John Caddell

“Copycats” – A Fresh Look at How Imitation Contributes to Innovation

“We are like dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants,” Bernard of Chartres.

“Good artists borrow, great artists steal,” Picasso, or, more likely, TS Eliot.

You’re “stepping all over Apple’s IP,” Steve Jobs.

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HBR Article Recommends Confronting New Venture Risks Early

Once upon a time in innovation, there was a general rule: get to market as quickly as you can, meaning you should start on your “long-pole” development activities as soon as possible. But there’s a growing consensus in the innovation community that the best way to succeed isn’t to start developing quickly, but instead to do as much work as possible on paper, to validate assumptions cheaply and quickly, and defer more expensive, riskier (and even long-pole) activities until after some of the basic assumptions are validated.

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Combat Consumers’ Price Sensitivity with Smart Pricing Strategies

When recession hits, pricers seem to grab onto a couple of tools: how soon to discount, and how much? It seems more risky to use other pricing approaches in bad times than in good, but, as authors Marco Bertini and Luc Wathieu point out in the May Harvard Business Review (”How To Stop Customers From Fixating On Price“), smart pricing strategies can also serve to remind customers about things other than a product’s… well, price.

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Report from Cape May: Customers Say Donuts, Not Scones

Spending the weekend at Cape May, NJ, a seaside resort (mercifully, prior to the start of the peak summer season), was a great way to size up customer-management practices. After all, you don’t get any more commercial than the relations between resort shopowners & their visiting customers.

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The Graph Is Nice, but What Are You Hearing?

I’ve been working with a client company and looking deeply into their customer calls to find patterns around why people call, how CSRs handle calls, and what issues customers are having with the company’s products and services.

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A Successful Price-raising Strategy: a Bit at a Time

Companies that have discounted in response to the Great Recession now find themselves in the position of needing to find a way to return prices to something closer to “normal,” whatever that is. Those companies have gotten some good news and bad news in the form of research from Michael Tsiros of the University of Miami and David Hardesty of the University of Kentucky, as reported in the April Harvard Business Review.

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“The Right Fight” Shows that Workplace Conflict Is Essential for Success

When I got out of engineering school, it was natural to take the competitive, intellectually show-offy mindset we all had in college into the workplace. I was developing software, and so there were constant battles to discuss how to design a certain piece of code or construct a test scenario. I remember these times fondly. The arguments were loud but respectful, and it seemed most of the time the right answer came out of them.

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A Big F***ing Deal in Customer Service (hat tip to Joe Biden)

I heard a remarkable conversation recently. A woman, whom I pictured to be in her 50s, was talking to a help line to solve a problem she was having with her internet service. The very polite support technician continually misinterpreted her question & asked her which channel on her cable television was acting up. After three go-rounds with no progress being made, in a low, teeth-gritted voice she told the computer she was talking to: “Send me to a person.”

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“Backshoring”: the New Buzzword that May Give You a Job

A recent post from Booz & Company’s “Strategy + Business” introduced a new term: “backshoring” – an emerging trend of returning manufacturing from an offshore location to the home country (”The Case For Backshoring“). This is especially important for US business, which has been a very aggressive proponent of offshoring for the past decade. Why is this reversal happening? In short, the conditions that made outsourcing look so attractive have changed utterly:

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Nuts & Bolts: a Simple Collections Procedure

[Nuts & Bolts is a new category focusing on basic business practices for the entrepreneur or established business. Look for new Nuts & Bolts posts approximately weekly.]

I saw my brother-in-law over the holiday, and he mentioned a friend who had started a business selling duck calls. This friend was having trouble collecting from his retailer customers, with the result that he had outstanding receivables of $20,000. Did I have any advice as to how he could collect better?

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