The Nirvana of Netflix

Thoughts

The new policy of Netflix to automatically cancel accounts that have been inactive for a long period of time is worth applauding.

Everybody in the subscriptions business knows that what you really want is for customers to get into a subscription and then – hopefully – forget about the ongoing billing relationship, until the credit card expires.

But that’s the wrong way to think about it.

The right way to think about it is to put customers first in everything that you do, deliver a stellar experience that really goes above and beyond what customers are expecting leading to more and more usage.

When you do that you will know that you have done whatever it takes to deliver value to your customers and keep them happy. You can do nothing more.

When some customers are then still not using your service, you will know that it’s not because of you but because of something in their lives.

If you get to that moment the last great thing you can do for them is to send them out with a big hug and a kiss and just offer to cancel their account. No questions asked.

It is the last step to customer loyalty heaven. But – and this is important – it takes a killer product with superior service to get to that position.

Netflix has that.

What an example!

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Cakes, taxes and value

Thoughts

I come from a small town in the Western part of Jutland and aside from red sausages (don’t ask) I was brought up on really good, traditional bakers bread (and it showed).

For the same reason, I have always found Lagkagehuset to be almost a profanity.

I mean: How can someone set up a chain of bakeries in the greater Copenhagen area (and later beyond) offering pretty poor bread at absolut premium prices – and be successful at it?

Lagkagehuset have since been sold to VC funds, moved to a tax haven and are now in the papers for reaching out to get financial aid from the Covid-19 help packages, even though they make their best efforts to not pay tax in Denmark.

As a result people are starting to revolt; not wanting to keep supporting a company who privatizes profit but socializes loses.

Ok.

But shouldn’t you have revolted in the first place due to substandard experiences from over priced products?

I mean: Evading taxes should not have been the real killer in the first place (and quite honestly, I don’t think it will be once the current controversy has died).

Lack of connection between value proposition, quality and price however should.

Lagkagehuset offers a opportunity to study what it really means to have a value proposition and fulfilling a job for the customer. What may be on the face value is not necessarily the real driver.

Obviously, the bread and the prices didn’t matter to customers. If they did, Lagkagehuset would never have become such a success. Maybe behaving responsible does matter? It makes for a funny business and Business Model Canvas, I’ll grant you that.

But maybe it will give some added perspective and perhaps even some pause to how we think about what really drives behaviour and what a great value proposition actually is. It’s clearly not what’s stated in the public Powerpoint deck or on that fancy poster in the shop.

It is both harder, more complex and more irrational than that. Understanding them takes real work.

NB: The cakes on the picture bears no resemblance to those served by Lagkagehuset.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Turn on the jets

Thoughts

When the shit hits the fan, you have got a choice:

You can either panic and retreat. Hastily. Or you can grab the sword and fight your way out of it and count on that the other guys will choose option one and just head for the hills.

On that note now is the time to grab your sword and go out full swinging. Seize the opportunity of the moment and “turn on the jets” as professor Scott Galloway calls it.

Why?

Because the learnings and skills you get in a time of crisis will serve you super well, when things start getting back to normal. Because you will be used to fighting and (hopefully) winning everything else that follows will seem more like a breeze.

You will simply enter the next new normal at a higher level than those around you, who chose to bail or just do nothing. And that will be able to set you apart.

Furthermore, when you stand up and fight now, you will realize just how hard things are. You will be forced to look super hard at things, make tough decisions, go into full frontal mode and just face the challenges head on.

You will NOT cut any corners, not get lazy, not get into excess habits of spending both money and time on things that don’t really get you forward.

You will be able to stay laser focused while your experience grows – and you will come out of this…

Alive and kicking. With all jets at full throttle.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

This is real leadership

Thoughts

What is the difference between leadership and management? A manager is someone making sure you cut your way through the jungle. A leader is someone who makes sure we’re in the right jungle to begin with.

We’re in a time of crisis. Managers are busy making cutbacks, weathering the storm and looking at whether to retain employees or let them go. They are trying to optimize for the moment. To survive.

