Dr Mike’s Blog

  • The trolls inside

    From time to time we see articles that resonate with the Breakthrough Programme, and as it turns out a lot of them are written by Seth Godin. This one is a particularly apt metaphor given that we’ve been talking in workshops about our most limiting beliefs about ourselves and how getting past them could deliver […]
  • Cross-dressing customers

    Frog on a rock edit
    One of the essential elements of the Breakthrough approach to growth is to declutter. And when it comes to customers, decluttering your business of your D class is a prerequisite for growth. We all know this, right? We all know that: Your D’s take twice as much time and produce a fraction of the value […]
  • Need to lead

    My wife Franceska is giving a talk on women in leadership. We were discussing some of the parameters of good leadership, and one of the things she mentioned was a Harvard Business Review article that talked about leadership purpose and the motivation for leadership – why do you lead?   It sparked an interesting discussion […]
  • Swing for the fence

    Brendon McCullum 2015
    We often point to the All Blacks as a beacon of excellence – their mindset, their work ethic and their extraordinary discipline. Of course, right at the moment it’s the Black Caps who are garnering the attention. I’ve been occasionally and moderately enthusiastic about kiwi cricketers over the years. Just as they start to look […]
  • Christmas Transactions

    The Breakthrough Christmas banner logo
    Transactions are what business is all about, right? Business is all about trading – exchanging one thing you value for something you value more (i.e. money for goods) – and every trade is a transaction. There are work transactions with your colleagues, sales transactions with customers, marketing transactions with prospects – most everything can be […]
  • Organising for growth

    Here’s one from Seth Godin that captures easily and elegantly the whole issue of the scalable business model. All the best, Dr Mike Organising for growth Maybe it’s (finally) working. Maybe demand is up, opportunities keep presenting themselves and people want to work with you. So why are you so stressed out? It might be […]
  • Pump up the volume

    Truck-with-giant-speaker-array (1)
    We bought our son a sound system for his car. A real “duf duf” system that you could hear several streets away if you played it at boy-racer levels. Both of my sons are audiophiles, which I guess comes from how hard they work at their passion for music. So I’m taking Dom to school […]
  • The hardest question

    “Crowning the company king” is one of our fundamental tenets. It means that the company’s interests come ahead of everyone else’s, including shareholders, staff, customers. Most often these interests are aligned, but sometimes they are not, and that’s where the philosophy has its greatest power. What happens when the owner is no longer the right […]
  • Visions and Decisions

    Make the boat go faster
    I’ve been doing a lot of work with companies recently around their vision, purpose and core values/beliefs. I suspect that the trend arises because companies feel that they have rebuilt from the ravages of the GFC and are now in a position to think about a future beyond just getting through. When your focus is […]
  • What’s the big idea?

    The Big Idea
    Someone said to me “you guys make a big song and dance about how you understand implementation. So tell me how it is that I can know all this stuff and I still don’t get it done. What’s the one thing that stops business owners from execution”?   The cute answer is, of course, yourself. […]
  • Who do you think you are?

    I’ve long thought identity had a lot to do with our performance – how we think of ourselves, who we think we are. “Identity” is a powerful explanation of attitude and behaviour. There was an interesting finding (can’t recall where I saw it) to the effect that the only way to stop soldiers committing atrocities […]
  • But what do *you* do?

    A useful insight from Seth Godin about role. Let go of the idea that the only path to value is by you “doing” stuff. Enjoy your day, Mike But what do *you* do? – Seth Godin Do you make your own paper? Do you start with wood pulp and mix and bleach and set and produce […]
  • Why walking helps us think

    Here’s an interesting article by The New Yorker’s Ferris Jabr on how walking fosters creativity and problem-solving. Quite aside from the health benefits (30 minutes brisk walking 5 times a week is as beneficial as many more strenuous forms of exercise), walking is good for clarity and innovation. In Vogue’s 1969 Christmas issue, Vladimir Nabokov offered some advice for […]
  • The case for conflict

    Debate - The case for conflict
    Last week I was involved in a couple of interesting strategy sessions.  What made them interesting was that on both occasions we led off with vision in terms of where we wanted to be.  There was no debate about that, but then when we went down a level, there was lots of discussion. In one […]
  • Dumb down and scale up

