Fan of fans

Work

Back in 2008 me and my present boss had a great dialogue back and forth about a concept, we called “Fan of Fans”; the idea built in Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans post that if you could muster enough dedicated fans, you would have the foundation for a solid business.

We bought the domain and discussed it at length, but we never followed through on it. I am not the one to say what could or could not have been, had we put in the extra mileage. But what I can say is this:

(1) The whole idea is coming back with a vengeance post Covid-19; we’re done with mindless, senseless, cheap junk. I admit, it is a prediction, but I really believe in it coming true.

(2) The idea is going to be core to a new project, I am working on, and which I very much hope, I will be able to announce very soon (aka within weeks rather than months).

Why? Because fans are important. They matter. More than anything, really.

When you have fans, you have desire, you have something other people want. Otherwise; why would they be fans, exactly? Why do huge arena concerts with big names sell out (in normal times) in minutes after tickets are being put on sale?

With fans you have a source of revenue as those desires have a tendency to be transferable into good ol’ cash. I am a big fan of LEGO. Ask my girlfriend how much LEGO I have and still buy, and how much LEGO Friends my two girls are swimming in?

With fans you have your “Why?”, your purpose. With fans you’re never in doubt as to why you are there – and what is expected of you in terms of performance and behaviour. They’re extremely vocal.

And with fans you have stamina for the long haul. I have been a fan of Blackburn Rovers Football Club for almost 30 years now, and even though we fans have been dragged through the mud, to hell and back again, we’re still there. Because that is what it means being a real fan.

Working with fans can be daunting. But it can also be easy. If you treat them as fans and realize that just as it is in business in general, the fan is always right.

Always.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Don’t fall out of windows

Process

When somebody “accidentally” falls out of a window at a hospital or any ofter building after criticizing the government and their policy, actions – or lack thereof – you could argue that it could be seen as a ‘clever’ way of removing an opposing voice for good.

It is a tactic. A morbid but…eehhm…efficient one.

When suddenly people – in plural – start falling out of windows, and there is a common denominator in their background stories it starts to look more like a strategy than a tactic.

A poor strategy that is. Because it becomes totally evident to even the blind what is really going on. And then you have put yourself in a worse position.

The point?

That even if you’re efficient at the tactical level in your daily job, you are not necessarily by any means a good strategist. Rather the opposite.

Why?

Because you’re so caught up in what’s efficient in the moment, short term, that you completely miss out on the bigger, longer term picture.

And here is a news flash:

It is always the bigger, long term picture that decides how others look at and interact with you and your company.

So if you want to be good at tactics and strategy, bet on being good at strategy first.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Do the Prof G Strategy Sprint

Recommendation

Last night at 1.40 AM I wrapped up my participation in the Prof G Strategy Sprint with Professor Scott Galloway, NYU Stern School of Business. The course ended – fittingly – with a session on Life Strategy by the man himself that is some of the most insightful I have heard in a while.

The sprint I participated in was the 2nd cohort by Section4, the company founded by Scott which is the home of his activities within the field of bringing higher education to more people at a fraction of the US cost. And judged from participating, I have no doubt that they are onto something:

The sprint is based on short modules each accompanied by a case study and an opportunity to reflect based on a number of questions that you can then answer and debate in the 600 people strong Slack community that comes with participating.

For me that part was one of the real wow!-moments as the discussion really had an intense level and so many contributions that it is going to take weeks to go through and properly digest it all. It is a great example of how real learning happens; sharing and discussing things with your peers, and based on this experience there is no reason to believe it can’t happen in a much more nimble and cheaper online setting that at some fancy, costly campus.

Everything we did was based around learning the T-Algorithm, a framework Prof G has developed to analyze what sets trillion dollar companies apart. The method is pretty straight forward but does require you to do some competitive analysis the good old fashioned way. But once you have done that the model – and the Excel format you get it in – really kicks in on stereoids.

I am going to use the model going further. Not only to analyze potential opportunities for new projects or ideas, we look at at inQvation but also for building out strategy and recommendations for the projects, we’re already running. Why? Because it helps dealing with a lot of the moving parts of trying to build and succeed with something, and it puts them into context, prioritizes them and basically help you keep a cool, focused head.

The course ended with a class where Scott highlighted some student projects. While mine was not among them – and that’s perfectly fine – I did thoroughly enjoy being back to school again and actually doing and handing in a project for the first time in 20 years.

Awesome, AWESOME experience that I highly recommend if you’re interested in strategy and marketing and building stuff that has real value.

Photo: Screenshot

Roadmap as a journey

Process

It is often fairly easy to describe what the ambition of your idea or startup is; where is it that you strive to be in, say, 5 years time? What is the outcome you are looking for? The dent in the universe you are looking to shape?

What is often neglected on a planning level though is the journey to get there. Even if it can actually be a quite simple thing to plot:

Start with the end goal. Ask yourself what needs to be true in terms of results to get there (in a headline format), and then look at what needs to be true or done to get to those results etc. In that way you can essentially reverse engineer your journey, and – voila! – you have a first simple roadmap for what you should be focusing on to get to the ultimate destination.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Digging vs servicing

Thoughts

Reading about data being the new oil and the next gold rush being a data gold rush, one thing stood out for me:

It will be interesting to see who becomes the Levi Strauss of this particular mining rush.  Strauss became rich not from mining operations but by selling clothing and equipment to miners…I wonder how much that history will repeat itself in this rush to mine data.  It remains to be seen who benefits or ultimately profits from all the data mining that will happen.

Innovate on Purpose: There’s gold in the data…

Sometimes we are all so busy looking in the same places, flocking for the same opportunities, creating competition and settling for less in the end that we neglect the real opportunites, the underserved ones. Be mindful.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Hypothetical strategy

Process

The most common problems with strategy is that (a) it can be extremely poorly based on actual insight and data about market and customers and (b) it tends to become antique the moment, you have dotted the last i and crossed the last t in the grand plan.

When I recently tought a group of students at Aarhus Erhvervsakademi and Dansk Markedsføring about digital strategy and business development one of my main messages was that strategy today is not a plan. It is a set of hypothesis about market, customers and bets, we can make that we set ourselves goals towards trying to achieve. And remain flexible towards revisiting when needed. Not in terms of overall vision and goals but on the road towards that goal.

Strategy today is a fluent thing and with all the unknowns out there and the constant changing landscape, you need to be prepared to have your core hypothesis invalidated at any point in time. You need to be able to adapt, and you need to do so by defining new hypothesis that you can design your evolving strategy and market approach around. Everything else is – at best – wishful thinking.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)