Change The Game – Think StartUp

15 12 2011

Todays business success stories are coming from organisations that have really changed the game.

New entrants are taking the place of established businesses, and kids fresh out of college are not just coming up with new ideas, but are able to take these to market and establish global businesses in just a few years. Facebook and Google are well established now, but there are new entrants that you haven’t heard of yet rushing along in their wake.

In the economic downturn in USA and Europe we see large corporates, and public sector / third sector organisations all failing to create new jobs, and as a result there is a growing number of startup businesses that have been set up as a way for individuals to create a job when they can’t find a job…

These entrepreneurs are reinventing the world, as Forbes magazine recently reported.

So why aren’t big companies and organisations starting to think like a StartUp?

Do they even know what it’s like to think like a StartUp?

If they did could they be more successful? Probably, since they have many more resources.

So can established companies and organisations change the game too?

Isn’t changing the game an imperative for long term survival?

In my opinion, only those that constantly reinvent themselves will continue to stay at the top for a long time. So I began to ponder on what StartUp mentality is all about. Here are some of the keywords that came to mind:

Visionary; Inspired; Passion; Purpose; Creativity; Innovation; Opportunity; Thrilling; Hungry; Committed; Tenacious; High-Energy; Fast-Moving; Risk-Taking.

How many big corporates and organisations do you know that have cultures matching the above?

I know some organisations have ‘Skunk-Works’ where small groups and teams work on new products, often in secrecy in select teams, hidden away from the mainstream employees. But what about all the ideas from those outside this select few? What about new innovations in Business and Service Models? There seem to be few of these, so how can changing the game be possible in a business context?

Does your organisation have facilities for encouraging and supporting these initiatives? And if you are an employee with ideas how can you bring them to fruition within the corporate environment, with encouragement and support? Are you an ‘Intrapreneur’ waiting to break out? Or are you an Entrepreneur that will have to leave your company to chase your dream?

So my advice is “Think StartUp” if you want your organisation to change the game. And if you sit at the top of the organisation then you need to develop a way to foster StartUp Mentality… Fast!

My colleagues and I in DesignThinkers network  are about to launch StartUpLab as a creative environment that is open, sharing, human centric, and which will be internationally connected yet operate locally. We will work with StartUp’s, SME’s, Large Corporates, Public Sector, and Third Sector organisations and universities. We will use our Service Design Thinking tools and techniques to help ideas mature and create viable businesses and services.

Contact me if you would like to know more about our Business and Service Design capabilities, our tools and methodologies, our insight, our networks, and how we can help you and your organisation to think like a StartUp…

James Rock – MD and Chief Business & Service Designer  CULTIVAR Consulting

 

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Intersections 2011 – Creative Business Summit

22 03 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intersections 2011 was a recent two-day conference at the Eden Project that explored the current trends driving business change and new opportunities for design practice. Over 200 delegates heard 45 experts, mavericks, entrepreneurs and thought leaders speak about key issues that are challenging businesses, public sector, and 3rd sector organisations.

Opening the conference, Jeremy Myerson, Professor of Design at RCA and Chair of the conference, began by looking back at the last Intersections conference in 2007. This was a similar event – a major UK design conference held a long period after any similar Design based conference. In 2007 the key message from the conference had been that the world had reached a watershed moment – and that complex times require designers with a greater repertoire. The key elements of this new design skillset was suggested as: –

  • Designer as Business Strategist – leading change via Design Thinking to tackle big issues
  • Designer as Co-Creator – rethinking the process to include wider disciplines and users to create more/better ideas
  • Designer as Rationalist – providing hard, technical solutions – believing humans can solve the problems of the world
  • Designer as Storyteller – Creating narratives that instill a vision of the future

It struck me that in 2011 Design Thinking has moved from theory into wider practice in the last 4 years. We still have the guru’s acting in the evangelist role for this school of thinking e.g. Professor Roger Martin of Rotman School of Management; Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO; and the UK Design Council. The public sector really has embraced design thinking and co-creation with some very successful results (DOTT Cornwall being an excellent example). However, large private sector companies seem to be getting left behind, and UK management schools seem to be lagging their North American and European counterparts in teaching the subject to future business leaders. This surprised me because in this post-economic-crisis period, large corporates and western governments have been promoting creativity and innovation as the way to re-invent western economies, and the way to compete against global competition e.g World Economic Forum, Davos, 2010 and 2011.

