The stone age did not end because the world ran out of stones…

stone age

The stone age did not end because the world ran out of stones, and the oil age will not end because we run out of oil. It ended because bronze tools became cheaper.

The origin of that quote attributed to Ahmed Zaki Yamani who was the Minister of Oil for Saudi Arabia in the 70s, is actually difficult to trace back (and the analogy can be critiqued in many ways). But in any case, as experts of any given industry this brings us back to what we love to forget:

We’re not going out of business, because what we are experts in is getting out of fashion by itself (or as a resource, is depleted). We get out of business because “better” comes in. Innovation answers to this simple formula: Customers x Time

So pause a minute and ask yourself:

What are your stone? What are the bronze tools coming in? And what can you do about it if your salary depends on cutting more stones?

Our New #1Day Corporate Trainings for Execs

1 day training - practical innovation - icopilots.com

Since 2007, we’ve designed and delivered many corporate trainings for execs and management teams on innovation, strategy, culture change, etc. They were rarely stand-alone programs, but were always designed to support a consulting mission we had with a company. Following that, their goal has always been to allow the teams involved to appropriate our tools and mindset, and get autonomous cross-divisions, to follow up on the outputs of our mission.

This was business as usual. But a few years ago, things changed.

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How to Feed Digital Monkeys (a discusssion on Status as a Service)

status as a service - innovation copilots

Eugene WEI has been writing on tech since 2001. I’m not going to sell you his CV that goes from Facebook to Hulu and Flipboard. Let it just be said that he knows what he’s talking about. And his latest article he’s writing on Status as a Service and this is one of the most remarkable reading I had on the digital social media and consumerism.

He starts of by dissecting how traditional network effects are twisted in social networks through three axis (social capital, entertainment and utility):

There are several different paths to success for social networks, but those which compete on the social capital axis are often more mysterious than pure utilities. Competition on raw utility tends to be Darwinian, ruthless, and highly legible. This is the world, for example, of communication services like messaging and video conferencing. Investing in this space also tends to be a bit more straightforward: how useful is your app or service, can you get distribution, etc. (…) The creation of a successful status game is so mysterious that it often smacks of alchemy. For that reason, entrepreneurs who succeed in this space are thought of us a sort of shaman, perhaps because most investors are middle-aged white men who are already so high status they haven’t the first idea why people would seek virtual status (more on that later).

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What is the shelf life of Zuckerberg point of view on entrepreneurship?

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.

Business Model Canvas for Innovators

business model for innovators - innovation copilots - icopilots

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.

Let’s see how it works shall we? Continue reading “Business Model Canvas for Innovators”

Pick our brains as a Service

Some of our customers are already using this retainer-on-demand consulting format but most companies still contact us too early or too late to work on innovation projects. 

Too late, when they have thought through many points already and have engaged resources, they contact us to legitimize their approach or they hire us on a too narrow scope. 

Too early, when the initiator doesn’t have the power to put into action, doesn’t have the resources or the back up. So it becomes a very short mission/discussion to help the client have the next steps clear to sell internally.

All in all if we decided to share about our on-demand format of consulting, is to ensure our clients (and potential ones) can use us to the best of our potential of value creation. Innovation is motion, so as co-pilots it is key that we are present at the right time to support and more often the case trigger the shift.

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Hema Market, the Full ‘Digital is Over’ Experience

Hema Market - China - Digital is Over - Innovation Copilots

Since 2016 (a bit more actually), I’ve been pushing this simple concept: Digital is over! Being back in Shanghai right now, is among many things a perfect opportunity to check how far digital has been integrated in the every day life of this massive consumer market.

Remember, last year when I was especially impressed by how Alibaba and Starbucks did partner up to build flagships vision of the future of retail? By now this snapshot has consolidated into a full-fledged retail operating system (IT, big data platform, social web marketing, and supply chain all rolled into one “as a Service” retail mainframe) for every corner shop in China.

That’s the reason why, this year I was really excited to understand on site what Alibaba was now doing with Hema Market.

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3 Tips for Business Blog Writing

1. Do not write for an audience

I know this goes against all good marketing advice, which say “you should know your audience”, “you should speak their language”, etc. Etc. You know that already. 

But somehow too much empathy leads to self-censorship. And writing is about self-expression, so you see the problem here. If you overthink about who is going to read you, then you might be tempted to be less authentic in favour of adapting to your imagined audience (that’s for all the people pleasers) or you might over judge what you write (that’s for the less confident ones) or you might even freeze for fear of judgement, or consequence on your social image (that might be for the overly self-conscious).  

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Microsoft understands what being an OS in 2020 means (maybe)

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.

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Reboot your innovation mindset

Big Data is a Magic Pony

Do you want to reboot your innovation mindset?

Then, you have to look forward; not in your rearview mirror so much. You might look a tad crazy in the process. It actually means you start to let go of everyone’s preconceived ideas and shared wisdom. You enter the slightly weird zone of seeing what is changing in the market, more than the building blocks that got us there.

It means that for you Tesla is an energy company. 

Fortnite is the social media of choice for the post-Facebook generation. 

Apple aims at being the first and only platform that ensures privacy for your family’s daily life. 

Amazon or Alibaba are the next operating system for every retail, grocery and food. So probably pharmaceuticals too at some point.  

Hyperloop sells updates in urbanism and real estate opportunities (what should most public transportation companies or Vinci do, but they don’t anymore). 

Facebook and Google are now just incumbent companies that successfully reinvented ad business ten years ago, and that are probably lacking a business model for 2030.

At some point you might even ask yourself what is your own company delivering in the proximal future. It might lead to an unpleasant answer of course (is there anything?), but you’ll have rebooted anyway. You can start to innovate.