Steve Blank Why Uber is The Revenge of the Founders

Startup guru Steve Blank talks about the rise of the Founder’s outsized control over meeting-taxed VCs and later investors. In the quote below, Blank hits on where, we think, the train comes off the tracks: When a founder fails to communicate their vision and grow into the role of public company leader. This is a narrative challenge from end-to-end. The maturing CEO also needs to help their board understand the evolving brand and customer story; employee leadership must impart essential values reflected in every customer touch, and, in many cases, the CEO is inoculated against reason by the stories of their genius. That prevents them from being the leader who can change a company, not just make it more entirely their own, insulated alternate reality.

Early in a company’s life, that secure alternate reality can be essential to success. Insularity must give way to a transparent public interface that imparts values, restates the benefits to customers and partners in each interaction, as well as allows the story of the company to evolve to include all the rest of the participants in the customer experience. Larry Ellison isn’t going to show up to install Oracle databases; his team will — the story has to be big enough for the team’s role in value creation. That’s a narrative in action.

Startups run by visionaries break rules, flout the law and upend the status quo (Apple, Uber, AirBnB, Tesla, Theranos, etc.). Doing something that other people consider insanity/impossible requires equal parts narcissism and a messianic view of technological transformation. Bad CEO behavior and successful startups have always overlapped. Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Tom Seibel, etc. all had the gift/curse of a visionary CEO – they could see the future as clearly as others could see the present. Because they saw it with such clarity, the reality of having to depend on other people to build something revolutionary was frustrating. And woe to the employee who got in their way of delivering the future.

Source: Steve Blank Why Uber is The Revenge of the Founders

Headed toward Continuously Deployed Customer Experience

A good piece on Grad Conn, GM and CMO of Microsoft U.S., and his CPG-developed engagement strategies.

Consider the evolution of marketing as mirroring software development models. Software has moved from a slow waterfall model for builds to rapid agile deployment. The holy grail is continuously deployed software. In marketing and leadership, the narrative must also be continuously revised and deployed — at the cadence described below, but with genuinely useful new customer information and features that reinforce the customer’s ability to trust and purchase from a brand.

Microsoft is at the Narrative Aware stage, it knows it must tell stories at scale — that is, the stories must engage with individual values and expectations. Microsoft certainly has all the IT it needs to be Narrative Active, as evidenced by their efforts to use social at scale. Narrative Maturity will produce a continuously deployed customer experience that lives and changes with the consumer.

Today, Conn’s Microsoft team has found great success with a form of ad that it can crank out in about 15 minutes and produces by the hundred—and which, despite that speed and volume, is personalized in a way that TV advertising never is. Essentially a glorified @reply, and applicable to everything from Xbox to Office 365, it’s a Twitter response to an individual that melds text and art into a little lighthearted experience that shows Microsoft cares.

Source: What A Microsoft CMO Did (And Didn’t) Learn At Procter | Fast Company

VR is a Meal, AR is a Snack – ARTILLRY

Mike Boland at ARtillry makes an essential distinction between VR and AR: They deliver different information experience. They are various points of entry to the same story and thinking about how to use each to encourage someone to explore more of the story in other media is essential. The multi-channel world is transforming into an omnichannel marketplace of ideas that storytellers, marketers, and leaders must use to make initial connections, then expand the engagement and storytelling in other appropriate channels. For example, an AR experience that lets a phone user see  Superfund sites located near them could lead to a video engagement that explained the pollution involved, the remediation, and benefits of the clean-up to the community.

At the time of that Google data release, we wrote “VR is a Meal, Not a Snack.” Now we’d like to add to that construct, bringing in AR’s relative position in this experiential spectrum. It’s becoming clear from mobile AR’s nuances that it is, in fact, the snack in this equation.

Source: VR is a Meal, AR is a Snack – ARTILLRY: A PUBLICATION AND INTELLIGENCE FIRM FOR AR & VR

Imagining a Renaissance, Running into Reformation and Resistance

Two pieces (1 and 2, part of a bigger package on the future of work) in Nature this week focus on the battle between past and future catalyzing into a confrontation in our times. Ian Goldin, Oxford University Professor of Globalisation and Development and Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technological and Economic Change, says science has an important role to play in documenting the opportunities, along with the downsides of, new technology. Based on frank dialogue, science can suggest policy and novel options to address the disadvantages of innovative technology. Goldin writes:

In my view, many parts of the world are now in the middle of a second Renaissance. This one is seeing even faster change than the last, and across the entire globe. History tells us that it will be disruptive. It will bring immense benefits and it will be highly destabilizing. We should expect more extremism and the rise of potentially catastrophic risks.

Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, suggests we need to reboot society using artificial intelligence. He writes:

To make use of the new opportunities, people will need radical, lifelong retraining. The AI revolution won’t be a single event after which the job market and the educational system will settle into a new equilibrium. Rather, it will be a cascade of ever-bigger disruptions. Even today, few employees expect to work in the same job for their entire life (see go.nature.com/2ymdvjs). By 2050, not just the idea of ‘a job for life’, but even the idea of ‘a profession for life’ might seem antediluvian. It will become increasingly difficult to know what to teach schoolchildren and university students.

The challeng here is trust. Experts have fallen out of favor with ordinary people who are often treated as though they are too uninformed to ever understand modern technological and economic change. A collaboration of science, the humanities, and the people aimed at finding common ground — a mutual narrative, in which the negotiation of costs and benefits can take place — is much needed today.

Ultimately, we are entering an era of ongoing change. There won’t be a new normal, just newer questions to explore. That’s a great story.

Source: The second Renaissance : Nature News & Comment

AI And The Frontier Of Creative Community – MediaPost

Jag Duggal of Quantcast highlights a short-term issue with AI that leaders, brand managers, and storytellers using machine learning and artificial intelligence to augment current communications efforts. The AI carries the biases of the programmers. That’s not to say that there are programmers out there plotting to topple a brand with culturally insensitive AI (though the problem has repeatedly plagued early bot tests), it means people focused on solving a coding issue do not necessarily review their reasoning for cultural impacts.

We suggest teaming coders with artists, rhetoricians, and organizational historians to prevent ignorant bots from subverting the potential for improved human connections supported by AI.

Most veteran AI scientists see potential doomsday scenarios as quite a ways off but note AI presents other pressing human welfare challenges. Like, how we can keep human bias and prejudice out of our algorithms. Rachel Urtasun, an AI researcher recently hired by Uber to head a high-profile, advanced technology group, champions this issue. She points out that people train networks to mirror human thought processes. And that, often, we pass on not only our powers of perception but our misconceptions as well.

Source: AI And The Frontier Of Creative Community 10/18/2017

How VR reinvigorated the theme park capital of the world | VentureBeat

Looking for great creatives with VR experience? Orlando may be the spot. One major reason the region prospers in advanced tech is that flood of tourists coming to experience something new in entertainment.

Orlando’s combination of high-tech talent and a strong entertainment industry has bred a cluster of gaming companies, many of which are pioneering new VR applications. EA Tiburon, one of EA Entertainment’s largest studios worldwide, is exploring virtual reality projects for blockbuster sports games like Madden NFL and NBA Live in Orlando. EA’s success drew other major gaming companies like Particle City and Iron Galaxy Studios to the region. Industry giant Advanced Micro Devices has increased its Orlando of

Source: How VR reinvigorated the theme park capital of the world | VentureBeat

Why scripted TV production is on the decline worldwide – Mediaweek

A report by IHS Markit, Boom or Bubble? The Rise of Scripted Programming, suggests that scripted programming is on the decline. It seems more likely that free-to-air TV is on the decline. The rise of paid and free online video suggests that far more time will be filled with scripted and unscripted programming in the long run. TV is benefitting from the decline in production costs, which gives the impression that scripted programming will die with broadcast television. In fact, it is more probable that broadcast TV is poised for changes while the volume of digital- and mobile-first programming continues to grow. Not a bubble, an echo.

Seven out of nine US cable groups reduced original scripted output between 2014 and 2016; HBO and AMC Networks were the only two to increase output

In contrast, online platforms – led by Netflix and Amazon – almost tripled their output of original scripted programming, with 515 new first-run hours in 2016

Source: Why scripted TV production is on the decline worldwide – Mediaweek

Bring The Outside In: Let Superfans Shape Your Brand — MediaPost

MediaPost columnist Trevor Wade, global marketing director at brand agency Landor, hits many of the keys to bringing customers into the business and marketing process at TheSkimm, littleBits, and Salesforce.

Managing by community isn’t merely an add-on tool or a new social channel to push out messaging. It’s a fundamentally different way of thinking about brand management. As with any major shift, it’s crucial to determine the right approach, and we’ve given that a lot of thought this past year. In fact, we’ve worked with our own clients to co-create a framework for managing brands by community.

Source: Bring The Outside In: Let Superfans Shape Your Brand 10/13/2017

The myth of storytelling in marketing and why brands should encourage ‘story sharing’ | Econsultancy

Stories That Change is the recipe for engagement. We agree with many of the hard truths in Nick Hammond’s posting. Well worth a read.

As touched on above, the most interesting observation of all (and one that goes all the way back to the classical oral storytelling tradition) is that great stories were never set in stone, but forever changing as they were told, influenced by audience reaction and then re-told; being passed on from one generation of storytellers to another. While the digital environment offers new channels and accelerated interactivity, it still echoes the ancient tradition of storytelling by mirroring the importance of the audience in the process. In both instances and across the centuries, the audience and consumers are there to listen, to develop and to share.

Source: The myth of storytelling in marketing and why brands should encourage ‘story sharing’ | Econsultancy