Who is your customer?

Every business at every stage must be able to answer two questions: What do you want?Who is your customer? I’ve written about vision recently. Vision is essential because it focuses your attention. Where you focus your attention creates your world. Knowing your customer is also essential. But surprisingly, in all their day-to-day busyness, companies can easily forget exactly who they are trying to serve. The art and science of customer segmentation can get a bit complicated, but there’s a simple framework I’ve been using with enterprise, SMB, nonprofit, and startup clients for the past few years that seems to work…

When your business needs vision

Unless you’re a serial entrepreneur, a lack of vision can be hard to diagnose. Here are the top three signs your organization has a vision problem: You don’t know how to filter the multiple good opportunities before you.You don’t know what big risk to take next.Your top priority is preserving the existing system. Vision is a goal. It is not a story, an idea, or plan. It is not a means to an end—it is the end itself. All systems are dynamic, so visions once achieved can’t be maintained forever without new risks, new goals—in other words, new vision. Is…

Resilience, innovation, lean startups

Resilience Resilience isn’t a concept you hear mentioned in too many boardrooms yet, but I think it’s a useful frame for conversation across many industries and endeavors. Resilience refers to a system’s ability to survive major shocks and spontaneously generate new order afterwards—like a forest recovering from a fire. The characteristics of resilient systems include redundancy, modularity, diversity, complexity, and emergence— all poor fits for many of the institutions and infrastructures we’ve been collectively building since WWII. Resilience can be described as a necessary response to predictable system shocks like peak oil, economic collapse, and the global and local impacts…

Networks, communities, tribes, cults

You are a change agent with an idea, and you need others to bring it to life. What kind of group do you create? You are a chief marketing officer who wants to nurture relationships with several external constituencies. Which digital tools will best support you? You are an entrepreneur who has built or inherited a group. How do you optimize and scale your organization to achieve its ends? I am fascinated by different models for organizing human activity. I think we instinctively categorize groups based on their intentions, geography, history, or legal status. But if we instead focus on…

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