My Mission

“Where are the profit pools of tomorrow (read in 10 years from now)?” A couple of years ago I received this mission from my CEO and set out to discover those profit pools. Easier said than done.

Nevertheless here are the ingredients of a profit pool analysis: one portion of market intelligence (i.e. some 25-30 interviews), one portion of historical data on price and production cost development, three portions of excel model, and a dash of brave extrapolation. The mission was completed within 3 weeks.

Did we secure those profit pools for our company? That is the ultimate question; you all want to know the answer. The truth is: I can’t tell you, as the 10 years are not over yet.

In my point of view business development is always two-fold: yes you need to have a strong vision of the future, bold targets worth to put in additional energy, in the story above these are the future profit pools. And you need your team, the organization to go after those targets and fulfill your vision.

My mission is to enable the organization and support the team. Best I can do is being part of the endeavor and leading the team towards those new continents rather than waving the sailing ships goodbye and hoping they will return one day with glorious news.

It all summarizes in my favorite motto “Think global – act local”.

I’m more than happy to discuss the topic of business development. Looking forward to getting to know you.

Think global, act local – Leading Change

Let me share a story that happened some years ago. We met a group of Chinese investors. They loved our concept and were willing to implement it in China; opening 100 stores in the first year… Isn’t that great? That is fantastic. Back home, we presented it to our board. The feedback we received was: “Who’s gonna run the show?”

It’s a people-thing. In the end, every business development initiative comes back to people and to change. If you could continue business as usual, you wouldn’t have to worry about anything. So there wouldn’t be a need to develop your business.

Think global. If we don’t think out of the box, we don’t see new opportunities, in the above story the new market China. We are not yet there. We don’t have a team to enter the market, identify appropriate locations, manage the building and get the business running. Is this reason enough to stop thinking about it? – Short period of silence… Now you need somebody to shout out “No!”

Act local. Let’s pretend somebody did you the favor. Now keep on going. As we don’t have the team yet to enter a new market, we have to build it up. Find the people – this can be existing members of your organization or external – who are willing to go on a new endeavor. It is more important that they are keen on doing something new rather than that they have 10+ years experience in entering new markets. Set up the team and offer all support they need. Stay to your word.

This is a transformation. For sure entering a new market – and doing business on a different continent with an expansion speed beyond everything that is known in your business – what else can it be than a major transformation? And thinking about a new opportunity in this way “Let’s set up a team and support them as much as possible.” In contrast to the implicit No of “Who’s gonna run the show?” This is a transformation, too.

Change comes in different flavors and for different reasons. The flavors can be anything from changing the work environment, changing behavior, changing skills to changing doctrine and changing personality. I first discovered them in the book “Führungsstark im Wandel” by Alexander Groth.

In the end it is always the Think global – act local principle. First you have to think, then you have to act.

Under Pressure

Today is your day. You literally felt a foot taller when you woke up this morning. The sun is shining, the coffee seems to put more energy into your system and it even tastes better. In 4 hours you are going to present the market entrance strategy for Brazil to the board. The project you have been working on with your team the last 3 months. The board will be thrilled and excited you know that. Nothing is going to stop you.

When you left your office yesterday evening everything was fine, the presentation was set, you read through it and double checked the footnotes. Your team just received an update on the latest market figures and some details on the competition from you local Brazilian consultant. They wanted to come early today and incorporate the latest figures into the presentation. Easy task, nothing to worry about.

You enter your office and you can feel the tense. Something is wrong. Your assistant approaches you: “I’m so sorry. We somehow lost the latest versions of the presentation. While putting in the latest data and mailing the presentation round in the team, somehow we have overwritten the latest version with an older version from two days ago. We don’t have a backup…”

That’s it. Say goodbye to the day of your life. Now it’s time for fire fighting. It immediately pops into your head: Sam has to check the introduction, market description and next stes, he can type into the computer your latest handwritten notes. They must be still on your desk. Go, go, go… – But please halt for a moment and think again: People under pressure don’t work better; they just work faster (Tom DeMarco, Author and Speaker on Software Engineering).

This is because pressure directly triggers our crocodile brain and blocks all what comes next from advancing to our neocortex; that’s where we have the problem-solving ability, reasoning and all the power to handle complex situations like this one. The crocodile brain handles the survival situations: fight or flight. That’s is not what you want and need in this situation.

So you need to calm down the situation. That’s the best you can do for your team and for the presentation. What options do you have? Find the latest version available and check shortly if you can use it instead. And there are still 2 hours left to make some adjustments based on your handwritten notes. What about the printout you have in your bag. You could scan it and present the scanned pdf.

Did you ever consider giving a presentation without ppt on the projector? This is the ultimate chance to do it. You have the entire storyline on your printout. Let’s surprise the board with a totally different performance. Tell them your story, the main things and write key messages and numbers on the flipchart. And promise the detailed project documentation by the end of tomorrow. Then there is enough time to have it rebuild by your team.

I’m sure there are many more options. The common denominator is don’t put pressure on your team. Calm down the situation and let them do their best work on a relaxed basis. Make a difference! They will notice and be grateful for your leadership.

What is in it for me?

Following the “What is in it for me?” attitude. Everyone asks himself “Why should I change? Why should I be part of this change initiative?”

There is a threat in each and every change: It could be worse than today. That is the ultimate reason why a clear vision is one of the success factors of a change project.

Ein jeder Wechsel schreckt den Glücklichen: Wo kein Gewinn zu hoffen, droht Verlust. (Friedrich Schiller – Die Braut von Messina)