Category Archives: Business

Eric Ries on 5 Lessons Companies Can Learn From Startups

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id1722_startupway_800x400_m2

Since the Great Recession in 2008, startups have become a major force in society. Today’s entrepreneurial culture — with lower financial barriers to launching a business and people’s increasing desire for flexibility, freedom, and purpose in their work — has bred a whole generation of young companies that have quickly scaled and revolutionized a wide range of industries. A number of those companies, like Airbnb and Uber, have achieved explosive growth and evolved into bonafide conglomerates in recent years.

Meanwhile, older organizations looking to remain relevant and thrive are striving to figure out the practices that allow these startups to excel — and how their corporations can adopt them in order to catch up.

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Don’t Frustrate Users With Gaps in Your Product Experience

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There are countless steps where the product experience can break down.

There are countless steps where the product experience can break down.

There are countless steps where the product experience can break down. Have you ever been waiting at the corner for a ride-sharing pickup, and while the app swears the driver is right there, there is no car in sight? Or how about seamlessly ordering groceries in an app, then waiting well past the delivery window with no sign of your avocados? Ever called customer service by phone to learn they have no record of the two detailed chats you had with online agents about your issue? We’ve all been there.

As consumers who increasingly rely on technology to help us wrangle a vast range of goods and services, we’ve all experienced pain points when really good software doesn’t equate a really good experience. All too often, there’s a breakdown that occurs outside product screens, when a product or process hits the reality of the human experience or a user fails.

Take a peek at the diagram above, which charts the various user touch points that can occur with your brand in a product experience loop. Users interact with a product through many different channels and modes of communication, and bridging the gaps between them is essential to your product’s success. If you present users with a custom call to action in a social media ad, your customer service teams must be ready to respond. If you build an offer email that is redeemable at a brick-and-mortar retail location, the cashier will need tools to redeem it.

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How Blending Lean, Agile, and Design Thinking Will Transform Your Team

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Lean vs Agile vs Design Thinking Jeff Gothelf

Jeff Gothelf’s new book, Lean vs. Agile vs. Design Thinking

The following is an adapted excerpt from Lean vs. Agile vs. Design Thinking by designer, team leader, and business coach Jeff Gothelf.

In 2016, I was preparing with clients for an upcoming training workshop focused on coaching a cross-functional team of designers, software engineers, product managers, and business stakeholders on integrating product discovery practices into their delivery cadences. During our conversation, my client said to me, “Our tech teams are learning Agile. Our product teams are learning Lean, and our design teams are learning Design Thinking. Which one is right?”

The client found the different disciplines at odds because these seemingly complementary practices forced each discipline into different cadences, with different practices and vocabularies targeting different measures of success.

The engineering teams, using Agile, were focused on shipping bug-free code in regular release cycles (many teams call these “sprints”). Their ultimate goal was an increased velocity — the quantity of code they could ship in each sprint. Product managers, using Lean, were most interested in driving efficiency, quality, and reduction of waste through tactical backlog prioritization and grooming techniques.

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How to Cultivate Top Tech Talent: What Every Exec Needs to Know

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Hiring Strategy Digital Skills Training

Our recommendation is simple: Companies need to invest in learning.

The following is an excerpt from 6 People Strategies for Successful Digital Transformation, an exclusive white paper from General Assembly. Download the full paper here.

The digital landscape is evolving at a rapid pace, and it’s essential for companies to harness wide-ranging technical expertise in order to stay ahead. Today’s marketers must be able to analyze massive amounts of data, IT workers must be able to design compelling mobile app experiences, and a “product” is no longer only a physical object but could be a website, a piece of content, or even a training curriculum.

General Assembly’s recommendation for keeping up is simple: Companies need to invest in learning. The Economist magazine recently issued a special report that highlighted the importance of “lifelong learning” as a habit that both skilled and unskilled workers must incorporate to keep pace with a rapidly developing economy. They profiled GA’s approach to tech education — including upskilling promising individuals and reskilling those with outdated competencies in data, web development, and design — as an effective way to ensure employees’ skills were kept up to date.

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9 Ways to Develop Talent for Tomorrow’s Economy

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Policy Ideas Skills Gap

Create opportunities for employers and job-seekers alike with these proposed policies to help close chronic skills gaps.

A tightening labor market, persistent skills gaps (in fields from manufacturing to technology), and the short shelf life of skills in the rapidly changing digital economy, have led to a seemingly paradoxical narrative in the education-to-employment pipeline.

In manufacturing, for instance, 70 percent of companies now face shortages of workers with the necessary technology skills. And yet millions of Americans struggle to find jobs that put them on a path toward social and economic mobility or, at least, a comfortable perch in the middle class.

What’s worse, the compounding forces of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will begin to dislocate a growing number of workers — putting unprecedented pressure on an education and workforce development system that is ill-equipped to tackle looming reskilling and training challenges.

