Archiv der Kategorie: Corporate Culture

The evidence is piling up — Silicon Valley is being destroyed

Silicon Valley is the story of overthrowing entrenched interests through innovation.

Children dream of becoming inventors, and scientists come to Silicon Valley from all over the world.

But something is wrong when Juicero and Theranos are in the headlines, and bad behavior from Uber executives overshadows actual innovation.

$120 million in venture funding from Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, for a juicer? And the founder, Doug Evans, calling himself himself Steve Jobs „in his pursuit of juicing perfection?“ And how is Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes walking around freely?

Eventually, the rhetoric of innovation turns into …. a Google-backed punchline.

These stories are embarrassing, yes. But there’s something deeper going on here. Silicon Valley, an international treasure that birthed the technology of our age, is being destroyed.

Monopolies are now so powerful that they dictate the roll-out of new technology, and the only things left to invest in are the scraps that fall off the table.

Sometimes those scraps are Snapchat, which managed to keep alive, despite what Ben Thompson calls ‚theft‚ by Facebook.

Sometimes it’s, which was destroyed and bought out by Amazon through predatory pricing. And sometimes it’s Juicero and Theranos.

It’s not that Juicero and Theranos that are the problem. Mistakes — even really big, stupid ones — happen.

juicero 8Business Insider/Alyson Shontell

It’s that there is increasingly less good stuff to offset the bad. was embarrassing in 2000, but that was also when Google was getting going. Today it’s all scraps.

When platform monopolies dictate the roll-out of technology, there is less and less innovation, fewer places to invest, less to invent. Eventually, the rhetoric of innovation turns into DISRUPT, a quickly canceled show on MSNBC, and Juicero, a Google-backed punchline.

This moment of stagnating innovation and productivity is happening because Silicon Valley has turned its back on its most important political friend: antitrust. Instead, it’s embraced what it should understand as the enemy of innovation: monopoly.

As Barry Lynn has shown, Silicon Valley was born of anti-monopoly.

Elizabeth Holmes TheranosElizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos.Larry Busacca/Getty

In 1956, a Republican administration and AT&T signed a consent decree forbidding AT&T from competing in any but common carrier communications services. The decree also forced AT&T to license its patents in a non-discriminatory manner to all comers.

One of those patents was for something called the transistor, which two small companies — Texas Instruments and Motorola — would commercialize.

In the 1960s and 1970s, an antitrust suit against IBM caused the company to unbundle its hardware and software, leading to the creation of the American software industry. It treated suppliers for its new personal computing business with kid gloves, including a small company called Micro-Soft. In the 1990s, a suit against Microsoft allowed another startup named Google to offer an innovative search engine

and ad business without fear that Microsoft would use its control of the browser to strangle it.

The great business historian Alfred Chandler, in his book on the electronic century, called antitrust regulators the „Gods“ of creation. Antitrust was originally understood as a uniquely American „charter of economic liberty“.

But there hasn’t been a Sherman Act Section 2 anti-monopolization case for 15 years. And the anti-merger Clayton Act is not being enforced. Neither Bush, nor Obama, nor Trump (so far), has seen fit to stop the monopolists from buying their way into dominance and blocking innovation.

Take Google.

Sergey BrinSergey Brin is the President of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.Robert Galbraith/Reuters

Yes, the company created an amazing search engine over fifteen years ago. Since then, the company bought YouTube, Doubleclick, Maps, and Admob; it buys a company a week at this point. And it often shuts down products that don’t reach 100M+ users, while investing in luxury juicing machines. Surely Google is creating cool technology. But is that technology really being deployed? Or is it locked away, as patents were in AT&T’s 1956 vault before the government stepped in?

What once were upstarts and innovators are now enthroned. For instance, the iPhone is ten years old. Innovation means waiting to see if Apple will offer a bigger screen.

Innovation means waiting to see if Apple will offer a bigger screen.

It’s almost as thrilling as seeing yet another press release about how self-driving cars are almost working. I’m on the edge of my seat.

This is a ridiculous situation. Silicon Valley helped created the personal computer! It commercialized the internet! Popularized email!

Its scientists and engineers change the world. We have such amazing technology, and such big problems. But our liberty to address those problems in the commercial world must be protected by a democracy in the form of antitrust rules and suits, or Silicon Valley will die.

American flag phone iphoneMark Wilson/Getty Images

Is that what Silicon Valley scientists and business leaders really want? To invest in and produce subpar juicers while everything cool waits on Jeff Bezos’s whim? Is that what they dreamed when they were young? Is that why they admired astronauts and entrepreneurs? Was their goal really to create „anti-competitive juice packet lock-in“?

That is where a lack of democracy has brought us, and Silicon Valley.

It is time for leaders in Silicon Valley to start demanding from our government the birthright of every American, which is an open market for commerce, innovation, and personal liberty.

It is time to demand antitrust, so that what once were innovative upstarts, and are now Kings, do not stop the next wave of innovation. Then there will be so much more to invest in, so much more to invent, and so much more to actually create.

Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Open Markets Program at New America. He first shared a version of this story on Twitter. The original tweets are below.

stoller 2Screenshot/Twitter


/end of story 🙂


Introverts tend to be better CEOs — and other surprising traits of top-performing executives

So what did make CEOs successful?
After analyzing all of their data, the researchers found that roughly half of the candidates earning an overall ‚A‘ rating in their database, when evaluated for a CEO job, had distinguished themselves in more than one of four management traits.

(Only five percent of the weakest performers, meanwhile, had done the same.)

