Aug 17th, 2019

There is Always Someone Taller Than You

If you have ever met me, you know that I am tall. Tall as in “really tall” — somewhere between six feet four and six feet five (or 196 centimeter for those of you who are on the metric system). I am also pretty skinny, which makes me look even taller than I already am.

Whenever I meet people (particularly here in the US) who are taller than I, they tend to be broad-shouldered — looking more like basketball players than slender runner types like myself.

A little while ago I found myself waiting for a flight back home to San Francisco in Denver airport. I was sitting down and, while looking around, my eyes caught a very well dressed gentlemen who looked tall — and skinny like myself. The gate agent called our flight; we both got up and when I looked at him, he was literally a full head taller than I was.

I must have looked at him in some form of disbelieve (it rarely happens to me that I find myself in the company of people who are that tall — and pretty much never with someone tall and skinny). He picked up his bag, looked down at me and said with a quiet voice:

“There is always someone taller than you.”

He turned around and boarded the flight. I must have stood there for a good minute — processing and marveling. “There is always someone taller than you” might just be the best piece of advice I have ever gotten.

Aug 3rd, 2019

Applied vs Theoretical Knowledge

At be radical we developed a framework to help our clients predict and prepare for technological disruption. One of the core tenants of the framework is the notion that as a technology matures, you have to keep following the development path of a given technology — not just theoretically but practically. You gain very different insights into how a technology really works if you actually work with it as opposed to reading up on...

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Jul 25th, 2019

A Tale of Innovators and Status Quo Protectors

Building on my last post on “Forget T-Shapes”, let me share a conviction of mine — one which I have built over two decades working for and with small, medium and large-sized companies.

The story goes something like this:

In the beginning every company is in exploration and discovery mode. Ideas need to be tested, products and service being created, processes being established. Once a company finds product-market fit it turns its attention towards protecting...

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Jul 22nd, 2019

Forget T-Shapes

For a while now folks (especially those loosely connected to people management) have been talking about “T-Shaped People”: The fabled creature which is both a generalist and specialist at the same time. A concept I never fully understood – maybe as I never really encountered someone who is merely a specialist or a generalist. My experience was always that people are good at something and generally interested in many things.

The concept is, of...

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Jul 14th, 2019

Sweat Your Fundamentals

Something weird is happening in startup land as of late. For some reason, I see more and more pitch decks asking for money, whilst completely ignoring any and every explanation of how the startup expects to make money. No explanation of the revenue model. No financial modeling. No profit & loss calculation. Not even one of the all-to-common revenue slides showing exponential growth resulting in world domination (and gazillion dollars being made). At best you...

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Jul 10th, 2019

Three Plus Two Is Six

On Monday my dear friend, collaborator and Google’s Chief Innovation Evangelist Frederik Pferdt presented a riddle to Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier at a luncheon we both attended. Frederik asked all attendees at the event to close their eyes and listen carefully as he vocalized some seemingly simple math:

“One plus one is two.”

“Two plus two is four.”

“Three plus two is six.”

“Six plus two is...

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Jul 5th, 2019

Past versus Future: Fight!

In one of my talks I describe what we have come to call The Four Horsemen — four of the most common challenges incumbents encounter in their innovation/transformation/disruption journey. Horseman number two is “Leverage what you have”: The unfortunate tendency for established companies to make use of whatever resources they already have invested into, be it people, machines, tools or processes.

Startups don’t suffer from the Four Horsemen — no legacy, no problems. But when it...

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Jul 3rd, 2019

Iterate, iterate, iterate

By now it is startup and innovation project folklore that if you are not sufficiently embarrassed by the first version of your product, you have launched too late (apparently LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman said this first). This catchy piece of advice goes well with a tasty serving of the Lean Startup concept of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Much has been written about how MVPs might not really be the best way to go — as...

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Jun 30th, 2019

Startups Beware: Time Horizon 2 Might Kill You

In early 2000 Mehrdad Baghai published “The Alchemy of Growth: Practical Insights for Building the Enduring Enterprise” — a book which quickly became a seminal read for managers and leaders in companies big and small. In the book he developed the Three Time Horizon model — a model which, due to it’s first principle-based reasoning, continues to provide valuable guidance and insight to this day.

The short of the model is that companies can/must operate...

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Jun 9th, 2019

On Sanity

For those of you who have been reading this newsletter for a while, you surely have noticed that my updates are much less frequent lately. It is mostly due to the fact that I am traveling a lot. I am near constantly criss-crossing the globe inspiring, educating and empowering leaders to build what matters. In many ways it is an incredibly privileged position to be in. And in many other ways it is stressful and...

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