For me, the conference was inspiring, and six key themes emerged that I think will influence Business and Design over the next couple of years: –

1. ‘The world is at a NEW tipping point’.

4 years on from the last Intersections conference, and post economic crash, various speakers mentioned similar trends, including: –

  • A shift towards social values – social revolution not technological revolution – the emergence of Purpose within organisations
  • Public rejection of Capitalism and “Greed is Good” mentality
  • Asset Stripping is unacceptable and unsustainable
  • Fault-Lines are running through the world – creating ‘Wicked Problems’ (NB: this comment was made between the recent Egyptian uprising and the Japanese earthquake and Tsunami)

2. ‘No Straight Lines’.

Speaker Alan Moore of SMLXL captured this best, but again several speakers mentioned similar points of interest, including: –

  • Literacy and shared language across design / management disciplines is a limiting factor
  • Disruptive Innovations are making bigger impacts and embracing The Space / TheSystem / The Subjects
  • Value of diversity – The roles of MBA / Doctor / Entrepreneur / Product Designer becoming intertwined in developing solutions
  • There is no separate online or offline – only blended reality
  • Industrial Model was straight line thinking – Networked Model is a labrynth

3. ‘The Age of Networks’.

Nick Jankel of WeCreate introduced this theme on day one of the conference, but again other speakers referred to and returned to the subject, and key points included:-

  • Development of collaborative network tools – Cloud Apps
  • Networked Innovation is growing – within and across organisations
  • Collaboration IQ is becoming an important measure of performance
  • Collaboration across bigger networks is harder – but the results are bigger
  • Public / Private / 3rd Sector providers need to collaborate to solve the most complex problems in society
  • Use of Open Source and Creative Commons copyright is growing

4. ‘Visualisation’

Linked in many ways to the other key themes, speaker David McCandless championed the use of infographics and data visualisation to explore new directions for journalism and design. His talk demonstrated new ways that technology is enabling the presentation of data to support an argument. This is a key area where design can help management to ‘tell the story’ and create a vision for audiences. Key points in this theme included: –

  • Quantitative Information can be very interesting if presented well
  • Infotography – a new form of investigative journalism based on data trawling
  • Data is the new soil…
  • Visualisation supports the designer as storyteller model

5. ‘Nudge by Design’.

In his talk at the end of day one, David Kester – CEO of UK Design Council described how ‘nudge’ is growing as a discipline used to influence decision making, and referred to the recent book ‘Nudge – Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness’  by authors Thaler and Sunstein. Key points he mentioned include: –

  • Designers do this for a living – via providing Insights & Ideas Generation
  • ‘There is something in this Co-Design methodology’
  • ‘Hug a Politician’ i.e. gain political influence for your programmes

6. ‘Rethinking the Future’.

Speaker Josephine Green led in promoting this subject, but other speakers and the chairman referred to it as well, and it is probably the biggest take-away from the conference for most delegates. In this theme the following comments made the biggest impact with the audience: –

  • The world is in need of inspiring stories – The ability to tell them can be our greatest asset
  • There seems to be a British horror of the abstract, big-picture, strategic, philosophical thinker
  • We are moving from the hierarchical model of the industrial era towards the pancake model of the socio-ecological era
  • Social solutions and innovation are the challenges of our time – health; education; mobility

In summary, I think that Intersections 2011 was a very inspirational and important conference. The venue was superb – both practically and inspirationally. The speakers were excellent – thought provoking, entertaining and inspirational. The audience was an interesting mix of local, national and international visitors. But perhaps the biggest disappointment and surprise was that there were not more private sector and big corporate delegates at the meeting.  I believe that they have most to gain from adopting Design in the broader context of creativity and innovation that this conference presented. Maybe this lack of representation was due to event promotion that seemed to be focused on the design community – attracting independents, academics and students from within the discipline of Design – but not the CEO’s of the corporate world. Perhaps therein lies another opportunity, to take this message to a more influential audience – taking the key themes from Intersections11 and translating them into a language that the corporate/business audience can identify with more readily?

