Weekend Reads: 3 Tips, Circles of Innovation & Digital Nations

Some weekend reads for those in the world of digital, technology, organisational transformation and beyond.

Photo Credit: Valeriia Miller: https://unsplash.com/@iyamiphotography

Having worked with 1000s of entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups during my career at AOL, Yahoo!, News Corp and IAG (Insurance Australia Group), it was interesting this week to synthesis my experiences over these years into 3 tips for those just starting out on their journey for the UTS Startups initiative, lead by the engaging and energetic Murray Hurps (here in conversation with Malcolm Turnbull)

Trying to understand the core elements which drive success at an early stage involved some research, as there are a number of places one can go …is it about Product/Market fit? Should the focus be on jobs-to-be-done? How do you keep the focus on the problem and not get caught up in your idea/solution?

So, here are the 3 tips I used within the interview (which will be published soon) and hopefully these, plus the sources can help those taking the leap into building a new business keep their focus.

1/ Don’t narrow too early. Rather than being limited to a single path forward, the signature of a good idea is that the entrepreneur will be able to identify multiple potential ways to make it work.

The best startup ideas have multiple paths to success

2/ Test, increment, test. …then repeat … to work on shaping the problem, rather than the solution, so that you can de-risk the path forward. Focus on the job-to-be-done.

The Minimum Viable Testing Process for Evaluating Startup Ideas

3/ Diversity of background, thought, experience, age, gender and language in those around you will dramatically increase your chances of success. Surround yourself with people who are not like you.

These are quite simple tips but I hope will help those looking to leave the corporate world behind and take the step on the entrepreneurial journey to be more focused, more open-minded and ultimately more successful.

Whilst being interviewed, one of the questions piqued my interest, as it is a critical question for all corporates: How do you see growth from innovation within a corporate? (in the context of connecting with start-ups).

The answer to this question touches on the ‘incumbents dilemma’ of how to innovate at the core (incremental innovation) whilst also focusing on the adjacent (disruptive innovation). This requires a balancing act of resources, partnerships, risk and ultimately investment (time & money), which allows these two to operate and embed in tandem across the organisation.

One of the key factors of successful organisations which innovate at the core and in adjacents is that they are product-focused, not project-focused. Also, they are data-led, not just data-driven, and finally, they are customer-led, not just customer-focused.

This interview with John Carter, who has advised Apple and Amazon, among others, on how to balance these focuses of innovation, provides a great insight into how to think about your core product, the expected product and also the augmented product holistically within your strategic planning.

Innovation Beyond the Core with John Carter

Finally, for this weekend, something to listen to around how a whole country (Estonia) is focusing on becoming “the most tech-savvy country in Europe”. There are lessons for leaders of organisations, governments and academia within this interview with Kaja Kallas, the prime minister of Estonia.

One of the great quotes which resonated with me is:

“We don’t have many people, so this is never our strength,” she says. “We have to focus on the quality of the things that we do.”

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, The Chiefs 42 – Radio

Enjoy the weekend and hopefully, these weekend reads have got you thinking, planning and energised to focus on the “quality of the things that we do”.

Thank you for your time and attention, onwards & upwards.


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