They’re not especially creative. They were not hired as managers to be creative or even innovative. Rather they are looking in all the usual places for all the usual plays, and as a result we’re likely to see more of the same going forward.

Underwhelming.

And then there are the leaders. The visionaries even.

People like Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

Who invests the entire profits of an entire quarter into Covid-19 related initiatives around testing, extra risk pay for employees – existing and new who are joining in droves to meet demand.

Giving the short term thinking analysts and shareholders the bird in the meantime.

Boom!

What’s he gunning for on the longer term?

The first virus-free supply chain worldwide. A safe alternative in a time of great turmoil and anxiety. Coming with a premium. Or maybe only available to Amazon Prime members.

Who knows?

But it is the difference between deadwood management and visionary leadership.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

The FANG virus

Thoughts

Nothing is so bad that it isn’t good for something else.

If you’re an investor in FANG stock – Facebook, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet (Google) – and potentially Microsoft as well, you will probably have one eye on your portfolio, which is doing pretty well and have recovered what was briefly lost.

The other one you will be having on how the FANG companies use the lockdown and the uproar to create new opportunities for themselves and become even more dominant.

Case in point: Facebook is still getting stronger, Amazon is cementing it’s lead in e-commerce and almost anything else with its customers being under lockdown at home. And so on and so on.

And there is reason to be optimistic (if you’re an investor, that is), because what does the FANG companies have that many others don’t at this point?:

Cash. Piles of cash.

In a situation where cash is king, those with an abundance of cash can go on the offense, when everybody else is forced on the defense.

Right now the only thing stopping FANG from using this pandemic to dominate the online space even more – infect, even – than before is regulation.

What are the odds of that happening any time soon?

I thought so.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

A special Labor Day

Thoughts

Today is Labor Day and for people in the West you can argue that there hasn’t been a more relevant time in decades to take stock at work, how we work and how we want work to be like going forward as this year.

We can start by the people who have lost their jobs in droves during the last 6-8 weeks. And then we can add a labor market that looks very bleak. Both for as long as the lockdown remains mostly in place but also afterwards as we need all those big and small gears to fall in place again and work before we can really start work again.

On top of this we can add all the gig workers who are now finding out the hard way what it means to be a ‘partner’ of a non-employer. The word ‘flexibility’ is taking on a brand new meaning every single day. And not necessarily in the best possible way.

Then throw in all those essential workers who are working super hard to make sure that things as food supplies, warehousing, logistics, supermarkets can still operate and add some sense of normality to an abnormal every day life. Some of them are really being pushed hard – in some cases too hard.

And then finally add all those who have been forced to work from home. Who are fighting an endless battle between random internet connection, unstable video platforms, people out of reach for various reasons, kids running around in the background, disruptions, lack of ability to focus – and no real end in sight as to how long this situation will last.

And then you have plenty to spend contemplating the viable future of on Labor Day.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Facts matter

Thoughts

Yesterday I got wrapped up in a Twitter-fight. I know, you should never allow yourself to be in that position, but in this case ‘the arsonist tweet’ was so profoundly…don’t know what to call it…I couldn’t help myself.

Basically, the discussion was around what or who killed Danish the Danish chain of bookstores, Arnold Busck, which has gone belly up. The argument – without any supporting data, analysis and/or argument – was that it was…wait for it…the public libraries.

Because people have access to public libraries and can borrow books for free, Arnold Busck died an unfair death.

WTF?!

Never mind that liberalisation of the Danish market for books years ago allowed supermarkets to sell books at a discount with predictable results. Never mind online book stores discounting books and providing free shipping, if you’re a paying member. Never mind the huge positive socioeconomic effects of libraries on education among other things. Never mind that fewer people actually use libraries to borrow books – because they buy them instead (!!)

The cause of death of Arnold Busck can most likely be found in the mix of cheap crime litterature (that Danes read A LOT) in super markets and a better and cheaper inventory online. And then I haven’t even mentioned A-M-A-Z-O-N…

Etcetera ad nauseam.