Note: The conference proceedings were recorded on video and should be made available to the public via the Intersections website shortly. For more info see: http://intersections2011.com

The first Intersections 2007 conference was recorded and podcasts from keynote sessions can be accessed via iTunes: –http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/intersections-podcast/id268553975

 

Why not contact us to explore how to approach these 6 key themes within your business / organisation?

James Rock – MD and Chief Business Designer, CULTIVAR Consulting


 





Inspired Thinking with Adnams CEO Andy Wood

10 08 2010

Adnams have long been on my list of Inspiring Companies (see blogroll on the right).  I wrote a short article about them last year which you can read here : –

Avoiding Mediocrity – An exemplar of sustainability

Photo Copyright Jason Dye - http://www.jasondye.com

Adnams is the Southwold based brewing firm founded in 1872 when George and Ernest Adnams purchased the Sole Bay brewery with the help of their father. The business has grown steadily and won great acclaim for their beers, and recently many awards for their sustainable achievements.

Since 1990 the business has expanded to include wine and leisure retailing. Today the business is focused in three areas – Brewing and Brands, including its tenanted estate; Hotels and Managed Houses; and Wine and Shops including the Cellar & Kitchen chain of stores. In 2009 improved growth and profitability led to turnover of more than £50m and in their peak summer season employs more than 400 people

Last week I got the chance to interview Adnams CEO Andy Wood (right) about the business, its authentic values, and strategy for sustainable development.

You can listen to the interview here : Authentic Business Directory – Adnams plc

I would love to hear your comments about Authentic and Sustainable business – post a comment below.

If you would like to discuss how I can help you develop and implement your own sustainable and authentic business strategy then please get in touch.

James Rock – MD and Chief Business Designer





Inspiring Companies

24 06 2010

You can also get an audio version of this podcast here: Listen!

As a consumer I constantly look out for businesses that are distinctive, that offer value for money, that deliver great products and great customer service.

As a Business Designer I constantly look out for great companies as sources of inspiration, across all types of sectors, and use these as best-in-class examples to learn from.

Often these two coincide – I find businesses that really make me happy for some reason and I share these with friends and family when they ask for word-of-mouth recommendations; but I also share them with my clients and use the things that make them unique to help create a vision of what clients could be doing for their own customers.

Increasingly I find myself drawn to Authentic Businesses i.e. those who focus on long-term sustainability and display a true sense of purpose, respect their stakeholder needs, act with integrity, are distinctive in their market, and are environmentally conscious.

I have started to develop a list of these inspiring and authentic companies, and you can take a look at the blog-roll on the right where you can link straight through to their websites. If you search the web about any of them you will probably find other interesting comments and articles and video’s about them too.

Finally, I am constantly on the look out for more Inspiring Companies to learn from and so invite you to leave a comment and share your own sources of happiness and inspiration if you think they deserve mentioning…

James Rock

MD & Chief Business Designer – CULTIVAR Consulting

Partner – Authenticis





Room for inspiration?

14 05 2010

In my last post I wrote about the importance of work space in providing a work environment that positively encourages employees to be creative, innovative, motivated and happy. I would like to apply this thinking to the future of UK government.

