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E89 | Covid-19: The Great Business Accelerator With Dr Kaihan Krippendorff

Are you bored of hearing about the negatives of a recession? Well, if you listened to last week’s episode with Jack Stack, you’ll have heard him share how he’s on his fifth Black Swan and how after each one his business doubled. 

Why are we mentioning this again? Because a recession doesn’t necessarily always spell doom and gloom. 

In fact, today’s guest, Dr Kaihan Krippendorff, strategy, growth and transformation expert, keynote speaker, author and consultant is using the time to pivot his business. 

Kaihan hosted a conference last week with guest speakers including Rita McGrath and Amy Webb, and he’s holding another one on 6th May, with guest speakers including Amy Edmondson and Scott Anthony. (Link below). 

These conferences have given him the seeds of a new business model. They’ve allowed him and his team to focus on something else right now, they’ve created new relationships, and they’ve allowed him to build their audience as well as their brand.

So if you’re wondering what you can do to fill your days, why not use this time wisely to think about your business strategy, and perhaps take advantage of coronavirus accelerating trends that were already in place?

In today’s podcast, Kaihan and Dom discuss the tools Kaihan uses with his (mainly) Fortune 500 business clients, and how these tools could also be used by mid-market firms. He also discusses the online conference he ran last week and his top takeaways from it.

On today’s podcast:

  • How clients find Kaihan
  • The outthinker process
  • Why it’s so hard for humans to be strategic
  • Examples of innovations his clients have been able to drive
  • The importance of employee self-realisation
  • How to create a 2×2 matrix for scenario planning


Future-proofing your business with Dr Kaihan Krippendorff

Dr Kaihan Krippendorff may have Fortune 500 companies as his main clients, but that doesn’t mean that his methods and his tools can’t be adopted by mid-market companies. In fact, his prefered clients ARE the mid-market companies, those companies with USD $50-200 million revenue. 

Kaihan helps organisations capture the insights and emerging strategies that they can apply to their business so that they can outrank the competition and be the disruptor, rather than be the disrupted. He designs organisations and prepares them for the future. 

The Out-Thinker Process

Kaihan’s process, like many, may not provide the necessary answers, but it’s a useful framework to help you on your way. 

There are five steps to it and there are five sets of tools for each step, but you don’t have to follow it religiously, he adapts it for each client, removing things where applicable.

The five steps are:

  1. I – is for imagine. Imagine is really like stepping into the future and designing your strategy for the future rather than the present.
  2. D – is for dissect. Dissecting your business and looking at what elements of your business model are most critical to focus on now.
  3. E – is for expand. Expanding your options, expanding the hypotheses you have on how you might change your business or business model.
  4. A  – is for analyse. Analyse is about selecting options and overcoming the tendency to throw out the really disruptive idea because it looks impossible.
  5. S – is for sell. Building buy in and support from your stakeholders. This could be your board, your employees, your partners, etc

The bottlenecks

The two areas where most people come unstuck are dissect and analyse. 

Businesses often focus on the product – who’s your core customer and your product. Silicon Valley people talk about product market fit, where it’s all about getting the right customer need balanced with the right product. 

But we humans have a tendency to just default to the obvious ways of doing things, whether that’s pricing, or placing, or distributing people policies, or processes.

The second bottleneck is analyse. When you’re sorting through your ideas, doing ideation and brainstorming, and you get to the point of, ‘Okay, so what are we going to do?’ 

Kaihan says people are often scared away from doing very different ideas.

“I find you can get someone to think very differently. But when you get to the point where you’re choosing what you’re going to commit your time and your money to, there’s a strong pull to just doing what’s been done before.”

It takes courage to try something new. 

“It really takes courage to take the idea with a million reasons why it won’t work. Identify what are the three big reasons that we think it’s difficult and then narrow in on those and break down how we could take what seems impossible and make it possible. And that step is one that just takes mental energy and time.”

Figure out who you are

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is not figuring out the business they’re in, who their ideal customer is and what needs they’re helping said customer meet. 

Take Starbucks, for example. One would automatically assume they’re a coffee business. But they’re actually in the people business. Zappos is a customer service company that happens to sell shoes. 

You need to find your point of difference to your competitors to figure out who you are. 

The matrix for scenario planning

If you want to know how to future proof your business (and no one can predict the future), what you need to do is plan for all possible eventualities. 

You do this by taking wildly differing scenarios, ie for Covid, we could be out of this social distancing situation in 6 months, or it might take 2 years. People may love working remotely, other people will be chomping at the bit to get back into the office. You take these extremes and you create a 2 by 2 matrix with them, and you end up with 4 potential, very different scenarios. 

You then figure out a plan for what you do if you end up in each scenario. It takes a while, but by hoping for the best and planning for the worst, you’re safeguarding the future of your organisation, by getting it into a state of readiness, regardless of the outcome, so you can move quickly and react accordingly.

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