But let us close down the libraries so a super challenged chain of bookstores with premium book prices, limited stock of titles, expensive prime real estate, a f***** IT system with an inept implementation gone haywire and what have you can be put on life support for a few more months.

(*SIGH*)

The point here is not to show how misguided the original ‘argument’ is – although it is and it took me roughly 3 minutes of basic online research and insertion of relevant links above to make a far more nuanced analysis of the real problem.

No, the point here is to show for all what kind of problems we create for ourselves when we can’t be bothered getting our facts straight before we come out with totally unsubstantiated conclusions.

It can be ok when it only happens on Twitter (except it gets you all worked up and leads to wasted time arguing and posts like this). But when business decisions are based on the same kind of deeply flawed logic and approach – and trust me: it happens multiple times every second all over the place – we’re not making ourselves better off. We’re making ourselves worse off.

We can and should do better.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

The Norwegian Real Madrid

Thoughts

When you think about how hard the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting you, think about how you would have felt, if you worked at an airline or a company affiliated with one.

*GULP*.

People are not allowed to travel, your planes are grounded, you have high recurring costs for leasing aircraft, a valuable, sizeable staff you want to hold on to as much as you can and a cashflow resembling a one-way street in the worst possible way.

What’s not to be deeply distraught about? I know people who work at airlines, big and small, and it is really, really tough out there. And I am so happy, I am not in their shoes.

One of the hardest hit ones is the Norwegian low-cost carrier, Norwegian. They are working extremely hard to save the company from going under, and they are hoping for both a restructuring of their massive debt and an aid package from the Norwegian government.

Even though they are ‘Up S*** Creek’, I want to put forward the prediction that they will make it in some shape and form. But not because it is a healthy company. For psychological reasons:

Years ago there was a saying that the only reason the football club Real Madrid could keep existing with massive signings and massive debt was that there wasn’t a living banker who would have the guts to send this massive club, and their fanbase with them, into receivership.

Same goes for Norwegian, the airline.

The Norwegians are proud people – national attires, cowbells and all. I don’t think there is anybody in government or parliament with any appetite for reelection or his/her place in history who wants to be the one pulling the rug from under the wheels of essentially the Norwegian flag carrier. I mean, the name alone thrown into a dumpster fire?! Not going to happen.

But there may be one or two left who think about the one old naming rule for warships:

Never, ever, EVER (!!) name a warship after your country for the fully justifiable fear of what it being sunk in battle would mean for morale and publicity.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate

Thoughts

I am an avid fan of the hit series “Homeland”. And watching Episode 10 of Season 8 yesterday, something resonated for me:

In the episode Carrie asks a helicopter flight mechanic, why the crew of the chopper that crashed with the US president aboard didn’t clearly articulate that they were going down and crashing due to a technical malfunction. And the mechanic answers referencing to the order of battle for an inflight emergency: “Aviate, Navigate, Communicate” – or in other words: Focus on the situation at hand and managing that first.

It resonated with me because I believe it goes for innovation as well; it is not about how much we talk about what we do. It is all about what we do in the moment, what we learn from it and then – only then – how we communicate about those learnings.

Truth be told it is also what makes working with innovation so much fun; that you’re in it neck deep, learning to fly as you go along and trying to always do one better through the learnings you acquire underway.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Corona thoughts, part 8

Thoughts

Last night we did a first in my network group under the Danish Management Society (VL): We had our first virtual meeting, and we used it as a venue for getting a situation report from our various industries in the light of the corona epidemic.

It was super interesting and inspiring to hear from the members about how things look from their end. From the airline executive whose planes are on the ground with no timeslot for getting back to flying to the architects, who use the crisis as a recruiting opportunity for new employees they now find much easier to come by than just six weeks ago.

But what was really interesting was what people have learned from it all. From the banal truths about how working remote works over the development of new online offerings in the consulting industry to people worrying about the potential longer-term fallout for society and the world as a whole.

The meeting really reinforced my long held belief that if you’re looking for a radically different perspective on things, look outside your immediate circles. Look across industries, roles and everyday jobs to get that sense of inspiration that gets your own mind going. That’s where you can get a ton of value.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)