How to make the most of today’s connection economy.


Here’s what we’ll be looking at;

Motivated by competition

What is important?

What happens when you don’t fit in…and don’t want to?

The need to look far and wide

Wrapping up – Doing what is demanded

A welcome from the auto industry

With 1,800 moving parts, the capacity to run at 431.072 km/h and an average weight of 295 kg is the internal combustion engine. A further look would show that the engine has many parts, different uses, and different capacities with more computing power than the first guidance system that took man to the moon.

As any (emergency) medical personnel or car crash investigator would confirm, every part of low quality or operating below par could lead to loss. That is; each part is important and should be treated as though the entire system depended on it – because it does.

Motivated by competition

Initially, the engine was a much simpler contraption, only able to move at a low speeds and that for a short period of time.

But the need to be faster, lighter and more elegant than the competition forced increasing levels of innovation. Entire industries became dedicated to ensuring that the best parts connect in the most efficient ways to give the customer the best driving experience.

This need to give the customer the best experience is the golden thread that weaves the future of an enterprise in combination with expertise, teamwork, and a relentless focus on the customer.

When making purchasing decisions, customers usually consider the elegance of a car alongside engine efficiency, that is, every part must be the right shape, size, quality and fit. Leaders in the auto industry are known to embark on extended media campaigns emphasising product design, comfort, convenience and a unique experience – yet there is never a failure to mention engine strength.

What is important?

Business theory over time has alternated between opinions as to who (or what) are the most important parts of a team. Some have suggested leadership as the all in all, the reason for all progress, deal breaker. The stronger the leader, the farther the team would go.

“Greater is an army of sheep led by a lion, than an army of lions led by a sheep.”                 Daniel Defoe

Other have placed all hopes of enterprise success on followership. As the theory goes, without good followership, there is no one to execute the direction of leadership.

“He that thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk.”          John C. Maxwell

Followership could be divided into ‘A’ players, ‘B’ players, square pegs, round pegs, depending on the organisation. There are also age divisions; Baby boomers, Millennials, etc. which make for easier management of followership.

What happens when you don’t fit in…and don’t want to?

Then, there are parts that don’t fit into any of these boxes and are known in some instances for the ability to reinvent existing products and services or create the new and when such parts are in sufficient quantity they create new movements that go on to upend the existing order.

There is yet another camp that insists the customer is King. “If there is no sale, there is no business” and “if the customer didn’t want our products, we wouldn’t be here” are common rallying cries. Doing what the customer wants and then some makes perfect sense to this group.

Without the customer, there is no sale, without which there would be no profit. Where there’s no profit, there is no business.

But then what happens when the customer is given an option they didn’t know they would like so much?

The need to look far and wide

Casting the talent net beyond what qualifies as the ‘right’ part for an engine in today’s enterprise is a road worth talking for organisations that place a premium on innovation. Without a comprehensive talent strategy that places a premium on every hand, organisations are not likely to reach full potential.

This is so in part because suggestions from B players have been known to challenge group direction, causing an important shifts in thinking that irrevocably alter the structure of the firm. Startups are a great example at showing that talent not valued can still do great things.

Maybe the challenge is in managing them all and the usual occurrence is to manage for efficiency and place premium on a few “key” parts. This strategy (80/20 principle) has its merits. However, times have changed and management would do well to change with it.

Wrapping up – Doing what is demanded

In today’s economy, every part has the potential to influence the outcome of the entire enterprise. All parts have a part to play especially in today’s innovation driven culture – where the best ideas are known to come from any part of the enterprise.

Firms owe it to their very survival to look for ideas, wherever they may be found and a good starting point would be to remember that every part is important.

More at

Most popular

Taking things personal

Why ideas are important

Why decisions matter

Leadership lessons from military strategy

Working in teams


Getting to yes in negotiations.

Here’s what we’ll be looking at;

  • The up side of negotiating
  • Play nice and work with the best, or else…
  • Types of negotiations
  • Getting the upper hand AND keeping the relationship
  • Wrapping up – prepare for pressure and be ready to walk.


It had been the end of a series of long negotiations– about 8 years by some accountswhen both parties signed their names in 1867 on the documents that would transfer the entire territory of Alaska from Russia to the United States.

The US had come to realise that they could improve in international reckoning and possibly discourage the advancement of the British once they closed this deal. For $7.2million, the land mass of Alaska – all 1,717,856 km2 was secured.

Interestingly, many would come to deride the deal as a waste (for various political and economic reasons) and would never come to appreciate what it took to make it happen. Such is the story the world sometimes; analysis of outcomes without an in depth look into the prevailing circumstances to discover the hidden lessons.

