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Photo by Héctor J. Rivas on Unsplash

Better Ventures

While desirability, feasibility, and viability are great, they are not enough to make a successful corporate venture. Suitability is key.

Corporate venture building is steady on the rise. More than 1 in 5 Fortune500 companies now have their own corporate venture builder, and more are coming. It is the next-hottest thing after the innovation lab, and with an angle that seems more promising as well. Instead of building innovation for the corporate outside and bringing it in, venture builders are looking to create new standalone companies leveraging corporate assets. This promises to catapult incumbents into the startup future.

Many venture labs are well equipped with talent and resources, focusing on the early exploration capabilities that startups need. This typically includes researchers, analysts, strategists, designers, developers, and similar folks, following Design Thinking and Lean Startup principles. While it makes sense to follow many established innovation and venture practices, some aspects make corporate venturing different.


Every 21st-century design process will need to include ethical lenses on the work. How can we best incorporate it?

The societal impact of technology cannot be overstated and has again come into the public focus through disastrous events. Social media, specifically, foremost Facebook and Twitter, have been the focus of scrutiny for the last years. Beyond the tech circles, where their algorithmic injustice has been debated for a decade or more, these discussions are mainstream. With documentaries like “the social dilemma”, the talking points are very much on everyone’s mind.

While fighting existing problems is essential, we also need to grapple with the questions around avoiding them in the future. At least avoid the massive scale and negative impact they had to reach before being addressed. As often stated, the people working on these products are rarely ill-intentioned. …


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Photo by Othmar Ortner on Unsplash

Happy New Year

There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.

A year ago, we started a new decade. And no quote can better sum up the start of this decade than this:

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

The year 2020 was, besides many other things, an accelerant in many areas. The last year was also filled with lessons and reminders:

I — We are all connected.

What affects one of us affects all of us. National boundaries do not divide us. Neither does religion, wealth, politics, race, gender, or anything else. Despite all the lines we draw, there are no boundaries powerful enough to keep our fates apart.


Better Storytelling

Clarify your message so customers will listen

by Sebastian Mueller and Marc Seefelder

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Illustration by Daria Guzieva

Last year we stumbled over Donald Miller’s book “Building a Story Brand” and it was eye-opening. Donald Miller is a screenwriter, and in his book, he takes a lot of inspiration from Campbells Hero’s journey — but he gives everything a different spin. His angle is: How can we make use of Storytelling for our business? What is so compelling about this book is that Miller gives us a clear plan on how to apply this story structure to brands to clarify their message so people will listen — like in design, crafting a story follows a particular process. And yes, there is a canvas for that (or 7-part framework). …


Better Design

The four types of people that can kill your project and how to win them over.

In large corporations, great ideas and projects are often killed before ever seeing the light of day. We sure had our fair share of such failures, and I know first-hand that they are a very regular occurrence. As designers and innovators, we have to face the fact that our work is often not evaluated based on its strength and merit, but based on someone else’s preconceived notions. “Corporate Politics” is the name of the game.

A stereotypical corporate board room, black-and-white.
A stereotypical corporate board room, black-and-white.
Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

I previously wrote about the importance of empathizing with stakeholders to win them over. As designers, we cannot reserve our empathy purely for the customer or user. We need to invest time to understand key stakeholders and work with them. …


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Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash

Future Problems

When thousands of people globally contribute millions of lines of code, who bears responsibility for the outcome?

Latest since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook can’t seem to get out of the headlights (and headlines for that matter). In the recent hit documentary “The Social Dilemma”, which Netflix recently released, another big target is drawn on Facebook’s back. That barely seems to have an impact on users and employees, however. Facebook usage is at an all-time high, continuing to rise at pre-PR-crisis numbers.

All those #DeleteFacebook posts have proved to be the virtue signalling everyone expected, with little action and no bite.

Facebook employees seem unfazed by what is playing out in the global headlines. And speaking to individuals or looking at their reactions only makes one thing clear — no one feels responsible. And that goes all the way up to the top. Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony in front of congress can only be summarized as a farce. Acknowledging only the most basic responsibility levels and pointing to the complex world of malicious actors while preaching Facebook values as something laudable. …


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Photo by rupixen.com on Unsplash

Better Pricing

How to spot them and how to avoid them.

What this article covers:

- An overview of the four biggest mistakes you can make in pricing

- A framework that will help you think about pricing more strategically

Pricing can often feel like something of a dark art. There are many indicators to look at, yet no best way to go about it. Further, it seems that often those who defy conventional wisdom win — while, of course, many who do defy conventional wisdom actually end up shutting shop.

At the same time, figuring out your pricing is incredibly important to your whole organization. It determines the operations you can build, the margins you can realize, your product’s perception, and much more.


Design Maturity

The 5-step process to work out your guiding principles.

Screenshot from the Design Principles workshop Miro board
Screenshot from the Design Principles workshop Miro board
Screenshot from the Miro board

With topics like component libraries, role-and-permission models, workflow automation, design systems, and more, we currently see a lot of push towards design and product maturity. Publications like Design Better by InVision are packaging the insights from leading product organizations and are showing us what the higher levels of maturity in this space are today.

Working towards higher design maturity levels is a long journey that includes many trials and tribulations. Yet, there are many repeatable patterns and learnable tools and skills that can be used. A significant factor in moving towards higher maturity levels in a design and product organization is their vision. …


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Photo by Adi Constantin on Unsplash

Startups

The latest of strategies might surprise you.

The headlines in 2019 have been dominated by the US-China trade conflict, protectionist tendencies and actions against the global interests of Chinese companies. One could easily get the impression that Chinese companies are retrenching, yet the opposite is actually true.

A 2019 study by PwC found that over 70% of Chinese startups valued at over USD 1 billion have concrete global expansion plans. Many of them are supported or driven by Chinese government initiatives and incentives. As a result, more than half of the companies surveyed are looking at expanding within ASEAN or countries along the Belt and Road connection.

In 2004, Chinese non-financial outbound investment stood at USD 5.5 billion. …


Storytelling

by Sebastian Mueller and Marc Seefelder

Storytelling-based artwork
Storytelling-based artwork
Illustrations by Daria Guzieva

According to McKinsey, 70% of Digital Transformation programs started by companies end in failure.

A staggering number, isn’t it? If the odds are that bad, why even bother? Well, to make it short: Companies big and large are standing with their backs against the wall. Either they transform their enterprise, or they risk being out of business in the near future.

There are many reasons for this high rate of failure. Many posts and papers by brilliant experts try to explain what isn’t working and why it is not working. Some of the experts suggest solutions. But even if you apply the proposed solutions, some fundamental problems simply remain. …

About

Sebastian Mueller

Co-Founder @minglabs · Host of “Lost In Transformation” Podcast · Gastarbeiter in Singapore · Transformer · Lifelong Student

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