Business Agility @tieuknorth #FoundersDock Launch Speech

Founders Dock Omnijoin

Last night saw the opening of an exciting intitiative from Tie UK North, a brand new incubator for start-up businesses in Spinningfields, Manchester, more about it here

Asked to do a talk around ‘Business Agility’ for the audience, I had a number of people come to me afterwards to ask me if I had a copy of the speech, which thankfully I do.  I’m re-publishing it here for those that asked: -

Phil Jones – Founders Dock  Launch 20/01/2014 – ‘Business Agility’

“Last week we had some great news.  Brother had been named in the list of the Sunday Times Top 100 places to work.  Let me place that in some context for you, our parent is 105 years old and our Manchester business is 46 years old.  In a world where most of the household giants are now less than 10 years old, we’re a wise elder on the topic of staying relevant to your audience, a key attribute defining an agile organisation.

The last seven years have been the most dynamic I’ve ever experienced in business.  At times we’ve ridden waves, other times battled heavy headwinds.  It’s the ability to quickly react which differentiates whether you are a puma or a dinosaur in the new new we all now live in.

So many disruptive technologies entered our realm post 2007 that our landscapes began to shift.  The iPhone, iTunes, Cloud Computing, APPS, Twitter, Dropbox, iPads, Android, Google earth – the list goes on and on. 

And then someone pressed self-destruct on the economy in 2008, creating a perfect storm of technological, organisational and economic turmoil.  I’m sure every business leader in the room has their share of success and horror stories of how this new world order has impacted them, perhaps forcing an unplanned change.

But what is business agility?

It depends who you ask and there are numerous interpretations of the word and what it stands for.  Maybe in the last few years it’s all been about reducing organisational trauma as your business adapts to new markets, for others about finding the quick wins to take on a new-entrant disrupting previous holy ground.

The bottom line is having a workforce, organisational structure, business model and capability to deal with anything that gets thrown at you!  I believe AGILITY is the ATTITUDE of your people, more than your processes.

In the heart of all of this lies the creative leader, the light burst of energy who can inspire, direct and encourage people to turn up with the right attitude towards change.  Recessions bring fear or flight thinking, buttoning down the hatches, sticking with the knitting, risk aversion and controlling behaviour.  It’s about the worst possible environment for large, established businesses battling to keep their oil tanker afloat, whilst observing bootstrapped new entrants kicking the living daylights out of their business model.

Energised and connected leaders who can see this, roll their sleeves in readiness, obsessing about customers in order to stay relevant and intimate.  They are rarely caught asleep at the wheel, a la HMV, Woolworths, Blockbuster, as they are connected to the pulse of the customer, bringing back insights and always ensuring the direction of travel is correct, although the final destination may well still be undetermined.

Words that we normally associate at Brother with agility are: – flexibility, balance, adaptability, co-ordination, autonomy, fluidity, de-centralisation and dexterity, difficult to do all at once unless you are the guy from the TV show ‘don’t look down’ on Channel 4 last night!

We wrapped this all up in an acronym called ‘PRIDE’ – Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence.  Driving down responsibility to human beings in a work community to be their best, to adapt and to work through whatever might come through the door.

But why agility has become a theme?

 

With all this technology, we are now entering the age of ‘isation’ – Democratisation, Virtualisation, Consumerisation, Commodisation, Cannibalisation and Globalisation.  A trickle down effect which has put power right in the hands of people to work anywhere, to amplify their voice and demand the lowest cost for anything, from anyone.  The customer is no longer king, they are king kong with corporate reputations under risk from the crowd as they gather across social computing networks to force change from slow responders or head in the sanders.

But big are speeding up as changes in working practice, culture and organisational structure work through.  We call this ‘Kinetic’ working at Brother, creating a workplace which is not pyramid shaped, but molecular in structure.  Providing a workplace which is ‘community’ driven, with the emphasis being on outcomes not hierarchical status.  Using advancements in technology and the revolution in mobile technology to drive location independent working and increasing our reach into the talent pool. 
 
The next five years we will continue to see a period of collaboration, sharing, openness, transparency, disruption, creativity and innovation.  It won’t be about the survival of the fittest, but the thinnest.  
Those benefiting from low cost, PAYG infrastructure and workforces will surely succeed over the fixed cost burdens of many larger businesses as they grapple to de-layer, de-construct and determine the middle ground between centralised and de-centralised working.
 
