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Staying Relevant with your Business



We live in a knowledge economy, an economy where we aim to stay relevant by leveraging the the internet of things and the internet of everything to answer our every question as fast as our little, sometimes sausage-like, fingers can touch a tiny screen.

In today’s hyper-connected, digitized world there are three challenges that every business leader must face in order for his or her company to stay relevant:

1) The speed of technological advancement

2) Information overload

3) Human disposition toward change

More specifically with information accessibility is information literacy—the ability to navigate and interpretmassive amounts of information and pare it down into something not only manageable, but comprehensible and applicable for the masses.

However, it doesn’t stop there. 

The problem between the above three challenges is aligning the current systems, processes and behaviors within an organization to fit them all. Namely, you need to not only keep up with the times in terms of technological relevance but also be poised to acquire the right information you need through such technology, interpret it and disseminate it.

Welcome to the challenge of how to stay relevant.

How To Stay Relevant

The problem, of course, is this: the means by which organizations share and interpret information are outdated. In many of the companies I’ve consulted, their way of operating is based off an outdated operating model: hierarchy.

Hierarchy is a product of yesteryear. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for linear-processing and rank-and-file management (the conventional military comes to mind), but in today’s day and age where companies compete at the speed of adaptability but adapt at the speed of learning, hierarchy poses another, albeit indirect, threat: an organization’s ability and capacity—the skill and will—to adapt to change.

Companies compete at the speed of adaptability but adapt at the speed of learning. 

I say indirect because more often than not, how you see a problem typically is the problem.

It’s not so easy to attribute hierarchy to a company’s failings because chances are that company has been successful over the years. It’s been profitable, it’s navigated uncertainty, so how they’ve operated in the past must be right, right?


The complacency of success is a very real yet indirect threat to any organization’s relevance. Just look at Kodak, Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, even HP who were completely competent in how they operated for a very long time. However, times changed, and these companies never took the time to question whether how they operated was right.

No, hierarchy is outdated. Command and control worked in the 20th century where the goal was to become more efficient, to save cost by eliminating wasted efforts and duplicative processes. But in today’s day and age of “pivoting” (a term as annoying as that mosquito in your ear) and the IoT/IoE, speed is the name of the game, and one thing hierarchy is not known for is a fast “read and react” time.

So, the question becomes, what is your organization doing to adapt to the times? What is your organization doing to align the growing trend of technology and the relevant information it affords with the current behaviors in your organization that determine how work gets accomplished?

Here’s an example of what I mean.

The first company I consulted for was a Fortune 500 company in Silicon Valley. They were in the tech space and were facing an industry shift of having to move from hard drives to the cloud and they needed to figure out how they were going to stay relevant amidst this inevitable change (and change is inevitable, which is why the complacency of success kills).

Anyway, the challenge they faced was the same challenge that every other company has faced that I’ve consulted for since: relying upon the behaviors of yesterday to carry you through tomorrow.

By behaviors I’m referring to how tasks get identified, assigned, executed, and adapted; the frequency at which groups and teams assemble and how they assemble; the cadence of meetings and the deconfliction between multiple meeting agendas; and the metrics that define right (not gonna lie, there’s a lot more to this list).

If, for instance, there are unclear job descriptions, ambiguous roles, unclear responsibilities or simply non-existent expectations, then “winning” isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. What is likely to occur is a lot of tail-chasing and a lot of turf wars because, without clearly defined boundaries, people will define their own.

If how your model for success today is how successful you were yesterday then congratulations, you’re one step closer to irrelevance.

If how your model for success today is how successful you were yesterday then congratulations, you’re… 

If you’re asking the same questions as yesterday or—and equally non-impactful—not questioning the status quo, you’re on a losing path.

And I don’t care what anybody says. Losing sucks.

To “win” in today’s day and age requires the self-awareness to recognize your blind spots, the social awareness to recognize and interpret how you mesh with others, and the situational awareness to align these two “awarenesses” into a context greater than yourself such as the organization’s mission, and the only way to weaponize yourself in these regards, is through curiosity.

Nothing begins without a question. Questions incite greater awareness because they cause the mind to wander, to explore, and to (potentially) discover something anew. Without curiosity, there would be no breakthrough ideas, no new products or services, and no mobile banking (that’s a joke because I consider mobile banking to be one of the most ingenious and convenient apps on my smartphone).

Anyway, back to behaviors.

The “behaviors” that define how work is achieved are based upon one thing and one thing only: clarity.

