Seventhman Blog

  1. Business Lessons: The Art of Doing Nothing

    "doing nothing style"Someone told me that if you want to succeed, you must learn how to do nothing.  I bet you’ll raise your eyebrows too and argue otherwise.  But if you take time to do nothing and ponder on the wisdom of these words, you’ll realize that to become a great leader, you have to stop over-managing and step away from the comforts of your status quo.  It can’t be any simpler than that.  It will all boil down to trust – you don’t have to be involved all the time in what your team does.  You can just observe from a distance.

    Cultivating Innovation in the Workplace

    If you’re open to change, it is easier for you to allow change to happen at work.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a small startup, a big business, or working with virtual teams across the globe.  Are you running an office without walls?  I’m not talking of physical barriers here.  Just take a dive at how Google works and what makes it an innovative place is its company culture.  But this doesn’t only limit you to working within the office.  You can also outsource innovation and create empowered teams regardless of culture, language and region.  Collaboration may be the key to creating and sustaining innovation at its prime.

    Do-Nothing Leadership Style Scrutinized

    So far, you must have thought that doing nothing is all about playing golf all day and placing your business in auto-pilot.  Wishful thinking, I’d say.  What I meant here is spending more time thinking of awesome strategies in the hope of helping your team implement these.  It’s about introspection, of taking the time to check every detail of your business road map and see to it that everyone is on the right path – making key decisions that will help everyone do their jobs better.  The next time you’re looking for the next big idea, why don’t you take a leisurely walk in the office and talk to your employees?  Your openness is the final test to breaking the barriers of conversation within your team.  You may just unlock the door to real innovation.

    Breaking the Do-Nothing Rule

    The biggest mistake any start-up founder can do is to be out in the open, doing everything.  There’s nothing wrong with that, you may think.  After all, the whole business is your idea and you want to get involved in every process.  You may feel vulnerable if you will take a step back and watch the process unfold.  Don’t be afraid.  Let things unravel as you take time to allow room for creativity, freedom and flexibility to work its magic.  The only time that you have to stop doing nothing is when you’re the only person who can do the task immediately or when no one feels like doing the dirty work.  That’s the time you take responsibility and spring from inaction.. into action.

    At the end of the day, doing nothing is doing the right thing.  Would you agree?

  2. The Next Big Idea: When Entrepreneurs Think Outside the Box

    "brainstorm"Back in the days of jotting down your idea on a cocktail napkin, the excitement seems so overwhelming that you need to capture that ‘magic’ moment to the next million dollar dream.  Like sugar rush, ideas can also crash.. because you haven’t had time to find out if it’s viable.  For a gifted few, imagination comes so easy.  But reality is, one need to lay down the foundations of a plan, to have a clear idea on what makes your product unique, on how to build a demand in the marketplace for it.  So, the real question is this: How can you turn that big idea into a profitable business?  Can you manage without having a partner, taking a loan or writing a business plan?

    Going Beyond Your Unique Value Proposition

    It’s starting to feel a lot like summer and I can’t stop thinking of this beach vacation under a beautiful weather.. and yet, I have to keep my focus somehow as I prioritize my list to making this new idea a reality.  If there’s one good advice I’ve read today, it’s this post  on military training techniques you can apply to business.  I love what Louis wrote, “Intelligence is a Key to Staying Ahead”.  Nowadays, everyone’s on the rush to come up with a new product or service that they often forget to do market research.  The data you can gather will prove invaluable in determining the success or failure rate of your plan.  This is why we often see many aspiring entrepreneurs waste dollars in activities that lack direction.  You don’t simply state what makes you unique, but you need to have a road map to follow in making sure that your research will help you fine tune that idea into something a customer will want to purchase.  Even before you think of innovation when it comes to brand development, try to see the SWOT of your idea ( as in strength, weakness, opportunity and threat ). Your analysis based on these will help you fix flaws before people try it out.

    Challenges in Brainstorming: Where Traditional Meets Digital

    Sometimes, it is better to get less advice because the more you do, the more distracted you will be.  Should you just ignore everybody instead?  It’s just that the more unique your concept is, the harder it is for you to get like minds to help you brainstorm ideas.  There are those moments when solitude works best though, where all that brainstorming sessions and focus groups do more harm than good.  What intrigues me most is that in this digital age, those who collaborate using new technologies often come up with creative ways to work on ideas.  When there is time pressure on compiling data and predicting trends, the very same idea can be burned through overthinking.  The challenge, therefore, is how to run a criticism-free session that’s free from fear, stress, ego, beliefs, absolute truths, conformity, doubts and bad habits.  The very process of sharing becomes the very problem itself, don’t you think?

    Is There Really a Market for Your Idea?

