MidMarket Alliance

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We connect all the best ways to MAXIMIZE business value and give it all a way!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Playbook #4: Innovation

Playbook #4: Innovation:
Over the last 10 years I’ve been heavily involved in 4 different businesses, Teamstudio (Software), ETM Manufacturing (Precision Engineering), ADMET (Materials Testing Systems Manufacturer) and Net Atlantic (Email Marketing). The first three achieved Inc 5000 status (fastest growing businesses in the US) with growth rates between 40% to 1800% and Net Atlantic’s growth would have put it in the top levels of the Inc list if it had applied!
Based on that experience and observations from successful innovators, we created an Innovation Playbook. A collection of principles and ideas that help stimulate innovation.  Some of the key ingredients are captured below:
  1. Innovation is as much about improving the old not just inventing the new (Jeff Bezos of Amazon in a recent FT article)
  2. Innovators aren’t exceptional as much as they are confident. (David Kelley, founder of design firm IDEO)
  3. Innovation is teachable. Innovation must solve a real life problem, by first defining the problem through research and direct observation. Second step involves “ideation” – visualalize and brainstorm potential solutions. Thirdly prototyping, build, test, iterate, rebuild and test again. Fourthly, Collaboration – a team with radical different views  learns the most and leads to the best results. (David Kelley and George Kembel founded the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stamford a nondegree d.school with $35m from SAP founder Hasso Plattner.)
  4. Hal Gregersten of INSEAD & Clayton M. Christensen of  Harvard Business School interviewed 100 innovative entrepreneurs for their  book – The Innovator’s DNA and discovered 5 key skills:
    • Cognitive skill – associating – the ability to make connections across unrelated fields
    • Behavioral skill – questioning – the ability to diagnose
    • Behavioral skill – observe – the ability to spot the signals
    • Behavioral skill – network – the ability to collaborate
    • Behavioral skill – experiment – the ability to try, fail, iterate, modify, try again
  5. When Brad Smith came to Intuit as the new CEO in 2008, the company was struggling to get new products to markets. Overly complex, the R&D teams hadn’t been reorganized in 27 years. He implemented a highly successful new agile system forming teams as small as two people.
  6. Booz Research showed that in 2009 the top 10 names out 1000s of public companies included Microsoft, Nokia and Roche. However at #70 was Apple. A company everyone thinks as innovative. The research revealed that to deliver effective research, management need to align spending tightly with strategic goals. It could certainly be argued that Apple secures a much higher bang for their buck at $1.8Bn than Microsoft’s $9Bn.
  7. And Innovation can come from Tweaking an existing idea! As brilliantly illustrated by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker diving into the new biography on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Gladwell highlights the role of Jobs as a tweaker of an idea, then a transformation of that idea into something better, for example:
    • Existing music players sucked so Jobs introduced the iPod
    • Smart phones sucked so he introduced the iPhone
    • He borrowed the main features of the Macintosh from the engineers at Xerox PARC after his visit in 1979.
    • After being harassed by a family friend who was a Microsoft engineer, claiming that the Microsoft tablet PC software would transform the world, he was inspired to produce the iPad.
  8. Gladwell also highlights the impact of tweakers on the Industrial Revolution based on the work of economists Meisenzahl & Mokyr. It could be claimed that England’s unusually dominant influence was caused by a preponderance of tweakers. Samuel Crompton invented the spinning mule but that was tweaked by no less than 5 more geniuses. As Gladwell writes -” Henry Stones, of Horwich, who added metal rollers to the mule; and James Hargreaves, of  Tottington, who figured out how to smooth the acceleration and deceleration of the spinning wheel; and William Kelly, of Glasgow, who worked out how to add water power to the draw stroke; and John Kennedy, of Manchester, who adapted the wheel to turn out fine counts; and, finally, Richard Roberts, also of Manchester, a master of precision machine tooling—and the tweaker’s tweaker. He created the “automatic” spinning mule: an exacting, high-speed, reliable rethinking of Crompton’s original creation”
  9. My own experience – Innovation can be created across your organization by deploying versions of the following principles:
    • Create a mini University and teach your staff the essential skills they need to fulfill the requirements of their role. In addition teach them about other departments in your business. Bring them to a deeper appreciation of the diverse skills in your company.
    • Teach your staff to be curious. Rarely is the software bug solved first time by the obvious answer. Rarely is the financial variance explained away by the simple version of the truth. Rarely is the explanation offered up by the salesman the real reason for a deal not closing.
    • Teach sales professionals that they are defined by the questions they ask not by their product knowledge.
    • Pull together multi-department teams to launch new products, execute major acquisitions, install new IT systems.
    • Use Swot teams with diverse skills to investigate that new market, improve internal controls, look for efficiency improvements.
    • Test early the look and feel of that new web site, or early versions of that new product to really experience the end product in the real world.
    • Use scenario planning to visualize various versions of your business model, or various versions of your business. Be courageous. Imagine what is possible to define and dominate your unique market. Dream big.
    • Bring innovation to all aspects of your business by asking the right question:
      •  eg – regular meetings – ask – what question is this meeting answering?
      • eg – sales – what business result can I deliver for this prospect?
      • eg – new products – what is the size of the potential market I’m attacking and what itch am I really scratching?
    • When launching products remember to keep all relevant departments in line. I call it the DSMO. Development, Sales, Marketing and Operations should all be part of the launch team. Each with their own timetable for success but aligned to make launch day a success.
Innovation can happen everywhere. Don’t be contrained with inventing the next big thing. Think about some of these principles and make sure you keep investment closely aligned to your Positioning. Create a buzz, a curiosity, a sense of purpose in your organization, and you will create an innovative culture.

