Decision-making: faster or fewer?

Elon Musk says “It is better to make many decisions per unit time with a slightly higher error rate, than few with a slightly lower error rate, because obviously one of your future right decisions can be to reverse an earlier wrong one, provided the earlier one was not catastrophic, which they rarely are.”

**WRONG! As you scale, you need to focus on building three assets: Credibility, Capability and Cashflow. Hasty decision-making not only costs you in credibility and capability, but will impact your cashflow. And it only takes one erroneous decision to have a catastrophic outcome… where people die. Case in point: Boeing. #scaling #strategy #execution

What if incubators and accelerators are doing more harm than good to startups and scaleups? (B2BNews)

The problem with accelerators and incubators is that it’s a monoculture: workshops on the Business Model Canvas, Lean Startup, hackathons, Startup Weekends and investor pitches, toss in some Instagrammable coworking space to cover fixed costs. But is that what entrepreneurs really want and need? Does it answer their real Jobs-To-Be-Done? Maybe we’re throwing too much time, money and effort at idea stage companies and not enough at growth stage, where the investment of really pays off… As discussed at DRIVE Conference in Waterloo (February 2019). 

Le problème des accélérateurs et des incubateurs, incluant le nouveau réseau des PRI Pôle régionaux d’innovation, est que c’est la même formule fatiguant: ateliers sur le canevas de modèle d’affaires et le Lean Startup, des hackathons, des Startup Weekend, et des concours de pitch, ajoutons du coworking au goût Instagram pour couvrir les frais fixes. Mais ce produit répond-il aux vrais problèmes et Jobs-To-Be-Done des entrepreneurs? Est-ce qu’on investit trop dans les jeunes pousses en idéation et pas assez en croissance, où le retour est beaucoup plus intéressant?


As posted on my LinkedIn

Digital marketing does not mean that sales is obsolete, especially in B2B

A discussion point in a #MTLGrowthChallenge coaching session:
Digital #marketing does not relieve you of the need to build personal relationships, especially in complex #B2B #sales! The role of digital is to inform and educate, while the role of the seller is to build a long-term trust relationship to better guide the buyer through the complexity. 

Discuté à la session de coaching #DefiCroissanceMtl: le marketing numérique ne remplace pas la necéssité du contact humain, surtout dans le B2B! Le rôle du numérique est d’informer et d’éduquer, et le rôle du vendeur est développer une relation de confiance à long-terme afin de guider l’acheteur à travers un processus de vente souvent complexe.

See the McKinsey report: “What the future science of B2B sales growth looks like

Originally posted on my LinkedIn:

The distinction between “profit” and “cash flow”

Mike Gifford on Flickr Used under Creative Commons

Just got off a coaching call… Of course, a necessary condition for business success is that “money coming in” is greater than “money going out”. But DON’T call this “profit”. #Profit is revenue minus expenses, and is used to calculate tax owed at the end of an accounting period. What is more important, especially in the initial stages of #scaling, is #cashflow: the cash on hand at a given moment. You can sign a potentially profitable contract, but be hung out to dry because you don’t have the cash flow in hand to deliver.

#scaling, is #cashflow: the cash on hand at a given moment. You can sign a potentially profitable contract, but be hung out to dry because you don’t have the cash flow in hand to deliver.

Present positive cashflow is more important than future potential profits.

(And don’t get me started on #EBITDA )

originally posted on LinkedIn here:

Nondisruptive Creation: Rethinking Innovation and Growth (MIT Sloan)

Startups are taught to seek “disruption” by destroying existing value creation chains and becoming the king of the rubble: see Uber “disrupting” taxis and AirBnB in the hotel industry. But that is a very narrow view of generating growth. The real opportunities are in creating new markets where none existed before.

Monolithic startup vs micro-scaleups (LinkedIn)

Discussion inspirante avec Bruno-Pierre Privé et Arnaud Bertrand. Des fois on se fait prendre dans le cadre mentale d’un produit = une entreprise. Une stratégie alternative serait de créer un écosystème de micro-firmes interconnectées qui offrent une valeur ajoutée synergique beaucoup plus durable que ce qui se ferait dans une seule organisation monolithique. Le débat #monolithic vs #microservices s’applique aussi bien au modèle d’affaires et organisationnel.

