Category Archives: Strategy

Quick guide on how to use Evernote to stay on top of emerging trends

evernoteWhat is the process I use to keep up and /or uncover emerging trends and what tools do I use? Previously, I’ve written about how to create an insights bank using Evernote. Here I’ll expand on that initial idea, with a quick guide on how you can stay on top of emerging trends, as well as building your own sense making capability, to make sure you don’t get caught off guard.

Why do successful companies fail? Because they miss the future. But, companies don’t fail because they choose the wrong course, they fail because they can’t imagine a better one.

How does trend spotting fit into an organization’s future?

Innovators either create trends that change the world, or take advantage of emerging ones. Trend spotting is a very important innovation skill, and one that the vast majority of companies outsource to trend hunting firm; sometimes with no benefit.

This is a valid strategy, but a I’d recommend you don’t bet on it because most organizations have access to the same information those trend hunting firms are selling. More strategic for you is to develop your own capability for detecting and taking action on trends.

Detecting trends is a similar exercise to how you look for tension points to uncover opportunities for innovation; you attentively look for what at some point could become a huge problem.

Innovation needs intent

innovation needs intentUltimately, just like your business strategy, your innovation strategy needs to be focused. It can’t be all things to all people. It must be able to stand on its own.

Last Friday I conducted a second innovation workshop with graduate students from UABC, the largest university in Tijuana. Before we were done, I made sure they took two things to heart:

  1. Figure out their own definition of innovation;
  2. Be intentional with your innovation intent.

The last point is important, and hopefully they caught my drift because a lot of what the media considers innovation fits into the silly category…

WhatsApp: The power of doing one thing extremely well

WhatsApp has succeeded because it is focused on creating a great product, not another social network. What will make your business unique is what you deliberately choose not to do.

After almost two years of chit-chat, WhatsApp sold to Facebook for $19 billion yesterday. For a moment, let’s ignore whatever we think about the valuation, and whether in the larger economic picture this is something to be concerned about.

Here I won’t get into the whole strategic thinking behind why this deal makes or doesn’t make sense. What I will do is talk about the picture below:

Q&A: Sangeet Paul Choudary on how open business models are changing how businesses compete

open business modelsThis is part two of a Q&A with Sangeet Paul Choudary on platform businesses and open business models. In part 1, he answered some questions about platform businesses.

Sangeet Paul Choudary writes the blog Platform Thinking which has been featured on leading publications and research labs including WSJ, HBR, WIRED, FastCompany and the MIT Centre for Digital Business. He is an innovation analyst and consultant who has lectured at leading academic institutions like MIT Media Labs and INSEAD and consults leading startups as well as traditional firms making the transition to digital platforms. He is a mentor at leading accelerators like 500Startups and serves on the advisory board of leading platform startups.

Follow him on Twitter at @sanguit. To know more about Sangeet, visit http://platformed.info/sangeet-paul-choudary/ and sg.linkedin.com/in/sangeetpaul‎.

Q&A: Sangeet Paul Choudary on how to succeed with a platform business

platform businessThis is part 1 of a two part Q&A with Sangeet Paul Choudary about platforms and open business models.

Sangeet Paul Choudary writes the blog Platform Thinking which has been featured on leading publications and research labs including WSJ, HBR, WIRED, FastCompany and the MIT Centre for Digital Business. He is an innovation analyst and consultant who has lectured at leading academic institutions like MIT Media Labs and INSEAD and consults leading startups as well as traditional firms making the transition to digital platforms. He is a mentor at leading accelerators like 500Startups and serves on the advisory board of leading platform startups.

Follow him on Twitter at @sanguit. To know more about Sangeet, visit http://platformed.info/sangeet-paul-choudary/ and sg.linkedin.com/in/sangeetpaul‎.

When everything becomes a toaster less is more

Incremental innovation can have transformational effects, but we must also understand the limits of pursuing further efficiencies.

Yesterday, I came across a post on Gizmodo about everyday products that were improved to be perfect. Just look at them, I know you’ll want to have a few of them. Though none of them are Apple products, Apple is probably the one company that any of us can point to that makes us crave their products.

Why?

Any talk of recent breakthrough innovations usually start with the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Yet what many don’t know is that Apple invented neither of them. Rather they, with their own point of view, made them accessible.

There are many factors that go into innovation adoption, one of them is timing, the other is the one most don’t get right. Our adoption of Apple products had to do with more than one thing, but the fact that they’ve made our interaction with technology as simple and seamless as possible is a big one. Whether or not Apple understood this from the beginning, it’s no secret that people gravitate towards simplicity.

But most businesses and people go for its common enemy: simplistic.

Here are the main differences between the two:

Complaining is not a strategy

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos starts his High Orde... Many companies may start their lives playing to win, but inevitably end up playing not to lose. It is this cycle of being proactive and then reactive that may become a fact for your organization.

Many books and blog posts have been written about the many reasons companies fail, a key reason is because they stop paying  attention to customers, and instead focus on competitors. It is a very interesting dynamic to observe how companies may start innovating but then decide to align themselves with their competitors…

The question is: why?

The answer comes down to human nature. Success hides problems, and our tendency to become complacent after having some success puts us in a state of reaction. As a result, competitor activity becomes a huge source of anxiety and frustration for company leaders. For me, a clear signal that a company may be loosing its footing is when it talks a lot about what competitors are doing and how they have to match them; not what they are doing differently.

Sure, other competitors may take advantage of trends in technology and ride a wave that ends up disrupting existing businesses; but very rarely are companies created with a deliberate need to crush existing companies. That happens after the fact!

It is very simple, the future happens to you, not other competitors.