In evidenza

NELLE LIBRERIE DAL 4 APRILE

EMERSIONI

DOLCEAMARO

Dolceamaro è catalogabile come raccolta di racconti, ma, torniamo a ripetere, si tratta di una definizione assai riduttiva, dato che il poliedrico modo di raccontare dell’autore non può essere assolutamente recluso dentro il rigido steccato di questo o quel genere
letterario: ci troviamo al cospetto di un narratore che è anche ritrattista di anime, scandagliatore dell’inconscio, esploratore di sogni, fotografo di emozioni, anestetista di dolori e cauterizzatore di ferite interioriGugliemo Colombero (Direfarescrivere, anno XV, n. 157, gennaio-febbraio 2019)

In evidenza

Un saggio di Guglielmo Colombero dedicato ai miei “primi 25 anni”

dire fare scrivere con saggio

Ringrazio sentitamente Guglielmo Colombero,  per avermi onorato della sua attenzione con questo approfondito saggio; Bottega editoriale e la Redazione di “DireFareScrivere” per averlo integralmente pubblicato sul corrente numero del loro Mensile (direfarescrivere, anno XV, n. 157, gennaio-febbraio 2019).

I labirinti poetici e narrativi di un autore
coinvolgente: Massimiliano Bellavista
Un’analisi precisamente compiuta sui temi, lo stile e la scrittura,
attraverso le sue opere in cui tutto è sospeso tra sogno e realtà
di Guglielmo Colombero
È possibile conciliare la vocazione di teorico del marketing aziendale e algido manager con una fervida vocazione letteraria? In una mente caratterizzata da strategie aziendali può celarsi, e poi felicemente esplodere, una feconda passione di poeta e narratore, intrisa dei più svariati echi letterari (Borges, Camilleri, Gadda, Pirandello, Simenon, tanto per citarne solo alcuni), che serpeggia lungo le insenature enigmatiche del thriller oppure esplora nicchie mistiche e arcane, nostalgiche di un passato seducente e fiabesco, che si amalgama al presente passando attraverso il perenne varco dimensionale dell’immaginario e del sogno?
Il personaggio capace di rispondere affermativamente a tale quesito si chiama Massimiliano Bellavista, ingegnere e docente di Management strategico, nato a Siena nel 1973.
Questo felice connubio è raro che avvenga, ma talvolta così è. Per rimanere ai grandi esempi del passato possiamo ricordare i casi dell’assicuratore Franz Kafka e dell’impiegatuccio del Genio civile Salvatore Quasimodo; per il presente potremmo rammentare il magistrato Giancarlo De Cataldo e il bancario Maurizio De Giovanni.
In questo secondo saggio critico che la nostra Agenzia letteraria Bottega editoriale dedica allo studio di alcuni fra i più interessanti scrittori contemporanei, dopo Mimmo Gangemi (Mimmo Gangemi: poesia e narrazione tra natura, morte, vita e appartenenza, in: http://www.bottegaeditoriale.it/primopiano.asp?id=235) la nostra lente d’ingrandimento letteraria punta, dunque, su Massimiliano Bellavista.
Non ci soffermeremo, ovviamente, sui suoi studi economici: basterà citarli segnalandone l’importanza che hanno nei rispettivi campi.
Ricordiamo dunque, tra i pregevoli testi in materia di organizzazione aziendale, Le reti di impresa (FrancoAngeli, 2012) scritto assieme a Lorenzo Zanni e, tra quelli dedicati alle strategie di start up imprenditoriale, the naked pitcher (Licosia, 2018).
Ma, tornando nel precipuo ambito letterario, partiremo da un dato personale: l’intrinseca qualità letteraria di Bellavista è emersa ai nostri occhi faccia a faccia quando, durante la scorsa edizione del Salone internazionale del libro di Torino, abbiamo avuto la fortunata ventura di presentare il suo romanzo d’esordio, L’ombra del caso (il seme bianco, 2018), che ha come protagonista il commissario M., indicato con la sola iniziale del nome in quello che appare una specie di omaggio simultaneo sia al Maigret di Simenon che al Joseph K. di Kafka. «Il narrare storie è parte del mio lavoro quando si parla di start up aziendali», ha spiegato Bellavista in quell’occasione, «perché spesso e volentieri la prima cosa che l’imprenditore ti racconta è una storia, una storia di sé o di quello che vuole essere. E da lì poi si deve fare una contronarrazione trovando in qualche modo un colpevole, che può essere lui stesso o possono essere delle inefficienze, e trovare una soluzione o improvvisare una narrazione che possa convincere lui o lei a seguire una certa strada. In questa storia più o meno è lo stesso. C’è una narrazione che in qualche misura M. subisce, e una contronarrazione che lui piano piano costruisce sulla base di una serie di elementi che non lo convincono. E le due narrazioni come materia e antimateria sono destinate a scontrarsi».

Istantanee che riprendono la morte al lavoro
Una catena di morti violente, solo in apparenza prive di una qualsiasi connessione, è il perimetro agghiacciante su cui si concentra l’indagine del commissario M., poliziotto disilluso quanto tenace, che concepisce il suo lavoro non come una missione (dato che gli tocca difendere una società marcia e corrotta, in cuor suo profondamente disprezzata), ma come ricerca di una verità ambigua e sfuggente. Il messaggio affiora chiaramente da questo scorcio narrativo denso di echi pirandelliani e di fatalismo kafkiano: «A M. in sostanza, pareva di leggere un libro in cui era scritta la sua vita, ma che lui non aveva diritto a sovrascrivere e nemmeno ad annotare. Da qui due conseguenze logiche per la mente analitica di un investigatore: primo, era qualcun altro a decidere il copione, secondo, questo qualcuno il copione l’aveva già scritto in tutto o in parte, quindi nella migliore delle ipotesi lui era indietro rispetto alla sua vita di qualche pagina nella peggiore si trattava di un libro già bello che finito, magari anche di seconda mano. E quindi la logica conseguenza era che nelle cose della vita non occorreva sempre impegnarsi: tanto il libro avrebbe comunque girato pagina da sé».
Con glaciale professionalità, questo investigatore, molto vicino alle figure dei cinici detective del noir americano del primo dopoguerra (su tutti il Bogart de Il grande sonno), entra a piedi uniti dentro un focolaio infetto che sprigiona miasmi intossicanti e genera un grottesco balletto di morte lungo un filo di bava rabbiosa (che intreccia pedofilia, tangenti, prostituzione). «La gente non capiva che la morte non si fa. Si subisce. Non si crea né si distrugge, passa solo di mano in mano, come un cerino acceso»: efficace la rappresentazione della “morte al lavoro”, che tallona M. fino a sfiorarlo direttamente, e rafforza in lui la caparbia determinazione di scoperchiare una volta per tutte il tappeto sotto cui si cela una montagna di putredine morale.
Nel descrivere un campionario umano miserando, ripugnante e meschino, l’autore non risparmia impennate di umorismo impietoso e corrosivo: «Quel tale, Franco Luraschi, era titolare di una grossa società che si occupava di servizi d’igiene ambientale: smaltimento dei rifiuti, bonifica ecologica, amianto erano le specialità della casa. Decisamente obeso e ormai prossimo ai settanta, era inguainato in un elegante gessato di sartoria. E non poteva essere altrimenti per un uomo che passava abbondantemente i centocinquanta chili per quasi due metri di statura e a occhio e croce calzava il cinquanta. Un’apoteosi del su misura di lusso insomma. L’avvocato che lo accompagnava ne era fisicamente agli antipodi. Basso e magrissimo, parlava con voce sommessa e ricordava un uccellino spelacchiato e senza nido. Se ne stava aggrappato ai braccioli della sedia, sembrava quasi per timore di essere da un minuto all’altro travolto dalla massa dell’imprenditore, le cui carni adipose tracimavano dalla sedia in ogni direzione. Però era l’avvocato ad aver tenuto banco fino a quel momento nel colloquio, come se avesse portato in commissariato il suo grasso pupazzo ventriloquo».

Un viaggio cinematografico nell’irrazionale
Come il Ciccio Ingravallo di Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana di Gadda, M. fruga in una atroce discarica colma di «dolore, malvagità, dubbio, pericolo, sadismo, pazzia». I primi due delitti che M. dovrà decifrare sono descritti mediante analogie di forte suggestione visiva, frutto di una tecnica narrativa squisitamente cinematografica: «La faccia morta di quel tizio morto così, quasi senza scatola cranica dietro e adagiata sulla nuda terra come una maschera, somigliava a un planisfero, una proiezione cartografica dove tutti i continenti sono riportati accuratamente in piano, cercando di mantenere le originarie proporzioni sferiche». Altrettanto efficace il parallelismo fra un corpo umano devastato e una viscida lumaca calpestata, quasi a voler significare che, una volta privo di vita, anche l’involucro considerato come contenitore dell’anima degrada, si decompone, degenera, e provoca nausea in chi lo contempla: «C’erano solo loro, un prato mal rasato dove proliferavano buche, sassi, infestanti e una baracca. E a pochi metri, un corpo scomposto, attorno al quale brulicavano uomini. M. per un attimo pensò a una grossa lumaca in decomposizione che giorni prima aveva inavvertitamente schiacciato. Era così tardi da essere quasi presto, pioveva un sacco ed era ancora buio, non l’aveva vista, dal guscio uscivano liquidi e gli organi interni. Tre ore di sonno e lui era di nuovo lì, ma la lumaca non c’era più: era diventata uno spaccio di proteine all’ingrosso, gremito di formiche che si affaccendavano su ogni lembo di quel corpo. A quel pensiero, accusò di nuovo un lieve malessere».
Nel corso dell’indagine, M. procede su un doppio binario: quello lucido e razionale dell’investigazione, che utilizza i consueti strumenti di analisi empirica del reale, e quello onirico del sogno, della potenza quasi divinatoria dell’inconscio, degli archetipi junghiani: «Dio puntò il suo dito su una persona, che veniva verso M. tenendo per mano un bambino. Il dito era bianco, lucente, enorme eppure sembrava che lui fosse il solo a vederlo, le altre persone nella piazza continuavano a ridere e scherzare come se niente fosse, a cominciare dal suo bersaglio. Il dito non proiettava alcuna ombra sul terreno. La testa dell’uomo scoppiò, il sangue usciva copiosissimo, lo avvertì nelle narici, poi in bocca, infine il sangue gli coprì gli occhi bruciandoglieli e per un istante non vide più nulla».
La ritualità delle morti si accelera nel corso della narrazione, con vampate di tenore espressionista che innestano sfumature macabre, quasi un ghigno funereo emanato dalle oscure pulsioni di un sadismo criminale: «Imma non indossava una maschera, indossava la morte. C’era una densa chiazza dal diametro di oltre un metro che formava un’aureola rosso sangue intorno alla sua testa. Un solo foro trapassava la fronte. I capelli le coprivano il volto, quasi completamente, come una grottesca maschera barbuta. I denti ridevano, completamente scoperti, di un sorriso innaturale che sarebbe stato impossibile da riprodurre per tutti, tranne che per un cadavere».

Una scrittura tra mosaico e allegoria
Come la riproposizione delirante di un autodafé della Spagna di Torquemada, l’autore si sofferma sullo scempio di due cadaveri, bruciati dall’assassino per distruggere ogni traccia, spingendo l’iconografia delittuosa fino alla soglia dell’intollerabile: «E il fuoco aveva trasformato quei due corpi, tramutando il luogo che poche ore prima era stato un grande e spazioso soggiorno in un teatro dell’assurdo dove un corpo seduto in una posizione innaturale, prono sulla scrivania, sembrava guardare furtivamente un altro corpo, o meglio una specie di nera crisalide, che ancora oscillava appesa a una trave, unica rimasta completamente intatta tra tutte quelle che sorreggevano il soffitto».
In chiusura di questa inquietante panoramica sulla “morte al lavoro” nel romanzo di Bellavista, è doveroso citare un frammento descritto mediante l’uso della soggettiva, che l’autore padroneggia con una raffinata calibratura dei dettagli sia cromatici che sensoriali: «In un non-tempo quelle immagini si serigrafarono in ciò che restava della sua mente, polarizzandosi sul bianco che proveniva dalla luce accecante del sole, moltiplicata dalle mille fratture che si propagavano velocissime sulla superficie del parabrezza, e sul rosso del sangue che usciva copioso. Eppure, anche se da un solo occhio e con frequenti dissolvenze al nero intervallate da continue intermittenze di strane immagini che parevano pezzi di ricordi lontani, continuò a guidare. Le sensazioni che provenivano dai nervi facciali recisi, dal buco che aveva in faccia, erano ben oltre il dolore. Tuttavia per pochi secondi continuò a guidare, e quello che era più incredibile, intenzionalmente».
In definitiva, per esprimere la frustrazione del commissario M., che ancora brancola nella caligine sanguigna di tanti indecifrabili omicidi, Bellavista ci offre l’ennesima, fascinosa similitudine, quella dell’alta marea destinata prima o poi a defluire, rivelando quello che nasconde alla vista: «Gente che moriva attorno a lui in modi improbabili, storie che avrebbero dovuto avere un collegamento tra di loro che rimanevano scollegate, separate da distanze logiche che parevano incolmabili. Come isole tidali. La marea cresceva, M. si chiese quando avrebbe cominciato a scendere, rivelando i collegamenti tra di loro, infinite e sconosciute vie di sabbia».
Non è assolutamente casuale, in questa opera prima di Bellavista, la citazione da uno dei racconti più allegorici e mefistofelici di Borges, La lotteria di Babilonia: «A tutti e due piaceva quel racconto. E così, provammo a ipotizzare come avrebbe potuto funzionare. Come si sarebbe potuto mettere in pratica l’insegnamento di quel racconto, ovvero quello di creare un Ordine sociale basato sul caso. Sul caso governato». Nulla è come appare nel complicato mosaico costruito da Bellavista: una partita a scacchi in cui le regole del gioco vengono sovvertite a ogni mossa; un labirinto di specchi in cui il bianco diventa nero e il nero bianco a seconda delle circostanze, un mutevole divenire che racchiude metamorfosi e metastasi di una società ormai irrimediabilmente contaminata da appetiti inconfessabili, dal cannibalismo consumistico, dal delirio di onnipotenza di chi si crede dotato del potere sovrumano di decidere sul destino dei propri simili nel nome di un’astratta morale al di sopra della legge.

La casualità esiste davvero?
L’epilogo della storia narrata da Bellavista concentra nella dispersione di un pugno di ceneri il senso dell’effimero, dell’inevitabile, un sic transit gloria mundi che condensa il non-senso di una sorta di mostruoso quanto tragicomico complotto, fonte di una sequela di morti inutili, di efferatezze gratuite, di paranoide ferocia: «Le ceneri, dopo un breve volo, come se non potessero sottrarsi alla reciproca attrazione, si raccolsero in una densa chiazza grigia, che si dissolse lentamente nel lavorio superficiale delle onde e in quello appena sottotraccia delle correnti, galleggiando ancora per un po’ in lontananza, senza meta apparente, come un banco di piccoli pesci».
Ancora una volta illuminanti, a questo proposito, le parole dell’autore al Salone internazionale del libro di Torino: «Una serie di casi, e una gestione del caso, che però è – e il commissario M. lo afferra sempre di più – in qualche misura pilotata da qualcuno o da qualcosa. Questo è il concetto dell’ombra del caso. Il conflitto fra una visione del caso assolutamente probabilistica – per cui tutto è possibile e non è determinato da niente – e la sensazione forte che M. si muova dentro una storia già scritta, che poi è la storia del libro, una sorta di libro in 3D, da cui lui vuole uscire trovando una sua dimensione».

