- The concept of a strategic pivot was first popularized five years or so ago in Eric Ries’s book The Lean Startup and subsequently by Steve Blank and other entrepreneurs and academics.
- Since then, it’s become another abused term for entrepreneurs, management teams, and VCs to use when announcing a dramatic change of strategy in their business or portfolio company.
- Instead of executing legitimate pivots based on solid ground, many companies get sucked into a pattern of flailing wildly – making deep divots in the fairway rather than hitting a successful shot, to borrow the golf analogy.(*)
- Getting this distinction right matters: it can be the difference between success and failure – whether a young startup digs a hole in the fairway or a more mature company whiffs at the ball when they try to increase customer adoption and revenues. I’ll review examples of successes and failures and provide rules of thumb to help you tell the difference.
Vital Lessons on Hyper-Growth from Splunk’s former CEO
At a recent session in San Francisco for a dozen CEOs of young tech companies in the investment portfolio of UK and New York based Octopus Ventures, Godfrey Sullivan, chairman and former CEO of Splunk, provided the group with some powerful insights about how he and his team managed to drive Splunk’s growth from $10m. in revenue in 2008, when he began in the company as CEO, to its current run-rate closing in on $1bn. eight years later. This period included a 2012 IPO that has turned Splunk into probably the single most successful big data public company with a valuation of $8bn. as of October 7. During the eight years the customer base grew from 750 to over 10,000 and today Splunk is an acknowledged leader in big data analytics, security, and internet of things (IoT) applications.
By Paul Wiefels
It’s summer time and I am devoting some of my “beach reading” to topics that personally intrigue me but are a bit off the beaten path from subjects I typically write about. My previous post concerned how flawed thinking processes among healthcare providers can be extremely costly, not to mention, deadly. Similarly, flawed thinking juries can wrongly convict the innocent, or let the bad guy off the hook. Flawed thinking at work, in governments, and in our personal lives can be expensive, career-limiting, or simply embarrassing. We put a huge premium on “getting it right” yet we fall prey to a number of biases and cognitive errors that prevent us from doing just that. More troubling, cognitive psychologists tell us that we don’t just get it wrong occasionally. We get it wrong routinely, tripping again and again over obstacles to decision-making that are systematic—deviations from rational thought, observation, and analysis that lead us into cognitive cul-de-sacs.
Don’t fight it. Don’t try to brazen it out. Remember Intel’s PR disaster around the Pentium in the mid-90s? And what about the Exxon-Valdez oil disaster in 1989? And BP’s catastrophic oil spill in 2010? Closer to Tesla’s home industry, remember the Bridgestone tire scandal of 2000? And what about the ongoing dramas that are dragging down Toyota (airbags) and Volkswagen (diesel car pollution), jeopardizing their very viability?
By Paul Wiefels
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University estimate that as many as 160,000 patients each year suffer permanent damage or death as a result of diagnostic mistakes. Not surprisingly, they are also the leading cause of malpractice claims. Healthcare providers have been striving to reduce this number and many of the latest developments in healthcare technology are aimed at this problem including better automation and accuracy in lab testing; the use of big data and data mining to spot patterns of bad calls; online services that provide additional suggestions for differential diagnoses; and so on.
Mindsets in the healthcare community are changing too. Clinicians are being trained (or retrained) to question their own biases and thinking in an effort to come to the right conclusions when confronted with conflicting data and multiple opinions.
Strategic Business Development specialist Clarify, today announced a partnership with Chasm Group, the go-to-market consultancy and advisory firm founded by and based on the works of Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm.
By combining their individual specialties, the partnership will offer enterprise clients proven methodologies to increase revenue, accelerate growth and rapidly scale while reducing the risk of bringing new or disruptive initiatives to market.
Silicon Valley needs to dump its revenge-of-the-nerds culture and engage with the world
- Since the results of the Brexit vote came out on June 24th, commentators everywhere have emphasized the growing popular anger in the UK and elsewhere against immigration, open borders, international trade, and technology-enabled globalization in general.
- If the tech industry doesn’t wake up and take notice of this geo-political and socio-economic instability, it may well be seen as a new Public Enemy number one, becoming vulnerable to widespread populist rage and increasingly stringent regulation by national, regional and city governments as well as by the supra-national EU.
- Working in concert, industry and government have both a need and an opportunity to produce a new model of collaboration leading to greater integration to counter the deepening political polarization in western economies. Failing this, major regions of the world may give way to the divisiveness – or disintegration – that populist leaders love to feast on.
“Today’s challenges include economic stagnation and disruptions in the labor markets — driven to a large extent by technological advances moving at warp speed — that are widening income disparity, destroying jobs and hollowing out the middle class.”
– Henry Paulson, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, to some degree pointing a finger at the tech industry, quoted in an article in the Washington Post, June 24, 2016
- In 2010 Oracle sued Google over patent infringement regarding the use of 37 Java APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to accelerate the development of its Android OS for smartphones and other mobile devices, and thus compete with Apple’s highly successful 2008 launch of the iPhone.
- The latest of three lawsuits – following the original 2010 case and the 2012 appeal that overturned the 2010 verdict in favor of Google’s right to make use of the APIs – just ended in favor of Google. Software developers, customers and industry participants everywhere can all breathe a sigh of relief.
- Assuming this verdict sticks it will undoubtedly reinforce current business practices around APIs and in the process enable the continuation of API-fueled growth of business and consumer applications, which is very good news for the tech industry as a whole.
Author: Hakan Jakobsson *
* Editor’s note: From time to time we shall feature guest columnists in this forum. In this article, Hakan Jakobsson presents some provocative arguments and counter-arguments on the intriguing question of whether Google has left it too late to catch up with AWS and Azure, the two current leaders in enterprise cloud infrastructure. Hakan is a good friend and frequent thought-partner with me on many tech-related topics. In particular, he has deep expertise in IT infrastructure and especially public cloud.
When a product gains popularity it is common that a pattern emerges. In the beginning, there are a small number of pioneering companies producing it, but as its popularity grows, more and more vendors enter the market to get a piece of the action. After a while, the number of vendors peaks as consolidation sets in and eventually, the market becomes dominated by a small number of players. For instance, there were around 80 U.S. automakers in in 1920 and more than 80 U.S. television manufacturers in the early 1950s. More recently, the number of disk drive manufacturers peaked in 1984 at almost 80 and the number of PC manufacturers about 3 years later when there were around 100 hundred vendors according to Michael Mauboussin’s book “More Than You Know.” Today, there are far fewer manufacturers in any of those categories.
- Strategy is about making choices, including what type of revenue to pursue – and what type not to accept.
- Thus, all (revenue) dollars are not equal – some revenue is very good for your company, while other types of revenue can do serious harm to the value of your business.
- To get a sense of where your company stands, take the Good-Neutral-Bad Revenue test below.
- Developing clear rules of engagement to test revenue opportunities for their potential impact is fairly straightforward, but managers still need to have the intestinal fortitude not to give in to the temptation to chase the wrong opportunities, especially when the pipeline is a bit lean.