Saturday, June 3, 2017

New Value Chain for Carbon


[Picture: Carbon atom.] 

Let's talk about carbon and value creation for a moment. Which is economically more interesting: $30 for a tank of fuel, or $30,000 for the same tank filled with printer ink? Both are distillations of complex hydrocarbons. Once you burn hydrocarbons as fuel, they are gone. Alternative: hydrocarbons are the best material and substrate for additive and distributed manufacturing and a 3D-printed world. When used this way carbon remains sequestered and the hydrocarbon extractors and producers get a higher value for what they make as is the case for printer ink... and you can own the molecules and materials in perpetuity. Example: I really don't need the plastic lenses in my eyeglasses forever, I need them as long as the prescription lasts or the lenses are clear and useable. I should be renting them and then giving them back for a new use after I'm done with them - cradle to cradle; circular economy. Extracted material from the earth is called a "wasting asset" in accounting - wasting by not being extracted and used. In this new view, the real waste is uncoupling complex carbon materials through combustion and burning them out of existence. We have energy substitutes coming online to make this higher value supply chain possible. Let's keep going.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Zombie Data

The corporate world is full of studies on hard drives and desk drawers that have been paid for, yet not acted on to drive business results.
The culprit, what I call “Zombie Data” – is the information that isn’t quite alive – or is recently dead. A snapshot of the recent past.  Driving a car by looking in the rear-view-mirror.
To combat investment in Zombie Data, we need new methods to support keeping insights alive and vital – worthy of action and attracting attention and resources.
In a case titled “IBM Global Mobile Computing Segmentation: The Prometheus Project” written in 2006 by Dr. John Lynch at Duke Fuqua School of Business where I am the protagonist (today John is professor at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder) the key to global success was getting the organization to act on the results. We have been tag-team teaching this case for a decade and both agree the research was superb – yet the action plan was even better. It was my first taste of waging war with potential data zombies.
A product from machine learning company SZL.IT called Tanjo is one new tool to counteract Zombie Data ready for use in conjunction with traditional research such as market segmentation. Tanjo means “birth” in Japanese. Tanjo can give birth to a steady stream of daily information flows and news relevant to the profile of each identified customer segment. It can draw insights from the world-at-large using AI-bots and with enterprise permissions, and can also search for relevant information for work-teams from internal intranet sources.
Another example of Tanjo in action is with CommonWeal DealMaker investment capital social graphs. If you know the people investing in startups in a region, sector or industry, Tanjo can bring the network to life every day with information and news about economic actors in that network. DealMaker is born of the doctoral dissertation work by Dr. Ted Zoller at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenan Flagler Business School, Kenan Institute of Entrepreneurship.
A platform approach to doing the research in the first place and keeping it fresh can be found with the advanced choice research and visualization capabilities of Vennli. Developed as a method at Notre Dame for decades by Dr. Joe Urbany, Vennli is now an integrated research platform tool. It is the worthy successor to the standard “SWOT Analysis” and has many more insights. Vennli can counteract the Zombie Data effect by offering a way to repeat customer choice research on a regular basis that is highly repeatable, comparable and affordable. Vennli can also perform “insight-out” research that identifies gaps from the inside of the organization with customer wants and needs – and what is being done in the present and what will need to be done in the future.
ChoiceFlow™ is also in the process of combatting Zombie Data. A systematic approach to developing better stimulus for customer and market research, and animating results in a way that is both actionable and being updated on a continuous basis, ChoiceFlow combats Zombie Data by making it come alive to people who need to make choices for customers and markets every day. Much of the insights for ChoiceFlow come from the life work of Jordan Louviere in Choice Modeling Research - and Best-Worst Scaling – and the research-in-action work of Kevin Clark as a market intelligence leader (MIL) at IBM for the Personal Systems Group and corporate Experience Design practice. Also contributing to ChoiceFlow is Robert Meyer at Wharton, Tiago Ribeiro, Institute for Choice, and Richard Boyd leading and Tanjo.  ChoiceFlow today is a practice of Content Evolution and is a standalone business in formation.