The four were:

  • reaching out to stakeholders;
  • being highly adaptable to change;
  • being reliable and predictable rather than showing exceptional, and perhaps not repeatable, performance;
  • and making fast decisions with conviction, if not necessarily perfect ones.

The image most people have of a straight-from-central-casting CEO is usually something like the following: An extroverted, charismatic, confident executive who climbed a mistake-free ladder to the top with a degree from an elite school.

But a new 10-year study from a leadership advisory firm and economists from two business schools, published in this month’s Harvard Business Review, finds that the most successful chief executives often don’t fit that mold.

The researchers behind the study, called the CEO Genome Project, used a database of assessments — comprehensive performance appraisals and extensive biographical information — of 17,000 C-suite executives, including 2,000 CEOs. The database, created by the consultancy ghSmart, includes everything from career history to behavioral patterns to how the executives performed in past jobs, decisions they’ve made and demographic information.

Their analysis, which included help from statisticians, data scientists and financial analysts, examined a sample of 930 of those CEOs to come up with the traits and patterns that most predicted which ones became a CEO. They also gathered information on the performance of 212 of them to compare how top-performers‘ behaviors lined up with the traits that tend to get CEOs hired.

What they found surprised them. A little more than half of the CEOs who did better than expected in the minds of investors and directors were actually introverts, not the usual gregarious CEO known for glad-handing customers.

„The biggest aha, overall, is that some of the things that make CEOs attractive to the board have no bearing on their performance,“ said Elena Lytkina Botelho, a partner at ghSmart and a co-founder of the project. „Like most human beings, they get seduced by charismatic, polished presenters. They simply do better in interviews.“

Botelho says she doesn’t necessarily think introverts are always better performers, but that they may be more prevalent, and do better in her sample, because boards are so attracted to them.

„I’ve been in the room and had directors express the concern — ‚this person is such a strong introvert, how will they really lead?‘ “ she said. Similarly, candidates who displayed a lot of confidence had more than double the chance of being chosen as CEO, the study found, even though particularly confident CEOs were no more likely to show better performance once they got the job.

Meanwhile, only 7 percent of the best-performing CEOs — who ran companies from Fortune 10 behemoths to those with just $10 million in annual sales — had an Ivy League degree, despite the conventional wisdom that pedigree matters. „There was zero correlation between pedigree and ultimate performance,“ she said, acknowledging that number could be higher if they were just looking at large Fortune 500 firms.

Another misconception boards make when picking their next CEO is to choose candidates who have an impeccable career trajectory, with nothing but a resume full of achievements lining their path from MBA to the boardroom. But nearly all of the executives in their sample who were candidates for a CEO job had some kind of major mistake, the project found, such as overpaying for an acquisition or making a wrong hire, in their assessment. Nearly half of them also had what the researchers called a career „blowup“ that pushed them out of a job or cost the business a large amount of money — and three-quarters of that group went on to actually become a CEO.

Der Kreis derer, die als Chief Disruption Officer überhaupt nur annähernd in Betracht kommen, hat den Radius „null“

Ich bin eine eierlegende WollMilchSau – und der neue Chief Disruption Officer Deiner Firma!

Eierlegende Wollmilchsau

Eierlegende Wollmilchsau

Fotolia #83825279 | Urheber: jokatoons

Herausforderung: die Auftragsklärung

Ein neuer CDO soll bei den Konzernen oft den „Tanker bewegen und in Schnellboote verwandeln“, schließlich hört und liest man ja überall von Startups, Agil, Dynamik, Disruption und stetiger Veränderung. Da stellt sich doch die Frage (typischerweise an HR) wer erstellt den das JobProfil für einen Job, den es noch nie gab und dessen Ziele so faszinierend unterschiedlich, ja widersprüchlich sind. Schließlich wird jeder seine eigene Vorstellung davon haben, was der künftige CDO „endlich“ angehen soll – fragen Sie doch mal Kollegen aus unterschiedlichen Funktionen!

In der folgenden Liste habe ich einmal einige (Achtung Buzzword-Bingo) zusammengefasst:

Typische CDO Erwartungsperspektiven:

  • Neue(s) Business Modell(e) finden, entwickeln und bitte gleich den Return on Investment im ersten Jahr sicherstellen
  • Change Manager (Disruption, Innovation…) der die gesamte Organisation in die neue Arbeitswelt führt
  • Neue Vertriebs- und Finanzierungskanäle – vom Crowdfunding über Crowdstorming, Crowdworking und Social Marketing
  • Digital Mindset / Organisationsentwicklung – nachhaltige Veränderung der Unternehmenskultur
  • Board Coaching / Trainer für die anderen Vorstände
  • Smart Factory – die intelligente Fabrik, digitalisierte, automatisierte und vernetzte Produktionsumgebungen mit neuen agilen Werkzeugen bis zur Losgröße 1 (zugleich stetig wachsender Fokus auf Service-Orientierung stattfindet – also „nicht-produktion“)
  • BigData / Analytics / Predictive – alles was man mit Daten, deren Analyse und Vorhersagbarkeit so treiben kann
  • Rechtsanwalt – Arbeit 4.0, Zusammenarbeit mit Externen, Compliance… siehe unten „illegal“
  • Neues IT Framework – moderne Softwarearchitekturen, Werkzeuge und Apps einführen
  • Digitales Vorbild / Botschafter – Sichtbar werden für neuen Arbeitsstil, Führungskultur – am Besten auch nach außen werbewirksam
  • Digitale Prozesse / Digitale Effizienz – den systemischen Organisationsmotor generalsanieren
  • Social Media extern – von Arbeitnehmerattraktivität über Recruiting (von natürlich Digital Professionals) bis zu Wirkungsverbesserung durch virales Marketing
  • Interne Kommunikation und Zusammenarbeit (Enterprise Social Networking)… – die gesamte Belegschaft, inklusive Fabrikarbeiter mobil, vernetzt, zeit- und orts-unabhängig sowie skallierbar in Arbeit 4.0 führen