    This is a very crucial question to answer.  The problem with running surveys is that quantifying results based on a few number doesn’t really justify the target market as a whole.  How can you really solve your customers’ pain points?  When you present an idea to a group, things become interactive and participants are free to share their thoughts about your idea.  Sometimes, it is how we question things that define what we observe and this can be very limiting.  The marketplace is crowded and having your slice off the pie means creating the ultimate hook where fishes bite the bait.  It all comes down to making things simple and sticking to your promise.  If you build it right, the right customers will come..

    There is chaos in the creative thinking process. Things can get out of control.  Don’t panic. It’s only normal.  Pay attention and just do things better this time.

  3. Want to Succeed? Try Being Simple

    "art of simplicity business"Just because you need to come up with a strategy doesn’t have to mean that it has to be complex.  Success in business, sales, customer relationships… comes down to the new golden rule: SIMPLICITY.  Sometimes, the need to impress overcomes good judgment when it comes to creating an innovative product or service.  In the race to present the best features, we tend to overdo certain aspects, be it the use of jargon that makes our message hard to understand or vanity metrics that don’t add value to the business at hand.  Whether we talk or write about our business plans, products, services – we often forget to keep things simple.

    Creativity Can Mean Thinking.. Without the Box

    Whenever I’m in a room meeting with top consulting ‘gurus’, I often wonder just how big the box that they’re in.  Sometimes, the best way to come up with a business road map is to do away with the box and start on a clean slate.  Does it make you wonder why you spend too many hours in brainstorming sessions?  And most often, you get out of it more confused than ever.  It’s only human nature to love everything that spells complexity, not because we’re complex beings, but because we love drama – of coming out as the winning protagonist in some heroic tale of epic proportions.  All the praises and cheers after battling an eight-headed monster sounds greater than having to deal with a 100-legged worm.  All that glory is an illusion that at the end of the day, time is wasted on trying to unlock a door with a thousand keys when you could have simply turn the knob around and find out that it’s open all that time.

    Simplicity is More than Just Aesthetics

    We’ve seen the return of zen-inspired websites, of no-fuss design that makes it easier for readers to navigate a site.  But simplicity in business is more than just aesthetics.  Simplicity is innovation in its very basic, by solving complex problems in everyday life.  A great example of this is by looking at Steve Jobs and his Apple products, where simplicity of form follows ease of function – which became his most renowned legacy.  As he said to The New York Times, “…It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Then, we can look back at the “less is more” concept when it comes to design and no matter how streamlined a plan can be, it is a product of careful analysis and commitment to excel at every turn.  This may be the top reason why people will want to buy a simple product with a high value at a high price; it’s the benefit that counts.

    The Art of Driving Sales and Customer Loyalty

    Again, the answer is simple.. Simplicity is the best driver of them all.  Most often, I talk to customers about what makes them buy from an e-commerce site and it all has its roots in simplicity.  Customers are frustrated these days with technological gimmicks like having to scan codes to get discounts, waiting in line to get an exclusive invite and so on.  Why make things complicated when you can easily display the info in one place, no matter what the screen size is?  Why make it hard for people to find what you have to offer?  In the need to look cutting edge, we may forget to map where our customers make decisions when they visit our website.  There’s just too much clutter and before you know it, your bounce rate hits higher than 70%.

    Someone said that ‘if you build it, they will come.’  I’d rather say that ‘if you make it simple, customers will not only come.. but, they will share this fresh experience with everyone.

  4. Achieving Success: From Product Development to Product Launches

    "product development"Someone has said that the key to a successful product development is having a vision.. and those who succeed had a clear vision to start with.  In the need to rush and be the first to come up with something new, we often forget the value of a product vision statement – a brief note on what we want to accomplish, why it is important and what criteria do we set for success.  No doubt, product launches feel like rocket launches; exciting, mind-boggling and sometimes, rewarding.  What goes on behind-the-scenes has become an obsession lately, in the race for innovation through great leadership.  So I ask you, once and for all:  Can you make your ideas… happen?

    Product Development: From Repetition to Perfection

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.. and in the haste to launch something ‘innovative’, we may have forgotten old product development processes that worked.  Most of thriving brands out there know that iteration is a crucial factor to making a new product – from revamping old products to adding more value, or repeating time-tested systems in making sure that your raw idea turns into a viable product that customers will buy and love.  Just what made iPhone a phenomenal success these days when there are many versions of smartphones out there? Apple has repeatedly used effective marketing strategies, other than a systematic product development cycle. Think about it.  Besides, repeating actions that fail is like listening to a broken record playing the same track over and over.  You have to focus on what works and eliminate those that don’t.

