Liar in Chief

Today marks the end of the 45th presidency in the United States of America, when the 46th president, Joseph R. Biden is sworn in.

The (hopefully) peaceful transition of power will be the end of the Liar in Chief; the leader who operates by endless lies and endless bullying, destroys more than he builds and seem relentlessly focused on stoking division rather than unite and heal for the common good.

It’s been a crazy 4 years. But it has also been quite interesting;

It has been the most obvious, well-broadcast example of why that way of self-serving egomaniac ‘leadership’ (he hasn’t really been leading, but you know what I mean) leads absolutely nowhere and should be sent to the dumping lot.

Sadly, not everybody who needs to will reflect on this, so let me try to clarify a bit for you.

For aspiring, self-serving Liars in Chief out there – in politics as well as all walks of business – note this based on the clusterf***, we have all seen unfold in the US:

You may think you’re winning for a while. But while you’re busy lying and bullying, your relationships and – with that – your opportunities to actually succeed in anything erode. And do so quickly.

You may succeed in getting a following and create a court of devoted cronies around you. But in the end it will prove to be all the wrong people.

You may start feeling sorry for yourself, when the shit hits the fan, but you will find out that there are no-one left who wants to help you out.

End ultimately you will be a failure.

Consider yourself kindly warned. And then just don’t go there.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

The daunting 1st prototype

The last week or so I have been busy building the first simple prototype of our upcoming app – a pre-MVP – for the MedTech startup, we’re working on getting off the ground. We will be getting it out there to get early feedback just after Christmas.

It is a daunting process.

Not only is it daunting to try to find the different pieces that when stitched together could form a somewhat crude but credible first go at what we will initially be trying to bring to market to create value for patients.

No, the most daunting part is that youre airing your idea(s) and inviting feedback from real potential users. And doing so full knowing that they can throw whatever they want in the form of feedback and criticism against you.

The prospects of getting feedback from people – or worse yet; hearing nothing at all because no-one will try it out – is so excruciating it can be a real challenge to push that ‘Publish’ button and get it out there.

But there is just no way around it;

If you never launch anything – not even a very crude, embarrasing prototype – you will by definition have failed completely.

So, reversely, by just getting something out there for people to provide feedback on is infinitely better and an infinitely greater step towards any kind of potential future success.

So just do it.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

A bit too Fresh

Some months ago I started subscribing to the Hello Fresh meal-kit service because I was puzzled about the international juggernauts foray into a Danish market that I already found quite saturated.

Fast forward a few months, and I am still subscribing to the service. Yes, it has it’s kinks and minor mistakes here and there, and yes, sometimes deliveries are a bit late. But overall the concept works, and it has made catering for the family meals a slightly less daunting and stressful task.

So while the service as such works, I am not too enthusiastic about the way that Hello Fresh aggressively markets their service;

Buying advertorials in leading tabloids is one thing. No problem there. But doing the same on less reputable marketing blogs with dodgy names and even dodgy’er content is just stupid IMHO.

On short term metrics the approach may work. But by associating themselves with these kinds of methods, they’re exposing their brand – the core of the service – into a less positive light, where people start to get annoyed.

I mean, why in Gods name do I get these ads in my Facebook feed multiple times every single day, when I am already a loyal subscriber?

The only thing these ads make me do is read the comments, where people are complaining about the advertising and relating them to some less than stellar reviews of the service on Trustpilot.

Customers are adding the numbers up, and my bet is that the tactics are keeping more people from subscribing than adding new subscribers to the service.

The trouble for Hello Fresh is that they will most likely not see this ‘dark number’ of potentiel subscribers who decide against the service. And they should. Because that is ALSO a direct result of their marketing efforts.

Therefore, dear Hello Fresh: Please review your marketing strategy and approach and stop giving your own concept and service a bad…ehhm…taste in the mouth.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

The dangers of ‘digitalization’

The Danish Management Society‘s new focus on “Digital Reshaping” – whatever that wording means – made me think;

Whenever somebody talks about the need to ‘digitalize’ products or processes in an old industry company, you as a digital expert should be quite alert. Perhaps even worried.

Because what does the phrase really mean?

I will tell you what it seldom means;

It seldom means that the company in question is looking to question every single process and product it has in order to ask itself questions like “Is this still relevant?”, “Does the product serve a clear need in the market?” and “Have we REALLY understood what it means to make this a success in the current and future market?”. And make the necessary brutal decisions the answers demand.

It seldom means that the company is looking to change it’s entire operating model to embrace the uncertainty of a fast moving market and favor smaller, nimbler experiments as a way of understanding the need in the market before pushing for the big product delivery. And it never means a higher tolerance – embrace even – of risk. Or even a longer time horizon to get things right.

And it seldom means being really ambitious about the people you get on board and – crucially – the mandate you give them to actually make the needed changes happen and – hopefully – put the company on a better trajectory.

All of the above are in my humble opinion key elements for actually making the necessary things happen that will change the trajectory of the company into something better aligned with the needs of the current and future market and customers.

Of course you could be in luck. But alas, you will seldom see these things. What you will see when companies look to ‘digitalize’, though, is;

Doing more of the same but in a slightly different way. Typically by investing in expensive systems from convincing vendors and trying to operate them even though they are often overblown compared to the value they end up delivering to your company.

