Of N-Curves And S-Curves

Most innovators are equipped with hammers and tend to see all new markets as nails. Except they don’t have hammers, they have S-Curve models…

S-Curves are one of the most common oversimplifications of how new businesses appear and grow. You might not know the name coined by Everett Rogers in 1962 or that it refers to sigmoid functions, but you do know how it goes.

Continue reading “Of N-Curves And S-Curves”

Well, it’s been 10 years

It’s been ten 10 years that I quit my last position as an employee from another company than my own. I started for a first year and half as a freelance consultant on strategy and then we founded Merkapt, our first consulting company with Stéphanie.

2007 was the year the first iPhone went to market and that Amazon Web Service started to ramp up. Quite a year if you ask me.

I’m not really sentimental or looking into anniversary dates too much, and I’m not going to brag about all the cool things our customers pay us to do. But I guess there’s something to say for those of you who are thinking about being financially independent. That just works.

You don’t need a crazy network or a full year of possible missions to start off. You need to be committed and understand what is your super-power that you’ll be able to monetize at some point. This super-power is probably a flaw right now — at least for your current employer. This is good. You just need a change in perspective, considering the outside world is wide open and all kinds of niche markets exist (we even find multinationals that want corporate incubation to produce actual strategic deliverables, not just promotional marketing — that says a lot). What is a flaw when you’re working year in year out with the same thirty direct team members, could be an exclusive asset in some part of the value chain, or for some categories of players who didn’t exist two years ago.

Well, anyway… I don’t want to promote the independent life and push people to quit boring and yet lucrative jobs. There’s a life style element that probably doesn’t transfer, even when everyone after hours dreams to be his or her own boss. Just know that all you need in 2017 to start with is an iPad, Linkedin and maybe a passport. You don’t need the 600 articles that we published on this blog, but of course it will help along the way.

To end up this quick note I’d like to ask you something. Not a big commitment just a little nudge… Here it goes:

If last week or five years ago there was one of our articles that was important for you, changed your view on a key issue, or was just fun or surprising… Would you be kind enough to share it on Linkedin or Twitter with just a few words?

That would be kind of cool. : )

A quick feedback from Autonomy 2017 in Paris

Attending with some customers and partners the urban mobility summit in Paris right now, I feel a bit uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable actually.

Most of the things we are seeing or talking about during keynotes are quite nice and somehow crafty. How to unlock car sharing or green mobility in this town, or that other one? Are we are going to manage mobility data? After all the buzz with MaaS, how are we going to do it? Will Hyperloop bring peace and end hunger worldwide? Etc. All that is cute, and sometimes even a bit exhilarating.

Continue reading “A quick feedback from Autonomy 2017 in Paris”

How the iPad Pro became our main work computer

After trying these last years to work with a first generation iPad and a year ago with a Surface Pro, I was not impressed — to say the least. But since a few months the iPad Pro has become my main computer. What has changed?

Three months ago I started to switch from my Mac desktop and laptop to an iPad. I was working in Shanghai giving classes and conferences thinking on how to have the most minimalist setup for this kind of interactions. When you focus on mobility and travel it’s difficult to beat a 9.7-inch iPad. And since the new ‘Pro’ version was readily available, there was the promise of removing past problems I encountered trying an iPad for work.

Continue reading “How the iPad Pro became our main work computer”

My next keynote on the second coming of Cloud

My upcoming keynote for an undisclosed executive team will be trying to map out how businesses will be changed within the next three years by the next wave of cloud technologies.

Stéphanie and I are regularly delivering strategic keynotes for executive boards in various markets. They all address key issues at stake for specific industrial customers. They are also all wrapped under some form of NDA or another. While it’s always frustrating not to be able to share things, we try from time to time to afford some level of teasing…

Continue reading “My next keynote on the second coming of Cloud”

What constitues a good startup problem

It seems deceptively simple to define what constitues a good market problem to work on as a startup. It is actually rather subtle and for some part very counter-intuitive.

