One Month App

I was viewing Eric’s blog and came across the reference to the One Month App which was interesting project to determine if an application could be built in a month. They have used the Ruby on Rails framework and developed a nice looking cashflow application for small businesses.

Top marks for a clever marketing idea – both in getting some interest in the application, but more so, demonstrating that the guys at Clearfunction have got both a sense of style and an ability to churn out a great new application quickly. And no doubt they have plenty of click throughs to their site and their other products.

So, where are the other applications of this type of approach??  Could we see books written this way? Will we see commercial software sent to the global market for testing? Your comments are welcome, as well as useful links…..

Wikinomics – Is this Workplace 2.0?

Don’t let my 2.0 pun fool you, this is a seriously good book for anyone interested in how open source and collaborative models are now applying to so many different areas of business.

In one sense you might say that this is a bit of spin on a new flavour of collaborative outsourcing. However there is plenty of discussion on how the various models are being applied and where the innovation exists.

The essence – same of any outsourcing discussion – is in determining the key value you add in the value chain of your product and outsource everything else.

Check it out – Amazon link included below for convenience…

Is Web 2.0 creating innovation – or is it happening because of it?


Isn’t it an exciting time to be alive? There has never been such a volume of innovation – or information for that matter. And by the time you finish reading this post, there will be plenty of others you can also dig into.

Right now we are seeing innovation in so many areas – biotech, renewables, medicine, engineering. Technology underpins the capacity to innovate – and Web 2.0 is also a seething hotbed of new ideas with a new commercial bent. But is Web 2.0 the source of innovation, or is it happening because of the innovation around us?

Well, both are true – but the demand for technology tools to help us collaborate continues to grow.

Venture Capital – The E2B experience (still smelling like dot com to me)

Back in March 2000, I discussed the idea of setting up a First Tuesday group in Western Australia with Stuart Hope, then CEO of Software Engineering Australia (SEAWA). We also brought in Peter Morris of Telesis, and got ourselves underway.

First step was to review the licencing model for First Tuesday – which read something like – “bear all liability personally, but we can take your assets – database, networks, dealflow and anything else for that matter – without recourse”.

We said, “I don’t think so” and set up our own meeting group called Entrepreneurs2business. The group was established as a dynamic meeting place for entrepreneurs, advisors and investors, with a view to commercialisation of these technology ideas to bring business growth, export revenue and to further grow the technology industry in Western Australia . Nothing particularly new in these types of forums other that the financial fuel of IPO fever.

The group was founded in May 2000 and held its first event on July 4, 2000. The group went on to hold 30 events, meeting monthly using the format of a speaker with commercialisation experience sharing their knowledge with the group. First Tuesday had long since died by the time we closed E2B.

Some interesting observations:

1. In networking events like this, the VC’s lean against the bar waiting to get picked up

2. The advisors all talk to each other and tell each other how well they are doing

3. The entrepreneurs stand nervously in the corner refusing to divulge their IP to anyone

(This is a little exaggerated of course – but seeing this in action the only thing you can do to get interaction is introduce people to each other and make sure they both understand why you are trying to connect them together).

Do you feel the market feels like that again? Fueled this time by trade sale and private equity, booming economies, and escalating salaries and expectations? Smells like it to me, love to get your feedback

What? Is that a dot-com smell in the air? It’s all about eyeballs again….

The interesting change with Web 2.0 has created a sense that the internet is all new again. There are some truly amazing success stories – witness www.utube.com as the largest, most recent couple of guys and an idea turned into millions. And may similar success fall to www.wordpress.com – this is truly a great offering.

But there is something in the air that smells funny…. and it seems we have a new generation of people coming through who have:

  • Never witnessed a recession
  • Never seen businesses lose a f…ing frightening amount of money
  • Never been paid so much for so little experience
  • Starting discussing “eyeballs” as inherently adding value

Am I cynical (or jaded as it didn’t work out last time – I was supposed to be driving a Ferrari to my own private golf course right now!) or does something smell funny?

Today, as it did at the time of the crash, it stills comes down to “show me the money”. At least now, advertising models are well established and easily quantified.

What piqued me to write this was a pic of Malcolm Gladwell on the front of the Australian Financial Review with him saying that business needs to get over itself and recognise the power of snap judgements.

I have read the Tipping Point, and did find it an interesting read. Gladwell may well be onto something – and I share a view that making snap decisions in the heat of business is often very sensible. You are closest to the action, best in the position to make the decision – so you should be able to make it without having to engage in endless email / other approvals – and analysing it may make you change your mind against something that makes sense.

However I also remember vividly hearing similar tones around the time of the dot com crash along the lines of, “if you are looking for a standard business model, you just don’t get it…”. You should be very concerned if anyone wont be specific on:

  1. Who wants it?
  2. How much for?
  3. Who says so?

At the end of the day business is about the exchange of value. Part of value creation is really thinking about things.

For more about thinking, please see my posts Talk to me in numbers and 3 Reasons why smart people in organisations do stupid things

So, what do you think? I look forward to any feedback….

Your time is your life

I’m sure you have read time management and other business quotes where the dialogue starts. “imagine you are at your own funeral….”

This week I attended the funeral of a friend that died of cancer. Many beautiful things were said about his success in his career and business interests, his devotion to his family and his love of cooking – and his vege patch. He was universally liked by everyone that met him.

Tragically his decline from good health took a very short 6 months. For those people whom work tirelessly seeking a way to treat and avoid cancer I wish you the best in your endeavours.

