Participate in the most advanced and deepest innovation survey made in the Scandinavian history. In return you will get an extensive and executive innovation report analyzing the innovation capability of the Scandinavian players from small disruptive and lean start ups to large corporations. The report will be sent out when we reached our Big Hairy Audacious Goal of building the largest and most comprehensive innovation databased in the Scandinavian history.
If interested I will give a speech at CFO Executive Day about how to innovate your business model to compete in the new global landscape. Have a look at the program.
Key Focus CFO Executive Day
Global economic instability has kept a tight grip on the market in recent years. Now there are signs of a slow recovery and some indicators indicate that consumer demand may be on the way up. Critical is to maintain growth and profitability and to adapt and innovate in the new global landscape. This places high demands on you as a CFO to pro-actively contribute to your company decides to stop and go in the right place and that you have a strategy for managing the growing risks to the economic uncertainty means.
I have funded Sweden’s first specialized education company in programming, robotics and renewable energy.oktober 9th, 2014 • Entrepreneurship • No Comments »
According to EU we will have a lack of 1,000,000 programmers already year 2020, at the same time as Europe have a high permanent unemployment rate. Due to this and an old friends wish I have funded Sweden’s first specialized education company in programming, robotics and renewable energy. I am very proud to say that today they have lunched there web site as well as their first one-week-camps in Robotics. Have a look at Programming4kids.se !
Now the assignment is closed and results delivered. I maintain status as investor in this fantastic venture. In 2,5 years the assignment has resulted in turning Digital Inn from a €30 M reseller with losses into Scandinavia’s #1 onsite and ecommerce Apple profitable reseller with an annual €50M sales. Shifted from a traditional retailing strategy to a premium branded multichannel supplier of Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, including the start of a large B2B Apple venture.
• Analysed operations; reduced costs; increased profit margins through innovative and strategic work, positioning and assortment work; and optimised inventory and processes.
• Created and executed a turnaround plan that included acquisition, integration and turning around a major competitor.
• Improved gross margins.
• Automated and digitalized sales, marketing, logistics and management systems.
• Introduced an innovative omni-channel approach of selling, supplying and balancing goods in all channels (on and offline).
• Increased stock rotation and reduced stock levels.
For the swedish audience, there is a detailed reportage describing the turn-around. Please read it here.
Today it was officially launched that I will start up as the Turn-around CEO of Sweden’s largest Apple Premium Reseller, really looking forward to that! Will be great fun.
MORE ACTION Sweden and Scandinavia is innovating with a goal-oriented leadership and open environments. That is good, but to maximize the innovation power Sweden and the Scandinavian countries need to add a little bit of MacGyver.
For some time, we have measured and evaluated a large number of companies’ and organizations’ innovation ability with a completely new concept for innovation measurement.
It has proven to be major cultural differences between regions and countries; in Sweden and the Scandinavian countries, for example, we have a goal-oriented leadership and open environments which include a lot of discussions. At the same time we are lacking a bit of MacGyver: for those of you remembering the TV series the hero who makes bombs out of bamboo sticks and some sugar, or builds a vehicle with a Swiss army knife.
Basically, business development and successful innovation work are about accomplishing activities that give something in return and ignore the others. For Lean Startups, this is made by a learning process, and for MacGyver, who in this context symbolizes entrepreneurship, by utilizing the resources at hand.
Both can be seen as role models for how companies with a minimum effort manage to drive their innovation and development to a level which really gives results.
Hurdlers and Great by Choice
According to IDEO, a world-leading innovation and design company in Palo Alto, hurdlers are one out of ten competences/personalities needed in order to drive innovation work effectively.
A hurdler is a person who can do anything out of nothing, and quickly as well. Or, to quote from Jim Collins’ new book Great by Choice, “firing bullets and then fire cannonballs once you know what’s on target”, and preferably in combination with an extreme endurance or what Jim Collins refers to as the 20 miles march.
