Thursday, April 20, 2006

step up and be bold...

when faced with a life changing opportunity that requires taking a risk...what happens? many turn and run, a few step up.

what do you do? where does your fear reside? how must does fear control your business mind?

too many allow fear of failure to control and restrict their accomplishments. stop it. let loose, if you fail so what, everyone fails at some point, though not always because of pushing limits. playing it safe is a waste of the gift you've been given. take more risks, engage the world, people may hate you, they may love you, what's important is how you view your life when you look back. be proud and don't waste a minute of it worrying about or trying to avoid failure. all great business people fail, because they're constantly pushing limits and boundaries.

the key for me is to learn and not make the same mistake twice and have more wins than losses. too many companies steer away from greatness rather than focus on it. seize greatness. be amazing at what you do and make sure the customer is completely amazed by what you're doing.

let your staff be great, give them support in being great. your corporate culture should be about seizing greatness.

as an employee make seizing greatness your internal politics rather than job survival mode. good isn't good enough. great and freaking amazing is now the level you operate at. all those slackers out there will be upset at you...they'll call you an overachiever - exactly. internally you can feel sorry for those losers because you're on a different path and boy is it cool. separate yourself by being outstanding. promotions await those who do the job so well management looks at them as completely under utilized and moves them up. Be bold and if you can't be bold in the organization you're in then leave it to be bold somewhere else.

how great can the job be if all you do is duck your head and play it safe, while you avoid raising your hand at the back of the class. this is a talent economy, the power is in the talent not the corporation.

when an opportunity for greatness comes your way - SEIZE IT!

people still need to be reminded to do this sometimes...and a few meetings over the last week has brought this thought to light.

Friday, April 14, 2006

transcendant organizations...a simplistic look

alright, we've agreed that innovation is necessary. how then does an organization focus on actually implementing the idea of ideas? motivating employees to be creative, inspiring free thought is only the first step. what processes should a ceo implement to allow this corporate culture to form and take hold so that it actually produces revenues and makes a difference in the world?

it starts with the leader of the organization; that's a given. beyond that let's remember what type of environment we're working with here. one most likely filled with an under current of fear, politics, greed, gossip, bullying and lacking trust. i've worked in these types of environments and it taught me to make a decision, either keep my head down or if i intended on moving up the ladder then play "the game" better than the next person. (now, not all organizations are like this of course.)

i wasn't interested in doing either of those, in fact, i was more likely to tell the no-mind, applehead always in survival mode supervisor to get lost; so my large corporate career was short-lived. that was an easy choice as i had my self-reliant personality to fall back on. i have always been predisposed to indulging my entrepreneurial spirit rather than the corporate lifer direction. (not that there's anything wrong with the corporate lifer.)

"ok team, now we're innovators." if only it were that simple. typically, the ceo designates a person or team to handle the idea of ideas. the idea team is given expectations, a timeline and some resources. now what? how does that organization actually extract the intelligent essence of the next big thing so that it will flow flawlessly into the product pipeline? which thought provoking gems are to be implemented and which are too risky? there's a myriad of questions and issues that arise, this is where the real work begins and where most fall short.

to aid in this, i like to suggest removing all the corporate baggage possible and start a spin-off organization. operating almost autonomously from the corporate mainstream in daily routine but still reporting regularly for accountability sake.

here are some examples of parameters for such a team and their ideas.

- it's about the talent.
-the people and the idea must be able to change the world.
-the more people positively impacted by the project the better.
-high intangible benefit factors past revenue.
-must have strong attributes for a completely new direction.
-must be extremely difficult and incredibly challenging.

now this criteria can certainly be modified, no matter what though, keep it simple, keep it large scale and find people with big hearts, big brains and big passion to execute. you may want to perform personality tests on these mavericks to analyze the balance of character traits, types, creativity, detail orientations, levels of aggression and so on. the mix you're looking for is certainly heavy on the whacky talent side. support these guys with incredible design capabilities as well as exposure to cultural diversity.

ensure that this idea tactical team is able to extract observations and opinions from some of the smartest minds on the planet, capture everything. absorb information from scientists, futurists, psychologists, students, mathmeticians, artists, musicians. focus on the person rather than the area of expertise, some of the greatest ideas may be in the home with parents or groups of mothers solving a specific problem as they see it in the everyday world. dynamic interaction with this diverse group provides the tactical team with perspective not normally oozing from cubicles. attempt to build a living and breathing lab.

