You’ve been working at a small start-up for a while now when a large, deep-pocketed corporation comes knocking, asking you to join its innovation team. Should you take the job? Will this be the chance to exercise your entrepreneurial imagination in a more secure environment with ample assets? Or […]
Posted on May 29, 2013 at 5:16 pm
Posted on May 27, 2013 at 6:19 pm
WHEN the e-mail came out of the blue last summer, offering a shot as a programmer at a San Francisco start-up, Jade Dominguez, 26, was living off credit card debt in a rental in South Pasadena, Calif., while he taught himself programming. He had been an average student in […]
Posted on May 22, 2013 at 5:49 pm
Launching a new enterprise—whether it’s a tech start-up, a small business, or an initiative within a large corporation—has always been a hit-or-miss proposition. According to the decades-old formula, you write a business plan, pitch it to investors, assemble a team, introduce a product, and start selling as hard as you can. And somewhere in this sequence of events, you’ll probably suffer a fatal setback. The odds are not with you: As new research by Harvard Business School’s Shikhar Ghosh shows, 75% of all start-ups fail […]
Posted on May 22, 2013 at 5:20 pm
Ireland may seem like an unlikely choice of location to start up a new business, but within the debt-stricken country, a new hope of entrepreneurship is emerging from the ruins of the Celtic Tiger. Olan Ahern of Pearson PTE explains why you should start up in Ireland… There is […]
Posted on May 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm
I give good vision. There, its out there. I’ve admitted it. Show me a set of scenarios or possibilities, and I’ll zing you back a VERY clever and convincing corporate mission, vision statement and action plan. Highly differentiating, and perhaps just a tad ahead of its time. Not a hallucinatory compromise either – but a real, substantive bonafide vision that gets everyone excited and will make everyone rich. “Hooray – let the bells ring and the birds sing, we have a future – we just bought ourselves a shiny new one!”
For over 25 years, from start-up to enterprise level organizations, I’ve been the go-to guy for insta-vision solutions. And truthfully, and said with some humility, I have only had happy, contented customers/colleagues – often repeat buyers in fact. The only slight wrinkle is that I can’t really think of an engagement that was implemented to any real effect after I cashed the cheque. Which got me thinking – maybe I was just a lousy consultant.
I don’t think so (one can never know for sure). Turns out that ‘the’ research suggests that the failure rate of consulting engagements is estimated to be as high as 80% (just google it – that’s what I did), a figure that resonated with me, both as a vendor and as a customer. As Ferdinand Piëch, former CEO of Volkswagen famously observed: “If you want to ruin a company, you only have to try fixing it with the help of external consultants”.
Which as you might guess – got me thinking. We all know why people hire consultants – to purchase and inject a solution (not unlike a drug) that has the effect of allowing the organization to bask in the glow of residual cleverness and dodge some heavy lifting while providing covering validation of their actions. Though somewhat dated, the old saw “no one ever got fired for hiring IBM” is a motivation that most senior executives can still relate to. Of course, it is often the case that subject matter expertise is being sought that simply does not exist internally – such as IT projects. But as far as vision, strategy and innovation goes – the persona, soul or (most importantly) purpose of a person or an organization is not something that can be outsourced. It is the source of the greatness that defines the best possible future of the entity in question, and that must always every time be the product of internal exploration, discovery and definition.
The answer is encouragingly obvious. That is to tap into, leverage and free the experiential, emotional and intellectual energy that defines our individual and collective self. It may well be the case that outside assistance may be required, but it is a coach, not a consultant that is required. You don’t need to be told what to do, you need to be freed to see for yourself what the future holds for you, and empowered with the sufficient tools to secure its promise.
I think back to one of my highly acclaimed visions that a client paid a considerable sum of money for. All the key stakeholders bought into it intellectually. But because none of them were its author, there was no emotional ownership, accountability or connection. For what its worth, my pristine vision was quite brilliant (if I do say so myself) and theoretically practical. It was also fatally flawed. When the inevitable challenges presented themselves the intellectual commitment to the project dissolved, with only a champion or two quietly disappearing. Instead, had the individuals and/or team been coached to find the answer within themselves, a less-pristine and imperfect vision might have been the result, but the likelihood of success would have been far, far, far higher. Not only that, the camaraderie and sense of accomplishment within the executive ranks – to say nothing of the empowering experience gained – would infinitely better prepare them for future challenges and opportunities. That the requisite investment of time and money on a coaching conversation as opposed to a consulting solution would have been dramatically less was a bonus.
So, a change in the game plan for both you and me is in order. From now on YOU give good vision and I’ll help tease it out of you. Works, better, faster and cheaper – and it WORKS. Sound like a plan?
Igniting Ideas That Make A Difference
Posted on May 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm
Most of the vendors trying to sell the military the latest in solar and fuel efficiency equipment are start-up firms. Watch them sell solar to the Marines. TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (CNNMoney) — Spurred by a desire to save money and lives by reducing the number of vulnerable fuel convoys […]
Posted on May 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm
No one besides venture capitalists and the late Soviet Union requires five-year plans to forecast complete unknowns. These plans are generally fiction, and dreaming them up is almost always a waste of time. 3. Start-ups are not smaller versions of large companies. They do not unfold in accordance […]