Paul Salvage

Innovation - Inspiration - Incubation -Technology - Strategy - Consulting

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culture eats strategy for breakfast

Peter Drucker

Don’t try this at home!

I’ve had the privelege of hearing a number of really smart people talk, be it at conferences, investor pitches, meetings or even social gatherings.  A common theme, which was prevalent in the dotcom days and seems to be coming back is what I call the "Don’t Try This At Home" theme.

Every effort will be made to convince you that the world is changing too fast to keep up, that only an elite few really know what’s going on and that mere mortals should really not hope to compete.

Bullshit!  The “experts” are never as expert as you think, things are never as complicated as they would like you to believe and one thing remains constant - PEOPLE.  If you can understand what drives human behaviour, you will always have a shot. Don’t let the buzzwords, technology, fear-mongering and general BS put you off.

Get out there and take your shot….or better yet, take a number of shots!

What’s wrong with IT in businesses today?

It seems to me that fewer and fewer people are aspiring to the CIO role in organisations today.  It may not be dead, but it sure is starting to smell bad!

Why is it that talented technology people are often not choosing to pursue the role of owning IT in Enterprises?  Is it because budget cuts have hamstrung IT departments into survival mode?  Is it because the weight of legacy systems and decisions have left an un-navigable mess in which all hope is lost?  Is it because IT has under-delivered for so long that the role is tarnished beyond repair?

I have another view.

IT professionals have lost their balls!

Without the courage and conviction to meet the business half way, to contribute to strategy, to challenge and simplify requirements and processes, to negotiate for trade-offs, IT is left completely re-active.  

Wishlists become requirements, business process are suboptimal and untouchable, prioritisation is impossible, IT spend becomes a grudge purchase……you know the rest.

IT has more potential to drive top line growth, differentiate from competitors, deliver service excellence and make a difference than ever before.  Don’t allow yourself to become a backroom, reactive support function!

*Rant over….*

What kind of Innovator are you?

I see three discrete types of Innovation happening in the world today:

Incremental - making improvements and extensions to existing ideas.

Disruptive - Shaking things up and attacking the status quo/ value chain of an industry or business (like Skype in the telephony space).

Market Making - Creating a need for something that people never knew they needed (like the iPad).

Which kind are you?  Or are you something else?

Companies fail at disruptive innovation because top management is dominated by delivery skills, not discovery skills


Time to Grow Up!

I love startups!  The sense of purpose, meaning, energy and camaraderie is inspiring and great fun.  The chaos that often goes with this can be less fun however!

There comes a time that every business needs to start to grow up.  That’s when the Capability Maturity Model becomes useful.  Its valuable to know which stage you are in and constantly push upwards to the next level.

Real Innovation Stories…where the ideas came from

During the Californian gold rush a young entrepreneur went to California with the idea of selling tents to the miners. He thought there would be good market for tents from the thousands of people who flocked to dig for gold. Unfortunately the weather was so mild that the miners slept in the open air and there was little demand for his tents. So he took a bold step. He cut up the strong cotton material of his tents and used it to make trousers that he sold to the miners.

The man’s name was Levi Strauss.

Invention is the conversion of cash into Ideas. Innovation is the conversion of Ideas into cash.


Things I learned by making mistakes….Volume 2

So you’ve got a great idea for a new business - awesome!  Maybe you’ve even secured some bootstrap or angel funding - even better!  Now its time to build the core team…

You start with your network naturally and approach those you have strongest relationships with.

This is where the mistake often happens!

Here’s the problem:

  • We like people that are similar to us
  • We think people are smart because they think like us
  • We find people interesting because they have similar interests and skills to us
  • We avoid conflict and and prefer to be around people that agree with us

The net result is that you can end up with a team effectively made up of the same person!  The same skills, points of view, interests, strengths……all in harmonious agreement.  Great if you’re all going on holiday together, not so great if you’re trying to start a business.  

You have to build a team of varied opinions, skills, personalities and experiences.  It’s the combination of and sometimes tension between these people that is needed to beat a good idea into a great business!


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