Three of the examples are also good examples of Strategic Simplicity®:
1. The Tampa Airport having a "pull over GPS" parking area when exiting the concrete rental car garage (which blocks signals) so that drivers can enter their destinations into their smart phones.
2. Arby's having pre-printed wrappers with the name of the food item on it. This is an example of both customer simplicity and operational simplicity, because it helps out both customers and employees to know which item is wich without having to unwrap them.
3. An airport newsstand selling pain reliever, which contains a foldable, disposable cup to hold water for swallowing.
I work with a lot of clients to make sure their project managers, software architects, developers, analysts, and stakeholders are all on the same page—aligned on the business value of new projects.
Not practicing Strategic Simplicity®, and maximizing value while minimizing waste, can really weigh down technical organizations, and reduce resources for competitive innovation.
Sure, developing the wrong / un-needed features negatively impacts project completion, but delivering the project is the tip of the iceberg: the real pain of badly scoped software becomes apparent once it goes into production.
Not only can badly designed software cause customer service issues, but they can unnecessarily compromise security, and make the whole company vulnerable to hackers.
I've seen software applications regularly fail security audits due to code vulnerabilities in features that are never used. Even if the features are disabled from the menu, the code is still mixed in and will continue to get flagged.
Yesterday, I read an article in the Chicago Tribune that I found interesting: Finnair is going to start selling their business class airplane meals (like reindeer meatballs and arctic char) in supermarkets. They want to appeal to people who are missing the flying experience, as well as keep their catering staff employed.
The UK government lost 16,000 Covid cases because it was tracking cases in an Excel spreadsheet (as opposed to a database) but apparently didn't know how to use a spreadsheet. Instead of adding a new row for each case, they were adding a new column.
An Excel spreadsheet has a limit of 16,384 columns, but they didn't realize right away that they ran out of space, and kept adding cases—which are now lost.
I'm not sure if haunted house "actors" are considered an arts group but, since haunted houses are banned this year, I saw that at least one in my area was innovating. They set up a haunted experience on some access roads through a camp ground in the woods, where they built different scenarios, each with a team of actors to perform.
You have to stay in your car, with the windows rolled up. You drive slowly, and they have red light/green lights set up (like a car wash) to let you know when to drive into each scene and then park. They perform the scene, and then let the next car drive up.
I would think that you could apply that to other types of performers.
You know you’ve picked up a great book on simplicity when you find it’s only 20 pages long. If you need a 300 page manuscript to describe simplicity, then you’ve picked up the wrong book. This is brief, easy to read and chock full of ideas. One thought provoking idea is that we are now in the Attention Scarcity age. We are bombarded every few seconds by more and more. Delivering real value is more important than ever. This is a great read, I highly recommend it.
As a leader, you’re primary responsibility is adding value to the business and pleasing customers, but it is also to develop your team and make their jobs interesting.
So, don’t micromanage. Do delegate, but don’t just break things down into rote work. There is a balance that engages people: not too easy, but not overwhelming. A good leader know where his/her people are at, and adjusts the level of work as they learn more.
As companies mature and scale from the start-up phase, there is a need to add processes and procedures. However, most organizations over-complicate the bureaucracy. Complexity keeps growing along with the company.
To be healthy, complexity should taper off and become stable, while the company continues to grow/mature:
We're in uncharted territory. It's a brave new world of social media, global competition, and no gate keepers. All your employees touch customers and the outcome can be spread word of mouth around the world instantly.
Technology is exploding around us and change is accelerating.
Either you're great or a commodity - there is no middle ground for "good".
People and businesses need to tap their inner uniqueness and try new, creative things. We need to experiment and keep failing and succeeding.
It's all about connections - connecting with customers, suppliers, and partners to continually build more connections and goodwill.
All employees and entrepreneurs need to be artists, social media marketers, and connectors.
We need to learn creativity and improvisation. We need to continuously create value in the moment.
I've had disagreements about this with other software executives. They think its not an art - its industrial age manufacturing: paint by numbers, drown everything in object oriented libraries, slap another contractor on the project and, bingo! you have success.