Diese Liste an Erwartungen ist sicher alles andere als vollständig, soll aber zeigen, dass es nicht einfach ist, das Profil für diese Position so zu definieren, dass der Inhaber überhaupt eine Chance hat Wirkung zu entfalten. Schließlich gilt es neben den fachlichen Aufgaben auch die bestehende Kultur, Politik, Seilschaften etc. kennen zu lernen und dann nachhaltig zu verändern.

Herausforderung: Woher nehmen, diese CDO – eierlegende WollMilchSau?

Wie einer der Headhunter mal so schön formulierte:

„der Kreis derer, die als CDO überhaupt nur annähernd in Betracht kommen, hat den Radius „null““

Es gibt keine Ausbildung zum CDO, typische Karrierewege erzeugen meist „system-stabilisierende“ Vertreter, wer will einem „jungen Wilden“ die Verantwortung über einen Konzern geben. Die Zahl derer, die in ähnlichen Rollen erfolgreich sind, ist äußerst überschaubar – Nachahmung schwierig- und oft auch nicht einfach übertragbar… auch die großen Consulting Riesen sind hier sicher keine Hilfe, da deren Reifegrad hier ähnlich jungfräulich ist (Es gibt keine Blaupausen, die man aus der Schublade ziehen könnte, keine Beweise, kaum Studien die als Handlungsanleitung taugen)

Also wird nach Kompromissen gesucht, das kann dann z.B. so aussehen:

  • wir nehmen eine(n), der schon Vorstand war/ist … dort findet man kaum Digital Natives (damit ist nicht vorrangig das Alter, vielmehr deren Haltung gegenüber neuen, disruptiven Entwicklungen gemeint, die noch nicht allgemein als erfolgreich, bleibend und wichtig/prägend anerkannt sind), aus Karrieregründen kaum jemanden, der mit Transparenz, Beteiligung und agilen Methoden risikofreudig umgeht
  • wir nehmen eine(n), der IT kann … wohl einer der häufigsten Fehler, Digitale Transformation mit IT zu verwechseln. Wohl ist ein guter Teil (ca. 20%) mit Software, Tools und IT KnowHow verbunden, der Großteil geht aber um völlig andere (oft sehr IT fremde) Themen – es geht sehr viel um Führung! siehe Liste oben
  • wir nehmen eine(n), der schon ein Startup erfolgreich gemacht hat … das führt auf beiden Seiten zu großen Enttäuschungen: Freiheit, Sicherheit, Vorgaben, Rahmenbedingungen, Größe, Internationalität… Assimilation garantiert
  • wir nehmen jemanden, der Karriere machen will und großes Potential zeigt … Wer Karriere machen will ist meist doch recht Regel-konform unterwegs. Wer traut es sich „alles“ in Frage zu stellen bei einem System, in dem er/sie groß werden will? Risikobereitschaft, Fehler machen (dürfen) sind nicht die üblichen Treiber einer erfolgreichen Karriere
  • wir suchen jemanden von Extern – klar, neue Besen kehren gut… wie sieht es aber mit der damit verbundenen sehr langen Anlaufzeit aus. Kann es sich z.B. ein Automobilkonzern in der heutigen Lage leisten jetzt mit jemandem bei null anzufangen, was die internen Kenntnisse, Netzwerke (oder besser Verstrickungen), Politik, Kultur angeht?

Den „fertigen“ CDO zu finden dürfte also ein schwieriges Unterfangen sein – eine Lösung wäre in meinen Augen mit der aktuellen Priorität zu beginnen und zu versuchen die fehlenden Merkmale zu intern zu entwickeln (ideal parallel mit allen anderen). Neben Kultur, Führung ist sicher „neues, konstantes Lernen“ auf allen Ebenen höchst relevant.


These 15 startups didn’t exist 5 years ago — now they’re worth billions

Silicon Valley can create immense value in just a short time. Just look at these 15 startups that didn’t even exist five years ago, which are now valued at $1 billion or more, according to venture capitalists.

zooxZoox’s cofoundersZoox

For the purposes of this list, Business Insider asked PitchBook Data to pull a list of US-based companies that were founded in 2012 or later — since we’re nearing the end of 2016 — and that are private tech companies with a valuation of north of $1 billion.

We then ranked them from least to most valuable based on their post-money valuations.

Here are the companies that achieved billion-dollar valuations in the last five years:



Cylance CEO Stuart McClureYouTube/Cylance

Founded: 2012

Valuation: $1 billion

Cylance built a product that uses artificial intelligence to analyze a file you’re about to open, determine if it’s malware, and then stop it from executing — all in less than a second. It solves the problem of email phishing scams, which are still a favorite method of hackers, and has over 1,000 customers, it says.

Cylance was founded by Stuart McClure and Ryan Permeh, two well-known names in security who are perhaps best known for their work at McAfee.