Un poeta itinerante in un dedalo di emozioni
Addentriamoci ora in un sentiero a ritroso, fino a un Bellavista ventenne che pubblica l’antologia poetica Come uno strappo (Il Fauno edizioni, 1994): da questi versi eleganti e ricercati, intrisi di vivide suggestioni crepuscolari, di morbido lirismo evocativo e di limpide assonanze musicali, già emergono alcune delle tematiche che, puntualmente, ritroveremo in successive opere narrative.
In primo luogo lo scorrere lento e inesorabile del tempo, incarnato nella magia luminosa di un paesaggio che si confonde con la visione onirica di un fantasma d’amore: «Allo schiaffo del giorno/alla croce di un’alba/sull’intarsio ligneo/dei tuoi capelli/che si perde/si perde…/nei bruschi fondali/il cangiante scolo/dei bagliori/dal ventre morto/delle città./Ti penso qui/da sulle spalle dei monti/dove morimmo di un male lucente» (Come uno strappo).
Nostalgia e rimpianto pervadono altri versi sospesi fra malinconia e struggimento, dove l’autore distilla frammenti emozionali e li condensa in una poetica della natura e delle cose, emblematica della fragile condizione umana: «Di tante anime/è rimasto/il vento/che pulsando/stride fra le porte». E analogamente: «Le vite/degli uomini/hanno inciso/il tuo tronco/che ora giace/a terra immoto/sprigionando l’essenza del tempo» (Albero abbattuto). Talvolta affiora una religiosità contemplativa che, nella silenziosa agonia cristallizzata di un crocifisso, sintetizza la muta eloquenza dell’angoscia esistenziale: «Tra riflessi barocchi/il Cristo/soffre la sua croce/in un silenzio/d’abbandono» (Chiesa di Lilliano).
Anche il simbolismo dell’acqua e della pietra ricorre sovente nei versi giovanili di Bellavista, con accenti che rivelano le sedimentazioni di una cultura nutrita di classicismo (come una riproposta in chiave moderna delle folgoranti intuizioni di un Anacreonte): «Tutti/restammo naufraghi/sulla riva di un’alba» (S. Lorenzo). Persino il simbolismo rivelatore di più recenti influenze (Montale, Neruda, Rilke) si esprime in scenari ereditati dalla turgida virulenza del Barocco seicentesco (alla Gongora, per intenderci), visionaria (ossa insanguinate, croci impolverate) e iperbolica (il suono che è anche metallo): «E non sia più/morte odorosa sui muri dei vicoli/e un bianco passo che il cuore non vede/e ossa nude temprate nel sangue/e polvere sulle croci./E palloni arcobaleno/crocifissi a bianche pietre/in questo giorno di festa/sotto all’urlo bronzeo/della chiesa» (Sarà più grande).
In altri scorci, fa già capolino l’ombra lunga di Borges, in un evidente soprassalto di consapevolezza che il tempo non si può fermare, e scandisce inesorabile l’esistenza che si consuma attimo dopo attimo come sabbia che scorre fra le dita: «Vicino all’eternità/qui/porto il tempo/nelle mani/e vivo sospeso/in un limbo di tuffi di luna/su acque immobili» (Con l’anima spezzata).
Anche la passione amorosa, che si dispiega in un vortice di immagini gioiosamente pagane (i miti di Circe incantatrice e di Diana cacciatrice, il Sol invictus, la falcata luminosa di una divina bellezza capace di tessere una ragnatela seduttiva), emana l’aroma amarognolo dell’effimero: «Esci divenendo maga/meridiana, pelle di rosa,/anima vulnerata dalla mano vorace,/stordimento di vento, trionfo di membra,/caccia che si disperde nel bosco./Dal sole, occhio tiranno, apprendi/a calarti come un ragno/vesti di luce ogni tuo passo» (Mi è dato far delirare).
Questa prima raccolta gli consente di vincere alcuni premi nazionali, mentre parte delle poesie del libro viene ripubblicata su riviste e in antologie (Stillae Temporis, Edizioni Cantagalli, 2004).
L’esperienza poetica prosegue, creando un ibrido costellato di lampi di prosa, in Il segno e la foresta (Magalini Editrice, 2001). Il libro, presentato al Festivaletteratura di Mantova, è corredato dalle splendide fotografie in bianco e nero di Luca Liserani. L’autore esordisce con una appassionata dichiarazione d’amore alla natia Siena: «La mia Città Madre è una Città d’Acqua che parla solo nei sogni. Pochi i convitati del Suo fluido mistico e segreto». E ancora: «la Città visitò i sogni di Dante affinché gli uomini, illuminati dalle sue parole, cessassero allora e per sempre di profanarne inutilmente il Ventre alla ricerca dell’Inconoscibile».
Prosegue poi evocando Leida, la sua «Città amante», storica roccaforte dei Paesi Bassi protagonista nella loro temeraria sfida al tirannico dominio asburgico fra il 1572 e il 1574. Con poche pennellate di plastica efficacia evocativa, Bellavista compone un tableau vivant su una pagina storica poco conosciuta, ma non per questo meno fondamentale, che due secoli prima della Battaglia di Valmy dimostrò come una “armata di straccioni” potesse battere il più temuto esercito professionale dell’epoca: «Così venne a incendiare i sogni di Guglielmo il Taciturno, ormai grigi e sfibrati dal lungo assedio. L’indomani Egli, compresa la vera natura del proprio potere, decise di aprire le dighe tra Rotterdam e Gouda. L’acqua, che per lungo tempo gli spagnoli avevano creduta amica e alleata, avanzò, arma perfetta in pugno al vento, sbaragliando tutta l’Olanda Meridionale».
Suggestioni ermetiche sono poi rintracciabili, come un fiume carsico, in altri versi dedicati a Siena, vera e propria matrice di ispirazioni poetiche e letterarie, radice feconda di tradizioni culturali intramontabili, che alimentano la sostanza del ricordo, della nostalgia e del sogno: «Non ti terrò/ma salda a me/già stringo/la meraviglia del tuo nome/potente spezia del pensiero».
Si rivela anche generatrice inesausta di fertile sensibilità creativa: «Sa vegliare/la mia città eletta./Sa colmare di vento/i ventri vuoti della sua terra./Le volute del suo essere/troppo incline al pensiero/sbocciano perenni da una/sempre nuova vertigine».
Analogo l’omaggio rivolto al fascino gotico e rinascimentale di Leida, patria di Rembrandt: «Amo/le città vive di corti./Questa bellezza/è una misura colma di ombre sublimi./Non amo/quelle erette di obelischi/che opprimono il petto di Dio». Annullando la soglia che distingue il sogno dalla realtà, Bellavista colloca Leida in una dimensione metastorica e atemporale, ribaltandone la visuale in soggettiva: «Tu sei frutto e fine/della mia pazzia./Il tuo passaggio esige/il varco alato/di un’allucinazione./Non sei del tempo/mai./Con te mi sento/uomo metamorfico».

Una melodia inconscia e sotterranea
Vale la pena di soffermarsi su questo «uomo metamorfico» adombrato dall’autore dentro la cornice di due città così ricche di memorie storiche, dove i singoli destini individuali si fondono, con limpida sonorità musicale, in una sorta di occulta armonia universale: a Leida «camminerò al fiume/e scioglierò con acqua i sali del pensiero/varerò con essi/i vasti sogni che ho pianto». E ancora nei meandri di Siena si domanda: «Tu/che hai composto/il tutto di cui sei parte./A quale dimensione/si connettono i miei sensi?». Lasciandosi poi trasportare in un labirinto onirico: «Ho sognato/ il sonno della tigre./La grinta del sole antico/nelle sue luci fisse al punto/dove corre e/ricorre il mare», per approdare infine alla meta finale di tutte queste trasformazioni. «E ora so precisamente/dove perdermi»: perdita di sé che significa lasciarsi trasportare dai flutti della percezione (identificata con il flusso e riflusso della marea). Il simbolismo dell’acqua, per il poeta liquido amniotico nell’utero immaginario di Siena Mater, riaffiora costantemente anche lungo i canali di Leida (vero e proprio labirinto fluido che si trasfigura in paesaggio interiore, in mappa emozionale), e tallona l’io narrante, custode di un soffio vitale dentro cui ribolle l’alchimia poetica: «Intriso/dall’eco della pioggia/una corona di gocce mi assedia la fronte/poi lacrimando dal crespo delle labbra/verso la radice del mio passo/che scorre le vie».
In conclusione, la poetica di Bellavista presente in Come uno strappo e ne Il segno e la foresta procede lungo due direttrici: un linguaggio quasi iniziatico che riveste i versi di una segreta melodia, di un respiro interno proteso verso la soglia del sogno, del miraggio, ma anche intessuto di dettagli iperrealisti, e l’esplorazione dei recessi più oscuri delle emozioni, in una ricerca mai appagata del loro nucleo più autentico, dei significati che balenano un istante, come illuminazioni, per poi svanire e inabissarsi nuovamente nella palude del subconscio.

Un terzo occhio oltre la soglia dell’inconoscibile
La poetica di Bellavista continua a evolversi in una tappa successiva, rappresentata da Anatomia dell’invisibile (Edizioni Tabula Fati, 2017), opera decisamente atipica e stilisticamente audace. Definirla come antologia di racconti brevi potrebbe apparire riduttivo: siamo piuttosto nei paraggi dell’apologo fiabesco, della meditazione filosofica, della parabola morale. L’incipit – e qui consentiteci un aggettivo più incisivo del solito – è semplicemente superbo, desta echi delle pagine più veementi del Faulkner de L’urlo e il furore e di Mentre morivo: «La mia faccia si decompone da viva nel tempo come una torta nuziale sotto la pioggia. Gli zigomi si sono fatti estremi come antenne sintonizzate su un qualche evento che dovrà presto riguardarmi, forse la morte stessa. In questa casa vi sono grida di polvere, grida di ragnatele disposte come trine artistiche o pendenti a larghe falde dai telai degli infissi come tende fatte di cascami. Se anche il disordine si ordina ed esprime una qualche rozza intenzione artistica come musica emergente dal rumore è tempo per me di svanire da questa casa che forse non so più governare». In questo primo racconto, intitolato Il contrappunto del gufo e della fenice, una sequela di metafore sincronizzate (dove ogni parola è significante), ci introduce subito nell’interiorità del narratore, un vecchio musicista che sente avvicinarsi la morte. Bellavista sintetizza come in una fotografia, o meglio, in una inquadratura cinematografica, un caleidoscopio di sensazioni rappresentate con tonalità oscillanti fra reminiscenze di un cupo espressionismo decadente (l’incubo dell’invecchiamento paragonato a una torta sfaldata dalla pioggia, gli zigomi ormai sporgenti come grotteschi sensori tesi a percepire il passo felpato della morte, le ragnatele talmente invadenti da assomigliare a veri e propri sudari) e squarci di introspezione psicologica tipici del romanzo postmoderno (il silenzio assordante della polvere, l’idea del morire vista come svanire da una realtà ormai vuota, simulacrale). Rafforzano questa evidenza del segno anche le citazioni pittoriche: le nature morte e gli strumenti musicali impolverati di Baschenis e di Loyeux come allegorie del trascorrere inesorabile degli anni, della falce impietosa del Tempo. E quando si rivolge al suo interlocutore, un giovane giardiniere, il protagonista ricorre alla cruda similitudine fra il lupo affamato, proteso a inseguire la preda, e la velocità del tempo simile a una freccia che sibila nell’aria, inarrestabile: «Ora tu, mio giovane giardiniere, mi dirai che il futuro invece procede in linea retta, è teso come una lancia, che per capirlo in fondo basta guardarsi attorno. Ad esempio mi diresti, prendi un po’ di vento, che, in questa stagione, viene spesso quassù sulle colline a scompaginare le carte e ad uccidere, come è successo il mese scorso, abbattendosi contro un cipresso pluricentenario, risalendo con violenza dalla valle sottostante e percorrendo il bosco con la stessa veemenza di un lupo che si lancia in mezzo al gregge. Basta l’arco di una semplice tempesta a dimostrare evidentemente l’esistenza della freccia del tempo».

Sul limite della vita
L’eterno dilemma della condizione umana su cui incombe la morte, del senso autentico dell’esistere, traspare nell’angoscioso interrogativo che tormenta il vecchio musicista protagonista del racconto, ossessionato dalla prospettiva ineluttabile dell’annientamento finale: «Come può dare senso alla vita sapere che ogni nostra conquista si sfibrerà prima o poi in una stanchezza molecolare e perenne, in uno zero assoluto di emozioni? La conquista di un’emozione o di una conoscenza è un fatto enorme e non può svanire nel nulla: se non percepibile immediatamente nella musica delle cose deve perlomeno lasciare una traccia perenne tra le notazioni del pentagramma. L’universo semplicemente non tende all’entropia e al caos ma si evolve verso l’arte, in un ordine musicale mimetico e profondo per noi ancora inconoscibile ma che esiste certamente. E la materia non è creata, è composta. L’universo non morirà perché esiste il ritmo che di questa composizione profonda è la traccia più evidente, il rumore di fondo. È come un mare che con le sue onde non arriverà mai a riva, perché essa si ritrae nel mistero più velocemente del suo progredire». Quando il cerchio esistenziale si chiude, gli ultimi pensieri del musicista narrante si placano nell’immensità del silenzio, in una nuova musica segreta che non proviene dagli strumenti, ma emana dall’anima in procinto di staccarsi dall’involucro corporeo per addentrarsi nell’ignoto: «Ma c’è qualcosa di nuovo che accade e persiste ai miei sensi un momento prima che tutto mi sfugga deragliando quasi senza dolore dai binari della coscienza, prima che anche il mio corpo si squarci come una fragile diga rovesciando la mia anima verso direzioni sconosciute: per un attimo, per la prima volta prima del buio, nei miei polmoni vuoti respira il silenzio assoluto».
In un altro dei racconti, Dissolvenza in grigio, un anziano pittore, menomato da un ictus, ritrova l’ultimo slancio di una creatività che sembrava ormai quasi atrofizzata: «L’undicesima musa è una calda ombra di seta che vedo danzare sulla parete e sul corpo di mio figlio. Preparo i miei ingredienti cromatici con l’automatismo dei momenti migliori come se non fossero passati anni enormi e pesanti sulle mie spalle, ma solo poche ore».

