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Why moonshots elude the timid of heart
February 14, 2020 | Financial Times | by Tim Harford.

* Loonshots — by Safi Bahcall.
* Major innovations tend to result from investment that is high-risk, high-pay-off.
* Executives at the Cambridge, UK outpost of an admired Japanese company fret that success rate of their research and development, at 70%, was far too high. It signals that research teams had been risk-averse, pursuing easy wins at the expense of more radical and risky long-shots.
* Disney, the belief is that Disney if you weren't failing at half of your endeavours, you weren’t being brave or creative enough.
* The problem is a societal/systematic preference for marginal gains over long shots---It is much more pleasant to experience a steady trickle of small successes than a long drought while waiting for a flood that may never come.
* marginal gains do add up, but need to be bolstered by the occasional long-shot breakthrough.....Major innovations such as the electric motor, the photo­voltaic cell or the mobile phone open up new territories that the marginal-gains innovators & tinkerers can further exploit.[JCK: from Simon Johnson, "public investments in research and development contribute to what the authors call the “spillover effect.” When the product of the research is not a private firm’s intellectual property, its impact flows across the economy."]
* the UK Conservative party’s promise to establish “a new agency for high-risk, high-pay-off research, at arm’s length from government” — a British version of the much-admired US Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency.
* DARPA's failure rate is often said to be around 85%.
* a low failure rate may indeed signal a lack of originality and ambition.
* Arpa hires high-quality scientists for short stints — often two or three years — and giving them control over a programme budget to commission research from any source they wish.
* the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a foundation, deliberately looks for projects with an unusual or untried approach, but a large potential pay-off.....HHMI gets what it pays for — more failures, but larger successes, compared with other grant-makers funding researchers of a similar calibre.
* how long will UK politicians tolerate failure as a sign of boldness and originality? Eventually, they will simply call it failure.
* the trilemma: Be cautious, or fund lots of risky but tiny projects, or fund a few big, risky projects from a modest budget and accept that every single one may flop.
audacity  big_bets  boldness  books  breakthroughs  Cambridge  DARPA  failure  game_changers  high-reward  high-risk  incrementalism  industrial_policies  innovation  jump-start  marginal_improvements  moonshots  originality  politicians  public_investments  publicly_funded  quick_wins  R&D  risk-aversion  science  small_wins  spillover  success_rates  thinking_big  Tim_Harford  timidity  United_Kingdom 
7 weeks ago by jerryking
Music’s ‘Moneyball’ moment: why data is the new talent scout | Financial Times
JULY 5, 2018 | FT | Michael Hann.

The music industry loves to self-mythologise. It especially loves to mythologise about taking young scrappers from the streets and turning them into stars. It celebrates the men and women — but usually the men — with “golden ears” almost as much as the people making the music....A&R, or “artists and repertoire”, are the people who look for new talent, convince that talent to sign to the record label and then nurture it: advising on songs, on producers, on how to go about the job of being a pop star. It’s the R&D arm of the music industry......What the music business doesn’t like to shout about is how inefficient its R&D process is. The annual global spend on A&R is $2.8bn....and all that buys is the probability of failure: “Some labels estimate the ratio of commercial success to failure as 1 in 4; others consider the chances to be much lower — less than 1 in 10,” observes its 2017 report. Or as Mixmag magazine’s columnist The Secret DJ put it: “Major labels call themselves a business but are insanely unprofitable, utterly uncertain, totally rudderless and completely ignorant.”......The rise of digital music brought with it a huge amount of data which, industry executives realized, could be turned to their advantage. ....“All our business units must now leverage data and analytics in innovative ways to dig deeper than ever for new talent. The modern day talent-spotter must have both an artistic ear and analytical eyes.”

