Barefoot entrepreneur

When Cedar Anderson turned up in board shorts and shoeless on Friday to present at a local function nobody was too surprised. I mean really, after your company has just raised US$12M on IndieGoGo life can be busy and a guy can sometimes forget his shoes. And this is Byron Bay, always laid back and quickly establishing as an entrepreneurial hub.
Cedar gave a great account of how to to rollout a new innovation – spot the gap in the market, do your research, experiment, test with customers, develop a solid product and get your marketing right.

Have a look at Flow here:


Have a look at my new book Everyone is a Business

Last week I couldn’t spell entryprenewer – now I is one

This article caught my eye this week…

Growth – New research confirms what startups have long been agitating for: Australia needs more STEM graduates:

This just adds to the myth that innovation only occurs in technology. Yes technology is a strong driver but without a business model and tangible change in the customer realm it is impotent.

Any entrepreneurial ecosystem needs all three functions operating in balance. I explain why in my new book.

Everyone is a Business

Sub_Cultures_2015Have a read and tell me what you think!

Jeez whooda thought? Culture = Profit

This morning’s news reported five reasons why the Masters hardware store rollout in Australia has been less than successful. Masters (owned by Woolworths AUS and Lowes USA) is failing in its head to head competition with Bunnings (owned by Wesfarmers). With both competing for a slice of the AU$43 billion home improvement market Masters has a got a few things wrong.

Point 4 (below) describes workplace culture as a significant differentiator. I had the pleasure of doing some culture work with Bunnings a few years ago and I can tell you their service-oriented culture is no accident.

And in this case Bunnings is turning that culture into profit.

ABC report below…

4. Flawed workplace culture

Bunnings has successfully developed a strong organisational culture where workers feel empowered.

Bunnings head of human resources Willem Pruys championed a workplace where challenging the boss was expected and feedback and ideas welcomed.

‘The culture has produced a number of outcomes,” Mr Lake explained.

“Team members by and large love working at Bunnings. The staff churn is incredibly low. Customers who know nothing of the culture notice eye contact, smiles, willingness and enthusiasm not often experienced in Australian retail. It also results in rapid feedback of market information to those making ranging decisions. For a huge retailer Bunnings is amazingly nimble.”

“Woolworths is a very top-down company,” said Mr Lake.

“Masters has a written policy of insisting staff park their cars tail-in to the kerb, which is symptomatic of their rigid workplace culture.”

Defined: Innovation is the creative implementation of learning and change.

I have read a few definitions of innovation in my time. Most of them either make my eyes water or want to run away. Going to the moon is innovation. Waking up is innovation. Saying ‘how can I help you?’ rather than ‘yeah whaddya want moosehead?’ is innovation.  See it’s easy isn’t it? It can be big or small but it has to matter. And still we seek better definitions rather than just doing it. Here’s one for you:

Innovation is: production or adoption, assimilation, and exploitation of a value-added novelty in economic and social spheres; renewal and enlargement of products, services, and markets; development of new methods of production; and establishment of new management systems. It is both a process and an outcome. (Crossan and Apaydin 2010)

While I can fathom this definition I just can’t digest it nor do anything with it. That is possibly why we and our organisations have so much trouble turning our desire to innovate into action. So here is my version. Yet this definition is based on what I want to do to make innovation happen rather than defining what it is. A call to action rather than a static label.

Innovation is the creative implementation of learning and change.

Let me start from the end and explain the importance of these terms and why they are all you need.

Change – no change = no innovation. Yet this is the bit we usually resist most. Change can chase us or we can chase change. But when we catch it we often just let it go because it’s too hard. And this is where we need to pour the most effort into any innovation. When individuals, companies even societies can change easily and without fear innovation will happen. Your product will be accepted, your process followed and your laws obeyed. Get this step wrong and you will have a battle on your hands. But it requires learning to precede it. So I use a continual mantra of educate – motivate – activate to improve the likelihood of change succeeding.

Learning – change is learning, learning is change. Just by thinking differently we can innovate. Fresh thought fuelled by learning opens new doors and begins new journeys. Staring at the same problem or repeating the same process without experimentation and conscious learning was defined by Einstein as madness. Educate yourself and your audience using words, images or action to demonstrate the worth of an innovation. Motivate people by interpreting and integrating your ideas into their worlds. Activate them by providing the means and removing the barriers to change. Companies that find innovation easy tend have a culture of learning so that past successes and failures are reflected upon and sewn into the fabric of the future.

Implementation – this is my favourite. Implementation is the hungry chasm that swallows everything from ideas, people, projects, best intentions, whole organisations and major government programs. Few make it to the other side without careful analysis of the risks and clear strategies for circumventing them. We often believe the strength of a great idea will carry it through, and in some rare cases it does, but one false step is usually enough to bring weak ideas down. Lack of resources, resistance to change, market blindness, wrong design, bad timing and poor communication are all waiting to trip you up. Later we’ll learn more about what underpins consistent and quality implementation – dynamic capabilities.

