Facebook, Standard Oil, Inside Amazon, Deep Work, Daily huddle agenda & Business Dashboards
21st February 2021 Evolution Partners Newsletter
“Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough” – Mark Zuckerberg
Hope you’re Thriving!
It’s been a really good week for me, with some impressive growth on our podcast, an onboarding training session which the client described as a “game-changer for our company” and finally, I’ve been able to work on my new book about onboarding again after a few months of simply being too busy. I know, I’ve said before you should replace busy with stupid, so I’ve simply been too stupid. Because the book is designed to be read by every manager in an organisation, because they’re the ones that need to implement the onboarding process with their new hires, it’s been challenging to balance ‘proving the concept and data’ alongside the size of the book. And I know that a shorter book wins every time.
Next week should be good as well because I’ll be working with Jim Collins to help him present how all his concepts come together into a one-page usable framework called The Map. More on that below, but first…
Facebook rolls out updated software to Australia
What happens when you take an existing industry (news) where the motto is “if it bleeds it leads” (the more human carnage, the more likely it will be on our front page), and feed that into a gigantic global monopoly (Facebook) whose motto was “move fast and break things” which is powered by algorithmic amplification optimised for outrage?
Maybe divided societies, trust at all-time lows for Government and institutions, democracy under threat and civil unrest?
So this week in Australia Facebook did move fast to delete all news and links from its platform, and it did break things, with many businesses, Government departments and Not for Profits also deleted, and many businesses who’ve built their house on other people’s land (relying on the Facebook platform) losing a lot with one click.
But one thing I’ve noted from several Australians this week is that Facebook feels better. Now it’s just a feed of photos, personal updates and (lots of) adverts.
Of course, the media are livid and promoting a “delete Facebook” campaign, but as much as it looks like a dummy spit, it could actually be a software upgrade that results in reduced toxicity.
Building your house on other people’s land
“You’re not the customer, you’re the product.” – Tom Johnson
Last month we saw the Robinhood stock trading app drive the Gamestop share price from $17 to $347 and back to $40 on Friday via Reddit chat groups, in a frenzy that both made and lost billions. Robinhood has gamified retail share trading for bored people who believe they are day traders benefiting from Robinhood’s free trading platform. But just like Facebook the Robinhood app’s users are not the customers, they are the product and many learned that the hard way when in the midst of the trading frenzy many were left unable to trade as Robinhood halted the ability to buy in order to keep its platform running which allowed hedge funds to liquidate their short positions, thereby beginning the decline.
If an app is “free” then you are the product. Maybe they’re planning to sell you an upgrade to a better version in the future. Robinhood sells your orders and trade data to Citadel. Citadel is the customer. You are the minnow being fed to the shark. And it’s the same with social media, you’re the product, your personal data is sold to advertisers who are actual customers.
It’s logical that companies will operate in their own best interests. Giant monopolies have no obligation to you, your business model or your industry. They will change things with the push of a button that can devastate your business model if you do what they say and build your business model to rely on their platform. That’s what they did this past week in Australia for some.
The key is, not to rely on their platform as a major part of your business model as it could be a major point of risk. If your business relies on another organisation’s free service, over time, how can you migrate away from that to build a stronger relationship with customers?
This is true, especially if due to their success there is a risk that these companies will be broken up, also potentially affecting you.
When considering forced tech breakups, let’s consider two worldwide market share statistics as a relevant consideration.
– Google has 92.5% of search as of Jan 2021
– Facebook (and Instagram) has 72.3% of Social media as of Jan 2021
In the year 1904, Standard Oil controlled 91% of oil production and 85% of final sales in the United States.
It may not happen now, but one day, the size and monopolistic actions of these companies such as closing all news links this week are likely to lead to breakups.
If that does happen and these tech giants are broken up for anti-trust reasons one of the good things that will occur is that a generation of tech entrepreneurs will need to rethink the possibility of building an enduring great business that hasn’t been a viable option for at least a decade where often their only ambition was to sell to a giant, knowing the only alternative was to be crushed by a giant.
Working Backwards – inside Amazon
One of the tech giants I didn’t mention above is Amazon, which incidentally has 32% of the cloud storage market and 45% of the US e-commerce market and this week an insiders story of how Amazon has created this success was released. In the book entitled Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon authors Colin Bryar and Bill Carr, who were some of the first and ultimately most senior executives at Amazon provide a breakdown of Amazon’s approach to culture, leadership, and best practices.
There were two great takeaways that I’ve loved about the stories, although I haven’t yet completely finished the book.
Firstly, PowerPoint slides were banned in meetings and instead leaders had to provide a 6-page written summary that all leaders would sit around reading, in silence before a meeting started. This meant that leaders had to succinctly explain their issues and potential solutions with great clarity, often including a FAQ within their document which meant that meetings were significantly more effective.
Second, the first part of their product planning process was to write the press release. This would include features like size, weight, price and specific ease of use and that set the discipline for all teams to adhere to as the product was made. They literally began with the end in mind and the press release informed the people who were making the product on what they were making and how it needed to perform.