2020 – 2040 is a tipping point for agility as baby boomers and Generation X retire giving way to the high alacrity Gen Y + Z so used to everything being an application away from anything they need to do. They will demand new democratised work environments with an emphasis on how work fits around their life, rather than the other way round.  Businesses must de-learn their methods of working and adopt new flexible structures, revving up and down, in line with market demand and plus workforce availability.
 
For Manchester and business to succeed, it must be fleet of foot, in a state of readiness with capable people, skill enabled and backed by the right business environment – networks (physical and data) will be key.  The speed at which business can be transacted will be key to capitalise on the opportunities that present themselves nationally and internationally, business without borders.
 
The region needs to think bigger than a region, it needs to thing global, grabbing temporary competitive advantage to be more fleet of foot for business and its residents.  Perhaps the internet of things is the big opportunity to make this one of the smartest cities on the planet?
 
But none of this matters without action.  A region wont grow unless businesses start.  Businesses won’t succeed without the resources to nuture them from incubation to fly.  Large established businesses won’t change unless they adopt a mindset of agility, it all starts with the leadership.  Now it’s about communities, collaboration and connectivity!  Embrace new methods of working, speed up, assist, collaborate or kick the living daylights out of your competition with a pre-emptive strike – but do something!
 
Speaking to an audience of industry executives in London last week I gave two pieces of advice for the future and both pieces were one word: -
  
  1. Change will be constant.
  2. Change!
The objective of this incubator is to provide the platform for ideas to turn into actions and businesses.  To keep talent here, to nurture it, to build a future for this great City.  This incubator will be well resourced, with full web video conferencing, opening the capability of the businesses within it to collaborate with anyone in the world, without a mile of HS2 train track needing to be laid!!
 
I like to think that the moment of serendipity described earlier sums us up (refers to how Brother came involved with this project after a chance meeting on Embankment tube station).  Seeing an opportunity, evaluating it quickly, taking first mover advantage of the opportunity, working it through and creating this space in rapid time working with TiE, sums up that even big business, can be small.
 
We like to think that we not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, demonstrated by our recent award.  It’s not easy, it takes guts, determination and a lot of change, a committed workforce, the right structures, difficult conversations, tense meeting rooms and a passion for the possible.  
 
You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward but do move forward and always good to remember that you can’t do today’s job with yesterdays methods and be in business tomorrow.”
 
 Ends.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State of the Nation

Osbourne

Today I appeared on BBC Radio 5 live giving some commentary around the Chancellors speech around the economy and the need to save a further £60bn in spending over the next four years.

Reading through his speech, some key words initially jumped out at me which were things like “Confronting truths”, “dangerous new complacency”,  ”hard truths,” and “brink of collapse.”  These words were being used to position the further difficult decisions that would have to be made and implemented to balance the public finances.

My job within the short time was to give some response from a business perspective, as usual there is never enough time for everything, so here’s my thoughts in random order: -

  • Business has already been doing much of the above since the crash in 2008 in terms of confronting truths, eliminating complacency and adjusting to the new new. 
  • Business has adapted and healthchecks itself regularly with brutal honesty .  High performing businesses have this as part of their regular dialogue.  The ones that do fall asleep at the wheel fail – Blockbuster, Woolworths, HMV etc.
  • Small business access to finance is still an issue for many, many banks would argue that money is available for financially sound businesses.  Key is the approach and appetite by the banks to risk hence why more businesses being crowd funded or funded via EIS.
  • Britain must compete on a global stage.  Costs must be right sized, skills must be developed, new industries developed. opprtunities for young peope created.  Agree with the Chancellor on that one.
  • Business confidence is positive, but realistic.  At the Telegraph Festival of Business a straw poll of 300 business leaders and entrepreneurs showed a positive outlook for the future.
  • The debt size is still £10 trillion, so relatively speaking £60bn is still not tackling the scale of the issue.  We don’t really know what austerity looks and feels like in the same way as a resident of Portual, Greece or Spain might.  Consumer consumption continues here in the UK.
  • Any economy is a bell curve of success and failure at the extremes.  Businesses in specific sectors are having a harder time than others, equally other businesses continue to grow like crazy.  The businesses in the middle of the bell curve are figuring out ways to ensure they stay where they are or move right of the curve.
  • Any business leader would look at their balance sheet or cashflow and look to repair it if it were in a terrible state, the question is just how long will the stakeholders give them?  A failed CEO would be fired, a failed politician invariably gets to fight another day.
  • A small government has to be one of inevitable outcomes of the need to reduce costs.  More productivity, efficiency, automation, /Information Technology, Smart services and Smart Cities will mean fewer people.  A brave move for a politician.