Kevin Clark is Federation Leader and President of Content Evolution, with member companies that connect customer and market insights to nextgen business models, brands, and designed customer experiences. CommonWeal and Vennli are members of the Content Evolution federation. ChoiceFlow is a practice of Content Evolution., creator of Tanjo, is a Content Evolution client.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


The only thing we come into the world with that is fully ours to invest: our attention.
The way we spend our time and focus our attention translates into who we are and will become.
If you invest time and attention in becoming an expert in something in something, others will seek you out and pay more for your concentrated knowledge and skill.
All forms and flows of currency are conversions of attention and time. We convert time and attention into accounts of money, acknowledgement, self-esteem, honors and social status. Each account has its own basis for exchange and understanding of wealth that bestows healthy and valued life years.
As leaders we need to understand attention is the core asset that drives the failure, success and ultimately the significance of our efforts. What is the relevance of what we’re focused on… and how does it fit into a larger context? Relevance without context is a private entertainment, not a business or purpose-driven organization in service of others. Context without relevance is passing fad – understanding the world around you and reacting to it without core values that sustain and allow an enterprise to thrive over time.
As those of us who are inspired to follow (we all lead and follow in different aspects of our lives), are we putting our trust into relationships that deliver mutual benefit? Do we perceive ways to come together and do something we could not accomplish on our own? Are we giving our attention to something that will pay us twice – in the physical sustenance we need to maintain physical life – and in the abundance we want in our relationships and social life?

Organizations designed to pay people twice will be the dominant form of enterprise as we move forward into a world more dominated by living systems models than mechanical systems models.  Our shared ecosystem will also start to accommodate machine intelligence in addition to human intelligence in a blended smart environment to drive better decisions and deliver more abundance now. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Call to Adventure

In language of marketing, the "call to action" is what you want a customer to do at the end of delivering a message or conclusion of a sales presentation. Get online and order, pick up the phone, sign here...

In a world where markets are increasingly conversations (see book The Cluetrain Manifesto); and pull (being drawn toward something) is much more important than push (talking at or delivering messages to a customer or prospect), "call to action" is a weak idea.

A "call to adventure" is much more engaging.

A call to action is transactional; a call to adventure is an invitation to a journey, a relationship, and potential loyalty and advocacy for an offering or the organization that makes it.

Adapted from the heroic journey archetypes Joseph Campbell described in The Hero with a Thousand Faces and the analytical psychology of Carl Gustav Jung, a call to adventure is a more compelling idea for marketing professionals interested in sparking movements.

Movements are bigger ideas that campaigns - they are organizing principles that make categories more favorable organic revenue and profit growth.

Learning more about the dynamics and functions of movements are a call to adventure for the marketing profession itself.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Lexus Paradox

I recently had lunch with a friend. She told me over the appetizer portion of the meal she rented a car from Hertz last week. Being a Gold Preferred member the car was waiting in the appointed stall after a brief glance at the reservation display.

It was a Toyota Camry.

She told me a few brief months ago this would have been a moment of elation - a portent of a great few days ahead. Instead, there was a pause - a hesitation - a faint misgiving about the rental. My friend told me how her perceptions of Toyota had changed so rapidly in such a short period of time.

I pointed out to her she owned a Lexus SUV...

...and that Lexus is owned by Toyota, and Lexus vehicles are essentially X-body Toyota vehicles.


"I really hadn't made the connection. You're right."

Toyota has two great things going for it: The Lexus sub-brand and Lean manufacturing.

People tell me Lexus ownership is SO GREAT.

Lexus has built up incredible goodwill with owners, and it isolates them from the Toyota connection even during a period of so much adverse attention. It is a case study in great brand strategy and management - and an example of exemplary end-to-end customer experience delivery. Lexus endures as a role model despite the circumstances of the parent company. Toyota: Bring some of this to the core franchise, and redemption is plausible.