    The Sweet Spot
    This is a great blog from Seth Godin about how our business model determines our potential. We’re doing a lot of work around vision and aspiration at the moment, and one of the keys is to locate the sweet spot where market need, your capability and your business model all intersect. The point about business […]
  • Chain of habits

    Rusted chain cable
    Warren Buffet said “Chains of habits are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” Habits are our gravity: we don’t notice them because they operate from our unconscious. We act out our habits without even noticing, they are that familiar and easy. We are literally unaware of what we’re […]
  • Focus

    Cat focus
    One of the tricks to growth is focus. Go back to the basics of strategy: mass the greatest resource at the point of greatest opportunity. Your job as leader is to work out, among all the opportunities and issues competing for your limited bandwidth, what are you going to pay attention to? Paying attention to […]
  • Blackcurrant tea

    Blackcurrant tea
    I used to like blackcurrant tea (a traditional black tea with blackcurrant flavour). It became our drink of habit in the morning. Didn’t even think about it, just part of the getting up routine. We’d dabble with other teas occasionally but we always came back to blackcurrant tea. That’s the way it was for years. […]
  • Magic Wand results

    We had a huge response to our Magic Wand Survey. We asked “If you had a magic wand, what would you choose to have control over?” Customer Acquisition was the stand out with 30% of your votes. In the “Other” category the recurring themes were; tax, exchange rate, competition and compliance. In response to your […]
  • Commitment

    It's not the mountain that we conquer but ourselves
    Positive psychology – the newest and most powerful branch of psychology – talks about happiness and contentment being a product of pleasure, meaning and challenge. We need to have all three of these in our lives. There aren’t too many things that offer all three at the same time. I think relationships with partners and […]
  • You’d better believe it

    Self belief
    I remember one day I was thinking about a big proposal my team was working on and wondering how it was going. Then I found myself thinking, it didn’t matter how it was going because we weren’t going to win it anyway. And we didn’t. I am not someone who believes in sending messages to […]
  • Calling the wind

    When I talk to groups of business owners about working less to make more, taking time off, and taking time out, eventually one of them will say “yeah but I feel so guilty”. I always ask the group who else feels that way, and I get 90% of the hands in the air. A lot […]
  • Celebrating entrepreneurs

    entrepreneurship-entrepreneurialism v3
    I was at the Ice Ideas conference last week – what a great day! There were some wonderful speakers and some very impressive people. Highlights for me were my wife (of course), Rod Drury and Derek Handley. What came through to me was that pretty much all of them talked about the vision they had […]
  • The gift of imperfection

    Opportunity Ahead Road Sign
    I had an interesting discussion the other day. One of my fundamental tenets is that success in business is about understanding what’s stopping you, and then resolving how to get past that. My advantage is that I’m not encumbered by the baggage of “the way things are” – I’m not caught up in all the […]
  • Tries hard…

    performance stopwatch runner-resized-600
    My lovely wife Franceska Banga is CEO of the NZ Venture Investment Fund. The chairman of her board is Sir John Anderson, former CEO of the National Bank for the best part of 30 years, and one of the most highly regarded business leaders in the country. Try this for a CV: Chairman of New […]
  • Eliminate to propagate

    You’ve got a lot more to not do than you have to do. That’s it. EOM.
  • Measures that matter

    I’ve been having the same conversation with several people lately, which often happens. It could be one of those “tipping point” things where the same themes emerge in unrelated areas (the stuff about how crowds all stop applauding at roughly the same time). Then again it could be because it’s on my mind, and to […]
  • That Thing!

    The problem is this: you know that one thing you don’t want to do but you know you really should? The path that you’d rather not start down because you can only see 5 miles of bad road? The thing you haven’t written down anywhere but you always keep coming back to? It stands foursquare […]
  • Why hard work is fun

    This is what hard work looks like. I have to write a blog. I can’t think of anything to say. I read one of my regular feeds, and it reveals some research: 46% of consumers say they read the blogs of their favourite brands. 48% feel that it’s important for a brand to include brand content […]
  • The Information Fasting Diet

    More news and information has been published this century than all of last century. How do I cope with the amount of content and the richness of information available to me? How do I make enough time? I don’t. My reasoning is this: there is so much content because of the speed and breadth of […]