Tag Archives: Processes

Brain Hacks – The Immense Value of Doodling Stories in BizDev

Funny how some weeks you see lots and lots of the same pattern.  As if the universe is trying tell you something… The one I kept noticing this week in BizDev conversations was one of the most common roadblocks I see folks confronted by in Business Development. Namely being “stuck with the facts”.

Now there is nothing wrong with facts or descriptions. That is unless you are trying to do BizDev 🙂 For BizDev we need messages, we need to arouse emotion (emotion drives action), we need to convey the essence of what we are trying to get across.

Once folks are stuck in this descriptive place there is no easy way out.  The logical parts of the psyche are in control and the logical parts of the psyche don’t like anything that’s not logical 🙂  Like creativity or seeing the way out of the logic trap 🙂

But there is a great Brain Hack.  A way out of the cul-de-sac of prosaic and unsexy explanation…

visual thinking Continue reading


The Importance of Dating

Darth Vader doesn’t date. Mind you, based on a poll I saw, Anakin Skywalker and Padme’s on-screen “romance” was judged the least believable ever – so Anakin barely dated either. But they – and “American style” 20thC manipulation marketing – belong in a galaxy a long time ago far, far away.

In our galaxy, here and now, different principles need to apply. In the second part of The Tao of BizDev YouTube trilogy on how Business and hence BizDev has changed in the 21stC I emphasise the importance of dating as an antidote to many of the challenges of 21stC business development.

The Tao of BizDev - Dating

In talking to folks subsequently it’s clear that many – or even most – agree, but few understand all the ramifications. I believe there are five main reasons why dating is vitally important (it is after all The Tao of BizDev’s second principle}: Continue reading


Case Study of a Strategic BizDev Audit

I first saw Hawkind in 1978 at a gig that the local evening paper suitably described as “a weird evening”. Never mind that punk had happened – every hippy and assorted entity who lived under a stone had been drawn there as if by a tribal dog whistle.

masters of the universe

The previous year they had written a song called micro-man, which has a key line which has only become more applicable over time:

It’s the age of the micro-man, who sees the detail and never the plan

Which is highly relevant to business development today.  In this world of speciation and specialisation we are all admonished to be ever more detail focused and ever less plan focused – to drill into and live amongst the pixels. This, de facto, means less time attention and thought for the big picture.

Detail is fine and dandy – and essential in many professions, or even the arts – ever seen a ballet rehearsal?. However time and time again I see that it’s The Big Picture that makes the biggest difference.  No amount of tactics will make up for strategic drift.

One Tao of BizDev strategic consultancy gig was Continue reading


What is the Minimum Minimum Viable Product?

Funny how coincidence goes. I was only last night watching Eric Ries gig at the LSE – which two years on seems surprisingly dated (see eg Wu-wei, Growth Hacking, and The Rise of Marketing-less Marketing) when what should I get today but a text from a buddy asking about the above koan. How could I resist 🙂


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.

It’s a solution to the old Supply-Push, Demand-Pull balance. It’s product development interacting ASAP with Sales.

We can also Continue reading


BizDev when there is no Conduit to Market

I have had some interesting conversations recently with various different folks who are all doing different types of business where the clients are in Financial Services.  They all break the simple textbook Product-Conduit-Market model.  This model is fine for selling your cornflakes in supermarkets perhaps but of little relevance in more consultancy-based businesses. For Financial Services perhaps most of the sellers into it have to build up their own contact list.  There are no real channels as such.

As I wrote last week the modern “Beyond Marketing and Selling” process is heavily dependent upon searching for and attracting leads.  This is even more vital when you and your firm “wearing out the shoe leather” is the “channel to market”.

Churchs shoe sole

So what is the secret to “21stC shoe leather” marketing?  Continue reading


Moving Beyond “Marketing” and “Sales”

Do you like being “marketed” to? Do you like Ads? Do you like being “sold” to? Do you like some guy selling you stuff?

Thought not. Me neither. So why does everyone persist with Marketing and Sales?  Well the same reason everyone persists – inertia. But if “we always do what we always did” … in the 21stC we will not continue “to always get what we always got” – this is my whole point – 21stC business development needs a radically new mentality.


I believe we can all make a leap forward by taking a step back, re-examining the intent behind “marketing” and “sales”, why we resist them and how we can expand our business in a harmonious way that we flow with the Tao rather than swim against the flow. Continue reading


21stC BizDev in 5 Words – What? Who? What? How? Why?

Once I wrote a nice simple, clear post … doesn’t happen often 😀 – 21stC Communication Essentials – Simplicity, Clarity, Brevity You simply must get that inserted into your DNA to succeed in our noisy, overloaded 21stC world.


Basho should have been a 21stC marketer

Basho should have been a 21stC marketer



Easily forgotten.

In a noisy world.