A successful concept has been systematically and persistently working toward targets, in combination with shooting small-bore until you hit and then bring out the big guns. However, this also requires a certain kind of culture and personality.
In the measurements we have made recently, it is evident that endurance, extreme belief in oneself and having the guts to do much out of little are characteristics that distinguish winners. Characteristics which in combination with the things we are good at in Sweden, namely dialogue and goal-oriented leadership, become a fusion that really gives innovation power. Especially on the level required for rapid growth and success in a global market.
However, according to the measurements we have made, Swedish and Scandinavian companies are not culturally good at doing much with little, thinking very highly of themselves and never giving up. A call to all Swedish and Scandinavian firms: let’s find the MacGyver’s among you and give them the space they need. Set the ”Jante law” aside.
One of the very big trends right now is so-called Lean Startups, where you enter the market quickly and build with standard components. The focus is on continually learning in small rapid iterations.
Typical features are minimal costs, developing cheaply and taking help from customers and other external partners in order to develop what the market wants. This, combined with a goal-oriented leadership, collaboration in open environments, dialogue and some really effective hurdlers is a recipe worth applying and following.
An exciting example of the recipe above is Dropbox, where the founders by applying the Lean Startup methodology went from 100,000 users to 4 million users in just 15 months. Good entrepreneurs, understanding of people’s needs, a substantial drive and a present learning process have made Dropbox to a success story.
Today new companies are being started with business models and distribution channels which we have never seen before. Globalization has created a new golden age for those who help themselves, see the possibilities and are able to mobilize the right work methodology. This combined with finding the company’s inner core and exploit it fully leads to success.
What do customers really want? How do we know that we are making progress in our product development? Questions that sound familiar? Thinking “Lean” is not only for startups; any company wishing to perfect its innovation capacity could learn from the simple principles of the methodology.
The story of Ziperall – a Swedish Lean Startup
We have had the pleasure of working closely with the founders of Ziperall.com; some young entrepreneurs who went from idea to complete concept within two months, and in less than four months went from break even to selling tens of thousands of garments just in Sweden.
What is the secret? The idea? No, the product is far from unique. The secret is more likely a “MacGyver” and a structured innovation environment with good infrastructure, as well as a genuine interest and understanding of how people function and make decisions.
The company was started as a spin-off to the “DI Gazelle” winner and “A Great Place To Work” company Estate Europe. The garment has literally taken the world by storm. In this moment, a Ziperall is sold through (referring from) Facebook every minute…
How offers become almost impossible to copy
WHAT ARE YOU SELLING? By understanding what you are actually selling, you can find your unique abilities and become sustainably competitive.
Sitting on the plane home from Monaco and have just, together with some Bearing colleagues, run our innovation management program at Monaco’s business school and the MBA program of Luxury Goods.
All the big brands send their business developers to this program, and business development is what it turned into – for all of us. The trip led to reflection, and it all started with a discussion about Lady Gaga planning to pour blood and other more compromising body fluids into her new perfume.
So what am I selling?
Not long ago, an unnamed person in the Harley-Davidson’s group executive board, said that what they are actually selling is the opportunity for a 43-year-old accountant to dress in black leather, ride through a small town and scare people.
I asked the same question to the MBA students at the Luxury Goods program, i.e. what they are actually selling. It was obvious that the question was not new to them, but it still sparked debate and discussion.
New technology has entered the scene and it is no longer about expensive products impossible for ordinary people to buy, but even more about identity, recognition, lifestyle and building your own personal, individual brand. Technology becomes a part of the luxury to express oneself and to be special.
Somewhat incisively you could call it techno-avant-gardism, in which new technologies and channels in all forms become key elements for positioning oneself.
Examples of things that we probably will see more of are shoes communicating with our mobile and giving us updates on how we move, and smart solutions on how to easily scan body measurements for custom-made deliveries of clothing, furniture, vehicles and experiences of various kinds.
This is good news in a business where you no longer can create exclusivity with the price. More and more people can afford to buy luxuries at the same time as copying has made it very difficult to justify high prices. Identical copies with a nearly equal quality will sooner or later enter the market.