regardless of what happens you must expect criticism, that's just human nature. i admit that i'm very critical of well...corporate dinosaurs (don't get me started). you know, the status quo morons who love to play it safe with proposals and plan after plan. there's actually a saying in the provincial government where i live, "no one's ever been fired for hiring ibm." now isn't that brilliant? i'm aware of several ibm debacles.....well that's another rant.

even companies like apple who are known for set the world on fire innovation are criticized for other reasons like processes or lack of redundancy past steve jobs, i refer an article by Alan Deutschman, a Fast Company senior writer. he has decided that his true idea of a transcendant innovator is w.l. gore & associates. a good choice.

ultimately, you must trust and know that you are brave, remain committed to your true passion and purpose, regardless of what negative thoughts come your way. those leaders and organizations that adopt a true sense of bravery towards innovation and re-inventing their companies will find a way to get the job of changing the world done.

some well-known if not expected examples of these types of organizations. do you think these companies in some way transcend the rest? ideo, thenorthface, 3m, microsoft, virgin

you'll notice they're all large and recognizable organizations with substantial r&d budgets. i'm however most excited about the opportunities for the small and medium sized innovator to transcend their competition still sleeping at the wheel; that's where most of the fun is happening in my opinion.

interesting companies to watch:
webaroo, inphase technologies, brainsonfire eurekster

and so what if after all this you believe you simply can't afford to start an idea tactical and implementation team?

well, then you knock on our door.... we'd be happy to blow the doors off of your particular market space with you.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

more non-disruptive disruption...

incremental change: wrong - start over

moderate improvements: wrong - you'll be out of business shortly

too much change: wrong - adapt, rapid change is everywhere, can't handle it, either you'll be replaced by someone who can or the company will be replaced

still today, many companies, their management, staff and corporate culture are on the left side of the argument above. why? fear! fear of losing and "disrupting" the simple existence they have developed for themselves. there's safety in boring numbers, predictable revenues and so before i start sounding like an accountant/consultant from some very large dinosaur where i spend most of my time on the bench as part of a bloated organization, promoting the idea of those boring numbers through some goofy framework, chanting "mega hours billed." i'll stop there.

shareholders don't take well to disruption, "unless" it puts money in their jeans right? so how to be a disruptive leader without erroding consumer or shareholder confidence? hmm well if you're a dinosaur like sears, there's no hope for you. do you think shareholder confidence is shaken when these guys are talking disruption? no way, they're expected to do exactly that, in fact, the market would be shaken if they didn't act with disruptive intent.

sears....what will the retail environment look like in 2031? no idea? didn't think so.

sears....what will the hottest 10 products in 2031 be? once again no idea? yeeeaaahhhh, we're going need you to go ahead and die now, ummmk? thanks. - no, thank-you bill lumbergh will retailers respond to the "next" plugged-in generation? you're dead well before you'll ever find out.

rather than do what many large corporations are doing at the moment, which is turn good people who don't know any better and with no idea on how to innovate into V.P.'s of corporate innovation, you should think about finding the whackiest, most unusual and original creative thinker on the planet, better yet put a team together, search the planet for them and get them out of the office to explore the world's technology innovators that have little or nothing to do with your business today.

then match them up with behavioral scientists and experts in human factor engineering and cut them loose.

rethink sears - think skunkworks? why? because you're already the retailing equivilent to this other dinosaur who I'm ashamed (i own a gm) to say is also losing their war. When regis says "buy american because we can't afford to let gm go under." hmmm it's possibly too late. dinosaurs don't turn on a dime with the leadership that got them there in the first place. that's why they're dinosaurs.

here are some ideas to get you started sears.

hover chair - furniture that hovers on a cushion of air and at the same time filter's the air into fresh spring rain smelling almost edible air, resulting in reducing a child's chance of getting asthma.

nano-fibre upholstery materials, why? why not?

how about tool boxes with some sort of memory material built in that adapts to the tool, holding it in place and can strengthen the tool's structural integrity while not in use.

nano-tube tools, why? why not? too-expensive, how do things too expensive today eventually reach the market....uh innovation!

how about one battery for life for all power tools, corner the power market, it already exists go find it, commercialize it and make it ubiquitous.

garden shed that adapts to the available space in terms of size, with wall material that can morph and act as a green house with a voice command, upgrade with solar power generation technology to power the house.

make the tool box a communications and diagnostics station with phone, tv and wireless internet capabilities built in. or if you like forget the wireless and embed webaroo and allow the home mechanic to surf offline. that could almost be next years killer product technology-wise.