Most of the startups participating in one of my trainings are initially shocked at the inordinate amount of time I spend working on ‘the problem’. I’m certainly not alone there. Everyone who is regularly dealing with startups gets eventually frustrated to see how they concentrate en masse on building a product and not focusing on what the market actually needs. And while anyone who ambitions to shake a market’s status quo shouldn’t be too pragmatic, as much rationality as possible should nevertheless prevail. But, very few are the startups committed from launch to tackle a clear-cut problem.

Continue reading “What constitues a good startup problem”

When Star Wars will be shot on iPhone

Most of companies just trudge in the future of their market very passively. With a poor strategic grasp on technology they usually wake up when their customers have no reason to speak to them anymore. They all know it. So why is it still so difficult to wake them up? Why?

As much as we are lead to believe, innovation is rarely straightforward and understandable. We think we get it from a TED talk or a trendy book, but it’s essentially the same as learning paragliding through YouTube. No one serious would recommend that. When I need people to understand innovation there are tricks and shortcuts. I use them to try to spark a ‘A-HA’ moment —a symptom that you can shift away from your usual canned understanding of the matter to something entirely different. One such shortcut is asking « When will the next Star Wars be shot on iPhone? »

Continue reading “When Star Wars will be shot on iPhone”

How to deal with startup fever in your company, part 1

Most corporations that have missed the so-called digital revolution, try to medicate with startups. In many cases this is both silly and dangerous. Let’s try to be smarter about this widespread startup fever…

While the first wave of the digital revolution is now well over, most corporations are victims of some level of rude awakening. Surprisingly enough for me, the sovereign cure for their lack of strategic vision has been isolated: startups. As it seems, six-month-old post-internet companies without cash-flow are deemed better than multi-billion global businesses are figuring out the market. Even if you might be very lucid about this foolishness, some of your executive committee is already victim of such startup fever. Let me offer one of the many ways to deal with that issue. And then maybe, you’ll find realreasons to work with startups.

Continue reading “How to deal with startup fever in your company, part 1”

Building corporate incubation with Monty Hall

Running a corporate incubation program is not like operation a product pipeline. It’s an uncertain, probabilistic endeavor. Can you wrap your mind around it or do would just prefer to go through the motions blindly?

A few days ago, I was discussing how wrapping your head around the Monty Hall problem could help you better understand the importance of failure in innovation. If you take it a step further today, we could argue that most corporate incubation programs should be build around this probabilistic calculation.

Continue reading “Building corporate incubation with Monty Hall”

35 Ways self-driving vehicles are happening before 2020

A majority of automotive industry incumbents still bet on the (very) slow maturation of self-driving vehicles. Of course they can only think about personal cars…

The key argument of doubters on how fast the self-driving vehicles will go live is risk and the social acceptability (or the lack thereof) of deaths from vehicles making choices on their own. Truth to be told, yes, social acceptability is a steep barrier to entry for adopting technologies at large scale. You should nonetheless remember that innovation is not a clean decisive strike either, its death of the status quo by a thousand cuts.

Continue reading “35 Ways self-driving vehicles are happening before 2020”

Dealing with failure in innovation and the Monty Hall problem

Failure when you innovate is totally acceptable. At least in books and on the internet. In real life, within your business this is a widely different story. Risk is only acceptable when you end up successful… Very successful. This usually demonstrates how poorly we manage risk…

Innovation literature is flooded with various arguments on why and how you should take risk as a company. As someone who’s depending on the success of the companies I work with (sometimes I even presume much more than their own management), I can’t avoid being one of these risk evangelist. The problem essentially is always the same. Risk is waved on principles as a good thing supported by plethoras of well-thinking weak sauce arguments. Inevitably, all these arguments are swiftly shelved when real work needs to be done.

Continue reading “Dealing with failure in innovation and the Monty Hall problem”

Understanding the new network effects

Innovative companies have been relying more and more on network effects to aggressively spread transformative market changes. This strategy has many forms and is still dramatically evolving. Do you understand its most recent developments?

Understanding network effects has been the underlying driver of the software revolution sparked less than a decade ago. And as always with innovation, as soon as we think we start to grasp it, it already morphes into something new. In our case, new network effects appear and we barely start to grasp them.

Continue reading “Understanding the new network effects”