Zeit·geist = spirit, essence of a particular time

A collection of food-for-thought posts and articles on technology, business, leadership and management. 

The 20 mile march


This is an updated (and corrected) version of a post from January last year. Found it incredibly valid these days, even if it will turn 2 years old in a few months.   

You may be familiar with the "20 mile per day" concept, originally coined in the business world by Jim Collins, referred in his latest book Great by Choice, a leadership oriented publication which came after Good to Great from same author.

To be honest, I have not been able to finish reading any of these two books. The second and earlier one, Good to Great was given to me some time ago. Actually, I received two copies, probably because the sender thought I needed two to make sure I couldn't escape from the learnings... but, as usual, I am much faster than knowledge.

But the important point here is about the journey, the journey itself and how to reach your destination, or, in business (or life) terms, how to accomplish your goals.

The 20 mile a day approach is totally about HOW. Once you have set up your goal (business or strategic targets), and based on the environment (market, competition, and/or other 3rd parties' elements), you should take a look at yourself (resources, competences) and make a bold (...ad here...) decision:

this is HOW I am going to make it

Surprisingly enough, the statement "this is HOW I am going to make it" delivers only 15 entries in Google search (actually 13+2), versus 489 results for

This is my GOAL

Which confirms two things:

1. There is more gravitation towards Objectives (and Strategy in general) compared to Execution, and...

2. This post (based on 1) is fit for purpose considering Execution should take 98% of our energy, as Tom Peters says and many times ReTweeted:

  1. About all you need to know: Execution is "the last 98%." Put people 1st-2nd-3rd. Cut the crap and do something-anything ... RIGHT NOW.
    Fri, Jan 06 2012 21:33:17

Here is the story:

The race to the South Pole happened in 1911, a century (+1 year) ago, between Scott and Amundsen. Actually, both heroes made it to the pole, however, it was Amundsen who reached his destination 34 days before Scott, and came victorious.

Scott died in his way back from the pole, as a consequence of starvation, cold, and bad planning for a worst case scenario.

Both men, took different approaches towards same goal. Amundsen made it by means of a key execution tactic, the 20 mile a day approach, planning everything, no matter how bad weather was or how steep hills, so they could make an average of 20 miles every day.

In contrast, Scott chose a reckless approach, pushing his crew to travel much further and faster on favorable weather conditions, whenever provided.

Amundsen and his team changed his outfit, and used Eskimo-style skins instead of the heavy wool clothing. They also used skis and dog sleds for transportation. They created supply depots on their way to the south pole, and thoroughly calculated the exact amount of dogs necessary for the trip, actually, part of the food supplies as well.

Amundsen's plan was carefully designed to meet execution requirements, with a long term orientation. Risk was, Scott could eventually go faster, unless weather conditions worsen.

On a personal note, Amundsen's strategy reminds me my personal experience running my first marathon. Over the course of 26 Miles I had to compete against others at the beginning and against myself at the end, controlling carefully pace and running style, adapting to limited physical resources and the ups & downs during the race.

After 20 miles running, no more and no less, step length, body weight balance, muscle workload, or breath control become critical. Is at this point when runners "hit the wall", an invisible physical and sicological barrier which makes many abandon.

Amundsen equals success, success as measured by the traditional metrics recorded in history books. Success defined as reaching your goal, getting to the South Pole, first and before anyone else.

However, I found another success story here.

Scott's team couldn't make it as weather conditions turned against them, and, contrary to Amundsen, they weren't prepared for that. It actually cost them their lives.

These are Scott's last words, just before he died, in his way back from the pole :

We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of Providence, determined still to do our best to the last ...

Scott and his team literally d-i-e-d pursuing a dream, they strongly believed in what they were doing. Determination, for me, is one of the key ingredients required to deal with reality and make things happen.

They made other mistakes but definitively, they put all they had into it, and with that, comes glory, another form of success, no matter if you arrive second or last, like in a marathon.




The Tic Tac Toe strategy - #mobileplatforms

  1. Reblogging this post, years later prediction became true, in reference to recent Microsoft acquisition of Nokia.

    The Tic Tac Toe strategy in Technology - #mobileplatforms twitter series http://yfrog.com/nvapkzkj

    Sun, Jun 17 2012 05:01:19
  2. 2000: The Pioneers
  3. efernandez
    The Tic Tac Toe strategy in Technology: year 2000 - #mobileplatforms http://yfrog.com/obgq3luj

    Sun, Jun 17 2012 05:07:29
  4. 2007: the Newcomers
  5. efernandez
    The Tic Tac Toe strategy in Technology: year 2007 - #mobileplatforms http://yfrog.com/esah1txj

    Sun, Jun 17 2012 05:08:31
  6. 2011: the year of the Fruit, Apples & BlackBerries
  7. efernandez
    The Tic Tac Toe strategy in Technology: 2011 the year of the fruit - #mobileplatforms http://yfrog.com/h05himitj

    Sun, Jun 17 2012 05:09:22

The Sales Cycle Inside Out #toomuchtimeonplanes

sales cycle

The full picture behind a handshake, the universal expression of a successful transaction, a sale, has many similarities with other processes in physics, like the behavior of sub-atomic particles in a fusion process where atoms combine at the expense of energy to achieve a 'desired' new stable form. In a short-sighted view, a sale, is just a transactional consequence of the collision between a problem and its potential solution. Beyond the solution, it's about 'the job to be done', as analyst Horace Dediu many times refers to.

