More on Leadership
1 year ago
Focus: The Deadly Strategic Idea You've Never Heard Of (But Definitely Need To Know!
Steve Jobs' initial mission at Apple in 1997 was to destroy. He killed the Newton PDA and Macintosh clones. Apple stopped trying to please everyone under Jobs.
Afterward, there were few highly targeted moves. First, the pink iMac. Modest success. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad made Apple the world's most valuable firm. Each maneuver changed the company's center of gravity and won.
That's the idea behind Schwerpunkt, a German military term meaning "focus." Jobs didn't need to win everywhere, just where it mattered, so he focused Apple's resources on a few key goods. Finding your Schwerpunkt is more important than charts and analysis for excellent strategy.
Comparison of Relative Strength and Relative Weakness
The iPod, Apple's first major hit after Jobs' return, didn't damage Microsoft and the PC, but instead focused Apple's emphasis on a fledgling, fragmented market that generated "sucky" products. Apple couldn't have taken on the computer titans at this stage, yet it beat them.
The move into music players used Apple's particular capabilities, especially its ability to build simple, easy-to-use interfaces. Jobs' charisma and stature, along his understanding of intellectual property rights from Pixar, helped him build up iTunes store, which was a quagmire at the time.
In Good Strategy | Bad Strategy, management researcher Richard Rumelt argues that good strategy uses relative strength to counter relative weakness. To discover your main point, determine your abilities and where to effectively use them.
Steve Jobs did that at Apple. Microsoft and Dell, who controlled the computer sector at the time, couldn't enter the music player business. Both sought to produce iPod competitors but failed. Apple's iPod was nobody else's focus.
Finding The Center of Attention
In a military engagement, leaders decide where to focus their efforts by assessing commanders intent, the situation on the ground, the topography, and the enemy's posture on that terrain. Officers spend their careers learning about schwerpunkt.
Business executives must assess internal strengths including personnel, technology, and information, market context, competitive environment, and external partner ecosystems. Steve Jobs was a master at analyzing forces when he returned to Apple.
He believed Apple could integrate technology and design for the iPod and that the digital music player industry sucked. By analyzing competitors' products, he was convinced he could produce a smash by putting 1000 tunes in my pocket.
The only difficulty was there wasn't the necessary technology. External ecosystems were needed. On a trip to Japan to meet with suppliers, a Toshiba engineer claimed the company had produced a tiny memory drive approximately the size of a silver dollar.
Jobs knew the memory drive was his focus. He wrote a $10 million cheque and acquired exclusive technical rights. For a time, none of his competitors would be able to recreate his iPod with the 1000 songs in my pocket.
How to Enter the OODA Loop
John Boyd invented the OODA loop as a pilot to better his own decision-making. First OBSERVE your surroundings, then ORIENT that information using previous knowledge and experiences. Then you DECIDE and ACT, which changes the circumstance you must observe, orient, decide, and act on.
Steve Jobs used the OODA loop to decide to give Toshiba $10 million for a technology it had no use for. He compared the new information with earlier observations about the digital music market.
Then something much more interesting happened. The iPod was an instant hit, changing competition. Other computer businesses that competed in laptops, desktops, and servers created digital music players. Microsoft's Zune came out in 2006, Dell's Digital Jukebox in 2004. Both flopped.
By then, Apple was poised to unveil the iPhone, which would cause its competitors to Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. Boyd named this OODA Loop infiltration. They couldn't gain the initiative by constantly reacting to Apple.
Microsoft and Dell were titans back then, but it's hard to recall. Apple went from near bankruptcy to crushing its competition via Schwerpunkt.
Rather than a destination, it is a journey
Trying to win everywhere is a strategic blunder. Win significant fights, not trivial skirmishes. Identifying a focal point to direct resources and efforts is the essence of Schwerpunkt.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, PC firms were competing, but he focused on digital music players, and the iPod made Apple a player. He launched the iPhone when his competitors were still reacting. When Steve Jobs said, "One more thing," at the end of a product presentation, he had a new focus.