The bottom line is that business is just getting on with it.  Business has little need for politics, other than to create the best possible landscape for business to thrive within.  Businesspeople see that the balance sheet is in dire need of repair and just want more honesty and transparency, so that they aren’t blindsided.

Opposite Attracts!

credit cardToday, I experienced a first.  

On checking out of a hotel, a surcharge of £3.00 was added to the bill for paying by credit card.  As a frequent user of hotels all over Europe, I was puzzled why this charge had occurred and the answer was due to the group wanting go give more ‘transparency’ to their customers – fair enough (Macdonald hotels).  

 As my hotel was booked through an agent, I don’t recall seeing the condition of this charge in advance, nor was it raised at check-in.  No signage was in the reception area, detailing the charge or rationale, leaving quite an awkward conversation with the receptionist who – give her the due – was on message but shared the immense customer disattisfaction she was experiencing on the front line.  
 
This is about trust and left my sponsoring thought about the hotel group as one of disappointment, despite a lovely stay, nice dinner and good staff.  Customers remember small things and particularly if it’s the very last thing they do at the end of their stay!  That should be the moment of installing the positive attributes of the stay, to ‘bake in’ in the experience.

 
In today’s expectation and sharing economy, this is a total own goal for me and it reminded me of an innovation process called “do the opposite” – which is when you come at the problem from the other way.  Clearly, the group want to recover to make the cost of credit card transactions visible by making a token fixed standard charge.  Here’s the example above using ’do the opposite’ which turns the charge into a credit: -
 
Doing the opposite
 
Instead of adding a surcharge, include it upfront in the cost of the room like everyone else does, rationale being:-
  • Customer isn’t surprised.
  • Customer establishes trust.
  • Receptionists aren’t left feeling trepidation about every ‘check out’ interaction.
Instead, when it’s time to check-out, the conversation goes something like: -
 
“Here’s your bill Mr. Jones, would you like to take advantage of a further £3.00 discount by paying with a debit card?”
 
By doing this, you empower the customer to take the choice.  Those that want it, will take it having a little moment of customer delight as they reduce their bill by three pounds, receptionists turn this into a positive and leave the lasting impression as good as the first impression.  People who use company expenses don’t then have to process an additional line on their claim, assuming they can claim service charges back.
 
Decisions like the one above (let’s charge a £3 surcharge) are often quickly implemented without thinking of the longer term impacts. I was a high yield customer, taking one room but also paying for a dinner for x4 people plus drinks, tripling the size of my bill on its own.  £3 is not an issue, it’s a principle and in a social world, word quickly spreads when a customer feels their trust has been breached.
 
In a service business, with plenty of choice, in my experience consumers want the cost to be clear avoiding the ‘Ryanair’ moment with a brand.  Small moments like the one above leave a lasting footprint with a customer and what do they do?  They either abandon or avoid future use, unless convenience in some other form over rides the moment.

Legends of Industry Award

This week I was very fortunate to be recognised by -Variety, the childrens charity with a Legend of Industry award, following 20 years service in the technology industry.  It all came out the blue,  culminating in an awards ceremony in Manchester, where I along with six other people from the world of business and the media were presented with the award in front of an audience of around 300.  Other recipients were hairdresser – Andrew Collinge, writer – Lynda La Plante, Boxer -Joe Calzaghe CBE, MBE, Singer – Sheila Ferguson, Broadcaster – Eamonn Holmes, Actor – John Thomson and Philanthropist – John Kennedy CBE, DL, KSG, KHS, KMCO.

Invited to the stage to say a few words, I delivered the following, which a number of people stopped me and asked me if I could publish here for them to reference to, so here it is.

Acceptance Speech
A quote I’ve always loved from Martin Luther King is “Not everybody can be famous. But everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”
I’ve been hugely fortunate to witness some ordinary people doing extraordinary things and know many people who have achieved great personal success.
When recently asked what I’d observed about that success of these go getters I replied “They are not go getters, they are all go givers*, they serve others.”
And there lies the message in tonight’s awards.As Martin Luther King hinted, those that serve others as part of their higher purpose go on to achieve great things.
I’m immensely proud to be here on this stage, not as someone famous, but as someone who has realised that the key to success in life is simply to give generously.
Time, advice, energy, friendship, love – and the odd donation here and there – simply triggers a series of events which bring it all back to you.  So, to be a go getter, be a go giver!

