Tag Archives: Kalypso

The Chipster

23 Mar

When the history of Kalypso is written, there will be a chapter devoted to Chip Perry. He bought his first crappy sports coat after watching “The Paper Chase” in 1973 and he hasn’t taken it off since. Seriously, you can ask his wife. Chip is the central character of so many of the most memorable moments of our Firm’s young life that it is difficult to limit the scope of my comments. Here a few of my favorites.

In September 2010 we held KARMA, our annual gathering, in New Orleans and a very good time was had by all. There were about 75 people in a hotel conference room during one of our general session meetings and the professorial Mr. Perry was comfortably leaning back in his chair against a wall reading the New York Times (Krugman, no doubt). Next to him was seated the ever-attentive and quite lovely Ms. Emily Adams. Apparently Chip’s seat was a little too comfortable because he fell asleep during a presentation (that I was giving), fell and grasped and groped on the nearest stable object on his way down. Poor Miss Emily. Gentleman that he is Chip simply pretended that nothing unusual had happened.

Chip loves his GPS device and it never fails – to get him lost. Twice in a single month he picked me up at the airport in Minneapolis for important client meetings and then relied on his GPS to drive us to the wrong building in the wrong part of town. We were very late both times. On another occasion several of us watched Chip drive to within 200 feet of the entrance to the parking lot at a Firm event, pull over, and call us to say that he was hopelessly lost. We didn’t have the heart to seize the opportunity to truly mess with him. But we were tempted.

Ask him about his old Volvo, his Las Vegas experience, his natural ability with firearms, or his English degree (“you do the math”). He may be a little scatterbrained and he may wear corduroy jackets with leather elbow patches, but he is also universally loved and admired. Read more about one of our favorite characters with character here. Chip makes the heart of Kalypso beat strong. In many ways he is the heart of Kalypso. He is our friend. I would go to war with him. I just wouldn’t let him drive.

Overdose on Youth

8 Mar

A couple of decades ago I started my very first consulting assignment at a large manufacturing company. The firm’s innovation-driven glory years in the 70s were distant memory by the time I arrived. The business advantages the company had previously enjoyed were gone, but the people were not. The memorable visual impression of a sea of gray hair (all male) in the employee cafeteria was a symptom of the problem. The company had simply grown old and sclerotic. It was eventually sold off from its parent, declared bankruptcy, reneged on retiree benefits, and is currently being run for cash by a vulture.

As a consultant I have the privilege of working within dozens of client organizations in industries ranging from high tech to telecom to life sciences to consumer products. Each of these companies has a vibe and a personality that creates an atmosphere that runs on a continuum from vibrant and dynamic to dead and dying. While I am certain that a good organizational behaviorist would be able to construct an academically sound comparative analysis of company cultures, there is one correlating factor that is easy to identify and easy to get right. It is the proportion of the workforce that is under the age of 30.

If growth from innovation is your company’s stated strategy then you should be overdosing on youth. If you want ideas to flow and concepts to flourish, you need to hire people with energy, enthusiasm and passion to push them through. I am obviously not suggesting that you institute mandatory retirement at thirty. We need the valuable guidance and wisdom that comes from experienced professionals (like you and me), but we should balance that with people that have a broader sense of the possible and the motivation to achieve what may seem impossible. Load up on smart, talented, energetic youngsters and provide them with some freedom to give your organization an innovation boost.

The popular press is filled with articles on the challenges of multi-generational management. Many of these articles point the finger at younger people as spoiled and unmanageable. This has not been my experience. Youth is like an innovation performance enhancing drug that will make the pulse of your organization beat a lot faster if taken in large quantities. My advice is to overdose.

Partnership

15 Feb

Introducing the guy standing next to me as my “partner” has created a few awkward moments over the years.

Working in the partnership form of business for the past eighteen years means that I have had a number of these uncomfortable encounters. Despite the occasional misunderstanding, there is no better way to describe the relationship I have with my colleagues. We are partners…in business and in life. We have bound ourselves together to achieve a common vision and share the thrills and spills along the way.

Partnership defines how we treat one another. A true partner is one that flies across the country on a day’s notice to help you acquire a new client, steps into a sticky project situation on your behalf, covers for you when you get overcommitted, tells you when you are screwing up, and does all these things without keeping score or expecting anything in return. That’s partnership.

Choosing to admit a new partner in the firm is one of the most consequential decisions we make. The partnership structure is brilliantly conceived to perpetuate itself. Our job is to build an organization that is constantly being regenerated as partners retire and bequeath their roles to a new and even more capable generation of professionals.

A great partnership is organic; always growing, continuously improving, and ever changing. What doesn’t change is the common set of core values that bind us together in friendship. I am very proud of my partners at Kalypso and the team we have built. So proud, that I would gladly introduce any one of them to a stranger as my “partner”.

Megan & the Mavs

10 Feb

Megan Creason is a Mavericks fan.

I have come to accept this minor flaw and am convinced that continued therapy will exercise all things Dallas from her being. While she claims that she was never completely infected with that form of afluenza known as the Metroplex Complex, you can’t be too careful with these things. While science searches for a cure, she has renounced her citizenship and dedicated herself to “keepin’ it weird” in Austin. Signs of hope.

She is an inspiration to recovering Dallas girls everywhere. Megan spent the Christmas break hiking the Inca Trail with a single change of clothes and a pocketful of single-ply toilet paper. She flies in coach and buys her designer handbags on sale. It has been reported that she was recently seen drinking a domestic beer right out of the bottle. Real princesses don’t do that.

I am very proud of her and have enjoyed watching her grow. Ms Megan was pressed into emergency duty as Kalypso’s recruiter over a year ago and mastered the role in weeks. She is always on the lookout for quirky characters to join our growing team. I can’t think of a better job for her. After all, it takes one to know one. Learn more about her particular peculiarities here.

Predictions for R&D

5 Feb

Predicting the future in an ambiguous world is inherently risky. My track record in 2011 was mixed. The primary prediction was that companies would loosen up spending in R&D while constraining growth in headcount and other fixed costs. That was spot on with what actually happened in most industries. What I got wrong was the response to that squeeze. My assumption was that progressive executives would explore alternative product development models and new approaches to utilizing external expertise. While I am often too optimistic about how fast these things will happen, I also believe that people were finally expecting things to get back to normal, so they were not as motivated to explore new and radical solutions.

As the economic environment continues in an extended period of uncertainty, I believe that we will see accelerated adoption of innovative R&D models. In 2012, I expect to see even greater spending in R&D and product development in those industries where the underlying business is growing moderately (seems like just about everywhere outside of housing and construction). If hiring and headcount growth continue to be constrained, then I predict that we will see more:

  • Corporate Venture Investing – Working and investing outside the company to identify new ideas rather than remaining exclusively focused inside the four walls.
  • Private Expert Networks – Expanding available brainpower in product development by accessing external expertise with low fixed costs that are discretionary in nature.
  • Reverse Innovation– Developing new products in and for emerging markets at value price points that are also attractive in the developed world.
  • Social Product Innovation – Taking advantage of the power of social computing platforms to transform the way products are developed by increasing collaboration both inside and outside of company R&D departments.

If these tactics are broadly adopted, my predictions for 2011 will finally have come true a little later than I originally anticipated.

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