In the old days, programming was an ART- done by talented mathematician / programmers who could code assembly, C, and knew how to succeed by omission.
Look at Forth - the secret is what you leave out!
That is why the Apollo mission could run on a fraction of the computing power in your iPhone.
Could not happen today:
1. With "programmers" on bloated Windows PCs using clunky build tools and slinging hash together from object oriented libraries.
2. Even worse - IT "management", with all it's crazy, bloated processes and procedures. Projects get done inspite of all the CMM, six sigma b.s.
I once thought a blog was good for directly making money - by selling your products and / or advertising.
Now, I know that's a terrible reason to have a blog - the world is saturated with play it safe, commercial blogs that everyone ignores.
No - I need to write this blog for me - as an outlet - to discuss my ideas and, sometimes as a catharsis. Those are the posts I need to do - that are written in a frenzy of stream of conscious, improvisational nuggets.
I need my posts to be art- to be authentic - uncensored. Need to capture my ideas, and put it out for the world.
By being authentic to who you are, that is the way to attract like minded people, and connect with people. Not connect with any ulterior reason in mind - just the need to express and hopefully draw connections.
Anything worthwhile is accomplished in this fast, moving Attention-Scarcity Age by connecting and working together as artists.
Why should we feel bad to compare ourselves and our results to others - why should we even compare anything to others?
Who says we are competitors? That only happens if you have a carbon-copy, fungible commodity.
But, even if you and I wrote books on the same topic, they are not fungible - they speak differently - they have a different tune - resonance. it is quite possible that my book's tune my appeal or affect another, while yours might make an impression on someone else.
Why should we self-censor and beat ourselves down into a cog in the wheel?
When I'm afraid and think I should conform, I think of my kids - do I want them to grow up and conform - just be someone in the faceless crowd? Or do i want them to shine and contribute to humanity - do the thing for which they are suited?
I think this is a must-read for any CEO or senior executive at a company thinking about implementing an ERP system. As the author keeps stressing: implementingan ERP system is like open-heart surgery and is one of the most critical projects a company will ever do. It's important for senior leaders to be actively involved in the process.
It was a pleasure to read because I could identify with all the issues that the author brought up. It's obvious that, not only has he been in the trenches and experienced all these issues, he also understands their root causes and how to prevent them.
Only about 15% of ERP projects are successfully implemented on time and within the allocated budget. Also, the consequences for a botched implementation are high in terms of money and reputational risk. The wisdom in this book can dramtically improve your odds for success.
Because United is using its Mileage Plus as collateral for financing, they had to reveal the financial details and, according to an article in Crain's Chicago Business, it's very lucrative.
Mileage Plus sells miles for about 2 cents each to partners (like credit card issuers) and 1 cent each to the airline itself (which issues them to travelers). It then costs about a cent when travelers redeem miles for tickets.
The bottom line is that, last year, Mileage Plus posted a $1.8 billion profit, for a profit margin of 34%—compared to 16% for the airline overall.
This is further proof that selling intangible and virtual goods is more lucrative than selling physical goods.
Movie and TV writers and producers are relying ever more on data to help develop plots and concepts. Their offerings have to compete in a world of streaming, You Tube, Twitter, and Instagram.
Consumers have more opportunities to go down "rabbit holes" of specialized content.
Before Covid, they were reluctant to stream pilots and samples in people's homes, for fear of piracy. Instead, they relied on recruiting people from shopping malls, casinos, etc. and transporting them to theaters.
Now, they have to rely on streaming, and they are finding that companies like Pilotly and MarketCast can actually measure many more data points, with a larger, much more diverse test audience, that is distributed geographically.
It's another example of how working remotely actually has advantages over in-person.
The Wall Street Journal recently printed an excerpt from the book "Lights Out: Pride Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric" that focused on their struggles to create Predix—envisioned as the Big Data, Internet of Things platform that would make GE "the digital company of the future".
