Monday, January 16, 2017

Episode 3 - Business Skill 1 - Develop Vision and Strategy - Part 1


AppsJack Podcasts Episode 3 - Developing Vision & Strategy - James Murray, Steven Kubacki, Christian Harris

AppsJack Podcast Episode 3 - Developing Vision & Strategy

January 14, 2017
Seattle, WA

From the Guests

Eric
  • Vision is Step 3 of Kotter’s 8 Steps and the beginning of the APQC PCF.
  • Name and brand shouldn’t change very often
  • Linear path thinking isn’t going to be great; still need to be flexible and shouldn’t think of the vision and mission
  • Businesses have many interfaces (people, products, services, collateral)
  • You have an ability as a leader to embody what you create in positive ways
  • Products and services should also embody the products and services
James
  • Need to get clear on purpose and reason
  • Leadership determines the environment and culture
  • Culture should attract the right people and repel the rest
  • Tactics can change always, no big deal
  • Differences between what people say and what they do
  • Everything in terms of the vision should infiltrate and align inside and out
Steve
  • Cancer App
  • Virtual Reality
  • Vision, Values, Strategy, Mission
  • “Anchoring”
  • Leadership and leadership style/personal style is pretty important
  • Be aware of who they are and what they’re like. Be clear of traits and values.
  • Vision driven to some degree by your product. “Depends what you’re making.”
  • Product can (maybe should?) drive vision
  • Short- and long-term visions
  • Some of the values get thrown around but don’t really mean anything and lead to inauthenticity and a bad perception from the outside
  • First, people need to be clear about themselves
  • The window dressing will later come to harm you
  • People have to feel and believe in the vision and be on board
Christian
  • Values inform the vision
  • Strategies likely more dynamic and visions
  • Need to realign and adjust on a recurring basis
  • Learning can re-inform strategy and vision and values
  • Differences between SMB and Enterprise in even what these things mean
  • Can’t be on paper, must be lived out

Generally, Further Pursuit and Takeaways

Questions to Ponder and Review
  • Why is sharing a vision step 3 in Kotter’s 8 step leading change process yet the beginning of the PCF?
  • What are the fast- and slow-changing aspects of vision and strategy (what should be fixed and/or set in stone vs. things that are more malleable and flexible?)
  • What are the most important “interfaces” of business? Examples include the leadership, employees, products, services, collateral, etc.
  • What do we call the relationship and overlap between the value found in a company’s products and within its leaders and founders?
  • How does a company’s choice in product line(s) impact their mission or vision?
Points
  • Adjusting is not a word that came up but I think it’s a very good one to describe the right mindset and behavior for business and life.
  • The importance of culture, per se, and how it should both repel and attract at the same time (multi-modal and dynamic)
  • The center of it all hinges on the quality and decisions of the individual founder.
  • Creating a shared sense of positive feeling and believing are important outcomes that the company’s “designers” (founders) should seek to create.

BRAND, NICHE, DIFFERENTIATION, APPLICATION

Eric

  • Brand as insignia of values and vision
  • Things can and should be by design and intentionally, not by accident or luck
  • Brand and culture are quite similar concepts
  • It helps with storytelling
  • Questions become more analytical once niched and focused
  • Want to be specific to your audience then, localize then
  • Can tell and explain the narrative far better at a lower, more specific level
  • The high level stuff is about the supply side. But there’s also a demand side that needs to align. Story telling a glue and skid between the two.
  • Can sell better with niching
  • Localize your value to local market
  • Need an operational and supply side view for employees

James

  • Niche and focus similar
  • Can always niche up once you have niched down but if you haven’t niched down further, then it’s hard when pressed and requested
  • Story about a guy that sold databases to cities under a specific size doubled his money every time he narrowed his niche
  • Costs less to niche down (more efficient)
  • As a leader I have to build a culture that will keep my employees aligned with me and be proud to work with me
  • We need to have a vision and mission that is for employees and customers

Steve

  • Nike works because it is different from everyone else
  • “What can we do that’s different?”
  • Developing a narrative helps differentiate and create a sense of authenticity
  • Can become too narrow
  • Having the right narrative is pretty important
  • Must also attract employees
  • The employee and talent attraction part must be part of the strategy, not just thinking about the market (must be holistic) or about all critical stakeholder types

Christian

  • The default mentality is shotgun approach and see what sticks
  • Don’t want to leave your entire livelihood up to chance
  • Have to be niche to attract the right people
  • Real estate examples and their effectiveness
  • The power of niche marketing
  • Many similarities between attracting customers and employees (simpler if these things align and there’s not a left and right hand)

Generally

  • Other than personal/corporate values and qualities, brand is another central theme to the identity of the organization.
  • Specificity of vision, finding and talking about a niche, and localizing are great tools for better storytelling, sales and connecting to your audience.
  • Storytelling is a currency for communicating value from the supply side to the demand(ing) side.
  • Once you ‘niche down’ you can always go back up, but if you haven’t niched down far enough you are at risk to lose your audience.
  • The vision, values, brand, etc. of a company should be equally appealing to both customers and employees because both need to be excited, engaged and believe.
  • Strategies need to be inclusive and integrative of many aspects both internal and external but also need to be very simple and easy to communicate.

