Newsletter – June, 2019

On My Mind: Business isn’t what it used to be. I was taught early in my business career that making a profit was essential to running a successful business. The thought that a money losing business was acceptable would have been laughable unless it was an early-stage business. My how times have changed. Two tech companies recently published their quarterly financial figures and both companies lost an unbelievable amount of money. Some investors and executives seem more interested in accelerating revenue growth and rapidly building-to-scale instead of profit. Under what conditions would running the business in the red be sustainable over the long-term? I’ll be watching those companies closely in the next few quarters to see if they go from red to black. Interesting Stories: “I never thought of that!” Art on the Lake is an annual event in Excelsior, Minnesota where artists showcase and sell their work. I inevitably see something innovative every year and this year was no exception. I once heard a definition of art as “common objects arranged in an uncommon way.” Three items caught my eye this year – they were simple and yet they were new and profound to me. In retrospect I thought: “It was so obvious – Why didn’t I think of that?” But I didn’t. Whenever you are stuck or need some fresh thinking, then visit an art museum or an art fair and be prepared to be surprised. Company News: I attended DATA TECH 2019 sponsored by MinneAnalytics on May 30, 2019 at the Normandale Partnership Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. It was another great MinneAnalytics event. The next public Strategic Improvement Systems, LLC courses for the Spring/Summer time frame are the following: Advances in Strategic Planning will be held June 20, 2019. Strategic Improvement Master Black Belt starts August 14, 2019; Strategic Improvement Green Belt starts in September (dates TBD); and Strategic Improvement Black Belt starts in November (dates TBD). The brochures for these courses will be available the end of June on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website. Intriguing Reads: The Business of Platforms: Strategy in the Age of Digital Competition, Innovation, and Power by Cusumano, Gawer, and Yoffie is an excellent book on the relatively new business phenomenon: platform companies. The authors provide numerous examples of platform companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Salesforce, Tencent, etc.) and they describe in good detail both transaction and innovation platforms. I especially liked Chapter 3 on Strategy and Business Models and Chapter 4 on Common Mistakes. If you want to learn more about platforms, then this book is where I would start.