Geoffrey Moore: Connect with a Diverse World or Become Marginal

Kurt Merriweather, who’s the head of product and partnerships at The Diversity Movement, had a chance to talk with renowned author, professor, investor, and management consultant Geoffrey Moore about how diversity and technology has changed the way we do business in 2020.
Geoffrey isn’t exactly who you would picture to be a champion for diversity, equity and inclusion, but as an organizational theorist, he knows,  “You need to connect with a diverse world in order to be successful. If we can’t find ways to connect our enterprise to it, then we’re going to be marginal.”

Geoffrey’s books including Zone to Win.

Kurt Merriweather: Hello and welcome to the Diversity Beyond the Checkbox podcast. I’m your guest host, Kurt Merriweather, certified diversity executive and head of product and partnerships at The Diversity Movement. On this podcast, we share diverse perspectives from leaders in their industries, explore diversity, equity and inclusion concepts, and challenge our own assumptions and perspectives to take diversity beyond the check box. Before we introduce today’s guests for more insights and resources related to diversity, equity and inclusion, including our course also titled Diversity Beyond the Checkbox visit The Diversity ,

I want to introduce our guest today,  Geoffrey Moore, his accolades are impressive. I happened to run across his thinking, his writing when I first started as a product manager in Silicon Valley many years ago. And so, he’s written several different books. We have seven counted, including his latest, “Zone to Win: Organizing to compete in an age of disruption.”

He’s a former professor. The distance was consulting and writing. Geoffrey’s an investor, a venture partner with Moore, David, Owl Ventures and Wildcat Venture partners. And so, the reason that we’re on this discussion today is not because I’m a huge fan, but in addition to this, he’s recently written an article on LinkedIn about diversity, equity and inclusion and innovation and the intersection of those two things.

And it turns out, he’s written at 190 articles on LinkedIn, that’s a fun fact for those who are listening. But, I’d like to take this opportunity to Geoffrey welcome you to the show today.

Geoffrey Moore: Well, thank you. I, I think it’s a big – a great topic, and I’m glad to have a chance to discuss it with you.

Kurt Merriweather: Excellent. So, to get things started in our nontraditional way, what’s something that we couldn’t figure out by Googling you? What will we find out about you that we didn’t know?

Geoffrey Moore: Well, this is, this is – I’m going to do a little humble bragging here. One thing you would not know is that I won my golf clubs championship, the handicap championship for the men’s championship this year at the age of 74. So, I felt pretty good about that, but that – and by the way, that’s been a lifeline for me during the pandemic, to be able to get out and get some exercise and get, kind of get away from things.

So, I don’t know if that’s what you had in mind, but that was the first thing that came to my mind.

Kurt Merriweather: Well improving the golf game is certainly a goal I have as well. I’m not going to win any championships like you, you have, so congratulations, and I really do think that’s speaks to the importance of having things that you can focus on amidst all the things that we’re experiencing, and that’s something we’re actually going to dig into it a little bit, you know, how organizations and how employees are grappling with this time period, because it is a difficult time to operate a business, given all the things that happening in the market around us.

Before we jump into that, let’s, let’s start with, with a little bit more about you for the audience. And so, how did you start thinking about innovation as a focus area when, when you were getting started – before you had written “Crossing the Chasm?”

Geoffrey Moore: OK, so I did start as a professor. I was actually an English professor doing a lot of teaching, and I think what I was interested in there was getting our, my students to be able to look into literature or look into their own writing and find new answers for questions. You know, young people are always they’re churning questions all the time. So, helping them sort of find their voice and find their way through their own thinking. So, that there’s inherently innovation, every time any kid tries to write anything it’s, it’s a moment of innovation and of course, you know, some people are really gifted at that and some people struggle with it, but, but – so, I’ve got a lot of empathy for the whole, I would call it the dynamics of innovation.

And then when I came into the tech sector, I started in training, but I got into sales and marketing. And I think in sales and marketing, you know, both – particularly sales – you know, that that’s an active – I mean, every moment in front of the customer is sort of a, a moment of innovation, if you, if you’re trying to figure out what’s going on.

