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Talk: Scenario Planning for an Uncertain Future — Stephen Allott

Stephen Allott is a venture partner at Seedcamp, a fund that has around 300 active portfolio companies.

As an engaged investment partner, when Covid first hit the UK, Seedcamp doubled down on assisting their companies with navigating the unprecedented uncertainty they faced. What they, and Stephen in particular, are particularly good at is scenario planning which – when done well – is about planning for uncertainty.

The silver lining for us is that in the talk, Stephen is sharing a new tool that you can use for planning out your response to unexpected scenarios.

Stephen Allott on why Seedcamp came up with this new tool.

The full talk and links to the original slide deck and transcript are below.

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How One Company Hired 2,000 People Without Compromising Culture

At BoS we don’t tend to default to idolising the kind of rapid and massive growth Valley culture thrives on. Mainly because it feels often driven by ego and valuation rather than solving a genuine market problem.

The ability to scale however is one of the attractive features of software after all, so when we come across a good scale-up or growth story we love getting our teeth into it.

Jason VandeBoom‘s talk from BoS Spring was one such example where he spoke about his journey of “bootstrapping” to over a thousand people at Active Campaign. The focus there was primarily on finance, management, and the entrepreneur’s personal journey.

This time we’ve got something different for you.

Cazoo’s Growth Story

Have you heard of Cazoo? If you’re outside the UK you’ll be forgiven if you haven’t because they were only founded in 2018 and launched a used-car sales platform in December 2019. Since then, in just around two years, they’ve become a force to be reckoned with.

Sure they’ve raised £450M and they’re valued at the $2B mark. Yes they’ve become the main sponsors of Aston Villa, Everton, and the World Snooker Tour (again those outside the UK will be forgiven for not knowing exactly who those football team are).

The thing that really piqued our interest what that they managed to maintain a core and healthy company culture while hiring upwards of two thousand people into their organisation since 2018.

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What is “team disharmony”? How do you fix it?

If you work in a team or manage a group of people you’ll undoubtedly have experienced ups, downs, and disagreements. In many cases these are resolved in the normal course of work.

Issues like a team member going through a down period, a product roadmap being unclear, or a change in leadership can have a negative effect on team morale. But these kinds of problems, being products of circumstances, are very often relatively easily fixed. Or if not exactly “easily”, at least the underlying causes and possible solutions are not that hard to identify and implement.

“Team disharmony” however is when performance problems persist and grow within a team. Even though there may not be obvious, or easily diagnosable, causes.

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The Clickbait DONG Story or, i18n for Dummies

A few years ago I attended a day-long investment workshop. Part of the event was focused on raising capital for the purposes of international expansion. The speaker used an example from his native Denmark to illustrate the pitfalls of taking a brand global.

Name Change

Dansk Olie og Naturgas (meaning Danish Oil and Natural Gas) was one of the major energy players in Denmark. As the company tried to establish a larger presence in the UK and other English-speaking countries they encountered a problem. When presented with the company’s name, acronymised to DONG, folks would, ahem, react oddly.

In 2017 they changed their name to Ørsted, citing the fact that they no longer supplied oil or gas. I have no reason to disbelieve that story but I can bet that their marketing teams sighed a sigh of relief at not having to tiptoe around that name anymore.

While the DONG story is largely clickbait, it does serve a useful purpose.

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The First Fall 2021 Sessions Revealed

BoS Conf Online is designed to be interactive, engaging and even more personal than in-person events. We want you to learn, develop, meet other great people and get answers to specific questions you have.

BoS Conf Online Fall 2021 Tickets are being snapped up fast – just ask the dozens of forward thinkers who saved their space before the speaker line up started being announced. So what are you waiting for? Join other smart people who’ve guaranteed their spot before we reach maximum capacity.

Guarantee a space for just $995

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Ep 76: Continuous Discovery Habits with Teresa Torres

In this conversation with Fall 2021 and USA 2019’s BoS speaker Teresa Torres, Mark Littlewood digs into her latest on customer discovery and what to expect in her new book and her BoS Fall talk Continuous Discovery Habits.