CULTURE

Eric

  • Culture is the swamp
  • You’re creating a swamp but you want the swamp to be more like a hot tub
  • Culture can’t be static or stay the same, they are necessarily dynamic

Steve

  • Culture should be adaptive and not static
  • You always need new input
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • As a business gets larger, how the culture gets implemented changes
  • Differences in business sizes impact culture
  • Hierarchy can be part of culture
  • Some organizations don’t even have a leader
  • Many businesses are co-ops and have different ‘governments’

General

  • What are the best corporate cultures like and why? Do they necessarily serve the good of the organization or can they become cancerous leeches that eat away at the vision and mission?
  • How can founders design and redesign culture at the beginning, middle and end of a company’s lifecycle?
  • What are the differences in function between a tops-down, leader-based organization and a co-operative style organization? (How do co-op style groups work?)
  • Culture is a necessarily dynamic thing and should also be adaptive.
  • There are differences in the size of the organization that impact culture and the founders design of the culture, too, needs to change as things within the company change.

STRATEGY

Eric

  • Differences between Army and Microsoft?
  • Grand strategy and grand plan (‘the one’) that gets broken down into smaller things and pieces (separation of concerns)
  • Risk, compliance, remediation and resiliency an entirely different domain within PCF
  • Need to localize the strategy to a low level item
  • Strategies at the task level are not very complex, easy to narrow the field
  • Assumptions a part of risk, qualification and validation other tools
  • Need to have / get to a “plan” which integrates all of these things and parts
  • Hierarchy of vision, strategy, plan, then into concrete and applied schedule and or budget (resources and constraints)
  • “Energy capital” another resources like time and money
  • Tradeoffs are traded off until you have a vision and mission

James

  • Strategy is a reflection of the mission first
  • Strategy is overarching and big but “strategies” may be many, those are more tactics
  • Scope, time and resources greatly affect home much risk you take on and what your strategy is going to be
  • Relationships between, cost, time and quality

Steve

  • Risk really critical in strategy. Differences between levels of risk in sizes and stages of organizations.
  • Risk tolerance, risk aversion and “risking” or “taking risks”
  • Being too conservative not a good strategy
  • Balancing riskiness and conservatism
  • Need to test and validate your ideas (part of the strategy)
  • There always is a leap of faith (the unknown)
  • Risk assessment is a phase and some people, given the probability, people would decide differently based on their risk profile
  • “Reality testing” is how this is considered in psychology

General

  • Strategies at some point need to get chopped up / decomposed / broken up / broken down so they can be delegated, managed, measured and acted upon.
  • “Reality testing” (assumptions, risks, ideas, etc.) is a big skill required to survive and thrive in business.
  • “A plan” is a milestone that happens after the initial stuff of vision and values and all that. A plan becomes very concrete and tangible with steps and the like. Below a plan is the constrained resources and budgets of time, money, physical and mental energy and capacity.
  • What can we do to maximize the resource of energy (both physical and mental) for our projects?
  • The best strategy is chosen through decisions among tradeoffs.
  • Constrained resources between cost, time and quality plan into strategic thinking.
  • Risk tolerance plays into strategic decisions a great deal.
  • There is a subjectively optimal level of risk taking between too much and not enough.

IF YOU’RE GOING TO FAIL, FAIL FAST?

Eric

  • Risk-averse strategies (fail slow)
  • There are strategies that are random and/or fun that speckle in entertainment factors
  • Need to add random, interesting aspects to your brand
  • EfficiTrends and InefficiTrends: thinking in opposites and being creative, unique
  • Are there strategy ‘facilitators’ that are good at getting these ‘think opposite’ things done?
  • Don’t want to think ‘too far out of the box’
  • Your ideas are your students: some will be successful, others will not
  • Diversified portfolio
  • “Volume” (it’s a numbers game) and “Volume” be out and proud about your ideas as yourself
  • Is there a limitation of mindset and pivot? (Not everyone can mentally do a 180)
  • People have blinders of reality

James

  • Maslow’s hierarchy related to businesses?
  • Counterintuitive
  • Carnegie says he failed 49% of the time

Steve

  • If you avoid too much risk, then you live a life where you don’t do anything
  • Humans built to weather stress and take risks
  • People do many things that don’t relate to survival
  • Anomalies
  • A good consultant matches where people are at and tries to expand their client’s world from where they are at, not where you are at (depends on your audience)
  • “Success is somewhat random”
  • Failure is subjective and maybe not “real”
  • People lacking the confidence to start
  • Gotta be willing to fail enough to find the right partner
  • “There are the seeds of success and the seeds of disaster and they go together”
  • “[Vision is] like a genetic program”

Christian

  • “Calculated risk” vs. a foolish guess or test
  • Resiliency a huge part of success (getting back onto your feet)

General

  • Is there a Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs for businesses and other organizations?
  • There are fail fast and fail slow strategies. For some dangerous domains, like driving cars, you might want to fail slow.
  • Resiliency and getting back on your feet and trying again is the key to success.
  • “People do many things that don’t relate to survival.” ~ Steven Kubacki, PhD
  • “Success if somewhat random.” ~ Steven Kubacki, PhD
  • “There are the seeds of success and the seeds of disaster. And they go together.” ~ Steven Kubacki, PhD
  • “Vision is like a genetic program.” ~ Steven Kubacki, PhD
  • There are “random”, creative and out of the box strategies that come from a place of creativity.
  • Many people lack the confidence to even start. If you have started, keep going. You are ahead of many others.
  • Thinking in opposites is a good way to come up with creatives ideas and strategies.
  • There is probably an entire toolkit that some people have and can leverage who can help people think creatively from where they are at. These are called consultants but the best, probably shamanistic ones, can really blow people’s minds and change course for them dramatically.
  • There are limits and edges to strategy: you can think way too far out of the box. And you can think far too narrowly.
  • Think of your business ideas as if they were your students: some will do well, and others may not. Appreciate that some may do well.
  • It’s important to have a diversified (but not too diversified) activity and business portfolio.
  • Volume, both in amount and noise, matter a very great deal in business strategy and execution.