expand the idea with embedded voice activation, the tool box should be able to perform diagnostics on any vehicle within range and report to the owner on the exact steps on solving the mechanical issue along with a list of which sears made tools are missing from the tool-box but are needed to complete the job, then order them for immediate daily delivery on that ridiculously expensive sears credit card account. this would also go for your appliances, you remember those don't you, your lousy service delivering appliances to my home and then how you dealt with your mistake is how we got here in the first place.

how about the sears diagnostic robot?

oh, i know what some of you might be saying, but sears is a retailer primarily not a product developer. i think both sears and i would disagree with that comment and besides do you think that the really cool product developers are going to choose boring sears as their #1 retailer of choice? not on your life, they're not now why would they in the future?

sears...your store concept is dead, there are others out there doing it better and more on the way with retailing concepts that capture the mind, body and soul. no amount of tv shows will turn that tide for you. a complete rebuild is the only thing that will.

any way the point is rather than simply making an attempt to look like you're innovating (sears you don't even qualify here) - commit to it 1000 percent. fire up the disruption engine and hit the big red flashing button for launch...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

non-disruptive disruption........

the concept of disruption, at least how my simple mind understands it, is to promote change, creativity, innovation and passion for pushing limits. (again, the most simpliest of definitions)

does purchasing a piece of innovation management software push you into the category of "disruptive?" maybe, if you were so boring and uninspired before that this brilliant IT strategy was a revelation among your ranks. maybe, if by "disruptive" you mean a slightly elevated voice at the kitchen table during dinner time.

disruption has become so common place that even dilbert has taken his shots at the concept. is it really common place? or have just a small segment picked up on the bandwagon? how many corporate executives use the word at all in their daily lives?

when you consider that droves of mediocre mid-level managers are being replaced by software implementations and automated processes and will soon be blogging about how unfair it all is and how they didn't see it coming.

well, if you don't see it coming then boys and girls you deserve it.

my answer to my previous question is NO, purchasing innovation management software does not qualify you are truly disruptive. understanding that you work or operate a dinosaur, like sears is the first step, then create a culture of change and innovation, only then can software tools which help you organize your thoughts and ideas into usable and actionable items that produce revenue have a suitable role.

sidebar: i don't believe there's enough disruption in the universe to help sears, no amount of seemingly donated furnishings on television will do it. at the end of the day, sears and companies just like it are missing the boat and others will out perform them and destroy them. i believe the real disruption revolution hasn't yet begun, despite the ramblings of dilbert and dilbert-like bloggers out there...more to come on this topic....down with corporate dino's.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

on a mission...

i hear all sorts of different responses when i explain that fusedlogic is on a mission to take on the toughest challenges possible, and of those, we prefer ones that will change the world.

some sneer, some laugh outright, other's go hmmmm as they attempt to figure out a challenge that might stump our organization but the majority just stare back with this blank stare not sure what to say or how to react. when your day is spent selling a commodity, for example, maybe you're a web-developer, a financial planner, insurance salesperson or even a real estate agent, you have a tough time relating to "change the world." that of course is precisely why they're not our target client at all.

progress: amazingly and also expectedly, we're finding what we're looking for, highly cool large scope projects that have tremendous potential to change the world with an innovative approach and a lot of creativity.

the key: we're focusing on our strengths, and continuing to eliminate all those opportunities that are frankly, a distraction from changing the world around us on a mass scale. anything else interesting to us is filtered through our xcelerator program for small business and that has some specific engagement parameters attached, if it doesn't fit there - than we pass altogether.

fun times; there is a client we've had for sometime and he's almost certainly on to a product that might just revolutionize the way the oil industry does part of it's business. (sorry confidentiality prohibits me from expanding on what exactly we're talking about) However, this product could be a killer app on the production side of things. CHALLENGE: this little company may have a tiger by the tail and is ill equipped to take it global. enivro-friendly, increased production, low-cost, everything oil companies dream of.

time to create the plan for world domination, now before you get any ideas for another bond film script, keep your keyboard in neutral. there isn't any corporate espionage planned here, or market manipulation, just straight forward "honest" capitalism and commerce - once some tests are complete and the good news is confirmed that is and that should happen next week.

however, one very large oil company is on board regardless. so the mission is get this product in the hands of as many oil companies on the planet as possible starting with a two person operation without getting eaten alive. sounds like fun and we can change the world for the better in numerous ways just with this one project alone. life is pretty spectacular.

i won't bore you with all the details of negotiating deals for this product and the time, effort and resources required to make it happen. the commercialzation process is part of the super fun part, that's a strength of ours for sure.

