Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

Michael Porter has obviously white hairs. But not because of his age, even if it’s been years since his “Porter’s forces theory”, but probably because of #Uber. His former theories with his famous “forces” theory matrix haunted lots of universities, students, consultants and companies, made a classic model to explain, draw and shape the main forces and links through modern strategy. I think every people, far from close, one day has been in trouble with this matrix, trying to adapt it to his personal business case. I mean in trouble, while searching clues and tips for his own industry, sector or product. This was a wise approach to put the things right, since the beginning. I never understood that since then, there was a scarcity of ambitious models that could tumble down the historic fundations built by M. Porter. Even since the run of digital revolution, in the mass effects, it seems the old rules could play again their guiding role in strategic planning. Even on Clayton Christensen’s disruptive innovation concept, Porter’s forces could function to describe a whole environment, a whole playground where different actors could grow or die, but still go on their economic destiny. Then there was Uber…


“Über alles”

We can at this point consider Uber as a perfect example of “disruptive” phenomena (I prefer not to use the term of innovation, as for me, the real innovation is in the “UX”). They re-invented an existing service, better (some say “far more”), at lower prices (and then at lower cost, forcing the whole chain through lower margins). We’re fed up with the “middle”: middle-class, middle management, middle-price, middle quality…middle of the value chain and intermediaries. High class or low cost seem to resume the economics. “Stuck in the middle” is so far the worst strategic planning situation for many reasons. The increasing and forced run for innovation creates and destroys, each day and the speed of cycles gears up. Time is up and now to “re-arrange” and update the old models to include disruptive brutal behaviours. While there’s still much competition, all we can say is that the customer centric era has begun and let himself as a king of the game. I tried here to start a reflexion of where and why, Porter’s forces may change on the impact of collaborative society.

The uber-matrix (from Porter’s forces)


How’s competition so far? Fair, intense, rough or beginners’ field? As it’s the starting point of any strategic analysis, we may spend a while on this.

“The Competition, the customer and the supplier”

There’s no big innovation, I mean on the technology plan, in transforming the supply of transportation, like Uber did. They simply used the new principles of digital: always-on, connected things and people, lowering waste and waiting lines and optimizing the transportation offer. Less lose time, empty cars and…angry consumers. The big picture is in optimization, optimizing time and resources. And that means, a lot of money indeed! The next steps will simply optimize again: using transportation time and devices to transport anything: meats, packages, mail, services and so on. Optimizing again. The application will cover many versions, until you’re so much profiled, that they will be able to monetize your datas.
On the market plan, a very balanced market, with no dominant actor: drivers need consumers who need drivers and everybody needs Uber to get in contact and stay in touch. The very big star is the “platform”. We just entered in a world of platforms, which capture essential of the value chain and kill many intermediate actors. Here we go, like the web goes…Progress destroys at a speed that even Schumpeter could not imagine. We call it “uberization” of economy, a kind of “new born” of relations, interactions and business models. Anyone can be catched with no tomorrow. Anyone can  get stuck in a dead end. Something thrilling or fearing, depends on your risk attention.

“Where playground gets a new shape”

Uber now seeds a new way of doing business, and draws many actors with him. Under the influence of digitalization, customer experience grows up frankly to a new standard that calls for excellence. Nothing will ever be like before. The extreme focus on operation, delivery and accuracy calls for a new standard for customers. Where there seems to be no entry barriers, the ability to build a copycat is a longtime run. Not in technical aspects but in the delivering experience. Even the substitutes field must be a tough job to get the same level of result. The “platformization” of economy used to be the way of doing business, throwing away all useless midlevel actors. And even if it’s the sense of history with progress bulk modifications, legal watchover is live like never before: strikes, hard negociations, realtime bad influence on PR…While we lived many revolutions, the one that goes is far violent, quick and uncompromising. Any sector is concerned, soon or later and you’d better think of it and organize the answer, or other new comers or opportunist actors may do it without you.