L’ironia sul male e la morte come trasformazione
In Musa il narrante è, invece, uno scultore rimasto vedovo, che evoca la figura della moglie, di nome Musa. Qui Bellavista getta lo scandaglio nella “cognizione del dolore” (Gadda e Montale sicuramente hanno lasciato qualche prezioso sedimento nella sua ispirazione letteraria), si addentra in una catarsi emotiva che trasfigura l’agonia di Musa in una dimensione fiabesca (la metamorfosi in “bozzolo di Fata”), quasi a voler deridere la morte, non più percepita come salto nel buio, ma come mutazione benefica in qualcosa di altro: «Quando sei entrata in coma nostro figlio ha detto che non saresti tornata. Che eri destinata ad un altro mondo e saresti tornata come fata. C’era dell’ironia, fosse stato il momento: Musa la Fata. Rimasero tutti impressionati da quel piccolo essere, così forte. Io lo sapevo che aveva ragione. L’entrata nell’assurdo, nella terra senza speranza, quella dove si affonda, era avvenuta molto prima, quando si era passati dalle parole come terapia, operazione, trattamento a quelle sempre meno comprensibili e composte come sperimentazione, infusione, carboplatino. Erano per me tanto improbabili quanto il loro esito fausto. Più erano improbabili le parole, più sorridevi. Più perdevo le mie radici aggrappate alla realtà, più mi confortavi. Più le parole mi sconvolgevano e più mi suonavano come sinonimi di una sola: fine, morte. Tu mi prendevi in giro chiedendomele come chiavi di un immaginario cruciverba. Per lui no, la tua sofferenza era come trascesa in una visione: eri un bozzolo di Fata. E ne ridevi. Sarà bello veder nascere una fata dicevi».
Anche L’equilibrio, dove l’io narrante medita con macabro sarcasmo sulla propria, inguaribile malattia, ha un sapore beffardo, tristemente derisorio verso la morte come nel pirandelliano L’uomo dal fiore in bocca. Qui le iperboli costruite da Bellavista risultano particolarmente efficaci, come una serie di scatti che letteralmente “fotografano” le sensazioni del personaggio: l’anima bucata dal male che sperpera fiotti di vita, il tumore paragonato a un fossile insediato nel cranio o a un tartufo immerso nell’humus cerebrale: «Linfoma primitivo. C’è un che di ancestrale in questa sentenza, primitivo come una condanna forse scritta nei geni di qualche mio lontano antenato, magari un pastore transumante come quelli che tremila anni fa percorrevano ogni due stagioni i meandri del fiume che sfocia al mare qui vicino venendo dalle montagne dove ora sorge la mia città. Linfoma primitivo. Da qualche settimana dunque so di avere un foro nella mia anima da cui perdo quantità crescenti di vita. In effetti ho una specie di fossile in testa, ma stranamente ciò non mi suscita immagini mostruose o angoscianti ma piuttosto parallelismi con cose preziose e nascoste. Che so io, un tartufo bianco, un minerale raro o forse un tubero profumato come quello dell’ireos».

Storia di storie sulla materia oscura e i contrasti del vivere
Ne I massi erratici, una coppia si immerge nella contemplazione della natura. Stavolta l’io narrante è la donna, legata a un uomo assai più giovane di lei, e la risalita faticosa verso un qualcosa che è «per metà sogno e per metà chimera» simboleggia l’anelito verso una ritrovata voglia di vivere e di amare, anche se dovesse durare per un solo attimo fuggente: «Il luogo è fantastico, silenzioso, di un verde sinfonico orchestrato in infinite fughe e variazioni, che prorompe da ogni angolo, crepa o anfratto e occupa ogni spazio facendo solo il gioco delle acque, azzurre e limpide, che di contrasto spiccano dalla roccia bronzea come sgargianti pupille sussurranti. Mi chiedo allora chi di noi due Dio preferisca, tu che sali agile il suo masso e fai la tua preghiera di carne, ossa, sangue e sudore o io che manifesto la mia preghiera restando qui davanti in silenzio nell’ombra come un antico orante».
Una definizione esaustiva dell’«invisibile» che Bellavista anatomizza nelle sue pagine, dense di pathos e di riferimenti alla vita quotidiana, colta nelle sue sfumature più vitali (la creazione dell’artista, la bellezza della natura) o al contrario ineluttabili (la malattia, la morte incombente), risulta ardua, complicata. Poliedrico, sfaccettato, talvolta intricato come un sentiero che si dirama in più direzioni, lo stile dell’autore possiede una musicalità ricca di dissonanze, alcune labirintiche, ma proprio per questo affascinanti. Il coinvolgimento emotivo che si intravede in controluce è sempre estremamente sobrio, controllato, anche se la ricercatezza del lessico si concede iperboli narrative ai limiti della sperimentazione. Scrutando le abissali profondità del mondo interiore, Bellavista setaccia gli angoli più riposti della psiche con sopralluoghi solo in apparenza casuali (in realtà costruiti con sapiente dosaggio degli ingredienti narrativi). I suoi personaggi mettono a nudo le loro pulsioni più segrete, come in una seduta psicoanalitica, e cercano tutti disperatamente una risposta alle tante domande che affollano il loro spirito. Del resto, l’invisibile è tale proprio perché non può essere descritto, ma solo intuito a livello quasi subliminale: anatomista che non scava nelle viscere ma nelle anime (e l’anima è, per definizione, incorporea e quindi anche invisibile e impalpabile), Bellavista ci offre stimoli intriganti sul versante della profondità introspettiva, e se talvolta il suo messaggio può apparire criptico, enigmatico, quasi sibillino, è perché tale è la realtà sulla quale lui tenta di gettare un tenue fascio di luce.
Anche la tappa successiva dell’itinerario narrativo di Bellavista, Dolceamaro (Castelvecchi, Emersioni, previsto per l’aprile 2019), è catalogabile come raccolta di racconti, ma, torniamo a ripetere, si tratta di una definizione assai riduttiva, dato che il poliedrico modo di raccontare dell’autore non può essere assolutamente recluso dentro il rigido steccato di questo o quel genere letterario: ci troviamo al cospetto di un narratore che è anche ritrattista di anime, scandagliatore dell’inconscio, esploratore di sogni, fotografo di emozioni, anestetista di dolori e cauterizzatore di ferite interiori. In La città e i suoi falsi santi rintracciamo la morte come entità immanente e imminente nel medesimo tempo, simboleggiata dal buio che si avvicina e dall’immagine desolata del guscio svuotato di luce: «La notte è un cielo che trapassa dal bianco al nero, offrendo allo sguardo un arcobaleno di grigi: devi addestrarti a catturarne le infinite sfumature, ma prima ancora devi abituarti a vederle in modo diverso. Così capirai che ogni modesta variazione di luminosità può svelare qualcosa di insolito o di importante: una porta che si apre, una tenda che scorre, un gruppo di persone che passano. In fondo ogni ombra è il guscio lasciato vuoto da una luce». Anche qui l’io narrante, analogamente all’episodio L’equilibrio in Anatomia dell’invisibile, disquisisce sugli oltraggi che la malattia ha inflitto al suo corpo, e con delirante lucidità li esamina, li soppesa, li distilla nel tentativo di decodificare gli atroci geroglifici che la violenza tellurica dell’ictus ha scolpito nella sua quotidiana esistenza: «L’anima mi è venuta fuori colando dal corpo senza che lo volessi per un fenomeno del tutto fisico. Niente ricerche spirituali, zero crisi esistenziali: peso, Momo, pura materia e puro peso. Dovrebbe essere una grande notizia, l’anima si può estrarre per pressione, basta sia sufficientemente forte, un po’ come si fa per forgiare i diamanti sintetici. È il mio corpo che improvvisamente ha acquistato troppo peso come se avessi cambiato pianeta di residenza e la forza di gravità si fosse aggrappata intorno a me come una piovra. L’ictus ha reso il mio corpo una massa cieca, una massa che è implosa, sprofondata come un gigantesco maglio sui miei pensieri estraendone una specie di olio essenziale, un percolato quasi impalpabile di cui ho imparato che a volte profuma come un’essenza, mentre a volte è orribilmente repellente come il liquido che fuoriesce da una discarica». Il dualismo fra Eros e Thanatos emerge anche dalla cornice quasi scanzonata e libertina di Sale e zucchero: Bellavista focalizza uno scenario decisamente più rasserenante, quello edonista della seduzione, ma non rinuncia a lampi di humour nero (il ripiano metallico su cui avviene l’amplesso, simile a quello di un obitorio) e a riferimenti alla religione e al peccato (le ragazze spiate in chiesa, il senso di profanazione): «Fare l’amore in un panificio è davvero un’esperienza. Mi sentivo più o meno come quando in chiesa guardavo sotto le gonne delle ragazze inginocchiate. I ripiani da lavoro freddi e lucidi in acciaio ci facevano pensare ai tavoli autoptici di una serie americana, in quei locali stretti non si trovava posto e in generale mi sembrava di violare un santuario».

Il commissario M. oltrepassa lo specchio
Concludiamo il nostro tragitto fra le pagine di Bellavista con un’opera ancora inedita, Il colore dello specchio (che, ovviamente, speriamo vivamente di vedere presto pubblicata), e proprio per questo ancora più ricca di stimoli interessanti: ricompare il commissario M., protagonista de L’ombra del caso, nella seconda indagine di una trilogia dedicata ai temi del caso, dello specchio e del labirinto per cui l’autore è ancora in fase di stesura.
Suggestivo lo spunto iconografico scelto: si tratta di un celebre dipinto del pittore romantico Johann Heinrich Füssli, intitolato L’incubo, che raffigura un demone dall’aspetto orribilmente scimmiesco appollaiato sull’addome di una splendida fanciulla addormentata. E sono demoni della mente quelli che Bellavista insegue in questo thriller atipico, sofisticato e stregonesco. Un inquietante paesaggio, di una città come sempre immaginaria, denso di sentori di minaccia, introduce il lettore in una dimensione allucinata, da fiaba nera dedicata a soli adulti: «L’eden si interrompeva bruscamente sul ciglio della collina. In quel punto scomparivano gli alberi e l’inappuntabile prato all’inglese che circondava la chiesa e il piccolo cimitero nelle sue immediate vicinanze faceva bruscamente i conti con l’avanzata della città e precipitava a ciuffi sempre più radi e secchi come una cascata smeraldina nella scarpata di pietre aguzze che scendeva quasi a perpendicolo giù nell’ombra verso i basamenti del ponte. Gli ultimi disperati ciuffi d’erba, nati al momento sbagliato nel posto sbagliato, sembravano affondare le loro radici nel nulla, traendo sostentamento solo dall’aria».
Segue un’agghiacciante scoperta in un canale abbandonato, in cui compaiono per la prima volta gli specchi presenti nel titolo del romanzo, nonché quattro cadaveri imbalsamati, dai volti alterati mediante la chirurgia estetica prima del decesso: «Ai due lati della scena, uno di fronte all’altro, campeggiavano due grossi specchi rettangolari racchiusi in due pesanti cornici di legno dorato. Gli specchi collimavano al millimetro e riflettevano l’uno l’immagine dell’altro. E quei quattro cadaveri là nel mezzo assumevano l’aspetto di una interminabile teoria di morte moltiplicata all’infinito». Spetta ancora a M. indagare su questa macabra scoperta, e il cinico disincanto sfoderato nella precedente investigazione non fa che rafforzarsi nel personaggio: «Una volta gli avevano spiegato come fare l’investigatore significasse in ultima analisi trovare soluzioni ai problemi che si presentavano sulla sua strada, ma quando quella passeggera nuvola di depressione e passività oscurava il cielo della sua anima e tutto sembrava sfuggirgli di mano, si chiedeva se non gli accadesse piuttosto il contrario, ovvero di cercare problemi da abbinare a soluzioni già impostate da altri». La tenacia di M. sarà di nuovo la sua carta vincente: e sarebbe inopportuno rivelare adesso i singoli tasselli del puzzle che Bellavista compone pagina dopo pagina per rivelare la soluzione dell’enigma dopo una sequenza incalzante di strani e terribili eventi che si dipaneranno in Scozia, Cina, Olanda e Francia. M. finisce per scoperchiare un orripilante sarcofago in cui fermentano i veleni sprigionati da odio familiare, delirio di onnipotenza, pulsioni sadiche e sete di vendetta. Il messaggio finale è magistralmente condensato in un passaggio che proietta la simbologia dello specchio nelle degenerazioni attuali di una tecnologia sempre più invasiva (e persuasiva) nel suscitare una mutazione virale di massa verso il consumismo compulsivo da zombie: «Lo specchio era un malizioso maestro che insegnava a riflettersi negli altri. Insegnava a sovrapporre agli altri la propria immagine, a capire se gli altri erano disponibili ad accettarla e a rifletterla così com’era; e a diffidare di chi non lo faceva. E la tecnologia con l’avvento degli smartphone aveva moltiplicato all’infinito quegli specchi, rendendoli anche capaci di dialogare in tempo reale con infiniti altri, dotandoli di memoria. Un infinito tunnel di specchi».

Guglielmo Colombero

 

In evidenza

Oggi al Fringe a Roma /today at the Fringe Festival in Rome

fringe festival book

 

FringeBook

 

FringeBook è una delle tante novità di quest’anno.

Una vetrina sulla nuova editoria realizzata in collaborazione con Il Seme Bianco – Controluna – Emersioni del Gruppo LIT.

Tre case editrici e un unico progetto culturale che mira a dare voce e valorizzare autori emergenti ed esordienti per dare spazio all’energia creativa e alla sperimentazione espressiva spesso trascurate da altri circuiti editoriali più paludati.

Un’idea di base in perfetta sintonia con lo spirito del Fringe Festival.

Il Seme Bianco pubblica libri di narrativa, noir, gialli, saggi, racconti, fantasy. Il filo conduttore che unisce i diversi generi è la passione per la scoperta. Scoperta di una particolare visione, di un punto di vista originale che permetta al lettore di curiosare in territori “altri”, siano essi geografici, sociali, generazionali, storici, psicologici, distopici, spirituali. Un attento lavoro di scouting permette di selezionare quei testi che raccontano una storia interessante e su questi gli editor, in sinergia con gli autori, intervengono per ottenere un alto standard qualitativo delle pubblicazioni.

Controluna pubblica libri di poesia. Una bellissima sfida editoriale per una forma espressiva che sta trovando nella contemporaneità un nuovo pubblico.

Emersioni pubblica quegli autori che si stanno affermando per la qualità e l’originalità della loro opera presso un pubblico più vasto.

Gli spazi del Mattatoio – La Pelanda, dal lunedì al sabato a partire dalle 18:00, ospiteranno una serie di incontri con gli autori, e Firma-copia.

19  gennaio 18:30 – 22.00  L’ombra del Caso Massimiliano Bellavista

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In evidenza

Entrepreneurship is enlightenment

enlightenment

On Christmas Eve light blossoms everywhere, even in the most unexpected places.  The same should be not just all around us, but in our spirits.

Entrepreneurship too has definitely something to do with light.

Entrepreneurship can a way of taking steps to find enlightenment: reconsidering the past without judgement for instance is a step in this direction, through moulding it into a repeatable experience that you can share with everyone.

But a step to enlightenment includes for sure looking for a positive environment: every good entrepreneur craves being in the kind of positive environment that creates firstly the incubator for their own growth and then for their firm.

And last but not least, looking at entrepreneurship as a road to enlightenment means being able to do other two important things.

The first is the ability to appreciate and enjoy details; while performing such an hard task as being an entrepreneur, every little light on your path is something worthy of your consideration: always accept it as a sign of confirmation that will help to keep you on your path.

The second is to cope with difficulties: where everybody sees failure, enlightenment pushes you to see endless possibilities, where everyone sees defeat, try to see understanding.  Light will lead you to come across as seeing the “silver lining” in anything. Pollyanna’s “glad game”, in the end wasn’t silly or mindless at all: teaches all of us to become aware. Aware of the potential of our optimism. If you stay tuned with light, (sometimes) magic happens.

Best wishes to all of you!

In evidenza

L’ombra del caso al Fringe Festival di Roma

L’ombra del caso: presentazione e firma copie a Roma: il 19 gennaio dalle ore 18.00 alle ore 22.30 circa.
Il FRINGE Festival si terrà al MACRO TESTACCIO DI ROMA PIAZZA ORAZIO GIUSTINANI 4

VENITE NUMEROSI!!! (una sorpresa per chi parteciperà…)

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FringeBook

FringeBook è una delle tante novità di quest’anno.

Una vetrina sulla nuova editoria creata in collaborazione con Il Seme Bianco Controluna / Castelvecchi Editore.

Gli spazi del Mattatoio – La Pelanda ospiteranno una serie di incontri, tra presentazioni di libri, firmacopie con autori e reading con ospiti prestigiosi.