Schwerpunkt isn't static; it's dynamic. Jobs' ability to observe, refocus, and modify the competitive backdrop allowed Apple to innovate consistently. His strategy was tailored to Apple's capabilities, customers, and ecosystem. Microsoft or Dell, better suited for the enterprise sector, couldn't succeed with a comparable approach.
There is no optimal strategy, only ones suited to a given environment, when relative strength might be used against relative weakness. Discovering the center of gravity where you can break through is more of a journey than a destination; it will become evident after you reach.
1 year ago
When My Remote Leadership Skills Took Off
4 Ways To Manage Remote Teams & Employees
The wheels hit the ground as I landed in Rochester.
Our six-person satellite office was now part of my team.
Their manager only reported to me the day before, but I had my ticket booked ahead of time.
I had managed remote employees before but this was different. Engineers dialed into headquarters for every meeting.
So when I learned about the org chart change, I knew a strong first impression would set the tone for everything else.
I was either their boss, or their boss's boss, and I needed them to know I was committed.
Managing a fleet of satellite freelancers or multiple offices requires treating others as more than just a face behind a screen.
You must comprehend each remote team member's perspective and daily interactions.
The good news is that you can start using these techniques right now to better understand and elevate virtual team members.
1. Make Visits To Other Offices
If budgeted, visit and work from offices where teams and employees report to you. Only by living alongside them can one truly comprehend their problems with communication and other aspects of modern life.
2. Have Others Come to You
• Having remote, distributed, or satellite employees and teams visit headquarters every quarter or semi-quarterly allows the main office culture to rub off on them.
When remote team members visit, more people get to meet them, which builds empathy.
If you can't afford to fly everyone, at least bring remote managers or leaders. Hopefully they can resurrect some culture.
3. Weekly Work From Home
No home office policy?
WFH is a team-building, problem-solving, and office-viewing opportunity.
For dial-in meetings, I started working from home on occasion.
It also taught me which teams “forget” or “skip” calls.
As a remote team member, you experience all the issues first hand.
This isn't as accurate for understanding teams in other offices, but it can be done at any time.
4. Increase Contact Even If It’s Just To Chat
Don't underestimate office banter.
Sometimes it's about bonding and trust, other times it's about business.
If you get all this information in real-time, please forward it.
Even if nothing critical is happening, call remote team members to check in and chat.
I guarantee that building relationships and rapport will increase both their job satisfaction and yours.
11 months ago
Is it bad of me to want our portfolio companies to generate greater returns for outside investors than they did for us as venture capitalists?
Wishing for Lasting Companies, Not Penny Stocks or Goodwill Write-Downs
Get me a NASCAR-style company-logoed cremation urn (notice to the executor of my will, theres gonna be a lot of weird requests). I believe in working on projects that would be on your tombstone. As the Homebrew logo is tattooed on my shoulder, expanding the portfolio to my posthumous commemoration is easy. But this isn't an IRR victory lap; it's a hope that the firms we worked for would last beyond my lifetime.
Venture investors too often take credit or distance themselves from startups based on circumstances. Successful companies tell stories of crucial introductions, strategy conversations, and other value. Defeats Even whether our term involves Board service or systematic ethical violations, I'm just a little investment, so there's not much I can do. Since I'm guilty, I'm tossing stones from within the glass home (although we try to own our decisions through the lifecycle).
Post-exit company trajectories are usually unconfounded. Off the cap table, no longer a shareholder (or a diminishing one as you sell off/distribute), eventually leaving the Board. You can cheer for the squad or forget about it, but you've freed the corporation and it's back to portfolio work.