Founded: 2012

Valuation: $1 billion

While Compass functions like a traditional broker, the company’s promise is using technology to reduce the time and friction of buying and selling a house or apartment. In July, Compass released an app designed to replace „stale“ quarterly market reports with more dynamic information. In the app, buyers and sellers can search by standard things like neighborhood, number of bedrooms, price range, and so on. But they can also look at more advanced metrics, like year-over-year analysis of median price per square foot, days on the market, and negotiability.





Illumio CEO Andrew RubinIllumio

Founded: 2013

Valuation: $1 billion

In 2014, Illumio emerged from stealth. Six months later, it had already racked up a billion dollar valuation, thanks to its new approach to security.  The idea involves watching the applications themselves to make sure they aren’t doing anything they are not supposed to do, indicating a hacker or a virus. It places a tiny bit of code (called an agent) on every computer and operating system to watch all the apps. Companies can then install the software that watches the apps in their own data center, or they can hire Illumio’s cloud service to watch the apps for them. And then the security follows the app wherever it goes, even if an app moves from one server to another, or from the data center to a cloud computing service.





Founded: 2013

Valuation: $1 billion

Carbon3D grabbed headlines and attention for its method of seemingly creating shapes out of a liquid resin soup.  It’s much more complicated than that, but Carbon3D has caught the eye of everyone from Ford to Johnson & Johnson. While Ford imagines a future of speedy customizable parts, like custom designed cup holders, healthcare operators are looking at Carbon3D for a fast way to create surgical parts.

The machines are already being tested less than a year after they launched. In April, it released its M1 printer.





Keith Rabois, chairman and cofounder of Opendoor

Founded: 2014

Valuation: $1.1 billion

Opendoor is betting that homeowners would take a guaranteed sale over a higher price. It calculates a fair market value and pays homeowners before re-selling the home with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.


Uptake Technologies

Uptake Technologies

Getty Images/Bloomberg

Founded: 2014

Valuation: $1.1 billion

Former Groupon founder Brad Keywell started the secretive Chicago-based data analytics startup in 2014. Already it’s working with Caterpillar to be the analytics backbone of heavy industries like manufacturing, construction, rail, and more. Its sensors and data analysis should be able to help companies predict revenue and save money, according to Forbes.

Flatiron Health

Flatiron Health

Saskia Uppenkamp

Founded: 2012

Valuation: $1.2 billion

Flatiron Health is a software company that organizes the world’s oncology information and makes it accessible for doctors, patients, and researchers. In January 2016, Roche, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, made a $175 million investment in the company, which valued the company at $1.1 billion.



Tim Kentley-Klay and Jesse LevinsonZoox

Founded: 2014

Valuation: $1.55 billion

Despite remaining in stealth, Zoox has already raised $290 million for its unseen product. The only hint its founder Tim Kentley-Klay has given was at a conference in October when he described it as Disneyland on the streets:

“At Zoox what we’re creating…is not a self-driving car any more than the automobile is a horseless carriage. We’re not building a robo-taxi service, we’re actually creating an advanced mobility service,” Kentley-Klay said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “You can really think of it as Disneyland on the streets of perhaps San Francisco and that means a vehicle which is smart enough to understand its environment but it’s also importantly smart enough to understand you, where you need to be, what you want to do in the vehicle, and how you want to move around the city.”






Founded: 2012

Valuation: $1.9 billion

Often dubbed „Uber for groceries,“ Instacart eliminates the need to ever set food in a grocery store. The service will deliver your full load of groceries, hand-picked by a personal shopper at local stores.

In 2016, the company deepened its relationship with Whole Foods after the grocery retailer invested in the company and signed a multi-year delivery contract.





Oscar CEO and co-founder Mario Schlosser, co-founders Kevin Nazemi and Joshua Kushner.Oscar

Founded: 2012

Valuation: $1.5 billion

Oscar founder Josh Kushner wants to transform the healthcare industry by creating a better user experience when it comes to health insurance. It launched publicly in 2013 to sell better insurance through Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Yet, the election of Donald Trump could spell trouble for the highly-valued startup, even though Kushner’s brother, Jared, is Trump’s son-in-law. According to Bloomberg, it’s still losing money as it looks to diversify away from Obamacare-only offerings — something Trump, a close family connection, seeks to repeal.





Founded: 2012

Valuation: $1.6 billion

Self-driving car startups aren’t the only billion-dollar bets around. Quanergy isn’t building its own car, but instead specializes in building LiDAR systems — the 3D sensing systems that self-driving cars use to the see the world. Already the startup has struck partnerships with vehicle-makers including Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai.


Blue Apron

Blue Apron

Blue Apron cofounders Matt Wadiak, Matt Salzberg, and Ilia PapasBlue Apron

Founded: 2012

Valuation: $2 billion

Blue Apron, a company that sends you portioned-out ingredients and recipes in a box, is a godsend for lazy cooks.

Though it’s only been around since 2012, Blue Apron has already generated more than $800 million in revenue in 2016, according to Bloomberg. However, it has put its IPO plans on hold as it works to decrease its customer acquisition costs and improve lifetime customer value, Bloomberg reported. Blue Apron’s potential is vast: The service appeals to millennials who want to expand their repertoire in the kitchen, as much as to busy moms straining for creativity and simplicity in their weeknight meals.




Avant CEO Al GoldsteinAvant

Founded: 2012

Valuation: $2 billion

One of two highly-valued Chicago startups, online lending company Avant targets subprime borrowers — people with lower credit scores. To date, the startup has given out more than 500,000 loans, totaling more than $3 billion.