 


Check out this episode!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

AppsJack Podcasts Episode 3 - Developing Vision & Strategy - James Murray, Steven Kubacki, Christian Harris

AppsJack Podcast Episode 3 - Developing Vision & Strategy

January 14, 2017
Seattle, WA

Intro, high-level, ethereal, abstract

From the Guests

Eric
  • Vision is Step 3 of Kotter’s 8 Steps and the beginning of the APQC PCF.
  • Name and brand shouldn’t change very often
  • Linear path thinking isn’t going to be great; still need to be flexible and shouldn’t think of the vision and mission
  • Businesses have many interfaces (people, products, services, collateral)
  • You have an ability as a leader to embody what you create in positive ways
  • Products and services should also embody the products and services
James
  • Need to get clear on purpose and reason
  • Leadership determines the environment and culture
  • Culture should attract the right people and repel the rest
  • Tactics can change always, no big deal
  • Differences between what people say and what they do
  • Everything in terms of the vision should infiltrate and align inside and out
Steve
  • Cancer App
  • Virtual Reality
  • Vision, Values, Strategy, Mission
  • “Anchoring”
  • Leadership and leadership style/personal style is pretty important
  • Be aware of who they are and what they’re like. Be clear of traits and values.
  • Vision driven to some degree by your product. “Depends what you’re making.”
  • Product can (maybe should?) drive vision
  • Short- and long-term visions
  • Some of the values get thrown around but don’t really mean anything and lead to inauthenticity and a bad perception from the outside
  • First, people need to be clear about themselves
  • The window dressing will later come to harm you
  • People have to feel and believe in the vision and be on board
Christian
  • Values inform the vision
  • Strategies likely more dynamic and visions
  • Need to realign and adjust on a recurring basis
  • Learning can re-inform strategy and vision and values
  • Differences between SMB and Enterprise in even what these things mean
  • Can’t be on paper, must be lived out

Generally, Further Pursuit and Takeaways

Questions to Ponder and Review
  • Why is sharing a vision step 3 in Kotter’s 8 step leading change process yet the beginning of the PCF?
  • What are the fast- and slow-changing aspects of vision and strategy (what should be fixed and/or set in stone vs. things that are more malleable and flexible?)
  • What are the most important “interfaces” of business? Examples include the leadership, employees, products, services, collateral, etc.
  • What do we call the relationship and overlap between the value found in a company’s products and within its leaders and founders?
  • How does a company’s choice in product line(s) impact their mission or vision?
Points
  • Adjusting is not a word that came up but I think it’s a very good one to describe the right mindset and behavior for business and life.
  • The importance of culture, per se, and how it should both repel and attract at the same time (multi-modal and dynamic)
  • The center of it all hinges on the quality and decisions of the individual founder.
  • Creating a shared sense of positive feeling and believing are important outcomes that the company’s “designers” (founders) should seek to create.

Brand, Niche, Differentiation, Application

Eric


  • Brand as insignia of values and vision
  • Things can and should be by design and intentionally, not by accident or luck
  • Brand and culture are quite similar concepts
  • It helps with storytelling
  • Questions become more analytical once niched and focused
  • Want to be specific to your audience then, localize then
  • Can tell and explain the narrative far better at a lower, more specific level
  • The high level stuff is about the supply side. But there’s also a demand side that needs to align. Story telling a glue and skid between the two.
  • Can sell better with niching
  • Localize your value to local market
  • Need an operational and supply side view for employees

James


  • Niche and focus similar
  • Can always niche up once you have niched down but if you haven’t niched down further, then it’s hard when pressed and requested
  • Story about a guy that sold databases to cities under a specific size doubled his money every time he narrowed his niche
  • Costs less to niche down (more efficient)
  • As a leader I have to build a culture that will keep my employees aligned with me and be proud to work with me
  • We need to have a vision and mission that is for employees and customers

Steve


  • Nike works because it is different from everyone else
  • “What can we do that’s different?”
  • Developing a narrative helps differentiate and create a sense of authenticity
  • Can become too narrow
  • Having the right narrative is pretty important
  • Must also attract employees
  • The employee and talent attraction part must be part of the strategy, not just thinking about the market (must be holistic) or about all critical stakeholder types

Christian


  • The default mentality is shotgun approach and see what sticks
  • Don’t want to leave your entire livelihood up to chance
  • Have to be niche to attract the right people
  • Real estate examples and their effectiveness
  • The power of niche marketing
  • Many similarities between attracting customers and employees (simpler if these things align and there’s not a left and right hand)

Generally


  • Other than personal/corporate values and qualities, brand is another central theme to the identity of the organization.
  • Specificity of vision, finding and talking about a niche, and localizing are great tools for better storytelling, sales and connecting to your audience.
  • Storytelling is a currency for communicating value from the supply side to the demand(ing) side.
  • Once you ‘niche down’ you can always go back up, but if you haven’t niched down far enough you are at risk to lose your audience.
  • The vision, values, brand, etc. of a company should be equally appealing to both customers and employees because both need to be excited, engaged and believe.
  • Strategies need to be inclusive and integrative of many aspects both internal and external but also need to be very simple and easy to communicate.

Culture

Eric


  • Culture is the swamp
  • You’re creating a swamp but you want the swamp to be more like a hot tub
  • Culture can’t be static or stay the same, they are necessarily dynamic

Steve


  • Culture should be adaptive and not static
  • You always need new input
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • As a business gets larger, how the culture gets implemented changes
  • Differences in business sizes impact culture
  • Hierarchy can be part of culture
  • Some organizations don’t even have a leader
  • Many businesses are co-ops and have different ‘governments’

General


  • What are the best corporate cultures like and why? Do they necessarily serve the good of the organization or can they become cancerous leeches that eat away at the vision and mission?
  • How can founders design and redesign culture at the beginning, middle and end of a company’s lifecycle?
  • What are the differences in function between a tops-down, leader-based organization and a co-operative style organization? (How do co-op style groups work?)
  • Culture is a necessarily dynamic thing and should also be adaptive.
  • There are differences in the size of the organization that impact culture and the founders design of the culture, too, needs to change as things within the company change.

