Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Whether with performance reviews or any other feedback, most managers are trained to look for weaknesses and deficiencies. Even if they are hard to find. In the conversations the focus is on what is not good (in the eyes of the manager).

This creates an atmosphere of fear. The employee is afraid that he/she doesn’t perform well and that it might even have an influence on their salary. There is hardly any time left to discuss the strengths and talents.
There are never ideas generated in a culture of fear and a focus on weaknesses. Rather the opposite, as people try to limit their exposure.

If you want to create an atmosphere of opportunity, then you need to focus on:

-       what are the strengths
-       what has worked well
-       how to improve  strengths
-       what they need to have a bigger impact
-       what support you can give

With that focus, people become enthusiastic and motivated to come up with ideas and make innovation happen.

So, what are your strengths?


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Tuesday, April 19, 2011


It is no coincidence that most start-ups are initiated by young people. Why?
Young people don’t have so many limited beliefs ( “I can’t do this’; I don’t have enough knowledge/experience’) as older people. Their neural pathways are not so deep and fixed into their system. Also the comfort level is not so high yet. Young people don’t own big houses (and mortgages) and they are not ‘chained’ by relational commitments (spouse, children) either. That makes it easier to dive into the deep without a safety belt on.

Nevertheless, you can also make the jump when you are at an older age. The main key is to make sure that your thinking, your mind remains young, or becomes young again. If you really are fed up with your current job/career/business/project, than you can escape it and create your own life, consciously and sustainably. Downshifting provides the means and the space to start up something new.

It is crucial to keep your mind young, to keep it  focused on newness and not on the past. In order to do that that you have to ongoing feed the mind with new information and also meet new people. New information is not reading the traditional newspapers and consuming all the negative news they report (wars, accidents, gossip etc). You have to carefully curate the information which you will allow to entry your system. Social media is ideal for this purpose. You can read blogs, listen to podcasts and connect with interesting, challenging and like-minded people.
it is also very fulfilling to collaborate with young people. In that way you stimulate each other and you can learn from each other.

So, be young again!


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Friday, April 15, 2011


This week I did have a discussion with some executives. They proudly mentioned how creative they were. They had added a high quality research report to their offering. The quality of the report was their usp.

From an innovation perspective, this is only at best an improvement. It clearly is no breakthrough. But, because they were already working for many years in their particular industry, they assumed that it was a huge deal. Maybe it is when you look at it from the old, historical perspective. However, when you look at his with a fresh, detached perspective, you immediately notice that it is just a small improvement.

People who work for many years in a industry really need the help of an outsiders view. They can help you to let go of the old practice and to have a true market-in view.

Are you consciously removing the blinders?


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Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Last week I was reflecting on the changes which occurred in the business world in the last ten years. I am inclined to say that that there is a massive shift going on. On the other side not much is happening as well.

This a bit cryptic, what do I mean?
Massive change is occurring in the marketplace. For example, have a look at new (mobile) technologies, the influence of customers via social media, globalization, shortening product life cycles and so on.
However, when you look at the way most big companies are working and marketing and selling and automating........ Well there hasn’t changed much. It looks like they have put a big wall around themselves to prevent any outside influence.

Of course they still have their R&D and marketing departments, but they observe from a distance only. And leaders are not willing to change themselves either, so the comfort zone rules. Yes, yes, there is still quite some change happening. But I would call that ‘protective’ change. They protect their financial position in the market by laying off people and outsourcing. And then they hope that the market will grow again and that – as a consequence- they will also grow.

That will not happen. And only observing is not enough. You have to emerge yourself in these new developments, whether it is social media or collaborating with Millenials or cloud-computing. Let me share two examples.

I can still remember when I was a young kid and I did get my first (child) watch. That was a significant moment in your life. And there was a market for these watches for children. The widespread use of mobile phones has almost completely wiped that industry off the market. You could not have anticipated this change, based on research reports only. Only by using mobiles and seeing the behaviors of children you could sense what was happening.

The same thing will happen to print business cards. If you use apps like Hashable or Bump, you immediately see why there is no need for print business cards anymore. These new electronic cards are automatically added to your address book. So, you don’t need to type the data in your book and you can throw away your shoebox with printed biz cards. Again, you can only see it, when you experience it!

Are you also emerging yourself in these new developments or are you still in hibernation and hoping that it will disappear by itself?


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