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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Startup Accelerators have become more popular in Emerging Markets
by Peter Roberts and Randall Kempner


For decades, we have heard that emerging markets are poised for huge growth that will yield even greater prosperity. But a long list of obstacles always seems to be getting in the way of realizing this potential. Startup accelerator programs have been touted as one path to faster progress. Much like their famed Silicon Valley counterparts, emerging market accelerators aim to boost startups’ potential for raising growth capital. We wanted to examine whether the boost that accelerators give in emerging market contexts is different from similar programs in North America or Europe. Our research shows that the effects of acceleration are remarkably similar for entrepreneurs across countries and even continents. Unfortunately, mismatched goals between investors and entrepreneurs as well as a potential cultural bias may both prove to limit the positive effect that accelerators have in emerging market contexts. Regardless, accelerators still have an important role to play that can help position entrepreneurs for success.

When we began collecting data in 2013 to explore differences between startup acceleration in emerging markets and in high-income countries, we expected stark differences. Business environments in most emerging markets are complex and can be difficult for even the most experienced entrepreneur to navigate. So while running any startup is tough, we assumed that launching a new business in Mombasa would be much more difficult than running one in Menlo Park. However, we were surprised to find far fewer differences in the effects of acceleration than we had expected.

Our most recent report with data on over 2,000 ventures from 42 accelerator programs, shows that across country settings, accelerated ventures grow at significantly higher rates compared to ventures that applied but were not accepted into the accelerator program. Surprisingly (to us anyway), the average effects of acceleration on equity and debt raised were nearly identical in emerging market and high-income country contexts.

We were also surprised to find that emerging market ventures are typically older than startups applying to accelerator programs in high-income countries, are earning more revenue, and have hired more employees. Despite this, ventures in high-income countries attract roughly twice as much early stage investment as these promising emerging market ventures. Without acceleration, emerging market ventures are simply not able to attract the investment that is consistent with their underlying promise. And while emerging market accelerators programs are similarly effective at pushing capital into their ventures, acceleration alone is not closing this investment gap.

In interviews, investors in both emerging market and high-income country settings consistently report having more difficulty sourcing quality deals in emerging markets. Nearly all pointed to both the quality of the founding teams and HR risk as important factors — regardless of where the venture is based. However, at least on paper, emerging-market entrepreneurs are just as experienced and committed as high-income country entrepreneurs. In fact, entrepreneurs from emerging-market country contexts typically have the same or higher levels of education, work experience, and prior entrepreneurial experience as their high-income peers at the time of application. Yet, investors still report a lack of commitment and entrepreneurial experience in these entrepreneurs, which they say makes it difficult to invest in some markets compared to others.

Based on these findings, we believe that a main challenge when it comes to spurring early-stage investment in emerging markets may not be the actual quality of entrepreneurs, but perceptions about their quality and potential. Here are some suggestions that might help accelerator programs in those countries to better support these entrepreneurs.

It’s not all about venture funding. Accelerator programs are most successful when they provide the right help to the right people. Our research indicates that many emerging market entrepreneurs prioritize building their skill set or refining their product and marketing strategy over connecting with potential investors. In addition, while they are seeking to grow their businesses (and are investing as much of their own money on average as U.S. entrepreneurs, just over $50,000) they typically seek more modest amounts of outside investment and are not typically working towards an acquisition or IPO.

Accelerators should take the time to understand and align with these entrepreneurs’ needs and recognize that not all startups require venture capital funding right away. The most successful accelerators identify the respective entrepreneur’s specific financing needs rather than assuming that there is one path to success and scale.

When it is about venture funding, hone in on the best matches. When entrepreneurs are ready for investment, accelerators should do the work to make sure the right investors are in the room. They should also ensure that this investor access is more than a cursory pitch. As one entrepreneurship expert suggests, “Pitch sessions might be fun, but curated matchmaking may be more useful.” Accelerators need to understand exactly what investors are looking for and actively match pipeline for them, not just arrange for pitch sessions en masse.

Finding talent is critical. Beyond thoughtful investor introductions, helping entrepreneurs handle hiring and HR is an area where accelerators can be extremely helpful. Accelerators should help start-ups develop a talent strategy alongside their financial strategy. Whether it’s attracting founders or focusing on first hires, it’s important that entrepreneurs have a clear plan to attract and retain the best talent. Organizations like Open Capital Advisors, the Amani InstituteShortlistCreative Metier, and Village Capital are all developing tools to address talent issues in emerging markets, and many of those tools are free or open source.

Acknowledge implicit bias. One of the more complicated issues accelerators need to manage may be investors’ implicit bias. It’s no secret that gender biases affect investment decisions, in both high-income and emerging markets. Investors in emerging markets must also become aware of similar implicit biases that lead them to under-value entrepreneur credentials or misinterpret cross-cultural communication styles. In the latter respect, one of the acceleration experts whom we interviewed said, “We’ve seen that foreign (typically U.S.-based) investors in emerging markets find it easier to invest in expat founders because of cultural ease. They may even overlook key risks — such as lack of work permits or weak business track record — because among expat entrepreneurs the pitch is polished, confidence is high, and there is no language barrier”.

Our previous research corroborates this view. We found that in emerging markets, “transplant” founders raised twice the amount of equity than “local” (native-born) founders had. Other research has shown that for investors evaluating a pitch, business fundamentals matter less than their perception of character and trustworthiness, and the entrepreneur’s openness to feedback. Accelerators should consider modifying the standard pitch-session approach and find ways for the true potential of emerging market ventures to be appreciated.