Business as usual will kill you

Business as usual will kill you

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Need Answers: LinkedIn Has Them

Need Answers: LinkedIn Has Them:

Note from Beth: I'm just finishing up an intensive training here in Rwanda.   I was out in a rural area where Internet connectivity was a huge challenge, so was not able to blog,   But now that I'm back in Kigali with a good Internet connection, expect to hear more about my experience teaching social media and the Networked NGO.     Right before I left for this trip, Geri Stengel, shared a guest post about nonprofits and use of LinkedIn that was of interest to many folks.   So, when Geri offered up this second post about nonprofits and LinkedIn, I couldn't resist.
Need Answers:  LinkedIn Has Them – guest post by Geri Stengel
LinkedIn groups are an interesting way of taking the pulse of a specific community on a topic and collecting feedback on challenges you face. It’s also a way of becoming a thought-leader, by answering the questions of others. Yet, it is not one of the top five reasons nonprofits use social media.
As an example, here’s a philosophical question for you, one that needs practical answers: To what extent can you engage with unethical partners without becoming tainted yourself? Or, as posed on the Chronicle of Philanthropy LinkedIn Group:
Can philanthropy ever be evil? Do nonprofits have an obligation to consider morality of the sources of their funding? Has anyone ever confronted this issue?
Much of the “good” done throughout history has been financed by what one could call “repentant sinners,” such as Carnegie with his libraries, funded by the exploitation of labor in the days of the robber barons.
Some might put the new David Koch theater at Lincoln Center in that category as well yet how are libraries and other social needs to be funded if we turn down money from “tainted” sources?
Komen for the Cure is a perfect example of this conundrum. At one point, it entered a partnership with KFC, whose menu is viewed by many as contributing to many health problems and thus is a bizarre partner for Komen, which is dedicated to women’s health. But a lot of money was raised for women’s health.
In the LinkedIn discussion, Suzanne McDonald gives the example of Coca Cola, which is funding AIDS prevention in Africa but being sued in India for contaminating groundwater. Is the work in Africa worth the lives of those in India?
But, in Marshall McNott’s opinion, we are all flawed in some way and nonprofits would be defunct if donors had to pass an ethical/moral litmus test.
How should a nonprofit weigh the source of funds against the importance of its own mission?
Our choices and our voices matter.
Which is why LinkedIn discussions are important. You get a variety of opinions, options to weigh, and ways to proceed (policy about funders anyone?)  as well as being able to show who you are by voicing your own opinion.
What would you answer to the question posed above? What is your organization’s policy about the source of funding?
If you liked this article, you may also like:
Geri Stengel is founder and president of Ventureneer.com, which connects nonprofit execs, social entrepreneurs, and socially responsible small business owners with the knowledge they need to make the world a better place and to thrive as sustainable organizations. Her blog, Vistas provides insights, strategies, techniques, and solutions that help values-driven businesses realize their social-change missions.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Value Creation

Measure Value Creation with CRI for Long-Term Success | Management Innovation eXchange: Oscar Wilde saw value as a matter of perspective: “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” and “A sentimentalist is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn’t know the market price of a single thing.”

