3 06, 2019

Neanderthals and Strategy  


The first men and women (Homo erectus) appeared in Africa some 2.5 million years ago. About 2 million years ago, some of these early humans journeyed and settled in the snowy foothills of Europe and Asia. There they adapted into more muscular and thicker set northerners (Neanderthalensis). Those who remained in the southern hemisphere became thinner, smarter and more agile. They eventually evolved to become our species (Sapiens).  Fred is the name I affectionately to the Neanderthal species. During my conference talks on strategy, I sometimes produce a life-sized replica of a Neanderthal skull and introduce audiences to ‘my old mate Fred.’ I then share the final chapter of Fred’s journey. Fred’s story ends tragically. Some 50,000 years ago, as resources became scarce, Fred and his kinsfolk were eventually eradicated by tribes of Sapiens who were heading northwards and spreading across the Earth. The success of the Sapiens and the failure of the Neanderthals offer us some important lessons, which we can apply to the competitive and co-operative world of business. Sapien brains differ from Neanderthal brains in the size and shape their skulls. A Neanderthal skull is elongated and flat. A Sapien skull is shorter from front to back [...]

22 05, 2019

Three Eyed Ravens


Many possible futures exist. Indigenous peoples were deeply connected with their environment. They understood the power of speech on one’s destiny. In the wilderness, threats to survival loomed large. Noise attracted unwanted attention. They watched more and spoke less. When men spoke, their word was law. They listened to birds, animals and watched nature to see the future. Progress has made us lazy. Our foresight has been replaced by our insatiable minds with their constant chatter. As a talking bird, the raven had mythical status. Like a coyote, the raven became a mediator between this world and future worlds. In the HBO series, Game of Thrones, when Brandon Stark becomes the Three-Eyed Raven, he is able to time travel and sees possible futures.   In business, timing is the most important determinant of success. Seeing possible futures, before they arrive, places a business in the best position to choose between options. The Three Horizons for Growth framework offers a way to understand both current and future options for growth. Consider three ways of seeing. The first is Building. Building for our business means continuously improving what we currently do and scaling it in ways that maximise our ROI (return on [...]

29 04, 2019

Defying the Odds

2019-04-29T06:41:29+10:00Results, Strategy|

Last week, on the other side of the world, a NBA basketball player shot 50 points in a playoff game. With both teams tied on 115 points and 11 seconds remaining, Damian Lillard, point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, dribbled the ball over the half court line. His much taller defensive opponent immediately began to guard him 15 feet outside the three-point line. There was enough time to fake, drive around his player and go to the hoop for a layup or pass off along the way to a team mate to make a winning shot. Whappened next was beyond belief. Beyond belief for the opposing team, beyond belief for the commentators and beyond belief for the fans in both teams. Damian glanced across the court at his team mates positioned strategically around the perimeter and they looked back at him with eyes that said, “I believe in you.” In his heart Damian knew that even if he missed the final shot of the game, his team mates regard for him was not at risk. This is the ultimate psychology of winning in teams. When everyone believes in you, they give you permission to believe in yourself in ways [...]