    Technology-Driven vs. Consumer-Driven Perspective

    Most often, businesses tend to take on a technology-driven view on their product development, like the cost of production and vanity product specs, that they forget to take time to get to know their market.  Many hours have been spent in perfecting a product to make it look cutting edge that we forget to ask our end-users (customers) on how this product can solve their needs.  The result then is having less sales than expected, simply because we forgot to ask for feedback.  You may want to create the next thing in super eyeglasses that can magnify vision to the nth degree, but if it will give users a headache and a hard time using it, they might as well ditch it.  Any successful business out there will tell you that bringing an inadequately-developed product onto the market is as bad as presenting an overly-developed one.  This is why when you’re in doubt, you must proceed with caution and spend more time on the drawing boards so you can come up with a great product.

    The Secret Recipe to Launching Market-Leading Products

    It’s not really a big secret after all.  Not all ideas turn into fully-developed products with huge potential.  But those who did know that staying true to their course has helped them.  It comes down again to having a clear vision statement and validating it not only with an elevator pitch, but by clearly defining the requirements on turning your idea into a reality.  You must have the patience and perseverance to test your concept, make business analysis, do market testing and identify what needs to be improved on (quality assurance checks).  It’s all about efficiency, plus a solid grasp of the features and benefits of your product that will help you accomplish something that stands out.  Are you ready to make your idea… sell?

    “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.”  -Joel Barker

  5. Synergy: Doing Business in Real-Time

    "synergy"It’s amazing to see the correlation between the rise in  remote work and the growth in virtual teams around the world.  A survey even shows that 77% of American adults feel that online meeting is on the rise.  When companies are in a boot-strapping mode so they can meet their business goals, just how can teams that are spread out geographically collaborate like they do in real-time?  Of course, online collaboration saves a lot on travel time and transportation cost, not to mention that participants are more focused meeting online than offline.  Even after years of working with virtual teams, I still face daily challenges in managing it and having an open mind is just a start.  The real question is:  How can you make your process work?

    When Real-Time Performance Feedback Counts

    If you’re working with people across different culture, you know that having a global mindset is the key to making everyone work seamlessly together.  Having a common language is not really enough.  You have to combine communication tools with real-time feedback to your team so they can learn and improve faster.  Most often, feedback come in a little too late and people end up with disagreements.  To engage your virtual workers, you have to give constant feedback that will encourage good habits and practices.  Thanks to online conferencing tools and social networks, this is not an impossible task.  I’m using Yammer to share constant updates with my team, to keep a friendly and healthy discussion, or when I need to implement a quick change.  Think of it as having your own knights-of-the-round-table in a click.  Slipping out a note of appreciation can work wonders too and yet, how many of us have sent a thank you note lately?  Call it your digital pat on the back and it’s time-tested to boost your workers’ morale, no matter how far they are.

    Keeping the “I” in Agile

    I.. for innovation, that is!  Just how can you mix quality time with real-time connectivity?  And if you can, will you create a synergy that will help bring you closer to your goals?  Creating a real-time feedback loop is a serious game that demands business agility, where people can excel at their skills.  Still, there are some who say that the Agile process is anti-innovation.  This can be true though if your user stories are not based on real scenarios that your business face.  The problem with online collaboration comes in when there are more than two users/players in the scene and most often, too much time is wasted on talking about things that are not related to the issue at hand.  To learn faster and come up with effective solutions of getting things done will require not only abstract thinking in a technological perspective, but innovative minds as well.  If you are transparent with your team about your plans and processes, you open the door to making better decisions for your business.

    Revamping Your Business Process Management

    With globalization, the demand to accelerate business processes to come up with real-time solutions is becoming a necessity.  In the name of growing a brand’s recognition and business profit, organizations will have to learn how to synergize by getting rid of information anxiety and empowering their team at all levels.  It will all come down to managing IT, the people.. and maximizing business value where tech is concerned.  These days, the fast will beat big and everyone will be forced to innovate.  Doing business in real time may simply mean alignment of strategies and performance feedback from day-to-day… and responding quickly to change.

    Are you ready to empower your team?

  6. Innovation: Managing Risks and Portfolios Explained

    "managing innovation"Everyone in business knows that exploiting new technologies in search of the holy grail of innovation is crucial in the goal of gaining optimal returns, while choosing the right levels of risks and managers to work on the project.  Without proper systems in place, it’s not possible for R&D to flourish and as such, a certain process is in place to help everyone understand on how to work as one team for the goal.  Yes, the Web provides businesses these days with easy access to gather ideas and yet, when was the last time that you really took a dive into your customers’ feedback? How about those of your employees?