Zenefits CEO David SacksREUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

Founded: 2012

Valuation: $2 billion

Zenefits‘ valuation took a haircut in 2016. The startup, once valued at $4.5 billion, experienced turmoil after it was discovered that its CEO had created a program designed to cheat state regulations. After installing a new CEO and launching Zenefits 2.0, the company also repriced its stock, shaving its valuation from $4.5 billion to a cool $2 billion — still a lot of money for a five-year-old company.



Pivotal Software

Pivotal Software

Pivotal CEO Rob MeeGlassdoor/Pivotal

Founded: 2013

Valuation: $2.8 billion

Pivotal sells a set of software tools and consulting services to help even the largest, most old-school companies build and develop software as if they were a tiny startup. Pivotal becomes their secret weapon as they turn to newfangled cloud computing and data-crunching technologies to stay competitive in a digital world. In May, Ford led a $253 million investmentin the company alongside Microsoft.

How to do the Right Moves in Small Business Owners Decisions

Owning and running a small business is a roller coaster ride with ups and downs as challenges and successes come your way. Most entrepreneurs march through uncharted waters and self-correct as they go along, knowing that mistakes are essentially inevitable. However, you don’t have to fall into all of the typical entrepreneur traps—here are five common mistakes and how to avoid them:

  • thinking big. Small business may start small, but that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. According to experienced entrepreneurs and investors, the biggest challenge small businesses face is thinking big and being able to compete with larger, more established competitors. After all, a small business that is content to operate comfortably in its little sphere won’t achieve much success and could burn out eventually. To avoid this mistake, form strategic partnerships on a local level before moving to a larger stage. Find investors, mentors, or partners who share your passion and who have the drive and resources to help your business succeed on a larger scale.
  • Paying attention to the numbers. One of the most important aspects of running a small business is understanding the accounting and financial side of things. Investors won’t want to give you money if you don’t have accurate financials and guidance for upcoming growth. Everything your business does comes back to the numbers, so pay attention to them and make them an important part of your daily routine. Even if you are more focused on the big-picture strategy for the business, never stray from the numbers. If needed, find a trusted financial advisor or accountant who can keep you in the loop while being the one who does the daily number crunching.
  • knowing the customer. You might have a great product or service, but it won’t be successful if you can’t reach the right people. Start by doing research about your target audience to gain a better understanding of who will purchase your product and why. From there, look for ways to reach them and consider the messages to use that will best appeal to their self interests and make them interested in your product. Keeping an eye on your customer doesn’t stop after your business launches—stay up to date on who is entering your store or website with people counting software and pay attention to what they are saying online and via social media. Without customers, you won’t have a business, so pay attention to their habits and responses and adapt your business plan to meet their needs.
  • Staying cool. Running a small business has a way of humbling people, but it can be tempting to get a big-headed ego with your first bit of success. Making a big sale, landing a great investor, or signing a firm deal are all milestones for your business, but don’t let that be the high point of your entire endeavor. Use your success to drive your passion and hunger for further success. If needed, surround yourself with people who can bring you back down to earth after big moments and remind yourself that there are other small businesses that are having even greater success.
  • planning. Every entrepreneur knows the importance of a strong business plan, but that plan needs to be adaptable and not set in stone. Too many entrepreneurs get caught up in perfecting the details of their plans that they never actually put things into action, or by the time they do, it is too late to capitalize on a great opportunity. Setting goals for your business is a great way to drive motivation, but goals that are too solid and that can’t adapt as plans or situations change can lead to failure and be a big loss for the company. There are many things you don’t know when you start a small business, and learning them along the way is an important part of growth. If you are so tied to your original plans that you miss a learning opportunity, your business likely won’t have the flexibility to succeed in the long run.

Running a small business is full of learning as you go, but following these tips can help you doing the right things.

six key behaviors that bold leaders regularly demonstrate

In times of uncertainty, the human instinct often leads us to use solutions that are safe and tested rather than stepping into the unknown.

As such, many leaders find themselves reacting to uncertain economic forecasts by cutting back rather than proactively investing.

It is precisely in times of uncertainty that organizations need bold leaders to align investments, source top talent, and foster innovation in order to gain a competitive edge.

Findings from the 2016 Deloitte Business Confidence Report show that more than half of all surveyed CXOs (C-suite) and CXO successors (CXOWs) believe they do not have the bold leadership they need at the highest levels of their organization.

The report, based on data from hundreds of cross-industry leaders, identifies six key behaviors that bold leaders regularly demonstrate.

Bold leaders regularly:

1. Set ambitious goals

Bold leaders demonstrate a relentless desire to excel and are able to create environments that stretch people to go above and beyond their natural limits. While adopting a more conservative approach for the overall business may be a smart play during periods of uncertainty, maintaining aspirational goals in those high-priority business areas can help sustain increased effort and motivation.

For example, during the 1980s, product delays and challenges in memory production led to a period of significant financial strain at Intel. During this time, the company implemented what they described as „the 10% solution,“ a request that their employees provide 10% greater effort despite 10% cuts to their paycheck.

While this was clearly a tough ask, most team members rose to the occasion, investing additional time on the products and pursuits that formed the backbone of the company’s success, leading them out of the woods.

2. Propose ideas their company might consider controversial

Widespread change simply cannot occur without challenging the status quo. Bold leaders do not let initial resistance prevent them from pursuing new ideas and pushing for needed change. However, less than half of CXOs and CXO successors reported proposing controversial ideas in their own organization. While groupthink (excessive focus on consensus) is problematic in any business, it can be particularly crippling during periods of unease, as it may give competitors a chance to step in and gain market share.

