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3 potentially fatal pitfalls for ag technology companies


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Technology companies tend to focus on their products and technical issues, missing many of the people-centred issues that can make or break their businesses. This overview of 3 potentially fatal pitfalls also offers suggestions on how to avoid them.

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3 potentially fatal pitfalls for ag technology companies

  1. 1. Does your company have what it takes to avoid 3 common and potentially fatal pitfalls?
  2. 2. 3 pitfalls that should keep you up at night • Neglecting your business model • Failing to understand that innovation is really about change management • Forgetting that any business is ultimately about people who you want to inspire Photo: iStock
  3. 3. Pitfall 1: Neglecting your business model unique value proposition = product/service/ideology + revenue/pricing/profit model ability to generate demand through relationships ability to serve the demand through sourcing/manufacturing and distribution product innovation
  4. 4. Photo:
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  6. 6. Thomas Edison understood. Photo: Wikipmedia Commons
  7. 7. • An incumbent industry with much higher capitalization • Infrastructure and regulation adapted to existing technologies • Close relationships between existing companies and decision-makers • Edison’s science was criticized as shoddy and unworkable • Disproportionate licensing fees and costs were levied • The technology was immature and results variable Compared to gas, electricity faced many of the same barriers that new ag technologies face today Photo: Klearchos
  8. 8. Cheap and practical substitute for illuminating gas Same wire brings power and heat Run an elevator, sewing machine or other electrical contrivance Heat may cook your food Electric Light Company incorporated to develop any electrical invention Prototype demonstrated in financial district (near newspaper offices) Insisting on central power generation reduced upstream innovation… …but paved the way for extensive downstream innovation Edison explained the unprecedented benefits of electricity…
  9. 9. Plans to run wires through gas pipes and light fixtures Dim bulbs to mimic the brightness of gas light Now pointless lampshade retained Insisted on burying wires Used meters to measure usage despite no useful models …at the same time he tried to make it seem as familiar as possible
  10. 10. 1.Make it familiar enough to be understood and used. 2.Make it different enough that it is not constrained by the current system. 3.Gradually unveil the potential of the innovation. Edison’s lessons for successfully introducing innovation
  11. 11. Pitfall 2: Failing to understand that innovation is really about change management Photo:
  12. 12. 1 - “I don’t understand it” Photo: iStock
  13. 13. 2 - “I’m not equipped to do it”
  14. 14. 3 – “I don’t like it” Photo: HubSpot
  15. 15. 4- “I don’t like you” Photo: Dr. Sophia Yin
  16. 16. Case study: Monsanto comes to Europe I don’t understand it Solid technical arguments for the whys and wherefores of genetically modified organisms for productivity and environmental reasons I’m not equipped Much of the technical know-how is built-in. I don’t like it The level of fear related to a series of food crises in Europe seems to have been overlooked or underestimated. This was compounded by a general level of risk averseness that is higher in most European cultures than in the USA. There are strong cultural attachments in Europe to traditional foods. Consumer and environmental groups have a lot of political influence. I don’t like you Like McDonald’s, Monsanto is a highly visible symbol of a certain perception of the United States and its economic hegemony. Given cultural differences, Monsanto’s excessive confidence in its technology was taken by many as arrogance.
  17. 17. Speak to the whole person… Pathos Logos Ethos …and to all the people who might influence your value chain
  18. 18. Companies at this conference are no exception to the rule. Source: Text analysis of websites of 32 companies attending the New Ag conference
  19. 19. Choices Strategy Pitfall 3: Forgetting that any business is ultimately about people Feedback loop
  20. 20. Photos: www. and Stakeholders can help you see new possibilities
  21. 21. How organic farming built a brand on ideology Conventional agriculture Sustainable agriculture Organic agriculture Myth of the idealized agrarian past Model: Cultural Strategy Group. Photo: NASA
  22. 22. Source: McKinsey and original research 10 4 10 7 18 How aligned is your positioning with what B2B customers want to know? 17 13 15 3 21 1 11 1 Number of New Ag participating companies that mention this theme on their website (out of 32 analyzed)
  23. 23. Active listening can help protect you from the 3 pitfalls • When deciding whether to engage in social media many companies overlook their potential for monitoring rather than broadcasting • Think about models of open innovation and co-creation to broaden your perspectives • Pay attention to cultural trends for hints at how to improve your competitive positioning and differentiate your company’s offerings Photo: iStock
  24. 24. Kristen Sukalac Consulting Partner Prospero & Partners @Ksukalac