Sometimes the “one-product = one-business” frame of thinking precludes a better #strategy. It may be advantageous to create an ecosystem of micro-companies which map closer to the client’s real #JobToBeDone. Together the synergy of the networks creates more real and sustainable added value, compared to trying to shoehorn everything under one roof. Thanks BP and Arnaud, founders of OfficiumLIVE.

Originally posted on LinkedIn here:

Five Steps To Yes

Selling is a key leadership skill, because it is about influencing someone to willingly take action on what you suggest, in such a way they think it’s of their own choice.

Getting a “YES” to your offer requires you engage in a dialogue with your prospect, with the intent to communicate your values, your intentions and your expectations, while understanding the values, intentions and expectations of the other party.

Here are five questions for you to consider as you propose you strive to reach a mutually profitable agreement:

1. What do I want?

  • It is only when I know what I want that I can make a clear offer.
  • What is the end result that I want for myself? For my prospect?
  • Why is this important to me?
  • Am I “selling” or “sharing”: am I offering out of need or out of generosity? Do I need you more than you need me? A offer out of generosity is much more attractive to the other party, than an offer that comes from a place of desperation.
  • What do I lose if we don’t reach an agreement?
  • What my “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement” (BATNA)?  If you look at it from the simplest standpoint, your BATNA is the choice you can make if you conclude that negotiating is not likely to yield a satisfactory result. You can walk away from a negotiation if your BATNA is better than the likely outcome of that negotiation. BATNAs are dynamic, depending on the status of the discussion (as opposed to a “bottom-line” offer). The key to staying “in control” of a negotiation is to always have a BATNA in the back of your mind. Prepare a series of BATNAs depending on how the discussion evolves.

2. What do you want?

  • By listening I can find out what you want and need, then present my offer as a way to meet that need.
  • What do you need most?
  • Why is your need important to you?
  • How does your need fit into what I have to offer?

3. How ready are you to commit to get what you say you want?

  • What are you willing to commit to get what you say you want?
  • How can I connect what I am offering, in such a way as to meet your greatest need?
  • Is it right time, right fit, right place for you to say YES?
  • What is the benefit for you to say YES now?

4. What is in the way of you saying yes?

  • What reasons are in the way? (don’t have enough time, energy, money)
  • Addressing Objections: FEEL, FELT, FOUND
  • I understand how you feel
  • This is how others felt
  • I have found that…
  • How can we modify the offer so it meets your greatest need while respecting my needs?

5. What is the action step we can each take, together?

  • Build trust through a mutual commitment
  • Tangible action step with a timeline (more information, more confirmation, more investigation)
  • Follow up, follow up, follow up!

The key to YES is to give the other person time and room to reach their own decision. “No” simply means they haven’t yet made their own alignment with what you have to offer.

Share your offer, then guide them to see the benefit to them… and you will eventually get your YES!

For more information

I was first introduced to the idea of the “BATNA” in the book by Roger Fisher and William Ury,
“Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In”
Wikipedia summary:
Kindle Highlights:

Wikipedia article on “BATNA”:

Image: Michelle Thompson “(michelle)” on Flickr
Direct link:
Used under Creative Commons 2.0 licence

Originally written November 23, 2010

Burnt Out and Bummed Out: RIP Social Media (2008-2019)

Image: Animated Heaven via Flickr Used under Creative Commons licence.

In a world where algorithms relentlessly filter our social media sharing and the only way to get noticed is to be SEO’d or more provocative, what’s the point of social media anymore?

I joined LinkedIn in its early days, probably 2004 (my member number is in the 50000s) and then forgot about it, getting active again only in 2009. I got on board with Facebook in 2008 when “Likes” hadn’t even been invented yet, if you can believe it. 2008 is also when I started Tweeting (@coachdavender). I’ve explored others such as Pinterest, Instagram and Path (and for a brief moment, Google+), but they didn’t resonate in the same way as the Big Three.

Over the years I’ve organically built a good-sized following (6500 on LinkedIn, 3000 on Twitter, 2000 on Facebook). Although these are not huge numbers, I have not spent a penny nor have I done any growth-hacking or SEO content.

There was a time when I truly enjoyed conversations on these platforms. I spent an hour a day on the sites, discovering a lot of things about entrepreneurship, leadership, startups and personal development. I also hope people who read my postings learned something from me, too.