Alcuni degli autori che saranno presenti al FringeBook:
Francesco Paolantoni
Nicola Vicidomini
Mario Marenco
Maria Grazia Adamo
Chiara Alaia
Arena Esther
Fabio Bacile di Castiglione
Massimiliano Bellavista
Annalisa Fabbri
Simona Bennardo
Andrea Bizzarri
Chiara Borghi
Evita Comes
Pierbruno Cosso
Claudia Dalmastri
Annalisa Fabbri
Elysa Fazzino
Gaia Mencaroni
Donatella Previtera
Lorella Natalizi
Corrado Passi
Giovanna Tatò
Marì Taverna
Marta Tedesco
Bettina Todisco
Kraus Folner
Delia Marzo
Francesco Fagioli

L'ombra del caso.Bellavista_prima_preview-1

Il programma completo degli appuntamenti sarà disponibile a breve.

 

In evidenza

Doing business through listening

orecchio

We only see what we know” said once Goethe.

In entrepreneurial terms we do often the same. But, even more important we do often “listen only to what we like”. And, if we do, the chance of remaining what we are or, even worse, to fail, is very high.

Listening is entrepreneur’s very first friend, because is a powerful way of processing ideas, intuitions, emotions. Seeing sometimes can be immediate but also misleading, whereas listening can’t. It involves time and patience.

In conducting business, you’ll be busy with almost constant change management and with lots of people pretending their expectations to be taken into consideration by your business model. Both of these processes don’t involve at first speaking/pitching, but (apparently) the contrary: developing a deep listening attitude.

There are so many obstacles between a normal and an outstanding listening skill.

Many entrepreneurs and managers see their potential stakeholder like a mere on-demand moral support and reconfirmation service: as not so careful listeners they “download” from their words and messages only what they like and assume that counts as a reconfirmations of the ideas they already have.

More difficult, challenging and useful is being ready to analyse and listen even to those facts and consideration that at a first sight clearly contradict their own theories, being also prepared to change perspective for a while in observing reality.

So if as a human being and an entrepreneur you may learn to switch perspective and use for a while somebody else’s eye, your  listening skills and techiniques  instead are probably what more deeply personal and unique there is in your own identity. Nobody can listen the way you do nor you can ever do it in somebody else’s way. Therefore is so important and can make the difference for your startup project

Skilled listening, is a way of generating and testing new business ideas: it means in facts being able to pay attention to phenomena, eliminating background noise, and get the essential feedbacks from stakeholders, summarizing the content of their word. Mirroring, but in a creative way. (Then probably the better firms are the ones that are able not to mirror but to match, compensate and sometimes even counteract stakeholder messages, but that request time and starts anyway from a good listening phase)

In the end, that’s what a business plan represents: an entrepreneur is someone that find an original way of listening and then of creatively paraphrasing customers’ messages and statements in a way that both sound inspiring and reassuring.

What is essential is invisible to the eye”…but most of the times it can be well perceived by the ears!

 

In evidenza

Is it beautiful?

 

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Is there enough beauty in your firm?

What’s the real motivation behind starting a business up nowadays?

We all know is difficult, hardly successful, time consuming and sometimes lead us to ruthlessy confront with our weaknesses.

Is probably because a real entrepreneur is somehow like an archaeologist, relentlessy looking for some hidden beauty.

Beauty tends to feel like something that must be found in special places—like museums and galleries.

There is neither a ISO standard about beauty, nor a spreadsheet. But the very first question every entrepreneur should ask himself before starting a new business is exactly this one “Is it beautiful?”

Look at the market nowadays: every firms wants to be customer-centric, adapt as much as it can to customer taste, make customer happy: only beautiful things have this ability, because beauty is talking an universal language, neither classic nor modern, able to communicate with everyone. And it may represent a promise of happiness.

Therefore beauty may represent a success- detonator for your business, being able to open the way to happiness, because happiness in the end is strictly related with interaction with beauty: observing something beautiful, experiencing something beautiful, creating something beautiful.

Keep you customer in contact with beauty, and he will be certainly happy: the big seven factors commonly addressed as happiness markers, such as wealth, family relationships, career, friends, health, freedom, and personal values will come right after.

Moreover, most of startuppers look for an efficient organization, able to offer not just effective/efficient performances, but also able to easily adapt to circumstances (and, theoretically, to almost every customer’s request) and to be memorable: there again, beauty plays a role, because what they are really looking for is a way of designing beautiful processes.

Every process in the end is a flow chart, like every painting is made of colours, but there is a slight difference between the Mona Lisa and a forgery.  So, be creative in designing your business, even with the elements that seem “cold”: beauty is contagious so even a flyer, a visiting card, am office, a presentation, a logo, a packaging may represent an important fact.

bruco farfalla

Nowadays, there are firms that created in their organizational chart the role of Chief Happiness Officer, in its essence, an HR Manager with the task of engaging employees, motivating them and raising performance levels through the enhancement of their happiness level. We believe instead that putting managers in charge of searching/pretending from their resources non just a high performance but a beautiful performance, and training people to always look for some inspiring beauty all around them, even in the small details,  is even more important.

In evidenza

Making your pitching seem larger than life

 

piching larger than life

There are endless recipes in order to make the best out of your pitching experience.

Collecting the experience of some recent pitching events with startups, let’s go back to basics.

We won’t mention strategy for today, we want just to lay low. The devil is in the detail, especially in pitching, and you shouldn’t throw away the chance of making a good deal, or just putting the right foundation of your journey to success as an entrepreneur.

There are a few simple things that really can make the difference. Details, you’ll say. But they can make the difference: you know, exactly the difference between a room where it’s all quiet and everybody is listening and instead one where public complains or simply can’t care less (even worst!).

  1. Slide show: please be clear. Drop on the slide a few concepts to talk all around, but be merciless in eliminating the not useful concepts. A few words and crystal clear (sometimes with a skilful use of facts & figures) this is all you need as to why they should remember, in order to make it stick. In facts, what public read shouldn’t be what they listen to. Slides are most of the times too crowded, simply unreadable.

  2. Infrastructure: where are you planning to pitch? It will be organized for a large public, in a small room, or just a few persons? Try to have under control beforehand parameters like: a) distance to public, b) facilities available in the room (fi. Kind of videowall) c) pitching indoor/outdoor d) presentations file format (ppt, prezi, etc). Pitching environment is important, sometimes decisive.

  3. Always respect time: is always one extra point gained for your pitching. Time keeping means respect for the audience, respect the following pitchers and…for yourself. In facts a god pitcher is a superb listener. So having time left means having time to answer questions and interact with public. People identifies (and recalls later on) much more with contents and concepts connected with Q&A moments. Because Q&A is like a game, where your ability to communicate and winging it can also be tested.

  4. The power of a word, the power of your silence: as well as for point 1, don’t fill in your speech with too many words. The time you should give to the audience to adapt to your way of thinking (especially if you are discussing some difficult/highly specialistic subject and/or about some radical innovation) is directly proportional to the magnitude of your innovation. So don’t forget to use short and clear sentences (especially if you are pitching in a noisy or crowded environment) and use frequent effect pausing (that can be used also to test the effect of your words on the audience).

  5. Talk, looking everybody in their eyes, don’t read.

  6. The next 48 hrs: if you were able to break the ice and establish promising contacts with someone, don’t forget to write an e-mail within 48 hrs, providing further information about you and/or about some of the issues you have been asked about

In evidenza

Disruption, fintech and CSR the 3 mantras for islamic finance

wibc second day

 

Convened by Middle East Global Advisors – a leading financial intelligence platform facilitating the development of knowledge-based economies in the MENASEA markets and in strategic partnership with the Central Bank of Bahrain, the forum is spurring a series of discussions focusing on “Islamic Finance & Sustainable Economic Growth in the Age of Disruption”, a theme that resonates with the conference’s steady vision to serve as a definitive check point for the global Islamic finance and banking industry.

Islamic finance may play an outstanding role in global economy especially if able to leave its comfort zone, with the help of new technologies in front end (improving customer experience) and most of all in backoffice processes.

Showcasing his support for Islamic finance entities to thrive and grow globally and stressing on the way forward for the industry, the Governor of Central Bank of Bahrain, in his address mentioned, “Islamic finance has followed a fragmented growth pattern since the start with various countries in the Middle East and South East Asia taking the lead. These country specific models have achieved reasonable success as measured by the share of Islamic finance in the respective markets. I would like to argue, however, that the reduced pace of growth suggests that we cannot hope for a new growth paradigm while maintaining the status quo. If the developments in the conventional finance industry are any indicator, it is reasonable to expect that regional and global cooperation can open new doors for the Islamic finance sector. The magic of such global cooperation works when some pre-requisites are in place, namely, leadership, standardization, good governance and risk management & compliance.”

“Shari’ah standards, accounting standards, prudential standards and best market practices, all need to be developed for the Islamic finance industry with the global audience in mind. AAOIFI has been doing excellent work on Shari’ah and accounting standards while Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has developed risk management and capital adequacy standards which conform to global best practices. International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) has made valuable contribution towards standardizing money and capital market contracts as well as financing contracts. The recent endorsement by the IMF of the IFSB’s proposed core principles for Islamic finance regulation and their assessment methodology for financial sector assessments is a great news for the global acceptance of Islamic finance. What we need now is to convince regulators and market players to adopt AAOIFI, IFSB and IIFM standards in their respective markets”, added Mr. Maraj stressing on the need for standardization to enable global growth.

Commenting on the changing face of financial services due to the advent of digitization, Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, Head of Financial Product Development Centre, Islamic Research & Training Institute, Islamic Development Bank in his keynote address stated, “The size of e-commerce is about three times the size of the Islamic financial industry. This means that there is an ample room for the industry to invest and to participate in the digital revolution. Moreover, e-commerce will be a very good channel to manage the liquidity of Islamic banks. This is a challenge that has long been waiting for a solution. E-commerce seems to be a promising sphere. With the fintech revolution, online sales can seamlessly meet the requirement of Islamic finance. If Islamic banks invest in this area, they will be able potentially to reap lucrative returns from a growing large sector, manage their liquidly efficiently, and participate in real economic growth and development.”

The conference also played host to an exclusive interview of H.E. Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive, Bahrain Economic Development Board, which focused on emerging projects and financing, the value added tax which will be implemented in the Kingdom in addition to the benefits and risks of digitization.

H.E. Khalid Al Rumaihi discussed the Government’s integral role in supporting the continuous development of the local economy; encouraging constant collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as creating an ecosystem that is conductive to the success of startups and entrepreneurs, in order to ensure the Kingdom maintains its lead at the forefront of its competitors in digital transformation across industries. Mr. Al Rumaihi also mentioned the key milestones achieved by the GCC countries during the past three decades, and how they have employed the bilateral cooperation as a factor to promote brotherly countries and unite efforts to succeed in the initiatives and plans set in this regard.

Ahead of the panel session on economic growth & sustainable finance, Adnan Ahmed Yousif, President & Chief Executive, Al Baraka Banking Group, said, “The World Islamic Banking Conference, has, over the last 25 years, established itself as a key global forum for in-depth discussions on the facets of the continued global growth in Islamic finance. The Islamic Financial Services industry has shown tremendous progress as one of the fastest growing asset classes in the world. The industry continues to expand in many emerging and advanced markets and introduce new standards that should further help develop products and attract investors. The industry’s global appeal continues to grow and attract remarkable attention, including from the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. In order to for Islamic banks to expand their geographical footprints further over the coming years, they must be able to compete more effectively and tackle a number of key challenges facing the industry, including delivering cost efficiencies, building greater talent pools, enhancing corporate governance; leveraging digitization, delivering innovative products that meet genuine market needs; and ensuring risk management systems are up to par. For the Islamic finance industry to build a solid foundation for the next phase of international growth, the industry must undergo transformation in a number of key areas. The 25th Anniversary World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC 2018) is a key platform for industry leaders to put a spotlight on the challenges, innovations, latest developments and technological solutions essential for further growth of the global Islamic banking and finance sector.”

The conference also saw a Keynote Address by Aziz Elkhyari, Head of Business Development, Casablanca Finance City Authority who spoke about Fostering the development of Islamic finance in Africa and the role of financial centers. This was followed by the joint launch of Casablanca Finance City (CFC)-Thomson Reuters Report – Islamic Finance in Africa: The upcoming frontier that provides an industry landscape of Islamic finance in African countries with an overview of the industry development in 5 African countries including Morocco.

The conference proved to be the ideal launchpad for a number of key financial intelligence reports and also saw the launch of The Global Report on Islamic Finance – 2018: The role of Islamic finance in financing long-term investments by Islamic Development Bank that highlights how Islamic finance could help mobilize long-term funding for development programs.

Other key highlights from the day include the panel discussions focusing on economic growth and sustainable finance, the Fintech Panel on the Digitization Journey of a Global Bank and the Region Round Table focusing on Africa. Leading industry experts analyzed the challenges at hand and focused on coming up with effective suggestions with the ultimate aim of developing a convergence roadmap for the Islamic Finance industry at large.

In evidenza

25th WIBC officially kick-started: key insights at the IIFM Awareness Seminar

WIBC 5

 

The 25th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) officially kick-started with a stimulating IIFM Awareness Seminar that covered a broad spectrum of issues, focused on entrenching transparency in advancing sustainable growth in the Islamic Financial Market, on the 26th of November at the ART Rotana Hotel, Amwaj Islands, Bahrain.

With a packed audience of 300 delegates, the 9th annual IIFM pre-conference seminar saw an insightful opening address by Khalid Hamad Abdulrahman Hamad, Executive Director of Banking Supervision, Central Bank of Bahrain and Chairman of IIFM, who discussed IIFM’s 3 Year Strategic Plan (2017 – 2020) and its new initiatives being undertaken in collaboration with other international bodies such as the two Participation Agreements for Islamic Trade Finance that will be launched soon jointly with Washington based Bankers Association of Finance & Trade (BAFT) as well as the master agreements for gold trading being considered with UK based World Gold Council and London Bullion Market Association.

Stressing on the growing need for widespread adoption of standards, Mr. Hamad said, “IIFM has gained much credibility and reached a stage of maturity with sound achievements to date, however, there is still a burning need to get its standards to be used more actively by wider market players which can only happen if there is strong endorsement from regulators, particularly those in Islamic banking markets across GCC and Asia.”

The opening address was followed by an overview of IIFM’s Shari’ah-Compliant Financial Documentation and Product Confirmation Standards. The rest of the day ensued with thought-provoking sessions covering the most pressing issues affecting Islamic financial markets like Trade Finance and the IIFM-BAFT Master Participation Agreements; Developments in the Global Sukuk Market and Gold related Shari’ah-Complaint Documentation & Products Standardization Possibilities.

The seminar concluded with a critical discussion on the latest developments in global financial markets that saw an assessment of Benchmark Rate Reform and the preparedness levels of Islamic financial institutions. The session also discussed the need for digitization of Islamic financial contracts and products and the challenges which Islamic banks have to overcome particularly in adopting smart contracts.

The seminar saw a host of critical insights unfold from Industry Leaders comprising Ijlal Ahmed Alvi, Chief Executive Officer, IIFM; Hammad Hassan, Managing Director, Bank ABC Islamic and Group Head of Islamic Banking, Bank ABCAndrew Naylor, Director-Central Banks and Public Policy, World Gold CouncilLilian Le Falher, Executive Manager, Head of Treasury, FI & Capital Markets, Kuwait Finance House (Bahrain)Omar Mustafa Ansari, Acting Secretary General, AAOIFIMian Nazir, Chief Executive Officer, Dar Al Sharia; Habib Motani, Partner, Clifford Chance LLP; Dr. Hatim El-Tahir, Director, Audit & Assurance, Deloitte & Touche – Middle East among others.