What went wrong:
1. GE engineers are experts in their machines and customer needs, but they could have partnered with a large software vendor who knows building large software infrastructure, instead of going it alone.
2. Instead of building the first iteration with a small software team, and then scaling up as needed, they hired an army of people and poured money on them.
They "...smothered it with cash. But without a coherent strategy and well-thought-out processes, the product development path was a wasteful one..."
3. Amazon and Microsoft already have well-established cloud infrastructure. Rather than use it, and leverage their years and billions of dollars in investment, GE tried to develop its own data centers.
4. GE's tiny sensors in their machines produce a lot of data, but they used different coding and operated on different systems. This made integrating them on one platform a complex nightmare.
These four lessons highlight that money and resources are no substitute for well-designed strategy and processes.
The Wall Street Journal reported that, according to Michael Mandel, chief economic strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute, "when you include all jobs in fulfillment, delivery, and related roles, e-commerce has created more jobs between 2007 and January 2020 than bricks-and-mortar retailers lost."
Failure is part of life as an entrepreneur. As many as 90 percent of all startups fail, but knowing that you’re in good company doesn’t make the pain of a failed venture any easier to bear. There’s no point in wallowing in your disappointment, however. As an entrepreneurial go-getter, the best thing you can do is get back on your feet and keep pushing forward. Here’s how.
First, Catch Your Breath
Self-care gets put on the back burner when you’re trying to get a startup off the ground. Now that you have a moment to catch your breath, take advantage of it. Before you dive into your next venture, take that vacation you fantasized about during late nights at the office and restore the healthy diet, exercise, and sleep habits you cast aside. Spend time with loved ones, pick up your favorite hobby again, and do the things that inspire your creativity. You should also consider cleansing the home by ridding bad vibes, as doing so can reduce stress and improve your well-being. You can remove bad energy by getting rid of clutter, keeping the home clean, and purifying the doors and windows.
Then, Figure Out Your Finances
If you poured your own money into your startup, you may be hurting financially now that it’s failed. Rather than immediately thinking about the business you’ll start next, focus on finding steady work, whether that’s a full-time job or freelancing for past clients. You’ll appreciate the cash cushion when it’s time to get back to business.
Analyze What Went Wrong...
In order to avoid making the same mistakes again, you need to understand why your startup failed. Common reasons for startup failure include:
Lack of focus: Passion is an important trait, but too much passion causes some to attempt too much at once, driving up costs and driving down customer satisfaction.
Lack of experience: Many first-time entrepreneurs don’t appreciate the level of business acumen needed to run a company. Additionally, a lack of industry-specific knowledge also plagues some startups.
Competition or bad market fit: No matter how great your product or service is, if the market doesn’t need or want it, it won’t sell. Some latecomers discover the market is already saturated by the time they launch.
Out-of-control labor costs: Labor is the highest expense category in nearly every industry. While you want the best people on your team, hiring in times of high-growth can leave companies overstaffed and underworked when things slow down.
...And How to Solve It
Now that you know where you went wrong, you can learn how to do better next time.
If your lack of industry or business expertise held your company back, hire someone to fill those gaps and serve as a mentor. Services like Puri Consulting are available to help you develop better systems, as well as increase productivity and reduce production costs. Additionally, you can balance labor costs by building your team with freelancers instead of going straight to permanent staff. Freelancers’ flexibility means you can easily add or subtract from your team as your business grows. It’s also a smart way to test hires before bringing them on full-time. Many companies are accustomed to hiring freelancers for web development and design work, but freelancers can be used to do everything from admin to sales to IT.
Most other problems can be solved by spending more time in the planning, research, and testing phases of a startup. Instead of racing to market, dive deep into market research. Your goal is to find a niche that’s well defined, not saturated, and with a clear target market. And rather than scaling rapidly, invest time into product testing and feedback so that when you take the next steps, you know you’re ready.
The failure of a startup can be devastating, both emotionally and financially. Rather than letting failure keep you down, take it as a learning opportunity. With new knowledge and experience under your belt, you can enter your next venture ready to succeed.