We are excited by these initial findings. Our research indicates that accelerators have the potential to spur more growth but need to be aware of what can hamper investment in emerging market entrepreneurs. To level the playing field in a global marketplace, accelerators are in a unique position to help investors and entrepreneurs better connect and by doing so combat biased perceptions that cause misalignment in the first place.

Fuente: Harvard Business Review

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    .·. Miguel Ángel MEDINA CASABELLA, MSM, MBA, MHSA .·.
    Especialista Multicultural Global en Management Estratégico, Conducta Organizacional, Gestión del Cambio e Inversiones, graduado en University of California at Berkeley y The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania)
    Consultor en Dirección General de Cultura y Educación de la Provincia de Buenos Aires
    Miembro del Comité EEUU del Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales
    Representante de The George Washington University para LatAm desde 1996
    Ex Director Académico y Profesor de Gestión del Cambio del HSML Program para LatAm en 
    The George Washington University (Washington DC)
    CEO, MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS GROUP LatAm
    TE Oficina: ( 0054) 11 - 3532 - 0510
    TE Móvil (Local): ( 011 ) 15 - 4420 - 5103
    TE Móvil (Int´l): ( 0054) 911 - 4420 - 5103
    Skype: medinacasabella


    MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS GROUP LatAm ©
    (mamc.latam@gmail.com+5411.3532.0510)
    es una Consultora Interdisciplinaria cuya Misión es proveer
    soluciones integrales, eficientes y operativas en todas las áreas vinculadas a:

    Estrategias Multiculturales y Transculturales, Organizacionales y Competitivas,
    Management Estratégico,
    Gestión del Cambio,
    Marketing Estratégico,
    Inversiones,
    Gestión Educativa,
    Capacitación

    de Latino América (LatAm), para los Sectores:

    a) Industria y Servicios,
    b) Universidades y Centros de Capacitación,
    c) ONGs y Gobiernos.

    Friday, November 10, 2017

    Where do Startups start?
    by Evan Rawley


    Frictions in markets and within companies create opportunities for entrepreneurs to unlock value — but not without costs.

    Sometimes a simple tweak can have a profound impact on a business. That’s what three former colleagues found in 2003 when they left the recruitment site Hot Jobs to found their own company, The Ladders. Focusing on emerging mobile technology and reversing Hot Jobs payment model to charge job seekers instead of recruiters, they were able to attract $7.6 million in funding and 5 million registered users in less than a decade, outflanking their former employer.

    Jobs payment model to charge job seekers instead of recruiters, they were able to attract $7.6 million in funding and 5 million registered users in less than a decade, outflanking their former employer.

    “It’s a pretty cool opportunity for a potential entrepreneur when they realize how tied up in knots firms get, often with only the best of intentions,” says Evan Rawley, Associate Professor of Business at Columbia Business School. Company politics and bureaucratic inertia, however, are just one way in which markets can fail to provide value-creating goods and services. “Often,” Rawley says, “firms see that there’s a need for a product or a service in the market, but it’s not trivial to deliver it”.

    In these cases, Rawley continues, “something’s broken in the market. Firms would like somebody else to fix it, so that they can offer the service, but if nobody is going to do it, they have to. The firm has to integrate and provide a number of other services or products in order to solve that one market need.” Examples abound, from the nineteenth century need to develop refrigerated train cars in order to bring meat from the West and produce from the South to the lucrative markets of the Northeast, to Uber’s more recent development of complex queuing, tracking, and pricing software to offer a more efficient modern car service.

    Rawley calls this process “internalizing externalites,” reducing frictions in the target market by tackling tangentially related, and often complex, problems. When undertaken successfully, as in the case of The Ladders or Uber, the process can unlock tremendous value, allowing some entrepreneurs, Rawley says, “to thrive even in areas where there are huge firms with tons of resources and brilliant people”.

    But as Rawley is quick to point out, the process isn’t without peril. From Google’s recent reorganization as Alphabet, to Uber’s push into food delivery, slim, narrowly focused entrepreneurial businesses have a tendency to grow in size and scope as they seek out potential synergies. As these businesses move to internalize additional externalities, they quickly become significantly more complex as new teams enter to address additional challenges. “There’re bureaucracy costs, politics, distractions, misallocations of capital, lack of transparency,” Rawley explains. “Suddenly, there are all these coordination problems internally, and the firm can no longer address new opportunities efficiently.” When that happens, opportunities begin to emerge for new entrepreneurs both outside and within the firm, kicking off a fresh cycle.

    “It’s a dangerous game trying to put together different activities and create synergies,” Rawley cautions. “But it’s the only way to internalize many of these externalities. You have to be careful about evaluating how important an externality is. There are a lot of externalities you could solve, but they might be too expensive for it to be efficient”.

    Fuente: Columbia Business School

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      Consultas al email: mamc.latam@gmail.com
      ó al TE: +5411.3532.0510


      .·. Miguel Ángel MEDINA CASABELLA, MSM, MBA, MHSA .·.
      Especialista Multicultural Global en Management Estratégico, Conducta Organizacional, Gestión del Cambio e Inversiones, graduado en University of California at Berkeley y The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania)
      Consultor en Dirección General de Cultura y Educación de la Provincia de Buenos Aires
      Miembro del Comité EEUU del Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales
      Representante de The George Washington University para LatAm desde 1996
      Ex Director Académico y Profesor de Gestión del Cambio del HSML Program para LatAm en 
      The George Washington University (Washington DC)
      CEO, MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS GROUP LatAm
      TE Oficina: ( 0054) 11 - 3532 - 0510
      TE Móvil (Local): ( 011 ) 15 - 4420 - 5103
      TE Móvil (Int´l): ( 0054) 911 - 4420 - 5103
      Skype: medinacasabella


      MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS GROUP LatAm ©
      (mamc.latam@gmail.com+5411.3532.0510)
      es una Consultora Interdisciplinaria cuya Misión es proveer
      soluciones integrales, eficientes y operativas en todas las áreas vinculadas a:

      Estrategias Multiculturales y Transculturales, Organizacionales y Competitivas,
      Management Estratégico,
      Gestión del Cambio,
      Marketing Estratégico,
      Inversiones,
      Gestión Educativa,
      Capacitación

      de Latino América (LatAm), para los Sectores:

      a) Industria y Servicios,
      b) Universidades y Centros de Capacitación,
      c) ONGs y Gobiernos.