But the marketing is where I made my – it’s, where I settled down and what I was best at and, and what those early books were about was the notion that over the course of a technology’s adoption, the kind of innovation that you need to be successful with changes. And so, at the very beginning it’s very about being very dramatically different. By the end, it’s like being incrementally better. And there are these stages you go through in a, in a life cycle where you have to change your focus on innovation from being incredibly technologically innovative, to being very application use case oriented, to being very competitive against other product guys, to being very customer centric and, and valuable for your install base.

And what’s weird about that is that if you have a team, the person that leads at each of those inflection points is probably different –

Kurt Merriweather: I was going to ask you that next. Because those skills are so different from each phase to each phase, how do you, how does the organization grapple with those differences as you, you know, you’re, you’re early adopters now you’re trying to hit mainstream customers and then you might be trying to milk this business and just do incremental innovation so you can get as much margin as you can. How do you, how did you put together a team?

Geoffrey Moore: So by the way, I think you should be in service to the customer each time, so I think milking – most customers don’t want to be milked, but they do want to be served. But, but to be fair –

Kurt Merriweather: That’s a fair point.

Geoffrey Moore: But to be fair, so, first of all, the companies that struggle with that are companies that are hierarchically organized around a fairly strong command and control sort of, hierarchical model, because that puts the same person in charge in all four times, and almost certainly that’s the wrong model. So, if you’d like to have enough elasticity in your organizational model, that you could let different leadership styles kind of come to the front of the team – it’s, it might be the same team. Although, even there, you might change team members to some degree, but you’d like to have a different kind of leader come to the fore at each at each point. So like, when you’re crossing the chasm, when you’re doing specific vertical use cases, you really want a domain expert to lead and maybe even come out of the industry you’re serving.

So they really, really understand the customer’s problems, but in a, what we call the tornado, when you’re competing for market share, you want this hyper-competitive, athletic, you know, take-no-prisoners kind of, kind of leader. And then on main street, you want somebody who’s patient enough with the, with the, with kind of the back half of the lifecycle to say, bring them along, keep them, keep them in the boat, get them, make them, help them be more successful.

So it’s just, it’s just different, different styles. You’d like to, you’d like to have – you’d like to have continuity on the team, but you really would like to be able to pass the baton.

Kurt Merriweather: Right. And so that, that kind of foreshadows this, this notion of having different kinds of leaders and then having – being inclusive in terms of how you think about the role of that leader, their characteristics, their attributes, and how you should have an organization that has all those different kinds of folks in it so you can be successful. And so as, as you were writing some of the early, books around these topical areas, that the market was different. So, there was certainly the notion of hardware and software, and you’ve got, software integrators and, value added resellers and these different folks. And so, those models have shifted, and so how does, so as you think, one of the things that I I’ve always been a big fan of is how you talk about whole product management, and the product isn’t just the product, it’s everything that you wrap around it in terms of the packaging. How has that changed given how technology has changed?

Geoffrey Moore: Well, it’s not just technology. It’s really interesting because in the 20th century, I think the technology – first of all, most of the disrupture was in the high-tech sector. And now, nowadays, of course, every industry is going to disrupted, right? I mean, I mean, automobiles, and hospitality, and retail and all this kind of stuff, so that’s number one.

But, I think the other thing was that in the, in the beginning, we were so product centric, and so it was always about making the product successful and making the – you know, we always focused on the product, and now, I focus more on the customer. It’s actually – and it’s not because we became , we became more empathetic it’s because the customer is now the scarce ingredient. In the 20th century, the product was actually the scarce ingredient. Customers would wait in line to get the product, they would – but now, it’s like, no, the customer has got some digital device in their hand, and if you don’t connect with the customer, you’re out of the game. So, what’s happened is the kind of talent that you want to bring to, to a, a sales and marketing environment, which is, that’s the people I deal with most of the time, has changed in the 20th century. You want that hard closing, hard charging, you know, coffee is for closers, the Glengarry  Glen Ross, that person’s a liability in 2020 if, if you’re putting them in a situation where they’re going to alienate your best customers. And so, now increasingly a more empathetic, you know, more customer centric – and this is why diversity is so important because, because if you just have to know the product, it’s kind of like, well, if I know the product, yeah, there’ll be a diverse set of customers, but they’ll all have to come to me. But, if I have to go get after a diverse set of customers, I need a diverse set of sensibilities.

I, I can’t, I have to be like them. They can’t be like me. And so all of a sudden, the problem becomes much more oriented around diversity and inclusion because the customer is so diverse and so varied.