Monday, April 10, 2006

passion like richard...

many people in business today would say they have passion for what they're doing. however, when you sit and discuss passion at length with them, the boundaries of their passion become rapidly evident, almost the central focus.

do we need some type of boundary? sure, but not as close to the centre as you might think, and not as stringent as you would like either. i look to align my firm with projects and people who have already demonstrated that their passion boundaries are further a field than most, and yet they still have a way to go. why? because i've virtually eliminated my boundaries for passion regarding my business and our clients, they're well beyond most other's comfort zones. for a business relationship to form strong ties, there has to be a working appreciation for the really passionate business journey that's about to start.

that's where we as an organization must position ourselves in order to be amazing and extremely effective. we leave others to their business planning projects, instead, we look for the toughest challenges we can find, and the most passionate people to work with. changing how education is delivered, influencing how certain market segments learn about being an entrepreneur, green energy, broadband in new ways and new areas, we focus on world changing projects and you need incredible passion to accomplish work in these areas. evolving business by pushing boundaries is what we're all about.

ask yourself, just how passionate you consider yourself to be about what you do every day. what if you let go of the restrictions, how would this invigorate and affect your corporate culture? energizing your corporate culture can lead to terrific new accomplishments.

do yourself a favor and hold a competition within your office, have everyone count the number of times the word "can't" is used. more often than not, that word limits everything from revenue to innovation and everything in between. are you the "can't" company?

stop using "can't" as an excuse to fail. start being more passionate about the word "how." how can we push further, reach higher......

do you have a passionate corporate culture?

how often do you laugh? what about your staff?
is creativity a core skill for you and your team?
is work defined as an incredible experience for your customer? shouldn't it be?
is energy abundant or in short supply?
what is your fuel?

organizations that don't restrict passion in their people ultimately will win more. let your staff exude passion. let them run with inspiration, innovation should thrive and that leads to marketshare increases; once you figure out how to channel that new found passion, the sky's the limit.

you may someday soon be asking yourself, so why does the sky have to be the limit? now you're thinking passionately like richard branson and how can that be a bad thing....

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


often in life we are forced to deal with people who refuse to hold themselves accountable.

i'm not one of them, and my clients i believe respect that about me and my firm. i'm by no means perfect, after all, i'm human. how we deal with mistakes or the perception of a mistake says alot about our character as a person and as a business.

for example: in your opinion, if a company you have employed to perform a task or was asked to supply a product to you and they fail to do so as agreed, what would you expect them to do if anything to address the problem?

I recently orded a hundred pens of the more expensive variety from a local promotional items company located in my area of Sherwood Park and they were shipped to me with many of them being dry - they didn't work right out of the box. I unfortunately didn't find out the extent of this problem until after having sent out approximately 60 pens, they started coming back to me and people made comments about being given a faulty or bad pen.

in your opinion, do you think this has in any way affected my corporate brand? why or why not?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

our 6th year in business....

fusedlogic has just passed its 6th anniversary as a company this past weekend, and i was reflecting on some of the incredible work and the amazing people we've collaborated with over that time.

the firm has really come along way, despite our focus to not grow in size for most of our existence up to now at least; it was the right decision for a healthy life balance. that said, we still managed to engage in very interesting projects with interesting people, which remains true today.

in fact, that statement has matured and expanded into identifying the toughest business challenges we can find on the planet. this expansion of thinking has led us to identify work primarily outside our local area and in the u.s. as well as india. we've also developed relationships with companies and organizations in china, russia, pakistan and the uk.

if there's anything that i've personally taken away from the past 6 years, it's that people are generally good at heart but sometimes and more often than one would think, they lack passion and purpose; these people are bored, their business lives devoid of excitement, their tired and overloaded with information. that sometimes is the toughest challenge we can find, to inspire those who are empty inside and searching for answers and do it in a way that develops trust in the process and in us.

it's true that in this life you meet all kinds of characters, some incredibly positive and even some less than honorable. in fact, even though we're stronger than ever and looking for incredible people as staff on specific projects, it hasn't been all laughs and giggles.

we're luckier than most to be able to say that after 6 years of operations we only have one organization that owes us an unpaid debt (its been years and we've been very patient).

interestingly enough they have plenty of cash to continue operations with staff, an office, expand through the start of a new joint-venture business and have pulled the wool over the eyes of another local firm to accomplish this. actually if you knew who i was referring to and many of you in alberta are becoming more aware of this company, you'd recognize as i do, that this is simply a lack of maturity and integrity. this group has someone younger than most as an executive who thinks of himself as well...he thinks pretty highly of himself and his accomplishments we'll just leave it at that. will this group ever pay the debt they owe? most likely not, this sort of thing seems to be in their collective nature and a small segment of the market who has dealt with them usually finds this to be true, especially if they're owed funds for work completed. in one case my firm was affected simply because of association with these guys, not good on the karma front.