Clarity in purpose.

Clarity in value.

Clarity in roles, responsibilities and expectations.

Clarity in time, resources and requirements available.

All the above leads to clarity in execution and without execution, you’re dead in the water. Period.

Without execution, you’re dead in the water. Period. 

So, if you want to leverage curiosity and find clarity amidst the ever-changing chaotic landscape of business amidst technology and information overload, start by defining what winning looks like.

Prior to every meeting, any discussion and any project, for example, clarify what success will be.

If you’re an organizational leader, clarify what winning looks like for the organization as a whole and then share this definition with each functional leader so they have not only clear direction but a definition to work with that will inform how and what they execute.

A sales department will likely have different objectives than marketing or HR, for example, which is why it’s so critical for the organizational leader to take the time to clarify his or her vision for 1) what success looks like and 2) what he or she values as the vehicles for success if that leader espouses to stay relevant–as a leader and as an organization.

“Become a $100 million dollar company” or “Be the number one place to work” are too ambiguous and don’t inform anybody, since $100M could be misinterpreted between the sales and product departments to be eitherprofit or revenue.

Without a clear definition, they’re likely to pursue both, which means you’ve just undercut your winning efforts by 50 percent as well as your ability to stay relevant. Not ideal.

It’s a very simple concept, but not so simply executed. But then again, if doing so were easy, then I’d be out of a job.


About the Author

This article was produced by Chaos Advantage. Chaos Advantage is a blog dedicated to the vision of defeating complacency and eliminating the epidemic of poor leadership within organizations today. see more.


Lessons Learnt from The Lean Startup



The Lean Startup book authored by Eric Ries has been sitting on my shelf for quite sometime now, so since I am currently contributing to the making of a startup I figured I’ll take a look into it.

The book is divided into 3 parts, after reading the first two I had my mind blown with the pragmatic and scientific approach to building startups that is described in the book.

In this post, I would like to share some important insights that I gained regarding building highly innovative businesses.

Validating Value Proposition And Growth Strategy Is The Priority

Usually, a highly innovative startup company is working in its most early stage at building a product or a service that will create a new market.

Consumers or businesses have not been yet exposed to something similar to what is going to be built by the startup. Therefore the absolute priority for startups in early stage is to validated their value proposition i.e. to get real data about eventual customers interest regarding their product/service.

The other priority is to validate that the growth strategy that is going to be executed is, in fact, effective.

The growth strategy of a startup is its plan to acquire more and more customers in the long term and in a sustainable fashion.

Three kinds of growth strategies are described in the book:

  • paid growth in which you rely on the fact that the customers are going to be charged for the product or service, the cash earned from early users is reinvested in acquiring new users via advertising for example
  • viral growth in which you rely on the fact that customers are going to bring customers as a side effect of using the product/service
  • sticky growth in which you rely on the fact that the customers are going to use the service in some regular fashion, paying for the service each time (via subscription for example).

These growth strategies are sustainable in the sense that they do not require continuous large capital investments or publicity stunts.

It is important to know as soon as possible which strategy or combination of strategies is the most effective at driving growth.

Applying The Scientific Method

The scientific method is a set of techniques that helps us figure out correct stuff. After making some observations regarding a phenomenon, you formulate a hypothesis about that phenomenon.

The hypothesis is an assumption that needs to be proven correct or incorrect. You then design experimentations that are going to challenge the assumption.

The results of the experimentations makes the correctness or incorrectness of the hypothesisclear allowing us to make judgments about its validity.

In the lean startup methodology, your job as an entrepreneur is to formulate two hypothesis:

  • hypothesis of value (assumptions about your value proposition)
  • hypothesis of growth (assumptions about the effectiveness of the growth strategy)

These hypothesis are then validated/invalidated through experimentation. Following the precepts of lean manufacturing, the lean startup methodology prescribes to make experimentations while minimizing/eliminating waste.

In other words, you have to burn minimum cash, effort and time when running experiments.

An experimentation in the lean startup sense is usually an actual product/service and helps startups in early stage learn invaluable things about their eventual future market.

Sometimes startups learn that nobody wants their product/service, imagine spending 8 months worth of engineering, design and promotion work (not to mention cash) in a product/service only to discover that it does not provide value to anyone.

Minimum Viable Products And Feedback

As we pointed out earlier, an experimentation can be an actual product or service and is called the minimum viable product(MVP).

The MVP is built to contain just enough features to validate the value and growth hypotheses, effectively requiring minimum time, effort and cash.