Kurt Merriweather: Right. And so, what led you to begin talking about this? And even I’m sure you may have talked about it before I saw your piece at the end of last year, but when, when did you start to put that, thinking together, singing the linkage between diversity, equity, inclusion and innovation, and that being the key to being customer centric?

Geoffrey Moore: So for me, my focus was on customer centricity as opposed to diversity, equity and inclusion. So, so to me, diversity, equity and inclusion was one of the things that like, if it’s a piano there was some of the keys, you, you have to touch if you’re going to play the customer centric overture, right? And so what I was looking at was how many things have to change if you’re really going from product centric to customer centric, and why is it so hard for organizations to do that? And the course, the other thing – so I like to tackle problems that people struggle with them and the diversity, equity and inclusion problem I heard over and over and over again is we’re trying, we’re trying, we’re trying, and when you look at the results and you say, “Well, you sure as hell aren’t succeeding, so, so what the heck is going on here?” And people, say “I don’t know, we’re trying, we’re trying, we’re trying.” And, and so I – whenever I see a problem like that, I want to double click on it and say, “Well, come on. Obviously, you are trying. I mean, I don’t think you’re malicious, so why aren’t you succeeding? And then, what could we do differently to succeed?” And this is still by the way, at least in the tech sector, this is still a big, big problem. The tech sector is very early days in making progress in the DEI domain.

Kurt Merriweather: Right and that, that’s exactly right. I think that’s one of the knots on the, the large organizations, who are the tech leaders, is that being able to solve almost any other kind of problem they’ve been successful, but for whatever reason, when it comes to this particular challenge, those organizations haven’t been as successful. And so why do you think that’s the case?

Geoffrey Moore: You know, it’s interesting. I think that you – remember I’m a humanities guy, right? So we’ve been doing all this STEM stuff. So it’s all been about STEM, but I, my claim is that STEM makes incredible progress in all the things that tech has been unbelievable at, but when it comes to actually doing with the soft skills, they’re not as good as the humanities. The humanities are much better at teeing up the soft skills.

So if you look at the leadership of tech historically, it’s been engineering, it’s been, it’s been math majors in engineering, science and technology, it’s not been history majors, and English majors, language majors, and arts majors and whatever. But, when you look at diversity inclusion –  equity, and inclusion, that is a social phenomenon, and it requires a lot of social skills. Particularly because you’ve got to get outside of your own group, group centricity. We are all group centric. We all have a group of people that, that are like us, that we interact with, and then there’s others who are not like us, and we have this sort of boundary. And the tendency if we’re not careful is, “Well, I’ll just work with the people that I’m uncomfortable with, which are the people like me and I won’t work with everybody else.”

And what diversity, equity inclusion says is, “Well, Hey, OK. That’s why you’re, that’s why you’re not going to get more diversity.” But B, you’re putting yourself at risk. If in fact, you need to connect with a diverse world in order to be successful. And so, increasingly, as we’re trying to do to engineer social change, whether it’s around education or healthcare or social services or, or consumer products or whatever it is, we have a very, very diverse world. And if we can’t find ways to connect our enterprise to it, then we’re going to be marginal.

Kurt Merriweather: Right. That’s, that was well said. One of the things that as we’ve been doing work, looking at what’s happening around us, looking at some, some data that the world economic forum has put together around a upscaling crisis. And part of that upscaling crisis is while we’re making advancements in technology, there are gaps in the soft skills. And so, as we’re working with different organizations, the thing we’re finding is that gap starts even in college or before, because a lot of organizations or universities are not preparing people who are graduating with the skills that they need to be successful in building teams.

And one of the things that we talk a lot about when we think about diversity, equity and inclusion is building high-performing, multi-generational, multicultural teams as being the core to being successful. And one of the things that I think is powerful about the work that you’ve done is that not only if you looked at what’s happened outside of the organization, but you’ve looked at what’s happening inside the organization, because ultimately, you know, the old adage so much attributed to Peter Drucker “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

And so, how do you start to diagnose that challenge that organizations are having where they just don’t know what to do next because they don’t have the right humanities- trained leadership? So how do you, how do you start to, to dial in and, and fix that?

