page title icon 190: Ralph Welborn: What role do we play in business ecosystems

Ralph Welborn Show Notes Page

Ralph Welborn was working on a wicked problem with the Department of Defense, CEO’s, and Chief Security Officers of many different organizations. He had to get them all to be in service to fight the bad guys. Ralph now takes the lessons he learned to move beyond customer-centricity to ecosystem engagement.

Ralph Welborn was born in Tacoma, Washington. As a child of an Air Force Officer, he lived in a variety of places: Japan when he very young, Chicago, Virginia, then for high school years, back in Tacoma, Washington.

He has one older sister, Caroline who is the first Master Chief ever in the US Navy. And his parents still in Tacoma, Washington. His parents own their own separate small businesses. His Dad owns an Asian antique store and re-builds pianos and his Mom owns a stained-glass shop. At 89 and 82 years old respectively, they still outwork him!

His parents always encouraged travel and being sensitive to other perspectives and how different people in different places looked at the world differently. This is something that Ralph has always brought to his work and has become foundational to it as he gained more experience. It is also why he has worked so much around the world (and lived in different parts of the world as well.

Ralph received a Ph.D. and was going down the path of academic career in development economics… but he quickly became enamored (challenged) by how different stakeholders made decisions and the implications that different approaches to decision-making had on actions taken and impacts catalyzed.

This led Ralph to consulting. First in Advanced Technology, then eventually to running Strategy practices at KPMG and IBM. He’s always been attracted to “Hard (some call them ‘wicked’) problems” – those that require the engagement of different types of organizations to solve them… because no one could solve them on their own. And this focus on collaborative engagement – now called business ecosystems – has been front and center for much of his work over the past 15 years.

Ralph is the author of Get It Done, about bridging the gap between strategic objective/intent and everyday execution and The Jericho Principle, which focuses on how to drive alignment both inside and outside of an organization to drive innovation and new sources of value. And his most recent work is Topple, the end of firm-based strategy and the rise of new models for explosive growth.

Ralph currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife of 26 years Meg. They have 3 fantastic kids Nicole, Jeremy and Jacob.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @ralphwelborn to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“I’m paranoid about so many companies that run the Red Queen race; running faster and faster but staying in the same place.” –Click to Tweet

“What can we do fundamentally different given that we live in a changed competitive environment.” –Click to Tweet

“If you look at the explosive growth models of today, there really is something fundamentally different about them.” –Click to Tweet 

“Industry boundaries are starting to blur together.” –Click to Tweet 

“Only 12% of companies capture 85% of economic profit.” –Click to Tweet 

“The companies that are capturing more of the economic profit have this common new explosive model.” –Click to Tweet 

“Explosive growth models are these business ecosystems model.” –Click to Tweet 

“Businesses are often optimized for a world that no longer exists.” –Click to Tweet 

“You may be optimized for what you’re doing, but as the market shifts, simply doing what you were doing before doesn’t work anymore.” –Click to Tweet 

“The 20% of capabilities that made you successful today are not the ones you need tomorrow.” –Click to Tweet 

“It really is only about 20% in any organization, is what you need to drive 70% of your value.” –Click to Tweet 

“Where are we going to plant our flag and mobilize our capabilities around that?” –Click to Tweet 

“How do you start to unlock how people think about things?” –Click to Tweet 

“We’ve been trained to always do what we’ve done before.” –Click to Tweet 

“A changed competitive environment requires a new strategic question.” –Click to Tweet 

“Where is value being created and destroyed in the ecosystem that I and my customer are engaged in?” –Click to Tweet 

“You can’t win the long-term ‘out-execute’ battle.” –Click to Tweet 

“The majority of companies are fighting over a diminishing pie of economic growth and profit.” –Click to Tweet 

“Once you shift a unit of focus from your company to the ecosystem you don’t go back.” –Click to Tweet 

“Our competitors of tomorrow will not be our industry peers, they will be ecosystem-centric organizations.” –Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Ralph Welborn was working on a wicked problem with the Department of Defense, CEO’s, and Chief Security Officers of many different organizations. He had to get them all to be in service to fight the bad guys. Ralph now takes the lessons he learned to move beyond customer-centricity to ecosystem engagement.

