Apple eyeglasses, Kingmakers, Thankyou, Cow or Buffalo?, Reopen America & Outthinker
14th June 2020 Evolution Partners Newsletter
“Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from their experiences, stupid people already have all the answers.” Socrates
Hope you’re Thriving!
It’s been an exciting week for me as I ran the first in-person strategic planning workshop in months this week. Zoom’s been great, but gee actually being together with a leadership team for 2 days was something I appreciated more than I thought I would. Coming from a purely digital environment to one where leadership teams are together was interesting to observe, and I used a few of the digital tools that were adapted to suit remote planning meetings during the in-person workshop, and it worked really well. And I think that’s analogous to what is happening and going to happen in the broader business world, people who have adapted and found better ways to work during the pandemic will use those better ways moving forward. Or, necessity is the mother of invention.
And I learned of a really interesting invention, or patent this past week when Apple was granted a patent for eyeglasses that make your vision better. It’s been widely speculated that Apple are working on new eyeglasses, which hopefully are an improvement on the ‘creepy’ Google Glass that would record what you saw and heard. Well according to the patent, these glasses don’t record what you see, but they ‘are’ what you see. They do this in two ways. Firstly, they display onto the glass images and text that only the wearer can see, and second they adjust what you see based on your prescription, potentially providing better than 20/20 vision with zoom in and out capability. But importantly this patent ‘could’ disrupt eyeglasses and optometrists. Imagine the way that smartwatches have disrupted the watch market, and how the same thing could easily happen to eyeglasses in the coming years.
This has happened at the intersection of technology and health (eye care), and reminded me of a Harvard Business Review article from a few years ago entitled “What can coaches do for you?” which discusses coaching being at the intersection of consulting and therapy, drawing from each area and that coaches aren’t consultants (who tend to work on single projects) nor therapists who tend to focus on the past.
But since that article was published the coaching industry has matured a lot at the top end, and whilst many people are trying to coach, successful coaches and successful methodologies have been validated and proven by leaders around the globe. This article from fellow coach Hans Dieter Schulte from New Zealand this past week discusses how CEOs from around the world are calling in coaches to help them make the right decisions, but I really like this quote.“Coaches have their own styles but underneath all the noise, coaches need to be deeply invested in the success of the teams they work with. They need to live for a greater good and always have their eye on something ahead. We are kingmakers, we will never be the king.”
As a leadership team coach, and through my book Made to Thrive I’m focussed on building enduring, great businesses and as such I enjoyed this article from a couple of years ago by Daniel Flynn from Melbourne based Thankyou, a social enterprise that commits 100% of its profit to end global poverty. In it, Flynn talks about their plan for the year being “Better Before Bigger” and how they are instinctively compelled to grow bigger, but, the real value comes from growing better. From the article;
“Growth in business is a huge challenge, but when we consider the alternative is being stagnant, it’s a challenge we’re pretty happy to have. Profitable growth is a bigger challenge. Our challenge at Thankyou is to continually and profitably grow so we can make the most positive impact on ending global poverty.
This year’s been one of refinement, asking hard questions and discovering there are no easy answers (more on that in a moment). We appointed a Chief Operating Officer, invested into new processes and systems (in the past an investment into upgrading a system seemed unnecessary, now we wish we’d done it earlier), restructured the team and hired for new roles. We sat down and looked at the lessons we’d learnt and then made some really tough calls about the future.‘Better Before Bigger’ meant we called out average products that were draining resource and profit to focus on our core business – to be the best product company, period.”
As Peter Drucker said in his book The Effective Executive, “ Every manager’s job is how to be efficient, every executive’s job is how to be effective”.