I was reminded of this recently Continue reading


Ten Fingers, Ten Toes, One Attention – Oh Dear

Everyone wants your attention.  Texts ping. Calls come. Voicemails lurk. Emails flood. Banner Ads wink, in-App ads glisten. “Can we have a meeting?”. Your partner calls, the kids need something, the school says something, the insurance company sends you a quote.  Man has anyone got a way to clone my attention and give me lots of them?

Nope – I didn’t think so. Nor yours, nor your potential clients. Continue reading


Why Next Steps is the First Not Last Part of a Presentation

I had a hard time once when working with a client on a pitch persuading them to put the “Next Steps” slide first.  They (being logical, bright, technical folks) thought this looked ridiculous.  Why have next steps right up front?

next steps

Well let’s consider the opposite.  We go through a nice educational presentation (after all we are not trying to flog folks stuff they don’t need are we?) and then – last slide is “next steps”.  Like every other presentation.  At which point the audience always gets defensive as they feel this is the stage where they stop relaxing and have to fend off these people coming back in or selling things etc etc.  That’s always the stage where you get some polite “we need to think about this”, “we have to discuss this further internally”.  And that’s always the kiss of death 🙁 … as you may have noticed 😉

On the other hand what happened when we put Next Steps at the beginning was Continue reading


Content Shock, Rear-View Mirrors and the End of a Gold Rush?

I am sure you have noticed how the number of books have gone up in your lifetime.  How the number of webpages explodes along with emails, blogs to read, podcasts, YouTubes, and links to cute kittens.

Mark Schaefer Grow Blog

Mark Schaefer Grow Blog

Exponentially increasing content, a limit to eyeball hours in the day and naturally it gets less valuable.  Coupled with the fact that in this world of instant sharing how much is genuinely new?

Of course strong rebuttals.  A buddy who is an expert in government website content sent me (when I mentioned the phrase “another snowflake in the content blizzard”) a link denying all of this.  It was written by “The Content Marketing Association” (and had little real logic).  No shit Sherlock the X institute says X is no way getting less important to the world 🙂

It’s a good excuse to recap the whole picture and let you know my take… Continue reading


“Hackathons” – An Innovative Approach to New Business Creation

Hacking is back in fashion.  I met real hackers in the Computer Science Dept at Cambridge in the very early 80s – the leftovers from the hippy days of computing.  There was one guy who was an ace hacker who was the type that didn’t wear shoes, hair down to the waist and – as I memorably read the genus described as once – “equate altruism with not washing” 🙂  But a real genius who could do cool things.

hackathonsAnd years on the spirit is back.  This time with good grooming 🙂

Recently I wrote a snappily entitled post (cough) about hacking and marketing – “Wu-wei, Growth Hacking, and The Rise of Marketing-less Marketing”.

But back to this post – what is a hackathon? Continue reading


Decision Fatigue – Took A While To Decide About This Post

So I looked at the menu and chose the turkey with quince jelly – well it is nearing Xmas. Hmm list of starters – oh well won’t bother – that will save thinking about it.  My chum arrived later and stared at the menu. The waitress came. He was still staring.  Then he decided he wanted a starter … oh no, I better have one too. Here’s the pub by the way.. (or rather the sign).

hare-and-houndsStill he hadn’t chosen. Grr.  What is going on and why is this really important for 21stC BizDev? Continue reading


Every Model Is Wrong But Some Are Useful

This is a great one.  Well it would be great if it was accurate lol – the actual quote (from George Box) is “all models…”.  Unless Hugh MacLeod (aka gaping void) was using recursion by misstating the quote 🙂



It’s very Taoist. … the ungraspability, the undefinability of reality … the pragmatism about whatever works works … until it doesn’t.  The opposite of Confucian certainties about right and wrong.  The opposite of the West’s current love affair with ludicrously complex laws, regulation and bureaucracy.

So what’s the application to BizDev? Continue reading


Wu-wei, Growth Hacking, and The Rise of Marketing-less Marketing

Last week I wrote about wu-wei and the perfect presentation. Now let’s go the whole hog and consider profound non-doing/effortless-doing/natural-doing and marketing as a whole.  What’s better than Marketing?  No Marketing!

And I joke not. Gazillion dollar start-ups such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, AirBnB and Dropbox grew without marketing budgets worth mentioning. I saw some linkbait today about getting 10,000 hits a day without marketing.  Growth hacking (well it does come from California lol) is all the rage.  What can we learn from it?

growth hacking Continue reading


Value Encapsulation – the 21stC Key

I resisted this for a long time.  I resisted the “Twitter-isation” of society. So how come I gave in? Why do I now think it’s vital?  Why is it the next 21stC BizDev step which must come after the all-important Value Mining and Refining?

beach-surrender Continue reading


The Buddha Knew The Importance Of Doing Marketing Before Selling

Actually he got it wrong first time … unsurprisingly not something emphasised by tradition lol.  But he learned fast.  After his enlightenment the first person he met asked who he was. The Buddha replied along the lines that he was the fully enlightened one – at which point the guy said “may it be so friend” and wandered off.  Thereby missing out on the start of one of the longest bull markets in history – 2,500 years and the stock is still rising 🙂

Standing BuddhaActually did you know that the Buddha forbad images made depicting him?  One of life’s ironies as there are probably more statues in the world today of a man who forbad his followers from making statues of him than of anyone else (or maybe even everyone else put together?!). Doh!