Strategy

Eric


  • Differences between Army and Microsoft?
  • Grand strategy and grand plan (‘the one’) that gets broken down into smaller things and pieces (separation of concerns)
  • Risk, compliance, remediation and resiliency an entirely different domain within PCF
  • Need to localize the strategy to a low level item
  • Strategies at the task level are not very complex, easy to narrow the field
  • Assumptions a part of risk, qualification and validation other tools
  • Need to have / get to a “plan” which integrates all of these things and parts
  • Hierarchy of vision, strategy, plan, then into concrete and applied schedule and or budget (resources and constraints)
  • “Energy capital” another resources like time and money
  • Tradeoffs are traded off until you have a vision and mission

James


  • Strategy is a reflection of the mission first
  • Strategy is overarching and big but “strategies” may be many, those are more tactics
  • Scope, time and resources greatly affect home much risk you take on and what your strategy is going to be
  • Relationships between, cost, time and quality

Steve


  • Risk really critical in strategy. Differences between levels of risk in sizes and stages of organizations.
  • Risk tolerance, risk aversion and “risking” or “taking risks”
  • Being too conservative not a good strategy
  • Balancing riskiness and conservatism
  • Need to test and validate your ideas (part of the strategy)
  • There always is a leap of faith (the unknown)
  • Risk assessment is a phase and some people, given the probability, people would decide differently based on their risk profile
  • “Reality testing” is how this is considered in psychology

General


  • Strategies at some point need to get chopped up / decomposed / broken up / broken down so they can be delegated, managed, measured and acted upon.
  • “Reality testing” (assumptions, risks, ideas, etc.) is a big skill required to survive and thrive in business.
  • “A plan” is a milestone that happens after the initial stuff of vision and values and all that. A plan becomes very concrete and tangible with steps and the like. Below a plan is the constrained resources and budgets of time, money, physical and mental energy and capacity.
  • What can we do to maximize the resource of energy (both physical and mental) for our projects?
  • The best strategy is chosen through decisions among tradeoffs.
  • Constrained resources between cost, time and quality plan into strategic thinking.
  • Risk tolerance plays into strategic decisions a great deal.
  • There is a subjectively optimal level of risk taking between too much and not enough.

If you’re going to fail, fail fast?

Eric


  • Risk-averse strategies (fail slow)
  • There are strategies that are random and/or fun that speckle in entertainment factors
  • Need to add random, interesting aspects to your brand
  • EfficiTrends and InefficiTrends: thinking in opposites and being creative, unique
  • Are there strategy ‘facilitators’ that are good at getting these ‘think opposite’ things done?
  • Don’t want to think ‘too far out of the box’
  • Your ideas are your students: some will be successful, others will not
  • Diversified portfolio
  • “Volume” (it’s a numbers game) and “Volume” be out and proud about your ideas as yourself
  • Is there a limitation of mindset and pivot? (Not everyone can mentally do a 180)
  • People have blinders of reality

James


  • Maslow’s hierarchy related to businesses?
  • Counterintuitive
  • Carnegie says he failed 49% of the time

Steve


  • If you avoid too much risk, then you live a life where you don’t do anything
  • Humans built to weather stress and take risks
  • People do many things that don’t relate to survival
  • Anomalies
  • A good consultant matches where people are at and tries to expand their client’s world from where they are at, not where you are at (depends on your audience)
  • “Success is somewhat random”
  • Failure is subjective and maybe not “real”
  • People lacking the confidence to start
  • Gotta be willing to fail enough to find the right partner
  • “There are the seeds of success and the seeds of disaster and they go together”
  • “[Vision is] like a genetic program”

Christian


  • “Calculated risk” vs. a foolish guess or test
  • Resiliency a huge part of success (getting back onto your feet)

General


  • Is there a Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs for businesses and other organizations?
  • There are fail fast and fail slow strategies. For some dangerous domains, like driving cars, you might want to fail slow.
  • Resiliency and getting back on your feet and trying again is the key to success.
  • “People do many things that don’t relate to survival.” ~ Steven Kubacki, PhD
  • “Success if somewhat random.” ~ Steven Kubacki, PhD
  • “There are the seeds of success and the seeds of disaster. And they go together.” ~ Steven Kubacki, PhD
  • “Vision is like a genetic program.” ~ Steven Kubacki, PhD
  • There are “random”, creative and out of the box strategies that come from a place of creativity.
  • Many people lack the confidence to even start. If you have started, keep going. You are ahead of many others.
  • Thinking in opposites is a good way to come up with creatives ideas and strategies.
  • There is probably an entire toolkit that some people have and can leverage who can help people think creatively from where they are at. These are called consultants but the best, probably shamanistic ones, can really blow people’s minds and change course for them dramatically.
  • There are limits and edges to strategy: you can think way too far out of the box. And you can think far too narrowly.
  • Think of your business ideas as if they were your students: some will do well, and others may not. Appreciate that some may do well.
  • It’s important to have a diversified (but not too diversified) activity and business portfolio.
  • Volume, both in amount and noise, matter a very great deal in business strategy and execution.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