By getting the MVP launched and in front of real users, entrepreneurs can get concrete feedback from them either directly by asking them (in focus groups for example) or via usage analytics.

Analytics scales better then directly talking to customers but the latter is nonetheless used to cross validate results from the former.

It is crucial to focus on metrics that creates fine grained visibility about the performance of the business when building(or using) a usage analytics system. These metrics are called actionable metrics because they can link causes and effects clearly allowing entrepreneurs to understand the consequences of ideally each action executed. Cohort analysis is an example of a analytics strategy that focuses on actionable metrics.

The bad kind of metrics are called vanity metrics, these tend to hide how the business is performing, gross numbers like total users count are an example of vanity metrics.

The author cites several examples of different startups that managed to validate or debunk their early assumption by building stripped down and non scalable MVPs and even sometimes by not building software at all.

You would be surprised to hear for example how the Dropbox folks in their early stage managed to created a ~4 minute video demonstrating their product while it was still in development. The video allowed them to get more people signed up in their beta waiting list and raise capital more easily.

Closing Thoughts

In the first two parts of the book, the author talks also about how employees inside big companies working on highly innovative products and services can benefit greatly from the lean startup approach, although very interesting this is not very useful for me right now.

The third part, talks about the challenges that arises when the startup gets big and starts to stabilize and how to address them. Basically it revolves around not loosing the innovative spirit of the early days, again, this is not very useful for me so maybe for good future reading.


About the Author

This article was produced by Tech Dominator. see more.

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Women on Top in Tech – Dr. Sanna Gaspard, Founder and CEO of Rubitection



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Dr. Sanna Gaspard is the Founder and CEO of Rubitection, a medical device start-up developing a diagnostic tool for early stage pressure detection, assessment, and management. She is an Entrepreneur, inventor, and biomedical engineer with a passion for innovation, entrepreneurship, healthcare and medical devices. She has received recognition and awards including being selected as a finalist for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards(’13), a semi-finalist for the Big C competition (’14), a finalist for the Mass Challenge Business accelerator in Boston, and taking 1st place at the 3 Rivers Investment Venture Fair’s Technology showcase (‘11). Her vision is to make the Rubitect Assessment System the global standard solution for early bedsore detection and management.

What makes you do what you do? 
I am driven to have impact and improve healthcare as I have a strong drive to problem solve, comes up with new ideas, and see them come to life.

How did you rise in the industry you are in? 
I first focused on getting the educational background and then I pursued the goals I have for myself. I got my PhD in Biomedical Engineering with a specialization in medical device development. Having the educational background is important as a woman and minority to assist people in taking your seriously.  After completing my PhD, I focused on bringing my invention for a medical device for early bedsore detection and prevention called the Rubitect Assessment System to market to help save lives and improve care.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
I started my startup, Rubitection , because I felt it was the best way to bring the technology to market. I knew that if I did not try to commercialize the technology, it would not make it to the doctors and nurses. I also have confidence that I could manage developing the technology since I had taken classes on entrepreneurship and had my PhD in biomedical engineering with a specialization in medical devices.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work? How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
No, I don’t have a specific mentor in my field. I am looking for one at the moment. However, I do look up to Steve Jobs and Oprah as examples of how one can start with nothing and work their way up and build a successful, global, and reputable business and brand.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?  
I first try to find people who have fundamental technical or work experience to be competent to complete the work. I then evaluate the person for intangible skills like independent thinking, reliability, leadership, resilience, organizational skills, strong work ethic, open mindedness/flexibility, and good communication skills.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why? 
I consciously make an effort as a minority woman in tech, I intimately understand the need to promote diversity within my business and outside my business. I first hire the best people for the job and also make a point to hire women and minorities qualified for the position.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?  
It takes resilience, vision, being a team player, an ability to inspire others and delegate work, knowing your weakness, and knowing when to put your business or yourself first.

Advice for others?
My advice to others is to take calculated risks, pursue every opportunity, surround yourself with supporters, build your team with smart dedicated people, and stay focused on your vision. I am striving to implement this advice myself as I work towards commercializing my technology for early bedsore detection, grow my team, and recruit clinical partners to address an $11 billion US healthcare problem which affects millions around the world.

If anyone is interested in learning more about our work or company, please contact us at [email protected].

To learn more about Dr. Sanna Gaspard, CEO of Rubitection visit:

If you’d like to get in touch with Dr. Sanna Gaspard, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn:

To learn more about Rubitection, please click here.

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