Aron Solomon’s picture

By: Aron Solomon

The past few weeks I advised several entrepreneurs who are trying to bring a product or service to market. Each is struggling with whether the minimum viable product (MVP) they’re launching is too minimum and would therefore be nonviable. The notion of the MVP has always had its pros and cons, but the often-bitter cocktail of time pressure, competition, and agile software development made the MVP the ongoing easy choice.

I introduced my concept of the initial viable product (IVP) to these founders, as I have with many others, and it seems to have resonated with most. The IVP isn’t just a hyper-iterated MVP. It’s the first truly viable product you choose to launch. You’re going to be judged on the first thing you launch—everyone is. Incessant explaining that it’s just your MVP and it’s not really ready yet is sometimes fine, but I’ve seen many other times where that’s the dealbreaker in itself. Why? Because your idea of minimal is far more minimal than that of the person you’re showing it to. Minimal is a sliding scale that will always slide onto you.

The Un-Comfort Zone With Robert Wilson’s picture

By: The Un-Comfort Zone With Robert Wilson

The other day I heartily congratulated a friend on her job promotion. She replied, “What if they made a mistake? What if I’m not really qualified, and it’s the Peter Principle in effect—that I’ve risen to the level of my incompetence?”

“You’re totally qualified,” I responded, “They wouldn’t have given you the job if you didn’t deserve it.”

She then said, “But I feel like a fraud.”

My friend was suffering from imposter syndrome. I understood how she felt, so I said, “I get it. I’ve been there. In my first year of speaking professionally, I was hired to present the keynote speech for a national association. It was extremely exciting, and exactly what I wanted, but the night before I was to go on stage, feelings of doubt emerged. And, like you, I felt like a fraud. Worse, I started to feel panicky.

Nate Burke’s picture

By: Nate Burke

With the rise of online shopping continuing to increase, thanks to the convenience and comfort of shopping from home, it's important for e-commerce businesses to look to their returns policy to ensure they’re not only catering to the tech-savvy, modern consumer, but also the environmentally conscious.

And with research suggesting that 84 percent of consumers are likely to buy from, and 86 percent likely to return to, a brand with a free returns process, there’s a clear shift in demand from the modern consumer, whose patience for brands with poor returns processes is rapidly fading.

The struggles of returns for e-commerce businesses

Brands right now are doing everything they can to cater to the concerns of consumers in turbulent times, such as increasing their returns windows. However, this can create logistical and financial difficulties, particularly given ever-rising return rates. Some estimates place these at 20 percent for e-commerce businesses.

Multiple Authors
By: Angus Robertson, Ahmet Abaci, Beth Somplatsky-Martori

Often, there’s a razor-thin margin between success and failure. Not long ago, Gillette—which dominated the $3.5 billion market for razors and accessories for longer than a century—was challenged by a little upstart called Dollar Shave Club, which had just starred in its first commercial for a reported production cost of $4,500.

At Gillette, innovation mostly consisted of adding the occasional blade to its disposable cartridges, but there was little incentive to otherwise rock the boat of its delightful recurring-revenue model. After all, hair continues to grow, whether we want it to or not. Prices remained artificially high, and the whole industry had a stodgy image.

But Dollar Shave Club noticed that, although razors themselves were still quite relevant, the way they had been marketed and sold was quite antiquated and inconvenient. Dollar Shave Club entered the market with a far less expensive pricing model, as well as an auto-ship process that would ensure shavers had a fresh blade at the ready without leaving the comforts of home. Along with fun commercials, resonant social media and globalization helped prop DSC up with $200 million in revenue during its first five years.

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

Shigeo Shingo was able to summarize entire concepts in single phrases, such as “paint parts, not air.” This meant that paint which misses parts in a spray booth constitutes wasted material and also an environmental aspect. “Ship product, not air” defines similarly empty space in packaging as wasted shipping capacity and shipping material.

“Ship value, not water” extends this concept to products that are mostly water, and that can be shipped in dry forms to which water can later be added.

I ordered replacement heads for my Sonicare toothbrush, with which I have had good results for many years. The pack of six arrived, along with air-filled bags to occupy the empty space in the box, as shown here.

