Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Negotiations is a vast and complex issue. One often hears “It all depends” when it comes to techniques to handle successfully a given negotiation. Fortunately, there are some basics conceived by brilliant minds. William Ury describes them in his “Getting Past No” book – a “bible” in the field. Basically it all boils down to 5 “don’ts”. The challenge is that none of them is really  a “natural” act – our “inefficiency” as negotiators is often explained by our incapacity to get rid of “bad habits” that go back as far as our childhood.

1. Don’t react: GO TO THE BALCONY
2. Don’t argue: STEP TO THEIR SIDE
3. Don’t reject: REFRAME
5. Don’t escalate: USE POWER TO EDUCATE.

If you think back on the latest negotiation you had, do you recall doing the following?
1.       Have you distanced yourself from natural impulses & emotions, recognized the tactic of the negotiation partner (stone walls, attacks, tricks), identified your “hot buttons”, avoid to take important decisions on the spot?
2.       Have you listened actively to your negotiation partner, acknowledged their point, agreed (wherever you could), acknowledged the person, expressed your views (without provoking via “Yes … and “ statements), created favorable climate for negotiation?
3.       Have you asked problem-solving questions “Why?", “Why not?”, “What makes that faire?”, negotiated about the Rules of the Game, applied reframe tactics (go around stone walls, deflect attacks, expose tricks)?
4.       Have you taken into consideration possible obstacles to agreement (not their idea, unmet interests, fear of losing face) and made the outcome look like a victory to them?
5.       Did you aim for mutual satisfaction, not Victory? Even when you could win, did you negotiate, did you use legitimate means, did you let them chose…

If you did all of the above, was the outcome of your negotiation satisfactory? If not, who do you think is to blame (yourself or the theoretical framework described)?


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Business plan template?

In a serie of blog post, Guy Kawasaki gives template documents for financial forecast, business model and pitching.

To start with, the financial document reconcile vision and details. On one hand the document  support the vision with a non detailed 5 years forecasts. The goal is to check the basic assumptions behind the model. On the other hand, one sheet is dedicated to the next year forecasts in much more details.


Then comes the pitch.


 The business plan will be a full text version of the pitch.


In my opinion, this last document, unless you want to raise, can be replaced by more agile methods.

The book running lean for instance propose a methodology to iterate very quickly between business model hypothesis for web based ventures.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Some lessons from Bill Gross

Bill Gross is the founder and CEO of Idealab, a technology incubator headquartered in Pasadena, California.  Bill has created over 75 companies since 1996. He shares willingly his experience about creating and running successful organizations. I've collected some of  his ideas mainly from 2 speeches at Le web (video in the post) and at Stanford.
Focus always win — (as long as you choose the right focus). Do one thing extremely well to connect better with the customer.

  • Take risk — risk taking should be encouraged. Idealab favor this as the startup founding teams can go back to the incubator, which acts as a safety net in case of failure.
  • Mar­ket Power Rules — Try to find a rapidly grow­ing mar­ket, it’s like run­ning a race with a strong wind at your back. He illustrates that approach through a brilliant presentation of one of his projects: esolar (listen to the Stanford Podcast). If you have something new or ahead of competition it's too early by definition. In that case, survive until the market is ready.  Don't spend money too fast only to get market shares.
  • Follow your passions — you have to be in love with what you are doing — Every business will face huge chal­lenges that you will only over­come if you have deep pas­sion for the idea.
  • Give equity to unlock human potential — Even the receptionist should have a share.
  • Management teams — Get complementary/opposite skills in your start-up. This is the most important thing to have with a decent idea. Bill Gross learned this lesson through his personal experience. Successful companies among the 300 rounds of financing had balanced team skills. Those which were not successful didn't.
  • Hereafter  is one personality taxonomy among many others: producer, entrepreneur,  administrator, integrator. Everybody is dominant in one category and has weaknesses in the others. 
    • Producer makes things happens, sales to the consumer, all the execution stages to put a product in the hands of the customer.
    • Integrator, the person who is more the "people person". He gives balance to the company. He avoids that people will be at war with each other. He has more interest in what people are thinking than in execution.
    • Administrator. He is a bureaucrat. He puts systems in place. Pays the employees... Sometime the P hates the A because he wants to get things done and the A want to put a system in place.
    • Entrepreneur , gives the vision. Think in the future. Sees things ahead of time.
  •  Master the Demo — Learn­ing how to sell, to pitch, to explain, to demon­strate is one of the most valuable entre­pre­neur­ial skills.
  • Test — Find a way to test your core propo­si­tion as soon as possible. Even without a product.
  • Perseverance  — this is a tough one. You have to persevere but at the same time know when you must let go.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

2000 free videos about entrepreneurship offered by Stanford University

Stanford has developed a large collection of videos and talks about entrepreneurship and innovation. The last post about Instagram was one of them. You can see more than 2000 videos directly on Stanford entrepreneurship web site http://ecorner.stanford.edu/, as podcast on iTune university and even through a dedicated iphone app.

The available topics are:
  • Creativity & Innovation
  • Opportunity Recognition
  • Product Development
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Finance & Venture Capital
  • Leadership & Adversity
  • Team & Culture
  • Globalization
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Career & Life Balance
Talks are from famous and less famous people, but most of the time very insightful: Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Guy Kawasaki, Bill Gross...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Some lessons from the young founders of Instagram

Instagram is a free photo sharing iPhone application. It has grown very quickly in 2010 to more than 10 million users.
In a presentation at Stanford, Instagram cofounders go through several myth according to them  people  believe in before creating their startup for real. Here is a selection:

  1. How to start a company is not explained in a written manual, nor written in a blog :) You have to deal with uncertainty and make snap decisions. This leads you to develop better guts.
  2. They insist on the need to be drawn in and passionate. The fact that you don't want a boss is not a good reason to become entrepreneur.
  3. Don't think about scaling at start.
  4. The hard thing is to find the problem to solve, not to find solutions to problems. They advise to list the major problems you want to solve, then verify this are the problems people are having by putting the product early in front of them. Even if the problem seems simple, simple problems are hard to solve at scale.
  5. Corollary,  don't start a stealth startup. You need to put the product in front of people and explain it. The ideal is to build a minimum viable product, as  advocated in  Ries' book: "the lean startup". You have to find the cheapest way to validate your hypothesis. Failing early and often is ok. 
  6. How to deal with competition? They advise to focus on making the product you love and not over- thinking about competition.
  7. Check that co-founders have the same time horizon (cashing out after 6 month vs staying for the long run).

For more, you can listen to the podcast on itune university.
From Stanford to Startup - Kevin Systrom, Mike Krieger (Instagram)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Business model innovation

During the INSEAD Best of Management at World Knowledge Forum 2011, professor Karan Girotra gave an interesting introduction to "business model innovation". While nearly everyone will think that new technologies are the heart of most innovations, business model innovation is more important than technological innovation in term of generated growth. To give you a taste of this theory, some of the examples he takes to illustrate are:

    • Dell has produced tremendous growth and disrupted the PC industry by creating a new business model: selling customized products before building them. 
    • Better Place, an Israeli start up solved through a business model innovation two problems of current electric cars: the low autonomy and the high acquisition price.
    • Zara achieved the same growth as Apple with "only" an impressive business model innovation.
Later, Karan illustrates that these kind of business model can be transposed from one industry to the other, opening huge perspectives.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Migrating niak.net to blogger

My blog was using a so old framework. Blogger should give it a new life.
I need to post also :)