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

20 millas, cada día.

Tuve el privilegio, hace un par de semanas, de que la escuela de negocios EADA me invitase a Barcelona a un networking lunch con ellos. Vaya por delante mi agradecimiento por su consideración.

Fue Eva García, manager de EADA Alumni, quien, por twitter, me pidió que asistiese, a lo que, por twitter también, le dije que sí, saltándome los protocolos habituales de comunicación corporativa, cuyo resultado ha sido este artículo de EFE publicado en Expansión, del que cabe resaltar estas palabras de un tal Fernández:

Fernández incide en que frente a otros smartphones diseñados principalmente para "consumir" información, BlackBerry ofrece una plataforma integrada más pensada para "subir" datos

En el Economista, publicaron una versión más extensa que se puede ver aquí. En la que mencionaron ésto, también citando a un tal Fernández y haciendo referencia a la estrategia que siguió Amundsen en su gesta hacia el polo sur:

"Siempre hemos tenido que combatir contra supuestos BlackBerry killers", afirma Fernández, quien insiste en que la estrategia comercial de su compañía es similar a la seguida por el noruego Amundsen para llegar al Polo Sur: "Fijarse avanzar cada día 20 millas, haga sol o nieve; ésa es nuestra forma de ir hacia adelante", argumenta.

20 millas, se trata de levantarse todos los días, y no importa si llueva, nieve, haga viento o granizo, hay que avanzar 20 millas cada día.


Ah!, recordadme que os cuente la anécdota del dueño y fundador de la empresa que fabricaba los donuts, me la contaron en el almuerzo con EADA, un auténtico ejemplo de como ser ejemplo, valga la redundancia.


Si lo haces llegarás a cualquier sitio que te propongas.

FlashForward: watching your children now is a sneak peek into the future.

A strange sense of urgency drove me to write this post, aware it's going to be emotionally biased, a consequence of deep understanding of what the future will bring, similarly to what happened in the TV series FlashForward, theorizing about the impact on humans if suddenly, we all, could see and live 2 minutes (and 17 secs) of our future ahead. What would you do differently now if you were to know what's going to happen? Think about it for a second, wouldn't it be stressful?


In the wireless industry, my industry, there is so much to do, and so little time...(funny clip here). When I met Miles Flint last week in UK, I found myself talking for more than half an hour just to update him on the current status. Change is the only permanent thing in my industry, and truth to be told, in the last three months, many things changed in my markets (Spain, Portugal & Mediterranean) reshaping the scenario.

In parallel, seems to be it starts to be easier for me to meet with other executives in airplanes or in transit, at airports, than back at my home country, in Spain.  Same morning, prior to my meeting with Miles, I found myself sitting in the plane discussing (actually arguing) with Miguel Milano, EMEA president at salesforce.com, about BlackBerry and what BlackBerry is about vs Apple (he is a confessed Apple fan since the 80ies).

I met Miguel at Club Malaga Valley, a tech initiative in the south of Spain. Miguel and I are members and supporters, formerly VP at Oracle at that time, Miguel is definitively, someone with an opinion.

Same exact points were raised in both discussions, summarizing now for convenience:

1. Myths:

No matter how tough facts or figures are, both Miguel and Miles struggle to believe canalys gave RIM #1 smartphone spot last year in Spain, or GfK reporting 54% of smartphone prepay (1 out of every 2 smartphones sold in prepay) is BlackBerry. Definitively, US media influence is too strong at this side of the pond, if I want to fight it, I'll need to do it from the right side.

2. BlackBerry story:

I explained both where RIM stands strong and differentiates, following the internet paradigm, is all about production vs consumption (of content), active vs reactive, doers vs watchers, upload vs download. BlackBerry is simply better for content production: tweeting, facebooking, wordpressing (blogging: actually Forrester reports 42% of professional journalists using BlackBerry). An end to end approach: easier and better input mechanisms (keyboard) combined with close integration of apps and OS powered by the most efficient cloud messaging service.

Action point: we, RIM, are not properly marketing these facts, and we definitively should.


3. The future (as per this post title... I've seen it):

This is it, future is all about everything around us connected to the internet (Internet of Things) delivering data back and forth into the cloud, massive data (Big Data), and proliferation of new services and apps (Cloud Computing) that will deliver mobile experiences for us, humans (post PC era) in new devices, namely smartphones, tablets and the evolution of those.

As an example (same I used with Miles and Miguel): your smartphone will be able to monitor in real time your heartbeat (among other things like basic emotions and other biometrics), these data will be send over wirelessly to the cloud where an array of different cloud services will take intelligent decisions (without human intervention) based on different criteria, for instance, if your heartbeat drops suddenly from 80 to 40 beats/min, and your facebook age is above 55, weight more than 85 Kg with no Endomondo records of physical activity in last 2 years, then.... you probably have a heart attack and need assistance, therefore, and based on your GPS location, the closest medical service will be called to action.

This is one of the thousands of different services and use scenarios our smartphones will need to handle in the future, to make this a reality we need a strong post-PC wireless hardware and RTOS (Real Time Operating System), trully multitasking, interconnected to a powerful infrastructure (cloud) to handle any of those many different scenarios even simultaneously, including real time data, decisions and actions while doing everything else we already demand today from our devices (did I say multitasking?, I should have said extreme-multitasking). It's not by coincidence QNX, early version of BlackBerry 10 OS was just designed for that.

Finally I was able to capture Miles' and Miguel's attention.... although couldn't 'convert' them yet.

Miguel is today and will remain an Apple fan till we release a BB10 tempting experience in the 2nd half this year, however his 14 years old teenager is a BlackBerry evangelist, and, although Miguel struggles to understand why, this is a backdoor to change his perceptions and turn him back, which is something I am confident we will.

I guess the point is, if your own children, who will rule the world after us, have a preference for a different technology, watching them now is sort of a sneak peek into the future, isn't it?