I just clicked ‘checkout’ for a few pounds of Dean’s Beans. Haven’t tried them before, but wanted to after hearing Dean Cycon, CEO of Dean’s Beans and author of Javatrekker: Dispatches From the World of Fair Trade Coffee, speak tonight at Indiana University. “I don’t believe social justice is a formula, I believe it is a process.” Passionate and positive, he shared his ideas on how socially responsible business practice and respect for quality of life can help change the world. Sustainable business is all the rage, but efforts at many companies seem to get holed up in the marketing department or as purely charitable exercises. I asked Dean if he thought large organizations could change over to the sustainable thinking his company emulates: “For a pre-existing large scale organization it’s hard because people are already in there looking for profit. […] However, when a corporation starts out and says these are … Continue reading
Newsweek’s declaration that the recession is over and long lines at auto dealers seems to have upped feelings of angst in many circles. Reactions from ‘yeah sure’ to ‘How did I miss it’ to ‘yipee,’ indicate that maybe not everyone is on the same page. Which really shouldn’t be a surprise given folks disagree on the state of the economy when times are good or bad. So what do you do when you don’t know, can’t know? I wanted to pull together a few pieces of conversation both directly and indirectly related to the Uncertainty Paradox that struck a chord for me over the past week or so. A big issue when you’re stuck in a period of extreme uncertainty is how to take the next step forward. Kay Plantes in dealing with business model innovation brought up Tide’s experiment with Tide Basic, a product introduction with a reduced feature … Continue reading
Want to kill a good innovative idea? Analyze it in some obviously logical yet inappropriate way. It would be murder but you are unlikely to get caught. When thinking about this I always remember an old accounting example where we try to help the owner of a diner decide if it would be a good idea to add a rack of snacks to his cash wrap. By working with $/foot and other wonderfully useful tools we prove that it would be an unprofitable innovation. Of course that ignores the fact that the snacks were add-on sales – wrong analysis, lost opportunity. Umar Hamique presents a great list of ways to inappropriately analyze innovative ideas. Traps you can easily fall into because the methods are logical, but the results are disastrous due to strategic and other circumstances that require a more open. Great quote of the piece: “The fundamental error is simple, managing is more than counting…” … Continue reading
Rules of thumb often have unintended consequences. Several large organizations I’ve worked for instituted a $20 million in revenue hurdle. (The $ figure was sometimes higher, sometimes lower — but always a significant percentage of existing revenue.) The thought process is pretty straight forward: Why bother with an idea if it can’t make a meaningful contribution to overall revenue. In one fell swoop upper management gets to weed out ‘insignificant’ ideas and focus their attention on ‘ideas that matter’ and their golf game. Problem is – It is very difficult to get a consensus on the revenue potential of a game changer. Net Result? – The revenue hurdle takes on a life of its own. It becomes shorthand at every level of the organization. Ideas that masquerade as innovation (but are actually just obvious, competitively predictable business moves) float to the top.
Can you answer yes to any of the following questions? 1. Does your company tends to write a plan every year but mostly it is put in a binder to gather dust? Maybe you don’t even do planning because “what’s the point?” 2. Do you spend too much of your time fighting fires, eliminating emergencies and chasing “what if’s”? 3. Can you quickly explain your current business strategy and how it fits with your company’s vision? Your 3-yr strategy? Your marketplace position? 4. Can you show your current program performance measures and make the appropriate mid-stream corrections? 5. Do you have to go through more than one layer of management to get a decision made about any program – even one that has already been given a green light? 6. How many times each year do you have to justify your budget? More than during the annual budgeting process? Do … Continue reading