*With thanks to James Welch, who sent me the book “The Go-Giver” which put into two words something that always used to take me ten sentences to describe.  I’d thoroughly recommend you give this a read.  Please also take a moment to read this blogpost entitled – “The Flow”.

Another Blockbusting Week for Retail Closures

Today we learned that video chain – Blockbuster – has called in the administrators,  in the same week that music retailer – HMV – did the same.

For many observers, it’s no big surprise.  You only need to look at the prolific rise of initially DVD mail services like Lovefilm, who have quickly migrated their business model over to a film on demand model or the launch of new services like Netflix or Blinkbox to know that the writing was on the wall for “nightly hire” DVD’s.  Also on the threat matrix are the thousands of DVD’s to be impulse purchased in supermarkets for the price of a nightly rental.

I’ve spoken time and time again in this blog of the necessity to always understand what disruptive technologies are launching, who your indirect competitors might be and what changes are being wtitnessed in consumer behaviour, in order that you can make sound choices about future pathways.  Without these, you are not keeping pace with the world.  Add to that the totally transparent levels of pricing of just about anything and you have a perfect hurricane (not storm) ready to rip through your business model.

It’s hard to believe that the strategic plan of Blockbuster did not consider these things, if they didn’t, then the blame lays firmly and squarely with the senior team.  Maybe it was speed, they knew what needed to be done, but didn’t possess the talent or technology to move quickly.  Perhaps it was the business model, over 500 locations with eager landlords tied into long leases which couldn’t be unwound.  Or the cost of downsizing the whole thing simply couldn’t be borne from reserves.  The administrators will quickly figure things out and see what value remains.  Whether anyone feels there is anything sustainable to buy, I think unlikely.

Hungry consumers will be ready to pick over the bones, to give the shops a temporary buzz as they sense a bargain and a kill.  It’s estimated that the closure of Blockbuster, along with HMV and Comet will increase the empty retail outlet numbers by 5%, so cue more charity shops to a town near you soon.

Retail needs to be multi-channel and highly distinctive.  Creating store experiences that blend the on and off-line world, giving people a real reason to visit a store.  I categorise today’s buyers into three types: -

  1. I-WIN = I Want It Now.  The tribe that leaves things too late to internet shop or hunting down something due to a breakage or fault.
  2. I-WAIT = I know what I want but I will happily on-line shop for it.  Likely to go to a store to see something or try it on, but happy to wait and order it on-line for a better deal.
  3. I-BROWSE = In a state of active purchase.  Happy to browse a shop and make an impulse purchase or browse an internet site.

Many of the big retailers have already recognised this and have created “destination” stores and integrated multi-channel experiences giving someone a real reason to visit using theatre or over and above benefits to shopping on-line, I call these “perkonomics”.  Hi-Fi retailer Richer Sounds are great at this, driving foot traffic to stores promising “better than the web deals” with real personal service.

Blockbuster won’t be the last.  Other retail chains may fall in 2013, January is normally the time when chains go, with Christmas sales dictating whether they can pay the next quarters rent.  What’s for certain is the landscape has permanently changed and the internet has truly challenged the high overhead cost of chains running stores.  Things will be fine for the big retailers that own their own brands and margins, life will remain pressurised for those that don’t.

Why I’ll still be drinking at Starbucks….

The UK MD of Starbucks – Kris Engskov – did an embarassing climb down today, in response to consumer and government pressure about their UK tax position.  Offering to pay £20M over the next two years to the UK tax authorities, regardless if Starbucks make a profit or not, they’ve opened themselves up for further fire.  UK authorities have taken the gesture badly, tax isn’t negotiable.

Starbucks are one of the three American ‘GAS’ companies (Google, Amazon, Starbucks) who have adoped similar tax positions which sees them use loopholes in tax law to minimise their corporate taxation position.  There is nothing illegal in what they are doing, they are simply optimising their global tax position, through professional advice.  Maybe their mistake is that this did not exist on a risk register somewhere – What if we got found out and opinion turned against us?

The consumer backlash has been vociferous, with customers boycotting the stores and Starbucks being the lead story in the national media, fuelling sentiment even further.  Clearly Starbucks has taken a battering and they are trying to go on the offensive, perhaps with a slightly ill-advised recovery strategy.  The horse has bolted.

