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An economical system to kickstart purposeful innovation.

Category : Random thoughts

There are many kinds of innovation: You have large companies that successfully innovate by creating new products that actually bring value to customers and you have success stories of entrepreneurs building the ‘next big thing’ starting only from a good idea and a lot of stamina.

But the number of innovation stories could be much higher. What is holding us back?

For large companies?

These kind of innovations work because they are supported by a solid company with a belief in a new service and the financial power to back the investment up with large amounts of cash. Of course, for large companies, this belief is linked to the prospect of making profit out of these new products or services. Here we tackle a first limitation: Innovation in large companies will always be less destructive, as shareholders, executives, unions, employees,… will always need to make sure there is some short (or at best medium-) term payback. But the biggest problem probably comes from the fact that these companies always need to take good care that they can capture (a part) of the value they generate with these innovations. And this is where reality kicks in, because companies have an existing value extracting system: a distribution model, competences, physical presence, processes,… that needs also needs to be able to capture the newly created value. If the existing system also needs to be rebuild, not one innovation will have a valid business case.

For startups?

We probably all love this kind of innovation stories, but the thing is that 99% of them has only a limited impact on society as a whole (they are very regional, only focus only a very specific niche, are limited in terms of channels (most of them are online only, so the chance they are reaching a lot of persons over the age of 70 is rather small)). As startups don’t have the size of a large company, they are focussing on the product, without having the market power to leverage the value towards a large base of society.

Now what what would happen if we could combine both? Suppose there would exist a system that would create an economic incentive for large companies and thus for the people working in those large companies to stimulate innovation even if it could not be captured directly by the company. Suppose I am working for an energy supplier* and we would have found a way to make invoicing 50% more easy, less cumbersome,… It works for us and we are confident it could bring value to a lot of companies & citizens in the country. But we know it’s not our core business, and we probably will not be the company that can make money out of it. As a consequence, nothing will happen. But what if there would be some kind of remuneration for this system if it’s developed more broadly and actually can be used by other companies? The solution will then be developed further and society as a whole will be better, won’t it?

Which kind of system do you think will work? A government that generates funding for this, the creation of a platform at country level to sort of crowd fund these ideas,…? Or am I just a dreamer?

Happy dreaming!

*Full disclose: I am working for an energy supplier 😉

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Data is overrated in strategy & underused in value creation.

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Category : Random thoughts

Odds are that you invest a lot of time & people (or money on strategy consultants) to dig into historical datasets, in order to craft a great strategy. Nothing wrong with defining where to put your money & effort in the coming years based on objective figures you say? No it’s not. But what happens a lot in reality is that these figures are more used to ‘prove’ that the strategy that already has been chosen is the right one. And then there is the main question: do you really believe that the past is a good reference for the future (your +3 year plan) ? Forget about innovation when you go for this approach!

On the other hand, when companies shift to the delivery part, they seem to forget that here customer behaviour is a good proxy for new customer behaviour. This is due to the fact that all other variable are much more stable because they occur at the same time: You offer the same products, your customer base operates under the same economical conditions, your competition base is constant,…

So stop over-proving your strategy with analysis and put your bright data-analysts & managers on customer data analysis for ‘run’ purposes.
Nice extra : these effort will start having an impact on your bottom line today, instead of in 3 year.

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Digital Tools for the rest of us.

Digital tools are there to make our work life more easy, more efficient, more enjoyable. But a lot of them are very complicated, and there are a loooot of them, so they become more of a distraction.

I’m a big fan of those new ways of working and like to experiment with them. Sadly, a lot of time, tools don’t work out in a real life company that is not a trendy tech-startup. So I gathered the most basic tools that help you in managing your work, collaborate with colleagues, share files, get things done,… that actually work in an environment where not everybody is a digital native.

Enjoy ‘Digital tools for the rest of us‘! Share if you like!

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2015 Work resolutions

Yes, that time of year, so let’s look forward!

2014-12-30 14.56.09

Share more

Yes, that is primarily with you out there! Colleagues, blog readers, friends. Not because sharing is caring, but because sharing is a gift (of which the value is being defined by the receiver and not the one that gives it btw), so I’ll refrain myself from asking myself to much the question: is this relevant?! It’s up to you to decide on that one.

Doodle/sketchnote: practice practice

Inspired by my friend Nele from london linger & the great book from Mike Rodhe. Yes! Visual is the way to focus your brain on the main message & learnings.

As a little extra: don’t worry about making mistakes, drawing in non-erasable inkt,… : Practice makes perfect and you can always say Sorry afterwards, start over or just ignore your mistakes altogether.

Put your name on it!

Putting your name on it makes it personal. It’s not about taking credit (sometimes it should be!), but about putting your heart into it and taking responsibility for the results. Of your work, of your dreams, of your ideas,… Fully agree with Seth Godin.

Don’t RUN, move with a quick pace!

At work that is. If you are late: deal with it.

Keep up the willingness to LEARN.

I believe the willingness and ability to learn new skills quickly might be my most valuable competence. So let’s focus on the things I’m good in to make the difference (instead of putting to much time and effort in those ‘development points’).

Look people more in the eye.

Apparently, it helps to show confidence 😉

Here we go, up to a great 2015!


Extra:  The Unofficial Goldman Sachs Guide To New Year’s Resolutions

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Project sheets – The elevator speech for your projects.