Figure 1: Waste in Plain Sight

Maureen Metcalf’s picture

By: Maureen Metcalf

Many organizations feel the need to be leaner, faster, stronger, more adaptable, and more profitable. The right tool set to get them to that outcome may not be intuitive or singular. Building organizational agility is a solid approach to help organizations develop the capacity to perpetually evolve.

Organizational agility enables companies to accelerate their ability to sense and adapt to the volume, complexity, and rate of change organizations face in the current environment. We believe business agility is comprised of four main elements: strategist leadership, nimble culture, lean principles, and agile methods.

The challenge

Change is accelerating across all sectors of organizational life, largely driven by technology, geopolitical changes, and strong academic research. This accelerating change in disparate sectors comes together to drive organizations to develop the capacity to perpetually evolve, often quickly, to set trends, or to respond to forces that are changing the market. Although this volume and pace of change seem daunting, the most successful organizations address them by developing organizational agility.

Mark Schissel’s picture

By: Mark Schissel

Increasingly, consumers, investors, and other stakeholders are looking to companies big and small to do what’s right for people and our planet. To meet the demands of these stakeholders, transparency is key. In fact, an Innova Consumer Survey in 2020 revealed that six in 10 global consumers are interested in learning about where their food comes from and its impact, including on human and animal welfare, supply chain transparency, plant-powered nutrition, and sustainable sourcing.

The environmental and social governance (ESG) movement has given companies a platform, a common language, and key metrics to articulate their strategies and their progress, making it easier for stakeholders to make purchase and investment decisions. What’s really exciting is how this is fundamentally changing the way companies think about and operate throughout the supply chain. It is now incumbent on research and development, sourcing, manufacturing, planning, distribution, and other functions to consider factors that impact ESG in key investment decisions and day-to-day operations.

Jason V. Barger’s picture

By: Jason V. Barger

We’re experiencing rapid change, political and economic uncertainty, employee shifts and a war for talent, and the still-evolving “future of work.” A lot seems out of our control. However, even in the midst of all that is swirling around us, there is so much that every leader, team, and organization has right in front of them that is fully within their control.

Most teams and companies just need to step back and acknowledge it. In fact, one of the greatest mental exercises for all of us these days is to recognize and name all the things that are within our control. When we can’t control the weather, the economy, or the latest media scandal, we still have a decision about what we will choose to give our energy to. There’s always a response or action that is within our control. Every time we shift our thinking—from reactionary finger-pointing, excuse making, or feeling sorry for ourselves—and direct our focus and energy to solutions, gratitude, and ownership of our next actions, positive ripples are felt by all around us. It models a different spirit for the path forward.

The best leaders and teams on the planet understand their role is to help positively influence the mindsets of their people in ways that give energy, hope, and clarity to the path forward.

Kate Zabriskie’s picture

By: Kate Zabriskie

From time to time we all have to send our suppliers or customers packing. Does the following client relationship sound familiar? About 100 of her clients use her services once a year. They expect champagne service on a beer budget, and they pull her attention away from the people she works with regularly. This group is weighing her down, and after some soul searching, she’s decided they’ve got to go. Her business is running her, and it’s not working.

Or how about these?

• Plain and simple, he doesn’t like working with them. They pay late, they always look for extras, and they’re generally unpleasant. Life’s too short, he doesn’t need the work, and today is the day he’s pulling the plug.

• They pay their bills on time, they’re as regular as clockwork, but they’re no longer profitable. They’ve been great clients, and she dreads having to tell them they’re no longer a fit. Nevertheless, due to resource constraints, it’s got to be done.

From time to time and for myriad reasons, service providers need to let a client or class of clients go. As with any other difficult conversation, there’s a right way and a wrong way to make the decision and break the news.

Step one: Be methodical when making the decision

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

It’s too bad that so many rely on their intuition for their decision-making process. From former President Donald Trump, to Steve Jobs, and even allegedly Mark Twain, gut reactions are viewed as something almost magical, acquired either by hard-earned experience or possessed by a select few young genius CEOs who deserve a top-notch pay package. Top gurus reinforce such beliefs with their advice.

Yet research in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience shows that even one training session can significantly improve the quality of one’s decision-making ability.

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