The End of Certainty: The Beginning of Creativity?

End_of_Certainty_1“The future ain’t what it used to be.”Yogi Berra

We are in a period of massively disruptive and unprecedented change. One of the first victims of massive and disruptive change for many businesses today is certainty. There just doesn’t seem to be enough certainty left in the world to go around. More than ever before we are confronting uncertainty, and its two siblings ambiguity and contradiction.

You are probably thinking: “Wow, that is a lot of bad news all at once.” Well, I would encourage you to think again. Maybe, just maybe, we are entering a period of enormous opportunity, possibility and choice. Why? Because uncertainty, ambiguity, contradiction and chaos are the necessary ingredients for experimentation, innovation and creativity.

“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.” Erich Fromm

Uncertainty, ambiguity and contradiction are the fertile ground of creativity.” – Deepak Chopra

ExperimentationWhat are the 6 keys to creativity?

  • Insight
  • Intuition
  • Imagination
  • Intention
  • Inspiration
  • Choice making

How can you bring about a collective shift in thinking in your work place to move people to the new paradigm of abundant and unlimited creativity?

  • Adapt endlessly. Become open to the unknown by suspending the need to know and the need for certainty. Experiment, explore, inquire and question the future.
  • Get comfortable with ambiguity and contradiction. Become more mentality agile by re-framing the question, changing your mind and challenging your assumptions, values and beliefs.
  • Start practicing “Intelligent Adjacency”. What are the logical extensions or possible connections that you can make? Where could adjacency-thinking lead you?
  • Relinquish entitlement-based thinking. Stop trying to maintain the status quo. Forget about what you think you are entitled to. Let go of the past so that you can move into the future.

Take Away: Certainty -> Uncertainty. Uncertainty -> thinking creatively about the future you want to bring about. Uncertainty is the new Certainty

Question #1: Are you a ‘prisoner of the past’, a ‘victim of the present’ or someone who is creatively ‘shaping their future’?

Question #2: What are you doing to accelerate your personal and organisational creativity?



Cloud Migration. The book is now available

Cloudkongress 2012Last month I spoke at CloudKongress 2012 in Vienna, Austria. I was invited to join a large number of Speakers, Experts and Cloud Thought Leaders from Austria, Germany and Switzerland for a day of learning and sharing. This was the second CloudKrogress managed by Dr Tobias Höllwarth and his very dedicated team of Cloud experts and enthusiasts from EuroCloud, Cloud Vendors and the German language Cloud User community. Approximately 500 participants attended the event and took part in a selection of 43 different sessions, break-outs and workshops available in 4 parallel streams during the afternoon.

As part of CloudKongress 2012 all participants received a copy of the book Cloud Migration, the 2nd revised edition, 2012. This book is a great example of collaboration that the Cloud enables and what I believe the Cloud is all about. 51 authors from 11 countries contributed to the book, including myself. The book sets out to cover the full range of issues to be considered when Migrating to the Cloud including: Technology, Security, Law, Control, Processes, Business and Practical Considerations which includes 5 Case Studies. I was delighted to be one of 8 contributors to the section on Cloud Economics. My piece is entitled : The selling processes of Cloud vs Traditional IT Solutions.

The 3 main ideas developed are:
1)  B2B -> B2C
2)  The Sales Cycle -> The Buyer’s Journey
3)  Quality of Service -> The End2End Customer Experience

View my presentation: 2012_Vortrag_SalesChannel_Europe_David_Ednie.pdf

View my presentation on slideshare: The Buyer’s Journey

By the book: Cloud Migration, by Dr Tobias Höllwarth, 2nd revised edition, 2012



Customer Adoption is the new ROI

Customer Adoption is the ultimate measure of Return On Investment. Period! I hear a lot of people talking about ‘Time to Market’, but I don’t think that this is what they really want to achieve. “Great, we have our new offer in market, but the channels aren’t familiar with it…..yet”, or “customers cannot find it on our website…..yet”, or “we cannot handle orders over the phone…..yet”. So, what is the use?