But I started noticing, especially in 2015, that I was getting less and less engagement. I would often be the only one tweeting a conference hashtag. The same people were replying or liking my Facebook posts about entrepreneurship. The algorithm was getting more and more strict. Paywalls popped up, limiting my Facebook Page reach.

Continue reading

A Few Unicorns Are No Substitute For A Competitive, Innovative Economy (Gary Hamel, HBR)

So we’ve built this whole system to find the Next Great Unicorn that will save our local economy, sucking up hundreds of millions of dollars of public and private money. Is this strategy realistic or a waste of time, money and effort?

By design, Unicorns can only succeed if they establish a monopoly by being the sole receiver of all transactions in its market. But the moment you become a monopoly, you cease to be entrepreneurial. The game is no longer to add value but rather to defend the monopoly position. We’re seeing now how even the unicorn of all unicorns Facebook is growing out of their geeky teenage mindset and behaving like just another corporate behemoth.

Gary Hamel’s piece in HBR starts off by making a good point about how unicorns don’t contribute to the economy and actually stifle innovation. And that it’s harder and harder for a startup to achieve unicorn status, anyways.

But then he makes a mistake in pointing out how Amazon is diversifying by encouraging lots of little startups (Whole Foods?). Continue reading

Resolutions – the futile hope of willpower over reality

Resolutions are the futile hope of the triumph of willpower over reality. If you want to change things, you need to instead use a Project framework based on the power of action.

I’ll say it directly: if you’ve made resolutions in this New Year’s season, stop it. You’re setting yourself up for failure right from the start. Google tells me that studies show that over 88% of Americans fail to follow through with their resolutions. I think this number is rather optimistic…

Why don’t resolutions work? Because the act of making a resolution requires resolve – betting that willpower will triumph over reality. Unfortunately, our brains are not wired up to make it happen that way.

If you want to change things, you need to stop drawing on your finite reserve of willpower and instead create a framework based on the power of action.

In my initial career as an aerospace engineer, one of the first things I learned is that everything is a project. Any time we received a request to fix or change something, that request was assigned to a project that was actioned, tracked and managed until the desired result was achieved.

So if you want to really make changes in your results, whether professional or personal, it pays to think in terms of projects with measurable deliverables. By executing your project, you fall naturally into action mode.

A project is an organized system with a mission, a deliverable, and the resources (time, people, actions) to carry it out.

The key elements of a project are:

WHY – Mission: A concise description of the problem or opportunity you want to address, and the motivation or need that justifies the change. The mission statement should address the importance and urgency of taking action now.

WHAT – Deliverable: The tangible, measurable and demonstratable result to be achieved. The deliverable should be a change that is evident to the outside observer.

HOW – Strategy and Resources: The actions needed to acheive the deliverable, and what you need to execute your project (time, team, tools, money)

WHO – Accountability and Communications: Who is responsible for what, and reports to whom?

WHEN – Timeline: The delivery date and the milestones that demonstrate progress, plotted on a calendar (or GANTT chart)

For example, if your resolution is to “lose some weight”, the questions to ask yourself are:

– Why? What is your motivation? Why is this important to you? Why now? This becomes into your “Mission”

– What? How much do you want to lose? By when? What is a tangible measure that you have reached your objective, something that you do? This leads to your Deliverable

– How? What actions do you need to take? What resources are needed to make it happen? What is the strategy you can take to achieve this result (the elements of your Strategy and Resources)

– When? What is the timeline, the end goal and intermediate milestones

– Who? Who is your team (accountability and communications)

I organize my projects, whether they are personal or professional. Each project gets a number, and all communications, plans, logs, and every other record goes directly into the project folder in my Dropbox, with corresponding actions planned and logged in Omnifocus. In 2014 I had over 160 projects defined and tracked. Some were carried through to deliverables, some others were closed or suspended, but each gave me a point of focus to create change.

So as you plan a New Year, try the project strategy. Take a “resolution” that is important to you, and build a project around it, with a mission, a deliverable, resources, timeline, and an accountability structure. Experience how adopting a project mindset can produce results with less stress and more productivity than simply wishing for the triumph of willpower over reality.

For more information

Photo credit: Bekah (beXoutloud) via Flickr
Direct link:
Used under Creative Commons licence

Updated from the original published on LinkedIn (26 Dec 2014):