Advice for others

Learn how things connect and what are the implications.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

I’m not running enough.

Best Leadership Advice

Play more tennis, not golf.

Secret to Success

Laughter and having fun with people.

Best tools in business or life

Ask questions and draw pictures with people.

Recommended Reading

Topple: The End of the Firm-Based Strategy and the Rise of New Models for Explosive Growth

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

Contacting Ralph Welborn

website: http://www.capimpact.com

email: ralph [at] capimpact.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ralphwelborn/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ralphwelborn

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

 

Show Transcript: 

Click to access edited transcript

190: Ralph Welborn:  What role do we play in business Ecosystems?

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break out performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.

 

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Jim Rembach:    Okay Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because we’re going to get the opportunity to get some brand new perspectives on what is customer experience. Ralph Welborn, was born in Tacoma, Washington. As a child of an Air Force officer, he lived in a variety of places: Japan when he very young, Chicago, Virginia, then in his high school years, back in Tacoma, Washington. He has one older sister, Caroline who is the first female Master Chief in the navy. And his parents still in Tacoma, Washington. His parents own their own separate small businesses. His Dad owns an Asian antique store and rebuilding pianos and his Mom owns a stained-glass shop. At 89 and 82 years old respectively, they still outwork him!

His parents always encouraged travel and being sensitive to other perspectives and how different people in different places looked at the world differently. This is something that Ralph has always brought to his work and has become foundational to his work as he gained more experience. It is also why he has worked so much around the world. 

Ralph received a Ph.D. and was going down the path of an academic career in development economics but he quickly became enamored (challenged) by how different stakeholders made decisions and the implications that different approaches to decision-making had on actions taken and impacts catalyzed. This led Ralph to consulting. First in Advanced Technology, then eventually to running Strategy practices at KPMG and IBM. He’s always been attracted to “Hard (some call them ‘wicked’) problems” – those that require the engagement of different types of organizations to solve them—because no one could solve them on their own. And this focus on collaborative engagement – now called business ecosystems – has been front and center for much of his work over the past 15 years.

Ralph is the author of Get It Done, about bridging the gap between strategic objective/intent and everyday execution and The Jericho Principle, which focuses on how to drive alignment both inside and outside of an organization to drive innovation and new sources of value. And his most recent work is Topple, the end of firm-based strategy and the rise of new models for explosive growth. 

Ralph currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife of 26 years Meg. They have 3 fantastic kids Nicole, Jeremy and Jacob. Ralph Welborn, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Ralph Welborn:    I’m ready, let’s go. 

Jim Rembach:    We’re going to have a great discussion today. I’ve given my legion a little bit about you but can you share what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better? 

Ralph Welborn:    Sure. I’ve always been really enamored with a particular character from Alice in Wonderland. She’s the character—she’s the Red Queen—do you remember her? She’s the character who runs faster and faster but stays on the same place and it’s striking to me how many businesses do that. And so I’m paranoid about so many organizations to run the Red Queen race of running faster and faster but staying in the same place. So what I completely enamored and passionate about is how do you help people stop running that Red Queen race? What can we do fundamentally different given that we live in a changed and competitive environment. So that is my focus lately what the book is about and what I’m working on right now. 

Jim Rembach:    I was going through the book for me I had to share with you and I did off mic, but I think it’s important that we mention it during our time together, when I first received your book and looking at the title and the subtitle—Topple-The End of Firm-Based Strategy and the Rise of New Models for Explosive Growth. For me my mind immediately went to like professional services firms and that what I started thinking but when I got in to the book I was delightfully surprise because really what we were talking about is pushing things forward beyond customer-centric and customer centric and customer centric practices. Even in the book you reveal how even customer centricity is still just and internal type of focus and activity. So when you start thinking about business ecosystems, what does it really mean? 