New Models Emerge

In the last five years, an array of non-accredited education and training providers has surfaced to address these challenges, including General Assembly, as well as on-demand learning platforms, ultra-low-cost course providers (like StraighterLine or Coursera), and new approaches to “education as an employee benefit” (pioneered by companies like Chipotle, in partnership with Guild Education).

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Salary Strategy: Tips From a Hostage Negotiator

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Chris Voss Never Split the Difference Book

The tech industry is nothing if not competitive. As startups, mom-and-pop shops, and Fortune 500 companies fight for top talent, developers, designers, data scientists, and more find themselves in a mad dash to get in the door.

Once they’re there, an offer may be a testament to their technical skills. However, the true mettle of one’s professional prowess lies in securing the salary you want. When you’re in the throes of negotiating for that number, don’t sell yourself short. Instead, ask yourself: What would Chris Voss do?

During his 24 years in the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit, Voss used expert verbal and psychological tactics to defuse and control more than 150 international hostage cases. Many of the high-stakes situations were a matter of life or death — with rescues ranging from military contractors captured in Colombia to journalists kidnapped in Iraq and Gaza.

Now, he empowers people with valuable negotiation strategies to contend with tough professional and personal circumstances. As the founder and CEO of the consulting firm The Black Swan Group, he advises Fortune 500 companies through their most challenging negotiations. And in his book, the illuminating Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, he reveals how powerful language, a “pleasant persistence,” empathy, and listening can give you an edge in getting a promotion, buying a car, consulting with a partner, and beyond.

In this book excerpt, learn Voss’s concrete tips for turning an employer into an ally and negotiating your next salary.

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John Rossman on How the Internet of Things Transforms Businesses

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Amazon Way on IoT John Rossman Interview

Author and tech-industry veteran John Rossman, whose new book takes a deep dive into the Internet of Things.

When it comes to enhancing customer experiences and improving business operations, the future lies in the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT is the ability to take an analog or physical capability and create a digital version of that experience. For example, the Nest thermostat helps lower energy costs by using sensors and your phone’s location to adjust the temperature when you leave the house. Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator allows you to order groceries from FreshDirect right from its door.

From a business standpoint, IoT technology allows for smarter, data-driven models that enable higher efficiency and better outcomes. From a consumer standpoint, it can transform the way we think about some of our most routine daily actions. IoT technology requires elements of data science and analytics, product management, and user experience — and because of this, it’s a cross-functional industry with tons of opportunity for growth.

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John Rossman on How Amazon Harnesses the Internet of Things to Be Relentless (Book Excerpt)

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The Amazon Way on IoT John Rossman

John Rossman’s new book, The Amazon Way on IoT.

Amazon has long been at the forefront of emerging technologies, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is no exception. IoT technology, which allows objects to send and receive data through internet connectivity, is changing the way we interact with everyday objects. For example, you can control your air conditioner through a mobile app or track your health stats through a wristband.

On the consumer side, Amazon introduced the Dash Button, which allows customers to reorder an item with the touch of a standalone button. For businesses, the eCommerce giant launched AWS IoT, a platform for developers to build, manage, and analyze their own IoT devices.

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How Can Humility Save the Entrepreneur? One Expert Has the Answer

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Michael Dermer The Lonely Entrepreneur Book

Michael Dermer, founder of The Lonely Entrepreneur.

There’s a crushing, isolating pressure that engulfs many entrepreneurs as they try to transform a passion into a profession. Long days extend into exhausting late nights as they wrangle talent, negotiate funds, and wonder just how far away success (or failure) lies.

In the world of business, anything can happen and nothing is promised. No one knows this better than Michael Dermer, a lawyer, author, and life and career coach, who painstakingly built a company over 10 years only to see it collapse in 10 days during the financial crisis. Undaunted, Dermer turned the hard lessons he learned into an opportunity, launching a platform to help people start businesses with the support and knowledge they need.

The Lonely Entrepreneur — a book, website, and global community — is Dermer’s salve for the heartaches of entrepreneurship. Packed with learning modules, community connections, and expert advice, The Lonely Entrepreneur helps budding businesspeople get on their feet and take strides toward success.

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Tim Ferriss and How to Develop Mental Toughness: Lessons From 7 Titans

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Tim Ferriss, Tools of Titans book

Tim Ferriss, bestselling author and entrepreneur.

Committing to a major life change can be scary, especially when it comes to your career — but inspiration from those who have made their way to the top can go a long way in overcoming obstacles and leveling up. Through his bestselling self-help book The 4-Hour Workweek, massively popular podcast The Tim Ferriss Show, and more, entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss has helped thousands of people design lives and careers they love.

Throughout his work, Ferriss has gleaned motivational insight from leaders in business, sports, entertainment, and the military, homing in on the habits, mentalities, and strategies they use to excel. He’s compiled some of his best learnings from those conversations into a new book, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.

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