It’s not that difficult to be an expert on yesterday. The way it was done. The story of who won and why, or even the implementation of the known formula that works (worked?). Experts on yesterday have the rational and believable viewpoint. They can support their position on that pesky little thing called evidence. Of course evidence is always historical. We tend to find experts on yesterday in senior positions in organisations and they tend to proliferate and thrive in legacy industries. Places where protecting revenue is more important than growing it.

Ironically there is no such thing as an expert on tomorrow. There can only be viewpoints on possibilities and the willingness to experiment with those possibilities. What this means, is that the ideas presented by the tomorrow guy are often met with doubt and even derision. I guess we should expect this because most of what they predict simply wont happen. Statistically the tomorrow crew will be wrong more times than they are right. But within those ten crazy ideas they present one of them is usually what eventuates. And this is the time when what works quickly becomes what worked. Just ask Kodak management.

One thing I know for sure, is that experts on yesterday rarely invent tomorrow, and in times of significant change it pays to have a couple of tomorrow guys in your corner.


The Open Shop

One of the things I really dig on the web, is how easy it is to self educate from various respected sources. One of my favourite forums is tuning in to at Google Talks. A Youtube channel Google has set up where they share internal education events with anyone who cares to watch. Amazing talks at great cost to Google no doubt, from global thought leaders including, authors, scientists, entertainers, entrepreneurs et al and everyone’s favourite price – zero. While this might seem inconsequential and the norm these days, it is a significant shift from the theory of the firm. I could never imagine industrial era companies (think factories and brands on supermarket shelves) sharing their investment in staff education with the general public. I couldn’t imagine industrial era companies putting their value systems on display via ‘whom they choose’ to come into their building. No, they’d much prefer to make donations to both political parties and take a by partisan view of most everything. In fact, I can’t imagine industrial era companies sharing anything that the competition might see and take advantage or insight from. And they certainly wouldn’t invest in anything that anyone other than their shareholders would benefit from.

While it’s clear that the operating structure of digital businesses is different, let’s consider for a moment the open sharing protocols we witness from leading web shops. The ability of tweets to feed into facebook and vice versa. How Youtube allows the embedding of any video into any website. In many ways it’s like mixed multi-packs of Coke and Pepsi. It’s a fundamental shift in how business is being done. While all companies have relationships with their supply chain, it’s very rare indeed for Industrial era companies to do direct business with their most ardent competitors. We’ve now entered the Open Shop Era – where those who share, and open up certain parts of their back room get the benefit of others peoples thinking and output. It’s hard to imagine business becoming anything but more open, accessible and less secretive. Personally, I feel as though this is part of our species evolution to a form of collective sentience and community based assets.

If companies from the TV Industrial complex want to survive the upheaval, then maybe it’s time they opened up their R&D lab, their factory, and started co-opting with their competitors. After all, isn’t Facebook just a 2.0 Kodak moment?


Maxibon Manchew – Radvertising

This is the best advertising I’ve seen so far this year. Really love the concept and the execution. Made me hungry.


If you’re going to advertise your startup then I reckon we can learn something form the radvertising above. And the lesson is this:

Don’t get lost in the middle. Go as close the edge as possible. Make outrageous tongue in check claims and be hilarious, or be 100% authentic and truthful. Everything in the middle of either of these two extreme edges is simply, wallpaper.


The art of iteration – coffee

Iterating in business is an art form. It’s how we grow and find a path to establish the features that matter. It’s not about more, it’s about finding what works, which means that as we morph and change, certain features must be sacrificed, left or or purposely cut off. Nature exemplifies this. Nature takes time to roll out new features, and is well prepared to sacrifice old ones which no longer pay their way. Nature takes years to develop the perfect mix, but is in a constant state of evolution.

The coffee market has been one of the most interesting category evolutions we’ve seen in the past decade or so. Especially given the drink has been around thousands of years. What’s most interesting is that it was a commodity market at brand and retail level for the largest part of the past 60 years. Granules in a tin which one mixes with boiling hot water. Large brands then competed on price with occasional soapie style advertising.

Enter coffee culture and in 15 short years everything has changed. Coffee isn’t coffee anymore. Coffee is latte, coffee is short machiato, coffee is espresso, coffee is arabica versus robusta. But it evolved slowly, and the latest trend in coffee drenched Melbourne is cold dripped coffee. The point for startups is simple: we can’t go from Nescafe blend 43 straight to cold drip coffee. We have to take people on a journey with us, chapter by chapter. Shown below is another photo essay of  a coffee haunt on little Collins Street Melbourne called Sensory Lab.

The question for entrepreneurs is what industry can we invent a journey to take people on?