I had to explain a bunch of small project streams from a company wide program to stakeholders. As those stakeholders all have their own specific focus, they tend to have a short attention span when it comes to the elements that are not really linked to their business. It’s however key to get their commitment on the program and the individual projects, so I made a quick project one pager. A little like the personal elevator pitch of your project. Feel free to use it to make your own projects more tangible! Share if you like.


Free pdf download!

Kudo’s for the icon designers!

Icons made by Sergiu Bagrin from is licensed under CC BY 3.0
Icons made by Freepik from is licensed by CC BY 3.0

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7 habits of highly effective people: 7 learnings in 1 visual.

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I am a firm believer of getting inspiration from books. They have a lot of advantages compared to other forms of learning:

  • They are cheap – For the price of one class-room or in-house training, you can buy books for the rest of your professional career.
  • You can easily pass them on (And share your thoughts on them).
  • You can skip parts (You know the feeling when you are in a classroom training and the first 3 hours are on topics you already know a lot about).
  • You can access them everywhere (hey, I’m living in a country with Blackout potential ;-)).
  • They typically go more in-dept than blog-posts.
  • But off course, you need to remember what is in there, so sometimes you need a quick recap of knowledge. That’s why doodling the main learnings of a book can come in handy.

My latest one is an old one: The 7 habits of highly effective people (by Stephen R. Covey). Down in one image!

2014-10-06 21.00.55


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Minimum Awesome Product

Minimum Awesome Product

Creating a new product or service can take years. More and more companies however move away from the “don’t launch it until it’s completely finished, retested and out of date” approach. They go for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach where a working but ‘not ready for mass production’ product is launched towards a small group of customers in order to help further developing the product.

In that context, a new question arises:

“What about a kick-ass product”?

The risk with MVP’s is that what makes a product truly remarkable – more often than not – lies in the details, in how remarkable the elements of the products come together in a design, a use, a service experience,… With a MVP, you will only deliver the core of the new product or service, which is most of the time not enough for a real WOW experience. And by only offering this, you also tend to focus on getting the core better when working with the first customers. They evaluate what they get (the core capabilities) and by default they will give you feedback on how to make that core better by adapting it better to their needs. Only in rare cases, they will focus on the things that are not there or that they are not (yet) aware of (the details, the design, the packaging, the unclear element of a new kind of usage,…).

So how to tackle this issue without going again towards the old model of developing a product forever?

What about a parallel route? You push your MVP product in the process with customers to focus on shipping a real product as soon as possible. At the same time, use a small group (or even individual) to add some magic to the existing MVP product. Why not use a designer, an outside consultant, one of your top sales guys,…?

When you work on shipping your version 2 of the MVP product, just add the WOW elements (as they are not linked to the core of your product, this should be rather easy). Imagine how delighted your first customers will be if they see that both their requirements were met in your new release and a magical tough has been added.

Minimum Awesome Product (MAP): Delivered!

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Challenges for enterprises on the Belgian Energy Market

Category : Blog , Marketing , Solutions

The Belgian electricity market is in constant evolution. As both society and government move towards more renewables in the energy mix, new challenges are bound to arise. The physical nature of the majority of renewable energy sources (wind, solar, hydro,…) implies they are not as controllable as other sources of energy. When there is no wind, there is no power to be harnessed from wind. This uncontrollability is largely due to the simple fact that there are no realistic ways — yet — to store energy in large amounts. As long as we are unable to store energy in an economically viable way, the combined demand of all companies and households in Belgium at any given time during the day cannot exceed supply (the total sum of all electricity originating from windmills, gas-fired plants, nuclear installations, solar panels, imported energy, etc.).

As governments are constantly modifying the applicable rules and regulations, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to predict their energy-related costs. On the other hand, however, new technical evolutions (in terms of measurement, smart grids and load balancing for example) are creating new opportunities for companies to optimise their energy needs.

In the face of these challenges and opportunities, the Total Cost of Energy indicator (TCE) has been developed: a powerful tool designed to help you tackle your company’s energy challenges.


Whether your organisation relies on energy simply for heating and lighting your offices or for more heavy-duty industrial processes, energy management is an essential part of your operational and even strategic management. It is therefore important to integrate every aspect with a potential impact on your total P&L within a comprehensive energy strategy.

And that is where the Total Cost of Energy (TCE) model comes in. To help you map all these elements into an effective strategy to minimise costs and maximise your competitive edge.

The TCE is basically a construction of all the elements that a company can/should consider when making decisions regarding its energy needs. It lists elements from the pure raw energy source, the time of buying, security of supply, energy and cost saving measures and a lot more.

You can download the whitepaper with the TCE here for free (no strings attached).

I firmly believe that when companies look towards energy as an integrated and strategic asset, they are able to save a lot of money, whilst still creating a more sustainable energy landscape.

Disclaimer: The author is Marketing Innovation & Transformation manager for a EDF Luminus, the major challenger on the Belgian Energy market.

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Habits of successful artists – Spark 10:  Lead a tribe

Leading means taking risk, standing out from the crowd, do something for the first time, ship it and convince others to follow you. It takes a great deal of courage, a great idea and a risky execution.

Courage: doing something new is by definition an uncertain business: No benchmarks, no best practices telling you what to do. Just you, your brains & intuition.

A great idea: It all starts with this. Being able to have something that creates a new kind of value to at least one person or organisation.

Risky execution: As the idea itself never represents any real value. It’s only by putting it to use that you will create an impact. Going out into the real world and leaving your whiteboard is always risky: in the real world, you can actually brake things 🙂

Go out, be brave & lead!

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