Basically, it has always been about identity and positioning, and this is what the luxury goods industry is selling in the reality. The price is irrelevant to most people. There are great opportunities for innovation in this field.
How do I avoid being copied?
Perhaps you remember how IKEA was copied in China? An entire warehouse, including the dress code of the employees, was copied. What is not as simple to copy is the DNA of a company, the inner mechanism, viewpoint, leadership, culture, personalities, knowledge, skills, relations, locality, creativity and working methods.
All of these mechanisms, often called capabilities, make up the basis to create value for customers – mechanisms that are difficult to copy. This is the mother of inventions, the very fine mechanics and the source.
By asking myself questions about what I am really good at, what I am actually selling and what the customers perceive that they are buying, I can begin to innovate my business model. Then I am also able to generate values that are difficult to copy. This is also the key to success for the luxury industry.
The automotive industry is working hard on new business models, such as Toyota who is experimenting with offering a monthly car including everything. Recently, several car makers have launched ”branded” cars with luxury brands like Gucci, one of them is Fiat. That is an innovation of the customer experience.
Creating a luxurious feeling or exclusivity is not enough. Consumption as such is one of the important keys where customers are offered to take a stand, belong to a group and its values. The group must not be too large, but still large enough to be recognized.
Social Innovation and sustainable thinking is emerging, business leaders shifting focus using social and sustainable thinking sharpening their competitive advantages. Interested reading more? Have a look at our new trend watch at http://www.dfkompetens.se/trendspaning/veckans-entreprenorskap/2011-08-01_social/index.xml
Joseph Schumpeter, the guru of innovation, addressed the process of innovation with his theory of creative destruction and his definition of entrepreneurs as people who combined existing elements in new ways to create a new product or service. Social innovation is a new potential megatrend, however with roots back in the 60’s and related to strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet social needs such as working conditions, education, community development and health that extend and strengthen the civil society. The term is used in many ways and related to innovations such as microcredit and internet based distance learning as well as social entrepreneurship.
However, recently business people and academics started to connect the dots bring doing well together with doing business, i.e. making the cake bigger before slicing it up. An example is the Canadian center for Social Innovation who clam on their web that ‘The Centre for Social Innovation is a social enterprise with a mission to catalyze social innovation in Toronto and around the world. We believe that society is facing unprecedented economic, environmental, social and cultural challenges. We also believe that new innovations are the key to turning these challenges into opportunities to improve our communities and our planet.’ Read more at http://socialinnovation.ca/
Moreover, Michael E. Porter the Harvard University professor, also recently published paper where he explain why business leaders must focus on shared value – creating products and services that benefit not only the company but also society. Or as like to put it, make the pie bigger… Responsible and smart entrepreneurs understand to create value through actions beneficial for all. Without a working society and environment there is not much business to do. See Porter’s movie in one of my older blog posts http://www.penker.se/michael-e-porter-sends-csr-back-to-the-stoneage-now-it-is-time-for-real-entrepreneurship/
There is also a new book published on the subject, Social Innovation, Inc. by Janson Saul. It is about five strategies for driving business growth through social change. According to Janson there are five key drivers for social capitalism and capital market
- Corporations are more powerful than governments
- Consumers are more powerful than citizens
- Social issues are now business ideas
- Philanthropy has become a commodity
- The value of intangible assets is rising
Janson also point out five key path to success,
- Create revenues through submarket products and services
- Enter new markets through backdoor channels
- Build emotional bonds with customers
- Develop pipelines for talent
- Influence reverse lobbying
Another interesting trend is place management, also a kind of social innovation, focused on reinventing places, societies as well as business clusters around the globe. There will be blog posts about this exiting topic, and I can promise a lot of interesting material. The international though leader in the subject is Christer Asplund, co-writer to Philip Kottler and senior adviser at Bearing Consulting, who is also launching his new book this autumn.