Lean manufacturing as invented and practiced by Toyota in its manufacturing plants around the world is legendary. Its ability to produce quality products, give voice to employees, and be an exemplar in continuous learning and improvement makes it a widely copied manufacturing environment. If Toyota can move this ethos out of the plant and into the distribution, sales and service environment - again, brand redemption seems more than likely.

Interesting times - and time for Toyota to learn from itself and spread the wealth.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Time: the only real asset

The only asset we come into the world with is time.

We trade our time for many things; sometimes we barter, sometimes we temporarily store the value of our exchanged time in an invention we call money. We also give our time away; sometimes with intention, sometimes indiscriminately.

Business is about the creation and transfer of value - and adding value to time. Can you do something faster? Can you enhance the quality of the time you have? Business exchanges your current and stored time value for many collective hours someone else has spent distilling an offering into something you'd rather not spend your time doing yourself, or provides an exemplary experience in compressed period of time, or delivers a transformation that actually gives you more time.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thrivable Intentions: from Thrivability - A Collaborative Sketch

Thrivable Intentions

“Man shapes himself through decisions that shape his environment.” [i]

- Rene Dubos

Thrivability is fueled by intentions.

· Intent:

o Directed

o Earnest

o Engrossed

o Intense

· Intention:

o Aim

o Determination

o Planned

o Purpose

· Intentional: done with purpose[ii]

…and intentions are holons.

Holons are both wholes and parts. Intentions nest as holons – as both wholes and parts. All the way up and all the way down.

We’re adapting and honoring a concept Ken Wilber has explored extensively in our lifetime and in his book A Theory of Everything he defines holons (a term first introduced by Arthur Koestler[iii]) as ingredients in hierarchies. It’s a very simple and compelling concept.

Wilber says, “A holon is a whole that is a part of other wholes. For example, a whole atom is part of a whole molecule; a whole molecule is part of a whole cell; a whole cell is part of a whole organism. Or again, a whole letter is part of a whole word, which is part of a whole sentence, which is part of a whole paragraph, and so on. Reality is composed of neither wholes nor parts, but of whole/parts, or holons. Reality in all domains is basically composed of holons.”[iv]

The same could be said of intentions, where every purposeful act is nested in other holons of intention. For clarity:

· A “reference holon” is the holon that forms the frame of reference as a single whole/part for looking at the smaller and larger world it exists in.

· A “sub-holon chain” represents the view of the constant holon down to smaller holon wholes/parts.

· A “macro-holon chain” is the view of the constant holon up to larger holon wholes/parts.[v]

Holons of intention can create chains of thrivability.

We as humans have the inherent capacity to be the most intentional reference holons on earth. Yet we seemed to be distracted and immersed in unintentional.

Paul Hawken, the author of The Ecology of Commerce [vi] introduces a version of sustainability succinctly when he says in the preface, “Rather than a management problem, we have a design problem, a flaw that runs through all business.” He continues, “To create an enduring society, will need a system of commerce and production where each and every act is inherently sustainable and restorative.” [vii]

Good, yet still not intentional enough for our inherent capacities.

Sustainability language is frequently formed as an apology for the past and a prayer for methods to the repair damage so we can learn to just get by.

Thrivabilty is more optimistic than sustainability.

Thrivabilty is about transcending and including the current fitness landscape with intelligence and grace.

Being intentionally thrivable is using the gift of collective intelligence we can harness to do better – and together do more.

Note: This is the chapter I contributed to the book: Thrivability - A Collaborative Sketch, compiled and edited by Jean Russell -

[i] Lawrence J. Peter, Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Time, New York: William Morrow and Company, p. 172.

[ii] Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984, p. 733.

[iii] Arthur Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine, Macmillan Publishers, 1969.

[iv] Ken Wilber, A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality, Boston: Shambala Press, 2001, p. 40.

[v] Kevin Clark, Brandscendence: Three Essential Elements of Enduring Brands, Chicago: Dearborn/Kaplan, 2004, p. 112.

[vi] Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, Harper Business, 1993, p. xiii.

[vii] Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, Harper Business, 1993, p. xiv.