Schrödinger’s cat dilemma: yes it’s technology, no it’s not”

The easy-to-use plenty offer of digital tools gets bigger every day so there’s some foolish feed of the whole ecosystem with techs. But technology wise speaking, nothing really complicated: localization, customization, smart UX, realtime traffic management, rating panel…A complete thinking of just “what it needs” to create a blue ocean, out of the box and disrupt the well ordered old world…Until then, it’s been a tipping point: using these new features opened an ocean for many industries to get closer and more efficient with their customers and value proposition.

“Innovation for change”

It changed the business model for a flat well known price, fixed cost with no surprise, flat prices for usual travels or recurrent ones. It changed for a more trusty model, trusty relation between industry and customers. It opened to many other solutions, in parallel markets, services or goods. It created many jobs, pushing the need beyond the natural demand. It played in a “winner takes it all” market, where speed is the key, to eliminate competition. The only limit (and mistake) for uber was no exit barriers, so competition could flurish, one time they understand the main principles and spread the word. The diverse moves to complete their main job, was to create and use transportation capabilities to transport anything else: “eats”, medecine, etc.

It changed the way it usually changes. Brutal and unexpected, many didn’t see the wave, nor the huge potential for many business. Who can say it as well from one’s own business? Who can say “well, I’m not concerned, it’s for others”? One day, soon or later, you’ll meet the beast, the wall of doubt, of uncertainty which may paralyze your brain and your usual skills, trained for mainstream. “Forewarned is forearmed”. Unfortunately, it may be not enough…

“Time for change, time for reboot”

We never knew anything so quick that this new “kind of thinking”, of doing business, and oftenly refer to “digital wave”. Not as a mean, but a way of setting new behaviors, in front of massive and settled competition. No recipe, no warning, like bootlegs invading the old world. Just a necessary reboot, from A to Z, bottom and up. A concrete and real disruption, where incremental innovation dressing doesn’t work anymore.

You can’t say not being warned until now…

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Facing a tricky situation? Having a choice or confronting a delicate solution to ride…? Don’t mess with a “yes/no” issue. Why?

  • the simple “two simple choices” solution is in fact a lazy way: you won’t take the chance to really discover the subject and fade into easiness
  • the yes option means you want to see after, and won’t take time to mesure the real impact of any kind of option
  • the no option makes you a coward, who doesn’t want to take a chance to improve the whole problem
  • there’s no questioning about what you do and what you could do more and better

In fact, only many iterates with a word like “why” will lead you further frontiers. It forces you to innovate in your mindset thinking, your process design and your search for disruptive orbit-shifting innovation.


Can you imagine stay in a consensus, a straight line where everybody fights in a red ocean? Can you figure out how many disruptions started with a complete interrogation: resources, capabilities, know-how, following stratégies…?
Only those who face real gravity and fight against it, can imagine the next designed solutions, according to principles:

  • detect a positive inflexion point in your business and analyze it
  • always imagine solutions for extreme conditions, not business as usual
  • be in the fear, with a threaten for your business
  • try to make exception the rule for usual business
  • recovering pride: to win, to recover podium and first class matters
  • refuse the consensus or medium solutions: stuck in gravity, you’re in comfort zone that blocks your brain
  • stare at adjacency causes of your business to fuel ordinary thoughts
  • study the theorical best instead of “best possible”: push you to borderlines will confront you to unknown and survivance tips
  • transform the input-output equation to a next level

You can  find some of these elements, largelly commented and challenged in the “good to great” book by Collins here. The non questioning on deepest elements drives you to a lazy dead-end answer. And your customers worth more, if you want to keep them by your side, before they leave you.

And you, as a manager or a CEO, will you dare the complete review or will you stay in your comfort zone?