 

In evidenza

The next little thing

 

mattoni

Probably everybody knows that story about a guy who meets three builders on their lunch break. “What are you doing today?” he asks the first. “I’m putting brick after sodding brick on top of another,” complains the first. “What are you doing today?” he asks the second. “I’m building a wall,” replies the second. But the third builder instead replies: “I’m building a cathedral!”

Clearly, the encouragement between the lines is that you really need to get out of the so-called “Doorway Effect” and that a process as well as an action needs to be thought of at multiple levels if it has to be successful.

So that means that the first two builders were wrong?  We can answer by saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”: if you don’t start putting (efficiently) a brick on top of another there will be no cathedral at all.

As strange as it may sound, in the real world the same person can’t exist in two times and places, but firm can

                     .the next little thing

If you look at the big picture, suddenly the cathedral will appear in your eyes. Then probably you’ll be inclined to concentrate with the following things:

benchmarking: how the other cathedrals were built?  How do they look like?  Which is the most beautiful?

innovation: what’s next? Real innovation means projecting a new cathedral or instead thinking about a breakthrough building something completely different of even more ambitious?

If instead you are one of the first two builders, welcome in a completely different world. Welcome in the world of incremental innovation. In such a case innovation is about:

benchmarking: mostly an internal matter. Who’s the most efficient builder? Who, between the subjects performing task similar/equal to mine, is adopting an approach that can be transformed into a best practice?

improving the process: how can I put a brick on top of another quicker (and better) than ever before?  Can I think of adopting some slightly different material?  Can I reduce errors/waste?

innovation:  mostly incremental.  The most widespread kind of innovation. It means an innovation that concerns an existing product, service, process, organization or method whose performance has been significantly enhanced or upgraded.

Here is the point. In your organization you need to frame both things: both the brick and the cathedral. Looking for disruption will be an healthy and wonderful bet on a different future, but in the end every great innovation will become routine and incremental innovation is the only thing that will allow your firm to stay ahead in business. And this  matters for every firm and business environment, not just for low-wage countries or ow- and medium-technology industries or mature firms.

Yes, because incremental innovation is important, being largely the dominant form of innovation.

In facts, blue ocean is some kind of unicorn. Rounded on the side of caution 90% of innovations is like that: a small continuous process where innovation is always in the next brick, or wall. In facts, buliding a new cathedral can be challenging, being disruptive can be fashionable and sound positively ambitious too, but at the other side its a very complex process, rather than a discrete event, and generally implies a sophisticated and risky process

And so what?

There are anyway some typical warnings to be taken into account:

Is your firm sensitive to incremental innovation? This is strictly related to giving the chance to your team to exchange their experience, concentrate on product/service specification, register/formalize those small improvements

Does your firm reward incremental innovation?  This not just about providing training and know how but also being ready to timely transform a series of positive experiences and practices into best practices, and into a continual advance in change management process,

-does your firm look for innovation hidden in (apparently) daily /routine processes and practices?

matrioska

How is R&D managed inside your company? What about  its objectives and priorities?

That will be a useful exercise: from time to time, asking your team about the way they see their job. Are they taking the brick/wall or cathedral side?

 

In evidenza

The 3 E issues: Islamic finance, startuppers and a common paradigm.

Lets’ look at facts & figures.

Reading the latest available reports and figures on development (and related issues) of islamic finance from the point of view of entrepreneurs and young startuppers across the world a few facts are clear.

First of all there are facts and requests coming from this specific entrepreneurial and financial environment that are surprisingly similar or even equal to the requests of new entrepreneurs not belonging to that area.

The most frequent issues that young Islamic entrepreneurs are facing seem related to the following subjects:

  1. Bridging the skills gap, through specific training both inside startups and within the stakeholders providing services to entrepreneurs (such as banks, consultants, incubators etc);
  2. Developing leadership programs, identifying potential leaders;
  3. Creating the conditions for benchmarking inside and outside its own cultural sphere;
  4. Rising the service-quality bar: 5 characteristics are the most appreciated/requested good, specialized, updated, integrated on demand services for startup and generally speaking, entrepreneurship;
  5. Create start-up hubs, mentorship schemes for entrepreneurs; allocate dedicated advisors within institutes to help develop ideas, finance scholarships for entrepreneurs and nurture entrepreneurship and social enterprise as a part of CSR;
  1. Make CSR not just a paper producing activity or simply a report, but a chance of creating value through enhancing the social impact of an entrepreneurial idea;
  2. Dialogating with stakeholders and finding the right tools and environments to communicate clearly and effectively with them, “certifying” at the same time their real interest in investing in a firm/startup;
  3. Combining finance and entrepreneurship, finding always the ideal financial product/service product/service for the present state of development of a firm;
  4. Dialogating with academic world and connecting with research programs.

The truth is that we can say almost the same thing for the rest of the world. The same problems affect startuppers  with every kind of background and are generally speaking related to the following categories that you can be summed up as the “3 E”:

ENVIRONMENT: finding a smart, virtual and physical environment, where a business can grow and the develop/generate values accordingly to its entrepreneurial culture

ENTRENEURSHIP: transforming an idea in an autonomous, balanced and self-organizing entity able to identify and interact with the external environment

EQUITY: acquiring the best financial culture able to make the most efficient use of resources in order to timely accelerate, boost and stabilise startup growth.

So, it really looks like that every startup is carrying some specific financing, cultural, and social issues because, in the end, every new entrepreneurs is introducing somehow newly formed DNA into the system. This DNA makes the startupper look for a specific and sometimes unique combination of the 3 E.

Exactly like it happens for many ethnic, migrant or community startups.

So, for those who are daily trying to provide startuppers with right services, will be very important to consider that probably every newly established company is to a certain degree a kind of “stranger” into the business environment, an unknown variable sometimes not easy to read.

In evidenza

The Naked Pitcher presents: LAB-ON-CHIP & BIO-DATA ANALYTICS. A new event.

lab on chips and biodata

Recent interdisciplinary scientific developments and new technologies in the near future will allow, thanks to new diagnostic approaches, to abandon a system where prevention is sporadic and medical intervention is conceived right after the onset of a disease and move on to a new preventive, predictive, personalized model with routinary, constant on going controls.  We would then move from a structured model to treat the diseases to a structured proactive model to prevent the onset of diseases, which would allow all citizens to enjoy those social rights enshrined by the Constitution, specifically the right to health, while reducing global expenditure on health.

 

 

 

Thanks to Dr. N. Mastrolia for his special  effort on this field. The Naked Pitcher takes part and supports the Eleatiche Study & Reseach Centre on Possible Futures and Scenarios “Eleatiche – Centro Studi sui Futuri Possibili” .  

locandina napoli chips and biodata

In evidenza

Mismanagement 2: some further antidote

 

 

torre d'avorio

 

Due to the interest on the previous article (Mismanagement) here some further clarification and (hopefully) useful “mismanagement predictors

  1. Communication: many ISO standards and reporting guidelines too are concerned with concepts like “stakeholder engagement”/ “communicating with stakeholder”. Make sure that managers into your organization do not operate in vacuum: management is certainly made of a personal vision and some important beliefs, but is mainly about keeping a constant contact with reality, and performing as many “reality checks” as possible. Therefore, in this field, the sooner the better; introducing and using such standard as ISO 9001:2015; ISO/IEC 20000 and guidance or reporting guidelines such as ISO 26001 or GRI (https://www.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx) forces even the most reluctant manager to have an (official) dialogue with representatives of the “real “ world. To hear their voice, to answer their questions, makes more difficult mismanagement and unrealistic or just selfish behaviour to take place. Keep also in mind that the above mentioned standards are based on a widespread concept of sustainability: it means getting used to evaluate managers not just for their immediate results, but also based on how sustainable those results are;
  2. Training: training means empowering people; it means also knowledge sharing: being most of the companies nowadays based on knowledge, having in place an advanced training program is certainly a powerful message. It means that your company is creating the preconditions for reducing information asymmetry between different organizational levels, and, most important, the preconditions for supporting change through the creation of a new (internal) generation of managers. Generally speaking, organizations that support individual change show aòso a much better overall organizational readiness to change at all levels;
  3. Permeability: sometimes, an organization loses the capacity of timely transmitting the right signals through all the different organizational levels, like it happens in a body when nerves get damaged. That equals to slowly insulating managers in an ivory tower. Mismanagement can therefore occur as a result of a not intentional behaviour, but instead of an organizational pathology that drastically reduces firm’s sensitivity for changing environmental conditions;
  4. Customers: in many innovative business models, customer is CEO, being able to determine product/service changes, influence company’s marketing and communication, etc. A possible antidote to mismanagement is to renovate from time to time the extensive survey on “customer’s needs/voice” that surely every founder performed at the very beginning of its entrepreneurial journey. Just because you were once able to listen carefully to your customers, it doesn’t necessarily mean that now it has to be always the other way around (customers passively adopting your smart product/services);
  5. Suppliers: yes, suppliers are very important partners. Sometimes even irreplaceable. But suppliers are firm too, and exactly like clusters and networks of firms can suffer the effects of mismanagement resulting in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome that discourages critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints. So from time to time, experiencing and testing new approaches, experimenting new partners starting from non-critical processes can provide to the management an healthy internal benchmark. In fact, not always relying on the usual solutions is a good antidote to mismanagement too.
  6. Organizational climate: Yes, is very important to enjoy a positive organizational climate. Everybody knows that. But a two things should be stressed more than others:

a)The importance of a mistake. The ability of management to address and communicate with examples, because it seems that especially managers are afraid to set the right example by openly admitting they did something wrong (not understanding that there is much more to learn from a mistake than from a success), but if they do, they develop antibodies to mismanagement and so does the organizations they lead, because they are permitting a person to do things incorrectly or make errors of judgment without consequences, empowering themselves and learning how to take and handle risks. Mismanagement occurs where and when an organization is not taking risks anymore;

b) Organizational Forgiveness: it’s an important antidote, because it means being able to accept conflict, accept different point of views, leading the organization objectively and without taking revenge on those standing on the other side of an issue and opposing a change.

In evidenza

Mismanagement

virus

Mismanagement is a virus affecting all kind of organizations, in every state of their growth. Mismanagement is a real plague of entrepreneurship,

Mismanagement can be seen as a degeneration of leadership, when leaders stop producing added value for their firms and literally feed on their own organizations, sometimes causing its death.

Why is that?  There isn’t probably a specific reason, but a combination of many causes.

Bringing competition inside the organization instead that concentrating outside is one of them; excess of self-confidence is another: just because once you were  successful, that doesn’t make you all of a sudden a world’s expert on everything. (Know one’s limit is the key for success: as a manager and leader you should know that is exactly there, reaching the limits of your abilities, where you should find partners and teammates ready to help you integrating your skills)

Mismanagement is often connected with the trend of over-simplifying problems; not considering possible alternatives and assuming that compromise in necessarily negative.

As a matter of fact, a good manager, a leader, is one able to recognize a mistake, and transform it into an opportunity of improvement: sometimes instead is easier to blame someone else for your problems, bring into play “external factors” for misfortune (Yes, Napoleon used to ask, before promoting someone at his service “I know he’s a good general, but is he lucky?”, but I think that a manager should mainly be architects of their company’s fortune).  This is very often associated with ambiguous internal communication/talking company’s jargon: then communication within the company is meant only for initiated members, excluding the rest of the world.

Finding/inventing an (imaginary) enemy” is a common strategy adopted when motivation or enthusiasm is on the wane, but this is good only if we are discussing about healthy competition. Healthy competition provides motivation but this is not the case if a leader is constantly managing the firm against something or someone looking for destruction rather than construction.

Somehow this is about self-deception; mismanagement uses information asymmetry inside the organization to focus the attention of middle management and human resources towards fake targets; it’s always easier to deceive ourselves than someone else.

But the “find an enemy” syndrome attacks the organization too: mismanagement brings into the organization the culture of suspicion, an overall and contagious lack of confidence in each other’s skills, and this is sometimes able to jeopardise company’s ability to take decisions; Due to this general feeling of mistrust is easier:

  • Taking too quick decision, trusting only your own faction opinion;
  • Deciding not to decide, when in doubt that a certain decision might be favourable to “internal enemies” (the other faction);
  • Looping the decision process

When an organization breaks up into factions, you are missing the big picture: instead always act (professionaly) local but feel global: give the best highly specialized contribute to your company, but never miss the big picture. Just because you’ve got done properly your piece of the puzzle it doesn’t mean your job is over. Final success depends also on how conscious and respectful you are of the colleague who’s in charge of putting the last piece.

Let’s put this way: “Don’t ask what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company”!!!

Mismanagement has sometimes huge consequences:

  1. Improper use of resources;
  2. Bad (or even impossible) strategic planning;
  3. improper use of datas;
  4. Loss of company’s identity .

Here a test to perform in order to avoid mismanagement practice and discover its early symptoms:

  1. Is internal training efficient? There are enough investments on this process? And in measuring effectiveness of delivered training?
  2. Management invest and improves internal communication? How long it takes for bottom-up communication? Hoe many “filters” there are? (f.i. is possible that a message/suggestion form the base reaches the attention of CEO?)
  3. Is company investing in R& D as it happened before? What happens next to projects? Is the time to market of relevant ones in line with the past?
  4. Is management conducting routine company’s organizational climate surveys?
  5. Is company measuring (when possible in many active and alternative ways) customer satisfaction and listening to the “voice of the customer”?
  6. How you will define overall company’s transparency?
  7. Is turnover trend under control in your company?
  8. From time to time, is company performing surveys on suppliers/evaluating possible new ones?
  9. Concerning communication and decisional processes: is possible to define and to keep under control an overall “crossing time”, expressed as time needed for an information to be delivered crossing all company’s organizational and decisional levels or for an authorization to be given to someone into the company? Is this time proportional to the importance of a certain decision?
  10. Is your organization feeling comfortable with the concept of recognizing a mistake? F.i. is taking care of internal and external claims? There is space for submitting complaints or simple suggestions? Is internal communication using only words like “success”/“challenge”/ or also words like the concepts of “issue”; “difficulties”, “experience”; “challenge”? Sometimes apologize is an act of courage and true leadership.

In evidenza

The Naked Pitcher at the “25th World Islamic Banking Conference”

We are glad to attend this important event we the aim to give also in this field a contribute in facilitating strategic opportunities,  and connecting international market players, academic and research world, startuppers and institutional investors

In the coming weeks there will be more interesting contents and full coverage during the event days. We also would like to give a special thanks to the organization for making this possible.

25th World Islamic Banking Conference Announces 4th Series of WIBC Leaderboard to Foster Global Islamic Banking

WIBC 5

Top performing Islamic Financial Institutions from Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Turkey, UAE and Saudi Arabia are vying for the WIBC Awards recognizing the Best Performing Banks at the Global and Regional level.

Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, 22 October 2018: A testament to its vision of advancing the global Islamic banking industry, the 25th World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) will continue in its endeavor of enhancing the performance and quality of key Islamic financial institutions by means of the 4th WIBC Leaderboard.

Held under the patronage of HRH Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain and with the strategic partnership of the Central Bank of Bahrain, the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) will take place on November 26th, 27th & 28th at the ART Rotana Hotel in Amwaj Islands, Kingdom of Bahrain. A key highlight of the three-day forum will be the annually anticipated WIBC Performance Awards 2018, whereby industry leaders will be recognized for their excellence at the Gala Dinner on November 27, and the nominees of which have been already announced and can be viewed at: https://wibc2018.com/awards

Introduced in 2015 and forming the basis of the annual WIBC Performance Awards is the WIBC Leaderboard: a first-of-its-kind comprehensive assessment tool aimed at helping the Islamic finance industry to critically appraise the challenges and growth opportunities that lie ahead.

