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“Whatever you want to do, you can do it with Excel,” my colleague, Greg, motioned to me, over a round of burgers and fries.

At the time, I was still in the training phase of a new job working as a programmer in a large, NYC-based media company, and was still learning the ropes. Over the following weeks, Greg taught me all he knew about how to make a powerful spreadsheet. “You can use it for creating templates or to make a solid report, ” he said knowingly. “Trust me, man, it’ll make your life easier.”

I didn’t know much at the time, so needless to say, I followed his advice and began using Excel for basically everything. …

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The year was 2009 and Nokia ethnographer, Tricia Wang, began to see a new trend emerge after years of conducting observational fieldwork in China.

In her research, she discovered that low-income consumers were ready to pay for more expensive smartphones, and promptly reported her findings back to Nokia.

But instead of heeding her advice and beginning to produce affordable smartphones for low-income users, they did what many companies often do when faced with a similar situation: they looked at their measurable datasets.

And the data wasn’t buying it.

In writing about her experience for Ethnography Matters, Wang attempted to explain that Nokia’s “notion of demand was a fixed quantitative model that didn’t map to how demand worked as a cultural model in China.” …

When it comes to transforming your business, choose purpose over medium.

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In 2013, CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings sent an 11-page memo to his employees and investors with one core message: he wanted to make a change from simply distributing content digitally to becoming a top producer of original content capable of winning Oscars and Emmys.

The contents of the memo said the following:

“We don’t and can’t compete on breadth with Comcast, Sky, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Sony, or Google. For us to be hugely successful we have to be a focused passion brand.”

By broadening their vision, their focus changed; a decision that ended up tripling their profits.

The trouble with slow organizational transformation

Writing for Harvard Business Review, co-authors Scott D. Anthony, Alasdair Trotter, and Evan I. Schwartz, discovered a key lesson from looking at the top 20 business transformations of the last decade. They…


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