This time, I will answer “I hope no”…

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Companies have goals sometimes we don’t even guess about, because of complex business strategies, fakes or trials, to hide any movement from competition. And sometimes they lose the real direction and how they build their global intent, in lean management, avoiding wastes and loss of times. In any company, at one time of their existence, grows some kind of “culture” that is written in gold by HR or in the basement times. As any individual, we all have cultural roots, more or less deep and recover it and bearing themselves in mind means a lot for history. But even if don’t look back, the simply shaping of “cultural lines” is quite interesting to speak as on voice and have all teams behind a common whole of values. This is called “cultural alignment”.

How to manage in such complex systems? It means managin several parts in the company and use outside inputs, as described in the below drawing:

Navigate through:

  • Talents management: know how to hire relevant talents, nurture them and hope they will grow themselves and grow their business. And hope one day they’ll go elsewhere (!), with everything they learnt to build another masterpiece. Not convinced? Think about Zappos who offers 3.000$ for people who want to leave company while they’re still in training and welcome period…A smart way to learn about limits and “real” motivation…and keep the goal on passion, values and real sense of delivering. The only purpose that counts, in competition…
  • Innovation: “at any step of the growth, keeping in mind to stay innovator”. The only way to have an incredible footprint and grow a tremendous brand. And a windful of passion, leading to compete with hurdles, inside and outside the company. Somekind of super power that overcomes any willingness to succeed and make any employee a super hero. Catch it if you can, and set it up in the ordinary process of all teams. “Ask for the impossible, and make innovation do the rest”. Sometimes, dream is the reality as you believe in it. And the innovation passion is the essence of the next blue chip.
  • Execution and deliverings: “without execution and deliverings, nothing exists”. No promess, no product, no customer, no brand. This is the sad story about all companies which spend their times in R&D, searching, describing and creating thing, products, services they will never handle to shape and deliver. It’s double truly sad, because no one will ever appreciate all efforts and attention…through execution, accuracy for details and delivering to end using. In my opinion, one of the most important part of any process, that shapes the user’s experience and makes it buzz everywhere.
  • Customer insights: if it’s still to prove for you, your customers will leave you, feeling alone with no particular relation but money with you. Figure out they have bright ideas, know probably your market and products more than you, and can give you a smart view of a “strategy”, dealing with a simplicity you dream of.
  • Business strategy: you can call it a game, but believe in something reliable, explainable, sharable and scalable. Doing this, you start in the whole business strategy process, and begin to build and organize departments, flows and process to hold the whole structure of the economic equation. You’ll have to describe, believe and inhold a frame for business, exclusive, bright and envied features. One that can be adored by your shareholders and converge all partners toward your company. And sometimes a smart move can transform a whole ecosystem, with your innovation. “Be the one others will follow and make a business case in the world”.
  • Imagination: “we all miss a lot of imagination, in everything we do”. We don’t miss ideas, motivation of skills, but imagination. The sole part of our brain we rarely train, because of time, laziness or easiness. In fact, look at children or young at work: they’re not perverted yet with failures, fear or politics. They do “essence” and genuine art of business, trying to solve their first puzzle. They answer with truth, heart and logics, just for the game, and not for the money yet.

Getting the best of the whole organization, from align business to innovation with a cultural support for this same innovation. Having all these elements together make a war machine and awesome bottom line result for an enhanced efficiency. Be blue, think out of the box, protect and defend your assets and brand, but also, nurse your culture and make it happen in all the simple key elements of your whole company. Grow it, make it sustainable and keep your startup spirit, push away the limits and have a incredible faith for the impossible. Dare the cutting-edge organization and handle it with team and process. The more cultural and mixed is your approach, the more it will win all your stakeholders: employees, partners, customers and shareholders. But the battle is to do with sensibility, the culture sensibility…

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Research for innovation is something like the graal, for companies. They are always tempted by stay in their comfortable position, or try to get out of the box and create a new field of business. But that’s not supposed to be easy…And makable. For most of them, innovation stay a wild dream, where they hope for a new easy start, while employees have not really ways to make it real. If we could resume for a short and simple idea, the concept of innovation, “Innovation is a change in the thought process for doing something, or the useful application of new inventions or discoveries. It may refer to an incremental emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations”. Something simple, shaping and describing the whole circle of play, for considering a thing, action or process could be considered as an innovation.

