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Leadership: Stagnation Kills Your Business, 3 Times

Petronas Twin Towers
Petronas Twin Towers held the title of the tallest building in the world for six years (Flickr)

Your business has been thriving, and the pipeline is well filled with work? Don’t get comfortable too soon. Stagnation kicks in fast nowadays, and kills your business’ innovation, its growth, and its people.

1. Innovation 

The speed of transformation that we are currently witnessing is challenging all of us to think differently. Every industry can be disrupted, there is no safe habour. So we need to deliver our products and services in a way that is relevant today, not yesterday.

Minor product iterations do not work forever. We need to prepare product revolutions, not just iterations on what we were selling since ten years. Establishing an innovation lab engages our employees to think in innovative ways and lift our business to new heights.

2. Growth

We need to adjust our business development plan to drive business growth. This should not be a static document. Customer and market definition are changing fast and we need to adopt this in our sales strategy and in our product development.

This does not work without data. Therefore we need to implement a data strategy. Our data strategy guides our entire business how to collect and analyze data, and how to generate the insights that we use for our decisions. If we do not take advantage of data, our competition will do.

3. People

Sushi Google DoodleIt is essential for leaders to recognize that you cannot possibly manage everything. We need to employ great people. But recruiting is not the end. We need to keep your talents, empower them, and motivate them to take initiative in their roles. Stagnation will rotate employees out of the company.

Offering free sushi and laundry service might impress our new hires from university. Experienced and independent employees will be more interested in career perspectives. We should establish personal development plans for everyone, not just for the designated managers.

Although it is important for leaders to set such a career framework, we should not forget to invest in your employees’ training. Both, hard skills (technical) and soft skills (non-technical), are mandatory because they each play very important roles in the development of our employees.

In Summary

Yesterday’s innovations are tomorrow’s commodities. We need to invest in innovations, otherwise we will face disruptive competition. Creating insights from data is important for the iterative adjustments on our business development plan. Offering personal development plans and proper training avoids stagnation for your employees, which is causing brain drain.

This post is also published on LinkedIn.

Monkey Business: Always be Ready to Demo

The famous Tableau Superstore demo data set
The famous Tableau Superstore demo data set

Usually, I really don’t like looking on the screens of other passengers. On this early morning train from Frankfurt to Cologne, however, the screen of my seatmate caught my attention. Where have I seen the logo on his slide deck before? Two coffee sips later, it came to me: it was the logo of Monkey 47, a very delicious gin, distilled in the heart of the Black Forest. So I asked my neighbor: “Is that the Monkey 47 logo?”

He was happy that I recognized his brand and we had a small chat about gin and the Black Forest. Turns out his name is Thomas, and he is the head of Sales and Marketing for Monkey 47. Thomas mentioned that his team is planning a tour to promote Monkey 47 in a number of cities. That sounds similar to what we are doing with the Tableau Cinema Tour, so I showed him our Cinema Tour landing page and explained briefly who we are and what our mission is.

I asked him how he is organizing his data. Thomas revealed that he lives in Excel hell: “spreadsheets with thousands of rows and way too many columns”. This also sounded familiar. I opened up our Superstore.xlsx in Excel and asked: “Do your Excel sheets look like this?” Thomas replied: “Yes!”

Here we go! I drag’n’dropped the file on my Tableau desktop icon and paced through a 7-minute-demo ending with an interactive dashboard. Thomas was flabbergasted. To polish things off, I showed him the interactive Twitter Sentiment Dashboard embedded in my blog. Thomas grabbed his jacket and gave me a business card, saying: “We need Tableau!”

Monkey 47 business card (back side)
Monkey 47 business card (back side)

This story was originally written for Tableau’s EMEA Sales Newsletter. I think it’s a good read for the holidays, and wish you all Merry Christmas!