Earlier this year, in the same week as Warner announced its acquisition of Sodatone, a company that has developed a tool for talent-spotting via data, another data company, Instrumental, secured $4.2m of funding. The industry appeared to have reached a tipping point — what the website Music Ally called “A&R’s data moment”. Which is why, wherever the music industry’s great and good gather, the word “moneyball” has become increasingly prevalent.
........YouTube, Spotify, Instagram were born and changed the way talent begins its journey. All the barriers came down. Suddenly you’ve got tens of thousands of pieces of music content being uploaded.......Home computing’s democratization of recording removed the barriers to making high-quality music. No longer did you need access to a studio and an experienced producer, plus the money to pay for them. But the music industry had no way to keep abreast of these new creators. “....The way A&R people have discovered talent has barely changed since the music industry began, and it’s fundamentally the same for indie labels, who put artistry above sales, as it is for major labels who have to answer to shareholders. It’s always been about information.....“We find them by listening to new music constantly, by people giving us tips, by going out and seeing things that sound interesting,”.....“The most useful people to talk to are concert promoters and booking agents. They are least inclined to bullshit; they’ll tell you how many people an act is drawing,”...like labels, publishers also have an A&R function, signing up songwriters, many of whom will also be in bands)....“Journalists and radio producers are [also] very useful people to give you information. If you know you’ve got particular DJs or particular writers who are going to pick up something, that’s really good.”
.......Instrumental’s selling point is a dashboard called Talent AI, which scrapes data from Spotify playlists with more than 10,000 followers.....“We took a view that to build momentum on Spotify, you need to be on playlists,”....“If no one knows who you are, no one’s going to suddenly start streaming a track you’ve just put up. It happens when you start getting included on playlists.”......To make it workable, the Talent AI dashboard enables users to apply a series of filters to either tracks or artists: to sort by nationality, by genre, by number of playlists they appear on, by the number of playlist subscribers, by their industry standing — are they signed to a major? To an independent label? Are they unsigned?
.......What A&R people are looking for, though, is not totals, it’s evidence of momentum. No one wants to sign the artist who has reached maximum popularity. They want the artist on the way up....“It’s the direction. Is it going in the right direction?”....when it comes to assessing what an artist can offer, the data isn’t even always about the numbers. “The one I look at the most is Instagram, because that’s the easiest way for an artist to express themselves in a way other than the music — how they look, what they’re into,” she says. “That gives a real snapshot into [them] and whether they really have formulated a world for themselves or not.”......not everyone is delighted with the drive to data. “[the advent of] Spotify...became the driving force for signings...“A&Rs were using their eyes rather than their ears — watching numbers change rather than listening to music, and then jumping on acts....they saw something happening and got it out quickly without having to invest in the traditional A&R process.”... online heat tends to be generated by transient teenage audiences who are likely to move on rather than stick around for a decade: online presence is a big thing in electronic dance music, or some branches of urban music, in which an artist might only be good for a single song. In short, data does not measure quality; it does not tell you whether an artist has 20 good songs that can be turned into their first two albums; it does not tell you whether they can command a crowd in live performance..........The music industry, of course, has always had an issue with short-termism/short-sightedness: [tension] between the people who sign the cheques and those who go to bat for the artists is built into the way it works..........The problem is that without career artists, the music industry just becomes even more of a lottery. It is being made harder, not just by short-termism, but by the fact that music has become less culturally central. “It’s so much harder to connect with an audience or grow an audience, because there’s so much noise,”
.......Today the A&R...agree that the new data has its uses, but insist it still takes second place to the evidence of their own eyes and ears.......As for Withey, he is not about to tell the old-school scouts their days are done....Instrumental can tell A&R people which artists are hot, but not which are good. Also, there will be amazing acts who simply don’t get the traction on the internet to register on the Talent AI dashboard.....All of which will come as a relief to the people running those A&R departments. .....when asked if data will become the single most important factor in scouting talent: “I hope not. Otherwise we may as well have robots.” For now, at least, the golden ears are safe.
A&R  algorithms  analytics  data  dashboards  tips  discoveries  filters  hits  Instagram  inefficiencies  momentum  music  music_industry  music_labels  music_publishing  Moneyball  myths  playlists  self-mythologize  songwriters  Spotify  SXSW  success_rates  talent  talent_spotting  tipping_points  tracking  YouTube  talent_scouting  high-quality  the_single_most_important 
july 2018 by jerryking
Big Companies Should Collaborate with Startups
Eddie YoonSteve Hughes
FEBRUARY 25, 2016

Growth is increasingly hard to come by, so large companies are increasingly looking to entrepreneurs to help them find it. In the food and beverage category, growth came from 20,000 small companies outside of the top 100, which together saw revenue grow by $17 billion dollars.
Despite that aggregate revenue growth, not every startup is successful — in fact, the vast majority will fail.

Ironically, startups and established companies would both improve their success rates if they collaborated instead of competed. Startups and established companies bring two distinct and equally integral skills to the table. Startups excel at giving birth to successful proof of concepts; larger companies are much better at successfully scaling proof of concepts.

Startups are better at detecting and unlocking emerging and latent demand. But they often stumble at scaling their proof of concept, not only because they’re often doing it for the first time, but also because the skills necessary for creating are not the same as scaling. Startups must be agile and adapt their value proposition several times until they get it right. According to Forbes, 58% of startups successfully figure out a clear market need for what they have.