About Vision & Strategy - How to develop it, other challenges and considerations



We had a motley crew of awesome people show up to the AppsJack Share gathering last in Kirkland to talk about Vision & Strategy. I got a lot of great input (see everything below) that will help me better direct the January version of the podcast.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Strategy and approach (what to do) depends on the stage and situation of the business
  2. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) a good way to break down complex projects
  3. Internal and external lenses/views/perspectives key to understanding and thinking about strategy
  4. Personal and corporate authenticity key to successful implementation
  5. Aligning an essential skill
  6. Nuance and readiness for seeing, understanding, integrating and working with outliers and anomalies is another key
  7. Timeframe matters for strategic thinking
  8. Context matters (and therefore controlling/limiting scope and having focus)
  9. There is a general prerence toward rapid tests of assumptions (failing fast) rather than long and protracted 'strategic' actions but there are times when the latter tactics (strategic actions) matter
  10. We couldn't determine whether or not models mattered. Models are meant to be broken, so why manage to them or even think about them?
  11. The mitigation and reduction of risk is key to successful strategy
  12. Design thinking is a key and related skill
  13. Strategy isn't and shouldn't be thought of as linear

We wondered at the very beginning if we should start by discussing vision or strategy and the answer, perhaps not surprisingly, was 'it depends'.  Chris brought up a good point that it very much depends on the stage, phase or status of the organization.  Assessment and triage (qualification) is first needed.  Steve raised challenges he has about breaking down a compelling vision into the component parts.  To me, these are the skills of project managers and other leaders who make complex and challenging things easier, that can be communicated to the necessary suppliers.  Work breakdown structure is a common method.  Mike Pritchard shared that he thinks there is an internal and external vision.  Joe Okonek refers to the vision, values and valued behaviors as things that can / should be externally communicated and publicly shared.  Missions, for example, can be internal documents and communications that help internal relationships focus on comm and strategic goal.  Public/open and private/closed is another dimension on which to explore strategy.


Good parts / what attendees liked: mentions of sex, swearing, arguments, passionate discussion, British accents, food, beer.  Authenticity was brought up as a key factor in this area.  Without true authenticity (and value, quality) your audience will see you as a fake and disengage (won't authorize).  Berry talked about the importance of alignment.  For example, aligning yourself and your company with the market and environment and their vision, values, purposes, needs, interests, ideas, etc.  Dominic talked about the difference between power (which can be personal and thought of as influence) and force, which can be applied from the tops down if someone has a lot of money or ability to coerce.  10 types of power are discussed in this article.  David brought up the point that strategy usually requires a longer and more futuristic timeline.  For example, he said that it's hard to be strategic for two minutes.  


Dominic led us in a discussion of the definition of a strategy and there were many different thoughts and opinions.  Someone defined a strategy as choosing an approach or an approach chosen ie a decision and commitment was necessarily made. I brought up the notion that it is hard to create a perfect product but many people disagreed: that within a domain, there can be a perfect product.  But there is a context, and knowing this context well is critical for product success.  Dominic wanted us to separate 'strategy' generically with 'strategy with a purpose' (a clear why). I brought up an issue I was having at work making a decision to build a feature for a big customer or not.  I am in the process of determining whether their request is qualified or not.  There is much skill required in qualification of certain issues.  Many at the table believed that 'if you are going to fail, fail fast' and people didn't like the idea of dragging on some elaborate process but others believed that caution and due diligence, not just action, were required in certain ambiguous political situations.  There are also scenarios where people cannot afford to fail fast, especially when there is not yet a powerful coalition, agreement and a clearly articulated and communicated vision.  


Richard wanted to know, "How do you know you have strategy?"  It's a good question.  We agreed that force, power, belief, authenticity, conviction and in many ways consistency were required for strategy.  But flexibility and other leadership qualities are also required.  We talked for some time about whether models were important or not.  David did not believe they were beneficial.  I gave the example of NoSQL database strategies where the data gets stored independent of a rigid table schema.  Many new data storage strategies do not rely on a centralized schema.  Differences between abstractions and concrete proof, evidence or data were interesting.  "Insight" or mental models are interesting when derived from data or science.  Steve talked about millennials and their needs.  He says that they share a desire for a better world and have this impediment of the rest of the world who is still alive, their elders.  


Someone pointed out that it is important to seek out anomalies in your data and to test assumptions.  Andy Scott made the point about the import of assumption testing on Episode 2 of the podcast.  Assumptions are a category or area of risk.  Steve shared the saying, "The presumptuous assume, the sumptuous consume."  People do need to build and test (at least mental) models.  Jean brought up the saying to test early and test often.  I shared about test-driven development (TDD), which is about only writing enough code (doing enough) to pass the next test.  It is a Lean approach.  Richard talked about the Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) role at Netflix and how they have build their strategy and plan around mitigating risk.  Managing and reducing risk is a key element of good strategy.  We talked a lot about design, design thinking and its import and spent quite a bit of time talking about Steve Jobs as a visionary and who else he surrounded himself with that helped make him successful.  It was suggested that Jonathan Ive at Apple was very critical to Steve's success and controlled and manipulated him in many ways.  He did of course have many failures as well.  Someone shared the idea of designing for failure, not success.  


Dominic wanted to make it clear that strategy was not linear and that it runs off of principles related to non-linear dynamics and non-linear systems.  Berry shared that it is our intention as managers to create systems that control and constrain--and this is necessary--but does indeed rub up against the truly dynamic nature of people and systems; feedback loops and quality systems that continuously transform and improve systems are indeed required.  We talked about automation and its important and how design decisions like 'who does what' plays big-time into strategy.  In my opinion, users should be the preferred and default / de facto actor and some (many?) of them should have the option to do a task themselves (value add) or delegate a task to a computer or someone else.  We started talking about the podcast toward the end of the event and Bruce recommended The Boss Show, which is a Seattle-area recording about bosses.


Berry posed the question, "How do you know that your vision is not a unicorn?" which is basically to say that you are not living a delusion or tilting at windmills.  The book Black Swan was recommended.  Richard talked a lot about the many types of currencies which relates to the idea of non-monetary economies.  I wondered out loud and Steve agreed that there is some sort of harmonic mathematical equation that describes a leader's oscillation between hypothesis tests and failures.  Bruce brought up 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey and I mentioned that The 8th Habit is about "finding your true voice and helping others find theirs".  The book also talks a lot about connecting strategies of the head with those of the heart which is probably truly about authenticity, believe and conviction.


Questions and topics for further consideration:
  • A Strategy (noun) vs. Strategy (verb) - What are the differences?
  • The skill of qualification; how to qualify, what to qualify, what to ignore?
  • Modern automation thoughts - who does what and what to do with the displaced workers?
  • Why do the ideas of internal/private/closed and external/public/open help us in thinking about strategy?
  • How do you know you have strategy?  (What is strategy?)
  • What are the differences between real-world models and mental models and/or thought processes?  
  • Test-driven design in management?
  • The applications of flexibility and rigidity in strategy development

Which topics, ideas and points would like to see covered on the podcast about Vision & Strategy?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Managing External Relationships - The Skill of Balancing Clear Contracts With Open, Long-Term Communications


Open door policy or....


staying well protected....

or...well, like many things...it depends.

Business leaders from the Seattle area and I gathered in Kirkland on Tuesday, November 22nd to talk about the "Managing External Relationships" category of the APQC's Process Classification Framework.  At the event were me (Eric Veal, Owner of AppsJack Corporation); Berry Zimmerman, Owner of BizEnrich; Richard Schurman, an Intellectual Property Attorney; Andy Scott, a Fortune 10 Executive; and Christian Harris, owner of a media and real estate business.  Richard and Andy were first time attendees and it was a pleasure to have them there.

Earlier in the month, AppsJack released its first podcast episode about the same topic.  On that podcast Leo Lam, Scott Davis, James Tuff and I talked about the issue in depth.  More information on the podcast can be found at http://appsjackcorp.blogspot.com/p/podcast.html.  After the podcast I was left with a big question: "But what about compensation?  If we were to further understood and analyze the various forms of compensation, would we have a clearer answer about the nature of managing external relationships?"

We talked about a multitude of issues within the category and I noted the following ideas:
  • Andy shared that he prefers contracts to be "open".  Flexibility is a necessary part of business relationships.  Being overly controlling, not so much.
  • Berry shared with us some wonderful models that he has built and promotes:
    • The 7 Stakeholders (in priority order):
      • Employees
      • Customers
      • Owners
      • Suppliers
      • Community
      • Competitors
      • Government 
    • The 3 Assets
      • Relational (At the core)
      • Enrichment
      • Financial
    • More information about these models can be seen on Berry's Gifted Referrals website.
  • Andy has a list of 104 items that he has compiled and he could see how these items in many cases bit into the frameworks that Berry has built.
  • We talked about differences between improving-something-exising and building-something-new.  The Six Sigma process has Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC) for improving-something-existing and Design for Six Sigma for building-something-new.
  • Andy made a good comment that the Japanese are good at continuous improvement but not necessarily quantum leaps.  There is an opportunity to smoothly and reasonably lead quantum leaps (big changes).
  • Someone told me that I should come up with a list of Guiding Principles to help me serve as the core of all of my contracts and business dealings.  Sounds fun.  Here's a first start:
    • Be fair
    • Choose relationships
    • Quality over quantity
    • Level up
    • Choose experience
  • We talked about the correspondence between compensation and identity.  For example, how someone compensates (makes promises) in business is very closely related to who the other party perceives they are.  Compensation is both the offered, promised, and actual value given, therefore it is a pretty loaded term.  Performance is the gap between perceived delivery on compensation (value) promises and what is actually delivered.  This is also known as quality.  There is a very close association between quality and performance.
  • When contracting, quality and performance very much need to be defined through good requirements.  Bodies of work abound about writing and managing requirements.
  • We talked a lot about negotiations.  It used to be about "winning" negotiations, and then it became about "win-win".  This is how I learned it at UW in 2005.  We now believe there is "continuous win-win" or process-oriented selling.
  • Berry liked the ideas of "invested" and "vested" and for employees to have skin in the game to encourage better performance.  But I would suggest that there is a class of worker that just works and has no skin in the game.  It might be best to always manage employees to have skin in the game...if only a little...because it makes work more fun and interesting and motivating.
  • Someone mentioned Daniel S. Peña, who I had never heard of.  Sounds like quite an eccentric fellow.
The next podcast recording is Sunday, Dec 4th at 2 PM and the next open meetup is on Tuesday, December 20th at 4 PM.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Managing Enterprise Risk, Compliance and Resiliency - Recap of October AppsJack Business Services Share meetup

The AppsJack Share team gathered on Tuesday, October 25th at Big Fish Grill in Kirkland, WA to discuss "Enterprise Risk, Compliance and Resiliency".  The guests were seasoned professionals who shared many interesting ideas about the topic.  Here are some of the biggest ideas and highlights.  Next month's topic is Managing External Relationships.

What is an acceptable level and/or amount of risk?

Risk can be scored and quantified but it is quite hard to measure.

Risk is comparative and/or relative, not absolute.

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) can be a handy tool for looking at the dark side of situations and understanding potential impacts.

Risk Priority Number (RPN) is used, commonly in the automotive industry, as a measure of assessed risk and helps identify critical failure modes associated with a design or process. RPN values range from 1 (absolute best) to 1000 (absolute worst).  RPN is somewhat similar to the criticality.

Quite a bit of conversation was had about differences between risk (perceived negative impact) and opportunity (perceived negative impact).  Weighing both of these sides is critical for decision making.  Both live within the context of uncertainty.  Information gathering, research and assessment are  good tools to reduce uncertainty and increase the ability to predict outcomes.

David Slight brought up the point about the cost to mitigate.  Just because a risk could be mitigated, the question is raised "is it worth mitigating?"

Risk reduction is indeed a measurement and tool that is commonly used.

Paul, a first-time attendee and new Seattleite (welcome to the group, Paul), shared about the tool of Potential Problem Analysis.  PPA is a way that can help analysts anticipate problems before they happen and to identify the actions needed to be taken to prevent them from happening, or to minimize the effect.

David said that many people assume that there is a 1:1 relationship between the problem and its solution, which is a fallacy.  And that risk is oftentimes hierarchically decomposed, which presents issues since things are multi-dimensional and multi-faceted (do not fall into simple hierarchies).  NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) provides a Risk Management Framework that is common in industry.

Fred said that a lack of a Business Continuity plan is one of the biggest risks that companies face.  Without this plan, they have no plan and are therefore at risk.

There are many types of risk: financial, reputation, technological, infrastructural, contractual, relational, global, service, project, corporate, enterprise, operational.  This page has many of the risk types explained and differentiated.

Controls and compliance are big parts of the risk management process and plan.

Eric shared about extremely significant cultural differences about risk between companies in, say, healthcare, and those in, say, fashion.  Stark differences in language and behavior can be seen between these two cultures.

Jean, who was at the group for the first time and is currently taking a Building your Own Theology class at BCC,  shared about a big difference between the occurrence of the risk and the actual harm that results from it.  The risk event and the following harm or actions are two different areas, each requiring management, caution and care.

There are many situations and scenarios where we as humans choose to "look the other way" from a risk or issue so we maintain focus on our current projects and mission.  We "accept" (by ignoring) the other risk and therefore are at risk to its potential harm.  Risk and strategy are closely related.

We spoke quite a bit about authorization and systems including roles.  The BART system (Boundary, Authority, Role and Task) is a good way to clearly define roles.

We moved onto the topic of resiliency.  We agreed that scalability was related, as is the idea of "foreverness".  A clear plan that is aware of various thresholds, steps and milestones can help with communications about foreverness, a commitment to permanence and resiliency.

Many organizational and management-level issues can crop up in the topic of risk, authority and resiliency.  For example, there are many scenarios when people have a lot of responsibility but no authority.  Legitimate power delegated is a key to organizational success and growth.  (Managing down the chain).

Reba and others commented on individual-level requirements such as "if I found it, then I fix it".  Leadership and care at the individual level are required for organizations to survive and grow optimally.  Tableau has a core cultural value of "We Work as a Team" and that works well but it can also get into a blaming situation where no one (only the team) is accountable.  I felt that a similar cultural value of "I either hand-off well or I win." was a good one.

"I either hand off or we win."

Bruce, an always great contributor at the meetings, shared the phrase "you can't manage a secret".  And Leland, also new to the meeting, shared about the need for positive handoff.

Ultimately culture and individual attitudes, aggregated, play into the ability of an organization to identify and effectively manage risk, be compliant and be resilient.  Next month, we will talk about Managing External Relationships that plays into this topic very well.  Keep your eyes and ears peeled for our podcast on these and other topics coming soon.

We are considering naming the AppsJack Share Podcast "WonkTalk", "Community", "Communities of Purpose", "Practical Organizational Theory", "Building Communities of Purpose".  Do you have a preference in the name?  Plan is to have a podcast about the topic preceding the month's meetup.  The reason for it to be before the meetup is to prepare some, get a high level framework and understanding of the topic, get feedback from our audience on the most interesting areas.

We talked for over two hours.

At the meeting were Eric, Paul, Dominic Wong, David Slight, Fred de Boer, Chris Ingrao, Jean, Reba and Leland, Andrew Sengul.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Successfully Marketing Your Internet of Things (IoT) Idea

Recap of the 9/27/16 Kirkland, WA AppsJack Business Services Meetup

Last night we held the September AppsJack Business Services Meetup.  The meetup was held at the Big Fish Grill in Kirkland, WA and we had a good turnout.  The topic was Successfully Marketing your IoT idea and we had a great discussion on the topic.  Below are the highlights from the night.

We had a great turnout. At the event were:

  • Berry Zimmerman
  • Eric Veal
  • Richard Webb
  • Rex Chen (First time attending.  Welcome, Rex!)
  • Mike Pritchard
  • Christian Harris (First time attending.  Welcome, Christian!)
  • Andrew Sengul
  • Dominic Wong 
  • Steve Kubacki

Richard shared about three IoT products he uses (Tile https://www.thetileapp.com/, Cocoon https://cocoon.life/, Amaryllo http://www.amaryllo.eu/) and Rex told us about his home automation IoT business.  Eric talked about his past IoT experiences with InKlood.  We talked about BlueTooth beacons and entrants from players like facebook https://placetips.fb.com/beacons/ to make this technology ubiquitous.  Also mentioned were local IoT companies like Pebblebee https://pebblebee.com/ and Footmarks https://www.footmarks.com/.  Richard complained about the data from these devices being stored in China and joked about how these would be perfect tools for the government to monitor people.

Security and Privacy come up a lot in the conversation about IoT because they are such concerns.  There was a belief that the younger population had less concern about privacy.  But when it comes to security, surely we all have a concern there and want to be safe.  Some people might not know (perceive) what is and isn't safe.

We came up with five pillars of IoT.  They are:
  1. Sensors/Instrumentation
  2. Analytics and BI/Insights
  3. Data/Big Data/Storage/Persistance
  4. User Experience (UX)/Software/Telemetry
  5. Trustworthy Computing (Choice, Control, Notification)

Some of the best quotes from the evening were:

"Mind reading is a very good thing." ~ Steve Kubacki

"People want mediated relationships." ~ Christian Harris

"IoT is dead.  We have figured it out.  The next big thing is Augmented Reality.  And Pokemon Go." ~ Richard Webb

"We are seeking connection.  And meaningfulness." ~ Steve Kubacki

"I worry that IoT is selling drills, not holes." ~ Mike Pritchard

"Consciousness has changed." ~ Steve Kubacki

"What about an intranet of things?"  ~ Mike Pritchard

"My experience is not a thing." ~ Steve Kubacki

Mike P. brought up the idea about Ludites and Luditism; that they are actually a constant on the planet.  There will always people be behind the curve who want to go back to the way things were or keep things they way they are.

Dominic wondered which country was the leader in IoT.  Richard believes it is Europe.  Three of the devices that Richard has were created in France, for example.  Dominic also wondered which organization (company) was the farthest ahead on IoT.  Richard and Christian thought the government (intelligence) and also institutions like NASA where the space shuttle has IoT capability "down to the screw level".

Eric raised that he sees IoT doing a great job of providing "Just in Time" capability for many scenarios. Andrew raised the point of things NOT showing up just in time (just a bit too late).  There is risk in systems like this.  He raised the idea of Complementary vs. Competitive Technologies which was talked about on the Tim Ferriss Podcast.  The idea is that complementary technologies help humans be better even when they are not in use, whereas competitive technologies actually take some thing away (reduce our capability) after use (dependency).

"Visual Reality" as a category to include Augment, Virtual, drug-enduced and "real" reality.  The concept is probably best considered as "Sensory Reality" to encapsulate the various human senses.  The idea is that there are many channels / senses and ways to override or modify themm through technology.  So we need an abstract construct (Sensory Reality) to talk about the human's experience and the associated dyanimics / channels of that experience.

The practice / capability of "Airgapping" an environment.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_gap_(networking)  In information technology, this is when information can go into an envrionment but cannot leave it.  Of course there are workarounds and ways areound this but it's an interesting concept for security at even micro scales.

The question "What are the things of IoT and what things are not the things of IoT?" was asked. The group concluded that pretty much all things were things in IoT at macro and micro scales.  Eric said that IoT is like an easy to use design tool / pattern that many people could employ by just talking about things (the world) and technology (the internet) and what's possible.  It changes, perhaps, focuses / normalizes the conversation in many ways.  Especially now that we have a platform of big data to support these ideas and scenarios.

Steve shared that there are two forms of perception: Direct and Constructive perception. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructive_perception

Possible topics for the next meet that were floated were "Risk, Compliance and Resiliency" (the scheduled topic), Cloud Computing (requested by Dominic), a follow up on Marketing IoT (requested by Rex), and something that ties into the pattern "Successfully Marketing your ______ idea."

For the next meetup, I will plan to capture the sound so it is possible to go back and pick out some of the great moments, exchanges and quotes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Managing Financial Resources for Businesses - Will FinTech Make Us Richer? Recap of March 24, 2016 AppsJack Business Share Meetup in Kirkland, WA

Tuesday, March 24, 2016

AppsJack Business Services Share

Big Fish Grill, Kirkland, WA


  • Attendees:
  • Samuel Rodriguez
  • Eric Veal
  • David Bleiweiss (first time)
  • Bruce Follansbee
  • Dominic Wong
  • Chad Oda (first time)
  • Fred de Boer (first time)
  • Andrew Sengul
  • TJ Elston


Welcome David, Chad and Fred to the group.  Please greet and welcome them!

No, we do not believe that FinTech will make us richer but there are a collection of tools and practices within this category that are essential for a productive business.  "You get what you measure" and you have to measure well.  So finance is a very key enabling process to businesses but without the proper values, vision, strategy, products, value proposition, sales, delivery and care for customer service, finance won't help you at all.

Main ideas covered:

  • Good quote.  From TJ, a line from the movie Aviator about Howard Hughes with Leonardo DiCaprio:
    • Mrs. Hepburn: We don't care about money here.
    • Howard Hughes: That's because you have it.
  • The purpose of finance.  Money is about measuring/weighing/sizing value(s) and not just about money.  Many things can get boiled down to an "apples to apples" model where money is the factor but many guesses need to be made in the model to put a monetary value to certain intangible values.  Finance is a measurement system that seeks to equate all things into a single system and common language to make businesses, transactions and discussions easier and more fluid.
  • Balance required and you can't only look at money, profit and greed anymore.  Approaches like Triple Bottom Line, Balanced Scorecard and AQPC look to balance out our measurements by breaking them into a set of categories.  Portfolio management, weighting and balancing matters.
  • AppsJack is about the Management of Things (MoT).  New idea: not just the internet of things but the Management of Things.  IoT proliferates irresponsibly and wastefully.  MoT seeks to balance and distribute technologies to places and industries and applications that need it the most.
  • Focus first, diversity second.  We agreed that businesses need to find focus, a value proposition, clarity, value, a product and some success first before they can get into the realm of diversification.  Diversity is a good thing but it can be misapplied.
  • Cool and new Financial Technologies.  Andrew shared about KDB and David shared about a new system called Aladdin from Blackstone that he uses that produces very amazing models.
Next meetup topic on Tuesday September 27th in Kirkland from 4-7 PM: "Successfully marketing your IoT Idea."  We are seeking people who have ideas for IoT products, or IoT products themselves and we would like to serve as a panel to build a model that helps them best invest in marketing efforts that will have the highest possible ROI for their product/service.