Avoid Middleman Status

Are you a middleman? I ask, simply because I’m regularly looking over my shoulder at middleman status myself. If you’re not being pushed into middleman status by technology, then it could be your customers and suppliers who put you there. Paranoia reigns. Sorry. This is not a new state of being. Walmart began its attack on independent distributors (middlemen with warehouses) ages ago wiping most of them out. They are so efficiently tied into their supply chain now that orders sometimes bypass headquarters and go straight to factories. (Headquarters as middlemen, who’d of thunk it?) In the print industry process middleman felt the pinch. First typesetters went, followed by color separators. As newspapers are fast finding out, the entire printing process is being pushed to the side. Moving news to eyeballs quickly means that in some places even editors are seen as middlemen now. Middlemen. They start as facilitators but … Continue reading

Being and Entrepreneurship

“Organizations tend to evolve in ways that are inherently resistant to entrepreneurship. Yet Entrepreneurship is instrumental for ensuring the long-term sustainability of any enterprise.” (Properties of balance: A pendulum effect in corporate entrepreneurship, Michael H. Morris, Jurie van Vuuren, Jeffrey R. Cornwall, Retha Scheepers) Whether you call it corporate entrepreneurship or individual creativity, it is difficult to drive behavior that challenges the status quo, questions existing procedures, or increases personal risk. “More fundamentally, fostering corporate entrepreneurship becomes problematic if company executives do not know what they are trying to achieve.” (Morris, et al) Finding balance in large organizations is difficult at best. The larger the group the further removed any single individual is from the source of cash flow, from the feel of customers, from the pulse of technological change. (You know, the smell of the sawdust, the feel of the earth type stuff.) The meaningfulness of any individual change … Continue reading

Non-Competes, Health Insurance and Other Ugly Limits To Innovation

Limits and creativity run in the same circles. Desire to dig under, work around, leap over and push through is strong motivation to think anew. However, there are limits, that — hmm, — limit. Did you know that a major difference between moribund Detroit and high flyin’ Silicon Valley is the difference in how non-compete agreements are enforced? (Michigan enforces them, California limits them.) In the recent Carnegie Mellon University publication: “Renewing Globalization and Economic Growth in a Post-Crises World – The Future of the G-20 Agenda” Serguey Braguinsky and Steven Klepper write about various ways worker mobility can limit innovation on a regional scale. In addition to visa restrictions, social pressure and lifetime employment guarantees, they use the non-compete as a primary example of the damaging effects of limiting mobility in the United States. I’ve been on both sides of non-compete covenants. I’ve never particularly liked them, but never … Continue reading

The 3 P’s of Innovation

If marketers have one failing (just one you ask?) it is our love of lists. Marketing’s 4 P’s (price, product, place, promotion) morphed into longer lists of p-words that seemed to work on the principle of ‘My list is longer than your list.’ (add power, people, performance, presence, pr,…) Long lists successfully masked the larger universality of the original 4 P’s adding to the departmentalization of marketing. So to try and reclaim lost ground we get holistic marketing from Kotler/Keller (no list slouch themselves) and the 3 V’s. Marketing involves satisfying consumers’ known (and subconscious unknown) needs. The 3 V’s is a value creation and delivery sequence to get marketers back to thinking about the whole package. As put forward by Lanning/Michaels at McKinsey & Co. the 3 V’s include ‘Choose the Value’, ‘Provide the Value’, and ‘Communicate the Value.’ I like holistic reminders of what a job entails, but … Continue reading