It’s Happening

It’s Happening

It’s taken a while to get here. Admittedly, I was isolated, extremely, while living and working in Austin’s tech bubble. But the last three years has allowed me to not only dive deep into a number of different industries but to understand from CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs about the challenges technology adoption and integration will be bringing to the middle part of the U.S. in the coming years.

The pace of disruption seems to be picking up…I’ve fielded an increased number of calls from founders and executives who have either been jilted by acquisitions or management changes affiliated with innovation; been invited to help companies manage change, speak on the topic of innovation and, most recently, to help CEOs define innovative pathways for their organizations. All calls begin with, “we know you help communities manage and lead change but…surely the techniques are the same?”

I chalk the inquiries up not to Waymaker’s exposure but to an increased need in the market. Industries that have been more protected from implementing new technologies are facing increased pressure from boards, consumers and Wall Street. Parts of the country that have been isolated (with the exception of job losses in manufacturing) globally are also starting to feel the pinch.

Is leading transformation for a community the same as for a company? Yes and no. Change management for both starts at the top. Vision, leadership engagement and communication are key factors in the success of efforts both arenas. Breaking down silos is also a common thread. Ensuring departments—or institutions—are all communicating with one another and partnering for shared success is also key. Communication and defining a narrative for an organization are also key within a community effort. Engaging employees—or in the case of a community, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and future entrepreneurs—is a critical step within the process. Perhaps, however, the most challenging aspect of any change effort, regardless of whether it’s within an organization or community is culture (you knew I was going to say that right?). The topic of culture is how almost every successful leader I know spends the majority of her or his time…defining it, refining it, managing for it, removing barriers, celebrating successes.

In the coming weeks, Waymaker will be taking the question of culture, innovation, and change through technology to our network. In the interest of finding common ground, defining a shared vision across geography and industry and, quite simply, to let others know they are not alone. We hope you join us on this adventure and participate when and however you’re able. You’ll be helping us define the product and hopefully in the long run, join an ever-increasing network of humans faced with the same challenges and opportunities around some of the most fascinating topics of our time.

Two Pronged Leadership

Two Pronged Leadership

Every community in the U.S. is facing new technology-driven economic demands and pressures- most especially those who enjoyed success during the industrial revolution. Meeting these new demands will require a two-pronged leadership approach– both led by private industry. Major employers will need to band together to give direction to policy makers and educational institutions. New company formation will require extra grassroots investment and support. I am super-impressed with Michigan’s efforts in both of these arenas, namely those of Doug Rothwell and  Business Leaders for Michigan.

“Nearly every large employer in Michigan faces the same major challenge: talent attraction and retention,” said Doug Rothwell, CEO of BLM. “We want to have homegrown talent sustaining our state’s productivity and continued economic growth, and to achieve that we need to boost the number of residents who attain a post-secondary degree or certification.”

https://mibiz.com/sections/economic-development/biz-groups-back-whitmer-plan-to-boost-degree-holders

Timeless Advice

Timeless Advice

The healthcare heroes that are part of a growing community in Austin taught me just enough about their worlds to be dangerous (thank you, Gary Sabins, Dennis McWilliams, Timothy Sullivan, Jack Henneman). Thankfully, jumping back into that world on the East Coast recently proved that the best entrepreneurial advice really is timeless. The following gems offered by a stellar panel of LaunchBio investors seem to ring a bell from years past: 1. Don’t be too focused on valuation- it can be your undoing. Do your homework, look at the market, be flexible. 2. Make sure you’ve built your (IP) moat 3. Hit your milestones 4. Know where the puck is going 5. Communicate- clearly (harder than it sounds) 6. Go for non-dilutive funding- or at least have a plan to pursue it (see larta dot org) 7. Companies fail when bad things happen and there’s no money in the bank. Make sure these things don’t happen at the same time. 8. Hiring the best management team is your single most important function 9. Be careful about choosing your investors & advisors. Those outside of tech find it hard to understand the blinding pace of change entreps face while building company infrastructure, while facing regulatory and investor scrutiny. While the pace might be fast, it’s nice to know that least the rules for success remain constant.