Founded in Wales the early 1950s, Laura Ashley’s clothing conjured up images of tea time in the English countryside. Founders Laura and Bernard Ashley maintained tight control over the business as it grew from a single shop to 500 stores worldwide. After Laura’s death in 1985, Bernard worked to keep her legacy alive, as Harvard Business Review reported.

However, times had changed, as had fashion. Women were entering the workforce in significant numbers and wanted practical, professional attire, and competitors were offshoring production to reduce labor costs. The company hired a consultant to update the brand and instituted a variety of cost-cutting activities, however, the 11 CEOs who took the reins over the next 15 years were slow to challenge the company’s beholden practices.

In the late 2000s, the company changed course to focus on furniture and housewares. This bold change invigorated a stalling business and serves as reminder that a willingness to challenge existing practices can determine a company’s survival over time.

3. Invite feedback from colleagues at all levels of seniority

Creating sustained improvements involves solutions that serve everyone’s interests. While quick action and decisiveness are often associated with bold leadership, these traits can isolate leaders and alienate their people. The most effective leaders seek feedback in a proactive and iterative fashion, incorporating the ideas they receive into synergistic solutions, paying attention to feedback that comes from both junior and senior colleagues.

When Alan Mulally took over as president and CEO of Ford Motor Company in 2006, he faced a tough reality. Ford was facing lost market share and serious production problems. In an effort to address these problems head on, Mulally began encouraging his team members to speak up about challenges early and often, rather than waiting to see if they could fix them alone. The leadership team, filled with independent and highly competent individuals used to managing their own operations, was initially slow to respond to these requests.

As they made the transition, Mulally served as an energizing and positive force, and when the team began respond, he was quick to praise their honesty and offer help, rather than assigning blame. By breaking the classically stoic leadership mold and inviting open communication from his team, Mulally was able to proactively overhaul Ford during the 2008-2009 recession and avoid the direct government intervention imposed on so many of their competitors.

4. Innovate and look for new ways of doing things

For bold leaders, the opportunity to drive improvements outweighs the fear of failure. They tend to remain open to a wide range of possibilities, constantly experimenting and never allowing themselves to be completely satisfied with the current approach. While nearly 60% of CXOs and CXOWs surveyed report that they look for new ways of doing things on a regular basis, fewer than 46% of CXOs and CXOWs said they propose ideas the company might consider controversial.

Ed Catmull, the cofounder and president of Pixar, is well known for embracing an experimental approach to his work. He freely acknowledges that all Pixar movies „suck“ when they are first conceptualized, and that is only through thousands of storyboards that the final product starts to come to shape.

Throughout the design process, Pixar employees are constantly experimenting with new approaches to get the designs right, often scrapping years of work if a vision doesn’t come together as effectively as expected. This is best embodied by John Lasseter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, who says, „we don’t actually finish out films, we just release them.“

5. Take risks

A willingness to step forward in the face of ambiguity enables bold leaders to respond quickly to new trends and proactively redefine the market. With only 34% of respondents in the Deloitte survey reporting that they take risks, this is clearly a concept that is easy to understand but hard to put into practice. Leaders who find ways to take risks while considering the importance of context find themselves on the cutting edge and hone their ability to develop a competitive advantage over their more cautious peers.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s charismatic and challenging leader is famous for setting a punishing standard for his teams, and has created an environment in which risk is encouraged in the pursuit of improved performance. Stephenie Landry, an operations executive, became a famous example of this after proposing an idea to ship items to urban customers in an hour or less. Less than four months later, this previously mid-level manager launched Prime Now, a service which is pushing the envelope in the industry for delivery speed.

6. Build strong teams and empower them to success

While many leaders focus on innovating their products and services, they often forget that the ideas for these innovations come from their team members. Additionally, leaders are often fearful of a looming brain drain, expecting their top talent to flee for more innovative, technology-savvy companies.

An eyebrow-raising 63% of CXOs and 80% of CXOWs surveyed feel that 1 in 3 or more of their best managers will leave before joining the senior ranks. Bold leaders appreciate that employees need ample opportunity to practice and experiment if they are going to excel. As a result, they think carefully about their team composition, the conditions that foster growth, and how to provide support in the form of both mentorship and sponsorship.

Leaders who provide a solid base of support and an opportunity for challenge aid their organizations in the ongoing war for talent. In addition, the increased loyalty they foster often leads to retention and in turn, attracts other top talent.

One of the greatest challenges facing companies today is the fact that physical separation and heavy reliance on e-mail communication can undermine effective team dynamics. To improve team harmony and prevent frustrations that can lead to a staff exodus, Dharmendra Modha at IBM developed a detailed contract for each product describing each team’s responsibilities and identifying how the product would work in conjunction with products from other teams.

As a result, each team member feels they are working towards a common purpose. In addition, if groups propose different approaches to solving a problem, he divides the team and has them each pursue their idea. Objective testing identifies the best solution and encourages staff to experiment with the approach they think will work best rather than succumbing to groupthink.

In reading these stories, it would be easy to equate bold leadership with courage — attributing it to personality or temperament. This is particularly true in times of uncertainty, where being bold feels exponentially riskier, but this framing doesn’t tell the most important part of the story.

While some of the elements listed above may come naturally, those that don’t can be developed by understanding and incorporating what the most effective leaders focus on into your own decision-making process. Effective leaders are not great because they are willing to jump blindly or rashly into the unknown, but because they know how to think through complex challenges and know specifically what to think about.

