Monday, October 26, 2009

Why Blog?

I am reading Warren Bennis' seminal work on leadership, On Becoming a Leader.

The book profiles scores of business leaders and seeks to identify common abstractions that help reveal "truths" about leadership.

Early in the book, I came across the following passage, which perfectly describes why I blog and the benefits of structuring your thoughts via a post:

"Faulker said, "I don't know what I think until I read what I said." That's not just a joke. You learn what you think by codifying your thinking in some way. Codifying one's thinking is an important step in inventing oneself. The most difficult way to do it is by thinking about thinking  - it helps to speak or write your thoughts. Writing is the most profound way of codifying your thoughts, the best way of learning from yourself who you are and what you believe."

I imagine that the paragraph above hits bloggers like a visceral truth - thinking, writing, and editing, all the while mindful that others will critique  your thinking, helps to codify and transcend your thoughts from loose collections of ideas into an integrated world view that helps you reveal to yourself what you think and why.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Scott Cook - Wisdom

On Monday, Widgetbox and I were invited to attend and present at Intuit's inaugural entrepreneurship day. Intuit's founder, CEO, CTO, and senior management hosted twenty plus companies to share ideas on innovation and to explore avenues of partnership.

For me, the highlight proved to be an impromptu talk by Scott Cook on lessons learned from 28 years with Intuit.

He boiled down this advice to the following observations:

  1. The Power of Word-of-Mouth
    1. 81% of Intuit's customers are driven by WOM
    2. WOM remains the #1 driver of customer acquisition
  2. Be Where the Customers Are
    1. Understand where customers buy and make sure your product is readily available
    2. Retail traditionally drove the majority of Intuit's sales --> therefore, retail expertise and management were vital to competition
    3. Today, the web is replacing retail and again the company is moving quickly to driven on-demand transactions
  3. How Do you Create WOM?
    1. focus on what you choose to do?
      1. The goal is to identify the #1 problem in the customer's life and to build products that demonstrably solve the #1 problem
      2. Why is it a problem? How does it manifest itself? What would be the benefit? How can the benefit be measured?
      3. If you solve people's #1 problem - they will tell everyone they know about it and the WOM magic starts to happen
    2. be thoughtful on how you choose do to it?
      1. How? Intuit's focus is on customer driven innovation (CDI) - CDI is an immersive and holistic approach to product development. Immersive in that Intuit looks to "live" with its customers to identify the tacit and overt problems facing customers. He talked of the need to observe customers in action and to trust what you see not what they can articulate or verbalize.
      2. Holistic in that the entire team lives with the customer - eng, prod, mkting - and the cross-functional fluency with the prospect's problem allows for products that are "designed to delight"
  4.  Hiring
    1. Be very selective
    2. Identify 3 most important traits for hire in question
    3. Example - Apple retail hires for the trait "deeply caring about others"
    4. Interview to diligence and prove the candidate has a proven history of the traits in question
Common sense - for sure - but like many best practices they are harder to implement and manage than they are to understand.