For those of you not in the loop. Ries’ (a silicon valley programmer turned manager turned director) book is based on his experience of spending 6mts and a whole bunch of funding developing a product that no-one ever downloaded. A pain I can relate to as my first gig way back was porting Unix to an ICL mainframe (when the UK had a mainframe company). Lots of work, lots of stress, huge efforts, brilliant work. And it never got used. Ever. [ICL was sold to Fujitsu]. Not long after I promptly became a Merchant Banker 😀
Ries methodology centres on having an MVP – a Minimum Viable Product – that you can put out there ASAP to at least find out if the market wants it. In the extreme case it’s a single page website which says click here for more info.
I reckon about 99% of business advice is “define target, load, aim, fire”. What’s your product, what’s your market etc etc. Define it and then do it. After all it’s “sensible” isn’t it? Maybe – but life is rarely like that. Skype was an Estonian start-up working with peer-to-peer file sharing. Facebook was for Harvard. Marc Eckō practiced spray painting t-shirts in his parents garage for almost a year till he got real good at it before selling one t-shirt and ended up with a billion dollar business. Madonna started as a virgin not like one.
The yang approach to getting somewhere – scientific, engineering mentality – is to have a clear defined goal and converge everything towards that goal. That’s cool – as long as you have the right goal… Sometimes it is the best way whether it’s to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade or to get a bunch of good exam results by the time you leave school.
The yin approach is the opposite – art, evolution – nurture what you have, take the next step and then decide on the next step after that. Hmmm these two chords strummed together sound good … I wonder whether this third chord goes with it. A divergent process.
So let’s keep this post simple. The next time someone says “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, “what will your new business be?”, pause and think of this yin-yang model of development. Sometimes the yang way is best – but I would say more often yin is the way.
People who ask those kinds of questions are often folks giving training courses, or writing or reading) textbooks – not real world business folks. Real world folks know that generally things evolve – and that the reason it works this way is that if we co-evolve our ideas in the world we co-evolve something that folks will buy and which has been co-designed by the market. Sometimes you can get away with “inventing something in a dark room” and then selling it – but not as often as anyone tells you. And even then it’s a tough sell.
How Yin or Yang is your Business Development approach? Which way has worked best for you?
I blame it on schools. Although that’s not fair as they are just passing on cultural biases. In more expansive mode I blame it on the Age of Reason. And if pushed I blame it on Plato.
The blame for what? For “right-answer-ism”. We are conditioned and conditioned and conditioned at the formative stages of our brain development into there being a “right answer”. Especially in these days of national curricula and marking schemes “the right answer” is embedded in the whole results process. Hard to escape.
The problem is that in life, in business, if there is a “right answer” it’s one that’s always changing. This Taoist symbol is perhaps the most famous in the world – people have seen it who have never heard of Taoists or The Tao:
Here we have constant change as the central emblem (yin and yang are always in motion – the pic is a snapshot). Which leads us on to headless chickens.. Continue reading →
We live in a world of Excess. Excess Selling. Excess Marketing. Excess Advertising. Excess Choice. Excess Spam [Er surely an oxymoron? Ed.]
Consequently we have developed a strong resistance to being sold to. Judging by the click-thru rates on web Ads our resistance is hard-wired at very deep levels in our perception – we don’t even “see” these Ads – we look at a page and our brain filters it out for us. As for someone knocking on our door (literally or metaphorically) – when was the last time you bought something like that? We feel this instinctive “go away!”.
And the same thing happens in business. Some pushy salesman – or more subtly, manipulative, salesman – tries to get us to do something. We instinctively resist. Many of the 20thC “tricks” that decades of sales psychology research in the US (surely the most “salesy” culture on Earth?) no longer work.
So what’s the secret? How do you overcome sales resistance? How do you “sell” something if that’s what you need to do – whether it’s selling yourself, your company’s products or services, or just your ideas to a colleague?
Mitch (a marketing/journalist/publicist and uber-interwebby person) must have loved it when Marketing Magazine dubbed him the “Rock Star of Digital Marketing”. It’s a great by-line and he did work as a rock journalist for a long time and you don’t want to start listening to a conversation between Mitch and Seth on “vinyl” 🙂 Instead you can watch and listen to Seth Godin interview Mitch about the new book and take questions in an event hosted by Google no less:
Mitch is one of my three “must follows” – as in even when I don’t have time and fall behind I will catch up on his material in his blog and great (if a bit “marketing/pr industry” detailed) podcast. You can check out the book in all the usual places. My aim here is not to add another precis to the internet. Rather I want to draw out some key themes in the context of this blog. Continue reading →
The High Priest of 21stC BizDev thinking must be Seth Godin – love him or hate him (a few do). If you have been hiding in a cave since the last millennium and rather missed 21stC BizDev thinking, I’d recommend starting to catch up with any of the YouTubes by Godin I have never actually managed to finish any of his books … they tend to read like a strong of blog posts stuck together. He has blogged daily for years and there are some great pearls in there – surrounded by a lot of sand.
One of the distinctive titles of his over a dozen books is the Purple Cow. This has been interpreted, reinterpreted and misinterpreted. You drive past a field and amongst all the same-old cows there’s a purple cow:
So it gets noticed right? And you remember it right? And you tell your mates right? So that’s the “get noticed” vibe. And you can see it makes sense. I recently heard of someone in an office where they put a job online. Within four hours they had received 200 CVs (and that’s probably not a lot). So how to stand out? How to get noticed?
Set against this “standing out” can be taken too far (especially as this is culturally determined). You could send in a lavender-scented CV on bearskin – now hey that would stand out but would it help? Continue reading →