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Remember this fact about what is next for you...

"Eventually everything connects—people, ideas, objects…the quality of the connections is the key to quality per se” - Charles Eames

Monday, May 28, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

'Hope' Really Does Bring About 'Change' - Business Insider

When It Comes To Poverty, 'Hope' Really Does Bring About 'Change' - Business Insider
This hopelessness manifests itself in many ways. One is a sort of pathological conservatism, where people forgo even feasible things with potentially large benefits for fear of losing the little they already possess. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Planning Notes: Weekend of NATO in Chicago, May 18-21, 2012:

What a great time to be in Chicago! The weather is absolutely ideal, the streets eerily quiet, and the whole world now watching the arriving national leaders for some very important decisions about our future. I am delighted to announce that after many years of market research, we too are making some decisions of our own.  To help to a much better job  of telling “our story”, we have now retained much needed professional help.

As you will see with the following overview notes, although this is so very extremely important for our future, it is really is not that complicated. But you must know this so you can share it with others. Please carefully review the following so that you,  as our Alliance spokesperson to the world, clearly understand and can effectively communicate this essential message as a key representative of “The Alliance”.  

“Our Story” is about how, for the 1st time ever, we, as a new Alliance of professional organizations, are joining the market facts of today, forming new solutions….together. We’re organizing  a whole new way to maximize business value at a time when America, and the whole world, desperately need it most!

“From 1995 - 2009, private capital-backed companies grew jobs by 81.5%, while all other companies in the U.S. economy grew jobs by 11.7%.”

Think of everything we are now doing in the private middle market as a timely and critical “new movement” to restore growth and prosperity in America and the world!  Concerned professionals of all types seeking a bigger and better future are invited to join us here in Chicago in just a few weeks to “learn and earn more together”!  Here is our grand secret: it is not me, or you,  AM&AA, or any other single person or organization on earth. The simple but all powerful solution to our big problem is the collective WE. We, as in a whole new way: a.k.a. “collective intelligence”, “wisdom of the crowd”, “crowd sourcing”, “open education”, cloud computing, multi-disciplinary collaboration, openly and freely sharing proven “best practices” , etc. etc.   Understand these essential points to tell others what our Alliance is all about:

A.     New Research on the Global Importance of the overlooked and underserved middle market
The middle marketplace for private companies is highly fragmented and often fails to capture any substantial efficiency in scale, particularly in the lower end of the middle market for companies valued at less than $150 million. Consider:
•            Over 90% of all business enterprises in North America and the majority of businesses internationally are privately-owned.
•            Private businesses account for 78% of all new job creation, 60% of the nation's employment and 50% of the GDP
•            If the U.S. Middle Market were a country, its GDP would rank it as the fourth-largest economy in the world, just behind Japan’s
(From GE Capital 2011 National Middle Market Summit, The Market that Moves America Insights, Perspectives, and Opportunities from Middle Market Companies GE Capital and The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business)

B.      Current near staggering M&A market imbalance at mid-year 2012 (with too much money from PE over $400 billion and Corp. cash of $1.8 trillion all chasing too few deals)

C.      Big reason that companies are not market ready: they are failing to create “market value” (generate returns in excess of cost of capital; breakthrough Slee research at Pepperdine)

D.     New research on this market identifies ways to learn from the best to become a “growth champion” (OSU research funded by GE capital $10 million study)

E.      Washington has just responded with massive new “JOBS Act” featuring “crowd-funding” and new market solutions for emerging growth companies with sales up to $1 billion

F.       And now, in this year of elections, you too must respond: Help yourself and others thrive in this new world of enormous uncertainty. Connect and Learn what works from the world’s best by coming to Chicago this July. (As previously noted, not only is this large Mid Market the world’s 4th largest economy, coincidently, Chicago has just been listed as the 4th most powerful center business in the world!)