      Thursday, October 26, 2017

      How a Leader can build Psychological Safety
      by Rita Gunther McGrath


      Innovation team members must feel comfortable sharing doubts, mistakes and contrarian views, says WSJ Leadership Expert Rita Gunther McGrath, an associate professor at Columbia Business School and author of “The End of Competitive Advantage: How to KeepYour Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business”.

      The classic image of an effective leader of teams is as a commander—taking charge, setting priorities, driving for results and imposing penalties when people don’t deliver.

      In other words, just the kind of leadership style that you don’t want if you’re trying to create innovative new products or services. The reason is that casting blame, singling people out for praise or punishment and accentuating power differences are all factors that damage the psychological safety people feel within a team.

      As Amy Edmondson and Jeff Polzer observe, “psychological safety describes a climate where people recognize their ability and responsibility to overcome fear and reluctance to speak up with potentially controversial ideas or questions.” If this sense of safety is missing, then concerns, critical information and ideas that diverge from the rest of the team don’t become part of the conversation. Subordinates may not articulate what they don’t know, which—in an innovation project arena—can do a lot of damage.

      If people on your team are reluctant to confess ignorance, voice doubts or challenge a boss’s perspective, the whole process of learning is stunted. What you have to work with is just consensus information that everyone feels comfortable sharing, and will result in a mediocre product.

      For example, I spoke with a team member who was involved in making a choice regarding a mobile-based application aimed at providing financial information to millennials. A huge debate among the team members was whether the app’s interface should use slang, emojis and have a very casual feel, or whether it should be more serious and grown-up in its communication style. Rather than take sides or offer his own opinion, the team leader suggested that they do an experiment. So the team mocked up an inexpensive prototype of the user interface and tested it with a group representative of the target market for the service. What they found surprised them—by far, users preferred the more serious-sounding interface. An initial assumption that young people would be comfortable with a casual tone because that’s how they interact socially was disproved when it came to something as important as their money.

      In many such cases, a decisive boss — the kind of boss who is portrayed as having the ideal characteristics of a leader — would have seen it as his or her responsibility to make the call, shutting down the debate. Had the company then gone to market with the casual interface they would have conceivably bombed or been forced to redo the interface at enormous expense.

      So how can companies offer the psychological safety that is so crucial? Here are some suggestions:
      • Collect people’s opinions on important decisions in writing before you meet to discuss them. This will give them the chance to offer a perspective before they know which way the group is going, and potentially provide you with a richer pool of information than might come up in a typical meeting.
      • Don’t—even nonverbally—reveal which ideas you support until everyone has had a chance to make their perspective known.
      • When there are plausible arguments for multiple choices, try to do an experiment to find out which one works better.
      • Discourage people from working out their differences in pairs or in small groups. If the group is having a disagreement, be open to hearing about it and having the group work through the resolution together.
      • Personally model the tolerant behavior you are trying to encourage.
      • Publicly appreciate when your views are challenged.
      • Make a point of seeking out and respecting the voices of people who have less power or are otherwise different from the bulk of the team.
      • Actively seek dissenting views and encourage your team members to do so too. Beware of shutting people down. Any hint of that kind of behavior on your part and people are likely to retreat to cautious behavior.
      • Create a “no interruption” rule to limit the ability of the loudest or most confident members from dominating the quieter voices.
      • Finally, don’t be afraid to show your own vulnerability and willingness to be open. You might talk about a time you missed something important and failed. You might tell a story about how you took advice from someone far lower down in the hierarchy than yourself, to a good outcome.
      Psychological safety is not just a nice-to-have part of your corporate culture. It’s essential for innovative projects to work.

      Fuente: The Wall Street Journal

      Haciendo click en cada uno de los links siguientes, Contenidos de nuestros 
      TALLERES DE CAPACITACIÓN IN COMPANY, "A MEDIDA" 
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        Consultas al email: mamc.latam@gmail.com
        ó al TE: +5411.3532.0510


        .·. Miguel Ángel MEDINA CASABELLA, MSM, MBA, MHSA .·.
        Especialista Multicultural Global en Management Estratégico, Conducta Organizacional, Gestión del Cambio e Inversiones, graduado en University of California at Berkeley y The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania)
        Consultor en Dirección General de Cultura y Educación de la Provincia de Buenos Aires
        Miembro del Comité EEUU del Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales
        Representante de The George Washington University para LatAm desde 1996
        Ex Director Académico y Profesor de Gestión del Cambio del HSML Program para LatAm en 
        The George Washington University (Washington DC)
        CEO, MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS GROUP LatAm
        TE Oficina: ( 0054) 11 - 3532 - 0510
        TE Móvil (Local): ( 011 ) 15 - 4420 - 5103
        TE Móvil (Int´l): ( 0054) 911 - 4420 - 5103
        Skype: medinacasabella


        MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS GROUP LatAm ©
        (mamc.latam@gmail.com+5411.3532.0510)
        es una Consultora Interdisciplinaria cuya Misión es proveer
        soluciones integrales, eficientes y operativas en todas las áreas vinculadas a:

        Estrategias Multiculturales y Transculturales, Organizacionales y Competitivas,
        Management Estratégico,
        Gestión del Cambio,
        Marketing Estratégico,
        Inversiones,
        Gestión Educativa,
        Capacitación

        de Latino América (LatAm), para los Sectores:

        a) Industria y Servicios,
        b) Universidades y Centros de Capacitación,
        c) ONGs y Gobiernos.