The WIBC Leaderboard ranks Islamic banks as compared to their key competitors at the global and regional levels, based on various robust financial and governance metrics. These metrics comprise: Financial Stability (Total Capital and Tier 1 Capital Ratios, Loan-Loss Reserves (LLR) to Gross Loans Ratio, Loan-Loss Reserves (LLR) to Non-Performing Loans (NPL) Ratio, Non-Performing Loans (NPL) to Gross Loans); Financial Performance (Return on Average Assets (ROAA), Return on Average Equity (ROAE), Cost-to-Income Ratio (CIR), Assets Growth) and Governance and Social Responsibility (Financial Disclosure Index, CSR Disclosure).

In addition to the individual metrics, banks will be ranked on the basis of an aggregate score, which forms the apex of the WIBC Leaderboard. This aggregate index holistically ranks entities on the basis of the aforementioned financial and governance measures. The data employed in creating the assessment framework has been sourced from the ICD Thomson Reuters Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI) and Orbis Bank Focus.

Top performing Islamic financial institutions will be vying for 2 categories of the awards: One Global Award and Three Regional Awards for each of the following world regions: GCC, Asia and Levant. Currently, top performing Islamic banks vying for the Global Award include: Kuwait Finance House (Kuwait); Al Rajhi Bank (Saudi Arabia); Jordan Islamic Bank (Jordan); Kuwait International Bank (Kuwait); Boubyan Bank (Kuwait); Ahli United Bank (Kuwait); Warba Bank (Kuwait); PT Bank Syariah BNI (Indonesia), Maybank Islamic Berhad (Malaysia) & Dubai Islamic Bank (UAE).

Introduced as part of the 2nd WIBC Leaderboard, The Governance & CSR Award (Corporate Social Responsibility) will be a key award constituting this year’s WIBC Performance Awards, the scores of which will be aggregated as per the CSR Index and the Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI). The Governance and Social Responsibility variables are extracted from the Thomson Reuters database. The innovative 25th edition will also see an Award for the Fastest Growing Bank (in terms of asset growth) to recognize an Islamic financial institution that has expanded rapidly over the last year.

Confirmed partners at The 25th WIBC so far include: Casablanca Finance City Authority, Ithmaar Bank, Khaleeji Commercial Bank (KHCB), World Gold Council, Bank ABC, Bank of Khartoum-International, First Energy Bank, Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB), DWF, Al Baraka Banking Group, Thomson Reuters, Path Solutions, Moody’s Investor Service, Emerico, The Perth Mint, WTS Dhruva Consultants, Baker McKenzie, Eiger Trading, Department for International Trade – British Embassy Bahrain, DDCAP, Fitch Ratings, Sadad & GPS.

The theme for the 25th WIBC – “Islamic Finance & Sustainable Economic Growth in the Age of Disruption” is in line with the conference’s steady vision to serve as a compass for the global Islamic finance and banking industry, with the three-day forum expected to draw participation from over 1300 global industry leaders, policy makers, innovators and stakeholders, all focused on generating breakthrough insights that help navigate through the complexities of the global financial system.

To stay updated on the happenings of the WIBC Performance Awards, visit: https://wibc2018.com/awards

To find out more about the 25th World Islamic Banking Conference, visit: www.wibc2018.com

Join the global conversation on Twitter at: @WIBC2018 #WIBC2018 #25YearsOfWIBC

ABOUT MIDDLE EAST GLOBAL ADVISORS

Connecting markets with intelligent insights & strategic execution since 1993

 Middle East Global Advisors (MEGA) is the leading gateway connectivity and intelligence platform to Islamic finance opportunities in the rapidly developing economic region that stretches all the way from Morocco in the West to Indonesia in the East- The Middle East North Africa Southeast Asia (MENASEA) connection. For 25 years, our exclusive focus on achieving business results for the Islamic finance industry has enabled us to create significant value for the leading players in the Islamic banking, finance and investment markets.

 Visit us at www.meglobaladvisors.com

 ABOUT WORLD ISLAMIC BANKING CONFERENCE (WIBC)

The World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) has established its reputation as the world’s largest and most influential gathering of international Islamic banking and finance leaders for over two decades. With the strategic support of the Central Bank of Bahrain, the next generation WIBC will focus on transforming Islamic finance into a global proposition by facilitating strategic opportunities, addressing systematic challenges and connecting international market players and institutional investors to the industry’s catalysts, thought leaders, partners and institutions.

To find out more, visit www.wibc2018.com

© Press Release 2018

 

In evidenza

Starting up, integrating up

COMMUNITY STARTUP

Is entrepreneurship a facilitator to cultural and social integration?

Lately, while talking with a friend who recently started up an ethnic newco in the food distribution industry, he suggested that young entrepreneurs, especially if established in foreign countries as a migrant business should make an extensive use of funding/crowdfunding platforms not just for mere financial reasons but also in order to accomplish a social and a cultural task.

Is difficult to get investors to know about us, to soundly evaluate our own specific needs and values and overcome their scepticism especially when our idea is designed mainly to serve local communities or minorities” he said.  Therefore he added “with my success I can produce value for my community and beyond, but even with my failure I’ll spread my cultural and entrepreneurial values and I’ll get more and more people and potential investor to know and appreciate them; I’ll make it easier for myself and for future entrepreneurs like me”

The same happens for some interesting Muslim startups reported troubles in tapping capital sources from investors that can fully understand Shariah rules and appropriately value their markets.

This sometimes impairs value creation within the territory where those startups act, because they just don’t have some appropriate partners providing services overthere.

Entrepreneurship therefore can represent a way to overcome problems and favourite integration, and forums, angel investors, mainstream VC and equity-based financing can probably in this case boost this process much better than other traditional financing channels.

And this is important, because entrepreneurship is inherently a growth, transcultural and transborder factor for society, because for its nature believes in value creation, communication with an always larger base of consumers, growth through partnership etc etc

We all know, 9 times out of 10 starting up isn’t successful at all. What we do with this stories? We learn from failure, is the most common answer. For ethnic, migrant community and minority entrepreneurship probably there is an extra value and meaning to learn, even from their stories of failure, and this extra value to be learned is about starting a “mind the gap/close the gap” process.

Investing in a migrant or minority startup represents in facts a higher risk from investor’s perspective. There is a cultural gap to overcome. Their “traditional” questions to every startupper are:

  1. Is this idea viable/feasible?
  2. Will it be enough to overcome customer laziness?

For a community or an ethnic startup, the typical additional questions are:

  1. Are we culturally prepared to understand the value of this proposal
  2. Is this consistent and compatible with our rules and regulations
  3. Is this niche-market big enough for getting the expected reward?
  4. Will it ever be bigger (will this product of service ever become a mainstream one)?

…and sometimes these additional questions are likely to completely stop the process.

However, not always this way to think is correct as well as not necessarily an ethnic startup represents a riskier activity. For the same reasons, serving a market niche is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if that niche gives the access attractive, uncontested blue ocean and the proposed idea is really innovative.

Therefore, using a mainstream funding platform, a crowdfunding platform etc can represent a way to make it easier for you and for the future entrepreneurs who will accept the challenge, because this tools generally give to the ethnic, migrant and minority startuppers the possibility to tell their stories, exchange their point of views with other entrepreneurs, to get investors more familiar with their business views, with the values they are trying  to carry in their business plans.

Tell always your story, then!!! And, most of all, the difficulties you experienced.

Every entrepreneur should get the same chances of presenting their idea and of being objectively evaluated for the value of their plans.

To make this chance of integration trough entrepreneurship something more than a dream, such a kind of startups certainly need more than others:

  • To have a special assistance on their business plan, not providing generic models but taylor-made ones;
  • to get some clear specifications regarding the different legal and juridical forms for a start ‐up, and related issues i.e. from fiscal responsibility point of view;
  • to gain the access to funding platforms able to give space for their stories and connecting them properly with potential investors;
  • to get incubation services able to encourage a cross fertilization process between entrepreneurs sharing different ideas and cultures, avoiding isolation and dangerous monocultural approaches;
  • to obtain the access to training services to acquire an appropriate financial culture and the possibility to adopt suitable financial products.
In evidenza

The secrets behind a product specification

What is a Product Specification?

Is what makes you stay tuned with customers’ problem.

The official way to define sounds something like: “a document that provides critical defining information about a product and a full set of requirements; it may include images that visually illustrate the product and note distinguishing characteristics”

inizio target

So product specification is what makes you sure to hit the target with your business idea.

You simply cannot wait for customer request. They will be:

 

THE MIST

generic (what your customer is telling you likely will be reported to your competitors too)

misleading because of information asymmetries (f.i. about new technologies they don’t know/use)

chaotic and full with expressed but also with unexpressed/implicit requirements (obvious for them, not necessarily for you!!!)

not innovative (customer is lazy and used to what is already standing in the market, you are the innovator!!!!)

So to get out of the “customer mist” you need to be proactive and anticipate customer requests; and in order to do that you have to:

write down a one- page product specification (there are endless models on the net to use for this purpose)

ask different people with different roles in your company to do the same exercise.

You will soon realize that also in your company there are many ways to see and describe the product and to write down its requirements, its structure, the operations/processes behind it.

TRE VISIONI

 

Don’t get scared and work as a team, constantly asking yourself:

  • What are we building and why/for who?

  • What kind of customer problem we have in mind to fix?

  • What we want to achieve? How the final product will look like?

  • How we can reasonably and reliably measure its success?

You’ll then realize that your ideas will finally start to converge. Welcome back to your company’s purest pirit: its vision!!!

CONVERGENZA

Having a product specification (the sooner, the better) in the early stage of firm development will help you to:

-reducing costs and investements;

-establishing a moreclear and productive relationship with partners (f.i supply chain, outsourcers, etc);

-reducing risks;

– getting quickly and efficiently customer attention and trust

-having a guarantee of customer satisfaction

 

…AND FEEDBACK!!!

inizio target

Yes because, through the specification, you can start a continuous process of improvement and optimization, getting precise and punctual feedback by partners and customers.

In evidenza

L’ombra del caso, prossimi appuntamenti

L'ombra del caso.Bellavista_prima_preview-1

 

Le prossime presentazioni:

  • Milano 19-10-2018 posti esauriti
  • Roma,   09-11-2018 ore 18.00 Bookstore del Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Via Milano 15/17, all’angolo con via Nazionale
  • Roma Fiera nazionale della piccola e media editoria di Roma (5-9 dicembre 2018)
  • Fringe Festival di Roma (7-28 gennaio 2019)

Grazie a tutti per il supporto e gli incoraggiamenti ricevuti!!!

 

 

In evidenza

How to make powerful investor pitches

 

Elevator pitch

I recently attended several investor pitch competitions, and came away from them all feeling that none of the pitches gave me what I’d need to be interested as a potential investor.  So, I began to think about what might be the elements of the best, most powerful investor pitch.

I spoke with a selection of Angel Investors to learn what they look for in an investor pitch, and what causes them to want to look more deeply into a potential investment.  The following elements are those that were mentioned by all of the investors I spoke to, and so I feel are the elements that not only attract stakeholders, but represent the most powerful investor pitches.

Value Proposition.  This is a term in business parlance that most everyone talks about like they know what they are talking about, but generally get wrong.  A simple, clear definition, and the way it should be discussed in an investor pitch, goes like this.  Every problem is an opportunity for a creative solution.  So first, describe what the problem (the opportunity) is.  Now, all opportunities have a current solution.  So next, tell your audience what the current solution is.  Because yours is a better approach, tell them next what your solution is and why it’s better, faster or cheaper.  Follow this up with what you need to execute.  Make this a punchy, staccato overall statement that doesn’t take more than two minutes to present, and at the end of those two minutes the investor completely understands what you are doing.

Management Team.  Investors don’t invest in products or services.  They invest in people, because it’s people who make the business happen…or not.  So, sell the management team as full-time, committed and passionate people who intend to make this business happen.  Don’t forget to also discuss the team’s collateral resources, like a value-add Board of Advisors, who can bring an immense amount of credibility to the overall management team.

unicorn

Market.  Investors are attracted to large, primary markets, although niche markets can be interesting because they often represent an underserved audience.  Investors like markets that are growing because it’s easier to enter a growing market.  Because market share is a zero-sum game, when a new company enters a market and begins to get sales, it is accumulating share, and that share is coming at the expense of another competitor.  But, if the market is growing, that competitor’s sales may actually be increasing.  If that’s the case, he may not take immediate action to thwart your efforts.  And, that all you need: time – time to accumulate strength so that you can more effectively respond when he does come after you.

Financials.  Frankly, financials are much less important than most people think.  Investors know that the management team doesn’t have a crystal ball and the numbers are no more than a projection.  However, they do have to be addressed.  What investors will take notice in though is a management team’s discussion of a clear path to profitability and positive cash flow.  That tells investors that the financial projections have been thought about and might be more than a simple guess.

Technology.  If technology is involved, and it generally is with today’s new companies, describe the technology as both proprietary and protected.  Software, for example, can be protected by trade secret.

Finally, enthusiasm is infectious.  Said another way, there’s absolutely no way that you can get a potential investor enthusiastic about the prospects of your new company unless you first are enthusiastic yourself.  So, include these five things in your investor pitch and exude passion and enthusiasm, and you will have a much more powerful investor pitch than any I listened to at the competitions I attended.

William Rossi is Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida, having taught at both in the undergraduate and graduate Entrepreneurship Program there for 15 years.  Prior to teaching, Professor Rossi initially held several senior level positions with Ford, Goodrich and Picker International.  After relocating to Florida in 1986, Rossi worked in executive management positions in smaller entrepreneurial companies and was a principal in several.  Rossi holds a Master of Science degree in Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts and an undergraduate degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Ohio University.

 

In evidenza

Quality, ISO 9000, QSM, what is what? (Quality concepts made simple)

by Ouijdane El Arabi (A graduate of the national school of management and trade Oujda Morocco, a current student in EMUNI University Slovenia in Euro-mediterranean entrepreneurship diploma (EMED). Worked previously in several non profit organizations but also interned in many businesses.

quality systems 

ISO 9001, quality, QSM quality management, certification… Many terms and concepts that have been talked about for the last 10 years and many new entrepreneurs, managers, business students and public get mixed between these concepts and others and find it hard to understand exactly what is about!

In this article we will explain in very simple words what quality is about and what are the most important concepts that we have to know about as students, consumers, entrepreneurs, present or future managers.

Quality, is it about price or about the best product in the market?

Quality can be defined by the International Standards Organization (called also ISO) in ISO 9000 (2015) as “degree to which a set of inherent characteristics  of an object  fulfils requirements

In other very simple words, quality is the degree of which the organization presents the object (product, service, process, system…) the way it was exactly demanded by the customer.

The concept of quality is dedicated towards the customer and not for the businesses or for the marketing as lot of people think

Before continuing on other concepts I must clarify something: A Product coming from China is not a product of a small quality, and another product coming from Germany is not a product of a high quality In fact there is NO high , medium or small quality: There is only QUALITY or  0 QUALITY (or NO quality). It all depends on what the customer REQUIRES.

