Sunday, January 29, 2012

Flux on. Flux off.

Our institutions are out of date; the long career is dead; any quest for solid rules is pointless, since we will be constantly rethinking them; you can't rely on an established business model or a corporate ladder to point your way; silos between industries are breaking down; anything settled is vulnerable.

From 'This is Generation Flux: Meet the Pioneers of the New (and Chaotic) Frontier of Business' posted earlier this month in Fast Company.

I'm sure
we're all attracted to articles that reflect our personal views of the world. I found this one both interesting and inspiring.

flux is what I thrive on. When I joined a consulting company at 27, what inspired me was working with multiple clients at the same time. Nothing was ever the same, or predictable. As my career moved along I happily left jobs - mostly voluntarily, but not always - and even fired clients. Same old, same old isn't exactly in my comfort zone.

For that reason
I've been attracted to and inspired by technology. For me - and our business - nothing has expanded networks, horizons, opportunities and thinking faster and more dramatically than the ability to learn from and tap into the constantly evolving (fluxing?) basket of web and social media tools.

To this day,
I still remember the thrill of signing up for Compuserve and clicking on that first web link. It was easy to recognize IMMEDIATELY that the world had changed.

A few years later
I got the same thrill listening to my good friend John R. - who I knew should be on plane selling to far flung clients - explaining how planes were outdated and how he could bring us great clients simply by optimizing our website. John wasn't wrong - and we landed Gulfstream Jets (ironically!), the Gap and others - without ever visiting them.

A key point
of the Fast Company article is that 'GenFlux' isn't a demographic - it's a mindset.

Not everyone will join Generation Flux, but to be successful, businesses and individuals will have to work at it.

From our vantage point
at Boardroom Metrics we couldn't agree more. We see the resistors. They're out there - both companies and individuals.

The arrogance
of the old school around everything from owning an iPhone, to marketing using social media, to hiring 'experience' drives us batty at times. It seldom seems to us there's much proof that the status quo is working. Yet the fear of and inability to 'break out' (even barely) and try a different approach is real - and (from our vantage point) incredibly stifling.

For those who 'get it', what we see is competitive advantage.

The keys to fluxing
seem simple. Open mind. Flexibility. Curiosity.

To flourish requires a new kind of openness. More than 150 years ago, Charles Darwin foreshadowed this era in his description of natural selection: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives; nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Just Saying.....!

Karen's done a little photo editing while I'm away.

Here's her capture of two headlines from the National Post yesterday. One on Boardroom Metrics - the other on the RIM bros.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bounces off the RIM

I don't have many/any big thoughts on RIM's move to dump its co-CEO's. It was time. Whatever they were doing clearly wasn't working any longer. It's a little scary that the new guy is a RIM insider who says his job is to stay the course "because it's the right one". RIM isn't Apple. The co-CEO's are not Steve Jobs. And the new CEO is not Tim Cook. However with a new Board Chair and a new Board Director, change seems inevitable. Hopefully, everyone understands the tough job ahead. Although BB sightings are still possible ('traditionalists', women with nails, kids with 3 year cell phone plans), they are hardly what they used to be. Turning that around won't be business as usual.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hey Fortune Magazine, Screw-Off

From an email just sent to Fortune Magazine Customer Service:

Hey Fortune Customer Service - ever since I downloaded the iPad app you've bombarded me with these crap emails that my subscription is ending. It is false, misleading and surprisingly unprofessional considering you are a business publication. Instead of trying to scare into prematurely subscribing why don't you remind me nicely at the appropriate time. Until then, please go away.

Why would Fortune resort to such unprofessional tactics?

The email itself is addressed to "J". Nice personal touch.

There is no indication of when my subscription actually ends. I think it's April??

These emails have been coming for four or five months now!

This is a nice way to mess with a brand. The writers and editors and lots of others are probably merrily working away at building a good product. And the distribution guys are working hard to piss customers like me off. Nice.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sh*t That CEO's Say

This morning I woke up to this headline in the Globe. Good for Lululemon.

Not saying that poking fun at your target audience is a great marketing ploy – but it sure is easy!

Shit that CEO’s say (seriously):

“everything is fine”

“we. are. seriously. screwed.”

“I don’t need a consultant, I need someone to think”

“people need to stop thinking and start doing”

“seriously folks – doesn't ANYBODY here know what they're doing??! 

“what are our customers doing?"

"customers are all the same"

"our business is different"

"employees are our most important asset"

“they’re just lucky they have a job”

“it’s just getting too expensive to fire people any more”

“f—k HR! 

“we are taking this to the Board”

“do you think that anyone on the Board has any idea what they're doing?!"

“f—k the board!”

“I still like the security of the Blackberry”

“s—t, I lost my Blackberry”

“can you Google that for me?"

 "social media is a waste of time"

“what am I supposed to do with Twitter?”

“I’m on Twitter." 

"I haven’t tweeted yet.”

“f—k Twitter”

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Governance: Fixing the Game

Roger Martin, famous RIM independent Director and Dean of the Rotman Business School at U of T  has written a respected book on corporate governance. It's called 'Fixing the Game'.

I haven't read it (I plan to) but recently, Forbes contributor Steve Denning ran this interesting article about Martin's book titled: The Dumbest Idea in the World: Maximizing Shareholder Value (from a quote attributed to Jack Welch).

Here's how it starts:
“Imagine an NFL coach,” writes Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, in his important new book, 'Fixing the Game', “holding a press conference on Wednesday to announce that he predicts a win by 9 points on Sunday, and that bettors should recognize that the current spread of 6 points is too low. Or picture the team’s quarterback standing up in the postgame press conference and apologizing for having only won by 3 points when the final betting spread was 9 points in his team’s favor. While it’s laughable to imagine coaches or quarterbacks doing so, CEOs are expected to do both of these things.”

According to the article, Martin argues that there are two markets - the 'real market' where real dollars show up on the bottom line - and the 'expectations market' ie, the stock market where dollars are traded and made based on how near or far a company is to meeting it's investor expectations.

Martin's point is that there is far more incentive for CEO's to manage the expectations market than there is for them to succeed in the real market. So managing companies becomes all about managing expectations, not about building businesses.

I agree.

Even in my modest tenure of running a too-small public company for five years, I quickly came to understand that running a business well - and running a public business well - were two completely different beasts. I frequently said to people around me that we made decisions running a public company that we would NEVER have made if it were private.

Martin goes on. He argues, according to Forbes, that "we must shift the focus of companies back to the customer and away from shareholder value”. "If you take care of customers, shareholders will be drawn along for a very nice ride.", quotes Forbes.

I don't disagree with Martin - how can you?

It seems to me (here it comes) that there might be no greater evidence that his argument is correct than the value that RIM created up to mid-2008 when customers embraced their smartphone/mobile e-mail invention and subsequently destroyed by ignoring customers evolving expectations thanks to the launch of the iPhone.

Research In Motion Market Cap Chart

Research In Motion Market Cap Chart

Given Martin's point of view, one has to assume that he is working feverishly in the background at RIM - clearly not to manage expectations, but to ensure that management truly understands what customers want - and is skillfully building an operating system and new hardware to capitalize on it.

I keep thinking that Martin (and others associated with RIM) need(s) to be careful.

His book may be great, but if RIM doesn't turn around it will forever be the asterisk on his reputation*.

*had great ideas, even wrote a good book - but failed to execute

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