The up side of negotiating

Negotiations are known to save as much as 60% on the purchase price of items.Research by Accenture shows that corporations and Governments are known to centralise their procurement functions to better negotiate deals usually in the multi-billion dollar range.

It is often said that you don’t get what you are worth, you get what you negotiate – hence the increased interest in the subject.

Still, the general advice is to negotiate from strength and why this certainly has its merits, care must be taken that the business relationship is not damaged in the process.

Moderating explicit demands for an outcome is advisable in the interest of building a long term relationship.

Play nice and work with the best, or else…

This is because there are long term effects where one side believes they’ve been left holding the short end of the stick. Asides souring the relationship (and those so connected) there is the risk of rework, invoking clauses, leading to protracted legal battles known to last for decades.

This is also why significant investments are made in signing on the best negotiators seeing that they have perfected the art of combining sound character, technical knowledge of the subject matter as well an understanding of the industry andmanagement of relationships.

When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.                                                                                                                       Billy Graham

Negotiation according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary is defined as “a formal discussion between people who are trying to reach an agreement: an act of negotiating”. That is, the gulf between what is wanted and what is available makes negotiations necessary.

Negotiations are said to be the bridge between available inputs and desired outcomes – a connector of sorts; and in the process, a relationship building exercise.

William Warby Flickr

Starting well, looking ahead

Negotiations usually start out with a target, a desired outcome and so the objective either to maximise limited resources to get the best possible quality of an item without having to pay so much.

It might be the need to present ourselves as being competent or the expectation that things can bet obtained at a better price.

Negotiations are done for a couple of reasons, some of which include; Resources might be insufficient to achieve desired goals as it is pertinent to keep an eye on running costs so that the firm remains a going concern.

In some instances, the parties involved might share varying levels of distrust and negotiate for further assurances. There is also that possibility of getting more value for money even as economies rise and fall.

Types of negotiations

Negotiation techniques include the heavy hand, the win-win/long view, each with their unique advantages and drawbacks. In the heavy hand, the basic idea is to maximise a position gibing little or no concession to the other side of the table.

In the win-win being the most popular per management text ensures that both parties go back after negotiations with key demands met. This is usually with doses of compromise by both/all sides of the deal.

There is debate as to whether this is the most effective form of negotiations in that all parties sacrifice enough to question whether the deal was worthwhile.

Close to this is the BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) is used where the idea is to get a kind of one size fits all, with the objective of keeping all parties on the table happy.

This makes the way for strong relationships and is ideal for long term business relationships. The downside is that critical demands might not be met.

Getting the upper hand AND keeping the relationship

Getting the upper hand is a worthy goal in many scenarios but must be used with care, again to keep the existing relationship intact. Firms with large budgets usually have the upper hand where the commodity/service in question is commonplace or not too differentiated from the pack.

Hence, to reverse this, a product or service must be unique.

Where the service type or product is unique, the balance completely reverses and those with the big budgets are compelled to make adjustments in favour of the service or product provider.

Players in the tech sector understand this concept and pay significant amounts – in some cases more than the perceived value of the target acquisition.

What this means is that the higher the perceived value of an item, the more likely it is to have a favourable starting position in a negotiation.

Wrapping up – prepare for pressure and be ready to walk.

Preparing for a negotiation means there are definite targets, non-negotiable negotiations and conditions for compromise – a must for both parties for the negotiations to be beneficial to all parties concerned.

It helps a great deal where there is as little pressure as possible when negotiating and a good way to achieving this is being able to walk away from the table at any time, with no hard feelings.

Where compromises cannot be made, it may be advisable that both parties separate amicably.

Popular posts

Taking things personal

Why ideas are important

Why decisions matter

Leadership lessons from military strategy

Working in teams

People management – What you need to know.

It was the end of a long march through the marshy and insect infested fields of 18th Century America on the way to a battle ground that would prove significant.  And after open field fighting that lasted hours it was clear that even freshly arrived reinforcements would be insufficient to ensure victory.

The enemy army had aligned with native warriors known for a deliberately evasive style of warfare and this made the battle all the more difficult. Lt. Col. George Washington (at the time) would go on to lose one of his earliest battles to a better organised opposition.

A lesson to be learnt

The argument could be made that he was inexperienced and out of his league but would also wonder if the course of events would have been different had he better soldiers, or was a better leader at the time. The soldiers, severely lacking in motivation from low pay, malnutrition and poor gear could barely maintain concentration, let alone fight well enough to win. It is plausible that the soldiers could have lasted longer in battle had they better equipment.

