Digital growth depends more on business models than technology

More than 20 companies launched in 2009, including Uber, Slack, Pinterest, and Blue Apron, all eventually achieved $1 billion-plus valuations. Given that those companies were all venture-financed and emerged from Silicon Valley, you might assume that the key ingredients that have ensured their success were cutting-edge technologies, digital platforms, and customer bases that were chiefly made up of digital natives.

You would be wrong.

Each was able to satisfy real customers who needed real jobs done — a fundamental problem in a given situation that needed a solution. In other words, they had great business models.

Continue reading at Harvard Business Review

The hard truth about innovative cultures

Innovative cultures are generally depicted as pretty fun. Other characteristics extolled by management books include tolerance for failure, willingness to experiment, psychological safety, highly collaborative, and nonhierarchical. And research supports the idea that these behaviors translate into better innovative performance.

But despite the fact that innovative cultures are desirable and that most leaders claim to understand what they entail, they are hard to create and sustain. How can practices apparently so universally loved—even fun—be so tricky to implement?

Continue reading at Harvard Business Review

United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in the UK

14 million people in the UK – a fifth of the population – live in poverty. Four million of these are more than 50% below the poverty line, and 1.5 million are destitute, unable to afford basic essentials. “In the fifth richest country in the world, this is not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one,” says Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

His report following a 12-day tour of the UK makes for difficult reading and is critical of austerity and other government policies that have exarcerbated poverty and impact hardest on the poorest.

On launching the report, Alston said the UK government has inflicted “great misery” on its people with “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous” austerity policies and could be in breach of four UN human rights agreements around women, children, people with disabilities, and economic and social rights. 

He also had a view on how the ‘digital by default’ approach to services – including access to benefits such as Universal Credit – has created an online barrier between people with poor digital literacy and their legal entitlements. The move to digital needs to go beyond simple cost-cutting, to improve people’s access to essential services rather than excluding those most in need of those services.

Read the statement in full or download the PDF

Responding to the UK Government’s Civil Society Strategy

This post appears in full on Reason Digital’s website.

The UK Government recently launched its new Civil Society Strategy: Building a future that works for everyone, echoing Theresa May’s first speech as Prime Minister where she vowed to fight against “burning injustice” and to be “driven, not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours.”

The strategy acknowledges the work already well advanced in parts of civil society, including “among responsible businesses and progressive public sector commissioners, where social value is in the forefront of what these organisations do.” One of the criticisms of the 2010 strategy was that it laid out plans that many charities and civil society organisations had been doing for some time.

Continue reading “Responding to the UK Government’s Civil Society Strategy”

Creating a purpose-driven organisation

A higher purpose is not about economic exchanges. It reflects something more aspirational. It explains how the people involved with an organization are making a difference, gives them a sense of meaning, and draws their support.

When organisations embrace purpose, it’s often because a crisis forces leaders to challenge their assumptions about motivation and performance and to experiment with new approaches. Robert E. Quinn and Anjan V. Thakor have developed a framework to help build a purpose-driven organization. It enables you to overcome the largest barrier to embracing purpose—the cynical “transactional” view of employee motivation—by following eight essential steps.

Continue reading at Harvard Business Review

How do the world’s richest football clubs spend their money?

By Jbmg40 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Football is big business

The Premier League and its clubs add £3.4bn to the UK’s GDP and pays £2.4bn in taxes to the UK government. Tourists attending football matches in the UK bring another €490m into the economy every year.

A whole industry has been built around footballers and their clubs that includes agents and lawyers, PR and accountancy. Tax issues alone can affect where footballers choose to play and how much they pay (or don’t pay) in taxes.

There is now an MBA course specialising in Football Industries at Liverpool University in England’s north west, the region that’s home to four of the top 20 richest football clubs.

Like many business, a significant percentage of football clubs’ expenditure goes on salaries. UK Premier League clubs and their supply chains support over 100,000 full-time jobs but their wages are a fraction of those paid to players. It’s no coincidence that the highest-paid footballers in 2015 played for the world’s richest clubs.

There is much criticism of the level of dividends paid to the shareholders of football clubs and the way the clubs’ assets are used to leverage debt to support owners’ other interests. FC United of Manchester is a fan-owned football club set up partly in protest at Malcolm Glazer’s ownership and treatment of Manchester United.

However, the world’s richest football clubs also spend their money trying to be responsible members of their sporting and local communities. This article is about how football clubs and their membership organisations spend their money being responsible citizens.

Continue reading “How do the world’s richest football clubs spend their money?”

Good reads: 24th May 2015

"Orman" By Karduelis (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How-to Build a Personal Ecosystem From Scratch

Synergy with the partners within the ecosystem will allow you to not only achieve the current goals, but also in a long run create a perpetual motion machine of ideas, projects and positive energy.
Bookmarked on 24 May 2015 11:48 am

How to Assess Disruptive Technologies

Why is it that companies invest aggressively—and successfully—in the technologies necessary to retain their current customers but then fail to make certain other technological investments that customers of the future will demand?
Bookmarked on 24 May 2015 11:46 am

An economic system that supports people and planet is still possible

No new vision arose from the ashes after the financial crisis exposed the failings of today’s economic system, but while the task is daunting it’s still within reach.
Bookmarked on 24 May 2015 11:42 am

Building A Better Version Of Capitalism Is A Massive Startup Opportunity

Capitalism has taken a real bashing over the last few years, is in deep trouble as a concept, assailed from all sides. Where we’re aiming to get to is a good version of business, a good better version of capitalism.
Bookmarked on 24 May 2015 10:31 am

How We Redesigned Our Product in Less Than a Week

The team at Google Ventures (GV) teaches a process to design a better user experience, faster. Core to the process is preparation, rapid idea generation and democratic consolidation.
Bookmarked on 24 May 2015 10:29 am

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh: Adopt Holacracy Or Leave

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has sent his employees a memo, offering his employees an ultimatum: adopt Holacracy or quit.
Bookmarked on 24 May 2015 11:43 am