Sep 5th, 2019

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From (Their) Children

Let’s talk about something different today: Education.

One of the most common questions I get after one of my talks, is a variation of “What shall I teach my children in this world of ever-accelerating change?” Inevitably I start off my response with some variation of me (somewhat) jokingly telling the audience that they should begin by taking their kids out of school — as most schools just don’t prepare our children adequately for the future.

In a world where we will have artificial intelligence everywhere, robots taking over more and more manual labor, computers continuing to get better and cheaper, and all of us being able to communicate, collaborate and learn from each other with just a few taps on the screens of our smartphones — most of the knowledge and skills which served us well even a decade or two ago, doesn’t serve us well anymore.

Instead of trying to staying ahead of technology, we ought to focus on the skills which make us uniquely human: Empathy, collaboration, problem discovery, complex problem solving, decision making in ambiguous situations, design thinking, wild and radical creativity…

We ought to make sure our kids become better humans — not better machines.

But it is not just our kids (and here is where we come full circle): The very same skills our children need in this new world, are what makes an entrepreneur successful as well! The best entrepreneurs are not the ones who can recite the most case studies, can rattle of all of Peter Drucker’s writings, or can recite the Agile Manifesto — no, the best entrepreneurs are the ones who figure out what the job to be done is for their client, who have the empathy to walk in their customers shoes and see the world with their eyes; all the while also being able to zoom out and envision solutions, products and services.

What is good for your kids is good for you — and vice versa.

Aug 27th, 2019

The Brands They Are A-Changin'

In the not-so-old days brands were about signaling and trust.

Signaling is what a brand stands for; the property you align yourself with when you engage with the brand. The once glowing and now shiny Apple logo on your laptop shows the world that you are one of the creatives, a rebel, a non-conformist, one of the others and not a Windows user.

Trust is a shorthand for your believing in the product quality...

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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 —...

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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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