In contrast, big companies often end up launching things they can make, not what people want.

Successful collaboration between startups and established companies must go beyond financial deals: it must be personal and mission-oriented.....areas of emerging and latent demand are often highly concentrated.... spend time physically in hotbeds specific to your sector. ....met people...walk the aisles ...... explore up and coming datasets. SPINs is a retail measurement company that covers the natural and organic grocers. Yet too many companies don’t even bother to acquire this data because they dismiss it as too small to matter.....Just as important as personal knowledge are personal relationships. ...spend time with customers....skew more toward emerging customers......connect with key people who have tight connections with both startups and established companies in your industry.....collaboration needs to be mission-oriented, meaning it has to be focused on something larger than financial success. ......Executives who wish to tap into the growth of these smaller companies will find that having a big checkbook is not going to be enough, and that waiting for an investment banker to bring them deals is the wrong approach. A mercenary mindset will only go so far. When big companies try to engage with startups, a missionary mindset will create better odds of success.
large_companies  Fortune_500  brands  scaling  start_ups  collaboration  face2face  personal_meetings  personal_touch  information_sources  personal_relationships  personal_knowledge  HBR  growth  funding  M&A  success_rates  latent  hidden  proof-of-concepts  mindsets  missionaries  mission-driven  Mondolez  cultural_clash  Gulliver_strategies 
march 2017 by jerryking
H.P.’s Misstep Shows Risk in the Push for Big Ideas - NYTimes.com
November 21, 2012 | NYT | By QUENTIN HARDY.

The ill-fated marriage of the companies is a lesson for H.P. and other older technology giants as they throw billions at supposedly game-changing acquisitions, trying to gain a foothold in the future.

In that future, smartphones and tablets, connected to cloud-computing data centers, are the essential tools of work and play. Companies rent software over the air, rather than buying it with expensive maintenance contracts.

And vast streams of data are continually analyzed to find new patterns and make predictions about consumer behavior and product design. Autonomy, for instance, makes software that can analyze marketing patterns and advise a company on matters like where it should increase marketing resources.

These forces threaten older businesses, like H.P.’s traditional personal computer and data storage products. Other companies, like Oracle, Microsoft and Cisco, also face pressure. They are all trying to buy the future — and have the cash to do it..... But identifying the next big thing can be difficult, said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor of management at Yale University. Likely as not, he said, deals like the one for Autonomy have “maybe a 40 percent success, 60 percent failure rate.”

He added, “The odds are against you succeeding, but the odds are also worth taking.”

The real hazard, he said, is in the way companies describe these acquisitions as “natural, inevitable victories.” They should be seen, he said, as “an investment, like in research and development.”
Autonomy  big_bets  breakthroughs  cloud_computing  cultural_clash  failure  game_changers  HP  ideas  M&A  Meg_Whitman  mergers_&_acquisitions  mistakes  missteps  moonshots  Quentin_Hardy  risks  SaaS  subscriptions  success_rates 
november 2012 by jerryking
"Portrait of a perfect salesman."
3 May 2012| Financial Times | Philip Delves Broughton.

Tips for closing any deal

Know the odds

Most salespeople face far more rejection than acceptance. Knowing how many calls or meetings it takes to make each sale helps develop the positive attitude vital to succeed. After all, 99 rejections may be just the prelude to that triumphant yes.

Find a selling environment that suits you

Some people are great seducers, others dogged persuaders. Some like to make lots of sales each day, others prefer making one a year. Some enjoy high financial incentives, others thrive on the human relationships. Decide who you are first, then find a sales role that suits your personality type.

Be your customer's partner not their adversary

Great salespeople create value around products and services that they can convey and deliver to their customers. Paying attention and acting in the interests of your customer rather than yourself is very difficult. But as information about price and features becomes more widely available, service and relationships become the real value in each sale.
sales  selling  Philip_Delves_Broughton  Salesforce  character_traits  personality_types/traits  customer_centricity  ratios  partnerships  relationships  rejections  salesmanship  salespeople  success_rates  customer_focus  pay_attention  positive_thinking  solutions  solution-finders 
may 2012 by jerryking
Evaluating the Wealth-Creating Potential of Business Plans:
Winter 2006 | The Journal of Private Equity | James O . Fiet and Pankaj C . Patel

This research tests a novel, theoretically-based approach for evaluating and predicting business plan performance. Using hidden, but known historical cases, it successfully classified 31 out of 31 venture capital funded ventures into 3 levels of performance. These levels of performance were less than 20% ROI, between 20% and 35% ROI and greater than 35% ROI. Moreover, the results accounted for 74% of the variance above the expected ROI to investors based on the original business plan estimates. This research is important to entrepreneurs, public policy analysts and investors because it may increase the success rate of estimating commercialization efforts.
business_planning  wealth_creation  success_rates 
november 2011 by jerryking
Your business wants my money? Good luck - The Globe and Mail
doug steiner
Special to Globe and Mail Update
Published Thursday, Jul. 22, 2010

The people who ask me out for coffee usually want help on the funding side of their business — meaning me providing funding to them.

