Archive for November, 2009

10 Things I Am Thankful For.

November 23rd, 2009


I love Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday. What’s not to love?  Food, family, and football are three of my favorite things.  The prodromal smell of warm homemade banana bread pervading the house means the aroma of roasting turkey is only days away.  Smiling is easy this week while making sure everything is perfect for the welcome cacophony of our kids returning home for a holiday visit to our empty nest.  Thanksgiving spirit warms the soul.

The best part of Thanksgiving is taking time to reflect on the things we are most thankful for.  It is a strange tumultuous time and yet it seems as if there is more to be thankful for than usual.  Perhaps it is during trying times, with so many people suffering around us, that we are grateful for things we otherwise would take for granted.  I am thankful for many things and figured why not share them openly in the hope that others will share theirs too.  Who knows, maybe the Thanksgiving spirit will catch on. Read more

The Innovator’s Vulnerability

November 11th, 2009

bw_255x54122In my latest Business Week column I assert that the most distinguishing characteristic of an innovator is their vulnerability.

If you hang around innovators long enough, it’s pretty clear they all have a deep-seated confidence in both their ideas and their ability to turn ideas into reality. The best innovators are able to do this on a regular basis, delivering value along the way. To some, they may seem invincible, impervious to the naysayers, roadblocks, and intransigent systems in their way. But I believe that this confidence, however valuable, is not what distinguishes a great innovator. Instead, innovation requires a level of vulnerability with which most are uncomfortable.

Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management in Toronto, says the hallmark of an innovator is having a confident point of view combined with the self-awareness that something is always missing. I agree. Neurosis-laced vulnerability is what enables innovators to seek critical input and make the random connections needed to fuel innovation. There is always a better way and innovators open themselves up in order to search for missing puzzle pieces.

Continue reading the Business Week Column here.

Innovation Hall of Mirrors

November 10th, 2009

images9It is too easy and wrong to think that innovators are egocentric, always admiring themselves and their accomplishments in the mirror.  They are confident but not self absorbed and impervious to outside input.  If anything innovators are vulnerable, self aware, and open to diverse and critical input to improve their ideas and concepts.  The view they see while looking into a mirror is more like the wavy one in the circus fun house that reflects a distorted view.  A view that always causes a gasp and accentuates flaws that need serious work and improvement.  Innovators know they must improve in order to find better ways to deliver value and solve real world problems.

Innovators spend very little time looking in the rear view mirror.  They tend to be forward thinking and looking.  It is important to learn from the past but innovators are never bogged down in it or constrained by the way things have always worked.  Innovators tend to be market makers rather than share takers.  Understanding how a market has worked in the past is helpful but innovators like to tinker across markets to envision and create an entirely new market model or system. Read more

Discounting Madness

November 2nd, 2009

lemonade_stand_recession1The economic downturn has created a crisis of confidence in organizations across the public and private sector.  Most have resorted to selling primarily on price instead of value.  I wonder if organizations even know what they are selling beyond discounts and rebates. Pricing is the least understood and most poorly implemented element of the marketing mix.  Whenever you see an overreliance on discounts and incentives to boost sales it’s a red flag.  Leading with price is a sure sign of an undifferentiated product or service.

Far too many marketing and sales organizations overuse incentives and discounts. That’s because it’s easier to sell at a lower price than work to convince customers of the value inherent in a higher price. It’s also human nature to sell at a lower price rather than accept the risk of losing a sale. The problem is that discounting behavior sends a message to consumers that the offering isn’t worth the asking price. Inevitably, customers will simply wait for a better deal.  Selling on price is like a drug addiction. Once discounting behavior creeps into an organization it’s difficult to control the habit. Read more