in business we all come across these types of people and i'm sure that many of you have at one point had to deal with either dishonest or simply ignorant folks who refuse to own up to their obligations. so what do you do? sue them? well this number is certainly enough to warrant that and at the same time one has to fast forward to the point where you realize the only one who truly benefits from that action is the lawyer. thankfully should i decide to take action on this issue i have a tremendously capable law firm. one of the relationships a company of our age inevitably develops as a matter of course.

enough of the bad, i'm extremely gratified to continue to find that people are incredibly receptive to what we're doing and recognize the high quality of work, fusedlogic's business model is very unique and things are heading exactly where i want them to go. yes, 2006 has already been a fantastic year and the best is just around the corner.

over the years some have referred to me personally as a delivery mechanism for tough love, that i'm direct, in your face, even aggressive. well folks, walter schwabe and fusedlogic are certainly not going away, in fact we're growing and if tough love is what you require so that you are phenomenal at what you do, you can expect the heat to be turned up over the next 6 years.

our firm is pure creativity, innovation, big ideas, big deals and illumination, sure we've got detail guys but we keep the somewhat stoggy bean counters and mba types at the back of the bus. we're much more about pushing your limits and expanding what you think is possible, showing you how ready you are for amazing business results.

example: imagine for a moment your business is incredibly successful, now imagine a firm comes along and with a change in perspective helps you to see.

where once you believed that you were kicking butt, with your improved business vision you now recognize you're actually only tapping into 20% of your capabilities and then this firm provides you with clarity on how to capture the other 80%...then rolls up its sleeves and does the work with you to ensure success.

wouldn't that be worth something to you? wouldn't you want to start that work immediately? many business owners are saying "absolutely, we can't afford not to, how can we continue knowing we may be leaving 8 out of every 10 dollars on the table."

i agree 110%....

Monday, April 03, 2006

lousy corporate communications...

for many people and corporations doing business online is a revelation. unfortunately, for a large segment of the online business community, they have forgotten to ensure that excellent customer service rules the day.

common mistakes often include poor and ineffective communication within daily online communiques with customers. for example, when emailing a customer who has just purchased your product or service online ensure it is pleasant and THANK THEM for their purchase. you'd be amazed at how often this simple gesture gets overlooked. many times it's a result of outsourcing the payment system to a third party such as paypal who cares less about how they represent your company and more about pushing new accounts.

I was recently purchasing a gift for my wife online,

here's an example of how NOT to communicate with a customer from my recent transaction:

vendor industries ( would like to be paid through PayPal.
Pay vendor industries now with PayPal!"

keep in mind that i'd already paid for my wife's gift and had printed off a confirmation of the transaction. so when i read this, my initial thought was it reads as if i've not paid them at all. and in fact, with the use of the word "now" it almost comes across as if they're demanding payment.

i have to assume they're not that stupid, so most likely what's really going on here is that paypal has sent me an automated email of some sort from the vendor's perspective and they're attempting to promote their payment service.

a poorly executed way to encourage me to set-up an account.

further down in this particular email, paypal goes into the fact that i owed another $2 for shipping that the system didn't bill me for. the system was set up for my canadian information yet the extra shipping costs associated with shipping to canada was not anticipated. another example of poor programming, and inefficient systems.

lousy execution, and you and i both know that this is done a million times a day - hello lost revenue.

i've removed the actual name of the vendor so that they don't get any advertising benefit for doing a poor job of paying attention to their corporate communications. the truth is they're clueless as to why this would be a problem. however, since i've told them i would write about this issue today, they're now aware and will hopefully learn from their mistakes.

terrible online customer service was a large contributing reason for many dotcom failures. lousy support, lousy communication skills, poor response times, large waste of the customer's time through inefficient billing systems all contributed to poor sales outcomes and down went huge operations. in part because they all focused on the really cool technology and forgot that it would be paid for by really cool customers whom they forgot to treat with respect.

focus on the customer experience at all times, the better you understand what the customer goes through and what they deem as important; the better your business will do.

and always keep an eye on how third-party vendors communicate with your customers, they can do serious damage without you knowing it.

this issue is worth millions of dollars in revenues lost or have to decide what side you'd rather be on...