The pace of change is overwhelming. Many established companies have finally realised that this change isn’t just a little blip in the way things are done, but an entire business eco system reorganisation. It’s fair to say that the level of corporate anxiety is at an all time high, and with good reason. Only 57 companies still remain on the inaugural Fortune 500 list from 1955, while more than half of the Fortune 500 companies were not in it just 10 years ago. And while the cost of not adapting to the digital era is likely to be extinction, it seems as though every day I see yet another story of a large legacy market leader who is, to put it bluntly, Kodaking.
Kodaking is the term I now use to explain a company implementing strategies which are fundamentally flawed in the new business infrastructure. But before I go through the signs of a firm who is Kodaking, I’ll recap some of the terrible decisions made by the once revered imaging company.
Kodak’s Digital Camera from 1975:
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Kodak had over $16B in revenue in the late 1990’s – yet is bankrupt today. In fact they recently sold 1,100 of their remaining valuable digital imagery patents to a consortium of Apple, Samsung, Google and others for the sum of $527 million in a bid to restructure and salvage something. They ironically invented the digital camera in 1975, but had little incentive to facilitate its mass marketing as it disrupted their highly profitable film sale and processing business. As late as 2004 Kodak in their
wisdom stupidity attempted to sell digital cameras which plugged onto home based printers so they could continue with their old model of selling chemical film for profit. Here’s the kicker though…. What they did do, share memories, ‘Kodak moments’, has never been in stronger demand than it is today. Twice as many photos have been shared in the first half of this year as were shared in all of last year. What is facebook other than a Kodak moment 2.0? Facebook’s market capitalisation is (as of today) $122b while Kodak had a market value of only $28b at its peak. In fact there is no limit of new and large brands who took what Kodak resisted – Flickr, Instagram, Smartphones, GoPro, parts of Google, elements of Apple…. the list is long. Kodak could obviously see the future, because they invented most of it. But they were greedy. What they really failed to do was connect people, the way the people wanted to connect. They tried to dictate the methods of visual connection with people. As we know technology has no respect for the past, and our strategy must always be defined by our audience’s desires. They recognised the technology, but failed to open their mind to the revenue possibilities of it, and play the long game.
So how do we avoid Kodaking? Here are some things to look out for:
- Shelving technology which is less profitable, but highly probable to redefine a market.
- Defining the company by product portfolio instead of human needs underneath them (see the Marketing Myopia).
- Trying to find new ways to keep old revenue models alive.
- Not asking these core questions often enough: What business are we in? What business do we need to be in?
- Internal talk about the advantages of scale and infrastructure, when the opposite is true.
- Ignoring the potential of disruptive startups in adjacent industries.
- Trying to charge a fee for what can now be found elsewhere for free.
- Competing for market share in an existential pie (Kodak vs Fuji vs Agfa). The future is often in baking a new market share pie.
- Not entirely embracing technology as a mandatory company focus.
Startup blog says: Don’t be Kodaking.
No, we shouldn’t do that. It’s such a big thing with no clear way to start, and no clear way to end. There’s a really big chance we could waste a significant amount of financial, temporal and emotional resources on it. It’s too uncertain and adds a whole lot of life complications to it, it takes a lot of organising, registrations, financing, commitment to something for which a future which is unproven.
Here’ a better idea. We should do a project instead. Projects are superior to businesses. Superior because they tell us more about the future. It can sample our predicted future reality and test it for truth. In addition to that it has a number of micro benefits which add up to something significant.
- A project helps us get over our inertia. It’s only a project.
- A project can be bootstrapped more heavily, as we don’t need to build in any scale.
- A project allows us to do a minimum viable product, but actually mean it, and actually do it.
- A project is not a life long commitment. We can close it off any time for any reason we choose.
- A project tells our circle and the market that this is temporary, but worth trying.
- A project doesn’t need huge resources, only enough to cover one cycle.
- A project is likely maintain momentum and energy as the finish line is in sight from the start.
- A project let’s us test our assumptions, but in the real world – the market place.
- A project can lead to a better conceived project.
- A project can lead to important collaborations and discoveries.
- A project can lead to something bigger… maybe even a business.
- A project….
In fact, when we really think about it, business is simply a project which worked well and got bigger. Or we could say that a business is a number of separate yet continuous projects linked together in perpetuity, performed by the same people and infrastructure.