What can we learn from this? Live life, love your family as much as you can, enjoy everything you can, and make sure you end your day exhausted not bored.

Talk to me in numbers – applying metrics to business success

If you have ever found peformance issues and the reasons being given seemingly incredibly complicated, then perhaps distilling the essence back to the number only may be the answer you are looking for.

For example, let’s say sales performance is down. A person can provide any number of reasons, incredibly well argued, as to why their sales performance is off. Or why they missed their last deal. And if they are any sort of sales person, they should be able to be pretty persuasive in their argument as they probably have been constructing in their minds for some time!

So how do you reshape the nexus of this? Well, get back to the numbers and the causal factors of success.

Step 1: Fishbone the profit and loss statement to look at where the revenue comes from

Step 2: Drill into the customers spend to determine which customers, what product lines, and which sales when.

Step 3: Determine the causal steps ie activity, necessary to get the success you need. For example, to sell $10 million of a service, you may need to have generated a sales pipeline of $30 million if you close 1 in 3.

Step 4: Determine the metrics that make sense around the steps to get to the target. For example, to get to $30million pipeline, you may need to have qualified $60 million of opportunities. If each deal is $10 million, it is 6 deals. You then track activity to create deals – number of presentations, meetings, sales calls, product demonstrations, roadshows and events.

Step 5: Turn the above into simple numbers next to boxes and track that against performance. This will in turn drive activity that leads to success and also may provide some focus to improve success rates on each successive step.

Used correctly, the above approach can move to an empirical analysis of activity that reinforces the right behaviours, and also how you can help along the way, and quickly ends long and unfruitful discussions.

If you have had a good experience – or a not so good experience – in applying metrics to your business, please leave a comment, I’d appreciate your feedback.

Don’ta worry – Dumb Business thinking to avoid Part 2

Have you ever experienced the debilitating situation of not knowing what decision to make in a difficult circumstance? Or found yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of email and interruptions within your workday?

In case of the former it is caused by uncertainty (not enough facts) and a less than comfortable risk of decision failure.

In case of the latter, in many cases the day to day interruptions really get in the way of the big picture and most important jobs to be done. That type of continual interruption will make you highly ineffective – so you’ve either got to live with it, or change the environment.

I’m a big fan of getting time management in order, and my continual reference book here is by Alan McKenzie called The Time Trap. In this book he identifies the top 20 time wasters, and specifically how to deal with them.

My father would always say “Don’ta worry – what’s the worst that can happen?”. He isn’t Italian, but for some reason this simple sentence would provide some perspective and give the mind some necessary breathing space (distraction if you like) that allows the subconcious to trigger a logical decision.

You can’t get stuck in a rut – dumb business thinking to avoid Part 1

©Mark Eveleigh / www.thewideangle.com

Business and leading people can both be hard and easy.

Getting stuck in a mental rut is also easy, and no wonder as making a similar decision based on past experience makes a lot of sense. It saves time, allows you to move onto the next task. But it also can increasingly become dangerous without some benchmark or checking from time to time.

The Harvard Business School published a book on Decision Making, 5 Steps to Better Results.

After your first step (buy the book) the 5 steps are:
1. Establish a context for success which is about setting the stage for making a good decision and involving the right people in the process
2. Framing the Issue Properly to make sure you are tackling the right question with the right constraints on an outcome
3. Generate alternatives through brainstorming and other techniques
4. Evaluate alternatives
5. Choose the best alternative

The book also covers a range of other issues that are really useful in considering ways to get to a smarter more considered organisation and team.

When I was a child, my father would take us to school. Sometimes he would go a completely different way to normal and make us late. When asked why he was taking the longcut, he would reply, “you can’t get stuck in a rut”.

My children also complain when I take a longcut. When I tell them “you can’t get stuck in a rut” their response is, “yeah, but carts are from the olden days when Grandad was a boy, there are no such thing as ruts now”. I do remind them that my Dad also got to enjoy sealed roads in cars….

Thanks to Mark Eveleigh for permission to use the above pic – ©Mark Eveleigh. Visit his site at for a range of great pics…

George Negus, the aging sex symbol, on Information Technology

George Negus, who actually isn’t all that fond of being referred to as an aging sex symbol, gave a presentation in Perth at the wonderful venue of the Royal Perth Yacht Club.

He was discussing many things and was thoroughly entertaining, and at the conclusion of his speech answered some questions. I had my hand in the air to ask a question, and before he got to me, he launched on a tyraid about information technology:

“Ask yourself, what has information technology actually done ever done for anyone? Absolutely nothing..”. George proceeded to let rip and then asked for my question.

“Hi George, my name is Justin Davies from Ross Technology, a technology services company……”

Pause, and some general laughter….

“Well, now you mention it, the internet is pretty useful for research and I actually use it everyday…..”

George wasn’t at all wedded to a view that Information Technology and computers are useless; he just wanted a debate. He wanted to get stuck in and argue a point to get a better understanding. He particularly wanted people to think – he most certainly didn’t want people to just nod their heads. And he was also most generous, and I now have a signed copy of one of his books.

How does that relate to The Smell of Good Business?

In my view, not enough decisions or widely held points of view are actively debated enough. A bloody good heated debate, and judicious use of the F word does wonders in quickly test driving a proposition. But you must ensure it is the best idea and not the most strongest personality that wins.

So, I also invite debate. Let me know what you think….