Geoffrey Moore: I think at, first of all, I think there’s a macro thing going on, which is, as, as we talk about this shift from a product centric to more customer centric world, the collaboration model is better suited to serve a customer centric world in the way, frankly, a competitive model was better suited to serve the product world. So, as long as – this is a relatively new phenomenon. In other words, in the nineties, I think the, the, the non-diverse, you know, just STEM-oriented run the technology adoption life cycle, Moore’s law, take advantage of all that stuff, that was a power curve and, and it was about closing and it was about doing all those things, so this is a relatively recent thing. I think the change of Microsoft is a wonderful microcosm of what we’re seeing becuase Bill and Steve were clearly from that culture, from a collaboration culture environment. And, and so, and I think the winning form – and Marc Benioff at Salesforce is from a collaboration, he is a collaboration culture leader. I think the collaboration culture model is winning share against the competition centric model that – we’ll always have both models, but I think it’s winning a lot of share, but I’m not surprised that people are unprepared and lack skills in that, because for, for decades it was, it was the other model and it was either a hierarchical, command and control or competition take-no-prisoners model. There was not, was not a collaboration of model.

Having said that, we’re now seeing more collaborative infrastructure. So, you remember software in the nineties was personal productivity software. Today, it’s team software. It’s, it’s Slack it’s, it’s Microsoft teams. It’s, it’s Google Hangouts. It’s, it’s Zoom. It’s it’s, and  you talked about this team capability. But, but again, in the nineties it was, you had an expert and you, you worked for the expert and you cut a deal, and it was very much a – spreadsheets was kind of the norm. And now, it’s like, no, it’s, it’s, it’s this dynamic interaction that’s more of the norm. So, I think we’re finding our way. I think it requires values that require a respect and empathy. I think it’s, with the current political climate, I think it’s very hard to scale a collaboration culture outside of some of the noise in our culture

Kurt Merriweather: Yeah, that, that was a good way to frame, kind of, old model versus new. And, one of the things that we talk a lot about when we’re working with, with our clients is the different eras that people grew up in. So you’ve got, and whether it’s a baby boomer and some gen X, which is a very much a mass production environment.

So, how can we make widgets and get that margin down and keep making more and more and more and more and more widgets, so then it is command and control and that becomes really important. And so now that technology is pretty well distributed among those people, so I’ve got the power of a supercomputer in my pocket compared to go back in time.

Geoffrey Moore: No, you do.

Kurt Merriweather: And so now there’s an expectation, especially with millennials and gen Z that any question I have, I should be able to find the answer to that instantaneously through my phone. And so, things that I think about, I should be able to have an impact on the organization instantaneously, because I know more about a lot of things, especially from a technology perspective, than most people that I might be working for. And so, it creates – and then you look at the classroom setups in different organizations where if you look at kids who are in  high school or middle school today, where, you know, I happened to ask my son about his desk.

He said, “What are you talking about? I haven’t had a desk in years and years and years.” And so, this, this nature of collaboration, whether it’s working together to solve a challenge through a video game, like Fortnite or some other things, so it creates this different way of thinking. And so, organizations seem to be challenged with having four or almost, or even five generations in the workplace because of all these different things. And so, as you see all these things happening externally, when you’re working with clients, especially using something like how to compete when there is all this disruption from, from your “Zone to Win” book, how do you help organizations think through how to address what’s happening externally looking at the changing face of the workforce that is coming in, and then how to continue to, to innovate to be able to do that? So, I know that was a long question.

Geoffrey Moore: Oh, well, I kinda, I kind of get the drift. I mean, basically I think. And, and, and to be fair, I can solve mostly with the product side and the marketing side, as opposed to the HR side, but, but obviously it’s all one, it’s all one org. I think one of the principles that I – and this is in zone management – is the zone says that there’s four different zones and each zone has its own kind of local culture that is kind of optimized for the mission of that zone. So there’s this, there’s a performance zone where you’re supposed to make the numbers. There’s a productivity zone where you’re supposed to make everything work. There’s an incubation zone where you’re supposed to invent the future, and there’s a transformation zone where you’re supposed to make the future the present. And each one of those requires a different leadership style and a different thing.

And one of the things I try to teach early on is, first of all, understand what zone you’re in and understand the playbook for that zone. And probably you’re in that zone, hopefully you’re in that zone ’cause you’re good at that playbook. So, so play by that playbook and hold yourself accountable to it, but understand there are three other playbooks and you need to honor those other three playbooks. And then, I try to use the word honor a lot because, because, and again, because there’s too much disrespect in our dialogues today. You need to respect each of the four zones for what it is and for how important it is to the whole.