More of the ‘big bang’ releases that are being touted – using various fancy words – as ‘transformative’ or even downright ‘disruptive’ (which they never are, ed.) that end up failing in spectacular and (sometimes) even depressing ways.

The same old guard of people sitting there making all the decisions lacking the necessary insight into the depths of the matter and what needs to be done while confirming to each other that they have long ago figured this out. And the ruthless of identifying the scapegoat for failure and weeding out of everybody else, who think and try to act in a different way.

The end result?

More blindfolded investment. More wasted investment. More convenient scapegoats when things again don’t go according to the grand ol’ plan.

And very little real change.

So beware. And demand all the right answers to the proper questions, before you get involved.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

R.I.P. Quibi

A mere 6 months after launch and after burning through a good portion of the 1,75B USD it had raised from investors, the short form streaming platform Quibi is closing it’s doors.

Why? Because even if they were almost too big to fail they still managed to hit the one big pole, other entrepreneurs work their butts of to avoid ever getting into an infight with:

No market need.

Well done.

Quibi founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman even kind of admit so in their open farewell letter on Medium:

Quibi was a big idea and there was no one who wanted to make a success of it more than we did.

An open letter from Quibi. to the employees…

Exactly, you were pretty alone in thinking this would be a spectacular hit.

Ouch.

Quibi was an exercise in hybris. It was an exercise in the power of the idea alone; that if you build it, they will come.

Again from the open letter:

Although the circumstances were not right for Quibi to succeed as a standalone company, our team achieved much of what we set out to accomplish, and we are tremendously proud of the award-winning and innovative work that we have produced, both in terms of original content and the underlying technology platform. 

An open letter from Quibi. to the employees…

Customers never really came. And those that did ran away as soon as they were asked to pay for it.

It is easy to poke fun of a grand idea flawfully executed. But you could also feel enraged;

That while aspiring entrepreneurs with truly great ideas looking to solve real problems, investors throw money at something that is…well, you get it.

This is what happens when people who don’t “get it” think they can become successful entrepreneurs if they just throw enough money at it.

This is what happens when the smartest people in the room decide to show the world just how smart they really are.

As such Quibi should be a lesson to all with no respect for the grind of trying to build on an idea and achieve product-market fit while at the same time be conscious about ressources spend.

It won’t be. It will happen again. And again.

Because Quibi will be forgotten soon.

That’s how ‘big’ an idea it was.

(Photo: Screenshot)

When love becomes fatal

One of the things we’re constantly looking for, when we’re talking to potential co-founders, is the ability to fall in love with the problem, we’re looking to solve. Either straight off the bat – much preferred but rare – or as something to grow easily into.

But is love of the problem always that great? Or does it need to be balanced out in some way?

The questions are valid insofar as one of the key contributing factors to startup failure remains building something nobody wants. And doing precisely that is what you’re very much in risk of, when you have fallen in love with the problem.

Why?

Because you want to solve it so bad that you jump for your first idea, give it your all, get it released and then…nothing.

When you have fallen in love with the problem, the hardest part is to remain true to a good and thorough discovery process.

You need to always think that even if you think you have already figured everything out, you know essentially nothing. And the path to that knowledge runs through lots of hypothesis, experiments and iterations while working into your offering what you learn along the way.

While it is easy to say, it is super hard to do in real life. I know; I struggle daily. But nonetheless I still try to be fully aware that the best way to ultimately help solve the problem, you have fallen in love with is to do it the right way.

And not fall of a cliff due to pure love and passion.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Corona thoughts, part 3

It seems to me that a lot of the people who are starting to advocate economic considerations ahead of health-related ones during this pandemic, are some of the same people who were the least prepared for a sudden halt in economic activity. I don’t blame them for wanting to get back to normal ASAP – we all want that to happen.

However, I still think we need to spend time after this is over on the things, we have learned from this. Maybe we should consider whether some of the business school books should be reviewed and refined. Overly complex supply chains, ‘Just in time’-principles and over-optimization of the daily business operations managing cash on a shoestring suddenly seem like brilliant ideas now than they seemed to be just a month ago, right?

I continue to find it shocking (and then, not really for the above reasons, ed.) that otherwise successful and well-run companies can crumble within a week or two. It seems like a lot of businesses were already in essence on major life support as it were, and if the corona pandemic hadn’t pushed to the very edge of the cliff, it was a matter of time before something else would.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Ongoing learning

It is fairly easy to meet founders who think they know it all. Founders who are so sure of their own success and the trajectory that they are on that they almost excude overconfidence.

But are they overconfident, or are they just pretending out of fear of losing face, credibility, mojo or something else? Probably. Because just under the surface of any founder is the fear of failure. Of making the wrong decision. Of missing the boat completely.

It is natural. And actually fear can be transformed into a strenght, if you use it as an opportunity to have a learning mindset. Studys show that one of the traits of successful founders is the ability to learn. And in order to learn, you need to start by acknowledging that you don’t know it all. So get comfortable with that – and embark on your ongoing learning process.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)