Awkward Reality #263

Is your business engaging in trench warfare?

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This is also known as “attrition warfare,” and is characterized by competitors applying the same tactics. It’s also characterized by everyone losing, even the winners. Keep your productivity and quality initiatives… but understand that by themselves, these initiatives put you in a race to the bottom. Better to focus on what your competitors are not doing well. For B2B companies today, this is understanding customer needs before developing new products for them.

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs

Awkward Reality #262

“Hey… how are we going to kill our project today?!”

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This is what Astro Teller—the head of Google X—used to cheer with his teams. He went on to explain, “We spend most of our time trying to prove we’re wrong.” Is that how your company looks at big, transformational projects? Or do you associate a killed project with personal failure? Much better to lay out all the assumptions of “what must be true” for your project to succeed. Then go on a team “hunt” to find any that are not true. Find one? Celebrate and move on to the next project!

More in video at Project De-risking with Minesweeper

Awkward Reality #261

You can see surprising diversity with quantitative B2B market insight.

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We recently compiled a dozen short case stories of B2B clients doing impressive front-end work. (See www.aimcasestories.com.) What surprised us was how different each case was. The NPD project teams all used their quantitative Preference interviews to construct Market Satisfaction Gap profiles… and we were struck with how unique market segments can be. Truly, each one tells a story: Until you do quantitative interviews, though, that story goes untold.

More in article, Market Satisfaction Gaps… your key to B2B organic growth

Awkward Reality #260

Faster Product Development

Develop New Products Faster

Leaders can speed up product development by putting their foot on three “pedals”… resources, communication and accountability. And teams also have three pedals to push: market knowledge for NPD accuracy, risk management, and communication. ... Read More

Awkward Reality #259

How does your company decide which initiatives to pursue?

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The landmark book, The Three Rules, shows exceptional companies focus on a) creating higher-value products, not cheaper ones, and b) revenue growth, not cost-cutting. What initiatives are you focused on? Quality, productivity, global expansion, and acquisitions can be useful, but none will propel you toward growth that is rapid, profitable, and sustainable. Don’t let these side shows distract you from the main show… understanding and meeting customer needs better than others. As Peter Drucker said, “the purpose of business is to create and keep customers.

More in video, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth series, Video Lesson #6

Awkward Reality #258

Don’t focus too much on results

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Does this seem like terrible advice? Especially in our age of hyper-attention to quarterly results? But if you focus too much on business results, you’ll degrade them over time. Why? You must also focus on capabilities. Steven Covey cautioned us to balance P (production or “results”) with PC (productive capability). Sadly, many business leaders forget the “capabilities” part. One capability is understanding the needs of your customers… so you can develop better products… for better business results.

See The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven Covey

Awkward Reality #257

Is business short-termism a form of “Leadership Larceny”?

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Some business leaders fixate on the short-term out of fear: They are cowed by Wall Street analysts’ reaction to their quarterly results. But others pump up near-term results to fatten their bonuses… even if it means crippling their company’s future capacity to grow. This is leadership larceny… stealing from the business’s tomorrow to benefit the leader’s today. The first rule of leadership is this: “Leave your business stronger than you found it.”

More e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth