10 reasons why the COO hates Christmas

hate xmas

Just recently Q9 wrote a suitably dour article on why the CIO hates Christmas – Bah humbug. It all hinges around BYOD and the power of the consumer as an employee. So in the cheery spirit of Christmas, I thought I’d turn my attention to the COO or Operations Director. The one who keeps the wheels turning, no matter how much grit is thrown into the innermost workings.

So why do COOs hate Christmas?  It all revolves around two things – more work and fewer people – with an artificial, yet unmovable deadline set some 2000 years ago in a stable. Here are 10 reasons that the COO hates Christmas.

Reason #1: Staff illness:

With colds, flu and coughs going around, often germinated at school and brought home, the run up to Christmas is the time when staff illness is least welcome.  When I was IT Director at a major UK Government Department I was stunned when I was told by a member of staff that she was planning to take the following Thursday off as sick leave to go Christmas shopping because “she hadn’t taken the full 11 days sick leave that year”.

Reason #2: Staff vacation:

Staff are forced to take remaining vacation; following on from the previous point, vacation policies often force staff to take unused days by the end of the year.

Reason #3: Xmas period shutdowns

Depending where Christmas falls anything from 3 to 10 days are lost, and often little is achieved in the week before Christmas

Reason #4: Offices closed due to weather

Winters are starting to be more extreme and whilst we don’t suffer the power cuts I remember as a child, snow often closes offices and schools, disrupts public transport and makes roads dangerous.

Reason #5: Year end sales peak

If you are of the B2B world you are trying to close deals and deliver projects in a month which is often half the length of other months.  This is made worse by clients who have a December year end and hold off making purchases so that they get a last minute discount. If you are B2C then you probably have an increased volume of work which again is compressed into a shorter working month.

Reason #6: Year end discounts

B2B clients know that you have targets to hit and savvy procurement teams will wait to extract the best deal possible. They know that by hanging on to the last few days of the month they can get huge discounts, which will be given. I know one software sales guy from a major international company who sells 85% of his target in the last 2 weeks of December.

Reason #7: Xmas opening hours

Retailers are forced to stay open for longer in the run up to Christmas that means additional staff need to be recruited, trained and paid.  Poorly trained staff are more likely to make mistakes, give unnecessary discounts, damage customer reputation and raise risk of credit card fraud.

Reason #8: Xmas rush delivery logistics

For those retailers who are online the pressure is put on the logistics and courier companies to deliver on time, often with a backdrop of appalling weather conditions.  If they don’t, then the retailer’s reputation, fairly or unfairly, will suffer.

Post- Xmas products are returned or warranty claims are made. This is pure cost for the retailer, but if managed efficiently can improve customer satisfaction dramatically.

Reason #10: Post-Xmas morale blues

If December gives the highs, then January is the lows. Expect staff absenteeism.

Not a lot to be cheery about, I am sure you will agree. Especially, if the company is kept alive day-in day-out by the heroics of the staff.  If there were more a process-led culture you might find a very different picture. Fewer mistakes to be cleared up which means fewer surprises and a calmer, more pleasant working environment.

What can you do right now?

  • First review your core processes; Order to Cash, to make sure staff are up to speed and it is as easily understood and efficient as possible
  • Do you need to change/uprate your credit card processing at a time when there is increased fraud?
  • What about your Recruit to Retire for the seasonal / part time workers. You want them recruited and up to speed and integrated into the company culture as soon as they join.
  • Equally the exit process needs to clear and fair. You can have them leaving with an armful of laptops, just because you have no track of them.

BTW All those who love the buzz of constant firefighting and the feeling that they are important have probably checked out by now.

Disruption hits the entire value chain; blood on the streets

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 22.54.57

Digital disruption

Cloud, social, mobile and big data are enabling new entrants in virtually every industry to disrupt the incumbents. “Being Ubered” was the popular term, but based on Uber’s recent behaviour, “being Ubered” is starting to mean something entirely different!! Gartner has called it the Nexus of Forces. Forrester calls it Digital Disruption. IDC calls it the 3rd platform (the 1st being the mainframe, 2nd was client-server). Whatever you call it, it is coming to an industry near you. If you are in the music, film or print industry it has already hit you. But no industry is safe.

Company after company in industry after industry is struggling to respond to the competition from small agile startups who do not have the baggage of legacy infrastructure, organisation and supply chains. And their customers do not seem to mind giving (some of) their business to an unheard startup who can offer a great customer experience at a compelling price point. And as many startups are geared to be able to scale quickly – because the heart of their business is digital – they are able to take more and more business away from the market leaders as they prove themselves in the market.

Customer experience #fail

If the existing companies were delivering exception customer service then the startups would not have a chance. But they are not. The incumbents are difficult to do business with and are slow to embrace the new digital world. This is not because they don’t recognised the new demands or know what needs to be done to change. It is just that they don’t want to change. They are hooked on their current profitable model. So why go through the pain and anguish that transformative change requires? And more importantly, when is the time when they REALLY need to change. Things aren’t that bad. In fact things are still going well. So when is the tipping point? This is beautifully described by Charles Handy in his Sigmoid Curve. This is described in this blog.

Companies are being disrupted. Their vendors are being disrupted. But there is another group of far smaller companies that are also being disrupted. The partners of the vendors; in the world of tech that is the ISVs, resellers and implementation consultants. Their world is being turned upside down. They are the bridge between the customer and vendors, both of whom are trying to make sense of this new world.

Partners – a critical resource or collateral damage?

But partners are looking to their vendor’s partner programs for help. Currently the partner programs are lagging behind the change curve – for all the Sigmoid Curve reasons. But for many (most?) vendors, partners are a critical resource for revenue and delivery. So a high priority MUST be to rethink and reengineer their partner program; What sort of partners are required? How can the partner program help them be successful? How do you do all this at scale?

This was the subject of a long discussion I facilitated at the IDC Channels Summit. It was attended by the leaders of channel and partner programs from the largest IT vendors in the world. It was a very uncomfortable afternoon for some. Many had their heads in their hands at some point. Revolution, not evolution is required. You cannot evolve across an discontinuity. Evolution is not a step change. And this is what is required for most of their programs. And their partners are bleeding to death- it is just that some of them don’t realize yet. They don’t have the cash flow or reserves to do this alone. They desperately need help.

Microsoft’s 7 years of pain

Interestingly, I was on Microsoft’s WorldWide Partner Advisory Council from 2007-2011 for their cloud strategy. It was a very painful time. Transforming Microsoft’s 70,000 employees and 600,000 partners to embrace and exploit the cloud was, and still is, incredibly hard. In fact Microsoft has taken a lot of flak by the press and analysts for their mis-steps over the last 7 years. But they have kept at it and have emerged with a great set of cloud offerings and one of the best partner programs in the industry. It has taken 7 years and a pile of cash. Which is pretty scary for some vendors who are ONLY JUST starting to invest in it seriously.

Back in 2008 I was on stage at Microsoft’s World Partner Conference. My key message from the keynote was “The (cloud) train is leaving. You need to be on it”. It seems that none of the attendees of last week’s IDC Summit were in the 12,000 person audience. They know they need to get on the train, but there will need to be a lot of running to catch it. Better get going.

 

Great advice. Take the best advice.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 21.41.26

The late and great Douglas Adams,  author of the The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide said:

“The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead.”

Our world seems to be too full of analysts and consultants offering advice based on theory and supposition, rather than hard won experience.  It is interesting that there are several companies springing up who are tapping into the true experts and linking them up with their clients who need proven, practical advice. This is either in bite sized insights of less than 3 minutes or as a one-to-one on the phone in less than an hour.

I have flattered to have been asked to provide my insights, alongside a number of experts such as Guy Kawasaki, Joel Comm, Tom Peters. It was great fun sitting in the recording studio, but was also a good discipline to keep each insight tight and focused in under 2-3 minutes.  The insights will be published in a mobile application that is launching in the new year. It is currently in stealth, so my lips are sealed.

But just recently I have also been asked to give advice, analyst-style, in one-on-ones on the phone. What is most interesting, apart from the discussions with clients, is how slick and automated the process is; from initial enquiry about the engagement through to a check hitting my mailbox. Suddenly the company can manage 1,000s of experts and connect them with clients – at scale.

Which leads me to the “longer form advice”; management consulting. It is not dead. In fact as more companies are having their industries disrupted  by cloud, social, mobile and big data they are having to rethink their entire business models. And that is where a consulting firm can help give an external perspective. But clients do not want a fresh-faced MBA in an expensive suit.The classic consultants joke is that “they know a 1000 ways to make love but don’t have a girlfriend.”  

Clients  demand both strong business skills and an understanding of the potential of cloud, social, mobile and big data when applied to their situation. That is a rare combination – the gray hairs of a 50 year old with a 20 year old’s grasp of technology and entrepreneurial energy.

The challenge for all of us – analysts, advisors and companies – is the same. Staying relevant.

 

Clever videos drive viral growth @honda : 5m views @okgo : 23m views

Honda have produced a fantastic video riffing off the line “the impossible made possible”. Great thought and effort went into this one, but also very clever. and it is getting results. 5.5 million views to date.

Equally clever, from a different perspective (sic) here is the group OK Go who are famous for their videos, rather than their music. But their videos drive music sales.  The video below has had 12m views. Their first video on treadmills now has had 23 million views.

 

Tattoo decisions – and science tattoos

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 23.55.20

READ TIME: 2 mins

Tattoo decisions. We don’t make many of them in life of business. But when we do make them we need to make sure that they are right. Because any reversing the changes are very painful. Here is a very funny spoof advert for Turlingtons Tattoo Removal Cream.

In business there are relatively few tattoo decisions. These involve a key decision, and then telling lots of people about it (like that Tramp Stamp tattoo):

Pretty much everything else you can reverse or change; choice of CEO, product pricing, product functionality, distribution partnerships, website design, company branding.

Interestingly in life there are even fewer tattoo decisions – except of course – actually getting a tattoo. Even getting married is probably not a tattoo decision any more. Probably the biggest tattoo decision is having children, or robbing a bank (and getting caught).  Just thought of another one – getting a turtle as a pet. They live to 60 years old. Max, my son, has 2 of them and if they survive time at college with him they will outlive me.

Every other decision (that is legal) is not a tattoo decision; where to live, which school to send your kids to, which course to take, what job to accept, what hobby to take up, what car to buy.

So why do people procrastinate about make all these decisions?  They are putting their life on hold whilst they try and decide. So, make a decision and then work to make the best of that decision.

Interesting side note. There is a genre of tattoos I heard about today: science tattoos.  Here is an Pinterest feed of science tattoos.  Quite remarkable.

Pivot before the cash runs out *updated*

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.18.26

READ TIME:  2 mins

HINT: Pivoting is not a business strategy, but a tactic.
HINT: Constantly pivoting is called a “death spiral”

Pivot is not a business strategy

Nowadays the trendy way to mask a failure is to successfully pivot – before the cash runs out – and then become successful. But for every one of these successful pivots there are hundreds, if not thousands, of technology companies that have crashed and burned. Sadly, they ran out of funding before they discovered their perfect market. Or they are limping along barely breaking even each month.

Words like “pivot” and the related “iterate” have been used in and around Silicon Valley for several years, generally to describe “failing gracefully”.

But their use has picked up significantly in recently amid the broader public’s fascination with the entrepreneurs behind high-profile start-ups, some of whom were able to get funding from investors despite significant changes in their original business plans.

Ben Horowitz of venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz used the word “pivot” three times in a nearly 800-word blog post to discuss the firm’s investments in businesses such as Burbn.

Never heard of Burbn? I am not surprised. Burbn attempted to put a new spin on the idea of virtually checking in at various locations via smartphones, then broadcasting that visit to one’s social network. It enabled people to leave messages via their phones that could be retrieved by others visiting the same location. The idea evolved, and turned into a mobile app that would allow people to take photos, alter them visually and share them. That app was called Instagram which was sold to Facebook for $1 billion.

“Pivot to me is not a four-letter word,” says Tony Conrad, a partner in the early-stage venture capital firm True Ventures. “It represents some of the best methodology that the Valley has invented. Starting something, determining it’s not working, and then leveraging aspects of [that] technology is extremely powerful.”

Investors say the founders who are not afraid to pivot are generally more experienced—and less fearful of failure—than past generations of tech entrepreneurs. The founders who change solutions and markets between one and three times raise more money than those who don’t, according to Startup Genome Compass, which tracks more than 13,000 Internet start-ups. In fact, they raised roughly 2½ times more capital than founders who changed solutions and markets either four or more times or not at all.

However revolutionary this seems, there is a fundamental point.

No matter how many pivots you make and how understanding your investors – eventually you need to find a market that works. That is why we wrote IMPACT (download free abridged copy). But to give you all hope, inspiration and amusement I have listed a few of the most successful pivots.

Successful pivots

Groupon

Then: It started as ThePoint.com, a site launched in November 2007 that lets you start a campaign asking people to give money or do something as a group – but only once a “tipping-point” of people agree to participate.

Now: Groupon is the group-buying site that helps people save money all over the country through targeted offers.

Instagram

Then: The founders had built a location-based service called Burbn, most comparable to Foursquare. You could check into locations, earn points for hanging out with their friends, and share pictures inside of the app.

Now: Instagram is a hugely popular app for adding artsy filters to your photos and sharing them over Facebook and Twitter.

Exit: Sold to Facebook for $1billion

Flickr

Then: It was Game Neverending, a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game that ran from 2002-2004.

Now: Flickr is one of the go-to sites for sharing photos online, popular among amateur and professional photographers.

Exit: Sold to Yahoo in 2007 for $40 million.

Facebook

Then: It was Facemash, a site comparable to HotOrNot.com, putting two pictures of people next to each other and asking the user to identify which one was “hotter.”

Now: It’s Facebook. If you don’t have an account and use it actively, you’ve at least heard of it. 

Twitter

Then: It was Odeo, a service that revolved around personal podcasting and sharing audio content.

Now: It’s Twitter. People use it to share thoughts and updates in 140-character bursts.

PayPal

Then: It started as Confinity, a cryptography company designed for exchanging money over Palm Pilots. It didn’t work well, but they did identify the lucrative market space of enabling people to take credit card payments.

Now: PayPal is the brand-name way to pay for items online.

Exit: Acquired by eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.

Rapt

Then: Started as supply-chain management optimization for high-tech manufacturers.

Now: Shifted to dynamic ad price optimization for online media companies.

Exit: They were bought by Microsoft for undisclosed price.

YouTube

Then: It was a video online dating site

Now: YouTube is the go-to location for internet video.

Exit: It was acquired by Google for $1.65 billion in stock.

Slack

Then: Their first product was Glitch, a Flash-based massively multiplayer online game.

Now: Tiny Speck launched Slack in August 2013 and they have just raised an additional $120m taking the total to $180m.

IMAGE: Pivot Digital Strategies

 

The vital signs for B2B tech company failure

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.01.57

Image: TechCocktail

What is failure: the vital signs

What are the vital signs that an innovative B2B tech company may be in trouble? A deeper problem may be covered up by glimpses of success. Narrowly missing your quarterly sales target, but with big deals forecast for the end of the year does not seem to be a red flag. However, come the end of the year and none of the big deals have closed and suddenly it is panic stations. For most early stage growth companies that are constantly running on tight funding it could be terminal. It will certainly be the end of the CEOs career.

These signs should alert executives and investors to take a closer look at their strategy, go to market (GTM) and business model. For starters we have:

  • Every business buyer you approach loves the solution, didn’t realize you even existed and is unable to find any serious budget.
  • It is proving impossible to forecast sales closure on deals.
  • You are making sales, but they are only pilots, and the larger follow-on deals are stalling and delayed. Often you have multiple pilots in a single client.
  • The cost of sales is too high to be sustainable long term: the business model does not work.
  • You have hired a big-hitter sales guy with a proven track record from an established big tech company, but they are not delivering.
  • The analysts firms such as Gartner or Forrester don’t seem get it and there is no Magic Quadrant or Wave that you naturally fit into.
  • You are struggling to recruit partners who are able to resell the solution without huge levels of support from you.
  • You have high levels of professional services vs. license sales.
  • The customer’s IT and procurement teams are getting involved and are now proving to be a major roadblock.

Avoiding failure

Our 25 years of research has shown that every buyer follows a universal buying process, irrespective of industry, country or market and we have distilled this process into 6 steps; IMPACT. Idea, Mentor, Position, Assess, Case, Transaction.

The buyer of your disruptive and innovative solution is the Early Adopter (Geoffrey Moore; “Crossing the Chasm”). Early Adopters talk to vendors at the Mentor stage and work with them through to Transaction. Sadly most early stage companies try to engage their buyers as though they were Early Majority, which is not until the Case stage. With disastrous results.

Download the free book summary

Hiring a booth babe is SO, SO wrong, or not.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 08.49.49

Companies still do it. They hire “booth babes” to work the stand, attract punters and scan badges. They are paid per scan. Yes it is still that shallow.  Here are 3 reasons why this is a bad idea, and 1 reason probably it isn’t.

NO: Qualified leads, not any lead

Every time you scan someone it is another lead in a database to be qualified. The best time to qualify the lead is when they are standing in front of you. Not 1 weeks after the event by email or constant chasing them by phone. Use staff who understand your products and your customers on the stand.

NO: Attracting the wrong people clogs up the stand

If you have hordes of people wanting to talk to / oogle / be seen next to the booth babe then it is stopping genuine potential customers get to your stand to register their interest or get more information.

NO: Wrong image of your company

Is this really supporting the brand values of the company? If it is, like GoDaddy or Wheels and Heals magazine then fine. But for 99% of you it probably isn’t. It doesn’t help you recruit customers, partners or employees.

YES: Brand awareness through selfies

If you want to shamelessly get your brand out there. Cash in on men’s weakness to be seen with attractive women plus the trend for selfies. Set up the booth babe taking selfies with punters where the company branding is very visible in the selfie, either on the model’s skimpy clothing or the background. BUT only if it supports your brand values.

The image is from the “Wheels and Heels magazine” stand – so probably on-brand.

 

Why and how VCs will kill your early stage B2B company

gun to head

VCs kill their porfolio companies

It is not out of choice or malicious intent, but through ignorance.  This is something we are trying to address by writing IMPACT and getting VCs to read it. VCs are a powerful voice on the boards of your start-up. Partly because of their shareholding, but also because they “have seen it and done it”. Except they haven’t. In many cases they have “seen it, not done it”. They don’t have the time to really understand the nitty gritty of what is happening inside a company. They have to take a fairly hands off, 50k feet view and be driven by the management reports.  But that doesn’t stop them having a view, which can be forceful when the company is struggling.

Why VCs step in and force management’s hand

When you don’t hit the numbers on your business plan, it starts to get ugly. Narrowly missing your quarterly sales target, but with big deals forecast for the end of the year does not seem to be a red flag. However, come the end of the year and none of the big deals have closed and suddenly it is panic stations. But the biggest issue is “It is proving impossible to forecast sales closure on deals.” That spooks VCs.

But there are other vital signs for an innovative tech company that there are underlying problems:

  • The solution should be selling in far greater volumes. Sales really isn’t scaling as expected.
  • Every business buyer you approach loves the solution but is unable to find any serious budget.
  • You are making sales, but they are only pilots, and the larger follow-on deals are stalling and delayed. And often you have multiple pilots in a single client.
  • The cost of sales is too high to be sustainable long term: the business model does not work.
  • You have hired a big-hitter sales guy with a proven track record from an established big tech company, but they are not delivering.
  • The analysts firms such as Gartner or Forrester don’t seem get it and there is no Magic Quadrant or Wave that you naturally fit into.
  • You are struggling to recruit partners who are able to resell the solution without huge levels of support from you.
  • You have high levels of professional services vs. license sales.
  • The customer’s IT and procurement teams are getting involved and are now proving to be a major roadblock.

The VC answer (which is wrong)

“Go and get a hard hitting Oracle sales guy”. The reason this is totally wrong is hidden in the IMPACT buying process.  You need to read the book summary to understand the IMPACT cycle that the buyer goes through.  But in summary:

The six key phases of the process are easy to remember as they have an enormous IMPACT on your company’s performance:

Idea – Mentor – Position – Assessment – Case – Transaction

Every purchase goes through all six phases, with or without the vendor (your) assistance. The reason that you probably don’t recognize this process is because the customer goes through the process on their own, and only invites you in at a certain point. What is critically important is the point at which you are invited in, as it affects how you engage with the buyer. And that in turn determines the operational culture of your company – i.e. how you organize, run and measure.

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 16.36.12

There are the Early Adopters (EA) who are happy buying innovative solutions. There are the Early Majority (EM) who want to buy the market leader. And there are the Late Majority (LM) who want to buy a commodity at the cheapest price. Here is where the buyer starts to engage in terms of the IMPACT process.

The Early Adopters are inspired when you or a consultant meets them and suggests an idea that reveals things to them that they did not already know. So the opportunity is generated by you when you connect with an evangelist in the customer at Mentor. That means you are working with the customer from Mentor through to Transaction. This is unlikely to be competitive, but highly consultative.

The Early Majority reach out to potential vendors when they have a set of requirements and a budget, so they have built their own business case – at Case. So you would work with the customer – procurement and IT – through Case and Transaction in a competitive procurement process.

The Late Majority only makes contact when they are ready to place an order – at Transaction. This will be from the procurement team at the customer and will be a “sharpen your pencil and give me your best price” gig.

The customer goes through the full cycle, with or without you. Once you are invited in, you are with them on the journey through to Transaction, no matter how long it takes and how much effort is required from you and the customer. The only alternative is that at some stage the idea is shelved or dropped.

The Oracle sales guy (or equivalent) is used to selling to the Early Majority who have a budget, set of requirements, RFP and a procurement cycle. They are confused, frustrated and cannot understand the buyer behaviour of the Early Adopter. They see buyers and commissions. They are oblivious to the IMPACT process as they pitch and close customers. They fail but drag the company down with them.