For example if, as a customer,  I am asking for a pink long sleeves shirt with a high black neck made of pure cotton  and there are 3 companies telling me that they have what I want, when I go and meet with the sales managers of the two businesses I found out that:

Company A’s offer Company B’ offer Company C’ offer
A PINK T-SHIRT with a  high neck made of cotton A PINK SHIRT with HIGH BLACK NECK made of cotton A GREEN shirt with high GREEN neck made of polyester

So, after reviewing the 3 offers, I figure that Company B is the one who executed what I required: that is QUALITY

Companies A & C have offered different things than what I required: that is 0 QUALITY or NO QUALITY.

And of course the quality issue depends on what I want as a customer, how I want it, when and using which tools.

This subject is strictly related to another important and critical topic, especially for startups and SMES’: writing down product specifications, written statements of an item’s required characteristics, documented in a manner that facilitate its procurement or production and acceptance. Understanding the real meaning of quality assurance and writing down accurate product specifications, may represent the key to success for many firms.

QMS, certifications what are these concepts ?

A quality management system (QMS) on the other hand is a set of policies, requirements, standards, rules needed to accomplish the execution, production through a particular process in the company.

For example, ISO 22301 (business continuity) is a standard to create a BCMS (Business continuity management system).

We hear often that the organization X or the Process Y is certified ISO 9001, and we often do not understand what it means or how it can help us as customers. First of all,  the term certification or conformity is a set of processes that show your product, service or system meets the requirements based on ISO’s definition. So when we say that X or Y are certified means that they follow the requirements of a standard (ISO 9001 for eg).

In very simple words, it means that the organization respects the rules of ISO 9001 in making a certain product, service or system. This is verified by an independent, third party competent Organization (http://www.bulltek.com/registrar_assistance/registrarassistance.html). Anyhow, you can internally use the standard references as a guideline even without being certified”

ISO 9001, 27001, 22000,14000…., what is the difference ?

Each of these standards is designed in most cases for a particular type of industry, service… Let’s see which is which:

ISO 9000: is related to quality management (ISO 9001 means that the business have respected the quality required by the customer from the very first stages of concepts to the very last steps of production and beyond. ISO 9002 means that quality was respected from the production till the after sales services….)

  • ISO 22000 is about food safety management
  • ISO 27001 is related to data and information management
  • ISO 14000 is related to environmental management
  • ISO 4217 is a standard for currency codes.

The list goes on and on (please check the ISO website for popular standards https://www.iso.org/popular-standards.html ) , and ISO has put a standard for various numbers of disciplines, industries and areas and that are very specific, however ISO 9000 is one of the standards that can be applicable to every industry or process and has become very important in many aspects of business life.

How can ISO 9000 helps my business as an entrepreneur?

Being certified as ISO 9000 family does help the organizations in many ways:

  • Works positively towards image building and good reputation of the business.
  • Gives quality insurance to the customer.
  • Facilitates having funds and cooperation.
  • Facilitates growth capital and the search for new shareholders and investors.
  • Positions the business I a good rank when compared with competitors.
  • Keeps a continuous track of the business audit (Please check DR Max’s article about audit and quality).
  • The employees are very concerned of the customers, so they keep being dynamic towards customer helping and customer services.
  • The business is up to date and has numerous actions towards its inner and external business environment.

 

 

In evidenza

“No” just means “Next”.

by William J. Rossi

ADVISORY BOARD

Powering Up Your Team

The quality of a management team is the single most key determinant of business success.  Following are some tips to assessing, restructuring and powering up your business team.

The Importance of the Management Team. 

First, of the things that most attract investors to a company, a quality management team is nearly always quoted as the most key element.  It trumps product and market in almost every survey.  The reason: a great team can take a mediocre product and make it successful, while a mediocre team can fail with a great product.  A survey conducted by Profit Dynamics among 262 professional investors evidences this notion.  When asked in this survey what factors most influenced the decision to invest, management quality ranked #1 among all responses.  Others like market size and proprietary technology were seen as important, but paled in significance to management quality.  When asked the reasons that most drove the decision to decline investment, again lack of an experienced management team ranked #1 by a wide margin in the response of these investors.

So, what constitutes a quality management team?  The response of these professional investors was overwhelming: it means experience, track record.

While other qualities were mentioned like integrity, vision and dedication, only 17% of respondents did not include successful experience as one of the most key components.  While it’s clear that experience counts the most, those starters among you who haven’t yet achieved that track record should not be discouraged.  A flexible management team, one that recognizes its shortcomings and is willing to recruit the right team members, was quoted a close second. 

Fine Tuning the Team.

The first step in upgrading a management team is to assess both your current talents and your needs.  This has to be an honest assessment.  Remember, investors want to know either that you have the requisite experience, or that you know that you need it and are flexible to get it.  If you find that current talents don’t meet your needs, consider the following in restructuring the team.

  • Be expert in your industry. Focusing on whether you have significant, demonstrated experience in your industry is especially valuable.  Lack of recognized expertise is killer both in terms of directing the company and in securing investment.
  • Drive diversification of disciplines. No company can survive with only techies.  Even Apple has marketing and finance people.  Make sure that the functional disciplines requisite in your business are resident on the team.
  • Mix and match thinking types. Try to incorporate both linear thinkers along with visionaries. Visionaries are creative people and come up with initiatives to take the business in new directions.  Linear thinkers will concern themselves with what has to be done this month to insure that you are there next month to do all those cool, visionary things.
  • Encourage disagreement. While it might be comfortable to have people who always agree with you, make sure you have people who are willing to disagree with you.  Challenging the current thinking of any management team is always healthy.
  • Arm yourself to attract the right, new people. In talking to prospective team members, sell the company and its value proposition.  Remember, this is an investment.  While investors invest their money, new team members are investing their careers.  Sell the current team as this is marriage of sorts.

Advisory Board – Power in a Package.

 An advisory board is not a legal entity, and has no fiduciary or financial responsibility.  It simply operates at the discretion of the company to advise the company in its areas of expertise.  This a critically important, collateral element of the management team, and can provide powerful leverage in both operating and financing capacities.  Populated with people of recognized experience, your board brings instant credibility to the company.

In terms of recruiting an advisory board:

  • Mine your contacts for introductions. If you knew the right people to get, you wouldn’t need contacts.  But, most don’t.  So, rely on your contacts.
  • Don’t be bashful. There’s nothing wrong with cold calls to identified prospects.  The worst that can happen is that the prospect says “no”.  Like in sales, “no” just means “next”.
  • Aim high for demonstrated experience, but be reasonable. Apple’s Tim Cook likely won’t have the time to help you.

Finally, once you have an advisory board, use it.  Have regular meetings and listen to your advisors.  If you decide against taking a suggestion, (since, of course, it’s your business) explain why so that they know you are paying attention and their guidance is valued.

In conclusion, the quality of the management team is critical for both company direction and financing.  Experience counts the most, but willingness to recruit the right team is a close second.  An advisory board can be a powerful addition to any business team if populated and used intelligently.

William Rossi is Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida, having taught at both in the undergraduate and graduate Entrepreneurship Program there for 15 years.  Prior to teaching, Professor Rossi initially held several senior level positions with Ford, Goodrich and Picker International.  After relocating to Florida in 1986, Rossi worked in executive management positions in smaller entrepreneurial companies and was a principal in several.  Rossi holds a Master of Science degree in Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts and an undergraduate degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Ohio University.

In evidenza

Want to write a paper? Start at the end!!!

 

PAPER

Writing a paper is surely hard, but it’s also a matter of technique.

When you have to write a paper try to make upside-down the rules you find on the net or in manuals and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Want I’m I willing to demonstrate? (your paper mission)
  2. Write down a statement: something more than a title something less than an abstract. Exactly like a synopsis which appears on back cover or inside-flap summary of a novel: it’s supposed to be a brief summary of the major points of your subject, like a condensation of a to-be work. In the statement both the topic and the point of the paper should find place.
  3. How does it look? Then imagine your paper/thesis title is a product to launch: are you able to write down a title and a pay-off in less than 200 characters?
  4. Now that you have a title and a goals let’s reverse engineer it, work on the index. If you don’t have an index, you do not have a structure: if you do not have a structure we are not talking about a paper but of a word salad. Index is also very important in getting the global picture, have at least an estimate of paper’s size.
  5. A method: now and at least for some time ahead you are a writer: so behave as one of them and develop your best writing habit. Generally speaking, unless you are writing a novel, the more you write the better it is. 10% is inspiration, 90% is discipline. If you are writing a paper as a group, fine tuning this stuff request even more attention.
  6. The introduction: please grab immediately reader’s attention. The introduction isn’t there to tell how good you are or how deep is your knowledge on a specific field. It’s there instead to describe” the door” from which you entered into a specific field, zooming progressively towards paper topic. Don’t’ loose the attention of the reader in the really beginning but instead bring him/her with you!!!
  7. The body: it’s time to split the index into chapters and paragraphs and sharing them with your paper coordinators and reviewers: the sooner and the better. Try to share with them a schedule about the delivery of single parts: if accepted that would help a lot because if you’ll get a much quicker feedback. Better to mess with a chapter or some paragraph than with the all work!!
  8. The schedule is also important in order to other 2 aspects: a) respecting deadlines b) assessing writing effort. If you are writing you cannot research or read sources. How can you efficiently organize your daily life to reach your final objective?
  9. The conclusion: conclusion isn’t either a kind of final exhortation or something that sounds like “and they all lived happily ever after (and I’m happy too because I’ve finished) it’s what remains an echo in your reader’s brain; did you get and prove your goal?: answer to the following questions: a) conclusion confirm the initial statement? Briefly Review your main points; b) are they relevant and why I so? c) what’s next? What would you do to move the subject further?
  10. Do not review your work immediately: if you finished and still have time, take a break. After some days it will be easy to review it objectively and more efficiently.
  11. Ask then yourself the following question: does it work? Try to make a 10 slides ppt presentation. Can you pitch your paper in five minutes?
  12. Sources: work well on sources, mentioning all of them in a comprehensive way.

 

In evidenza

New!!! ISO 19011:2018….finally auditing becomes really viable for startups!!!!

iso 19011 2018As you know, we are convinced that ISO standard represents an opportunity and a real added value when starting with a brand new firm.

And moreover, is not necessary to wait for approaching ISO standards that one or more of this  (traumatic) events happens:

  • Some regulator, an important industry partner or an international tender suddenly requires a certification (then the only thing entrepreneur wrongly perceives is that ISO is just a paper work, or even a …”chip” necessary to play at the casino and nothing more);
  • A major problem/incident takes place (ISO 9001 as a sort of “punishment” for the company’s staff or as a sort of  “process cleaning” product)

The recently issued standard ISO 19011:2018 “Guidelines for auditing management systems” represents instead an opportunity for startups in order to:

  • Finally approach and apply the auditing concepts into their processes, for focusing on risk and constantly improving them:
  • Reduce auditing costs (either internal and second/third party)

The standard provides a comprehensive guidance on how to conduct a management system audit and is applicable to a really wide range of users, including, among others, organizations that need to conduct internal and/or external management system (MS) audits and manage audit programmes (cfr also our article https://massimilianobellavista.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/is-9001-2015-viable-for-startups/

And therefore id useful also for startups who are willing to:

  • Transform the costs of receiving an external audit into an opportunity of growth and achieving the appreciation of their stakeholders and partners

tipi di audit

  • Fix errors in an earlier phase
  • Prove their capacity of documenting and controlling their processes
  • Show that they can adapt with large company culture (auditing is a most of the times a mandatory process to have the access to the support of financial and funding parters, large groups/clusters, incubators, international business partners)

The ISO 19011:2018 standard has undergone a certain number of changes. Why is so? Because the new standard finally considers auditing process as a continuous, risk focused and  IT- supported process.

The most relevant new points for startups are at least as follows:

-the audit process is not anymore just a conformity audit; this is important because it means that auditor shouldn’t look anymore for mere compliance with the standard ( very often a self -referential and not value adding process from firm’s point of view ) but mainly for effectiveness and performance

remote auditing. Audits can now be fully and easily (and with much less costs  involved) performed on-site, remotely or as a combination. (“On-site audit activities are performed at the location of the auditee. Remote audit activities are performed at any place other than the location of the auditee, regardless of the distance. Interactive audit activities involve interaction between the auditee’s personnel and the audit team. Non-interactive audit activities involve no human interaction with individuals representing the auditee but do involve interaction with equipment, facilities and documentation.”)

virtual audits.Virtual audits are conducted when an organization performs work or provides a service using an on-line environment allowing persons irrespective of physical locations to execute processes (e.g. company intranet, a “computing cloud” ;“A virtual audit follows the standard audit process while using technology to verify objective evidence”, this represents an opportunity for aligning auditing processes, sometimes perceived as “old-fashioned” by young startuppers as an up-to-date management and control process.

Take a look to the standard structure: it may represent a chance for growth

In evidenza

Appreciation for the Naked Pitcher

libro copertina

“The Naked Pitcher is a practical blog that is surely to entertain, educate, and challenge our common understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur.”
Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry -President of the Euro-Mediterranean University

Initiatives such as the Naked Pitcher are of great importance, allowing to create a
cradle and an environment where those entrepreneurial gems can grow and prosper locally, without dispersion towards the dominant nations, increasing the intellectual potential of our peoples.”
Willy Burkhardtfounder and CEO of Arcares SPA, the IT leading company for Factoring and SCF Management Systems in Italy

We have worked together since 2014 for P&G award and CEO Challenge within your course of Strategic Management and in the Siena University Alumni mentoring program.
Many ideas and contents of the Naked Pitcher book are certainly coming directly from the questions and the specific interests of the students and startuppers who took part to the program in approaching strategy in a innovative and effective way, adapted to their needs. Good luck and well done!!!Cinzia Angeli, Customer Business Development Manager P&G/ President USiena Alumni

 

GET THE BOOK!!!

In evidenza

Test: the key

the key

THE TEST

Here the solution….

THE CHEST– FIRM’S IDENTITY

the chest

 

The chest represents your own company or better, the perception that you have of it. If it is small, it may indicate an identity that is not yet well defined. A chest well located and grounded in the landscape, on the contrary, indicates confidence in your own means. A very large and heavy chest, like a metal chest  or a chest closed with a padlock, could indicate excessive rigidity and lack of readiness for change. An open chest, damaged or suspended in the air could indicate doubts or uncertainties about the business idea.

THE BOAT – THE VISION AND THE PLAN

the boat

 

The boat represents the business objective to be achieved, the related vision and planning. It also represents entrepreneurial inspiration. A boat of a light colour can represent the search for an ideal perfection of the business model, that in your perception remains somehow still partially unexpressed. A boat that shakes a lot in the waves can denote your impatience. A blue boat can denote confidence in the technical and operational potential of your company. A black boat may indicate a desire to make one’s own business plan more serious and complete. Is the boat very far? If it is far from the chest or offshore, then it means that maybe you are experiencing or perceiving difficulties with regard to the realization of your project or that it is actually perceived as stressful. If the boat is already at sea near the chest, you are ready to embark on your entrepreneurial journey. However, if it is in bad condition or even out of the water, it may indicate that you have some doubts about the realization of your project. If there is someone on the boat ready to steer the boat for you, it may indicate some doubts or a lack of  leadership skills.

THE QUAY – STAKEHOLDERS AND RELATIONSHIP

the quay

 

The quay represents your chance of crafting business relationships and collaborations in general. If it is small or damaged, you probably cannot rely on many partners who can help you realize your business idea: either you are not surrounded by the right people or you are too suspicious and not able or interested in working in a team or in a network

THE STORM – THE TROUBLES

the storm

 

The storm represents the difficulties encountered in realizing one’s business idea. After the storm passes you should review all the positions and changes caused in your scenario. After the storm you can evaluate your assertiveness and resilience, your ability to react to everyday problems.

 

In evidenza

A small entreprenurial test?

