Every entry filed under "Innovating"

Put ideas in the pipeline


There’s a pipeline of opportunities you’re working on. Potential sales and prospects sitting at anything from 10-90% possibility. Your cash-flow and operating models are based on it. You manage against it, report on it, scale up for it, live with it.

It’s the clearest statement of immediate effort.

Less clear … the pipeline of ideas.

A best guess on how or where the market is moving, what customers will want next year, what you’ll offer and how your business will evolve to get ahead of the game. Proactive thinking. Everything between idle thoughts and active effort.

Manage it, talk about it, report on it. What does it mean? Do you want it? What has to happen to take it from idea, to maybe, to do-able, to done.

Skippy Strategy: What’s in your pipeline of ideas? What can stay on the back burner and what needs closer attention? How will you manage the change?

Neatly filed under Innovating on April 1, 2015

What’s the game changer?


Change is coming. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon. A shift in technology, a new bidder, competitor manoeuvres, a change in regulation. I don’t know what it is but I can feel it, taste it. It’s on the wind.

Will we see it in time? Will we know what to do about it, with it? What else will it change? Is it an opportunity or a threat? Always an opportunity – if we’re on it. What is it?

Skippy Strategy: What part of your market has been the same for a generation? Left behind by digital or social or with same faces running the same initiatives? Where has an incumbent become entrenched but lazy? What would happen if … ?

P.S. The picture? A Rolls Royce Merlin 61, Spitfire engine. State of the art, with two stage supercharger, in 1942. Merlin, Spitfire, Supercharger – they knew how to name things back then.

Neatly filed under Innovating on March 12, 2015

Taking new ideas out on the walls


I took a new idea out on the walls today. The first time I’ve spoken about it in public. Just one-to-one, to a friend. Nothing grand, no pressure. But it was hard. I stumbled, false started, and looked around for help … save me.

Next time will be easier.

It always gets easier.

Skippy Strategy: What have you been working on that could use another pair or ears? Who do you know who’d listen without judging? This isn’t really about feedback, it’s about exploring for confidence. The point of the meeting: pressure makes the weak points obvious, be vulnerable, pay attention when you falter.

Neatly filed under Innovating on March 7, 2015

A juicy idea?

Leap of Faith

Taking ideas out to meet the world is a lot harder than having them.

Say I have a secret recipe for fruit juice, and I want to make it into a business. Then what? My kitchen becomes my workshop, pots and pans my friends. I learn about food regulations and the chemistry of freshness. I get on first name terms with the grocer. So far, all I’ve done is spend my time and money. Not a business yet. It becomes a business when someone else agrees so much with what I’m up to that they buy my product.

For that to happen, I have to take it out on the road.

I have to load my wheelie-cool-box with juice, walk into every cafe I find and start the conversation, “Hi, …”

That leap of faith is filled with dread: rejection, laughing in my face, I’m a failure. That my secret recipe is a public flop.

The only opinions that count belong to customers. No substitute.

Skippy Strategy: What are you working on privately that only makes sense publicly? What’s the first part of it you could take out to meet the world? How would you do that? Don’t wait.

Neatly filed under Innovating on March 2, 2015

Sunday Quotes: How to create on a blank canvas


A start-up, a new product, setting a strategy: all acts of creativity and will against a blank canvas. Not in isolation, not perfect original idea. They’re art, built on relationships, medium and method, communication between all the players at the table.

Ben Shahn, in his 1957 Shape of Content lectures at Harvard University, covered ground of relationship as he talked about the process of creation in his art.

From the moment at which a painter begins to strike figures of color upon a surface he must become acutely sensitive to the feel, the textures, the light, the relationships which arise before him. At one point, he will hold the material according to an intention. At another he may yield intention – perhaps his whole concept – to emerging forms, to new implications within the painted surface. Idea itself – ideas, many ideas move back and forth across his mind at a constant traffic, dominated perhaps by larger currents and directions, by what he wants to think. Thus idea rises to the surface, grows, change as a painting grows and develops. So one must say that painting is both creative and responsive. It is an intimately communicative affair between the painter and his painting, a conversation back and forth, the painting telling the painter even as it receives its shape and form.

The creative process is the same in every sphere. Shahn’s theme applies as much to strategy and startups, to teams, to the relationship with and response to customers, as it does to painting.

Neatly filed under Innovating on March 1, 2015