Digital growth depends more on business models than technology

More than 20 companies launched in 2009, including Uber, Slack, Pinterest, and Blue Apron, all eventually achieved $1 billion-plus valuations. Given that those companies were all venture-financed and emerged from Silicon Valley, you might assume that the key ingredients that have ensured their success were cutting-edge technologies, digital platforms, and customer bases that were chiefly made up of digital natives.

You would be wrong.

Each was able to satisfy real customers who needed real jobs done — a fundamental problem in a given situation that needed a solution. In other words, they had great business models.

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The hard truth about innovative cultures

Innovative cultures are generally depicted as pretty fun. Other characteristics extolled by management books include tolerance for failure, willingness to experiment, psychological safety, highly collaborative, and nonhierarchical. And research supports the idea that these behaviors translate into better innovative performance.

But despite the fact that innovative cultures are desirable and that most leaders claim to understand what they entail, they are hard to create and sustain. How can practices apparently so universally loved—even fun—be so tricky to implement?

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Creating a purpose-driven organisation

A higher purpose is not about economic exchanges. It reflects something more aspirational. It explains how the people involved with an organization are making a difference, gives them a sense of meaning, and draws their support.

When organisations embrace purpose, it’s often because a crisis forces leaders to challenge their assumptions about motivation and performance and to experiment with new approaches. Robert E. Quinn and Anjan V. Thakor have developed a framework to help build a purpose-driven organization. It enables you to overcome the largest barrier to embracing purpose—the cynical “transactional” view of employee motivation—by following eight essential steps.

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A people-based approach to product management

Product management is an important part of the human-centred design process, as promoted by the UK Government Digital Service, amongst others. It can be focussed on the external market or on the internal technology. However, there’s currently a shifting focus towards an empathetic, people-based approach.

We’re often told to consider the following when it comes to creating products:

  • experience
  • engagement
  • emotion

However, we also need to have empathy with the people who will buy, use, and experience your products or services.

This is crucial to creating products people love.

Watch Jon Kolko, author of “Well-Designed,” talk about how an end to end process that uses empathy to create products that seem as though they have a personality, or even a soul and which providing deep, meaningful engagement to people that use those products or services.

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