A business is entitled to minimise its Corporate taxation position under the rules, morality aside.  They are not the first, nor will they be the last.  I’m sure the media are undertaking an audit of other USA businesses to keep the story going and there will be further outings in weeks to come, like the MP’s expenses.

Will Amazon and Google suffer at the hands of consumers too?

It’s easy to walk into another coffee shop – maybe Costa – as you’re “voting with your wallet to show displeasure moment” to crowd-force Starbucks into doing something in the short term - and its easily argued that this has worked, we’ve seen action.  However, a long term boycott means staff may suffer as takings decline and stores get closed or consolidated.  It’s not the fault of the front-line people, it’s a strategic decision for the management to take the flack for, that’s why I’m still ordering my coffee from my usual shop, from the usual barista’s, in the usual way.   The people at the top have taken notice and long term changes will come as a result, they are on the radar of the politicians, not a good place to be.

Google and Amazon have stayed very quite on the issue, happy to see Starbucks take the bullets.  They were the easy target, on the high st., a discretionary purchase and easy to blame.  I haven’t seen a boycott of  Google or Amazon in the same way.  Google and Amazon feed a need for instantaneousness and convenience in peoples lives in such a way that they are simply embedded in the way people transact their daily business and the back-up options are few and far between. 

They will no doubt be reviewing their position and have media statements ready, however I don’t think they will see the bottom line impact of a consumer mob in the same way that Starbucks has seen.

Fundamentally, if blame were to go anywhere, it should go towards the system.  If a system exists which allows GAS -  as companies – to move profits around the EU legally using all of these royalty payments and licence agreements, then that is what needs to be reviewed.  We may not like that these businesses take full advantage of it, but equally if they choose to, then they should not complain if they suffer a consumer backlash as a result.  That is simply part of the decision making process and management of risk.  Tax authorities allow for such things in complex international organisations under transfer pricing agreements and the like, the question is for any business is how far do you want to take it?

They realise this, you only need to read the open letters on their website from their CEO, CFO and UK MD to see that the situation is complex.  However, like anything, headlines say one thing, details say another.  De-fragging a complex global tax structure is never going to be easy, particularly for the average person in the street.  The bottom line is that the issue it out.  To protect their UK employed partners, their brand reputation and their long term investments in apprentices, they need to tackle this quickly and make it yesterday’s fish and chip paper, or low-fat blueberry muffin packaging in their case.

Giving Locally…..

Today I did a short talk at a local event called Tameside4good describing our reasons for supporting a local charity.  The event, designed to connect local charities with local businesses, was a great platform to talk about why charitable giving doesn’t have to be about chequebooks.  I entitled the talk “Feel like a secret millionaire” comparing the personal ephiphany of the millionaire who gives on the TV show with what you might also experience when helping others.

Smaller charities are finding it harder than ever to raise funds, with the recession continuing to squeeze incomes and businesses tightly controlling costs.  The big charities are spending more than ever on their marketing, dominating their share of the giving wallet, with the top 3% of named charities in the UK mopping up over 60% of the £11bn donated.  Healthcare, hospitals, animal and religous charities scoop 49% of all available cause donations, leaving the remainder to mop up the difference.

My role today was to describe why we – a large corporate – work with a small local charity and what benefits they get and we get in the deal.  Some of my key points were: -

  • We preferred to work with local charities to our office where our footprint could be felt more strongly and staff more connected with the local outcome.
  • You can’t help everyone and better to back someone local and back them big (relative to their running costs) to make a difference.
  • It’s not always about the money.  We help out with other resources, time, administration, printing, website updates and marketing.
  • Our profile as a large company adds a lot of kudos to a small charity, attracting other companies to the concept.
  • The impact of our effort is clear and the majority of funds raised (95%+) go into delivery on the ground giving much bigger impact.
  • The charity is far more accessible and they are always dropping by to let us know how things are going or to ask advice, they feel part of us.

There is a lot of upside to going local.  Nearly all large businesses have some sort of Corporate Social Responsibilty programme and the concept is trickling right down to micro-businesses who are also ‘giving something back.’  There is an immense sense of personal and business achievement when you can unconditionally help others and I remarked that “you’ll sleep easier and night and wake up with a ready-brek glow in the morning” when you know that you’ve done something amazing.