Anyway back to the Buddha and marketing. So his first “pitch” – tell the facts – had failed. What was his next and how come it’s still appropriate today? Continue reading


The Ne Plus Ultra of BizDev Secrets – Value Mining and Refining

This is biiiig.  I rarely meet anyone or any firm who really gets this.  As I mentioned in The 6 Stages in the BizDev Cascade the BizDev process is like a series of stages of water flowing downwards.  Time and again I observe implementors having a hard time at a client site as the sales guys promised the moon.  Time and again the sales guys get bogged down as the marketing guys hinted at the moon but they are just selling rock.  Marketing messages can only reflect the Value but if that’s not clear the whole thing takes on a life of its own .. we might consider Coca-Cola.  What is the value in 12tsp of sugar and a bunch of chemicals in a can?  The product has become the marketing message – that’s what sells.

So value mining and refining is absolutely key… any error here and the whole stream is polluted.  So what do I mean by this?

mining Continue reading


Sales Secrets II – Staircases Not High Jumps

I learned this lesson the hard way.  And like all lessons learned the hard way it’s worth its weight in gold.  Mummy may have told you not to put your hand in the fire, but it’s only when you put your hand in the fire that you never forget again.

Over a decade ago I was busy marketing and selling my strategic risk system – Stratos.  This was (and is) a unique approach in so far as it looks at the chance of revenues falling below costs – ie a “real loss”. It may surprise you to know that all of the banking risk systems in the world – zillions of dollars worth – just look at the chance of income falling below zero – which is a very different thing.

The first thing I learned the hard way is evangelical selling.  This a rare thing – so rare I don’t think I have ever read much about it at all.  If you are selling a new toaster or new car people already understand the concept of toaster and car, and you are doing comparative selling.  Why is your toaster/car better? But if you have invented a whole new concept the sell is more around why the concept is valuable – you need to create the market – a veeery different type of sale.

The second thing I learned which has been extremely useful in all subsequent sales contexts is incremental commitment.  Contrast this staircase…

small staircase Continue reading


What to do when your String of Pearls BizDev becomes Scrap Collecting?

In the post on Strings of Pearls and Sausage Machines I wrote about the development from a “one by one”, ad hoc, approach to getting new deals (individually or corporately) to a process-driven, works-every-day approach.

But what happens when it goes the other way?  What happens when the gaps between pearls get bigger and the pearls get smaller?  What happens when you can’t find any pearls but can only get a piece of cheap glass?  What happens when you stop being a pearl diver and just become a scrap collector?

source Newark&Sherwood District Council

source Newark&Sherwood District Council

Continue reading


The 6 Stages in the Business Development Cascade

Earlier I wrote about the trade-off between spontaneity and flexibility on the one hand and replicability on the other.  One can have too much structure or too little.  I did not address what a BizDev process structure might look like.  My model of this is a cascade:

source: wikimedia commons

source: Wikimedia commons

Many of these terms are actually very poorly defined and folks waste time arguing over the definitions (generally as turf and budgets come with definitions). However one of the biggest failings – especially for individuals and SMEs – is not having a clear distinction between the various phases of the BizDev process.  Not doing so fails to recognise that one needs radically different material and approaches at each stage. Here are the six stages I use and my definitions of what is required at each: Continue reading


Form and Emptiness in Business Development

I never used to rehearse for my investment management pitches.  Mind you I never rehearsed for my wedding speech either nor some best-man’s speeches – I just winged it. I must have been crazy 🙂 … well either that or more testosterone back then lol.  Kind of “dangerous sports” mentality applied to everyday life. Except … I did do much better than the equities guys who rehearsed and rehearsed and were tutored and coached.

There can be many factors here but one of them is the very Taoist vibe of spontaneity and appropriateness to the moment:

Bruce Lee

“When one has reached maturity in the (martial) art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style.”

Continue reading


SmallCo? NewCo? String of Pearls or Sausage Machine?

Let’s take the smallest SmallCo – you!  Chances are your career has been rather like a string of pearls … one after another string along a necklace with some gaps.  However where do you get your next pearl from?  In the worst case its tough diving around trying to find those oysters and prying them open.


source: pearlsonly.co.uk

NewCos and often SmallCos operate the same way.  We need that first flagship deal!  OK got it … now we need a second … hmm hang on they want something rather different etc etc,  NewCos and SmallCos can be stuck in pearl territory for a long time, and like most traps, the strongest trap is one you don’t even know you are in. Continue reading