Problems belong to buyers, who are perpetually in active seek of solutions, in a dance surrounded of sellers.


In between problems and solutions, where they meet, there is, in 'firewalling' words, a DMZ area, the conflict zone. In the corporate world, this DMZ area is delimited by finance, business operations, business affairs and legal on one side, Brand & corporate marketing, channel marketing, Product Marketing, Technical support and PR on the other.

Picture yourself driving the Challenger spacecraft re-entering atmosphere. You can feel the heat below your feet, that burning side of the spaceship will be what we call sales in any company. This fringe, always in friction, is where I work, at the beginning of the end of problems, where the job needs to be done.

Problems and solutions belong to 'The What' of the story. The bigger picture becomes visible if we ask about 'The Why'. Why does a problem exist?, answers are not always evident.

Majority of the times, particularly in the tech word, and as a consequence asymmetric competition, it becomes necessary to reverse engineer everything from the visible impact in the market.

Smartphone sales, as an example, may illustrate this. A smartphone is actually a piece of hardware whose purpose is to materialize an interconnected multimedia experience for human beings (although we see also cats, dogs and other animals staring at screens). The problem to solve here, is to deliver intelligibly a stream of content&services to an UI, the solution (or the tool if you will) is a smartphone.

In this case, the problem belongs to different stakeholders in the value chain. Content and service providers want to reach end users, that's their problem. They ultimately rely on carrier networks to convey their products. Carriers, owners of networks, also want to reach end users and their problem is to make sure end users have something in their hands with a screen as big as reasonable to deliver their megabytes of data. But… why?.

Problem owners or buyers, carriers, content developers, service providers, share the same motivation, they want to monetize their products or services, that's why. In other words, they want to deliver something on to a recipient (at a cost) to obtain a benefit (at a profit), the delta between cost and profit speaks to the importance of the problem and fuels the determination to resolve it.

In our example, the solution is simple, go and buy an smartphone. In our story, those with bigger profits at a stake will be keener to dance with smartphone vendors, rules are simple, everyone will fight to maximize profit or reduce cost in the value chain but always within the limits to secure the new, aspirational stage, is not jeopardized. i

It's a sum-zero game in which everybody wins one way or another. We, users, enjoy our connected life in our never-leave-more-than-a-meter away smartphones, while carriers, content and service providers make commercial profits. It's all about the transfer of value and the transactions in between.

But, this is not over, no single solution can ever, never, serve entirely to solve the problem it is intended for. There will be always gaps. Gaps need to be filled in by means of innovation in products and services, ultimately serving better end users, us, for a richer and happier experience.

Is there a limit to this?.  I guess the answer is yes, if we, at some point of time, connect ourselves to an on demand endorphins delivery system.

But, this is a standalone topic on its own…

@efernandez    from the series #toomuchtimeonplanes


#CongresoCloud en Logroño, la Rioja

Mobile cloud from a visual angle @efernandez [slideshare id=13146821&w=425&h=355&sc=no]
  1. CongresoCloud
    #Congresocloud Gracias a las 1.800 personas que han seguido este congreso vía streaming
    Fri, Jun 01 2012 07:44:08
  2. juan_osaba
    RT “@Thinktic: @pau @eyeos en #congresocloud #LaRioja clausurando un congreso de 236 acreditaciones y 1.800 Via web http://pic.twitter.com/ReYyWa3o”
    Fri, Jun 01 2012 08:00:14
  3. amadeolazaro
    RT @lasblogenpunto: El cloud debería inspirarse en el espíritu de Kodak: 'Usted apriete el botón, que nosotros hacemos el resto'. Simplicidad #congresocloud
    Fri, Jun 01 2012 07:45:53
  4. luispedraza
    RT @juan_esteban: Que buena presentacion!! RT@efernandez: Mobile cloud from a visual angle @efernandez http://www.slideshare.net/edslide/congresocloud-ii-congreso-nacional-cloud-la-rioja-mayo2012-efernandez-sub-red #congresocloud @congresocloud
    Fri, Jun 01 2012 07:34:07
  5. ulisesmt
    RT @CongresoCloud: "Every traditional business has a digital bullet whit its name engraved" citado por @efernandez en #congresocloud
    Thu, May 31 2012 11:04:34
  6. CongresoCloud
    RT @juan_esteban: @efernandez que gran presentacion!! Enhorabuena!! #congresocloud
    Thu, May 31 2012 10:52:04
  7. sergiosanchezgo
    @efernandez "Every traditionally business has a digital bullet with its name engraved" #CongresoCloud
    Thu, May 31 2012 08:56:36
  8. JoseLCalvillo
    @efernandez Digitalización y movilidad: las claves del desarrollo de cualquier negocio #CongresoCloud
    Thu, May 31 2012 08:52:30
  9. juan_esteban
    Que buena presentacion!! RT@efernandez: Mobile cloud from a visual angle @efernandez http://www.slideshare.net/edslide/congresocloud-ii-congreso-nacional-cloud-la-rioja-mayo2012-efernandez-sub-red #congresocloud @congresocloud
    Thu, May 31 2012 08:52:19
  10. CongresoCloud
    @efernandez @BlackBerryESP me tira mucho esta tierra #LaRioja en #congresocloud http://pic.twitter.com/tzevNQfp
    Thu, May 31 2012 08:39:07