May the Forces be with you

Your ability to articulate your vision matters, not just for your team, but for investors too.

Your ability to articulate your vision matters, not just for your team, but for investors too.

As a strategist, it's my job to help my clients outmaneuver their competition.  If the business is undergoing change (and what business isn’t) we typically start by narrowing down the key forces at play, and developing a rock-solid thesis on how they are most likely to play out.  It’s a powerful process, because it helps company leaders develop a compelling vision (to say nothing of driving strategy & innovation).  It has a second benefit too, in that the story is much easier to tell, and that can be particularly helpful if you happen to be raising capital.

I was recently interviewed by Marc Stoiber, for a blog series on pitching investors, and we spent a fair amount of time discussing how and why the ‘forces of change’ need to find their way into your story. 
I think he did a great job of capturing the big ideas:

Form Follows Digital

Apple Shanghai.png

This article (about Apples new head of retail)  is a great read for anyone who follows that sort of thing, but true to form, I got something else out of it.  As many know, I am deeply involved in a new technology for increasing online ROI (think deep search data meets visualization meets "aha"), so I have a passion for online opportunities for all businesses. In that spirit, one particular quote jumped out at me: 

"Digital is not an afterthought. Our design teams design for a landing page and the landing page dictates what the store windows will look like, not the other way round... every pound we spent digitally, we could potentially get ten times the reach that we could get physically."     Angela Ahrendts, Apple's Head of Retail 


Why "THEY" (Google / Apple / Amazon) Do It

The Holy Trio

The Holy Trio

No matter what business you are in, the holy trio (Google, Apple and Amazon) have an enormous impact, yet few people really understand their respective business model's.  In fact, the endless streams of inaccurate &/or misleading information about what they do (and why) is astonishing.  

This post is the best I've seen so far in simplifying their respective business model's, and it achieves that without any technical mumbojumbo... absolutely a worthwhile read.  

The Impact of Encrypted Keywords on SearchDoppler

Lots of controversy in marketing community around Google's recent decision to encrypt search phrase information.  No question it will make it harder to figure out where your site visitors came from, but in terms of where search is heading it doesn't really change much. 

The fact is that people type in a search to find the answer to a question, and search engines are trying to get better at providing quality answers.  Getting a high ranking without providing meaningful answers is not in the users' interest, nor is it in the search engines interest. Of course, to provide meaningful answers, you really do need to understand the question in the first place, and since you can't answer them all, you have to target and you have to put in a lot of work to create quality content.  All of this happens long before someone comes to your site, but the whole trajectory makes it obvious how important targeting is (and if you're targeting anyway, might as well target on the questions that are most attractive to you and your business).  

Encrypting phrases doesn't stop us from targeting strategically because search behavior is still available through the Adwords side of Google.  At search Doppler, we're still able to map out the phrases that define your competitive space, and we can still highlight where there are competitive opportunities, and we can still overlay the map with your placement and that of your competitors, so our ability to target remains unchanged. What this really highlights is why strategic targeting is more important than ever before.


China Doubles Down on CleanTech

I've spent a fair amount of time in China over the past few years, and I can tell you from experience that despite the reports we see out of the US, China has been firmly committed to clean energy for at least 10 years. Their resolve never waivers, and their progress is astounding. So with that backdrop I was not the least surprised to see the official announcement of the expansion of that effort into broader areas of cleantech. 

Reduced Waste = Clean Energy (Go Figure)


While stories about wasted energy are usually a bit depressing (at least for me), this is a very interesting post on converting carbon from power plants back into electricity.  It's not commercial yet, but in my mind it's inevitable.  The law of physics are on our side with this one... all we need now is to make it economical (and how hard could that be;-)


Thesis Driven Investing

Whether it conscious or unconscious, there is always a Thesis behind what we invest our time and money into... I thought this piece was thought provoking and well worth the read.

Full Disclosure - In the spirit of transparency, I should mention that I have a strong bias on this issue.  Over the years we've developed a unique approach to innovation and strategy here at Rampworth, and at its core is a belief that the underlying thesis is the most critical element in any strategy.  To that end, we go to great lengths to help our clients "unpack" their assumptions and develop a shared thesis among key stakeholders.  We firmly believe that the innovations and strategy's that emerge are far more profound than would otherwise be the case.  



This is a great post because it articulates a very powerful idea that is surprisingly underused in business.  It's also a great post because it tells the story of Red Bull (and who doesn't want to hear that, and because it tells it well.  In fact, the site (Medium) is one of my favorites because it is unique (long form content on the web - really) and it is beautiful (and I'm a sucker for proper design) 

Aggregator for Start-up Content


If you're interested in start-up topics, you may want to check out a new source of content.   According to this post by Fred Wilson, the idea is to aggregate and tag blog posts about startup management from all around the web and curate them into a community site focused on educating entrepreneurs on how to be better leaders and managers of their companies.