Expanding the Canvas and Finding the Compass: The Role of Meditation in Decision Making

By RICARDO B LEVY: Technical innovation is often at the heart of an entrepreneurial venture. The leader’s role is to create the right environment to facilitate and foster such innovation. This requires bringing together people of different skills and specializations, ideally individuals more competent than the leader in their areas of expertise, very comfortable pushing the boundaries of the unknown in their particular domain. Their domain risk tolerance is likely to be very high.

What the leader needs to recognize is that the risk tolerance of the expert in his or her area of specialization may not apply to their tolerance of the uncertainties in other aspects of the entrepreneurial venture. For example, a scientist who may be one of the best in the world at creating new photovoltaic materials and be very at ease with the inherent uncertainty of the discovery of new PV compounds may be very un-easy with the challenges of financing or selling. Just think of the un-ease that scientist may feel when confronted with only a six-month cash runway. The role of the leader is to absorb any extraneous uncertainty that may get in the way of the expert team member, freeing that individual to do the best job possible, to do the job unbridled.

Taking responsibility for the full uncertainty of the company is the logical task of the leader in an entrepreneurial organization. After all, the senior executive has the whole company in his or her hands, and is the one person most aware of all the known factors affecting the destiny of the company. That is the nature of the office. But how does a leader cope with such a large burden?

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Growth Acceleration Strategies for Family Businesses: Steering on a Crowded and Slippery Track

By Ali Borhani: The story begins with two friends who went trekking and hiking in British Columbia in Canada. One night and after a long walk, they camped by a beautiful river that had a nice BBQ, watched the stars by the fire and went to sleep. In the morning when they were freshening up and washing their faces, one of them saw a very big and rather aggressive grizzly bear approaching them. While he was screaming and shouting with fear, anticipating the worst, his friend calmly went to the tent, bringing out his boots and lacing them up. The frozen and scared friend was watching the bear with one eye, and with the other observing his friend in bewilderment. He shouted, “Are you out of your mind, the bear is coming and you are lacing up?” to which his friend responded, “ The reality is that the bear will shortly chase both of us as he seems hungry, and we have to run away. I am making sure I do stay ahead of you.” The moral of the story is that the competition is a basic instinct and family businesses are well-advised to “lace up” and develop their growth strategies now…

In which camp have you set up your tent? Are you in the valleys of preservation or on the high-hills of growth? These are two completely different locations to find yourself in. From a growth camp one has a bird’s eye view over all the changes in the geo-economical landscape and will see the grizzlies of competition a long time before they arrive.

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The Hidden Flaws in Strategy

I read so many articles on strategy but very rarely find one that I think significantly adds value to both the discussion but also to all practioners, particularly entrepreneurs !

Enjoy: The Hidden Flaws in Strategy

Taxation Systems

I found this very easy to understand analysis of the taxation, explained through a group buying beer!
Enjoy the reading… !


Suppose that once a week, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:-

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. 

The fifth would pay £1…
The sixth would pay £3…
The seventh would pay £7…
The eighth would pay £12…
The ninth would pay £18…
And the tenth man (the richest) would pay £59…
So, that’s what they decided to do…

The ten men drank in the bar every week and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until, one day, the owner caused them a little problem. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your weekly beer by £20.” Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80. 

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Economic Policy that only pursues growth will always lead to debt

For some time I have been asking myself on the one hand whether constant growth is either sustainable or desirable, or whether we should develop our plans on the basis of debt.

My brother shared with me an interview contained in SPIEGEL with Tomas Sedlacek:-

“Greed is the Beginning of Everything”

Czech economist Tomas Sedlacek discusses morality in the current crisis and why he believes an economic policy that only pursues growth will always lead to debt. Those who don’t know how to handle it, he argues, end up in a medieval debtor’s prison, as the Greeks and others are experiencing today.

For the first time I have read a paper which intuitively I feel highlights my views. I hope you enjoy…!

To view the article in PDF, please click here:- SPIEGEL Interview with Tomas Sedlacek

Source: http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,822981,00.html

Revolutionary Investment Strategy

Over the past couple of years, I have continually seen a number company’s state that they need to increase their prices now in order that they are able to fund their investment in providing their services. This is particularly the case by companies who effectively have a monopoly or a significant market share.