As I look at the downward track of most SPACs and other tarnished IPOs from the last few years, I wonder how I would feel if those were my legacy. Is my job done? Yes. When investing in a business, the odds are against it surviving, let alone thriving and being able to find sunlight. SPAC sponsors, institutional buyers, retail investments. Free trade in an open market is their right. Risking and losing capital is the system working! But
We were lead or co-lead investors in our first three funds, but as additional VCs joined the company, we were pushed down the cap table. Voting your shares rarely matters; supporting the firm when they need it does. Being valuable, consistent, and helping the company improve builds trust with the founders.
I hope every startup we sponsor becomes a successful public company before, during, and after we benefit. My perspective of American capitalism. Well, a stock ticker has a lot of garbage, and I support all types of regulation simplification (in addition to being a person investor in the Long-Term Stock Exchange). Yet being owned by a large group of investors and making actual gains for them is great. Likewise does seeing someone you met when they were just starting out become a public company CEO without losing their voice, leadership, or beliefs.
I'm just thinking about what we can do from the start to realize value from our investments and build companies with bright futures. Maybe seed venture financing shouldn't impact those outcomes, but I'm not comfortable giving up that obligation.
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1 year ago
Why Do Websites Have the Same Design?
My kids redesigned the internet because it lacks inventiveness.
Internet today is bland. Everything is generic: fonts, layouts, pages, and visual language. Microtypography is messy.
Web design today seems dictated by technical and ideological constraints rather than creativity and ideas. Text and graphics are in containers on every page. All design is assumed.
Ironically, web technologies can design a lot. We can execute most designs. We make shocking, evocative websites. Experimental typography, generating graphics, and interactive experiences are possible.
Even designer websites use containers in containers. Dribbble and Behance, the two most popular creative websites, are boring. Lead image.
How did this happen?
Several reasons. WordPress and other blogging platforms use templates. These frameworks build web pages by combining graphics, headlines, body content, and videos. Not designs, templates. These rules combine related data types. These platforms don't let users customize pages beyond the template. You filled the template.
Templates are content-neutral. Thus, the issue.
Form should reflect and shape content, which is a design principle. Separating them produces content containers. Templates have no design value.
One of the fundamental principles of design is a deep and meaningful connection between form and content.
Designers may also be lazy. Mobile-first, generic, framework-driven development tends to ignore web page visual and contextual integrity.
How can we overcome this? How might expressive and avant-garde websites look today?
Rediscovering the past helps design the future.
'90s-era web design
At the University of the Arts Bremen's research and development group, I created my first website 23 years ago. Web design was trendy. Young web. Pages inspired me.
We struggled with HTML in the mid-1990s. Arial, Times, and Verdana were the only web-safe fonts. Anything exciting required table layouts, monospaced fonts, or GIFs. HTML was originally content-driven, thus we had to work against it to create a page.
Experimental typography was booming. Designers challenged the established quo from Jan Tschichold's Die Neue Typographie in the twenties to April Greiman's computer-driven layouts in the eighties. By the mid-1990s, an uncommon confluence of technological and cultural breakthroughs enabled radical graphic design. Irma Boom, David Carson, Paula Scher, Neville Brody, and others showed it.
Early web pages were dull compared to graphic design's aesthetic explosion. The Web Design Museum shows this.
Nobody knew how to conduct browser-based graphic design. Web page design was undefined. No standards. No CMS (nearly), CSS, JS, video, animation.
Now is as good a time as any to challenge the internet’s visual conformity.
Our imagination, not technology, restricts web design. We're too conformist to aesthetics, economics, and expectations.
Crisis generates opportunity. Challenge online visual conformity now. I'm too old and bourgeois to develop a radical, experimental, and cutting-edge website. I can ask my students.
I taught web design at the Potsdam Interface Design Programme in 2017. Each team has to redesign a website. Create expressive, inventive visual experiences on the browser. Create with contemporary web technologies. Avoid usability, readability, and flexibility concerns. Act. Ignore Erwartungskonformität.
The class outcome pleased me. This overview page shows all results. Four diverse projects address the challenge.