And if you honor the other zone, and that means you have to listen to them, you have to be empathetic with them, the moderator should not have to shut off your mic, you should shut up yourself and listen,  and because that’s what takes it. And when you don’t do that, and obviously, you know, we’re, none of us are perfect, so there’s always times when we don’t do that. But when you don’t do that, you self-isolate, and then the team dynamic suffers accordingly. And so, respect, and so that  means great – let, let, if you do apply it to your generations, it reminds me a little bit. Well, back in the day, when we had something called Myers-Briggs, which was a personality test, you could figure out what kind of cohort you were in.

So, I was something called ENTJ, and so I was an ENTJ and then if you say, well, what about somebody who was an ISFP? And he went, “Well, no wonder we don’t get along.” What it we teach you is, first of all, you realize well, no wonder we don’t have like each other, like. But then it’s like, by the way, if the world didn’t have any, ISFPs, look what we’d be missing.

And so it’s that, it’s that sense about see yourself as a, as one of the keys on the piano, and not keep on just getting my one key. Every everything’s gotta be a middle c it’s like, no,

Kurt Merriweather: Right. Yeah. That would make for boring songs. That’s for sure.

Geoffrey Moore: It would. So anyway, I just spent, I try – and of course I try to use humor and I try to me to kind of let people relax a little bit, but that’s because I’m an outsider.

I always have a little bit of that outsider perspective to say, “Hey guys, you know, you’re, you’re really over-rotated to this particular model or this particular group or this particular ethic, and you’re, you’re kind of missing the bigger picture and it’s costing you if you’re not careful.”

Kurt Merriweather: But what, what companies do you think are doing a good job in terms of leading the way here as there, as we’re thinking about inclusive leadership practices, DEI, and being able to innovate well and seeing the output of that innovation come, come to come to bear?

Geoffrey Moore: Well, in, in the, in the companies that I practice with, I think there’s one that just for me, and this is – I have a personal connection to the company, which is Salesforce, and, and early on, by the way, our eldest daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Mark helped me get a very special connection to the U.S. CSF thing, and that was incredibly important to me personally. I kind of, I said, so I was sort of like emotionally, like completely bought it. But, his leadership and it’s not just Mark. I mean, it’s the entire team there, but I think Salesforce has stood out head and shoulders above many other companies. And obviously, what they did with about the LGBTQ.

I always get those letters wrong, but, but what they did in Indianapolis and what they were doing in other parts of the country, and then just, just this whole thing around diversity and inclusion. And when, when is the head of his HR person said, there’s this huge payment gap between male and female in our thing, and he’s, he’s thinking – he, you know, he, of course he wants to correct, but he’s thinking, “Oh my God, what’s the, what’s the economic impact of doing this?” But then, you know, but he has this real commitment to do the right thing. And by the way, Salesforce has this commitment to try to do the right thing. And every year, they re-examine their values to say, what are the most important values for us going into the next year?

And they, they, they, they move those around. But, but I think Salesforce – and it’s not perfect, you know? And, and by the way, any larger organization has politics. I mean, there’s, there’s all that, there’s just stuff. But, I would say, in terms of spirit and also in terms of what – Tony Prophet’s doing and Ebony, I forget his last name, but both of them have been leading diversity, equity and inclusion efforts that are really, I think, I think they set the standards for, for large companies, at least in the tech sector. And so I’ve been very impressed with them.

Kurt Merriweather: And what, what is it about their practices that make that stick based on what you know, what they’ve done so far?

Geoffrey Moore: I think that they have a management practice that they use every year called V2MOM.

And I, I think it, I don’t think it was intended specifically to create this outcome, but it does create the outcome. So what V2MOM stands for is vision, values, methods, obstacles, and measures. And the way you do it is it’s, it starts with vision is like, what am I going to try to, who are we trying to be? Like, what is, what is our, what is our reason for being, what is the, what is the – if we achieve our reason for being, what do we look like, say three to five years from now that we don’t look like today? That’s the vision. And then the values are, and what are the key values that we will honor on that journey and that we will never, that we will not violate and in fact, we will leverage to get to that place. And then, and that kind of sets the tone, so those are both kind of true North tone setters. And then they, as I said, this month gets modified every year. I’ll talk about how they do it in a second.