Creative – the cake itself, not just the icing. There is nothing sadder to see than a bunch of creative types sitting around waiting for creativity to appear because their manager has ordered it. Ensuring that the change, learning and implementation are done well is a necessity. Yet for disruptive and breakthrough innovation creativity has to be applied through every phase. That’s why it is the defining adverb in my definition and not just a lazy nondescript noun. A creative action will out perform a creative idea anytime.

The traditional wisdom is that innovation starts with creativity. I dispute that and quote Pasteur with his statement that chance favours the prepared mind. Learning and change may well proceed the intuiting of a new or different approach to a problem. Invention or discovery may languish until a creative use becomes apparent. Creativity takes many forms and may be nothing more than observing that a change has occurred or in some cases waiting until it has. And as for the belief of some people that they are not creative well… Crows are creative, dogs are creative and goats are ingenious so I am pretty sure most of you are too.

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Coaching – 80:20 Empathy:Technique

Stewie Hase, when he is not floating down a river chasing fish, writes some very insightful pieces on the psychology of learning.

He also shows one of the main reasons why many change programs don’t work.

“Brain research shows that when people are confronted with change the brain releases chemicals that activate the fight and flight response. It creates anxiety.”

We all know this don’t we??? So why do we keep writing rigid change plans and expect people to follow them??? That strategy is more about us than them. My mantra is always to educate, motivate and activate change. And as Stewart points out the best method for that is coaching with the main ingredient being empathy – i.e. not a brilliant spreadsheet with five colours and 37 steps to nirvana.

Old fashioned empathy and support. Read Stewart’s blog here:

and if you would like to sign up to my the newsletter Intelligence Attached shuffle over to the right a little and click Subscribe.

ebook coming soon – Everyone is a Business

I am just putting the finishing touches to my forthcoming ebook titled “Everyone is a Business”. In it I will outline how you, your teams and even your business can re-imagine and think differently to succeed in an age of innovation and change.

But rather than me telling you why we need a book like this here is a great article from John Sheridan at Digital Business Insights that spells out the new landscape of our work future.

“There will be an increasing divide between those with jobs in innovative, imaginative, design-led, value adding industries and those left behind in some way – either out of work, too young, too old, no skills, can’t speak English, not enough education, too much education, with the wrong skills and wrong certification.

The new “haves” and “have-nots”.”


An innovation process that works!

Published – Gold Coast Bulletin, Gold Coast QLD  by Paul Mckey
23 Mar 2015

CREATIVITY, invention and inspiration are terms people associate with innovation.

While they are correct, the brilliant moment, spark or idea is just the first step on the long road to market.

When the boss says more innovation is needed in products or services, we rush for the paper and the coloured pens.

After all, brainstorming is fun.

But in business, where maintaining cashflow is the priority, most good ideas do not survive the reality of limited time and resources.

Yet some simple steps can help ensure your eureka moment is not wasted.

Innovation has at least four critical steps: intuiting, interpreting, integrating and implementing*.

Intuiting is thinking up something new, and it has a twin: informing.

New ideas typically come from years of practice and absorbing information that helps us join random dots into a new pattern.

For instance, Airbnb didn’t invent anything.

It just connected customers (who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for a room) with spare rooms via a slick booking system.

Interpreting is when you take your idea and explain it to colleagues, boss or bank manager. If you can’t explain it, forget it. Your idea might just be a concept but you must have the ability to sell it to other people.

Integrating is when you ask the hard questions about how your product or service fits in. Who wants it? How will customers find it and pay?

These are critical tests any new idea must pass.

Implementation is putting it into practice, and it is where the fun starts. It is usually harder and takes longer than you think to put a new product into the market.

The Lean Business model teaches us to spare the cash but not the effort in the early days. Only when you are sure of a winner do you spend big on marketing and production.

So make sure you have a solid innovation process, one in which people can safely generate, share and test ideas, and success will come more often.

*4i Model – Crossan, Lane and White, 1999.

How to use content marketing to build audience – Pablo Farias – – video

I recently interviewed content marketing ‘zar’ Pablo Farias of where Pablo lays out the rules for good content marketing for building an online audience:

  1.  Provide high quality and regular content on various channels
  2. capture email addresses and contacts in return for exclusive content
  3. now you can sell product but continue to delight and reward subscribers

And he even spells it out in Spanish…

Startup Muster reveals shocking facts!

I love click bait :-) Some great new research into the lives and loves of entrepreneurs has recently been released.

The report is here:

What ‘shocked’ me was these data below show that only 4% of startups feel they have strong design skills. Now this question can be taken two ways: graphic design or process design. And if it is the latter that is worrying. Good design is at the heart of any business, whether it is aesthetic design,  business model design, customer experience design or product design. It is an ethos that a business must develop. Business is full of challenges. Knowing how to design your way through them is critical.

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Schmoozing is good

People often ask me what is the best method for marketing online? – and the answer is: schmoozing! Or in marketing speak, customer referrals. Runners up were website and social.

This research by Implisit points out what many suspect but were too afraid to mention – Trade shows, paid advertising and even Google adwords are nowhere near as effective as word of mouth/keyboard.

The moral here? Luv thy customer. Even if you only have one, according to this, they will soon bring two.

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