VCs are equally confused as they don’t know about the IMPACT buying cycle and want you to be selling to the Early majority, because that is where the big money is made. But because you are innovative and early stage. So your market is not mature enough for the Early Majority to purchase.

Coaching your VC

VCs need to understand the implications of the IMPACT cycle and your place within it.  You cannot change it.  You cannot magically sell to the Early Majority – nor do you want to – yet.  You need to take your VC through the IMPACT cycle and explain where you are engaging customers. Give them the book summary. And get them to read it  Or get me to talk to them.  I am the “stranger with a briefcase” so will possibly have more credibility.

What should VCs do?

The concepts in IMPACT are equally important for investors as they are for CEOs. Before they invest in a company, does it have the correct business model and operational culture? A pretty fundamental question. But simply asking the management of the company you are about to invest in is probably not enough. They are hardly going to say that they didn’t have the correct business model. Clearly this is not the only due diligence. You still need to evaluate the management team, the solution, the market, and the competition. But now you have another lens or perspective that will make you ask some different questions throughout the due diligence:

  • How attuned is the management team to the different buying cultures?
  • Is the solution, or the target markets for the solution, likely to be Value Added or Value Created?
  • Are the management and sales team hard-core Value Added or consultative Value Created?
  • Is the competition aligned with their buying cultures, or is there an opportunity to sneak an advantage?
  • If there is misalignment between the company’s operational culture and the market buying culture, can you influence it to dramatically scale the company?

A fairly simple, quick, and relatively unobtrusive approach would be to do the analysis of solution/proposition vs. buying culture. This will give you a clear view on their alignment and massively de-risk your investment.

They also have a portfolio of companies they have invested in. How many of the companies with great solutions are failing to meet expectations when you invested? Have they simply written them off as part of ‘portfolio investing’ – you get some stars and some dogs. Sometimes you cannot legislate which are going to be stars or dogs. So a good investor makes so much on the stars that the dogs don’t matter to the portfolio.

What if that were not 100 percent true? They don’t invest in dogs. They perform weeks of expensive due diligence to avoid the dogs. They hope to pick only stars – so what goes wrong? What if they could help the dogs become stars, just by applying the buying culture and IMPACT principles?

A radical new way to publish a book

publishing

Rethinking book publishing

Download the book summary:
IMPACT – the technology executive’s guide for selling B2B disruptive and innovative solutions

Having recently read the Lean Startup by Eric Ries a thought struck me as we started to rewrite Why Killer Products. We originally published it in 2008 which was appalling timing as the whole world was in melt down and survival was the only thing an executive wanted to think about. But now, we have a digital goldrush as everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. So we are re-writing it and making it more focused on executives in tech startups selling B2B.  So, why follow the same worn old path?

Traditional approach
  1. research
  2. write full book
  3. get reviewer feedback
  4. rewrite book
  5. publish
  6. write book summary
  7. promote
  8. wait for feedback.
A radical approach

However, we are taking a different approach to the book. We have written a 25 page book summary.  It is a free download and is really an abridged version rather than the normal “teaser”. It gives you the whole story, but doesn’t go into a massive level of detail or have any examples or case studies. If there is enough interest from the book summary we will go ahead and edit and publish the full book. So instead our process looks like this;

  1. research
  2. write 25 page book summary
  3. get reviewer feedback
  4. rewrite summary
  5. make available to readers
  6. get feedback and level of interest
  7. write full book
  8. publish.

We got the idea from a combination of the Lean Startup who advocate developing the minimum viable product (MVP) to gauge and test the market and also Teespring a t-shirt printing company who call it “crowdfunded customer apparel” who only print the t-shirts once the number of orders have reach an economic batch size.

What it means is that we don’t waste time if there is limited interest or if the book summary gives enough information and the full book is not necessary.

Is this the future of publishing? We think so, but let’s let the market decide.

The power of social media: good & evil

A simple mistake by a Sainsbury’s employee who put a poster aimed at employees, to encourage every shopper to spend an extra 50p, up in a store window would have been a local issue 5 years ago. Realising their mistake it would have been taken down and forgotten, with perhaps a little ribbing from colleagues and a dressing down from their supervisor. Not now. Social media amplifies everything. The good and the bad. The blunder was spread around the social universe with the hashtag on Twitter until it was picked up by a national newspaper, in this article,  which supercharged the social media force.

Here is the offending or offensive poster.

Sainsburys 50p