1. ZKM by Frederic Haase and Jonas Köpfer
Frederic and Jonas began their experiments on the ZKM website. The ZKM is Germany's leading media art exhibition location, but its website remains conventional. It's useful but not avant-garde like the shows' art.
Frederic and Jonas designed the ZKM site's concept, aesthetic language, and technical configuration to reflect the museum's progressive approach. A generative design engine generates new layouts for each page load.
2. Streem by Daria Thies, Bela Kurek, and Lucas Vogel
Street art magazine Streem. It promotes new artists and societal topics. Streem includes artwork, painting, photography, design, writing, and journalism. Daria, Bela, and Lucas used these influences to develop a conceptual metropolis. They designed four neighborhoods to reflect magazine sections for their prototype. For a legible city, they use powerful illustrative styles and spatial typography.
3. Medium by Amelie Kirchmeyer and Fabian Schultz
Amelie and Fabian structured. Instead of developing a form for a tale, they dissolved a web page into semantic, syntactical, and statistical aspects. HTML's flexibility was their goal. They broke Medium posts into experimental typographic space.
4. Hacker News by Fabian Dinklage and Florian Zia
Florian and Fabian made Hacker News interactive. The social networking site aggregates computer science and IT news. Its voting and debate features are extensive despite its simple style. Fabian and Florian transformed the structure into a typographic timeline and network area. News and comments sequence and connect the visuals. To read Hacker News, they connected their design to the API. Hacker News makeover.
Communication is not legibility, said Carson. Apply this to web design today. Modern websites must be legible, usable, responsive, and accessible. They shouldn't limit its visual palette. Visual and human-centered design are not stereotypes.
I want radical, generative, evocative, insightful, adequate, content-specific, and intelligent site design. I want to rediscover web design experimentation. More surprises please. I hope the web will appear different in 23 years.
Update: this essay has sparked a lively discussion! I wrote a brief response to the debate's most common points: Creativity vs. Usability
1 year ago
Jack Dorsey's Meeting Best Practice was something I tried. It Performs Exceptionally Well in Consulting Engagements.
Yes, client meetings are difficult. Especially when I'm alone.
Clients must tell us their problems so we can help.
In-meeting challenges contribute nothing to our work. Consider this:
Clients are unprepared.
Clients are distracted.
Clients are confused.
Introducing Jack Dorsey's Google Doc approach
I endorse his approach to meetings.
Not Google Doc-related. Jack uses it for meetings.
This is what his meetings look like.
Prior to the meeting, the Chair creates the agenda, structure, and information using Google Doc.
Participants in the meeting would have 5-10 minutes to read the Google Doc.
They have 5-10 minutes to type their comments on the document.
In-depth discussion begins
There is elegance in simplicity. Here's how Jack's approach is fantastic.
Unprepared clients are given time to read.
During the meeting, they think and work on it.
They can see real-time remarks from others.
Three months ago, I fell for this strategy. After trying it with a client, I got good results.
I conducted social control experiments in a few client workshops.
I am sure Jack Dorsey’s method works well in meetings. What about client workshops?
So, I tested Enterprise of the Future with a consulting client.
I sent multiple emails to client stakeholders describing the new approach.
No PowerPoints that day. I spent the night setting up the Google Doc with conversation topics, critical thinking questions, and a Before and After section.
The client was shocked. First, a Google Doc was projected. Second surprise was a verbal feedback.
“No pre-meeting materials?”
“Don’t worry. I know you are not reading it before our meeting, anyway.”
We laughed. The experiment started.
Observations throughout a 90-minute engagement workshop from beginning to end
For 10 minutes, the workshop was silent.
People read the Google Doc. For some, the silence was unnerving.
“Are you not going to present anything to us?”
I said everything's in Google Doc. I asked them to read, remark, and add relevant paragraphs.
As they unlocked their laptops, they were annoyed.
Ten client stakeholders are typing on the Google Doc. My laptop displays comment bubbles, red lines, new paragraphs, and strikethroughs.
The first 10 minutes were productive. Everyone has seen and contributed to the document.