There is much to be said in favour of the willingness to dare, explore and innovate in today’s world of business. It is only advisable to reserve a seat for experience when it comes to leading a group, an organisation or even one’s self.

In another vein, Napoleon and his Grande Armee had conquered much of Europe in his quest for world domination and moved to conquer the people of Russia. With a standing army of 600, 000 soldiers he advanced with the expectation of a win. However, he was up against a people that were prepared to burn their lands, houses farms and assets in the hope of depriving the advancing army of much needed resources for survival.

What is required to make a change?

This willingness to lose in part in the short run was somewhat innovative considering the circumstances and difficult for the French to understand. As it turned out, the French campaign to Russia was a disaster and would mark the beginning of the end of Napoleon’s military career.

Throughout history, the thoughts, decisions and actions of people have always had an impact on the outcome of things. So, here again as in other times where the survival of a people was at stake, the ability to undergo difficulty for the common purpose, made the difference.

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.

 Margaret Mead

Fast forward a few hundred years, the world witnessed mass uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East that would change the balance of power across nations. In unprecedented fashion, mass protests toppled governments that had been accused of corruption, human rights violations and a thorough mismanagement of their respective economies.

These Governments had been established for years and had pretty much done whatever they liked until people got tired of being pushed around. Of course, it is debated whether the uprising was engineered, or was the will of the people and if it accomplished its objectives, considering the casualties involved.

With inflation as high as 30.5% poverty levels and perceptions on corruption were abysmally low and the people had decided to act against oppression.  Connecting this to the world of business, it should be said that the best levels of performance cannot be expected where talent is not given the enabling environment.

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

Abraham Lincoln

People felt that the leadership of the day was culpable in allegations of unfair treatment, graft, nepotism and the like. And through the communities created by social media, an entire region was brought to a standstill even as the world looked on in shock, yes, this was the mass uprisings that coalesced in Tahir square.

Even today, Twitter and Facebook still refer to this event as part of their contribution to the perpetuation democracy. But then, what is the best technology without the people to use them? What is communication without the people actually communicating? That there is the centrality of people management to the world we live remains key should be taken more seriously.


The banking and entertainment industries have something to say.

Leaving the world of democracy, we come to financial services where Barings bank had been in existence for 233 years, and had weathered market storm after storm. Still through the efforts of one trader, all the years of successful investment went up in smoke.

It is clear that people have a certain potential for either creativity or destruction that should be critically looked into. It is also key to define and effectively manage the direction of potential as early as possible – where there’s still a chance of exerting the right influences.

Ever heard of the key to property value? Well I have – location, location, location. The thing is, property is only as valuable as people think and agree it to be. If no one decides to buy, it is reasonable to conclude that that property stays in the market – a legacy from the days of trade by barter, where value was ascribed to an item based on what both parties agreed it to be.

The entertainment industry bases its value on the fact that people agree it to be so and this is irrespective of constant criticism give negative assessments for peoples. Again, cities, states and nations are formed largely because people agree to come together and remain so.

People (or talent) management make a significant difference in whether companies grow or not, whether initiatives see the light of day, and in the end, whether nations fail or not.

He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a stroll.

John Maxwell

The best kind of intelligence is to understand what your opponent will think tomorrow, not find out what he thought yesterday.

Olufemi Awoyemi

People are key to the realisation of vision.

It should also be understood that the bigger the vision of a leader the more the influence on people is required. When we say we have organisations, the full import is that we lead organisations of people that create products or services that people find valuable.

It is interesting to find that organisations tend to execute product development by starting from their passion and then hope that the consumer will bite. It might be better to start product development from what the customer needs and then move on from there.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.

Wayne Gretzky.

Except of course you’re in the ranks of the ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky or Steve jobs in that there is clear knowledge as to what the next move should be, it may be best to look first at developing a product or service based on what the customer will find useful. The very idea of innovation depends on the uniqueness of people – their backgrounds, current circumstances and aspirations.

Wrapping up – People have value, so invest.

Looking over the major historical events, one thing is clear: People can be depended on to innovate as is necessary, create new cultures and make enduring changes to the very way life is lived. These are the kinds of people that ensure organisations never fail but rather produce great products and services.

Therefore, if these kinds of behaviours are not encouraged in organisations, it might be a good time to start asking the right questions. Have investments been made in building environments that encourage idea development?

Can the difficult questions be given audience long enough for healthy disagreements ensue? Is dissent allowed anywhere in the decision making landscape because, there comes a time when the dissenting voice is right.