As far as we can define it, it seems far more difficult to live an entire story of innovation. Few brands or companies or built-in successfully to achieve such goal. Why? Because Innovation is not something that you can impose to customers. Innovation goes to customers as far it’s been recognized and adopted as such. Innovation meet the needs of a market, a demand, a customer. It has to be devoted to serve a useful value purpose or change with relevance a product, service with significant change to be asked (payed because innovation means business too…) by a whole community. I would underline “whole community”, because innovation is sometimes recognized by early adopters or innovators, but doesn’t cross the chasm and fails to the big hole…

Well it seems so complicated that we understand why it’s so rare and why there is so much “shy” companies to launch anything really “out of the box” that is not only a fake move, test or something aside the “real” business. Innovation is in fact, not a toy, but makes part of the whole company, breathes with it and need a whole change of mindset, but process and operating too.

In this simple picture, see how company is in fact struggled between “forces” (no not Porter’s one…), that bury it into complexity and supply lots of reasons to stay in comfortable positions.

Outside the walls, a certain willingness to move, like a flow that could support innovation and drive motivation…But outside this “river of change”, the hard times with hard competition with tough guys…with the traditional niches with blue oceans, where life is cool and creative…for a while. But seeing inside the walls and considering that this company has motivation and some abilities to innovate, walls keep this whole force inside…Why, how?

1) Process and policies: keeping barriers of justice, legal and rules…Necessary, for sure…but hard to move and make them evolutive and flexible. Managers like them while it’s the best way to say “no”, with no regrets…easy to say no, easier than taking risks and new directions?

2) Fear paralyze anything. And anyone. And there’s no exception that in companies, those ones are built with certainty and are scared with anything that is unknown, troubled or uncertain ; environment of fear or “fear policy” (eg lose his job), doesn’t facilitate the taste for innovation…the only case is to survive, scared by his competitors…

3) unskillness: how could we do if don’t know how? innovation asks for a perfect mindset and behavior, to avoid huge failures. Knowledge to identify real innovation from fake, knowledge to swim among several hurdles: value environment, identify niches, product development, trendsetting…And the ability to answer to question: what premium fee for me if I’m leading the bulk now, with my new product, expensive, full of bug and a whole work of buzz to convince and recruit early adopters? Nerves had to be strong…

4) the “no” school: from any situation, any people will have a defensive reflex saying “no” to unknown. Kind of sport you could fall in love with, a kind of culture for some companies. We can even imagine there’s some hiring programs for “no people” and some training session for those who say “yes” too often…In fact innovation need envy, ambition and positive attitude. Staying beyond the walls, with strong positions only drive to “no”, facing the simple idea of “changing” anything…Chose the “yes” DNA to rise chances of success!

I told you from the start how hard could it be, until a conscious and bright path to innovation could born. Unchain what we know, free ideas, collaborative and social power, people just want to express itself and focus energy on “new”. All you have to do is to lead/drive this awesome energy in doing business and brand building, while you’ll be the king of HR improvement. Yes companies have silent forces they prefer ignore because it’s more comfortable and less dangerous, but standing like this won’t lead to manage talents, skills and innovation mindset. All you’ll generate is a twirl in people turnover…giving the best resources to competitors and losing your innovation workforce.

Time to harvest and educate the best seeds: prolific leaders will get prolific innovation and loyalty mindsets.

