executive at four enterprise software companies. David received his MBA and PhD from MIT and BS from the University of Illinois.  David, his wife, and two children live in Chestnut Hill, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”

Taken from:

Monday, September 2, 2013 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kevin Allen: Second interview, by Bob Morris

Allen, KevinKevin Allen is Founder & Chairman of business transformation company, [re:kap], that counts Burberry, M&C Saatchi, Nokia, Omnicom, Rolls-Royce, Smythson and Swedbank among its global clients. He spent over two decades on the front lines of business development at the top of advertising giants McCann-WorldGroup, the Interpublic Group and Lowe Worldwide and is recognized as one of the advertising industry’s most accomplished growth professionals. He worked with such brands as MasterCard—developing the globally famous “Priceless” campaign—Microsoft, Marriott, Smith Barney, Nestle, L’Oreal, Lufthansa and Johnson and Johnson, and was an early part of Rudy Giuliani’s team that prepared the way for the successful Mayoral election and turnaround strategies for the City of New York.

Kevin is a highly skilled growth professional and is uniquely positioned to teach companies and individuals how to win. His published works include The Hidden Agenda: A Proven Way to Win Business and Create a Following and, more recently, The Case of the Missing Cutlery: A leadership course for the rising star. (Bibliomotion, April 2013).

Here is an excerpt from my second interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write The Case of the Missing Cutlery?

Allen: As a sensitive and highly intuitive person in the command-and-control corporate world, I always felt miscast. But what I’ve come to realize is that emotional intelligence, which I define as buoyancy, was the only way I knew how to lead, and is, in my option, the only way to inspire real change.

For so long, companies were run using a command-and-control, ‘top down’ hierarchical method that involved dictating down the command chain and maintaining order. What I’ve witnessed in our time is evolving democratization, a shift to a demand economy accelerated by technological advancements like social media.

The timing is right to offer a fresh perspective on management, particularly to a new generation of individuals rising to senior positions, who understand the nature of this new economy but weren’t provided with the leadership principles necessary to mobilize an organization from the bottom-up.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Allen: I think my revelation has more to do with the reaction to the book. We’ve received a whole array of “Thank you for this,” and “We feel empowered by this,” and “Finally, we don’t have to be someone we’re not in order to lead.”

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?

Allen: There was a significant difference between how the book was structured and what I had originally envisioned. I ended up dividing it into two parts. The entire book was to be a course in buoyancy, but I realized that “The Case of the Missing Cutlery” was such a compelling case history. So I decided to present the case, and then the lesson. I think what’s important it that it’s not a fancy-schmancy business school case study, but something that the audience can relate to, maybe from earlier on in their career.

Morris: What are the defining characteristics of a Buoyant Leader?

Allen: Buoyancy is a phenomenon whereby, as a leader, you float because the people you inspired believe that you should, because you’ve truly connected with the collective desires and values of the people you lead. Empathy is the key here, as is authenticity. When your people have determined that you understand their lies in their hearts and are dedicated to their functional wellbeing, they will compensate for your weaknesses and shore up your strengths.

Leadership is not about sitting and presiding, it’s about a going somewhere. To be buoyant, you must not only ignite passion around a common quest, you must also mobilize your team to take a journey with you toward a common destination, or what I call a “real ambition.”

Morris: What are the defining characteristics of a workplace environment within which buoyant leadership is most likely to thrive?

Allen: An important concept in this regard is, “cultural permission”, which is the tone that is set inside an organization that shapes the very behavior of the employees in an organization. Fact is, we don’t think about it very often, but the phrases and language used everyday in an organization can in fact affect the way your team makes decisions and conducts themselves.

Think back to the days of Enron, where phrases like “Rank and Yank” and “Money is what matters” were coming out of the executive suite. These phrases were embedded into the workplace culture and being interpreted as permission to do some pretty terrible things.

But what can be seeds of destruction can also be seeds of greatness. For example, phrases like “It can be done, and it will be done,” which I heard from Rudy Giuliani while serving on the team that helped turn around New York City, influenced people to perform incredible feats, all within a culture of doing good.

Morris: By what process did you formulate the ACTION Model?

Allen: By panicking and screwing up early in my career!

Morris: What most significantly differentiates it from other leadership development models?

Allen: The purpose of the ACTION Model is to give you a series of steps you can use in a crisis, so you don’t panic and run off in a million directions. The secret is to be prepared, to draw on the strengths of the people around you, and most importantly, to instill confidence that your team will step up and find a solution.

Morris: For those who have not as yet read the book, The Case of the Missing Cutlery, please explain what valuable business lessons can be learned from what you identify as a “true tale.”

Allen: The Case of the Missing Cutlery comes from my early days as an assistant manager of a Marriott International airline catering facility at JFK airport in New York City. This was not the peanut packet-per-passenger service they have today- in those days every passenger were served some sort of hot meal with gleaming cutlery. One day we had a surprise visit from a VIP at our largest client, who demanded that we investigate why they were losing cutlery by the thousands. I volunteered to look into it and discovered that the cutlery was coming out of the machine still stained, and because the workers were so fearful of returning dirty forks and knives, they felt they had no choice but to throw it away. Instead of yelling at them, or worse, firing them, I decided that we would solve the problem together, and we did.

What I learned was that once you reach people on an authentic emotional level, they will reward your faith in them with their belief in you, and they will mobilize to get the job done. I learned that in every situation you will find who I call catalysts and resistors, and you must energize your catalysts, and neutralize — or better yet, convert — your resistors. And most of all, I learned that once you demonstrate to your team that you put them on the same plane of priority as yourself, you will create an environment, and a culture that will make your entire organization flourish.

* * *

To read the complete second interview of Kevin, please click here.

To read my first interview of him, please click here.

Kevin invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

[re:kap] link

Kevin’s Amazon page

bibliomotion link

YouTube (“Big Speak”) video link

Kevin’s LinkedIn link

AdWeek video link

Monday, September 2, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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