And then they have methods, which is OK, so what are we going to do this year to make this happen? And Mark will say, if it’s a method in our V2MOM, it will happen. And if it’s not, it won’t. So basically, the idea is this is what we’re going to do this year, and then the obstacles is why is it’s going to be hard? What are the challenges? And can we alert each other to the challenges that we have, and then measures is how do we know what we got there.

So the bottom half of that looks like, OK, awesome, it looks like every management team you’ve ever seen, and – which is great. Now, the way they do that, though, is three or four months before the start of the next year, Mark writes his V2MOM and that’s for the whole company. And then he socializes that with the executive leadership team, but there might be like 30 or 40 or 50 people in the room, and then they critique it and they push it back, like, they push it all over the place. Then they, once that settles, then each method, which is that third category, there’s a, there’s an executive who is kind of a leader for that method. So then, that executive takes that method and then they write their V2MOM, and then they can do it with their team and then this cascades.

So everybody at Salesforce, everybody, has a V2MOM. And your V is your vision for what you’re supposed to be. I mean, your vision is not about Salesforce. Your vision is about you, right? So what am I supposed to be doing? And what is, what are my values and what are my measures, et cetera. So what happens is you get this sense that every year you sort of recenter yourself around vision and values.

It’s incredibly valuable. Because vision and values change, you change your opportunities change, and you don’t get locked into this thing of like “I’m a cog in the machine, or there’s some big thing that I’m trying to career chase, some promotion or whatever.” It’s like no, every year: vision, values, methods, obstacles, and measures, and it also chains up.

So, you should be able to connect yourself all the way back up to Mark, in theory, and practice, you know, your mileage can vary sometimes, but it’s it’s – and then the other thing, last thing, I’ll just say it’s a public document within Salesforce. So it’s confidential, it doesn’t share it outside of Salesforce, but I advise a lot of people in Salesforce and often what I’ll say is, “Well, before we get together, can I see your V2MOM?” ‘Cause then I, I read the V2MOM, and  I go “I see what they’re up to. OK, how can I help?” It’s really, really helpful. So anyway, then talked a lot about it, but I’m impressed with it.

Kurt Merriweather: Yeah. That’s, that’s helpful. And I, the thing that’s interesting about that is, I view similar kinds of things like you were talking about OK our, when I was at Proctor and Gamble, they talked about objectives, goals, strategies, and measures, their OGSMs. And the thing that isn’t necessarily connected to that, to your point, is vision and values. And so, that’s the kind of the operating system personally that allows you to do the rest of the work as the culture’s helping you do that.

Geoffrey Moore: Well, yeah, you get your heart in the work. I mean, boy, talk about generational split. I don’t think my dad – and my dad cared about vision and values, but he did “Hey, it’s a job. Just do your job and you know, you’re” whatever. You go, you go all the way down to the next – to somebody who’s who’s in the current generation, just joining the workforce, vision and values is like 90% of them. That’s it. I mean, that’s what they – that’s totally getting their heart involved is so important both to them and, and, and to you. And so, a management system, which doesn’t engage the heart is a mistake in a team-oriented culture because you need, you need the team to make sacrifices, personal sacrifices, team sacrifices, to succeed.

People will only make sacrifices when they’re brought in to vision values. And if you don’t articulate vision and values, then you’re just leaving it to chance as to whether they buy in or not.

Kurt Merriweather: That’s exactly right. And as we think about  the things we’ve experienced this year, organizations that have had that right have been able to weather what we’re experiencing because they’ve been able to connect, even though their employee base physically may not be able to get together, but the mission, the vision, the values are still connecting them, even though they’re separate. So, as you’ve been thinking about the time that we’re in now, how can organizations still be effective even when remote, even when a virtual, even with this cloud of uncertainty around when things will get back to so-called normal?

Geoffrey Moore: So I think, I think in that world, if you try to be internally focused, it’s just a nightmare because every time you look internal something’s broken, or something doesn’t work the way you want to do it, you don’t even need to know how to fix it. I think the companies that are being successful now are externally focused, and they’re either focused – I think actually, the competitive company can be also focused. They can just focus on their competitors and say, “We’re going to do whatever it takes to take market share or whatever,” that is still a successful business model. But, the one I’m working with is much more of the collaborative model, which is we will make our customer successful no matter what.