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Considering that famous book by G. Moore, that en-lighted the real chasm threat in launching new products or services, and achieve them to the next step for huge mass markets, I’m wondering, how could 2.0 could help, improve, support the chasm tomorrow and changes driven by interactivity. According to need of a launch session for new products and services, while these products or services can be sometimes not really ready to be launched, boosted by urgent, economics, and competitive goals (!), we saw it can exist a chasm that even good ideas don’t cross…Targeting a mass market requires talent, good product, and innovation advance to make the difference. But if innovation is a lifestyle for geeks and early adopters, shifting the trial to a mass success needs. Fortunately, geeks and EA are awesome levers to get empowerment for news things to be hugely used. And where can one find geeks and EA, most of the time? Yes, on social web.


We all have the opportunity to see how social sharing and participation can have changed relation mindsets, providing warming contacts, experts advising, communities rising and breakthrough boundaries and time. See how a novel, buzz or information can be built or denied in few seconds, or participate now to empower politics polls and decisions (mentioned that with last Obama’s victory with bulk social web virality). Necessary, but not the only thing to be done. New products/services have to be launched in an accurate, scheduled and secret plan. Too quick sometimes, making the idea real, but keeping bugs for the end users…Look at how cars models, can be back at fixing stations, few moments after their beginning of life…Microsoft products? Found lots of reasons to launch them, and thousands of users not really happy with new releases. I think business cycles now gear up. Innovation cycle, in some sectors can be so short, we mix several phases in one, already thinking to the next step. That’s probably why now, time is a strategic value, and all that can keep us from wasting it, is key. 2.0 and social web can help a lot to “cross” and have quick feedbacks on launch, polls, ideas, improvements, tests and corrections. And usually, addicted people to social web are particularly clever about new things and like to give you, for free, new ways of thinking. Meaning that, if you built a community, to worry about your launches, they will know how to handle it, and will cope with competitors that won’t miss to be cruel. But if you don’t, your products will go on an invisible of ocean, with potential users, who wait like sharks for new food, question is how they will “digest” the straight venue and what they are going to say about success or lead to die?

Chasm might be deep, chasm might be short, but chasm is a strong reality. Imagine you’re subjected to a judgement step, and more you prepare before, more product or service has a chance to succeed. If you want to give chances to survive, well organize first launch as if you were driven in front of the bulk scene: products/services prepared to be understood by many of the target, will get more chances to mass market, than fashion ones, excluding if you’re dealing on a niche market. We saw that maybe target of 2.0 is a new valuable field to get audience, advises and early tests for new services or products. But how can 2.0 helps this to increase the chances to cross the bridge (build one)? On the chasm.

I think it’s in listening and working with early users that you can do it, and social boards, like betas, experts panels and communities gear up the way information turns. The more you listen, the quicker you work with it, the greater chances you’ll have to correct, evaluate misfits, features, quality problems for bulk success. And social web for sure makes you saving time for that, if you can spend some time to build a network and give it news regularly. Each part of the market has its own behaviors: innovators are pure tech lovers, early adopters next, may feel there’s a real use for the innovation in field, and early majority, that’s the main problem, has to be guided by other early majority members, which wait for a main change in their life, because of the innovation. And if this brand new thing doesn’t ensure them, with entourage for done a good tip and be sure they will have all kinds of support, customer care and so long, there’s no chance for tech to be adopted, by mass early majority. And then may enter web 2.0 power: linking people, advises and take the role of customer care…While we saw that innovators/geeks prowl on social networks, no need to be clever to think that they will give all their advises and share their experience to ensure and make a better sale than you…they know the product, they know bugs (!), they can guide you to adopt it by several “old good rules”…And while trust is an essential rule for communities leaders, looking at the most influencers can be really relevant, giving them samples to test and keeping eyes on back timeline. That’s how it goes, that’s now how advertising stands place, while buzz is exploding. Ignoring power of social leaders is like ignoring power of www community As I already said, “customers are the best sellers for a brand”, and to go further, “social leaders are strong guides to burst your brand and your products”, crossing the chasm, convincing early (sleeping?) majority to come and buy.

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