Ralph Welborn:    A lot of people talk about business ecosystems now, it’s a hot topic of the day. I think a lot of people characterized them as have more partners. And I get that it’s a logical thing—how do I get my partnerships? How do I get more engaged in what I’m doing? But if you take a look at the explosive growth models of today there really is something fundamentally different about them. So what the book is about is, what are four lessons of these new models? Business ecosystems really, simply is the orchestration of different capabilities from different organizations to capture new sources of value. Think about it, Amazon is a prototypical example here. What is Amazon? It’s hard to define them in terms of any particular segment. What are they? They’re a consumer company? They’re a data company? They’re a storage company? What is it that they really are? What is Tencent? Is Tencent a social media company? A banking company? A gaming company? It’s hard to know. So industry boundaries is starting to blur together as we all know. There’s a lot of discussion about it but there’s not a lot of dissection of how do we take advantage of it? What do we given this blurring of activities and given that we know that only 12% of the companies capture 85% of economic profits? The companies that are capturing more those economic profit have this common new explosive growth model and those explosive models this business ecosystems as a new model and that’s what I believe we should focus on. 

Jim Rembach:    And for me as I going through the book I started kind of getting an understanding and talking about connecting other things and bringing them together chip and then heat and made it stick talk about the curse of knowledge. And then I started getting this feeling that a lot of companies really don’t understand, much like you are talking about the Amazon situation, what it is that they do and they associate that with what it is that they produced. Even if it’s a software type of company even it’s services company they can’t do a good job of “peeling their onion back” if you can use as a type of example to say that, okay, while we may be delivering this really what we’re good at and what we are is that and I do think that they can build upon but I don’t think that they do a good job of self-identification. 

Ralph Welborn:    And actually that’s an incredibly insightful point. I think that many of our leaders have been trained. And it makes sense, our leaders and our organizations have been very successful at what they’ve been doing for a long time and it makes. They’ve been trained to certain way we do certain things we’ve created our products and services to meet a particular market in a market needing customer expectations but if those markets change, that’s why I often say, businesses are often optimized for a world that no longer exists. So you may be optimized for what you’re doing but as the market ships simply doing what you’re doing before doesn’t work anymore. And so there’s concept I use, you may have picked up in the book pretty extensively and I call it the new 20 percent. So the argument in the research is you were optimized for world that no long exists the capability that made you wildly successful up to date, I call it the new 20 percent the 20 percent of capabilities that made you successful today are not the ones you need tomorrow. And here’s what gets you really interesting, it really is only 20 percent in any organization is what you need to drive 70 percent of your value. So largely done is what is that new 20 percent that you happen to need? But the problem is were so attuned in and trained by doing what we always did we don’t know that mean. Let me give you an example, sometimes you conceptually go, ahhh, give me the (9:15)

I was having this discussion with the head of strategy at one of the largest insurance companies here in the States and he said, hey, I get it. What had made us successful today, the core of the insurance industry is on how we price risk. What happens if we live in a world where the core asset is not about pricing risk but preventing accident? The capabilities to prevent accident is fundamentally different than it is to price risk, that is so consequently that’s that shift. So how do we, and you mentioned and then made you stick that thing it’s again, what is the friction that were actually going to attach in the marketplace? Where are we going to plant our competitive flag and then mobilize our capabilities around that? Asking that question is not a, how do I sell of what I currently have today? It’s a different way of thinking about it. Where do I plant my flag and figure out what that new 20 percent is? I’m going to need to deal with it. And then talk about what products and services I do of it. 

Jim Rembach:    Okay that’s really helpful to me because I started to get a little bit more clarity around going back to what we had mentioned before moving beyond customer centricity and getting to the ecosystem components and thinking in the mindset because it is a total shift, right? Talking about perspectives too many times have I seen perspectives internally be such that they’re just locked and I’m sure you find that in your work they just can’t remove themselves from their own four walls and it’s a very, very hard thing to do that disassociation component and creating that distance between you and your customer. Oftentimes we do that as human beings we’ll say things when we’re in our own company, talking about our own customer experience we’ll say, I know I wouldn’t like that and I’m like, you’re not your customer.