        Friday, October 13, 2017

        The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs
        by Walter Isaacson 


        His saga is the entrepreneurial creation myth writ large: Steve Jobs cofounded Apple in his parents’ garage in 1976, was ousted in 1985, returned to rescue it from near bankruptcy in 1997, and by the time he died, in October 2011, had built it into the world’s most valuable company. Along the way he helped to transform seven industries: personal computing, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, retail stores, and digital publishing. He thus belongs in the pantheon of America’s great innovators, along with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney. None of these men was a saint, but long after their personalities are forgotten, history will remember how they applied imagination to technology and business.

        “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do” — Apple’s “Think Different” commercial, 1997.

        In the months since my biography of Jobs came out, countless commentators have tried to draw management lessons from it. Some of those readers have been insightful, but I think that many of them (especially those with no experience in entrepreneurship) fixate too much on the rough edges of his personality. The essence of Jobs, I think, is that his personality was integral to his way of doing business. He acted as if the normal rules didn’t apply to him, and the passion, intensity, and extreme emotionalism he brought to everyday life were things he also poured into the products he made. His petulance and impatience were part and parcel of his perfectionism.

        One of the last times I saw him, after I had finished writing most of the book, I asked him again about his tendency to be rough on people. “Look at the results”, he replied. “These are all smart people I work with, and any of them could get a top job at another place if they were truly feeling brutalized. But they don’t”. Then he paused for a few moments and said, almost wistfully, “And we got some amazing things done". Indeed, he and Apple had had a string of hits over the past dozen years that was greater than that of any other innovative company in modern times: iMac, iPod, iPod nano, iTunes Store, Apple Stores, MacBook, iPhone, iPad, App Store, OS X Lion—not to mention every Pixar film. And as he battled his final illness, Jobs was surrounded by an intensely loyal cadre of colleagues who had been inspired by him for years and a very loving wife, sister, and four children.

        So I think the real lessons from Steve Jobs have to be drawn from looking at what he actually accomplished. I once asked him what he thought was his most important creation, thinking he would answer the iPad or the Macintosh. Instead he said it was Apple the company. Making an enduring company, he said, was both far harder and more important than making a great product. How did he do it? Business schools will be studying that question a century from now. Here are what I consider the keys to his success.

        Focus

        When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, it was producing a random array of computers and peripherals, including a dozen different versions of the Macintosh. After a few weeks of product review sessions, he’d finally had enough. “Stop!” he shouted. “This is crazy”. He grabbed a Magic Marker, padded in his bare feet to a whiteboard, and drew a two-by-two grid. “Here’s what we need”, he declared. Atop the two columns, he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro.” He labeled the two rows “Desktop” and “Portable.” Their job, he told his team members, was to focus on four great products, one for each quadrant. All other products should be canceled. There was a stunned silence. But by getting Apple to focus on making just four computers, he saved the company. “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do”, he told me. “That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products”.

        After he righted the company, Jobs began taking his “top 100” people on a retreat each year. On the last day, he would stand in front of a whiteboard (he loved whiteboards, because they gave him complete control of a situation and they engendered focus) and ask, “What are the 10 things we should be doing next?”. People would fight to get their suggestions on the list. Jobs would write them down—and then cross off the ones he decreed dumb. After much jockeying, the group would come up with a list of 10. Then Jobs would slash the bottom seven and announce, “We can only do three”.

        Focus was ingrained in Jobs’s personality and had been honed by his Zen training. He relentlessly filtered out what he considered distractions. Colleagues and family members would at times be exasperated as they tried to get him to deal with issues—a legal problem, a medical diagnosis—they considered important. But he would give a cold stare and refuse to shift his laserlike focus until he was ready.

        Near the end of his life, Jobs was visited at home by Larry Page, who was about to resume control of Google, the company he had cofounded. Even though their companies were feuding, Jobs was willing to give some advice. “The main thing I stressed was focus”. he recalled. Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up, he told Page. “It’s now all over the map. What are the five products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest, because they’re dragging you down. They’re turning you into Microsoft. They’re causing you to turn out products that are adequate but not great”. Page followed the advice. In January 2012 he told employees to focus on just a few priorities, such as Android and Google+, and to make them “beautiful”, the way Jobs would have done. 

        Simplify

        Jobs’s Zenlike ability to focus was accompanied by the related instinct to simplify things by zeroing in on their essence and eliminating unnecessary components. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, declared Apple’s first marketing brochure. To see what that means, compare any Apple software with, say, Microsoft Word, which keeps getting uglier and more cluttered with nonintuitive navigational ribbons and intrusive features. It is a reminder of the glory of Apple’s quest for simplicity.

        Jobs learned to admire simplicity when he was working the night shift at Atari as a college dropout. Atari’s games came with no manual and needed to be uncomplicated enough that a stoned freshman could figure them out. The only instructions for its Star Trek game were: “1. Insert quarter. 2. Avoid Klingons.” His love of simplicity in design was refined at design conferences he attended at the Aspen Institute in the late 1970s on a campus built in the Bauhaus style, which emphasized clean lines and functional design devoid of frills or distractions.

