MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is a topic that won’t die down in 21stC Biz Dev. I covered it – and its weaknesses earlier, but had a practical personal example this week when I launched my London FinTech Podcast
One summary of MVP theory is “you should be embarrassed by your first version” – the whole point of that methodology being to get something out there and iterate fast.
However there is a very interesting and very relevant principle in Taoism here … Continue reading →
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.
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 →
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.
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.
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.
In the seminal, if dated, 1999 HBR article “Unbundling the Corporation”, Hagel and Singer declared that every company contains three different kinds of business and that in future they would unbundle. nice work for consultants if you can get it (which is probably why it’s free at McKinseys site lol) … followed only 5yrs later no doubt by them “Rebundling the Corporation” 😀
This is a nice way in (well I think so lol) to framing things in a different take. Using the first three steps in the BizDev Cascade – Value, Marketing, Sales – we can “Unbundle the Corporation” in a different way.
Starting with Marketing-driven business, I would say that the sans pareil definition of most Global American Mega Cos in the food industry – is that Marketing has become the product. When you drink Coca-Cola you are drinking a brand not benefitting from a dozen teaspoons of sugar and some chemicals. Continue reading →
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 →
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?
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.
And years on the spirit is back. This time with good grooming 🙂
Regular readers (hi mum :-)) [Even your mum doesn’t read you… Ed] will know that I reserve a certain amount of sniffiness/contempt for business school tick-box-isms about “How To Do Business”. The same contempt that Taoists felt for the Confucian tick-box approach to how to be human. Life ain’t like that.
Conventional wisdom is that the business development strategy is to find the gap. Rather I would caution that one has to mind the gap…
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).
Still he hadn’t chosen. Grr. What is going on and why is this really important for 21stC BizDev? Continue reading →
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?
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?
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?
I learned this lesson the hard way. You know, as in sticking your hand in the fire and finding out that fire burns and not only that it really hurts. Anyway like all lessons learned the hard way (as opposed to read amongst a million other surfs on the net) it is never forgotten.
It’s simple to explain, easy to remember (if you think of keys and locks) but hard to strike the dynamic balance in practice – the Tao is not a fixed thing – this isn’t some western “right answer” thing … more like surfing when you have to decide there and then where the balance is.
Supply-push is when you design something and then try to sell it. It’s like designing a key.
Demand-pull is when you find out what is required and then design it. It’s like working out what key is required when you know what the lock is like.
This is a huuuuge rift between two tectonic plates in BizDev. Which way round you are is perhaps the most important factor in determining BizDev ease of success. Let’s go over why… Continue reading →