Teresa Torres is an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, and coach. She teaches a structured and sustainable approach to continuous discovery that helps product teams infuse their daily product decisions with customer input. She’s coached hundreds of teams at companies of all sizes, from early-stage start-ups to global enterprises, in a variety of industries. She has taught over 7,000 product people discovery skills through the Product Talk Academy. 

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Ep 75: Harnessing Culture & Using Data To Build Value For Your Business | Sarah McVittie | BoS 2019

This week on the BoS Podcast Sarah McVittie talks about data collecting and the culture of fashion.

In this talk from BoS Europe 2019, Sarah discusses why Dressipi started as a B2C play but the data it collected on customers has a much higher value to fashion retailers as it enables them to forecast demand more effectively and reduce their unsold inventory. 

You will leave with ideas to stimulate creative, data-driven, approaches to problem solving and how you can harness culture to build long-term value in your business.

Some estimates suggest that globally, 40% of garments produced in the fashion industry are never sold; of which 90% go to landfill.

Learn how great companies are run

At BoS we run events and publish content that is highly valued by anyone trying to build, run, and scale a great software company.

Sign up for a regular dose of actionable and useful content:

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Proven Sales Playbooks are BS — Paul Kenny Explains

In this guest post Paul Kenny (founder of Ocean Learning and long time BoS participant and speaker) argues that software and SaaS “proven sales playbooks” are BS.


Paul writes:

I’ve spent the best part of 30 years thinking about ways to help salespeople to get better, to develop more from their customer base and to have satisfying and enjoyable sales careers.

Over that time, we have become much more sophisticated in collecting and analysing sales data. We know who our salespeople talk to, when, for how long, what about and in what level of progress they make. Our CRM system can prompt the team to make the optimum number of calls, to follow up efficiently and to be better at predicting call or demo outcomes. 

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Ep 74: Creating Early Warnings Scenarios & Thinking About The Future (with Rita McGrath)

What is the world of tomorrow going to look like? They say to find out what life is like in 20 years time, ask a current 10 year old as they are the adults of the future and what matters to them may not be the same as what matters to current adults.

In this talk from BoS Conf Online Europe 2020, Rita McGrath looks at early warning scenarios and discusses with a high school student the pros and cons of the sudden dive into the deepend of online learning thanks to the 2020 pandemic.

Happy Listening!

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Creating Ecosystems for Competitive Advantage — a BoS Hangout (30th June)

We’re running a very practical hangout this week on the topic of building a software ecosystem around your business.

The event is being led by Bill Cushard and PJ Marquez from ServiceRocket. They will be working with BoS attendee Simon Randall (CEO and founder of Pimloc) on a real-life case study during the hangout. Together they will help you understand the strategic and tactical challenge of building a strong ecosystem for a growing organisation.

Join us (free to attend) if you’re thinking about how you can build a stronger community of customers and users… and bring your questions.

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Learn the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) Framework: The Best (free and paid) Resources Available Online

  1. What is Jobs-To-Be-Done? (Definition)
  2. Free Online Articles and Resources
  3. Books about Jobs-To-Be-Done
  4. JTBD Masterclasses by BoS

If you’re running a software company (or somehow involved in strategy) you’ll be familiar with the conversations and debates about what the “next killer feature (or product)” is going to be.

While there are very few silver bullets in life, the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework is an indispensable tool in answering those kinds of questions.

The reason is that the JTBD framework (used and applied correctly) helps entrepreneurs, designers, and engineers clearly understand what “job” customers are trying to accomplish. This in turn helps you create products (or features or marketing campaigns) that resonate with customers and align with their goals.

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Ep 72: Iterating less and achieving more

New on the BoS Podcast: Radhika Dutt talks us through how to iterate less and achieve more with Radical Product Thinking.

Radika Dutt co-founded Radical Product Thinking to establish a movement of leaders creating vision-driven change. In this talk, she discusses where iteration goes wrong and why we need to rethink our approach. Methodologies such as Lean and Agile have democratised innovation by teaching us to harness the power of iteration to innovate faster, but our ability to set a clear destination hasn’t kept up with the pace.