        When Jobs visited Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center and saw the plans for a computer that had a graphical user interface and a mouse, he set about making the design both more intuitive (his team enabled the user to drag and drop documents and folders on a virtual desktop) and simpler. For example, the Xerox mouse had three buttons and cost $300; Jobs went to a local industrial design firm and told one of its founders, Dean Hovey, that he wanted a simple, single-button model that cost $15. Hovey complied.

        Jobs aimed for the simplicity that comes from conquering, rather than merely ignoring, complexity. Achieving this depth of simplicity, he realized, would produce a machine that felt as if it deferred to users in a friendly way, rather than challenging them. “It takes a lot of hard work”, he said, “to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions”.

        In Jony Ive, Apple’s industrial designer, Jobs met his soul mate in the quest for deep rather than superficial simplicity. They knew that simplicity is not merely a minimalist style or the removal of clutter. In order to eliminate screws, buttons, or excess navigational screens, it was necessary to understand profoundly the role each element played. “To be truly simple, you have to go really deep,” Ive explained. “For example, to have no screws on something, you can end up having a product that is so convoluted and so complex. The better way is to go deeper with the simplicity, to understand everything about it and how it’s manufactured”.

        During the design of the iPod interface, Jobs tried at every meeting to find ways to cut clutter. He insisted on being able to get to whatever he wanted in three clicks. One navigation screen, for example, asked users whether they wanted to search by song, album, or artist. “Why do we need that screen?” Jobs demanded. The designers realized they didn’t. “There would be times when we’d rack our brains on a user interface problem, and he would go, ‘Did you think of this?’” says Tony Fadell, who led the iPod team. “And then we’d all go, ‘Holy shit.’ He’d redefine the problem or approach, and our little problem would go away.” At one point Jobs made the simplest of all suggestions: Let’s get rid of the on/off button. At first the team members were taken aback, but then they realized the button was unnecessary. The device would gradually power down if it wasn’t being used and would spring to life when reengaged.

        Likewise, when Jobs was shown a cluttered set of proposed navigation screens for iDVD, which allowed users to burn video onto a disk, he jumped up and drew a simple rectangle on a whiteboard. “Here’s the new application,” he said. “It’s got one window. You drag your video into the window. Then you click the button that says ‘Burn.’ That’s it. That’s what we’re going to make”.

        In looking for industries or categories ripe for disruption, Jobs always asked who was making products more complicated than they should be. In 2001 portable music players and ways to acquire songs online fit that description, leading to the iPod and the iTunes Store. Mobile phones were next. Jobs would grab a phone at a meeting and rant (correctly) that nobody could possibly figure out how to navigate half the features, including the address book. At the end of his career he was setting his sights on the television industry, which had made it almost impossible for people to click on a simple device to watch what they wanted when they wanted. 

        Take Responsibility End to End

        Jobs knew that the best way to achieve simplicity was to make sure that hardware, software, and peripheral devices were seamlessly integrated. An Apple ecosystem—an iPod connected to a Mac with iTunes software, for example—allowed devices to be simpler, syncing to be smoother, and glitches to be rarer. The more complex tasks, such as making new playlists, could be done on the computer, allowing the iPod to have fewer functions and buttons.

        Jobs and Apple took end-to-end responsibility for the user experience—something too few companies do. From the performance of the ARM microprocessor in the iPhone to the act of buying that phone in an Apple Store, every aspect of the customer experience was tightly linked together. Both Microsoft in the 1980s and Google in the past few years have taken a more open approach that allows their operating systems and software to be used by various hardware manufacturers. That has sometimes proved the better business model. But Jobs fervently believed that it was a recipe for (to use his technical term) crappier products. “People are busy”, he said. “They have other things to do than think about how to integrate their computers and devices”.

        Being in the Apple ecosystem could be as sublime as walking in one of the Zen gardens of Kyoto that Jobs loved.

        Part of Jobs’s compulsion to take responsibility for what he called “the whole widget” stemmed from his personality, which was very controlling. But it was also driven by his passion for perfection and making elegant products. He got hives, or worse, when contemplating the use of great Apple software on another company’s uninspired hardware, and he was equally allergic to the thought that unapproved apps or content might pollute the perfection of an Apple device. It was an approach that did not always maximize short-term profits, but in a world filled with junky devices, inscrutable error messages, and annoying interfaces, it led to astonishing products marked by delightful user experiences. Being in the Apple ecosystem could be as sublime as walking in one of the Zen gardens of Kyoto that Jobs loved, and neither experience was created by worshipping at the altar of openness or by letting a thousand flowers bloom. Sometimes it’s nice to be in the hands of a control freak.

        When Behind, Leapfrog

        The mark of an innovative company is not only that it comes up with new ideas first. It also knows how to leapfrog when it finds itself behind. That happened when Jobs built the original iMac. He focused on making it useful for managing a user’s photos and videos, but it was left behind when dealing with music. People with PCs were downloading and swapping music and then ripping and burning their own CDs. The iMac’s slot drive couldn’t burn CDs. “I felt like a dope,” he said. “I thought we had missed it”.

        But instead of merely catching up by upgrading the iMac’s CD drive, he decided to create an integrated system that would transform the music industry. The result was the combination of iTunes, the iTunes Store, and the iPod, which allowed users to buy, share, manage, store, and play music better than they could with any other devices.

        After the iPod became a huge success, Jobs spent little time relishing it. Instead he began to worry about what might endanger it. One possibility was that mobile phone makers would start adding music players to their handsets. So he cannibalized iPod sales by creating the iPhone. “If we don’t cannibalize ourselves, someone else will”, he said.