Ralph Welborn:    Right, right, right. Couple of points you bring up, one is we’re locked and so the issue is, how do you start to unlock how people think about things? We can have a whole discussion just on bath tapping but I think a couple of techniques a couple of lessons that I’ve learned over the years, number one, again we been trained as leaders and as service folks, we’ve been trained to do what we’ve always done before. If you believe we live in a changed competitive environment then it only makes sense logically that there’s a new strategic question. So a changed competitive environment requires a new strategic question, the new strategic question I believe is not how are we going to solve what products and services but instead it’s where is value being created and destroyed in the ecosystem that I and my customer are engaged in? And the minute you ask the question, the very minute I’ve seen this over and over again—again I’ve had the privilege of working around the world with all type of company, the minute you ask that question to what’s the ecosystem that was valued created and destroyed your changing your unit of focus from the company or even the industry literally to the problem, the ecosystem the problem you were trying to solve for your customer. Right now that’s interesting because you’re changing the unit of focus all of the sudden you’re not bank you’re not a retail company not a manufacturing company you are an organization of capabilities in service of delivering value, however to define whatever it is. So wherever I go that’s kind of one little chink in that armor I often get when people say, wow! What is my ecosystem? Because the next logical question, what is my ecosystem? Where is value being created and destroyed? What does it mean the ecosystem of my customers? That starts to shift your space and then that’s literally pragmatically to how we think about –I call it the generation of how we tackle and approach customer experience very differently. 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so even as you were saying that I started thinking about where we are in today’s society and talking about the shift in the workplace and in different generations and who’s essentially taking over the work place and the things that they’re looking for is that I would think that whole ecosystem in engagement mindset would be absolutely appealing to the younger generation of course who’s really look into as you know the saying goes is that I don’t want to work for you know the companies that are great in the world I want to work for the companies that are great for the world.

Ralph Welborn:    Yes, right. And that’s that whole discussion about the why. And that’s why if you take a look at the explosive growth companies of today as well as who are the folks who tend to work for them and why they there that’s lesson number two. Lesson number one is ask the new strategic question which is, where is value being created and destroyed in the ecosystem? Number two is—given that you have some insight plant your flag, and planting your flag is around the why. What explosive growth historically as always, always, always come from tackling friction, tacking market breakdown or tackling non-consumption? And that’s it. That’s the why, I’m going to plant my flag in extraordinary healthcare differently which is why we have JP Morgan and Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway with their explosive announcement the other day. Which is why you have certain other type of companies there’s Mode in Africa which is driving an extraordinarily new mechanisms of engaging with customers. Which is why Amazon’s issue is fundamentally un-enabling from a business point of view to do anything with their AWS and so on. It’s planting the flag and then it’s the mobilizing your capabilities wherever they come from to service that. And yet younger people absolutely want that. So aside from the fact that they’re trained as digital natives it’s a view of standard DNA of working with others, the business models that’d be the same. But to get to your point is it got to be organized and orchestrated around the why which is what I talk about it’s planting the flag.

 

Jim Rembach:    Having a flag that is always moving will actually precipitate your downfall.

 

Ralph Welborn:    Yeah I passionately believe I’ve actually read it. We need to own a problem. We need on a problem that matters. And so for this new thing outfit around the (15:46 inaudible) thing is I’m going to make a fundamentally differently from everybody else. If you take a look at some of the other activity some of the other—again if you look at explosive growth companies you can search them out by these criteria that they’re doing and one of them is there’s a specifically clear flag that they own. And here’s where it gets really interesting from two perspectives. One is the typical approach to strategy again I believe he is let me sell and this goes straight into the heart of a customer it’s interesting what we mean by the traditional approaches I want to sell more of my products or services based on the portfolio I’ve got. By definition everyone wants to do that by definition to do that is you’re racing with everybody else to sell the same set of products and services in the market you’re running the right clean base it is such an inside out you that forces you down a path of how can I out execute everybody again? And you cannot win the long term out execute battle the world technology is changing too darn fast to do that it’s just the wrong approach to this. So the question becomes again where do you find your peg? And where the implication on how we engage with customers? 