Think about it all this beautiful spring day….What do you choose to add to this emerging new story?

Michael R. Nall, CPA, CM&AA, CGMA
Founder, Alliance of M&A Advisors
200 East Randolph St., 24th Floor
Chicago, IL. 60601

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers Of The New (And Chaotic) Frontier Of Business | Fast Company

This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers Of The New (And Chaotic) Frontier Of Business | Fast Company: Lessons Of Flux
Our institutions are out of date; the long career is dead; any quest for solid rules is pointless, since we will be constantly rethinking them; you can't rely on an established business model or a corporate ladder to point your way; silos between industries are breaking down; anything settled is vulnerable.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Choosing the United States - Harvard Business Review

Choosing the United States - Harvard Business Review

Age of Influence | Chief Content Officer

LinkedIn and the New Age of Influence Chief Content Officer: 1. The growth in free agency: 44 percent of active employees in the United States are now in non-traditional categories (i.e. temporary, contract, part-time, etc.).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

LinkedIn co-founder: Social web still very young - CBS News

LinkedIn co-founder: Social web still very young - CBS News: likes to invest in "are things that essentially define what I call 'human ecosystems,' which is how millions of people come together in a system. It's a network, a platform, a marketplace. And it's a combination of psychology and sociology.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Private Equity At Work | new research on our marketplace


Home | Middle Market M&A

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

About the new book for “Certified Merger & Acquisition Advisors” CM&AA:

“I have been working in Middle Market M&A for 30 years and have A LOT of M&A books. This one is among the best. It is LOADED with good information. This book is an absolute must for someone fairly new to the profession. It is also good reference for those that are more experienced. Everything is in one spot and there is a decent amount of detail on any one subject. It is clear to me that the authors are knowledgeable.”

Linda Mertz
Mertz Associates, Inc.

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Infographic Resume

My Infographic Resume: Check out my infographic resume created via Vizualize.me. Create yours with one click.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Roots of Collective Leadership

Roots of Collective Leadership:

Next Tuesday, my colleague Gibran Rivera and I are excited to lead a webinar hosted by our friends at the Leadership Learning Community called “If You Till It They Will Come: Nurturing Collective Leadership.” The above slide is a bit of a sneak peak, and certainly one of the headier, nonetheless important, elements we will cover. The idea behind this graphic comes from the work of Carol Sanford, who has highlighted the fact that our leadership and change methodologies are always grounded in an underlying belief system about what we hold to be true about the world and humanity. Not being aware of or transparent about this can get us into difficulty when we are mixing and matching techniques/methods that may contradict one another, or when we are not operating from the same system of beliefs as others. So here is how we are tracing the roots of our approach to cultivating collective leadership for social change:

  • Epistemology – Epistemology speaks to how we know what we know. Underlying our approach to collective leadership is the belief that there are multiple ways of knowing, not just cerebral, analytical, or intellectual. In addition, we can know about the world and humanity in more intuitive, affective, kinetic, and “spiritual” ways.

  • Cosmology – Our view is that the universe is evolving, engaged in ongoing emergence of new form and function. We look to complex living systems and networks as being the underlying dynamic of our reality.

  • Ontology – In keeping with our cosmological view, our understanding of the nature of human being is that it is dynamic and developmental. We are human beings and becomings. We can learn and unlearn, acquire new capacities, and self-organize to create and innovate.

  • Technology/Methodology – Our operating methaphor for cultivating collective leadership for change is “gardening” (rather than field generaling), and perhaps more specifically Permaculture gardening. We look to as set of practices that intentionality create the conditions (till the soil) for collective leadership to emerge and that feed its development, while humbly acknowledging that we cannot predict everything that will ensue.

From this foundation, we will offer our additional thoughts about a framework that can help to organize our thinking, approach, and tools to unleashing collective intelligence and effort.