And so, it’s pretty clear if we just start with a project or tow, we might be lucky enough to end up with a business.
Whenever we hear this turn of phrase, it tends to be regarding a negative situation or outcome of the proclaimer.
Why was I born into a poor family?
Why did I get the cranky boss?
Why aren’t I good at mathematics?
Why am I so short?
Why don’t I have clear skin?
The interesting thing is that we never hear these people asking why they were born healthy, with working limbs, in a country without war or famine, and with a family that loves them.
No, they’d rather point out the ‘margnial’ negative facets in their life and only ever look up the ladder to people who are better off in one particular area. They forget to look down. We all have elements in our lives in which others are better off, and we all have elements in which we are better off than others. So it’s vital we look both ways, up and down, and keep a balanced perspective on life.
In fact the real why me question they might ask is why don’t I have a better attitude? And the reason they don’t ask this question is that it is something they have total control over.
As a startup entrepreneur I often get asked if I’m coder. I used to say no. My answer used to be something like: our job as an entrepreneurs is to organise the factors of production, not be them. But I’ve recently changed my answer to yes regarding the coding question. And no, I haven’t gone out and learned PHP or Ruby or the latest groovy language.
My code is the english language. I’ve become adept at mashing up the approximate 200,000 words we have at our disposal. On the odd occasion I use the core 26 letters in the code to make up some new words that suit me. At certain times I hack together new code short cuts or ‘sound bites’ which promote and inspire a large number of actions on a simple string of a few words. The newness of the code inspires people to act in different ways.
The code I use can stimulate actions and outputs both physical and virtual. As far as I can tell it is still the greatest software code we’ve ever developed. It is totally open source and varies in its use dependent on many things including the geography in which it is used. This language code I use most often, is still the most interesting platform I’ve worked with. Even the same code, said by a different person with a different tone can have a number of different outcomes. It can even change its meaning based on who wrote it when it is exactly the same line of code. It really is worth mastering.
I sometimes use other codes, including the investing code. This one is based on a 10 point decimal number system. This code is very lucrative when you understand its depth as it pertains to equities, venture capital, property and other income streams. It’s super good to overlay the investing code on top of the English code to get profitable outcomes.
While I’m not amazing at the Mandarin code (another language platform) used in large parts of Asia and even Australia – I sometimes drop in some hacks I’ve learned which the receiving platform responds very well to. try to find ways in which different codes can be used together and interchangebly on the same platform as I find this often gets a result others just cannot garner.
Code is all around us. In many forms, platforms, typologies and physical manifestations. If you’re human you’re a master at more forms of cade than you think. And if you’re an entrepreneur the real benefits arise when we work out how to let these codes interact as an entirely new language. A language which then becomes our own personal operating system. Which when done well can even turn into a powerful personal brand. Yes, we’re all coders.
There are some things which we as humans intuitively know will occur. Almost every industry has a future state which we can see occurring at some point. While the timing might be hard to predict, the inevitability is predictable.
We can take a quick look at certain industries to provide exemplars of this contention:
- In the future cars will not run on gas / petrolium.
- In the future smart phones will be usurped by wearable computing.
- Physical retailers who compete on price with omni available goods will cease to exist.
- Leisure space travel will be within reach for the masses.
- Many (half?) companies will close offices and move to remote / choice based location working structures.
- Global virtual and crypto currencies will replace fiat currency.
- 3D printers & scanners will be as common as computers in homes & work spaces.
- Sharing economies in all industries will create resource leverage & new financial liquidity.
- Self organised banking and lending systems will emerge.
- Connected everything – chips and sensors in everything from milk cartons to t-shirts.
The list is endless. These are the ‘When & Who’ startups. Those with a high level of probability, even though it may not be us, and may not be now or next year.
Yet, many startups focus on things which may occur, based on a needed shift in human behaviour which – if it does happen will be insanely profitable. The ideas that no one has thought of (white space), where the entire prize can be theirs alone. I call it the ‘IF’ startup. Sure they are possible, yet they are improbable due to their occurrence being so rare.
