Doing the hard stuff.

Jim Donovan post today highlighted the worlds top 50 business thinkers. The thing that struck me about this list is how many of the folks there are responsible for creating the theory of business growth, or for delivering it.  Why do they get this acknowledgement and respect? To me, its because these people do the hard stuff.

Growth is far harder to achieve than most of us are willing to accept. There is a bunch of research that highlights that the perennial growth story for any company is fiction. For example, Creative Destruction by Forster & Kaplan highlights that most companies not only fail to grow, but only a small percentage (16%) actually survive !  

Stop and think about that…. for 84% of you out there working. You are in companies that are dead men walking. 

Got me thinking about my own experience. You might have noticed, I’m a growth guy, I’ve even been called ‘Mr Disruption’ by some folks. Others think of me as a destroyer of value, god knows what they call me. 

What I do is hard, I’m constantly fighting the  machine  to get things done.

There is an almost religious battle going on. When I talk about disruptive innovation , the incumbent minded folks hear creative destruction.  I look forward and see opportunity, they look backwards and try to pinpoint the death knell (like the internet). Ultimately I advocate that we need to grow,  they counter it saying we need to cut costs. 

Heads up people. Cutting costs is the easy thing to do, giving a considered ‘no’ to new opportunity is simpler than taking it on.

Well here’s the rub, look at the stats from Foster and Kaplan (there are more**). If you are focusing on doing the easy stuff, something else becomes easy. Predicting the future of your company.


** Profit from the Core, Zook and Allen.

Blue Ocean Strategy, Kim and Mauborgne;

Good to Great, Collins

Stall points

The ‘what’ is easy, try taking on the ‘how’ and ‘why’

I'm a veracious reader of blogs, perhaps not like a Robert Scoble , but nearly everyday I'm looking for tit-bits of knowledge.  More often that not this follows a process of eliminating noise and zeroing in on a few blogs a day, maybe 2 from hundreds.

Thinking about what makes me focus on those two blogs in that day, they fall primarily into the  'what' category, and ever so rarely the 'how'.

'What' blogs tell me stuff, IBM taking on Amazon for instance. Interesting but with out a lot of context.

 The 'how' blogs are much more useful. By learning from those who have gone before I don't have to make the same mistakes. Blogs like Ben Kepes and Phil Wainewright's on Ariba's journey through disruption provide huge insight for people.

The third pillar of knowledge is the 'why'.   As a strategist I hold tenaciously  to the belief (knowing sometimes i'm dreaming) that companies do things for a reason. Understanding those reasons is critical to decoding what is going on.

These three facets form the pillars of knowledge, and to my way of thinking, they increase in value as you move down that list.

 So my challenge to you all out there, if you are going to take the time to blog, provide your readers with value. Get past the what, move into the how and why….



PS – I set out to make this a 'how' and 'why' post…. did you find more value in it?

Parallel thought in action

Should have patented my post "Not everything will go into the cloud, BUT everything will be affected by it"

Nick Carr is saying the exact thing "Not everything will move into the cloud, but the cloud will move into everything."


 PS i really like the comment by Charles on Nick's post  "There is no cloud. There is only a finger pointing at the cloud. To see the cloud, it is necessary to see beyond one's finger."  appeals to the martial artist in me..