Time to Market is necessary, but not sufficient.

Time to Market, based on this definition, is a misguided and a delusional goal. A far more meaningful and useful goal to aspire to, to plan for and to measure is ‘Time to Revenue’. The two metrics may be used interchangeably but I would argue that this is a dangerous error. Because the difference between Time to Market and Time to Revenue is Customer Adoption. (see diagram)

Time to Customer Adoption:

“There is more to success than hard work.” – Anonymous

What are the drivers of adoption and what are the barriers to adoption? And how can we align with those drivers and overcome the barriers when potential customers are evaluating and considering purchasing our products and services?

Consumer psychologists tell us that dissatisfaction is the beginning of all behavior. If we were not dissatisfied, we would simply stick to what we have. There would be no need to change what we do. The gap between where we are now and where we want to be is what drives us to make changes in our lives, and of course that is what makes us change the products we own and the services we consume. Geoffrey A. Moore’s work on “Crossing the Chasm” tells us that Innovators and Early Adopters will be cognisant of their dissatisfaction and unmet needs and take positive action to resolve them. Customer adoption then is all about helping the early majority and other post-chasm customers to feel the need and follow the lead of the Innovators and Early Adopters.

People make emotional decisions that they then rationalize and justify with logic.

Success means eliminating Barriers to Adoption:

1. GAIN vs PAIN. If the perceived GAIN is less than 10 X the perceived PAIN, then the effort (also PAIN) to change will be considered as insufficient to be worthwhile. Business Implication: Sell the PROBLEM, not the SOLUTION. Use a diagnostic conversation to help the customer probe for PAIN. Take them to the negative future. Let them ‘wallow in the PAIN.’ Then take to the positive future, to the un-troubled state where they can enjoy peace of mind AND then show them how they can get there with minimum time and minimum effort by adopting your products and services.

2. Align with consumer’s self-perception. Consumers choose products that are consistent with their perceptions of themselves and reject those that are incongruous with them (Sirgy, 1982). Business Implication: Determine what you stand for as a Company, your core values and then align your product, service and company values with those of your target customer groups.

3. Re-frame the Customer’s Perceived Risks:

Uncertainty leads to “no decision”. And uncertainty in business has never been higher than it is today. Business Implication: Cloud Computing and SaaS are a perfect antidote or cure for business uncertainty because they put control back in the hands of the business. As one customer said: “The rate of change in business today really puts you at a disadvantage if you make long-term investments in anything.” That is an outstanding endorsement of the benefits of the Cloud.

Question: What are you going to do to accelerate Time To Revenue by maximising Customer Adoption of your Products and Services?

Read blog post: The Buyer’s Journey Part 2
Read blog post: The Buyer’s Journey Part 1
View slideshare: Customer Adoption is the new ROI
Read Book: Outside in: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business

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The Buyer's Journey, Monday Nov. 5th. Vienna, Austria

On Monday Nov 5th I will be speaking at CLOUDKongress 2012 in Vienna, Austria. I will be talking about The Buyer’s Journey and the importance of engaging conversations with the Corporate Consumer. The key takeaway of my presentation will be: Customer Adoption is the new ROI. See the complete program here. Hope to see you there.


The Buyer's Journey – Part 2

“Don’t make your customers work hard to spend their money.”

The Buyer’s Journey describes a fundamental shift from inside to outside thinking. From the Sales Cycle to The Buyer’s decision process. The key implication of this shift is that you have to align your Sales and Marketing activities with the Buyer’s Journey if you want to maximize customer adoption of your products and services.

The term “The Buyer’s Journey” was originally coined by a colleague and friend of mine Hugh MacFarlane back in 2003. Hugh has been a long time thought leader in this space and has written a remarkable book called The Leaky Funnel that explores this and the broader benefits of increased sales effectiveness resulting from aligning Sales and Marketing with the way customers buy.

