Smart Thinking

Eclectic Perspective: From ABZ Planning to Fictional French Philosophers

ABZ Planning, The Startup of You, Business Model Generation and how to fail with panache.

This week, I begin with a number of book recommendations, the first of which is the Start-up of You (2013) by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha which claims:

The career escalator is jammed at every level. Unemployment rates are sky-high. Creative disruption is shaking every industry. Global competition for jobs is fierce. The employer-employee pact is over and traditional job security is a thing of the past.

ABZ Planning Start-up of You

Eclectic Perspective: From ABZ Planning to Fictional French Philosophers

Let’s Start-up

Hoffman and Casnocha contend that employees must protect themselves from the fragility of a new employment reality by defining, testing and marketing differentiated ‘value propositions’ (the personal business model).

Adjacent titles are the LEAN Startup (a modern classic for entrepreneurs by Eric Ries) and the $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.

The emerging Gig Economy supports Hoffman and Casnocha’s ideas that the solopreneur model has the potential to go mainstream.

Other sources I recommend are Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur and Business Model You by Tim Clark. Business Model You is a fine companion title for the Startup of You as it provides thinking frames to explore and tease out the nuances of a personal business model.

You can find more about Alexander Osterwalder and Business Model Canvas at Strategyzer.

I also recommend looking at the LEAN Canvas (a derivative of Business Model Canvas) produced by Ash Maurya and the Startup Toolkit by Rob Fitzpatrick.

ABZ Planning

A concept in the Start-up of You that I really like is ABZ Planning:

In their own words:

Plan A: What you’re doing now. Your current implementation of your competitive advantage which you constantly iterate on.

Plan B: What you pivot to when plan A isn’t working or when you discover a better way toward your goal. Don’t write an elaborate plan B, but consider your parameters for pivoting. If you pivot to plan B and stick with it, that becomes your plan A.

Plan Z: What you shift to when something goes seriously wrong. The lifeboat you can jump into if your plan fails and you need to reload before getting back in the game. The certainty of plan Z is what allows you to take on risk in your plan A and B.

Seasoned or prospective solopreneurs should recognise and ensure adequate focus on Plan Z. Hoffman and Casnocha are bullish in some of their assertions but make a fundamental point that Plan Z is what facilitates personal risk taking.

This summary of the Start-up of You is a good resource if you want to gulp down more than the taster above. Connecting this thinking with the models and tools of Osterwalder, Clark, Pigneur and Ries is valuable.

Ferrari drivers want to be loved

As you ponder your future personal business model and compare yourself to technological visionaries and industry luminaries you might be struck by a sense of status envy.

If you’ve never considered that Mark Zuckerberg’s T-Shirts can cause you deep psychological anxiety, then watch this explanation without delay from the School of Life.

The School of Life will also help you deal with general Status Anxiety and enlighten you with a new perspective on the emotional needs of Ferrari drivers. They are deeply needy and probably love starved.

If that whet’s your appetite, try something altogether Aristotelian for pudding.

The Father of Botulism

Where it not risque I might attempt to climax this week in the decolletage of Bernard Henri Levy. Levy (aka BHL) a celebrated French intellectual was famously taken in by the hoax philosopher Jean-Baptiste Botul (who slightly obviously originated the philosophy of Botulism!). BHL quoted Botul in an article on Kant in 2010, but Botul was a satirical invention of Frédéric Pagès a journalist with Le Canard Enchaîneé. With typical Gallic flair, Levy brushed off the ‘indiscretion’ suggesting that what the fictional Botul said was worthy of quotation.

Frédéric Pagès retorted:

It has never been firmly established that Botul didn’t exist and it cannot thus be ruled out that one day history will prove Bernard-Henri Lévy right.

This gives me great cheer that any failure in the execution of ABZ Planning or the construction of your personal business model should be met not with discouragement, but rather with levity and a certain French panache.

By Steve Nimmons

Steve is a Certified European Engineer, Chartered Engineer, Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Royal Society of Arts, Linnean Society and Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He is an Electric Circle Patron of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, a Liveryman and Freeman of London and serves on numerous industry panels. He is a member of Chatham House, the Royal United Services Institute and the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

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