        Put Products Before Profits

        When Jobs and his small team designed the original Macintosh, in the early 1980s, his injunction was to make it “insanely great”. He never spoke of profit maximization or cost trade-offs. “Don’t worry about price, just specify the computer’s abilities”, he told the original team leader. At his first retreat with the Macintosh team, he began by writing a maxim on his whiteboard: “Don’t compromise”. The machine that resulted cost too much and led to Jobs’s ouster from Apple. But the Macintosh also “put a dent in the universe”, as he said, by accelerating the home computer revolution. And in the long run he got the balance right: Focus on making the product great and the profits will follow.

        John Sculley, who ran Apple from 1983 to 1993, was a marketing and sales executive from Pepsi. He focused more on profit maximization than on product design after Jobs left, and Apple gradually declined. “I have my own theory about why decline happens at companies,” Jobs told me: They make some great products, but then the sales and marketing people take over the company, because they are the ones who can juice up profits. “When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off. It happened at Apple when Sculley came in, which was my fault, and it happened when Ballmer took over at Microsoft”.

        When Jobs returned, he shifted Apple’s focus back to making innovative products: the sprightly iMac, the PowerBook, and then the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. As he explained, “My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that was what allowed you to make great products. But the products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything—the people you hire, who gets promoted, what you discuss in meetings”.

        Don’t Be a Slave To Focus Groups

        When Jobs took his original Macintosh team on its first retreat, one member asked whether they should do some market research to see what customers wanted. “No,” Jobs replied, “because customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them". He invoked Henry Ford’s line “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse'!”

        Caring deeply about what customers want is much different from continually asking them what they want; it requires intuition and instinct about desires that have not yet formed. “Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page,” Jobs explained. Instead of relying on market research, he honed his version of empathy—an intimate intuition about the desires of his customers. He developed his appreciation for intuition—feelings that are based on accumulated experiential wisdom—while he was studying Buddhism in India as a college dropout. “The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do; they use their intuition instead,” he recalled. “Intuition is a very powerful thing—more powerful than intellect, in my opinion”.

        Sometimes that meant that Jobs used a one-person focus group: himself. He made products that he and his friends wanted. For example, there were many portable music players around in 2000, but Jobs felt they were all lame, and as a music fanatic he wanted a simple device that would allow him to carry a thousand songs in his pocket. “We made the iPod for ourselves,” he said, “and when you’re doing something for yourself, or your best friend or family, you’re not going to cheese out”.

        Bend Reality

        Jobs’s (in)famous ability to push people to do the impossible was dubbed by colleagues his Reality Distortion Field, after an episode of Star Trek in which aliens create a convincing alternative reality through sheer mental force. An early example was when Jobs was on the night shift at Atari and pushed Steve Wozniak to create a game called Breakout. Woz said it would take months, but Jobs stared at him and insisted he could do it in four days. Woz knew that was impossible, but he ended up doing it.

        Jobs’s (in)famous ability to push people to do the impossible was dubbed by colleagues his Reality Distortion Field, after an episode of Star Trek.

        Those who did not know Jobs interpreted the Reality Distortion Field as a euphemism for bullying and lying. But those who worked with him admitted that the trait, infuriating as it might be, led them to perform extraordinary feats. Because Jobs felt that life’s ordinary rules didn’t apply to him, he could inspire his team to change the course of computer history with a small fraction of the resources that Xerox or IBM had. “It was a self-fulfilling distortion,” recalls Debi Coleman, a member of the original Mac team who won an award one year for being the employee who best stood up to Jobs. “You did the impossible because you didn’t realize it was impossible”.

        One day Jobs marched into the cubicle of Larry Kenyon, the engineer who was working on the Macintosh operating system, and complained that it was taking too long to boot up. Kenyon started to explain why reducing the boot-up time wasn’t possible, but Jobs cut him off. “If it would save a person’s life, could you find a way to shave 10 seconds off the boot time?” he asked. Kenyon allowed that he probably could. Jobs went to a whiteboard and showed that if five million people were using the Mac and it took 10 seconds extra to turn it on every day, that added up to 300 million or so hours a year—the equivalent of at least 100 lifetimes a year. After a few weeks Kenyon had the machine booting up 28 seconds faster.

        When Jobs was designing the iPhone, he decided that he wanted its face to be a tough, scratchproof glass, rather than plastic. He met with Wendell Weeks, the CEO of Corning, who told him that Corning had developed a chemical exchange process in the 1960s that led to what it dubbed “Gorilla glass.” Jobs replied that he wanted a major shipment of Gorilla glass in six months. Weeks said that Corning was not making the glass and didn’t have that capacity. “Don’t be afraid,” Jobs replied. This stunned Weeks, who was unfamiliar with Jobs’s Reality Distortion Field. He tried to explain that a false sense of confidence would not overcome engineering challenges, but Jobs had repeatedly shown that he didn’t accept that premise. He stared unblinking at Weeks. “Yes, you can do it,” he said. “Get your mind around it. You can do it.” Weeks recalls that he shook his head in astonishment and then called the managers of Corning’s facility in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, which had been making LCD displays, and told them to convert immediately to making Gorilla glass full-time. “We did it in under six months,” he says. “We put our best scientists and engineers on it, and we just made it work.” As a result, every piece of glass on an iPhone or an iPad is made in America by Corning. 

        Impute

        Jobs’s early mentor Mike Markkula wrote him a memo in 1979 that urged three principles. The first two were “empathy” and “focus.” The third was an awkward word, “impute,” but it became one of Jobs’s key doctrines. He knew that people form an opinion about a product or a company on the basis of how it is presented and packaged. “Mike taught me that people do judge a book by its cover,” he told me.

