The “red tape” danger

The problem with too much process and red tape is that it creates excuses for not getting problems solved:

“Our processes dictates that I must do this”, “I am not measured on doing that”, “I cannot do anything about it, it’s the rules”, “We have a policy that…”.

Etcetera etcetera.

Of course there needs to be rules and processes, and sometimes they’re even defined by law.

But having said that it is also important to reiterate that just because you can push a set of rules, a boss or even the law in front of you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t show empathy for the person(s) in the other end obviously experiencing a problem.

One of the reasons why startups even stand a fighting chance against much larger and more resourceful organizations is that they don’t have all these rules, processes and KPIs in place.

They’re just trying to do what they think is necessary to enable them to solve issues and move forward. By showing empathy and some sort of efficient pragmatism whenever they encounter a challenge or – most importantly – a customer experiencing a problem and in need of a fix to it.

When companies grow and more people get onboard, the need for processes, policies and rules will grow – sometimes almost exponentially.

That may be fine in itself. But it should never be an excuse for throwing empathy and the ability to act and fix issues out the window.

If you start doing that you will enable precisely all the behaviour internally in your organization that you DON’T really want. And absolutely don’t need to succeed.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Always think about strategy

When you’re busy executing on tasks, it can be super easy to forget about setting time aside to think about strategy.

But you should. For a number of reasons.

First of all you need to always make sure that what you’re working on is taking you in the right direction. There is the old saying that while a manager is the one leading the struggle through the jungle, the leader is the one making sure you are in the right jungle to begin with.

Be the leader.

Second, thinking about strategy is what keeps you curious about the market you are operating in. It keeps you focused on your customers and their needs, on the competition and on emerging trends in technology and behavior.

All of these inform what you should be doing. And most importantly: They enable you to course correct on the fly.

Third, thinking about strategy on the go is what keeps you from having to start your strategy all over from scratch again. It enables you to mold and update your strategy, as you go, based on learnings. And thus captures the value of all your hard work – even the work that didn’t end according to plan.

Finally, thinking about strategy broadens your horizon and keeps you sharp. Think about it as essential training; with enough training you go from being a simple recruit to a Navy Seal. It’s just a matter of discipline and hard work.

So don’t ever let anyone tell you, you shouldn’t think about strategy, ok?

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Why I double down

When difficulties arise, it might very well be good news. Because those difficulties may dissuade all the people who aren’t as dedicated as you are.

Seth Godin, ‘If it were easy…’

Absolutely. It may never be really easy and some times even to tough to stomach. But there really is no other way.

The HelloFresh test

One of the basic common rules for startups is that if what you’re working on is worth doing, you’re bound to have competition (unless you’re operating in one of those rare spaces, where you have spotted something before anyone else, of course).

With so many services – especially in the consumer space – feeling more or less alike or at the very least trying to serve the same need or solve the same problem, you need to ask yourself, what the differentiator between success and failure is going to be.

There are quite a lot to choose from, but one of the ones, I increasingly believe a lot in is the end-to-end Customer Experience, i.e. everything from the smoothness of using the product and get what you need to the overall feel of the entire experience.

If you want to learn from the best – or those believed or rumored to be the best – there is only one way to go about it: To try the service out and see for yourself.

For that reason I have made a personal decision:

I am going to be trying out a different services in quite crowded consumer spaces over the coming months to get a sense of how those that get singled out for their Customer Experience and their ability to execute ruthlessly against it actually work.

I have already signed up for the first one: HelloFresh.

HelloFresh is rumored to be a cutthroat business that are very good at executing flawlessly in the crowded meal kit market.

They have just entered the Danish market, and I have signed up to give it a spin. The Danish meal kit market is super crowded with all sorts of services, and I have previously tried a few without being overly impressed.

So I am very curious to see, if my experience with HelloFresh is going to feel any different – if I can FEEL the execution. And what – if anything – I can learn from it to bring to the other things I am working on.

Because, yes, it always pays to get inspired from other industries for what you’re trying to succeed with yourself.

I will keep you posted on what I learn.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Facts matter

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)

We have the first winner

Yesterday marked the climax of our iQnite case competition on climate change at inQvation. 5 teams pitched their ideas for solutions in front of a very experienced and competetent panel.

All the teams did a great job, and in the end Kleen Hub ran away with it. I will now get the opportunity to help them grow their circular concept within fast food packaging over the coming months. It is a really great team with an equally great idea, and I can’t wait to get started.

It has been an amazing experience to start from scratch with no more than a vague idea and then finish off with being able to crown a winner. We have learned a lot from it – the good and the not so good – and we will spend the coming weeks reflecting and documenting our learnings, so we can hopefully return with a new edition of the iQnite case competition at some later point.

(Photo: Personal)

The competition is on!

Last Friday and Saturday we hosted the first bootcamp of the iQnite case competition on climate change at our inQvation-hub in Taastrup. 35 participants turned up to spend two days exploring and sharpening their idea in the hope of making it into the main competition.

For me as an organizer it was an amazing event. When you do something like this for the first time, you are always a bit nervous how things are going to turn out. How many people will sign up? What will their profiles be? What are their ideas about? And how many will actually show up and do the work?

We had set ourselves a goal of getting 8-10 great teams or projects into the main competition. We ended up with 9, which is super. They are very diverse both in focus, industry, background, experience and so on, and it is truly a great experience to get to work with such a great bunch of people looking to drive change.

Lead by experience

Yesterday, the company I chose to deliver fiber to my home made their best effort to loose me as a customer. Due to unfortunate circumstances I narrowly missed a visit by a technician, and when I called them to figure out what went wrong, the customer support was rude and hung up on me.

Companies behaving that way may have a good or even great product. But they have a shitty customer experience. And in a day and age where basically everybody can do anything, the true differentiator between winning and losing as a business with the customer is precisely what happened to me: A shitty customer experience.

Whether you are in a corporate or getting your own startup off the ground you should aim to lead by experience; be the most open, accommodating, empathetic and what have you. Because even if I as a customer come to you with a problem, I will remember you cared – and I will our relationship an extra shot.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)