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Book review – Speed Thinking – How to Thrive in a time-poor world

How long do you need to take to solve challenging and strategic problems?  Two minutes? Two hours? Two weeks? In his book “Speed Thinking – How to Thrive in a time-poor World”, Dr Ken Hudson believes that senior managers often produce outstanding work when placed under significant time pressure. I agree. I know this works.

I am a big fan of Ken Hudson and Speed Thinking. I have used, and continue to use, his techniques with great success. Indeed, in many of the workshops that I run, I can get a room of senior executives to learn some new tools, apply the tools to a specific problem, build the solution, and present the framework, all in half a day! And I maintain that had they had 4 weeks the outcome may only have been 5% better – perhaps a little more polished – but the core material would have been much the same.

Speed Thinking is a concept that has been significantly made real by Dr Ken Hudson. Ken has just released his latest book aimed at anyone who is looking for a new way to solve everyone’s biggest dilemma – how to do more and more with less and less.

In this book Ken outlines the nine forces that are rapidly accelerating the pace of change today, and then proceeds to detail the basic mechanics of Speed Thinking, which has as its basis the process of creating nine possibilities in two minutes. While this might seem easy, Ken provides a set of tools he calls Speed Links – a unique visual mechanism that makes it easy to capture initial thoughts and then transform these into more powerful concepts as well as connecting those thoughts and concepts into an almost endless array of possibilities.

One of the biggest challenges for all of is the ability to take a problem, decompose it into discrete components, develop a strategy to address those components, and articulate an execution plan. Often this cycle in a corporate takes months – months of “socialisation”, months of haggling, and months where all participants feel they need to put in their two-cents worth. The techniques developed by Ken Hudson cuts through this process, significantly shortening the time period for idea development and build out from months to minutes.

I was a skeptic too. But I am not now. It works. Try it for yourself.

Speed Thinking – How to Thrive in a Time-Poor World is published by Allen & Unwin. http://www.thespeedthinkingzone.com/

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Great new book – Seizing the White Space: Business Model Innovation for Growth and Renewal

Kodak invents digital photography in 1975 but doesn’t successfully capitalize on its invention for decades. Xerox famously devises the mouse, the laser printer, and the graphical user interface but fails to commercialize any of them. The $2 billion Digital Equipment Corp. spends developing a personal computer turns out to be too little, too late.

What makes opportunities like these so difficult to grasp is that, so often, they require companies to move far beyond their core into uncharted territory — into their white space. That’s a scary place, one where many companies’ experience is (as one CEO put it) “unblemished by success.” But if the danger is all too obvious, its causes are not. The white space is hard to navigate not because it’s uncharted but because so many companies try to go there with the wrong map, the one they’re currently using — their existing business model.

And who can blame them? Every successful company is already fulfilling a real customer job with an effective business model. The problem is that few organizations can explicitly articulate what that model is. Day to day, they go along guided by implicit rules of thumb, metrics, incentives, and the odd success story. But without an explicit understanding of their business model — the premise behind its development, the way its various parts work together, its strengths and weaknesses when in pursuit of new growth — they don’t know whether they can use it to deliver on a new customer opportunity or if that opportunity is a move into their white space requiring a new model.

Seizing the White Space offers the path to that explicit understanding, starting with an eminently practical business model framework. It identifies the four fundamental building blocks that make your business model work: the customer value proposition that fulfills an important job a real customer needs to do in a better way than current alternatives do; the profit formula that lays out how your company makes money delivering the value proposition; the key resources that value proposition requires; and the key processes needed to deliver it.

A series of in-depth case studies then explores the circumstances when a new business model might be needed — to fulfill unmet customer jobs in your current market, to serve entirely new customers in new markets, or to respond to tectonic shifts in market demand, government policy, and technological capabilities that transform entire industries. A detailed discussion follows that lays out a structured process for designing a new business model and developing it into profitable and thriving enterprise, while investigating the vexing and sometimes paradoxical managerial challenges that have commonly thwarted unguided forays into the unknown for so many companies like Kodak, Xerox, and DEC.

With this book, you can turn business model innovation into a managed process and a more predictable discipline. To play a new game, on a new field, you need a new game plan. Seizing the White Space gives you a language and framework for understanding both the core space of your existing enterprise and the white space you hope to seize. Think of this as your playbook for conquering the unknown.

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