I finished today by saying that charitable giving should not be attached to ROI (return on investment) as with other money/time that you might contribute in day to day life.  It should be attached to simply doing the RIGHT thing, growing yourself by growing someone else and being “mad for it” (mad being an acronym for “Making A Difference”).  Giving doesn’t have to be about money, you might well possess multiple skills in your business that would be solid gold to a small charity.  Things like accountancy services, PR, marketing, website maintenance, vehicle servicing, signwriting – stuff that might not cost you anything but might cost a small charity lots.

So, be MAD for it yourself.  Pick a local charity, go see them and see what they do, understand their problems and how you can help, then DO SOMETHING AMAZING by helping them out.

It’s all a big LIE!

“A wise man knows everything and and a brilliant man knows everyone” – a great anecdote re-capped by Chairman of Downtown Manchester in Business Chairman – Michael Taylor – at a leaders lunch in Manchester today.

Michael used today’s lunch to wax lyrical about a learning journey he went on with some other business leaders to Silicon Valley in the USA.  Attending the offices of some of the top performing businesses out there and comparing the differences in the entreprenerial eco-system to that of Manchester and the UK in general.

You can learn more about Michael’s experience in this short video.  What was evident is that Michael and the people that went on this incredible journey had a “Life Impacting Experience” and now Michael and his fellow journeymen have altered their pathway as a result – powerful stuff.

As he spoke today, I enjoyed hearing about the obsession that many of the entrepreneurs have in silicon valley, the nervousness not to miss a great opportunity and the importance of failure on your CV, making you a more investable proposition for many high-ticket angels. 

Most of all this event became a massive learning experience, one destination with several individual journeys. 

Events and trips become experiences primarily due to the people you meet and spend time with, we should never forget that.  Learning is best when experienced experentially.  This sounded a fantastic trip, a once in a lifetime combination of people, places and insight which drew together those things into a life impacting experience which has re-determined their pathway, their thoughts, words and actions.

Death by a Thousand Cuts

We learned today that a service that visits our business, a blood donation bus, is to be cancelled due to government cuts.  It’s a classic example of a short term decision taken in the moment, which can have far reaching effects.  Why?

Put simply – convenience.  Bus pulls in our car park and we give permission to anyone in the business who is prepared to donate blood the abilty to do it in work time.  A total no brainer and the easiest way to engage people to give blood for the first time.  We have many people that never gave blood, but encouraged by a colleague, in they went to realise it isn’t so bad.

What now?  Well now, people will be expected to look up where there nearest donation centre is, fit that in around their busy life away from the office and make the effort to get there.  You know where that’s going to go in todays time and attention poor world.

What’s happened to the numbers?

After a lot of back slapping about the immediate cost benefits, the other major KPI (units donated) is going to go down.  Someone is going to start a project team about it, decide that they need to invest money in a donor acquisition campaign, brief an agency and spend some money leafleting or advertising to get the numbers back up.  The yellow vehicle in the picture is a blood donation bus.  Challenged by the fact that many young people weren’t donating blood, a health authority in the Scandics built this Lamborghini styled blood bus to drive around and get young people involved, so mobile is where it’s at.

It’s a classic lesson to always look at the bigger picture before making short term cuts of any sort.  We use a decision making matrix developed by Meyers Briggs to ensure we fully evaluate such decisions before execution, because you may well end up executing another one of your KPI’s unintentionally.

Walking Tall

So, we’re back in recession, officially. Cue further talking down of the economy, headlines, general pessimism and politicians talking about the importance of manufacturing – yawn 2.0. Who cares? Most people I know in business are going about their business, not moping about but chasing the money that is out there. They are upping the work rates, refining the marketing and thinking how to keep creating.  Looking back achieves a number of things: -

  1. It can show trends of the past.
  2. It can point you in the way of previous failure and success.
  3. It can provide deep insight into previous behaviour.

I think Steve Jobs had it right though, he assumed people didn’t know what they want yet and set about designing things for their tomorrow, less than their now. 35,000 products sold an hour and last quarter revenues of $38bn can’t be wrong – but Apple is a special case right? Wrong.

 They capture the headlines yes, they’ve penetrated our lives – yes, their products are great – yes, but they are one tiny fraction of the amount of money that gets spent in the world, across technology, business and consumer, so there’s plenty to go at.

Just because we are in recession it does not mean people are not spending. They may spend less on discretionary items, perhaps but people still spend. So, hold your head up high, breathe in a lungful of air, shoulders back and march on out into that economy and do something wonderful. You’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain. Stay positive, stay sharp and get recession busting. See you out there.