Maybe I am “old fashioned”. But I have always been brought up on a “diet” that you reap your rewards from making the investment through one of the following:

• Cost savings achieved
• Increase your customer base
• Benefits to customers that you can enhance your revenues

So what are the consequences of this revolutionary investment strategy?

1. Effectively, the investing company does not have to be creative in developing their product or service offering to achieve enhanced returns.

2. Since their capital investment is already funded by the customers, there is likely to be less due diligence or creativity around ensuring that the capital costs are optimized or managed effectively, for either benefit to the customer or the shareholder!

3. Once the investment has been made there is likely to be less commitment and scrutiny to ensure that the revenues or cost savings are accruing in accordance with the business case, as it simply just too easy.

It is absolutely critical that the regulators ensure that these businesses and operators are not able to operate in this manner! Or am I delusional…?

Skoll World Forum (SWF) 2011 – A personal reflection

This was my first visit to the SWF and having had the experience of the Celebration of Entrepreneurship (CoE) in Dubai in November 2011 was really excited about the prospect for my days. I arrived home on Friday evening 1/4/2011, satisfied, exhausted, inspired, energised, humbled, full of learning, connected with so many great people I met and I would like to share my key takeaways.

Many of the key sessions are filmed and on the SWF website www.skollworldforum.org

1. Deep Leadership (Video available) – a great session with number of interesting perspectives including those of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Upon reflection, my own believe after some further thought and analysis is a hypothesis utilising the Heroes Journey. Each time you go through the “storm” within the journey you gain an understanding of your own humanity. By repeatedly going through and coming out of the storm successfully, you increase and enhance your own personal well of “deep leadership”.

Furthermore there is definitely a clear correlation between deep leadership and spirituality however we seem too shy to make the connection!!!!!!!

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Managing social unrest by increasing GDP

Almost no country in the MENA Region experiences the 7-8% GDP growth familiar in the South East Asia economies that is needed to disseminate the benefits of growth to the middle and lower classes. This is largely due to the fact that most Arab nations are rent ridden countries with very little incentive to provide institutions and governance that favour entrepreneurship. In such conditions, only focused countries will be able to create a dynamic, diversified economy within a timeframe that generates gainful employment among the young quickly enough to bring social unrest to an end

Aligning business performance and meeting the needs of the community/society

Throughout my life, I have witnessed the conflict between business performance being built around solely shareholder value, and the requirement for business to serve the needs of communities and societies. This particularly came into focus for me when I returned from living in the Middle East to live in England in June 2009. I was stunned by the complete focus on profit generation to the total exclusion of customer value. Companies have learnt to put into place terms and conditions, and business processes that are able to legitimately extract revenues from customers whilst at the same time minimise their cost of serving the customer.

I had the opportunity to read a great article in the Harvard Business Review that I thoroughly recommend to you. Creating Shared Value by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer with the following link:-http://hbr.org/2011/01/the-big-idea-creating-shared-value/ar/1

Why are bankers bonus’s so immoral? – Personal Analysis

The banks are dictating the way in which the financial and economic structures of the world operate financially supported by government, but expect to be compensated as if they were operating in free and competitive markets. Retail bankers operate as oligopolies, but are essentially performing a public service, which should be regarded as important to the security of the country as the military. It is too easy to use cheap Government credit and lend out sparingly at huge mark ups (or even lend back to the Government itself with a mark up) when people have nowhere else to go.

During the last two decades, banks lent imprudently creating economic bubbles, and were able to ratchet up their profitability and bonus’s. Furthermore they found ways to repackage debt into various instruments to further enhance their profits and bonus’s. We know today that much of this lending was suspect at best and reckless at worst yet bonus’s were due. The financial markets collapsed in 2007/2008. If banks wish to be treated as operating in free and competitive manner, then they do not deserve to be completely bailed out by governments. They were bailed out. Without the bail out to the banking industry, no single bank in the world would have survived the contagion effect and chaos would have reigned.

The financial collapse ensured that the economies of the majority of the world collapsed as banks withdrew their support for their economies and in particular withdrew lending from those countries which had the worst problems and from economies that were unlikely to have significant growth and focused upon developing lending in emerging economies.

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