 

Jim Rembach:    And that’s totally appropriate to a conversation that I had right before having this interview with you. I was talking about what traditional tech companies do coming into the contact center and customer experience industry and for them what they do are like, here’s my benefits that are going to help you. And I’m like, that’s so wrongheaded that is not what’s going to enable you to stand out from the slew and sea of sameness.

 

Ralph Welborn:    Yeah, couldn’t agree more. From that point of view, Jim, let’s unpack—so here’s a way that I think about the different generations of customer centricity go straight to the heart of that. Like what you said it’s definitely an inside out view on how we engage with customers. Generation one of customer centricity is, hey, I have products and services to deliver to my customer I know that they’re struggling with a little bit how can I make it easier for them? So it’s the magic moment just whatever else it happens to be. But the rigor of that to get your customers go. How? That wasn’t so painful was it? The action was okay, so it’s more productivity enhancement. That’s kind of generation what which is, I got a bunch of stuff to engage my customer better let me figure out how to do that by cleaning up my process a little bit. Generation two is where I think a lot of people are headed to is, all right I know that when my customer’s engage with me there’s an emotional dilemma that they’re dealing with. And so how do I actually go deeper and to understand what the emotional pressures are or the most dilemmas are that customers have when they interact with me? Let me make my process better but it’s still prime most on that how do I sell more products and services to them? I’m just going deeper from an emotional level, good still inside out. If you take a look at explosive growth companies they start in a different space and it’s not a space of, hey, check out the better benefits I can give you with my products and service. Instead it’s, what problems do you have in terms of how? What it is you want to do and how can I support that? 

 

Let me give a really pragmatic example. I was working with a very, very large company that sold apparel and the industry was growing about 2.1 percent and they were saying, hey, I need to grow faster than everybody else here. I have a whole bunch of customer centricity efforts going on I’ve got this emotional customer centric we analyze it, but you’re asking the wrong question from an ecosystem point of view. The question is not how do I sell more of what I’ve got to your customers today? The question is, what problem—this customers don’t buy products for themselves they buy them to do something with them. You don’t get a credit card to buy a credit card you get a credit card to buy something to do something with it, whatever the objective is, let’s figure out what those objectives are. What we did with this company is you said, hey, what are the problems your customers have? And it happen to be a whole bunch of the customers happen to work in—they were amateur musicians. There are a billion amateur musicians in the world there are hundred and up are here in the U. S. alone ranging from all ages. 

 

The question was, wait a minute I sell apparel what do I have to do in the music industry? And we said wait a minute, what is it that your customers really care about? They care about doing the music. Where is the section points that they have with doing music? We look at the value chain of music and we said, what role might we want to play in? Well here’s where it gets really interesting, if you get in the head of the customers what they want to do, the problem in this case is music, we find that there’s a common issue that they may have. A trumpet player out of LA may really like to play drums with some guy from Ghana are learning certain type of African rhythm, how do you do that? The friction point here is finding the good nay and drummer matching the trumpet player up with this drummer, how do you that? And how is that relevant for me as a shoe company? Well, if you take a look customers often have a problem a friction point about finding our matching something together you created digital studio which these guys did. Basically you have a mechanism to drive greater stickiness for customers around this. I’m solving a problem that I happen to have the more stickiness you get around and the more they tell people the more they’re likely a whole separate way to buy more shoes and apparel and whatever else, the more they do that and they say, hey, these guys are helping me solve the problem I really have in terms of how I’m living my life matching service. And so it is really nice virtual cycle that’s developed between your helping me solve my problem I have that additional trust in you I’m going to do this you’re ready and more value to me that other level of analytics is something that can be modifies as well.  This company now is three and a half times the industry average growth of anybody else. That is and ecosystems perspective from the customer that is solely customer insight from a pain point they had into the company. And then the company said, I have existing products and services but there are new products and services I need to deliver them to deliver against that pain point. 

 

Jim Rembach:    As you’re talking—thanks for example, that gives you a totally different perspective of what a journey map can actually deliver and it wouldn’t be anything like that.

 

Ralph Welborn:    Yes, right. 

