Author: Aaron Smiles

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Steve Blank —Clayton Christensen [REPOST]

Terrible news. But a beautiful post by Steve Blank in tribute of the late Clayton Christensen. #innovatorsdilemma Clayton ChristensenPosted on January 28, 2020 by steveblank Say not in grief he is no more – but live in thankfulness that he wasIf you’re reading my blog, odds are you know who Clayton Christensen was. He passed away this week and it was a loss to us all.Everyone who writes about innovation stood on his shoulders.His insights transformed the language and the practice of innovation.Christensen changed the trajectory of my career and was the guide star for my work on innovation. I never got to say thank you.Eye OpeningI remember the first time I read the Innovator’s Dilemma in 1997. Christensen, writing for a corporate audience, explained that there were two classes of products – sustaining and disruptive. His message was that existing companies are great at sustaining technologies and products but were ignoring the threat of disruption.He explained that companies have a penchant for continually improving sustaining products by adding more features to solve existing customer problems, and while this maximized profit, it was a trap. Often, the sustaining product features exceed the needs of some segments and ignore the needs of others. The focus on sustaining products leaves an opening for new startups with “good enough” products (and willing to initially take lower profits) to enter underserved or unserved markets. These new entrants were the disruptors.By targeting these overlooked segments, the new entrants could attract a broader base of customers, iterate rapidly, and adopt new improvements faster (because they have less invested infrastructure at risk). They eventually crossed a threshold where they were not only cheaper but also better or faster than the incumbent. And then they’d move upmarket into the incumbents’ markets. At that tipping point the legacy industry collapses. (See Kodak, Blockbuster, Nokia, etc.)Christensen explained it wasn’t that existing companies didn’t see the new technologies/ products/ markets. They operated this way because their existing business models didn’t allow them to initially profit from those opportunities – so they ignored them – and continued to chase higher profitability in more-demanding segments.Reading The Innovator’s Dilemma was a revelation. In essence, Christensen was explaining how disruptors with few resources could eat the lunch of incumbents. When I finished, I must have had 25 pages of notes. I had never read something so clear, and more importantly, so immediately applicable to what we were about to undertake.We had just…

Prolixity, grandiloquence, and sesquipedalianism, Oh My! 😛

Interesting article in ACM’s Ubiquity, Communication Corner, How not to be overwhelmed by obvious advice, by Philip Yaffe (DOI: 10.1145/3375552), which [loosely] ties nicely with Ray Dalio’s Principle 4.4J; “Watch out for assertive, fast talkers.” Be dubious of people or advice that is delivered with too much assertion, speed, or verbose language. This is often used with goals related more towards the ego than towards the true goal. If you do not fully understand something being said, ask for clarity. If it’s still not being explained clearly, it is likely not fully understood by those saying it (as said by Einstein no, Feynamann no, Rutherford). Often, questioning someone in this scenario helps the speaker understand their own thoughts more clearly. By being forced to reword their thinking using different language, they have to remap the thoughts in their brain and reconstruct it for verbal delivery. This process can also spark new ideas and new thinking that would otherwise have been lost, along with the original idea that no-one got too! This especially applies to managers. Allow others and opportunity to speak or challenge the leading argument(s) in a discussion or meeting. There may be introverts in the room with excellent ideas that are being suppressed by the “assertive, fast talkers”. Do not mistake quietness for a lack of confidence, or simple language for lack of intelligence. Often, quite the opposite is true! With unprecedented access to information, the internet can be a source of useful material. However many times, so-called experts share specious advice. In this article, Phil Yaffe addresses a widely discussed topic, clear writing, and dives deeper to fix the flaws found in regurgitated writing advice.In the previous installment, we took a close-up look at the functional definition of "concise," i.e. as long as necessary, as short as possible, and saw how useful it is in preparing an expository (non-fiction) text that most people will probably want to read. As you will recall, there are two other functional definitions needed to render an expository text effective: "clear," and "dense." We are going to take a second look at these now (see Communication Corner No. 2 "The Three Acid Tests of Persuasive Writing"). Fixing the Flaws in the Ten "Principles" of Clear Writing Ten Tips and Techniques Keep sentences shortThis is usually interpreted to mean an average sentence length of 15–18 words. Not because readers can't handle longer…


Happy New Year all! We followed the industry closely last decade and recorded all the business startup failures that happened In those last 10 years. Stay tuned, as we will be posting our reviews and analyses of those unfortunate companies and entrepreneurs across the coming months, highlighting reasons they failed and ways to avoid such failures. As part of our commitment to making sure companies have as much chance as possible of success and try to avoid the mistakes of the past decade, we are running a competition. 4 consultancy packages are up for grabs (one of each specialism); 1) Business 2) Finance, 3) Marketing, OR 4) Technology! To enter, Simply complete the form below and include your entry choice 1-4. That’s it!  Winners will be announced January 31 2020 via our social channels. Good luck! All the best! VRA Facebook Twitter Competition Entry Form Complete form to enter competition and make sure to put 1-4 in your message to choose prize! Please note: Enterants must also be followers of our Facebook and Twitter pages!