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Talk: Building Resilience in Sales — Paul Kenny

Paul Kenny (Ocean Learning) returned to BoS in March 2020 to talk about Building Resilience in Sales Teams at BoS Europe Online and how some new approaches have proven successful at creating winning mindsets amongst salespeople. Particularly in changing or challenging circumstances such as what we’ve been experiencing in the past eighteen months.

Paul Kenny on his initial skepticism of new methods.

The entire recording including links to the original slide deck and full transcript are below.

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Future of the Workplace Survey: Results and Analysis

  1. Background
  2. The Survey Questions
  3. Results: The Numbers
  4. Results: Anecdotes
  5. BoS Commentary
  6. More Resources

At our Spring 2021 Conference in April the future of the workplace was, unsurprisingly, a hot topic. We had two important keynotes on the theme (subscribe to get notified when they’re published), various breakout sessions, and innumerable conversations.

We took the opportunity to poll our attendees on their experiences, challenges, and plans for their future workplaces and work environments.

The results were exciting and not quite what we expected. In this post we’re publishing the full results as well as our own analysis and take on them.

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Hardwiring Sales Into Your business

Paul Kenny talks about the story you tell in sales and the people who make the best story tellers.

Paul Kenny has been developing salespeople for over 30 years. He set up his first training company largely out of frustration at not being able to find the right training for his own sales teams. The kind of training that was immediately useful and would stick.

Paul has trained salespeople in media, technology, medical, engineering, education, and professional services sectors. He’s helped to train the sales teams at Redgate Software and Stack Overflow during their early growth phases. 

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Dharmesh Shah and 15 Years of Hubspot

As Hubspot celebrates its 15th birthday, (9 June), Dharmesh Shah shared 15 things he has learned along the way one for every year.

Dharmesh has been a frequent speaker at Business of Software over the years. Just as Joel Spolsky’s news last week prompted us to take a look at some of the talks that showed how his thinking has evolved over the years, Dharmesh’s give an insight into how his learning as an entrepreneur has grown as his baby Hubspot has too.

From insights around MIT, through building better businesses, successful businesses, big ass businesses, great businesses, you can see the trajectory of the company and the entrepreneur… This will be a business school case study one day.

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No one has gone to as many virtual events as this lady

Hat tip to Taylor McKnight, Founder of Virtual Events platform Emamo, who in the process of building his new website discovered the most active participant in virtual events in history. Just for fun and as a lesson in why stock photos are not a very good idea for your website…

She gets everywhere! Have you met her yet?

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Upcoming Masterclasses: Supercharge your business with JTBD

If your company sells drills, your customers are buying holes. If the customer is using the holes to hang up picture frames then they’re buying the ability to be reminded of a happy memory. Putting up shelves? They’re buying storage space. You’ve probably come across this kind of statement before and for many of us it feel intuitively true.

You’re still selling “a drill”. But when you know what job the customer wants to get done with that drill you can pitch it better.

This is the principle behind the jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) theory and it has proven useful in all kinds of core business activities, and especially in sales and product management. It’s not so hard to see why. If you know what “job” your customer is “hiring” your product for it becomes much easier to prioritise building the right set of features or which ones to focus on in a sales demo.

Uncovering what jobs your prospects and customers are really trying to get done takes some skill. That’s where our experts Bob Moesta and Nopadon Wongpakdee come in with two new masterclasses.

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Joel Spolsky – FogCreek, Trello, Stack Overflow, HASH and Business of Software

Joel Spolsky, founder of FogCreek, Trello, Stack Overflow, HASH – and, with Neil Davidson, one of the original movers behind a thing called Business of Software Conference, announced that Stack Overflow has been acquired by Prosus, a European private equity firm that is the largest shareholder in Tencent, for $1.8 billion.

Congratulations to the team for another notable exit. Don’t forget, Trello was a FogCreek production that was purchased by Atlassian – you can hear the story behind how they almost messed up Trello here…

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