How to spot the winners

July 29, 2010 · Filed Under identity based praxis · Comment 

Some of us are looking for a challenge.

I have never been sure what this exactly means; chances are that it is just a figure of speech, meaning that I need to find another job, gig, investment opportunity, whatever.

Some of us just need to be there; the rest is details.


VCs: the ones looking for a deal (challenge) are running processes; go through the motions, use the same criteria, getting referrals from the same people, asking the same questions, showing the same reactions, seemingly looking at the same deal, etc.

The ones who just need to be there know:

- we MUST do this play

- we MUST work with this guy / team / etc.

- we MUST be in this segment

Consultants or employees:

the ones looking for a challenge are fishing. Cast a wide net and see what they catch (their publication, their networking activities, their extra curricular activities serve this purpose).

the ones that need to be there are gravitated towards particular clients; the type of clients who also need to be there.

It is a question of identity. There is absolutely no stronger draw, no stronger certainty.

The people who need to be there, will create challenges.

There are  more people looking for challenges.

I’d hire the ones who need to be there /here in a New York minute.\


July 19, 2010 · Filed Under style · Comment 

Style is a critical element of identity, be it organizational or personal: the purpose manifests itself through style.

Since there is no perfect harmony between purpose and style, organizations are always in a state of identity crisis, to some degree.

Organizations without a clear purpose that goes beyond functions (like making profit) obviously act completely undifferentiated.  But organizations with a very clear purpose may also be completely oblivious to how misaligned their style is (be it marketing, communications, branding, leadership etc.), failing to connect with the right minds in the first place and creating an absolutely wrong positioning in the minds of people in general.

A good example of such misalignment is the fund raising style of some non-profits who send people to the streets to talk to/harass everybody walking by. Begging as an analogy comes to mind immediately: does pitiful and calculated sentimentalism do justice to cancer patients?

The other side of the coin is too easy: style discloses a great deal about the purpose of the organization, or the lack thereof:

the process of calling the customer service of a telco for example almost always wastes time, communicates indifference (automation or the monotone voice of the reps who sound like machines), is set up to conceal information, etc.  They create the impression that they are purposefully ill willed. The style speaks volumes about the purpose: we are here to rip you off. If no empirical evidence contradicts this, we are forced to think that this actually IS the purpose of the organization.

Only exceptional organizations are able to align themselves to the purpose and these are organized completely differently from the average ones. Examples: they define cost centres differently (call centres may belong to branding), their roles have different scopes of responsibilities (like chief operating and customer officer, chief strategy and people officer, chief hr and marketing officer, product and customer service manager, CEO and chief recruiting officer, etc., depending on the industry) and of course since more people are positioned where they should be and doing what they are born to do, these organizations are filled with creative tension that results in a high intensity energy that is palpable to everybody who interacts with them.

In short: differentiated organizations have a differentiated style.

The tragi-comedy of customer service

July 11, 2010 · Filed Under style · Comment 

Millions of stories have been written about bad customers service. It would be too easy to write another one, too easy to analyze the details, to pinpoint how they make all the mistakes that are logically possible to make and -with a twisted, reverse-creativity that defies “logic”-  even more.

Recently I filled out a SURVEY! after my interaction with Skype customer service. The last question was: what can we do to improve customer service.

I think there is only one answer and this applies to everybody:



That’s pretty much it.

If customer service doesn’t have the power to do anything but providing information I should know anyways, if they don’t even know the information I know, if they are AUTOMATED, if customer service is performed by minimum wage temps until they find something better,  etc. customer service is a tragi-comedy, nothing more.

The rest is details but these details may provide insight into how the company differentiates itself: should this be done by product developers, marketing folks, strategy guys, god forbid by the CEO once in a while, what kind of organization structure may support such efforts, etc.

image source:

Get out of line!

July 10, 2010 · Filed Under identity based praxis, style · Comment 

By the time we need to get a number we are in line already. There is still a chance of turning back but the CONDITIONS are such, that most of us tend to just take a number; the events leading us to this point are results of us already being a number: taking one is a symbolical act: acceptance and, in the best scenario, resolve to make the best of it within GIVEN CONDITIONS.

Changing the conditions seems like a crazy idea: impossible or at the very least too late.  Why fight it? By getting in line we will win. Some of us more some of us less, but inevitably, we will win. In fact it seems that the only way to lose is by being out of line.  All words of wisdom from within the “line” follow the same patterns:

- get in line

- views,  rules and behaviors in the line

- don’t quit (the line).

Views, rules and behaviors condition us. We adjust. If we rebel, we rebel according to them. If we challenge we do it within the boundaries; but we hardly ever challenge the boundaries.  If we quit, we don’t quit the line; we just quit trying to win more.

What if we are in the wrong line? If we are uneasy about “taking a number”, chances are we are. To be certain we must step out.

At the very minimum:

- we MUST quit the line

- stop acting like insignificant numbers and

- follow our own direction.

Own views; own rules; acts of freedom: autonomy.