In the early years of the war (1861–1863), all soldiers were volunteers. They were paid a salary to serve, but they were there because they had chosen to join.

By the later years (1864–1865), drafts and bounties had to be introduced. Bounties in the Union states went as high as…


McKinsey has analyzed 2,400 of the largest companies over the past fifteen years and calculated the relative impact of forty variables on outsized growth in economic profit. …


And they both matter about equally

In discussions I’ve had, there has been disagreement about the right goals to set for companies; therefore, there’s been disagreement about the role that strategy should play.

Two of the most common mentalities I’ve come across are “let’s skip any real innovation investments —…


Which Ones Do You Have? Are You Maximising Your Use of Them?

The money was there, all that latent power… something waiting to be born, something sleeping. He cradled the unformed dream in his hands and wondered who to give it to.

— Ben Fountain, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara

Sources of advantage are a major component of Step #3 of the…


It’s been my experience that you learn much more when serving your first couple of clients that any other point in your product’s or company’s trajectory.

Before we signed our first customer in a recent company of mine, for example, we had a data request with clean columns in a…


Lessons for founders, startups, and entrepreneurs on what a strategy is and how it can evolve

Image by author

This example is from Jessica Livingston’s interviews with startup founders, Founders at Work. What her interviews reveal overall is that buyers, value pools, and approaches can change in startups’ early days as founders validate market needs and better assess their abilities to serve those needs.

It’s clear that most founders…


This is Part 17/18 in the series “How to Build an Innovative New Product or Company” on the topic of how to scale up a product and company that is working for its early customers

Scaling has many challenges, but they are ones you might call “champagne challenges”. Not dissimilar…


Image: FreeImages.com Content License

This is Part 18/18 in the series “How to Build an Innovative New Product or Company,” on the topic of how to measure the value and ROI your product is having for your buyers and users.

Consider a product that helps prevent patient falls in a hospital. It is a…


From a users’ perspective, the value in having the messages they experience from your website and other places in the marketing and sales process aligned to what they experience when they use your product is self-evidently valuable. It’s one of the most powerful ways to encourage usage and adoption.

But…


Image: Ricardo Arce on Unsplash

This is Part 16/18 in the series, “How to Build an Innovative New Product or Company,” on the topic of using quarterly, bottoms-up, transparent objectives and key results (OKRs) as an organizing principle.

OKRs are a simple data-driven organization platform created by Andy Grove of Intel and championed by Google…

Tim Darling

I’ve spent the last 15 years building new products and companies using a combination of data/analytics/AI and strategy.

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