 

Jim Rembach:    In this particular space when we start talking a customer centricity and getting closer that’s one of the first thing that people go to. You’re talking about buzz where it’s gone beyond buzzword. But there’s some drawbacks because again you’re staying in a your own four walls you’re thinking about the process as it exists and the product—okay, we’re talking about incremental moves and shifts and products and services you’re talking about massive shifts. 

 

Ralph Welborn:    I think you need both, clearly you need both. You need to clean up you need to do the incremental step that’s absolutely important to do. The question is, I mention before twelve percent of companies are driving eighty five percent of economic profit which means that the majority of companies are fighting over a diminishing pie of economic profit to go over and that battle is getting tougher and tougher. So the incremental stuff is really important to do to keep you on the landscape but overtime it’s not going to help you at all. If you look at explosive growth companies they’re doing both and so the question is I’ve got to do this incremental step, of course you do, but if you want explosive growth you’ve got to take this other approach as well I believe. There pragmatic lessons and examples now, we finally have, is what to do about.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay so for me in my mind as you were saying that I started thinking about fundamentals and creativity is I have to do my fundamentals.

 

Ralph Welborn:    Of course.

 

Jim Rembach:    And then I have I must be creative and innovative. 

 

Ralph Welborn:    You do but you know it’s interesting I love this I just I get so passionate about this area and this is why I think looking at the pattern of the lessons of explosive growth company becomes really critical some people say, oh, my goodness creativity, innovation, what do I do about that that’s a magic black box that in order to come to me after I’ve had two scotches or beer or whatever else we’re going to have all these ideation sessions together lie on the floor and something will come up. I don’t it is that I think actually there is the absolute rigor and discipline around this. And that’s why the third lesson of explosive—that’s why we have this conversation, well done. 

 

The third lesson again I go back to—I get asked a new question, once you’ve been said, I’m ready my flag here what is that new twenty percent? Once I decide with my why I’m going to own health care better I’m going to own whatever that convenience around x then it’s, huh, what are the critical capabilities by which I crisply define that skillsets, behavior profiles and technology assets? What is that combination of capability sets? What’s the new twenty percent necessary to unlock that seventy percent? Then creativity comes down—it’s all create a process, this one is those steps. But you focused the creativity process around clarifying—where am I going to plot my flag? And then what is that new twenty percent? Once you back that you’re in execution mode, it’s just different. 

 

Jim Rembach:    So the saying goes as far as a creativity is concerned is that you don’t give a creative person the beach you get them the sandbox.

 

Ralph Welborn:    Yes, yes, absolutely.

 

Jim Rembach:    So you’re picking up sand boxes? 

 

Ralph Welborn:    You are picking sandboxes and then you’re saying, what am I going to have? The difference over the sandbox is that ecosystem model requires the orchestration of capabilities from other organizations as well. You may not have all the capability yourself you’re going to have to actually in embed your relationships or engage with other firms as well in really critical ways. You make more money they make more money you suffer risk they enjoy risk as well. So that’s that issue it’s not exactly a sandbox or just maybe sandbox with holes in it. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I do say that it’s still not giving everybody the beach it’s still saying I’m going to take sand from certain beaches in order to put in my sandbox. 

 

Ralph Welborn:    There you go, yeah, exactly. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Because you have to have some type of framework otherwise you’ll do nothing.

 

Ralph Welborn:    Correct. You have to plant that flag around a problem to own. That’s how I tugboat to my clients, plant the flag around what is the problem you want to own. And problem to own does not mean products and services you deliver it’s completely different.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, you said a moment ago all of this has so much passion wrapped around it and one of the things that we look at on the show are quotes to hopefully give us some. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?

 

Ralph Welborn:    Well, I’m going to go back to the insurance executive, I actually write about him in the book I guess I just never free a beat in that session when he would say, I don’t get this we’re insurance we’re growing just fine thank you very much and we’re trying to get better on how we engage with our customers. But then at one point he slam down on the table and he bolted up and he said, I get it. He said again our core asset has been around how we price risk what happens in the world when it’s not that but it’s around preventing accidents? And then he just one in a day walking around the room just thinking about the powerful implications of that. Because once you shift that unit of focus from your company to the ecosystem you don’t go back, so it’s incredibly powerful.

