My name is Ralph Welborn. I’m the author of Topple, about the science of habit formation in our lives, companies and societies, Get It Done, A blue print for business execution and The Jericho Principle, How companies use strategic collaboration to find new source of value.
I’ve spent 25 years+ (ugh… a long time) bouncing between advisory work and large corporates. I’ve been fortunate to have a pretty consistent thread throughout my career. Like a moth to a flame, I’ve been attracted to new business models (a fancy term for a simple concept – namely, how an organization mobilizes its capabilities (skill-sets, behavioral patterns and technology assets) to deliver value, however defined.
Technology evolves. Markets shift. And customer expectations change. With implications on how organizations deliver value – in an ever changing environment.
Long ago, I completed my Ph.D. in cognitive science, attracted to then emerging models of different types of computational methods and how they aligned with different types of problems to solve. I joined one of the (then) big 6 consulting firms in their Advanced Technology (remember early AI?) groups – where we focused on using simulation and AI to model organizational and market performance. My role there and subsequently, became “how to make sense” of emerging opportunities, of modeling complexity – in different guises.
Whether as Executive Partner of Strategy & Transformation at IBM (for the Middle East and Africa), or as Global Partner of Strategy & Solutions for KPMG Consulting, my responsibility – and my passion – was on figuring out “what’s next” in terms of shifting markets and emerging technologies and figuring out how to “make sense” so executives could “take action” on them… in different ways.
And this has always been key to me – this “in different ways” comment.
For the following reason.
I’ve always been paranoid around the Red Queen. Remember her? She’s the character from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and Alice in Wonderland who runs faster and faster but stays in the same place. I was trained early – both in school and by phenomenal mentors and bosses, to ask questions that few do (because, as many of us well know, the effective questions to ask are hard), and to build models that “make visible what is invisible,” both of which are critical to drive alignment and to help folks “see things” that perhaps they hadn’t, or couldn’t before.
Which takes me back to the Red Queen. So many organizations run the Red Queen race – chasing after the same shiny object – whether digital, innovation, IoT, AI, or whatever the new object is in front of them – the same way. Which has led to a question: if everyone is chasing these objects in similar ways, then what (really) will be different in a few years, other than having expended lots of time, resources and monies? How do you stop running the Red Queen race? How do you figure out “where to play” and “how to execute” in a changed competitive environment? How do you make sense of the so-called faint signals of what’s going on “out there” in a way that you can capitalize on it “in here” (within your organization).
These are the sets of questions that have driven my journey. One that took me to live in the Middle East and Africa for a few years, South Korea for 18 months and allowed me to work with many different types of organizations in many different parts of the world. It also took me on a professional detour for a set of years to work on so-called “wicked problems” – a term of art that reflects really hard problems that no one organization can solve by itself. Examples of wicked problems I worked on – having established my own advisory firm to do so – included how to fight a network with a network around cyber threats and other security-related issues around dark, fragmented and incomplete information.
I’ve written two previous books, with a new one – my third – published in May 2018 (Topple! The end of firm-based strategy and the rise of explosive new business models). These were written as means to help me (and my co-author) and my clients work through some of the new models and frameworks (at that time) of how to make sense of a changing competitive environment and what to do about them.
CapImpact is the current step along my personal and professional journey – one catalyzed by a clear direction that Hadar (my partner) and I see in terms of where and how markets are changing driven by explosive growth models. After years and years of wrestling with the questions of “what’s next” and “how do you bridge the gap between strategic intent and execution”, privileged of having worked with bold leaders around the world, and being at the right place at the right time in terms of a mash-up of new technologies and clear patterns of new business models, it’s clear (finally) how to help companies stop running the Red Queen race – to leverage the lessons of explosive growth companies, mobilize the capabilities of new technologies and nudge the future in ways that make sense to create both greater economic value… and societal impact.
We truly believe that. Which is why we have started CapImpact – with a crisp focus and powerful platform, powered by my years of being at the edge and Hadar’s technology brilliance – to help bold leaders figure out where to focus and how to execute given a changed competitive world, over and over again.
We welcome you to come on this journey with us.