Be problem-driven

There are quite a few really good arguments for why you should focus on the problem rather than the solution, when you’re trying to build a successful company. But there is one that I think takes the prize as the most powerful one:

By focusing on the problem, you broaden the opportunity for yourself, your company and your future success.

Why?

Because you start being less solution-focused. Not agnostic as such because there will always be something that you do that you need to put into the product to give it the real edge it needs. But less solution-focused.

You may start out developing and shipping one product, get a good reception and perhaps even some decent traction. And once you can see that the core fundamentalt of what you’re doing seems to resonate in the market, you can lift your gaze and start thinking about what’s next.

And this is where focusing on the problem rather than the solution enters the picture:

By focusing on the problem, you will see more opportunities just by looking. And others may present themselves that you would otherwise not have noticed. And this gives you opportunity.

Instead of being strong in a niche, you can become stronger in a space – and maybe even grow to become dominant of an entire industry.

Because you chose a laser like focus on the problem.

Looking in retrospect, most companies don’t become wildly successful by just doing one thing or having one product. They become wildly successful, because they understand the market they are in, the jobs, pains and gains of their customers and constituents – and the problem space they’re working on.

You should apply that approach to yourself and your company too.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Can you hear the roar?

The anticipation of a repeat of the ‘Roaring 20s’ is growing, as people are starting to see light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel.

However, I think two things are worth noting in this context; who will benefit – and what could follow?

To pick up on the last point first, let’s all remember what happened after the roaring 20s the last time around.

That’s right. Fascism!

Of course there were numerous factors in play not least in Germany with hyperinflation caused by overly massive war reparation payments to the allies. But still. The 20s was not ‘roaring’ for everybody; millions got left behind, and that created a fertile ground for demagogues with terrible ideas.

And that brings me to the second point: Who will it benefit?

I think it’s pretty clear by now that we’re super busy creating a broken society where few have all the money and all the perks, and the vast majority are being left behind through various means. Could be lack of access to education, poor healthcare, poorly paid jobs in ‘the gig economy’; the list seems rather endless.

What that have so far created is a huge ton of friction, which reached a recent climax in the January 6 riots at the US Capitol in Washington DC.

Because let’s be clear: A lot of what was at display that day was rooted in a toxic mix of

  • poor or lacking opportunities in society,
  • incitement amplified by Big Tech and
  • old fashioned demagoguery.

This is also part of the level playing field, we’re looking at when discussing the coming of the new ‘roaring 20s’. It’s a messy thing and by no means all sunshine and opportunity out there.

What does it matter if Peloton is hyped for it’s home fitness portfolio of great products, if few people can afford the investment or ongoing financial commitment in the equipment?

What does yet another streaming service mean, if people are struggling to put food on their tables and thus have no disposable income left for entertainment (other than maxing out yet another credit card – if they can get one).

What does it say when Wolt, a meal delivery service that relies on the working poor as ‘delivery partners’ raises 530M USD to expand their IMHO toxic business model to new geographies and verticals?

If we want the 2020s to roar for real, we need to come up with a better plan.

That could start with figuring out how we can use our skillsets, expertise and our funding to pursue closing the gap between high and low by providing new opportunities that leave people better off and thus fend off the bill to be paid, when the music – or in this case: the roaring – stops.

That is where the real sustainable opportunity is.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Fix education!

Looking at what is happening in the US, I think it’s fair to say that their education system is completely and utterly broken.

Forget about universities or colleges being about preparing you for a corporate career. The first order of business should be to have the fundamental ability and urge to teach kids and young adults about critical thinking, civic behavior and the likes.

To enable them to actually like in a democracy and not being taken on crazy rides by whatever authoritarian person offers to do so.

Failure to ensure that people can think the themselves and not be drawn to conspiracies and flat out lies will ensure failure in everything else – none mentioned, none forgotten.

Fixing education and the equal access to quality education is the biggest problem and – by association – the biggest opportunity for entrepreneurial spirits who thoroughly understand what’s truly at stake if this doesn’t get fixed.

We can only move too slow on this.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Become (sort of) a journalist

A day doesn’t go by without someone deeply questioning the value of higher education. It’s the cost, it’s the hazzle, it’s the time wasted on subjects you never get to use etc.

And a day doesn’t go by without young people feeling anxious about making the right choices for their education and subsequent careers. Because how do you make sure, you have got it right? That you can make your interest and passion pay your bills?