Let me speak for many others in my shoes: You have about a 1-per-cent chance of getting my money. That means you may have to pitch your idea to hundreds of people to have a real shot at raising any dough. Why is listening to business ideas a somewhat cranky subject? Mostly because the entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who do this for a living fail a lot. I’ve personally funded a lot more duds than successes, although my success rate is climbing as I age.

...In my genuine attempts to help people, I have to be frank, and sometimes brutally honest. That can come across as mean, but there’s a method to my meanness. I have a photocopy of a sheet titled “77 Questions Every Business Plan Should Answer.” I don’t remember who gave it to me, or who to credit, but there are a lot of variations of it online.

I give the sheet to every budding, uninformed optimist who tells me they want to do the marathon run from idea-on-a-napkin to multimillionaire. It’s a pretty sobering document.
Doug_Steiner  angels  due_diligence  boards_&_directors_&_governance  success_rates  candour 
october 2011 by jerryking
How to Be Like Apple - WSJ.com
AUG. 29, 2011 | WSJ | RACHEL EMMA SILVERMAN. Driving
Innovation: Mgmt. experts say there are specific ways firms can generate
and execute new ideas. Solicit input. Great ideas come from all levels
of the organization, not just the top. Provide workers time for
"unofficial activity," set time to work on creative ideas. Executing
ideas is often tougher than generating them. Companies need a clear
process to prioritize, resource & test ideas quickly and cheaply, so
that they can afford to experiment...Observation can help companies
understand not just what people say they want, but what they really
need. Clay Christensen says P&G's new-product success rate in recent
yrs. came from observing that people were concerned about how their
clothes smell (Febreze) & were always looking for simpler ways to
clean the floor (Swiffer.). P&G overhauled its new-biz strategy
after realizing that just 15% of its ideas, developed in more of an
ad-hoc approach, were meeting revenue & profit targets.
Apple  innovation  execution  Vijay_Govindarajan  P&G  business_development  Clayton_Christensen  new_products  kill_rates  success_rates  systematic_approaches  ad_hoc  new_businesses  slack_time  companywide  observations  experimentation  primary_field_research  large_companies  Fortune_500  brands  unarticulated_desires  Michael_McDerment  ideas  idea_generation  process-orientation 
august 2011 by jerryking
Chapter_1.1_Catalyst_for_Growth.
Many corporations are not prepared to institutionalize
corporate entrepreneurship. There are no benchmarks, metrics or
performance criteria for corporate entrepreneurship. Many executives do
not know why new initiatives succeed or fail. A failure rate of fifty
percent for new initiatives is deemed acceptable.
stage-gate  attrition_rates  intrapreneurship  corporate  failure  filetype:pdf  media:document  success_rates  criteria  new_businesses  new_products  large_companies  brands  metrics  benchmarking  kill_rates 
april 2010 by jerryking
Googling Growth - WSJ.com
APRIL 9, 2007 | Wall Street Journal | by CHRIS ZOOK. Rapid
shifts in markets and technologies are forcing companies of all sorts to
change direction faster than ever. Many management teams are tempted
by "big bang" solutions: dramatic, transformative mergers or aggressive
leaps into sexy new markets. The success rate for major, life-changing
mergers is only about one in 10. For most companies, reinvention of a
core business doesn't have to involve such high levels of risk. The
solution lies in mining hidden assets -- assets already possessed but
not being tapped for maximum growth potential.
One way to open management's eyes to hidden assets is to identify the
richest hunting grounds, usually camouflaged as hidden business
platforms, untapped customer insights, and underused capabilities.
accelerated_lifecycles  Apple  assets  Bain  big_bang  business_models  Chris_Zook  core_businesses  customer_insights  GE  growth  hidden  high-risk  iPODs  latent  life-changing  M&A  mergers_&_acquisitions  moonshots  Nestlé  Novozymes  rapid_change  reinvention  resource_management  Samsung  success_rates  transformational  underutilization 
february 2010 by jerryking

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