Consciously deciding to invest in people is a right decision.

Here’s a summary of what we’ve looked at;

  1. A lesson to be learnt
  2. What is required to make a change?
  3. The banking and entertainment industries have something to say.
  4. People are key to the realisation of a vision.
  5. Wrapping up – People have value, so invest.

More at:

Most Popular

Avoiding Career mistakes

Why listening is important

Taking things personal

Why ideas are important

Why ideas are important and what they do to you.

 In 1911, Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen, prominent explorers in the heroic age of Antarctic expedition were in a much publicized race to reach the South Pole. The world watched as two teams led faced some of the most difficult natural conditions including temperatures as low as -82.8°C. For various motivations, each wanted to get there first, to win for country, to be the first man to conquer the South Pole.

As we have in the world of business today, many risks were taken, sacrifices endured in a bid to make good their promise to investors who had been sold the idea that the impossible could be achieved. There is the idea that humanity can, against all odds beat the circumstances, however challenging they might be and in the South Pole expedition, each team wanted prove this by being the first to cross the finish line.

At the beginning, each team wanted to win and was ready to put in the requisite effort. There had to be sufficient planning for the expedition else neither would make it back alive. There were comparisons as to who was the better leader, who was going to make it first and, per a Harvard Business Review article, who had better prior experience. In retrospect we know how both men ended their quest. Roald Amundsen made it first. Robert Falcon Scott didn’t.

light bulb

Historians agree that Roald used a better tested strategy combining focus on a singular objective (to get to the south pole first), the right tools, well-bred dogs and well-suited hands with rations painstakingly planned ahead of the trip. It is also said that he used tools and hands more familiar with him and also with expeditions of this kind. And after he won, it was on to the next challenge.

Robert Falcon Scott by some accounts is said to have underestimated the enormity of the task, had a much wider scope for the expedition (including picking up rocks for scientific research) and didn’t research in sufficient detail what it would take to succeed. This led to needless suffering over an extended period of time, and the eventual loss of his life and those who he led. From this we see that it is useful to have a healthy respect for the challenges of the journey to the goals we have set.

Whether it’s working to create that killer app, closing a key sale or building a winning team. This healthy respect ensures more thorough preparation to fight longer and will assist in avoiding presumptuous errors that prematurely end otherwise promising endeavours.

But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?

       Jesus Christ

There will be the need to redesign products – not only because the first versions of a product or service tend to need updates, but also because customer needs are ever changing. There will be unreasonable demands from the customer sometimes (some would argue most times, depending on the industry), the delivery of parts might not always be on time and the competition won’t sit on its hands while they lose market share.

These challenges, if expected and carefully prepared for would not catch the team off guard. In his book, The First Mile, Scott D Anthony analyses what innovators can reasonably expect as they try to go to market with a new product, and how to consistently succeed with a new idea. Seasoned business leaders know that the customer is no fool and always has reasons for every decision, however illogical or otherwise they may be.

It is also important to develop an ability to carefully navigate the pitfalls that end many ideas even as viable alternatives remain in the cooler. That is; if plan A doesn’t pan out, there should be a plan B and if that doesn’t work out, then a plan C should be in place.

Entrepreneur: someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.

        Sir Richard Branson

Put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket.

     Mark Twain

There is the conversation in many organisations by individuals genuinely interested in making things better and changing things by benchmarking with some better performing organisation, amongst other growth strategies. So meetings are held, the latest research is shared and competitor information is discussed and analysed extensively. When a new direction as a result of the aforementioned, we face the inevitable – the need to embrace risk and come to terms with the facts that our ideas might not work and the customer might reject yet another concerted attempt to improve their lives.

It helps when an innovator is prepared for a wide range of eventualities and a demonstrated ability to navigate complexity makes innovators stand out. Not just getting the great idea (a feat in itself) but the ability to dance with a quick succession of tunes, getting back on one’s feet when knocked down.

The risk always the risk of failure, the risk of loss but also the risk, yes, of being highly regarded by the leading voices of the day and the consequent increase in level of expectation (which should) drive for further achievement.

And so we are sometimes tempted to take the easier option of not speaking up, not looking objectively at the system for necessary changes all leading to a life of tagging along, following the market without thinking “is there a better way”. In the end, systems that do the hard work of following an idea through from start to finish will win. They might make mistakes, but they will win.