        When he was getting ready to ship the Macintosh in 1984, he obsessed over the colors and design of the box. Similarly, he personally spent time designing and redesigning the jewellike boxes that cradle the iPod and the iPhone and listed himself on the patents for them. He and Ive believed that unpacking was a ritual like theater and heralded the glory of the product. “When you open the box of an iPhone or iPad, we want that tactile experience to set the tone for how you perceive the product”, Jobs said.

        Sometimes Jobs used the design of a machine to “impute” a signal rather than to be merely functional. For example, when he was creating the new and playful iMac, after his return to Apple, he was shown a design by Ive that had a little recessed handle nestled in the top. It was more semiotic than useful. This was a desktop computer. Not many people were really going to carry it around. But Jobs and Ive realized that a lot of people were still intimidated by computers. If it had a handle, the new machine would seem friendly, deferential, and at one’s service. The handle signaled permission to touch the iMac. The manufacturing team was opposed to the extra cost, but Jobs simply announced, “No, we’re doing this.” He didn’t even try to explain.

        Push for Perfection

        During the development of almost every product he ever created, Jobs at a certain point “hit the pause button” and went back to the drawing board because he felt it wasn’t perfect. That happened even with the movie Toy Story.After Jeff Katzenberg and the team at Disney, which had bought the rights to the movie, pushed the Pixar team to make it edgier and darker, Jobs and the director, John Lasseter, finally stopped production and rewrote the story to make it friendlier. When he was about to launch Apple Stores, he and his store guru, Ron Johnson, suddenly decided to delay everything a few months so that the stores’ layouts could be reorganized around activities and not just product categories.

        The same was true for the iPhone. The initial design had the glass screen set into an aluminum case. One Monday morning Jobs went over to see Ive. “I didn’t sleep last night,” he said, “because I realized that I just don’t love it.” Ive, to his dismay, instantly saw that Jobs was right. “I remember feeling absolutely embarrassed that he had to make the observation,” he says. The problem was that the iPhone should have been all about the display, but in its current design the case competed with the display instead of getting out of the way. The whole device felt too masculine, task-driven, efficient. “Guys, you’ve killed yourselves over this design for the last nine months, but we’re going to change it,” Jobs told Ive’s team. “We’re all going to have to work nights and weekends, and if you want, we can hand out some guns so you can kill us now.” Instead of balking, the team agreed. “It was one of my proudest moments at Apple”, Jobs recalled.

        A similar thing happened as Jobs and Ive were finishing the iPad. At one point Jobs looked at the model and felt slightly dissatisfied. It didn’t seem casual and friendly enough to scoop up and whisk away. They needed to signal that you could grab it with one hand, on impulse. They decided that the bottom edge should be slightly rounded, so that a user would feel comfortable just snatching it up rather than lifting it carefully. That meant engineering had to design the necessary connection ports and buttons in a thin, simple lip that sloped away gently underneath. Jobs delayed the product until the change could be made.

        Jobs’s perfectionism extended even to the parts unseen. As a young boy, he had helped his father build a fence around their backyard, and he was told they had to use just as much care on the back of the fence as on the front. “Nobody will ever know”, Steve said. His father replied, “But you will know”. A true craftsman uses a good piece of wood even for the back of a cabinet against the wall, his father explained, and they should do the same for the back of the fence. It was the mark of an artist to have such a passion for perfection. In overseeing the Apple II and the Macintosh, Jobs applied this lesson to the circuit board inside the machine. In both instances he sent the engineers back to make the chips line up neatly so the board would look nice. This seemed particularly odd to the engineers of the Macintosh, because Jobs had decreed that the machine be tightly sealed. “Nobody is going to see the PC board,” one of them protested. Jobs reacted as his father had: “I want it to be as beautiful as possible, even if it’s inside the box. A great carpenter isn’t going to use lousy wood for the back of a cabinet, even though nobody’s going to see it.” They were true artists, he said, and should act that way. And once the board was redesigned, he had the engineers and other members of the Macintosh team sign their names so that they could be engraved inside the case. “Real artists sign their work”, he said.

        Tolerate Only “A” Players

        Jobs was famously impatient, petulant, and tough with the people around him. But his treatment of people, though not laudable, emanated from his passion for perfection and his desire to work with only the best. It was his way of preventing what he called “the bozo explosion,” in which managers are so polite that mediocre people feel comfortable sticking around. “I don’t think I run roughshod over people,” he said, “but if something sucks, I tell people to their face. It’s my job to be honest.” When I pressed him on whether he could have gotten the same results while being nicer, he said perhaps so. “But it’s not who I am,” he said. “Maybe there’s a better way—a gentlemen’s club where we all wear ties and speak in this Brahmin language and velvet code words—but I don’t know that way, because I am middle-class from California”.

        Was all his stormy and abusive behavior necessary? Probably not. There were other ways he could have motivated his team. “Steve’s contributions could have been made without so many stories about him terrorizing folks”, Apple’s cofounder, Wozniak, said. “I like being more patient and not having so many conflicts. I think a company can be a good family”. But then he added something that is undeniably true: “If the Macintosh project had been run my way, things probably would have been a mess”.

        It’s important to appreciate that Jobs’s rudeness and roughness were accompanied by an ability to be inspirational. He infused Apple employees with an abiding passion to create groundbreaking products and a belief that they could accomplish what seemed impossible. And we have to judge him by the outcome. Jobs had a close-knit family, and so it was at Apple: His top players tended to stick around longer and be more loyal than those at other companies, including ones led by bosses who were kinder and gentler. CEOs who study Jobs and decide to emulate his roughness without understanding his ability to generate loyalty make a dangerous mistake.

        “I’ve learned over the years that when you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them,” Jobs told me. “By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. Ask any member of that Mac team. They will tell you it was worth the pain.” Most of them do. “He would shout at a meeting, ‘You asshole, you never do anything right,’” Debi Coleman recalls. “Yet I consider myself the absolute luckiest person in the world to have worked with him.”