But of course, the job of the worker is to work. And that’s something that can be one of the most fulfilling things a person can do, anywhere. Perhaps you remember Mike Rowe, from the tv show ‘Dirty Jobs’. Mike would go into places like sewerage treatment plants, dairy farms or welding shops and find some of the dirtiest, proudest, happiest people around who love their jobs. And Mike’s filmed 7 seasons of dirty jobs, so he knows a little about pride in the workplace under adverse conditions. This week Mike released an interesting video called “An Unsolicited Commencement Speech Delivered at the Height of the Plague” which talks about the value of trade school, and it’s importance to people’s dignity and their financial stability. Might be worth sharing with anyone who is in a trade, or thinking about a trade. Also, Mike’s TED talk with almost 15 million views from last year is compelling and includes the following “I would simply say that the jobs we hope to make and the jobs we hope to create aren’t going to stick unless they’re jobs that people want. And I know the point of this conference is to celebrate things that are near and dear to us, but I also know that clean and dirty aren’t opposites. They’re two sides of the same coin, just like innovation and imitation, like risk and responsibility”
Speaking of dairy farms, and cows, I came across this interesting difference between cows and buffalo this week, which provides perspective for our way out of the pandemic. When a storm is approaching, cows will become fearful and run away from the storm, trying to outrun it and make the storm last longer whereas buffalo, when a storm is approaching will charge toward a storm, tackling it head-on and making the storm experience shorter. We all know there’s a storm coming, is your planning akin to a cow, or a buffalo?
I heard a YPO member say last week that people have heard enough about the virus and people’s opinions now and want to focus on getting back to work (Which I tend to agree with). In the past week, I’ve come across two interesting takes on COVID19 as we look forward.
The first is Forbes insider guide on how to reopen America – and within that one of the articles is “How to return to the office” – which has 5 key areas
1. Consider a staggered return. “Offices may consider starting slow by opening with fewer people at first,” says Dr Mark Kortepeter. He also suggests shifting work schedules and “having liberal stay at home policies if people are ill.”
2. Antibody testing can be a helpful tool but not a panacea, Kortepeter says. The accuracy of the tests can vary, especially because there is a lag time between being infected with the virus and developing antibodies. We also don’t fully understand whether having antibodies translates to protection from infection and for how long.
3. Build areas of protection. The virus mostly spreads via large respiratory droplets, so using plexiglass or other types of barriers can block some of the direct spread of these droplets.
4. Minimize face-to-face contact by instituting virtual meetings. For in-person meetings, make sure there is enough room to socially distance.
5. Establish employee protocols around personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves.
Second is a whitepaper from Kaihan Krippendorf, a good friend, amazing strategic thinker and founder of Outthinker a Growth Strategy consulting firm of which I am a member.
Using his IDEA process Kaihan analyses the impact from COVID and potential recovery by market, and then applies strategic patterns to walk the reader through a plan to have confidence in new ideas to grow and a path forward.
Read the white paper here.
Interesting article I’ve read
For a long time, I’ve been a fan of the concept that we need to sleep on things to make a decision. And if you draw that concept out and research it, a case can be made that decisions are actually made by our subconscious, and our consciousness is primarily reactionary.
When it comes to learning, it seems we can also become better at learning.
This HBR article discusses the three practical ways to build your learning skills, based on research.
Organize your goals
Think about thinking
Reflect on your learning
Sleep is a fascinating example of this idea. It’s possible that we tidy up our knowledge while we’re napping or sleeping deeply. One recent study shows a good evening of shut-eye can reduce practice time by 50%.
Read the article here “Learning Is a Learned Behavior. Here’s How to Get Better at It.”
This week on The Growth Whisperers podcast
On episode 8 of The Growth Whisperers, Kevin Lawrence and I talk about the following.
All around the world Governments are paying stimulus to companies to keep people in jobs. But in the coming months, these payments will end and many people will lose their jobs because employers realise they can’t afford them. Brad & Kevin ask what are the zombie jobs in your business, and what you need to do about them.
Living in 2030
Last week the founder of Shopify said we are now living in 2030 because the needs of the customer have changed. The Growth Whisperers discuss what it means for business owners if indeed we have to meet new requirements from the customer.
Kevin and Brad talk about businesses who are reliant on business platforms such as shopping malls or Amazon to provide them customers and why leadership teams need to build relationships directly with customers.
Listen to The Growth Whisperers
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