“I am the world’s worst salesman, therefore I must make it easy for customers to buy.” – F. W. Woolworth, April 13, 1852 – April 8, 1919

The management challenge of achieving alignment plays out at two levels: 1) The task/activity level and 2) the Organisational level. Hugh describes the task/activity mapping between The Buyer’s Journey and The Seller’s Journey very succinctly here (Fig 1)

“Your task is not to work buyers through your sales process, but to help them along their buying path. An easier journey makes for an easier sale.” – Hugh MacFarlane, CEO of Mathmarketing

Question: Have you aligned your Sales and Marketing actions with your Buyer’s Journey?

Additional Resources:

Read more: The Buyer’s Journey – Part 1
View presentation on slideshare: The Buyer’s Journey
Read: How to align your sales process to your buyers journey by Hugh MacFarlane
Buy the book: The Leaky Funnel by Hugh MacFarlane


The Buyer’s Journey: Align your Sales and Marketing actions with the way customers buy

The old rule in sales ABC “Always Be Closing” has passed its use by date. Today ABC would serve us better if it stood for “Always Be Changing”. And this rate of change has never been more challenging for Sales and Marketing because business as usual has come to a sudden end as power has shifted from the Vendor to the Customer. The world has changed and this has created 2 game-changing mega shifts:

Mega Shift #1. B2B shifts to B2C: Here I see two emerging types of consumers: Corporate Consumers and Connected Customers.

Corporate Consumers are those people in the organisation who have a problem and have or can find budget to fix it. Think of the VP of Sales who is trying to prepare his sales forecast for the board the next day. He trials/buys a single user license of, then gets his direct reports to start using it and 6 -18 months later the entire organisation is using it. Corporate Consumers are those individual decision makers in the company and are the entry point to corporate adoption.

Connected Customers are always online and do or want to do everything online. Connected customers navigate a large part (60% to 70%) of the buying decision with information gathered online before contacting a representative of the vendor or services provider. They are influenced by, and share their buying experiences (good or bad) with, their network of professional and personal contacts.

Mega Shift #2. The Sales Cycle shifts to The Buyer’s Journey:

The impact of the shift to Corporate Consumers and Connected Customers is this. If the Decision Maker (buyer) is different then in all probability the way he/she makes buying decisions will be different also. Therefore, you must align the way you sell with the way these people want to buy. In other words the Sales Cycle is dead, long live the Buyer’s Journey!

“The best way to succeed in sales is to make the buying experience irresistible” David Ednie, President & CEO, SalesChannel Europe

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” – Walt Disney

The Buyer’s Journey (see graphic, with special thanks to Tom Russell of Meeting Magic) is what is critical to creating happy, satisfied and delighted customers. The Buyer’s Journey is a series of sequential steps that we all go through when making a buying decision. It starts with SEARCH, which is done online today. Followed by FIND, where we get a number of options or alternatives to consider. We then QUALIFY our selection down to 1 or 2 possible solutions. This is followed by TRY. Here we evaluate our qualified choices by testing it out in a trial usage evaluation. The next step is BUY. Assuming that the trail experience is positive we will go ahead and buy the Cloud service and start using it immediately. To do this we need to ACTIVATE the service and that is usually the trigger point for being billed for the service. The next step is MANAGE, which is where we configure the service by setting parameters and preferences, etc. The next step is UP-SELL. Here we have the possibility to purchase additional functionality, capacity or performance as needs require. SUPPORT is the next step. Here we get resolution to problems and questions that arising from using the service. The last and final step in the Buyer’s Journey is REFER. People tend to share highly positive (and highly negative) experiences with others. We will tell anyone who will listen about what a great choice we made if we were genuinely delighted with our experience at each and every step in the Buyer’s Journey. This is where shared experiences can go viral and you can turn your customers into your unpaid sales force. Refer is therefore an enormous ‘multiplier moment’ opportunity (and a threat). An enormous threat if the customer experience is bad or sub standard and an enormous opportunity if the customer has a great or better than expected experience. Creating satisfied customers is not enough. Creating delighted customers is better but still insufficient. Today, you must create devoted customers and then get them to share their devotion with others.