Well, in a pandemic, your customer’s going through a whole set of challenges that have put them the kind of, they’re just like chickens in a roost. There, there’s a Fox in the henhouse and they’re all running around. And so, if you’re willing to make that effort to go out and connect with them and what are they going through and how can we help them even, even if we can help, those connections, first of all, they connect you to the customer at a time when a customer is really looking for connection, but it also then helps you to prioritize inside your company because instead of worrying about how do I make myself more productive or I can’t close a sale, if I can’t get to the office or that kind of stuff, you say, well, yes, those are all problems, but that’s not the main problem.

The main problem is how do we make our customer successful? What are we going to do to do that? Then if you’re united on that as a value, if you have vision and values that are united around that thing, then people will go, “OK, well, what would it take?” And so, you get much more innovative because you’re not – the thing about innovation is, innovation is when you focus on the problem, not on the solution. You focus on the problem and then you let the solution come around the problem, but if you focus internally, you’re just focusing on your solution space, not focusing on the problem. And it doesn’t work.

Kurt Merriweather: That’s, that is really well said because a lot of us are solution oriented. So we’re trying to find the right solution, and we’re, let’s grab this, let’s grab this, this, all of this over here to just solve this over here, and then we lose sight of what we’re trying to solve for a lot of cases, because we’re searching for solutions as opposed to being better problem solvers, which means you’re asking the right questions.

Geoffrey Moore: I think it’s a little bit different to me being an actor in a play and being an actor in improv. So, in relatively stable times, so you actually do want to get better at the play. I mean, like, you know, you, you, you want to learn the script. You want to learn nuances of the script you can – and that, the 10th performance is probably better than the fifth, and the 20th it’s probably better than the tenth. But in times of disruption, it’s all improv. And so, it’s all about being in the moment. It’s all like saying, “Look, there’s so much of this stuff we’re not going to know, so just be present in the moment and align with your values and then trust yourself.”

And a lot of innovation, and this is where diversity becomes so important, because if you have a diverse team, somebody on your team has seen something like this even if you haven’t, or at least there’s a much bigger chance that somebody – and that person can then, can then orient the rest of the team because they have a way of connecting to that new, that new phenomenon that everybody else has sort of completely nonplussed by.

And so, but if you have a very homogeneous team, then it’s like a single crop agriculture economy, you know, when, when, when the crop is great, it’s great, but when the, when the bug comes to takes out your crops you’re out. And so I think the diversity card is really important.

The other thing I would just add, but I was talking about Salesforce and one last thing. So, one of things you do at Salesforce is you prioritize your methods, you put them in rank order. And it’s really, I mean, again, starting with Mark all the way down. Well, what I noticed in working with them over 10 years, when I was first working with them, their top three or four methods were always around things like fastest growing sales thing or whatever it was. And then there was a period where the number one method for two years in a row was something called Kohana, which is the Hawaiian word for family, but it’s basically their, their culture. Mark made it the number one priority for every – he said it’s more important than any other method we’re doing because we’re losing our culture. We’re growing so fast and by the way, this is where DEI came right into the center things, because now all of a sudden this is the number one metric. And by the way, if we’re failing in DEI, we’re failing our culture. And so, that’s not OK. And so all of a sudden it, because it wasn’t like, we, it wasn’t like Salesforce knew how to do DEI better than anybody else, nobody knew how to DEI, right? More like, but we’re not working to hold ourselves accountable to the outcome no matter what. So, now you get into improv mode – I think they’re past improv mode. I think actually they’re now developing a play script, but for a couple of years, it was just all improv. You know, just follow the values, do the best you can, but do not let go of this goal.

Kurt Merriweather: What would you say to a CEO who is in this position where, you know, they may look at their board, they may look at their leadership team and they notice that it’s homogeneous, you know, primarily white men is probably what they would see and they recognize that they need to do something different. What, how would you tell them to get started?

Geoffrey Moore: Yeah, it’s important. Initially, there’s a couple of things and this is, this is what the blog was about because I just listened to Sally Krawcheck talk about diversity, and she had two little nuggets I thought were really valuable, particularly for the CEO in this position right now.