This approach involves an ability to quickly identify the most relevant variables in any situation and prioritize action. Combine this knowledge with a willingness to experiment and a high standard for success and you have a leader who can confidently launch new products and services and adjust people processes in the face of uncertainty.

Dieter Zetsche beschwört den Wandel der Autobranche

Betont lässig: Daimler-Chef Dieter Zetsche brach in Paris mit den Traditionen der Autobranche. Er führte Freizeitmode vor und verkündete das neue Leitbild einer agilen Organisation.

(Foto: Daimler)

Dabei bremste Daimler bislang bei den alternativen Antrieben. Auch die jüngste Elektroauto-Studie geriet mutlos. Gelingt dennoch die Transformation zum Tech-Konzern?

Analyse von Joachim Becker

Die Schuhe sind Teil der Inszenierung: Wenn der 63-jährige Chef eines Weltunternehmens mit Jeans und Turnschuhen rumläuft, dann befindet er sich für gewöhnlich im Urlaub oder in der Midlife-Crisis. Dieter Zetsche will augenscheinlich nicht zum alten Eisen gehören. Doch sein Problem ist weniger privater als unternehmerischer Natur: Der Daimler-Boss will das Flaggschiff der deutschen Autoindustrie zur Tech-Company umbauen.

Vor einer Gründerzeit im Neckar-Valley muss er einige Altlasten bewältigen. Zum Beispiel den Erfolg des bewährten Geschäftsmodells: Trotz Rekordabsatzzahlen fordert Zetsche ein radikales Umdenken seiner Mitarbeiter. Statt sprudelnde Erlöse zu feiern, sollen sie sich an einer Revolution beteiligen. Ausgang offen.

Bisher stand Mercedes auf der Bremse

Was Zetsche auf dem Pariser Autosalon verkündet, ist eine Revolution von oben: „Wir wollen nicht nur die Verwandlung unserer Produkte vorantreiben, sondern auch die Verwandlung unserer Organisation signifikant beschleunigen.“ Bisher standen die Stuttgarter nicht nur bei alternativen Antrieben auf der Bremse. Kurz nach einer Welttournee mit Wasserstofffahrzeugen wurde 2013 die angekündigte Serienproduktion abgesagt. Im selben Jahr überließ man BMW i die Vorfahrt bei komplett neuen Elektroautos. Die ersten E-Smarts mit Hochtemperaturzellen hatten 2007 bloß Forschungscharakter. Später half Tesla auch bei der Mercedes-B-Klasse-e-cell mit Batterien nach. Trotzdem oder gerade deshalb zögerte der Elektroingenieur Zetsche, Milliarden auf eine ungewisse Elektro-Zukunft zu wetten.


Zetsche ist kein junger Wilder wie Elon Musk, der als New-Age-Guru einer emissionsfreien Zukunft auftritt. Der Erfolg von Tesla und vor allem die Geschwindigkeit, mit der sich das Start-up weiterentwickelt, sorgen im Daimler-Vorstand allerdings für Stirnrunzeln. Der Elektro-Pionier punktet mit Software-Updates, die neue Funktionen ins Auto bringen. Trotz gravierender Rückschläge wie beim Autopiloten will Tesla das erste autonome Auto auf den Markt bringen.

Die Serienversion des Generation EQ kommt 2018

Bei dem halsbrecherischen Technologietempo gibt es eine Reihe von Unwägbarkeiten: „Unser Zielkorridor für den Elektroabsatz im Jahr 2025 liegt zwischen 15 und 25 Prozent. Genauer können wir es einfach nicht prognostizieren“, gesteht Mercedes-Vertriebsvorstand Ola Källenius. Trotzdem legt Daimler jetzt den Schalter für die neue Elektro-Submarke EQ um. Die Serienversion des Pariser Showcars „Generation EQ“ wird ab 2018 zum Preis eines „vernünftig ausgestatteten Mercedes GLC“ (also für rund 60 000 Euro) angeboten. Mindestens neun weitere reine E-Mobile vom Kompaktauto bis zum Supersportler sollen bis 2025 folgen.

Mercedes will bis 2025 Tesla als Marktführer bei Premium-Elektrofahrzeugen ablösen. Die leistungsstarken Stromer werden aber schon Ende dieses Jahrzehnts Standard sein – als Unterscheidungsmerkmal einer Marke taugen sie dann nicht mehr. Deshalb stürzen sich die Blechbieger in weitere Abenteuer: „Viele Autohersteller wollen heute Mobilitätsanbieter werden. Das ist schön und gut. Aber die Transformation der Branche ist noch viel grundlegender“, warnt der Daimler-Boss.

Daimlers Erfolgsgeschichte geschieht zu langsam

130 Jahre lang definierte sich die Autoindustrie über Hardware. Daimler ist das beste Beispiel, wie schwierig nun das Umdenken ist: Die Stuttgarter haben zwar 2007 das flexible Einweg-Carsharing mit vollvernetzten Smarts erfunden. Doch es dauerte zehn Jahre, um Car2go auf zwei Millionen Nutzer zu bringen. Was Daimler als Erfolgsgeschichte verkauft, geschieht letztlich zu langsam, um mit neuen Wettbewerbern zu konkurrieren. Maßgeschneiderte, automatisierte Mobilitäts-Services könnten dem Verkauf von Privat-Pkw in Zukunft mehr und mehr Konkurrenz machen. Niemand weiß aber, wie und wann sich der Wandel genau vollziehen wird.