 

Jim Rembach:    Talking about being able to come to these realizations and one of the things that we’re not going to get to which is in the book, I highly recommend you getting it will have a link to it on the show notes page, is that Ralph shares a lot of methods and models that he’s actually developed over the past couple decades around all of this ecosystem modeling, consumer engagement modeling, value insight modeling and then also that new twenty percent models. Maybe we’ll have to have you back so we can get in those as well. But when we start talking about coming to this culmination of where you are now and your trajectory going forward is that you had humps to get over in order to get there so is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share? 

 

Ralph Welborn:    Well yes a number them. Where to start on something like that? There was a hump, at that time I was working with the Department of Defense and a number of other commercial organizations around a really hard problem, wicked problem as you mentioned before. And a wicked problem is a term of art it means something that no one organization can solve by itself and so you have to figure that out. The problem we faced was, how do fight a network of bad guys with a network of good guys?  And how do you orchestrate public sector with private sector? People in banking from logistics from consumer from technology all of whom have a different set of objectives in ways they do things. How do you get them all in service to tackling a really, really hard problem? 

 

Tinkering cracking that code was not easy, this is a really urgent problem challenge that we were dealing with. We had CEO’s and the chief security officers of many, many different organizations in a room for days to tackle to this and we were all stuck because we were all looking at it from different vantage points, our own vantage points. The question was how do you build that shared framework of insight? And how do you mobilize stakeholders who care about different things? In a way that they’re willing to contribute to everyone in a way though that they can execute differently as they have to but they get value out of this. And so my defense days were about how do you fight a network of bad guys with the network of good guys? And now what I’m focused on is the reality is I passed it (30:07 inaudible) that our competitors of tomorrow will not be our industry peers or industry competitors they will be ecosystem centric organizations and patterns of ecosystem engagement. We have to figure out how we engage with others and what role do we play within those ecosystems in in which to engage in to compete with others because that’s the world we’re going into.

 

Jim Rembach:    Ralph, it’s been an awesome discussion and we’re going to take a little break right now and we’re going to come back in order to move on to the hump day hoedown. Everybody we’ve been talking with Ralph Welburn author of Topple. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor:

 

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Alright, here we go Fast Leader legion, it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Ralph, the Hump Day Hoedown is a part of our show were you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us a robust yet rather responses that are going to help us move onward upward faster. Ralph Welborn, are you ready to hold down? 

 

Ralph Welborn:    I’m ready. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

 

Ralph Welborn:    I’m not running enough. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What is the best leadership advice you have ever received? 

 

Ralph Welborn:    Play more tennis, knock off. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success? 

 

Ralph Welborn:    Laughter and having fun with people. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What do you feel is one of your best tools that help to lead in business or life? 

 

Ralph Welborn:    I love to ask questions and I’d love to draw pictures with people. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book that you recommend to our listeners and it can be from any genre of course will put a link on your show notes page to Topple. 

 

Ralph Welborn:    I think this is a great book called Homo Deus, it’s about the future of mankind in a world of changing technologies, love that book. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today show by going to fastleader.net/RalphWelbur. Okay, Ralph, this my last Hump Day Hoedown question. Imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age of  25 and you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything back you can just choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?  

 

Ralph Welborn:    How interesting, love that question. I would take back the ability to draw—I would take back the issue of modeling and drawing pictures. Here’s the reason why, it’s all about patterns and so being able to understand how one thing is connected with another. If I knew the type of ability to model back then that I now know it would be huge in terms of saying what’s next with what how and how much with what implication.  

 

Jim Rembach:    Ralph, it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share the fast leader legion how they can connect with you? 

 

Ralph Welborn:    Sure, absolutely. Please feel free to contact me, my website is capimpact.com or contact me directly at ralph@capimpact.com.  

 

Jim Rembach:    Ralph Welborn, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over or the hump.  

 

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

 

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