I was silent.
The move to a classical workshop was smooth. I didn't stimulate dialogue. They did.
Stephanie asked Joe why a blended workforce hinders company productivity. She questioned his comments and additional paragraphs.
That is when a light bulb hit my head. Yes, you want to speak to the right person to resolve issues!
Not only that was discussed. Others discussed their remark bubbles with neighbors. Debate circles sprung up one after the other.
The best part? I asked everyone to add their post-discussion thoughts on a Google Doc.
After the workshop, I have:
An agreement-based working document
A post-discussion minutes that are prepared for publication
A record of the discussion points that were brought up, argued, and evaluated critically
It showed me how stakeholders viewed their Enterprise of the Future. It allowed me to align with them.
Client meetings are a hit-or-miss. I know that.
Jack Dorsey's meeting strategy works for consulting. It promotes session alignment.
It relieves clients of preparation.
I get the necessary information to advance this consulting engagement.
It is brilliant.
1 year ago
How to get 100k profile visits on Twitter each month without spending a dime
As a marketer, I joined Twitter on August 31, 2022 to use it.
Growth has been volatile, causing up-and-down engagements. 500 followers in 11 days.
I met amazing content creators, marketers, and people.
Those who use Twitter may know that one-liners win the algorithm, especially if they're funny or humorous, but as a marketer I can't risk posting content that my audience won't like.
I researched, learned some strategies, and A/B tested; some worked, some didn't.
In this article, I share what worked for me so you can do the same.
Thanks for reading!
Let's check my Twitter stats.
Tweets: how many tweets I sent in the first 28 days.
A user may be presented with a Tweet in their timeline or in search results.
In-person visits how many times my Twitter profile was viewed in the first 28 days.
Mentions: the number of times a tweet has mentioned my name.
Number of followers: People who were following me
Getting 500 Twitter followers isn't difficult.
Not easy, but doable.
Follow these steps to begin:
Determine your content pillars in step 1.
My formula is Growth = Content + Marketing + Community.
I discuss growth strategies.
My concept for growth is : 1. Content = creating / writing + sharing content in my niche. 2. Marketing = Marketing everything in business + I share my everyday learnings in business, marketing & entrepreneurship. 3. Community = Building community of like minded individuals (Also,I share how to’s) + supporting marketers to build & grow through community building.
Identify content pillars to create content for your audience.
2. Make your profile better
Create a profile picture. Your recognition factor is this.
Professional headshots are worthwhile.
This tool can help you create a free, eye-catching profile pic.
Use a niche-appropriate avatar if you don't want to show your face.
2. Create a bio that converts well mainly because first impressions count.
what you're sharing + why + +social proof what are you making
Be brief and precise. (155 characters)
3. Configure your banner
Banners complement profile pictures.
Use this space to explain what you do and how Twitter followers can benefit.
Canva's Twitter header maker is free.
Birdy can test multiple photo, bio, and banner combinations to optimize your profile.
Versions A and B of your profile should be completed.
Find the version that converts the best.
Use the profile that converts the best.
4. Special handle
If your username/handle is related to your niche, it will help you build authority and presence among your audience. Mine on Twitter is @marketershruti.
5. Participate expertly
Proficiently engage while you'll have no audience at first. Borrow your dream audience for free.
Find a creator who has the audience you want.
Activate their post notifications and follow them.
Add a valuable comment first.
6. Create fantastic content
Medium (Read articles about your topic.)
Podcasts (Listen to experts on your topics)
YouTube (Follow channels in your niche)
Listicle ( Hacks, Books, Tools, Podcasts)
Lessons (Teach your audience how to do 1 thing)
Inspirational (Inspire people to take action)
You MUST plan ahead and schedule your Tweets.
Use a scheduling tool that is effective for you; hypefury is mine.
Lastly, consistency is everything that attracts growth. After optimizing your profile, stay active to gain followers, engagements, and clients.
If you found this helpful, please like and comment below.