Also this week the authors were interviewed for an hour on the a16z Podcast with Sonal Chokshi – thanks to Michael M for this intro. From the description of the podcast;
“The two share not only the early inside stories behind (ultimately) big business moves like AWS, Kindle, Prime — but more importantly, the leadership principles, decision-making practices, AND operational processes that got them there. Because “working backwards” is much, much more than being obsessed with your customers, or having company values like “are right a lot”, “insist on the highest standards”, “think big”, “bias for action”, and more.
The discussion also touches on hot-topic debates like to lean-MVP-or-not-to-be; the internal API economy; do you even need a chief product officer; and if you need less, not more, coordination as you grow. Can startups really be like Amazon? Yes: and it comes down to how leaders, organizations, and people at all levels decide, build, invent… using the power of narratives and more.”
I really enjoyed the podcast episode, and I hope you do also.
Amazon Narratives: Memos, Working Backwards from Release, More
Deep Work presentation – Cal Newport
I’m a huge fan of Cal and his book Deep Work, and this recent presentation I watched from Cal (53 mins) on YouTube is a great explanation of his concept and how you can apply it to your work and life.
“Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfilment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a superpower in our increasingly competitive twenty-first-century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.”
Watch the video here Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Daily huddle agenda and case study
If you haven’t already embedded the daily huddle into your organisation, then this short story in Forbes from Canadian Steven Knight of Mosaic home services may help you to think differently about it.
Steve’s daily huddle agenda is slightly different to the best practice agenda (what’s up, daily measurement, where are you stuck), but like most things what’s most important is how to make best practice work best in your organisation, not blindly following best practice.
Here’s Steve’s agenda.
8:30 a.m. — 8:45 a.m. every morning, each person gives the following update, person by person:
- What’s Up: News from yesterday or today that’s relevant to the group. What’s the headline of your own personal newspaper?
- Top Tasks: What are the three most important things you need to accomplish today? (Only three. If everything is important, nothing is important. What are the top three?)
- KPI: Based on your quarterly priorities, what are your KPIs for the week, and what is your progress?
- Stuck: Where are you stuck, and who can help you? Is there something you need or someone you need to talk to?
- Grateful: What’s one thing you’re grateful for today? Start the day in a positive direction.
- Top Priority Today: End with an affirmative statement: “Today I will…”
Read the Forbes article here The 15 Most Profitable Minutes Of The Workday
Jim Collins event this week
This week I’m working with Karen and the team at the Growth Faculty on Tuesday’s Jim Collins event to moderate questions from the audience for Jim to answer.
You’ll see more information below, but the feedback about the event from the Northern Hemisphere event which happened this past week was excellent. Learn more about the event here where you can obtain a $100 discount on tickets.
Building your strategic plan with your leadership team
If you’re running a business with $3m to $10m revenue and are considering 3HAG or a leadership program, I’m currently assembling a group that might be a great fit for you. It’s a much more affordable way to establish a leadership team with discipline, a strategy and scale. I’ve currently got 3 teams committed and have an opening for a fourth, as there are four leadership teams to a group.
Also this group “might” be virtual, running on Zoom, so if you’re spread out across cities as a leadership team, or aren’t based in Perth, this might be an opportunity for you.
Learn more here and reply to this email to discuss with me.
This week on The Growth Whisperers podcast
In episode 45 of The Growth Whisperers, Kevin Lawrence and I talk about the following.
Business dashboards, and how you should use them to make better business decisions.
They talk about digital dashboards, analogue dashboards and how to implement dashboards into your business, as well as how dashboards can fail. Also, they discuss how to use the weekly meeting to roll out dashboards with your team.
Finally, they discuss the 7 important things to consider when using dashboards in your business.
Using business dashboards make better decisions
Listen to The Growth Whisperers
As a part of the Evolution Partners network, you can save $100 on tickets to see the best-selling author of Good To Great, JIM COLLINS at his live global virtual event: Jim Collins – The Roadmap To Greatness on Tuesday 23 February 2021.
All New Findings & World-Changing Insights
Coinciding with the release of his new book, BE 2.0. business leaders and their teams will be among the first to receive Jim Collins’ highly anticipated business-changing framework, “The Map”.
A one-page framework, The Map distils 30 years of Jim’s revolutionary Good to Great® concepts into a single roadmap to build an extraordinary organisation; one that sustains high performance, leads and shapes its industry and remains great for generations.
SECURE YOUR ‘FRONT ROW’ SEAT IN THIS IMMERSIVE EVENT
One of only five business authors in history to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide, Jim has authored six best-selling books, but his appearances are rare.
This live virtual event provides direct access to Jim for 2.5 hours of deep learning, allowing time for Q & A on how Jim’s extraordinary guide to business success can be implemented into your company in 2021.
YOU WILL LEARN:
Drawing on three decades of rigorous research, Jim will equip you with:
• The Map — a one-page framework taking you on a sequential path to implement the Good To Great concepts
• How to achieve the outputs of a great company: superior results, distinctive impact and enduring change
• What great companies have in common that distinguish them from their competitors
• Critical strategies, disciplines and practical tools to build a great organisation
Align your leadership team with the most significant thought leader of our time.
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