I shall be telling this with a sigh,

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

      Robert Frost

In the end, Amundsen would go on to disappear in a rescue mission and was never found. After conquering the South Pole, what else is there to do, other than to sit back and attempt challenges of comparatively lesser difficulty? Thing is, what many know but don’t say is that after a while, chasing the idea of achieving the impossible becomes who you are, even as it leads one to embrace the increasing possibilities of loss.

Ideas edge us on, taking us over the edge (if allowed), getting us to go beyond the limits – so that the world can go farther still. Chasing the idea is ultimately what stands a leader out from the crowd where many have decided to play it safe (and maybe justifiably so), or have tried, failed, and for the most part have refused to try again.

But then, are there not better ways to live?

Why decisions matter


During World War 2, there were countless stories that contributed to deciding who won the war. The trajectory of these stories were guided primarily by the decisions made some of which were made under the most inhuman conditions, with leaders having to decide between the devil and the deep blue sea. Under those circumstances, decisions had to be made on how to manage communicationssupplies and what battles to fight next – or even to fight at all. As we know today, these decisions made the difference between life and death, between those who made it home and sadly, those who didn’t.

Why decisions are important

So much of who we arewhat we do and what we become are a product of the decisions we take, and outcomes are almost guaranteed once a decision is taken. Again, this is irrespective of any supporting or contradictory circumstances. The decisions we take determine how far we go in our pursuits, however excited we were when we started. Connecting this to the world of business, decisions around hiring and letting go of talent are known to influence everything from brand perception to referrals for business.

Decision making also influences our careers

Most career counsellors would advise that one of the best ways to know what a firm is like is to ask someone who’s worked there before. This is also a reason for the popularity (in part at least) of sites as glassdoor and payscale. Still, decisions as to what markets to exploit are key in determining if a company would exist in the next ten years. Statistics on startup survival rates tend to omit this fact: they sometimes do not succeed due to an inability to make the right decisions within a given time frame. Research from McKinsey & Co. and work from the founder’s mentality by Bain & Co. show that companies able to consistently make the right decisions about the key areas of their business can expect consistent growth.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Viktor E. Frankl

There are other situations in life and business where decisions are key in determining the terms under which the coming years would be lived. What to do about your customers’ pain points, how to respond when defamed, and what to wear for that special occasion. Also keep in mind that the reactions from the environment are not always easily predictable which only increases the fear of decision making.

There are fears connected to decision making, but they can be dealt with.

Taking decisions off the course of what is familiar is a source of fear and for all the talk about change and innovation (which I do support), there is the possibility of complete failure. There is never a decision without a consequence hence the need to hedge against risk, insure and the like. The importance of taking decisions correctly is so key that firms like Google invest so much in CEO pay – and with good reason too. In another light, firms like Oracle risk engaging two CEOs to possibly double their chances of making the right decisions. Taking decisions will always be better than standing still even as we see some sense in decisions being reappraised periodically as things, people and circumstances change.

Things change, so we need to decide well ahead of time.

“Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil – and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones, and the oil age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil.”

Sheikh Yamani

The horse and carriage gave way to the automobile and while the horses remain elegant beasts, they can’t get us to our destination faster than cars can. Holding on to old ways of doing things is a recipe for extinction. There is also the danger of letting people contribute to the decision making process. Even though advisers, mentors and peer groups have their advantages the final decision must be taken by the individual because the consequences (whether good or bad) will be borne primarily by same.

Dealing with fears on the way to getting it right.

We must be prepared to embrace the risk of the decision going south – a price in part for getting things right. The fear of making the wrong decision is welcome when it drives further verification of facts and detailed reviews of possible consequences for every proposed line of action. Needless to say every organisation stands today because someone decided to look on the other side of fear.

To conclude, the UK recently decided to leave the EU (#Brexit) and this raised concerns all over the world. This might be because we have come to believe that decisions have to be taken with us in mind, almost like we have somehow become the centre of the system, seeing as ‘we’ depend so much on ‘them’. Now, whether this ‘dependence’ is their fault or not is subject for another conversation. As a people, the UK retains the right to decide what they want as they would ultimately bear whatever benefits or losses that may come with their decision.

Maybe the rest of us are free to do likewise.

 Here’s a summary of what we looked at;

  1. You have to decide.
  2. Decisions are important.
  3. Decision making also influences our careers.
  4. Fears connected to decision making can be dealt with.
  5. Things change, so we need to decide well ahead of time.
  6. Dealing with fears on the way to getting it right.


Most Popular

How to Avoid the Number 1 Career Mistake

The Problem with Sitting on the Fence

The Little Things

The Difference between Winning and Almost Winning

The Connection between Risk, Relationships and Great Organisations