Bisher sind die Entwicklungsabteilungen der Autohersteller entlang von neuen Produkten aufgestellt. Genauso wichtig werden allerdings innovative Geschäftsmodelle sein. Daimler will den Technologiewandel vom Kundenerlebnis her neu denken: „Wir erwarten, dass sich das Auto von einem Produkt in eine ultimative Plattform verwandelt. Das ist ein fundamentaler Perspektivenwechsel“, sagt Dieter Zetsche. Diese Plattform ruhe auf vier Säulen: Vernetzung (Connected), Autonomes Fahren, Sharing und Elektromobilität. Zusammen ergeben die Anfangsbuchstaben das Wort Case. „Wir haben gerade einen neuen Unternehmensbereich mit diesem Namen gegründet, um diese Themenfelder zusammenbringen“, so Zetsche.

Noch ist unklar, was die Kunden wollen

Den Kunden in den Mittelpunkt zu stellen, ist eine prima Idee. Das Problem ist nur: Kaum ein Mercedes-Käufer hat bisher nach Elektromobilen gefragt. Geschweige denn Interesse an einer Internet-Plattform gezeigt, über die er seine Luxuskarosse mit anderen teilen kann. Genau das will Mercedes mit einer Sharing-Plattform ab November dieses Jahres in Deutschland erproben.

Zetsche stellt in Paris jedoch klar, das keine einzelne Technologie oder Dienstleistung den Unterschied machen werde, sondern ein neuartiges Gesamterlebnis von Mobilität: „Jede der Case-Säulen hat das Potenzial, die gesamte Automobilindustrie auf den Kopf zu stellen. Aber die wahre Revolution ist die Verbindung dieser Aspekte in einem umfassenden, nahtlosen Paket.“

Zetsches ständiger Balanceakt

Alt und neu, analog und digital, Sakko zur verwaschenen Jeans: Als Vordenker balanciert Zetsche ständig zwischen den Gegensätzen. Seine Grundsatzrede auf dem Pariser Autosalon klingt über weite Strekken wie ein Appell an die eigene Belegschaft: Das Schweizer Uhrwerk als Zeichen für Verlässlichkeit und Präzision im mechanischen Zeitalter – „das bleibt auch in Zukunft wichtig!“, beruhigt er seine Mitarbeiter. Schon im nächsten Moment predigt er jedoch das Credo des digitalen Zeitalters: Ihm gefalle die Idee einer „agilen Schwarmorganisation“, verkündet der Manager mit dem grauen Walrossbart: „Case wird als rechtlich getrennte Organisation ein perfekter Startpunkt für diese Vorstellung sein.“

Mehr Silicon Valley wagen, ohne die Stärken der Vergangenheit aufzugeben, lautet die Botschaft. Noch weiß allerdings niemand, wie dieses Autofahren 2.0 wirklich aussieht, geschweige denn, wie man damit Geld verdient. Elektro-Studien wie der Mercedes Generation EQ und der VW I. D. zeigen in Paris jedenfalls das genaue Gegenteil einer Design-Revolution. Mit ihren mutlos-monolithischen Grundformen pendeln sie irgendwo zwischen Van und Crossover. Bloß nicht auffallen!

Der Fluch der großen Reichweite

Damit sich die Hoffnungsträger wenigstens ein bisschen vom Mainstream unterscheiden, wurde ihnen das Dach tief ins Gesicht gedrückt. Doch der Trick funktioniert nur auf geschickt fotografierten Bildern. Wer versucht hat, auf den Rücksitzen des VW I. D. zu sitzen oder sich unter dem Dachholm des Mercedes EQ durchzuschlängeln, erkennt den Schwindel: In der Serie werden aus halbwegs schnittigen Showcars bleischwere Hochdachautos. Das ist der Fluch der großen Reichweite.

Die Physik lässt sich auch im digitalen Zeitalter nicht überlisten: Stromer mit 500 Kilometer Radius benötigen riesige Unterflur-Batteriepakete, auf denen die Passagiere thronen. Tesla kann dieses hochgebockte Kutschendesign mit einem flachen Batterieformat recht gut kaschieren. Weil kein anderer Hersteller die schmalen Rundzellen von Panasonic verwendet, werden sich die Designer mit ihren Tesla-Fightern mächtig anstrengen müssen.

Auch Matthias Müller beschwört ein „neues Zeitalter“

Dass die meisten Kunden 500 Kilometer Batteriereichweite gar nicht brauchen, ist die Ironie dieses Technologiewandels. Bisher hat kaum jemand die Stromer als Erstauto für die ganze Familie verwendet, geschweige denn Urlaubsfahrten damit geplant. Das Wettrennen um den größten Batterieradius wendet sich also nicht an die umweltbewussten Pioniere, sondern an den komfortorientierten Otto-Normalverbraucher: Einmal pro Woche Tanken ist gelernt. Bloß nicht umgewöhnen!

Auch Matthias Müller beschwört in Paris ein „neues Zeitalter“: „Die Elektromobilität und digitale Vernetzung werden zu Game Changern“. Welche Spielregeln für eine neue Generation von Kunden gelten werden, weiß aber auch das Oberhaupt des Volkswagen-Konzerns nicht sicher zu sagen. Vielleicht sind es digital animierte Innenwelten, die ein neues Markenerlebnis schaffen. Auf dem Mercedes-Stand ließ sich Müller lange die Bedienphilosophie der EQ-Studie erklären. Die hochauflösenden 3-D-Landschaften auf dem Riesenbildschirm sollten ihn wohl von der Tristesse im VW I. D. ablenken.