So we have a choice on which kind of startup to go for. The possible or the probable. The ‘if’ or the ‘when and who’. I feel like it is a better choice to go for the inevitable, rather than the possible. It’s true that some things arrive which we didn’t see coming that change lives, the reality is that most technological curve jumps are foreseeable. As a bonus it’s usually easier to inspire our supply chain, customers and investors on highly probably events of the future. And while we all make our own market entry choices, it’s nice to go in with our eyes wide open.
‘Just some yellow rope’ – read the dialogue below between Raul and a commenter on youtube.
There are two clear points for me here.
- Be like Ross – pay attention. Lessons are everywhere.
- The solutions are almost always simpler than they seem.
Today I was fortunate enough to be in the company of a few global thought leaders on life hacking and inventing money. Some of the ideas that were shared I hadn’t heard before, and others I knew and forgot (Which means I didn’t really know it). In any case, what better way than to start off the week by sharing a few of them here:
- When someone asks you how you can repay them after teaching them something of value – this is a good answer: Teach as many people as you can what I taught you.
- Wisdom is knowledge performed.
- ‘Do Power’ is the key not Will Power.
- In a developed economy, the amount of people who succeed is directly proportional to the amount who give up.
- Most people are not smarter than you / me / us, they simply do more than you / me / us.
- With a strong enough ‘why’ humans can do the most amazing things. The ‘why’ usually fails before anything else.
- TV can also be known as an E.I.R – or an Electronic Income Reducer. Watching lots of un-educational TV is a wealth hazard.
- All children are successful. But as they grow older they are taught to stop trying, stop failing, stop experimenting and stop having fun. This is why learning declines with age – it is not related to the body or the brains capacity to grow with age.
- What most marketers learn to do is ‘bottle the concept’. What they sell is often not the product but the ephemeral nature of what it represents.
- The more you go Pfff, the more life goes Pfff.
- We shouldn’t lead the way, we need to lead the why.
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is now the 4th most read book in history. Worth a read if you haven’t yet.
Podcasting is back baby – and this time it’s bigger than ever. It seems as though after an initial flurry in the early web 2.0 era that people have rediscovered podcasting. Quite possible driven by quicker 3g downloads, smart phones and bigger data limits? – who knows. Let’s face it we can’t always give our eyeballs up while we are busy, but our ears can take in some vital information while working, exercising and doing pretty much anything.
Well some local Melbourne Startup Techie Business nerds have got together to share some insights once a week based on our own little journeys. We like to call it Beers Blokes & Business. A simple format really. We get together on a monday night, one of the blokes buys an interesting beer, we crack one open, he tells us why he chose it, and then we get into the business topic of the day. But it is always full strength banter.
The suspects are usual and include:
Sean Callanan (the founding father)
babyface Josh Rowe
You can click on this link to follow the ‘blokes’ on twitter and see more about our backgrounds. Each podcast includes 3 or 4 of the blokes depending on who is available that night.
So far we have published three of our podcasts and have hit the global top 100 for business podcasts on iTunes. So, the world is voting and they are feeling the banter. The really refreshing element is that it is not a mutual love fest and we all keep each other grounded with some classic sledging.
The three podcasts topics so far are:
#BBB 1. Self Learning – which was inspired by the tweet below:
#BBB 2. Build your network -
#BBB 3. Manage that side project -
They typically go for 40 mins in 2 x 20 minute parts. Idea for the commute or while exercising or in the gym. So be sure to add it to your podcast list on itunes here >>> click here for #BBB goodness. Actually the description on iTunes is pretty funny but I can’t take credit for it.
So have a listen and be sure to let me know what you think, and if you have any topic ideas leave them in the comment.
There is currently no shortage of people talking about the change of the business environment from a linear model to an omni directional one. What we need to understand is that this isn’t limited to business, it’s a wider eco system change.
Last week I was helping a colleague with his transition into his next revenue phase. He was discussing the need to get his credentials and digital footprint in order before he met up with VC’s / recruiters and the like. He didn’t want to go in and meet people unprepared. And it sparked a thought in mind mind:
Why take a linear approach when lessons from each process can inform the other?
We both agreed it makes sense to do things simultaneously, when they interact with each other, as this case seemed to be. If we do them one by one, then the other there is a very good chance we’ll need to rework our effort once we get real ‘in market’ feedback.
The challenge for all of us is knowing which projects are isolated and which ones live in a feedback loop.