I have one cowboy trick for you:

Study to become a journalist (if you can get it, of course).

Don’t listen to all the people saying that there are no jobs to be had in the media industry.

First of all, there are, they are just more fragmented than ever and not in the usual places.

But second – and most importantly of all – an education in journalism can lead to whatever you want it to lead to.

I am the perfect example of that; I have been a journalist by education since 1999, yet has still to work as a traditional one in a newsroom.

But what I have done instead is to use some of the skills that I have in my genes and I learned to control more during my education;

My curiosity for asking questions. And ask again and again.

My determination to get to the bottom of something and not take ‘No’ for an answer.

My thirst for knowledge.

My passion for trying to connect all the dots.

My instinct to cut to the chase and settle on an angle.

My talent for communication and presenting the story.

When you have those things and you study to get better and better at them, you can apply these skills anywhere. Especially in todays world, where noise is amplified, and signal often gets lost in translation.

Studying to become a journalist is not a one-way street; it’s more of a giant roundabout with plenty of exit options in different directions utilizing the skills, you learned.

So if you want to take a safe punt, go and study to become a journalist.

It just might help make big things happen for you later on.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Emotional at work

Looking at the future of work, I am convinced that those who can nail the emotional intelligence and belonging aspect of work in a working-from-home environment will be onto something truly amazing.

Why?

Because no matter how much I think about it, I still can’t see anything other than the current fascination with working-from-home as being driven by the same sort of industrial society mentality, we pretty much all felt we were in the process of moving well away from.

Why on Earth would we want it back?

In it’s present form the thinking around working-from-home as solely a matter of efficiency and crossing off items on the to do list IMHO totally misses the point about forming and sustaining a culture in the organization where new ideas thrive, innovation is unleashed and real progress is made.

It fits more into a narrative of a guy on the old factory floor timing processes looking for places to optimize and cut – but in no way bringing anything forward.

Those that understand the difference and focus on developing the emotional sense of belonging between employee and employer no natter the physical distance, will have amble opportunity to make a real difference.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

New life to dead markets

Dead Sea Markets.

A fascinating term. A term that suggests a market that has pretty much killed every entity in it (due to various reasons) but could still serve as a fertile ground for new entries and perhaps entire ecosystems.

Why is it so fascinating? Because it essentially provides a ‘firehose’ option. An option where if you can come up with the right thing, the right solution, customers will already be flocking looking to try and perhaps even buy. You don’t have to build and convince people there is a market, which is a huge advantage.

And yet, we often overlook these opportunities. We tend to find these industries and verticals slightly ‘tired’ and even ‘boring’, because it seems like every bit of oxygen has been sucked out of it.

And it may have been – if we look at the incumbents already trying to play in the industry.

But isn’t that exactly what we are looking for; a tired, boring incumbent underserving or even sunsetting a market, we could have the opportunity to serve way better?

My point here?

Don’t only look for highly profitable markets looking for opportunities to disrupt them. Look also for the ones that seems like they are dead, without air or any kind of energy.

Ask yourself this: Is it so because there really isn’t anything there at all? Or is it just because the ones already there are not really there?

Often you will find it’s the latter. Which should be your signal to consider an entry. Because chances are nobody else is having the same idea. Or just feels it is too hard (which, full discretion, it may indeed turn out to be).

And because you might be able to turn a Dead Sea into a Blue Ocean.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

I am looking for YOU!

Do you have experience in Product Management and – preferably – in MedTech? Then maybe you’re the one I am looking for to join our new MedTech X-startup at inQvation Studio?

I am extremely passionate and excited about this project. I have been working on it from different angles for months, and it is a super interesting case:

We have a big interesting problem, we’re addressing, in a space where there are no good solutions today. We are working with a team of experienced scientists on some potentially breakthrough-technology. And we are putting a killer advisory board in process.

I have worked on a lot of different things over the years, and I can safely say that this is by far the most interesting, worthwhile and challenging thing, I have ever done – in every good way.

It makes a ton of sense and feels 100% right no matter how I look at it. And we have a unique opportunity to make a real difference in peoples lives. No kidding around.

Sounds interesting or even exciting?

Take a look at the job post here: http://inqvation.dk/headofproduct

Or better yet:

Book me for a chat right here.

I look so much forward to hearing from you.

(Graphics: inQvation)

Turn on the jets

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)