Question: Have you aligned your Sales and Marketing actions with your Buyer’s Journey?

Read blog post: The Buyer’s Journey: The 5 steps of the Buyer Decision Process

View Slideshare: Tipping the funnel: Make your customers your unpaid sales force

Read the book: The End of Business as Usual by Brian Solis


Collaboration: your path to Sustainable Competitive Advantage?

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”Helen Keller

Web apps and the internet have changed the way we work and live. Today we live in a world where the creative quality of work improves as we move along the “Hierarchy of Communication” from Connect to Communicate to Collaborate to Co-create.

Where would you place your organization on the following 4Cs Hierarchy of Communication?

1) Connect: is all about connecting and being able to connect with others. Connecting with those that you know and those you don’t yet know. Today this has never been easier, simply click to connect, without leaving your office and often without leaving your application. A ‘presence’ indicator lets you know who is there on-line and in your virtual neighbourhood right now.

2) Communicate: Once you have connected you want to communicate. Speaking with the other person now includes speaking with many other people through online virtual meetings. Communicating now includes: chatting, speaking, texting, sharing documents and sharing screens to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas.

3) Collaborate: you communicate so that you can collaborate. There are lots of different collaboration tools, applications and platforms available today that enable us to collaborate effectively across multiple boundaries: organisational, geographical and time zones. Examples vary widely: Skype, TeamViewer, Lync, Office365, Google Apps and Webex to name a few. All allowing you to share, review and contribute to a common project and collaborate together with others.

4) Co-create: you collaborate so that you can create. The desired outcome of collaboration is to create new ways to solve old problems and invent new ways to capture future opportunities. We brainstorm using rich media to engage the collective brain of the virtual community. We build ideas based on human interaction. We invent, create, develop new or better ideas and ways to achieve specific goals and objectives. And we build virtual teams that can deliver continuous creativity which will ultimately lead to sustainable competitive advantage.

Sustainable Competitive Advantage: The ultimate goal of co-creating (and therefore collaborating, communicating and connecting) is to maximise the quality and quantity of your business goals. Sustainable competitive advantage is the sum total of your organisation’s current abilities and future capabilities. By enabling your people to connect, communicate, collaborate and co-create they will produce exceptional solutions to today’s problems and create wonderfully innovative ways to develop future opportunities.


People, Processes or Platform? The challenge isn’t the technology it’s you and your people. The challenge is moving your people along the 4Cs Hierarchy of Communication. So they become more collaborative and adopt and use collaborative applications and tools in their everyday work. You need to set an example by demonstrating an ‘inclusive mindset’ and a bias towards working collaboratively. The cultural change required of your company will be far more difficult than the technological changes.

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”General Eric Shineseki, Retired Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

Are you ready for the new reality?

View: Collaborating in the Cloud: Opportunity or Threat? by David Ednie, posted on slideshare.

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Recognising Markets in Transition: Move everything to the Cloud

It is always easier to see a market transition after it has happened than when you are in mid transition.

“We all have 20/20 vision in hindsight” – Anonymous

Think of the Candle Stick Maker. How many are still in business in your area today? Market transitions are usually not single occurrence events, but often a series of transitions along a larger continuum of change. Candles gave way to oil and then gas lamps, which were in turn replaced by electric light when Thomas Edison invented the incandescent electric light bulb in 1879. Conclusion: be highly attentive to change because disruptive change (technological innovation in this case) is a pre-condition for all market transitions.

Market Transition Mindset:

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” – Wayne Gretzky, former professional Canadian ice hockey player

Nothing stays the same forever. What you are doing today may be still working, but you know that it is getting harder and harder to achieve the same level of results. OK, it is still working but the real question is for how much longer? You have to move from denial thinking “destroy the forces of change” to status quo thinking “don’t change anything” to possibility thinking “what could we change” to transformational thinking “what would we like to see changed”. By the way, did I say that this was going to be easy? No? Good! Why? Because you (and your organisation) tend to stick to what you (they) are best at, not what is required. Transitions are inherently unnatural acts.