Whilst much of the policy debate in the recent UK election focused on change for the future, both the Conservative party and Liberal Democrat party tried to engage voters with their vision of “what might be” if they were elected. In contrast to this however, the Labour party seemed to focus on the past rather than trying to paint a vision of the future.  Their key message was often “see what we have achieved in the past – so trust us in future” and, as we now know, this failed to engage the electorate and Labour lost heavily.  Was this surprising? Not for me… If you look at this set of incredible photos taken by Guardian photographer Martin Argles you can begin to understand why the Labour leadership seem stuck in the past: –

Gordon Brown – The last hours in Number 10

Isn’t it easy to see why the team using this office aren’t looking forward? Do these offices inspire you? No? So why would they inspire anyone to think creatively about the future? And what about their other work environment – the House of Commons? Lets take a look inside: –

We can get a sense of history from these surroundings, rich in heritage as they are. But do they inspire creativity? And do they foster the collaborative working environment that all parties say is important to deliver policies that will turn around the country following the recent economic crisis? How about the adversarial layout seen here – the “opposition” benches that are designed to position parties facing each other, and which we so often see bristling with hostile MP’s, and with the “Front Benches” full of big hitters.

As I think about the challenges ahead I wonder if these work environments support or hinder new ideas, new collaboration, and a fresh start for UK politics?  If you look at other coalition governments they operate in the round, and in modern buildings – see below for some examples: –

Inside the Welsh Assembly

Inside the Scottish Assembly

Inside the German Parliament

So will our new UK Government remain stuck in the past? Or will they be able to overcome the inertia of their surroundings? Will the Welsh, Scottish and German parilaments be more progressive with their modern, efficient, comfortable and inspirational buildings? What do you think? – why not post a comment to let us know….

Contact me for more information about how we can help bring design thinking, creativity and innovation to your business…

James Rock – MD & Chief Business Designer – CULTIVAR Consulting





David and Goliath – The battle for Authentic British Chocolate…

25 01 2010

You can also get an audio version of this blogpost here: – LISTEN

Cadburys Dairy Milk

US based Global Giant Kraft foods

The David Vs Goliath battle for ownership of British chocolate maker Cadbury now seems to have been won by powerful global brand Kraft Foods.

Employees of Cadbury, residents of Birmingham where its HQ is located, and the wider British public and press are generally up in arms about this planned take-over.

Their real concern seems to be about the Authentic legacy of the Cadbury brand, and fears that Global food giant Kraft will end the higher purpose and philanthropy that the British brand is famed for, particularly within the Bournville Village suburb where it was founded.

But is this fair? Kraft is recognised in USA as one of its most reputable companies, and Forbes Magazine recently ranked Kraft as number one USA company for sincerity i.e. doing what it says it will do; and number 3 for overall reputation. So why is the British public so concerned?

Recent economic events have created a great deal of scepticism regarding the blatant pursuit of profit – and much of the press reporting in this case has focused on how Kraft has borrowed heavilly to buy Cadbury at a time when the Dollar/Sterling exchange rate makes the purchase cheap. And traditional financial reporting has primarily focused on the profit motives of Kraft, and I have yet to see any journalist dig deeper into the values of the Kraft management team, and its social responsibility record or future strategies and policies. However, Kraft itself also seems to have failed to capitalise on its reputation, and its communication programme seems to have stumbled in todays world of word-of-mouth communication. Its management team has a duty to shareholders to pursue opportunities that meet its stated strategy – which this take-over is, but it has failed to engage the wider stakeholders and is now seen as a hostile enemy.

This leads me to conclude that Authentic businesses need to be GREAT at communicating their values and policies, to generate trust, and to make sure that what they do is aligned with what they say they will do. It also confirms a wider trend that I and my colleagues in Authenticis are finding – that people in general are more concerned about the greater purpose of brands and are shunning those who purely pursue short term profitability for economic gain. Kraft will need to beware of boycotts to both brands in the post-acquisition period.

What do you think? leave a comment below, or get in touch to hear how we can help your organisation in developing its Authenticity.

James Rock Cultivar Consulting

Member Authenticis Consulting Network





A really Authentic Business example

11 12 2009

Yeo Valley Foods are an inspirational example of an Authentic Business. The company is pioneering new ways of working with its suppliers and creating true partnerships. It’s this kind of practice that will change our health, our environment, the way we eat and the way we live.

In the video below Graham Keating, who was Managing Director of their Organic range before becoming Communications Director of Yeo Valley Foods, talks about the business, its values and purpose…

For the better. Purer produce. Peace of mind.