        Engage Face-to-Face

        Despite being a denizen of the digital world, or maybe because he knew all too well its potential to be isolating, Jobs was a strong believer in face-to-face meetings. “There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by e-mail and iChat,” he told me. “That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas”.

        He had the Pixar building designed to promote unplanned encounters and collaborations. “If a building doesn’t encourage that, you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity,” he said. “So we designed the building to make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium with people they might not otherwise see.” The front doors and main stairs and corridors all led to the atrium; the café and the mailboxes were there; the conference rooms had windows that looked out onto it; and the 600-seat theater and two smaller screening rooms all spilled into it. “Steve’s theory worked from day one,” Lasseter recalls. “I kept running into people I hadn’t seen for months. I’ve never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one”.

        Jobs hated formal presentations, but he loved freewheeling face-to-face meetings. He gathered his executive team every week to kick around ideas without a formal agenda, and he spent every Wednesday afternoon doing the same with his marketing and advertising team. Slide shows were banned. “I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking,” Jobs recalled. “People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint”.

        Know Both the Big Picture and the Details

        Jobs’s passion was applied to issues both large and minuscule. Some CEOs are great at vision; others are managers who know that God is in the details. Jobs was both. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes says that one of Jobs’s salient traits was his ability and desire to envision overarching strategy while also focusing on the tiniest aspects of design. For example, in 2000 he came up with the grand vision that the personal computer should become a “digital hub” for managing all of a user’s music, videos, photos, and content, and thus got Apple into the personal-device business with the iPod and then the iPad. In 2010 he came up with the successor strategy—the “hub” would move to the cloud—and Apple began building a huge server farm so that all a user’s content could be uploaded and then seamlessly synced to other personal devices. But even as he was laying out these grand visions, he was fretting over the shape and color of the screws inside the iMac.

        Combine the Humanities with the Sciences

        “I always thought of myself as a humanities person as a kid, but I liked electronics,” Jobs told me on the day he decided to cooperate on a biography. “Then I read something that one of my heroes, Edwin Land of Polaroid, said about the importance of people who could stand at the intersection of humanities and sciences, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.” It was as if he was describing the theme of his life, and the more I studied him, the more I realized that this was, indeed, the essence of his tale.

        No one else in our era could better firewire together poetry and processors in a way that jolted innovation.

        He connected the humanities to the sciences, creativity to technology, arts to engineering. There were greater technologists (Wozniak, Gates), and certainly better designers and artists. But no one else in our era could better firewire together poetry and processors in a way that jolted innovation. And he did it with an intuitive feel for business strategy. At almost every product launch over the past decade, Jobs ended with a slide that showed a sign at the intersection of Liberal Arts and Technology Streets.

        The creativity that can occur when a feel for both the humanities and the sciences exists in one strong personality was what most interested me in my biographies of Franklin and Einstein, and I believe that it will be a key to building innovative economies in the 21st century. It is the essence of applied imagination, and it’s why both the humanities and the sciences are critical for any society that is to have a creative edge in the future.

        Even when he was dying, Jobs set his sights on disrupting more industries. He had a vision for turning textbooks into artistic creations that anyone with a Mac could fashion and craft—something that Apple announced in January 2012. He also dreamed of producing magical tools for digital photography and ways to make television simple and personal. Those, no doubt, will come as well. And even though he will not be around to see them to fruition, his rules for success helped him build a company that not only will create these and other disruptive products, but will stand at the intersection of creativity and technology as long as Jobs’s DNA persists at its core.

        Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

        Steve Jobs was a product of the two great social movements that emanated from the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s. The first was the counterculture of hippies and antiwar activists, which was marked by psychedelic drugs, rock music, and antiauthoritarianism. The second was the high-tech and hacker culture of Silicon Valley, filled with engineers, geeks, wireheads, phreakers, cyberpunks, hobbyists, and garage entrepreneurs. Overlying both were various paths to personal enlightenment—Zen and Hinduism, meditation and yoga, primal scream therapy and sensory deprivation, Esalen and est.

        An admixture of these cultures was found in publications such as Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog. On its first cover was the famous picture of Earth taken from space, and its subtitle was “access to tools.” The underlying philosophy was that technology could be our friend. Jobs—who became a hippie, a rebel, a spiritual seeker, a phone phreaker, and an electronic hobbyist all wrapped into one—was a fan. He was particularly taken by the final issue, which came out in 1971, when he was still in high school. He took it with him to college and then to the apple farm commune where he lived after dropping out. He later recalled: “On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: ‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.’” Jobs stayed hungry and foolish throughout his career by making sure that the business and engineering aspect of his personality was always complemented by a hippie nonconformist side from his days as an artistic, acid-dropping, enlightenment-seeking rebel. In every aspect of his life—the women he dated, the way he dealt with his cancer diagnosis, the way he ran his business—his behavior reflected the contradictions, confluence, and eventual synthesis of all these varying strands.

        Even as Apple became corporate, Jobs asserted his rebel and counterculture streak in its ads, as if to proclaim that he was still a hacker and a hippie at heart. The famous “1984” ad showed a renegade woman outrunning the thought police to sling a sledgehammer at the screen of an Orwellian Big Brother. And when he returned to Apple, Jobs helped write the text for the “Think Different” ads: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes…” If there was any doubt that, consciously or not, he was describing himself, he dispelled it with the last lines: “While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do”.

        Fuente: Harvard Business Review

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          .·. Miguel Ángel MEDINA CASABELLA, MSM, MBA, MHSA .·.
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