Seek Indicators of Change: The Tipping Point of Markets in Transition.

Today, we are right in the middle of a ginormous market transition – the Cloud. The IT industry is facing an enormous period of brutal change as everything moves to the cloud, allowing users to use their computing devices of choice (PC, tablet, smart phone, other) and those applications they prefer on the OS of their choice. BYOD has gone from being a luxury to being a necessity.

Who will be the Winners and Losers?

Market transitions favour the instigators, the innovators and the early movers i.e. the perpetrators of change. They favour those who upset the game, those who innovate and those who change the rules of the game. They penalize, punish and sanction the rest; the laggards, the slow movers and the ‘no movers’. Will you be a winner or a loser?

The most destabilising aspect of Markets in Transition is that there are no established rules to follow. No established market leaders to compete with. There are no role models to copy or learn from. Your ability to adapt, try, correct, learn and try again is the key to navigating a successful market transition. Be quick to recognize, respond to and take advantage of transitions in your market. Re-think, re-strategize, re-invent yourself and re-position your business to benefit from change. Conclusion: Change before you have to change.

Learn from your Taxi Driver:

Every time I take a taxi to the airport I ask the taxi driver the same question: “How long will it take to get to the Airport today?” You would be surprised by the answers I get. One day my confidence in mankind was restored when the Taxi Driver took out his smart phone, tapped the screen a few times and announced with great certainty that it would take 47 minutes. I was impressed, to say the least! When I enquired about what app he was using he asked: “do you have an iPhone?” Then he told me where to go online to download and install the app and was quick to point out that it was free.

When your Taxi Driver tells you how to get to the cloud, the cloud’s time has surely come.


ROI or ROI? 'Return on Investment' or 'Return on Innovation'?

What percentage of your revenues in 2012 will come from products and services that are less than 18 months old? Are you constantly defending your business, and your offerings against new and improved competitive offerings? Do you find yourself defending the status quo and unwittingly discriminating against the future? Or are you constantly experimenting and innovating in order to bring new ideas and improved offerings to market?

Why are some companies spectacularly successful innovators while others are highly unsuccessful at innovation? Recently I read a Forbes article “The Seven Habits of Highly Unsuccessful Executives” and I was amazed to discover Habit #7: “They stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past.” In other words they are prisoners of the past. They have fallen in love with the status quo.

At the other end of the spectrum we find those companies that are highly innovative and thrive on change. Consider IDEO a silicon valley based innovation factory specializing in innovation and design. IDEO’s many clients include companies that have recognized that they lack the ability to innovate in house.

“Failing early to learn quickly.”Tom Kelley, General Manager at IDEO

‘Return on Investment’ thinking seeks certainty and fixed outcomes. Both are highly desirable to be sure but usually at the expense of creativity and innovation.

‘Return on Innovation’ thinking requires a prototyping mindset. Requiring the acceptance of failure as being a measure of progress along the path to success.

A Return on Innovation mindset requires J-curve thinking. ie. the courage to go negative before the possibility of going positive and the courage to make asymmetric bets. Investing in those areas that don’t show a return today at the expense of investing in those areas that are delivering the lion’s share of revenue today.

A culture of knowing or a culture of learning:

Your job is to create a Culture of Innovation: Why is asking for ideas a bad idea? Don’t think outside the box, find a better box. Failure is always an option. Expertise is the enemy of innovation. The difference between a pipeline and a sewer is what flows through it.

Recommendation: Invest massively in innovation, but invest even more massively in your capacity to innovate, as this will ultimately determine your sustainable long-term competitive advantage.

View: Entrepreneurial Leadership by David Ednie, posted on slideshare

Read: The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO’s Strategies for Defeating the Devil’s Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization by Tom Kelley

Make it happen: lead first, manage second.