    Ideas Incubator: Addressing the Real Issue

    What you conceptualize today will dictate the marketing profile of your company tomorrow.  You may have a Lean Canvas to make this planning stage much faster and yet,  optimizing your product research and development will mean higher chances for you to win in the battle of creating something new.  Just how do you do this?  There are many ways, but these answers are not that simple.  The challenge to create and maintain cutting-edge products or services is something dynamic and will need to undergo careful evaluation and selection.  Along the way, you may find yourself going over your drawing board and start again from scratch.. when you’re in the middle of accomplishing plan A.  The most crucial of them all is the ‘Go-Kill syndrome’ – Do you go for the concept or kill it when you’re in the mid-stage process?

    The Underlying Principle Behind Managing Innovation Portfolios

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years in business, it comes down to this:  With innovation comes risks.  You can succeed or fail and sometimes, it can be both.  It’s like working on a science project and the degrees of success or failure will help create the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  In a market that changes in a blink of an eye, it only makes sense to assign various portfolios for every type of innovation, business models or new ventures… and a mother portfolio to manage them all.  This can be done by tracking your prototypes through a database system, like an idea factory, and assigning someone to manage it.  Without this management, you may end up with too many projects, which may not even be the right ones to start with.  Or, it can take too long for your concept to get in the market and when they do, it has low value or worse, your competitors beat you to it.  The last thing you want is to have your resources spread too thin.

    The Anatomy of a Well-Balanced Portfolio

    It is only normal to fail in your efforts.  The key here is to fail fast so you can learn faster and apply what you’ve learned to perfecting that innovative product.  Therefore, striking a healthy balance between success and failure rate is necessary.  Managing your innovation portfolio is all about doing the right projects that will produce the biggest impact to your business, in terms of ROI ( return on investment ).  You have to communicate this value to your executive team, those who participate in the R&D process, so that you can balance how they will do the job and how they will contribute to the goal.  You can have everyone vote on an idea or ask people to rank ideas.  Refining these ideas is not an easy task and as everyone is engaged, your team will become better at identifying and working on projects with the most potential.

    Innovation… is a work in progress and optimizing what you’ve learned is just the start.  How do you value your innovation efforts and communicate it to your organization?

  7. What Does Customer Centricity Really Mean to Your Business?

    "customer centricity"It was my first time participating in #LeadershipChat last March 13th, where I had the pleasure of learning from @BobBurg and other brilliant folks there.  The topic of customer centricity made me want to dig deeper in the agenda of creating a positive customer experience at point-of-sale and post-sale transactions.  Is it all  about adding value to your company… by being a go-giver in this go-karma economy?  Last time, I’ve pondered on the subject of going beyond customer satisfaction surveys and now, let’s break into the reality of implementing your customer strategy by taking a risk to do something that have eluded many businesses for years.

    Commodity Hell: The Challenges in Today’s Marketplace

    Why is it hard for many CEO’s to answer a simple question, if their business is customer-centric?  Yes, plenty of organizations do have a customer service department, but it’s more like a ‘set it and forget it’ scenario where business-to-consumer relationship runs on shallow waters ( murky as well ).  Organizations sent out plenty of surveys to get useful data for them to analyze and learn from it, but most often, it doesn’t reveal anything vital about their customers.  It’s a no-brainer that knowledge of your customers means more revenues and still, more evidence is seen each day on how lack of collaboration and siloed information in your internal departments may be the very barrier to achieving a customer-centric brand.  Is it lack of resources to implement a well-rounded program.. or, is it fear of failure?  What’s stopping you?

    Looking Through the Lens: An Outside-In Approach

    Every CEO knows in his/her heart that running a customer-centric business is the key to its success.  The reason that we’re all consumers make up for the validity of this thinking and yet, there seems to be a gap somewhere.  Instead of looking at your business from the inside, try walking in the shoes of your customers and see your brand through their eyes.  In that way, you will understand what real problems they face and how you can come up with the best solutions to help them.  Sometimes, you can’t stop wondering if it’s psychological.. that many executives play it safe by continuing to impose systems that didn’t work, that doesn’t work even now.  Are we making excuses?  In simple words, it’s just doing what you say you will do and as such, bringing value your brand promises and delivering it constantly to your customers.

    When Customer Centricity Means Sustainability

    You know that as new technologies rise, the communication barrier between your business and your customers will cease to exist.  So, what does it really take to make that transition?  In this competitive age, having a consumer-centric business is not a goal; it’s a must – if you want to survive longer.  Creating a culture that puts your customers at the core of every business decision-making can be challenging as you can’t please everybody.  Still, having a holistic approach is the key and by training your employees with the right tools to solve your customers’ issues, and by motivating your team with appreciation of their efforts, you CAN start a domino effect that will build a solid rock for your business to stand on.

    The days of fooling customers to earn profit is over.  They are smarter now.  Are you ready to get real and face this reality?