And the first one is instead of asking what person would make, be the best fit for our team, for this new, new position, whether it’s a new board member or a new hire, ask what, what kind of person would be the best add to our team? So the idea was instead of asking somebody to be like us, we’re actually trying to say, what new characteristic could we add to the capability that would give us the most, most leveraged from the novelty of that skill? You know, and, and, and, and that was a, that was a key one. I forget, kind of, a little language, the other one. But both of them were about look, and, and this is if at first it’s like, like right now, California said you will have X number of women on your board or whatever I can’t, but. You know what? That’s a little bit ham-handed but you know, there’s times when ham-handed is the right thing. Say look, you got to start somewhere, you know, do your best and get better. But, but don’t let don’t let, because what was happening when the, and this happens in that tech all the time. Well, but the very best engineer’s somebody looks exactly like me.

Well, what a surprise, you know. A, that’s the only people, you know, like I’m really shocked. It’s like not OK. And that’s the thing I think, I think, I think for the message we were actually sending out the tech forever was “Well, OK.” In other words, instead of saying “not OK,” we said, “well, OK,” and that’s that’s, that’s not OK.

It’s like,  no, no, not OK is the correct response. Not “Well, OK.” Because it wasn’t like, people didn’t want diversity and it’s like, people didn’t hold themselves accountable to getting to diversity. They held themselves accountable doing amazing things in other dimensions, but they did not hold themselves accountable with the diversity.

And so what a surprise? We, we, we, we got what we got, but it’s not OK. It’s not OK. It’s not OK. Not only for social reasons, which is a big reason, but it’s also not OK for competitive reasons either.

Kurt Merriweather: Absolutely. So, we’re almost at the end of our time, so I want to be respectful of that ’cause I know I could talk about this for hours on end.

Where do you, what are you looking forward to leading up to 20, 21?

Geoffrey Moore: Well, so I’m looking for, I’m hoping that we have, a more, a higher degree of integrity of our social dialogues. I think, I mean, there’s a bunch of things I think that are important. We need to get truth back into the game. We need to get science back into the game. You need to get civility back in the game. We can’t function as a society under the current course and speed. It just, it isn’t us and it doesn’t work.

But, what we have to do in 2021 is look, we’ve an economy now. The digital economy doesn’t need as much capital as the industrial economy, and we have made all of our companies focused, number one focus was shareholder value and the number one exam of shareholder value is create as much of working capital, profit, as you possibly can.

And that’s, that’s, that’s the measure of success. Well, it’s still a measure of success. It’s important to do, but, but in an industrial economy, it’s so capital intensive, it really has to be your number one measure because that’s how you expand an industrial economy. You don’t need that much capital in the digital economy.

So now all of a sudden, you say we’re moving from shareholders success to stakeholder success, which means now we can start solving social values and other values besides that the, the, the investor shareholder returns, which is still a value, but not the only value and not the, that the primary value. So, I’m looking forward to a world where we say, how can we use the private sector to accomplish more social value while creating investor value and lead the public sector? The public sector is that you have to scale things in the public side. The private sector does not scale, the public sector scales, but the private sector innovates. It’s very hard to innovate in the public sector.

So, so if we can innovate and if we can create, create the paradigms and then, and then gradually transfer them to the public sector, that’s what I want to happen in this decade.

Kurt Merriweather: Well, Jeff, thank you so much for spending some time with us today and talking about the importance of DEI as not only an imperative from society point of view, but a necessity in some areas as we were looking to collaborate and understand our customers in the more impactful way.

And so, thank you for joining us and I really appreciate it and look forward to what’s to come in 2021 and maybe we come back in a year from now and see what happend.

Geoffrey Moore: I enjoyed this, very much ejoyed it. Thank you for the work you’re doing and, and best wishes to all the, of the colleagues that you can consult with, because this is a really important domain that we need to get better at.

Kurt Merriweather: Fantastic. Thank you so much.

Thanks for tuning in everyone. If you’d like to show, we encourage you to subscribe to this podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen and leave us a rating and review as well. And for more diversity and equity inclusion content, visit The Diversity This show was edited and produced by your fluids.

If you’re looking for information on how full service podcast production can amplify your voice and build your community, visit I’m Kurt Merriweather. And we’ll see you soon on Diversity Beyond the Checkbox.

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