Monday, November 23, 2009

This is worthwhile insight into creating the capability to develop demand:

"In our experience, here are the key components of a demand generation capability:

Process – Managers in demand generation activities do not respond very well to the step-by-step rigid process definitions that are more appropriate to other parts of the organization. They respond best to the combination of a framework organized by decision gates, managed by metrics and learnt through success models that clearly illustrate stories of what worked and did not.
Skills – The process is only as good as the people driving it. In driving demand generation decisions there are four key components that are important – consumer (customer) focus, channel focus, data foundation and creativity. Good demand generation case studies typically demonstrate superior application in all of these components.
Knowledge and experience – While experience is a function of time, it can be fast tracked by some form of shared learning on case studies. Some companies also use a carefully managed mentorship program that better leverages the knowledge and experience of its people.
Supporting Infrastructure – The role of the supporting infrastructure is to make the demand generation capability efficient, scalable and current. This can be achieved through technology, centers of excellence and other such enablers"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Most Powerful Paths to Profits
Twelve strategies to shape a company’s destiny.
by Mia de Kuijper

This is a great summary of the levers one can pull to create sustainable competitive separation. I strongly recommend going to the site for the excellent examples they offer.

"Twelve power nodes will be the most important sources of profit in the
decades to come. Ten of the older nodes are already well-established sources of
Brands. Think of the leverage wielded by McDonald’s, Coke, and
Intel over their suppliers and partners simply because customers are attached to
their names.
Secret, special, or proprietary ingredients. In 1986, when a
private equity firm acquired the antifreeze maker Prestone from Union Carbide, a
deal was struck allowing Prestone to purchase ethylene glycol from its previous
owner at a confidential low price. Shortly thereafter, the price of this
chemical skyrocketed, owing to refinery accidents and increases in feedstock
prices. Prestone’s reliable inexpensive supply of ethylene glycol ensured that
it retained its profitable position while competitors suffered.
Regulatory protection. In certain industries, regulators can grant privileges to businesses like hospitals, banks, and nuclear plants; rights to use scarce natural
resources like broadcast frequencies or offshore drilling sites;……..
Essentially, the regulations represent a barrier to entry and limit the number
of competitors a company can have; as a result, the strongest companies in
heavily regulated sectors generally enjoy sustained profitability.
Focused financial resources. Some companies have innovative means of access to capital that other enterprises cannot duplicate, and that access can be deployed to
exert control over the business environment.
A customer base with switching costs. Customers don’t like to pay to switch loyalties. T
A proprietary process or modus operandi. Some companies have unique methods and procedures that guide their people, equipment, or systems.
Distribution gateways. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) relies on its distributed network of 18,000 branches and 150 million customers for cheap deposits and growing revenues
The dominant position in a layer. A layer is a horizontal slice within a
vertical value chain.
Increasing mutual utility. The larger the existing base of users, the more attractive the product is to potential new customers.
Filters and brokers. Companies and individuals that could be termed
filters or brokers, a group that includes wine experts, art curators, and real
estate and jewelry appraisers, have influence in situations in which objective
information is hard to obtain or people do not have the time or training to
choose adequately on their own.

A Digital Environment
The 10 power nodes above have been around for a while. But the remaining two power nodes are strikingly novel.
Aikido assets. This power node is named after the
Japanese martial art that exploits the energy of an opposing force. In the
current information environment, it is no longer useful to “push” advertising
and marketing messages to consumers. Most customers reach out for information
they need on their own
Hubs. One of the most effective power nodes
imaginable in a transparent economy is the ability to become the beneficiary of
self-reinforcing popularity. Hubs are people or products that attract viewers,
assignments, clients, buyers, or users in part because others are drawn to them
as well. "

Thursday, November 05, 2009

He Prizes Questions More Than Answers
NYT, October 25, 2009

IDEO is a fantastic design company that we feature in our Driving Organic Growth class an as example of the importance of process. They are experts in the process of innovation. The following is a revealing interview with the CEO Tim Brown:

"Q. What were the most important leadership lessons you learned, and how did you learn them?
A. That is something that I’ve continued to really believe — that you don’t know where the best ideas are going to come from in the organization. So you’d better do a good job of promoting them when they come and spotting them when they emerge, and not let people’s positions dictate how influential their ideas are.

Q. And how does that manifest itself in the way that you run IDEO?
A. I’ve gone to great lengths to try to encourage what I call an emergent culture at IDEO, where people understand that it’s essentially their responsibility to have good ideas. Not about the work they do every day — we all have to do that — but about new ideas for the company. What are we going to do next? What fields are we going to work in? What are our new big things?

Q. But answers are often rewarded more than questions, right?
A. That was one of the things that used to make me feel very, very insecure as a business leader — thinking: “Am I supposed to have all the answers? Because I know I don’t.” Then I finally came to realize, well, nobody else has all the answers, either…… But I’m personally perfectly comfortable admitting that I don’t know the answers and that I’m more interested in the questions anyway

Q. What’s changed about your leadership style in terms of interacting with people?
A. For a long time, my mode of operation was to get very excited about other people’s ideas and work really hard to kind of build them, which meant I often took ownership of them….. And I think I’ve learned over time, slowly, that in fact it’s much more effective to let them keep ownership of the idea.

Q. What else are you looking for when you hire?
A. There’s this idea that McKinsey first articulated many years ago of the T-shaped person, which is somebody who’s got some deep craft — a great writer or a great designer or a great architect, engineer or whatever they might be — and that’s the vertical stroke of their T. But then the horizontal is that they’ve got clear empathy and interest in engaging with other disciplines and doing other pieces of the process or playing other roles.

Q. What’s your best interview question for job candidates?
A. One question I always find helpful is to ask who they’ve done things with. And if they can very quickly give you lots of examples of what other people did, then you’ve got some hint about how collaborative they are.
If, however, the answer is, “I did this and I did that and I was responsible for that,” and you get no sense of who they worked with and how they worked with them, then I worry. Because then I see somebody who probably isn’t very collaborative, probably isn’t very good at promoting the ideas of others and probably isn’t going to bring talent out very effectively."