Am I the only one that wonder why we still ask rock-star CEOs what was their recipe for success? I understand the father figure thing. But the 2019 market, its digital environment and socio-economics have nothing much to do with what they had to face in 2004. What can a Mark Zuckerberg or a Jeff Bezos tell us about launching a startup in 2019? At what point do we file their inspirational quotes with the ones of Tesla, Bell or Ford?
But even so, in these ‘inspiring’ talks we never take into account the survivor bias: the CEOs we look up to are the ones that survived. Were they extremely shrewd and visionary or just plain lucky? Or more exactly, what was the proportion of shrewdness vs. luck? And what is really transferable to you and your project? Shall we also work on the cultural bias? What white american males have to share with woman in China or India? (Even when taking into account that many of these US guys were immigrants.)
I’m just saying… Finding inspiring people is probably a game you want to play looking forward, not in the rear view mirror.
I’ve been sharing for many years our own business model canvas that we’ve been using with a wide range of customers (from startups to multinationals) in many industries. If you ever been frustrated with the generic business model canvas and were not really able to activate it and gets real life results with it, well, there is a reason. And you might want to check this.
I already made a case in 2016 for letting go of the now generic business model canvas. Story short: it’s a fantastic training tool. As such, it’s very open and can be used by a lot of trainers, consulting enthusiasts, or business schools. The price to pay is that it’s a blunt tool with no credo, no vision, and worse: no teeth!
Innovation is a contact game that is played at high velocity. We require sharper tools.
As a major surprise, Microsoft at the end of 2018 turns out to have now a higher market cap than Apple. Although Microsoft doesn’t manage to have the same customer’s reach that Apple commands in B2C, the Redmond firm managed to regain its leadership in B2B… even maybe in parts of the business that you don’t see coming!
I was discussing a few weeks ago how Alibaba is swiftly becoming the default operating system of retail stores in China. Reframing your perception from what was an e-commerce platform 10 years ago, to something with much deeper and global strategic intent is challenging. It is very interesting to see that Microsoft (as a traditional PC operating system and cloud platform) is moving in the same direction in the US.
Every six months or so, we have another warning that Apple is doomed. Well doomed or not, wiping off $74.6 billion in valuation on a trade day is unprecedented in the history of business. So yes, let’s pause a moment on that.
It is now obvious (in hindsight’s what’s not?) that the iPhone both reached a plateau in term of units penetration, but also price point. Don’t expect to see in 2019 +30% growth in iPhone penetration in US or EU compounded by unit’s price reaching 2,000 USD / EUR.
Innovation is taking responsibility for the fact that your company will still be there in 2022. Not everyone might be concerned right now, but you have to make sure that it’s not handed away to a small team without political power that will work « as a startup » or « learn by doing ». If it doesn’t make sense to handle your financial or manufacturing process, it’s probably unreasonable for future-proofing your company.
In a video called « The End of the Beginning », Benedict EVANS talks on the shifting point we are living as a global connected society and how to understand the future of your market.
A few take aways that you might want to consider:
You market always was a part of a more global value chain from which you won’t be insulated anymore;
The speed and volume of China now formally predates everything else, this is not « if » or « when », it’s « from now on »;
The new tools provided by the Amazons and the Baidus of the world are now fully in play and force us to compete to a next level: not new solutions, but unbundling and new full-stacks;
New values brought to the market will be massive and yet difficult to frame (the difference between the value of being cured from an hearth attack vs. the value of avoiding it).
But also, a word of caution. Even us, that are in the full-time business of understanding these changes, cannot avoid but falling in the very same traps we try to flag:
Understanding the future of your market is not only about seeing Amazon as a super-powered platform (« I sell whatever I want ») or a global tech leader with a space program.
It’s getting beyond this obvious point, and understanding that like Alibaba they will be the unique layer between you and what you decide to consume. They will be the unique prism that arbitrate what you want and decide to buy… An operating system to consumer life and reality.
These are the changes that shape the future of your own market, and we ended up understanding after 10 years of struggle with mobile and the internet is now not accelerating, but going to the next level.
Not many incumbents will survive this. Even if they got good at this internet thing in the end…
I try to avoid talking mathematics when I address innovation strategy. As soon as I do it I’m victim of a very personal impostor syndrome (I’m not a mathematician) while realizing I’m going down deep, deep rabbit holes. As a matter of fact, when writing about Monthy Hall’s problems — which are key to understand uncertainty and innovation — I know I’m getting probably too technical.
Now I’m no mathematician, but I’m still a formally trained scientist. And one of the early mental model you integrate as such is to be deeply cautious about the difference in correlation and causation.
For all these reasons, I always find refreshing when others try to painstakingly try to reinject mathematical common sense for business executives. And, recently I read a delightful discussion on the McRib Effect:
If you’re trying to understand how retail tries to adapt to an always-on, always connected customer base, US department stores are fantastic case studies. Macy’s, the largest of them, went probably through all the cycles of digital trends you can imagine. Specially when advertising was concerned.
In a dramatic recent turn of events, Macy’s started to strategically disengage from influencers campaigns, where high-profile Youtubers or Instagrammers would be paid to feature Macy’s products to their audience.