This is definitely not the usual quiz about entrepreneurship. Try it !!!!

the beach

Imagine a deserted beach and enter these elements

 

A CHEST : in this landscape try to visualize a chest … In particular, you can make clear: the position of the chest in the landscape, its color, shape, material and all that your mind has immediately visualized.

the chest

A BOAT:  now, without removing the chest, imagine a boat, its position (at sea, aground/outside the water, its conditions, its colour, particular signs….

the boat

A QUAY:  now in your landscape enter a quay. Where it is, what kind and material it is, which position occupies relatively to the chest and the boat….

the quay

THE STORM: at this point you have placed all the objects; keep these three objects well in mind exactly as you placed them in this desert landscape. Suddenly there is a storm … what happens? has something changed? What happened to the three objects?

 

the storm

…and then?

Try to figure out, a possible key will be provided in the next article!!!

In evidenza

Who,exactly, are your stakeholders?

STAKEHOLDER

We insisted on this subject so many times. Startupping for us is the art of involving someone with the development of an idea able to create value.

But exactly with who are you supposed to communicate?

With stakeholders, obviously, one may say. A stakeholder is anyone with an interest in your business.

But sometimes this area of business planning is neglected and even the word “stakeholder” is so generic and hazy.

A more common and widespread way to consider the problem is: a stakeholder is anyone we could meet along our entrepreneurial journey and that shows, proves or somehow pretends to have something to say about us and the way me manage our business. Or maybe, someone we would like (in our dreams) to have as stakeholder.

We believe that in reality stakeholder engagement is a value creating/mandatory activity to be performed on a regular basis since the very first moment in your startup development.  At least for two very good reasons:

corporate identity: you can engage with third parties only if you know who you are. Any entity willing to communicate with another one should beforehand define its identity. There is no communication if there is not a well defined “me” area and and therefore an external environment to relate with (“the others” area) So is in business too.

risk management: excluding some specific and internal risk factors, strictly connected with technical aspects related to the supplied service/product, all the rest is somehow originated by the nature of the relationship with stakeholders. Probably, the same concept of risk is deeply linked with stakeholders. If risk is defined by the likelihood of an event and the caused damage, is clear that the concept of damage is bonded (and it changes accordingly) with stakeholder’s perspective. Damage for customers (not getting what they paid for)  damage caused to investors (not getting their reward),damage caused to community (f.i   the environmental impacts). So is important to involve them in their risk management approach: the sooner, the better.

But who these stakeholders might be?

  • Investors – owners, bank, VC or investor
  • Business consultants – someone providing specific and valued knowledge
  • HR – management/owners and staff; the interest of human resources in the business’ performance is therefore obvious; addictionally, management may have extra concerns concerning risk and liability (depending on startup’s liability status, the owners might have risk to their personal wealth)
  • Customers – increasingly looking forward to know everything not just about your product/service but instead about the firm itself, and moreover about you as a founder. This means that nowadays there are increasingly more ways a customer may assume to be affected/influenced by your company’s behaviour. Take into the due account this aspect!
  • Suppliers – and moreover outsourcers, controlling specific and value-adding processes of your value chain
  • Government, authorities and certification bodies– concerned about business health, business compliance and reputation, impacts on society, local community , public health and on environment and of course in having firms able to pay taxes.
  • Media

And, once you started with this stakeholder management process, what about your goals?

They should be at least some of the following:

increase their risk tolerance towards having a relationship/investing/collaborating with your firm

increase their trust, not just in your product/service nor in the firm, but in you as a manager and/or as a founder

increase their commitment, for instance with your vision, your business model or just your value proposal

making them always willing to tell you the truth about you and your company: this topic is of course strictly related with the concept of trust and with your ability of making them feeling comfortable when communicating with your firm’s representatives.

In evidenza

Startups: ADOPT-ADAPT-IMPROVE

adopt adapt improve

The Round Table Motto is ‘ADOPT-ADAPT-IMPROVE’. This motto was taken from a speech delivered by the Duke of Windsor in 1927 in which he stated: “The young business and professional men of this country must get together around a table, adopt methods that have proved so sound in the past, adapt them to changing needs of the times and, whenever possible, improve them.

What these words do actually mean nowadays for startups and firms in general?  

Adopt means to take on as one’s own, like an idea, a process, an attitude, or a behaviour

Adapt means basically to modify something, to adjust it to a somehow new situation.

Improve is strictly related with the well-known ISO Standards concept of learning by doing, checking continuously the possibility for taking a quality assurance system (processes of whatever kind), a step further.

Small and medium sized firms are naturally adaptive, but sometimes they miss some opportunities in the other two areas. Or better, they miss the big picture, the reason why “’ADOPT-ADAPT-IMPROVE’ motto should be written of every firm’s office wall.

Adopting in facts is the first act: every firm is at its very beginning busy analysing the external environment, try to adopt some or all the following aspects:

  • Best practices
  • Standards
  • Technical requirements
  • Business models
  • Rituals

But what next? This is the point. The most complicated thing to do is then

Adapting all this stuff to firm’s present situation. A best practice could be inspiring, but is born for another firm, a standard need to be contextualised if you don’t want to cause damages to your own firm, a business model need a personalisation to work properly, etc. and this is hard work.  Sometimes entrepreneurs refuse to think this way because the fall in love with some previous and off-the-peg approach: damages are there to be noticed for many years to come.

Improving is then the last (continuous) step: is where the previously adapted models/practices/standards/rituals produce a real added value for the firm. Sometimes an adapted and optimized business model is exactly what makes the firm unique and successful.

In evidenza

Does your firm have rituals? (but not just for rituals’ sake)

rituals

 

If nowadays newborn companies have to invest not simply in being the best but in being unique, their identity is everything.

But developing a true identity is extremely difficult.

Company culture has a lot of different ingredients, it is somehow like a structure made of various materials. Clearly:

  • Values/beliefs
  • Stories/myths

are part of the game. Values are extremely important, both for outlining and guiding company’s strategy.

But, what about rituals? Are they part of the strategic scenario?

If values are often defined as “what the company stands for” rituals are instead commonly addressed as “what and how does a company celebrate”.

Is this everything?  If you look at the definition of “ritual”, every dictionary reports at least the concepts of:

  • A ceremony
  • A prescribed order for performing a ritual ceremony
  • A series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone.

That’s way it’s not just a matter of celebrating something. Team lunches, events, shared activities and different ways of sharing success and company’s achievements are certainly very important, but this is not everything about rituals.

Rituals are also ceremonies, clusters of prescriptions and, even more important, a series of actions not just described, but, somehow, actively played, which means explained by simulating a situation or an action. And that’s a powerful way of explain something, as we know that quite a few persons after a while recall what they hear, more can remember what they hear and read, but everybody remembers for a long time what he/she can directly practise. Therefore, when we are talking about rituals we are mainly talking about a particular kind of processes.

In this way rituals may play a very important role in crafting and implementing company’s strategy. They can prove to be even more effective than processes in inspiring company’s people because they include in their structure not just a series of actions but a series of prescribed actions. Therefore they directly involve the principles of leadership. Only leaders in facts can craft and spread rituals, giving sense and importance to them: exactly like it should happen when implementing a strategy.

Rituals are important because they always tell a story by giving an example, a positive behaviour that can be immediately followed by other people within the company.

So rituals can help company to grow both in identity and self-awareness in many areas:

-managing customers

-communicating with stakeholders

– involving new resources within the company

-getting people familiar with company’s values and workflow

-getting managers to know top managers/founders priorities and vision

We can therefore assume that, concerning company culture, rituals occupy a central role, connecting company’s values and beliefs with stories/myths by giving to everyone in the firm the possibility of learning about company’s identity and values not just hearing of it but instead by diving into this stuff, impersonating the founders.

In evidenza

10.000!!! Thanks to our supporters, readers and contributors

10mila

 

Thanks for this important achievement!!!!

In less than 6 months we reached many entrepreneurs, stutents and professionals across the world. This is definitely more than we expected in such a short time.

The Naked Pitcher book is now a reality, and many other projects are on their way to be realized.

Take a look at our online tools and to the articles published about entrepreneurship across the world

We were and we are open to every contribution and idea about approaching strategy and supporting entrepreneurship for startups across the world and especially in MENA region.

All the best and thanks again!!

 

In evidenza

On failure and innovation

Failure and Innovaton by William J. Rossi

 

sisifo

Fail Early, Fail Fast; Failure is OK; Learn from Failure; Failure is the Successful Entrepreneur’s Right of Passage.  These phrases, like thinking out of the box, have become commonplace, even trite.  They are a part of every academic entrepreneurship program that I know.  They are used by most speakers in speeches to young entrepreneurs throughout the world.

People have known for at least several hundred years that one learns from failure.  You tell a child to not touch a stove because it’s hot.  So, what is hot to a child?  Some things simply have to be experienced, and failure allowed to happen for the learning to take place.  But it’s only recently that we have begun talking so much about it, and integrating it into entrepreneurship education.

I began teaching Creativity to entrepreneurship students about 15 years ago, and wondered at the time whether creativity could actually be taught.  After developing the course and teaching it the first time, my skepticism was put to rest.  Due in part to an initiative by a colleague at Stanford, Tina Seelig, who put forward the notion that there was value in teaching creativity by having students write down their failures, I asked my students in that first class to create a Failure Resume.  Of course, initially my students thought that was stupid and I was crazy, but subsequently it became a favorite part of the course.  My objectives in this assignment were three-fold.  First, I wanted students to acknowledge that they had experienced failures.  (Their failures were acknowledged by writing them down.)  Second, I wanted them to learn from their failures by examining the specific changes made in the conduct of their lives to prevent reoccurrence of those same failures.  (If changes aren’t made, one is destined to repeat the same failure.  Learning occurs.)

The third objective was therapeutic: I wanted them to realize that despite all those failures they had acknowledged, things came out pretty well for them.  (They all were students in a premier program at a premier institution.)

Today everyone seems to be talking about learning from failure, and the Failure Resume now is a pretty common tool used at a number of institutions.  At the end of April a professor at Princeton University, Johannes Haushofer, published his Failure CV on Twitter…to encourage others to keep trying in the face of disappointment… and had an almost instantaneous 33,500+ shares and 473 comments.

While I’m glad to see that many are talking about learning from failure, my concern is that it’ll be relegated to obscurity by becoming as commonplace as thinking out of the box, simply by too many people taking about it without thinking about it.  The reality in business today is that firms that do not continually innovate will die.  Innovation and failure go hand-in-hand.  Innovation requires taking risk, and when you take risk, you will sometimes fail.  It simply is not possible that one can continually succeed when taking risk.  Failure is inevitable.  The key is to examine each failure when it occurs to understand its causes, and make specific changes to prevent reoccurrence of that same failure.  Then try again.  Failure is OK; it’s part of the innovation process.

Remember though that if you fail nine times at some initiative, it doesn’t follow that you’ll be successful on the tenth try.  Success depends on you having learned nine lessons from those failures.  Ultimate success after failure is not a numbers game; it’s a lesson learning game.

William Rossi is Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida, having taught at both in the undergraduate and graduate Entrepreneurship Program there for 15 years.  Prior to teaching, Professor Rossi initially held several senior level positions with Ford, Goodrich and Picker International.  After relocating to Florida in 1986, Rossi worked in executive management positions in smaller entrepreneurial companies and was a principal in several.  Rossi holds a Master of Science degree in Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts and an undergraduate degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Ohio University.

 

In evidenza

EMUNI University and the Naked Pitcher: supporting entrepreneurship

EMUNI FIRST PAGE

The primary mission of EMUNI University is “to contribute through its activities in the area of higher education  and  research  to Fostering intercultural  dialogue  and  science  diplomacy in  the  Euro Mediterranean  and  Middle  East  and consequently to  the realisation of  the Union  for  the  Mediterranean’s purpose and objectives, and in particular  advancing cultural understanding, peace  and prosperity in the Mediterranean region

With a view to achieving the aforementioned mission, the Euro Mediterranean University, through contributing  to  joint  academic  programmes, educational and  research  activities and  staff  and  students   exchange   across   the   Mediterranean,  endeavours  to   achieve   a   common   Euro Mediterranean Higher Education and Research Area” (cfr EMUNI Statute)

EMUNI was inaugurated in June 2008, in a prominent celebration attended by the President of the European Commission and numerous Ministers and dignitaries from Slovenia and around the world. Shortly thereafter, EMUNI was endorsed by the Heads of States at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, identifying EMUNI in their declaration as one of the priority areas of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). EMUNI was entrusted with the mission of contributing to the understanding among people in the region by establishing and fostering a Euro-Mediterranean higher education and research area.

As it celebrates its first decade of existence, its mission remains all the more relevant today. The inclusive growth and development is increasingly contingent upon advancement of knowledge and innovation. Peace, security and prosperity in the Euro-Mediterranean region continue to be at the highest priority for the participating states.”

I’d like to thank EMUNI’s management to support the Naked Pitcher initiative.

EMUNI PAGE

Personally, I think that the  Euro-Mediterranean Entrepreneurship Diploma is defininitely a great and innovative idea and a huge help for students and young entrepreneurs.

In this Program  “Innovation and entrepreneurship are considered as a fruitful pursuit for creative and productive individuals” It aims  to enhance entrepreneurial thinking and implement entrepreneurial ambition in the context of the Euro-Mediterranean region.

I’ve had the privilege to teach in the “Entrepreneurial Business and Governance Models” and “Business Plan” Module and many ideas about the Naked Pitcher are coming directly from the requests and the interests of the students and startuppers I met.

In evidenza

Is every entrepreneur a storyteller?

CANTASTORIE

Is startupping a mission or a call?

For some aspect, is probably both.

Whatever are your company’s values and vision/mission and your point of view about entrepreneurship there’s  little doubt about the fact that being an entrepreneur has some relevant impact on society and not just within the business world and that an entrepreneur can create many different startups keeping for all his carrier distinguishing characteristics related to his personality, approach, personal values and so on.

So probably, being an entrepreneur is a call that may be characterised from time to time by different, sometimes highly connected missions.

In my personal experience, there is something that connects all startuppers I’ve ever met.

Is not necessarily the attitude to take a risk, because not all entrepreneurs know how to handle risk or have a clear perception of it; but is not necessarily dynamism, or the leadership, because sometimes entrepreneurs do not display excellent qualities in this field.

The quality that connects them all is the ability to tell a story. They are entrepreneurs because they are willing to tell something about their experience and concerning their vision of the future. They love to tell stories because when you tell a story to somebody else, suddenly your relationship with the audience changes forever and so does your mutual understanding of the world. That experience is not anymore just yours, ma is immediately belonging to a whole community.

Teling is sharing.They know how to tell stories because they are trained by the endless meeting they have to face with stakeholders, clients, investors.

And most of the times, they tell a story into another story: their personal story, in facts, is most of the times the necessary prologue for effectively telling their company’s story.

So if telling a story is the unifying quality, in how many ways it can help you developing a startup?

STORYTELLING

HELPS BECAUSE
YOU AS ENTREPRENEUR IT ESTABLISHES PERSONAL CREDIBILITY
YOU AS ENTREPRENEUR IT MAKES CLEAR BOTH YOUR CALL AND YOUR MISSION AS ENTREPRENEUR
YOU AS ENTREPRENEUR OFTEN A STORY REPRESENTS THE SOURCE OF THE FOUNDER’S CALL/PASSION
YOU AS ENTREPRENEUR IT TELLS TO EVERYBODY NOT JUST WHY YOUR COMPANY IS SPECIAL BUT WHY YOU ARE UNIQUE.
EXPLAINING YOUR COMPANY’S MISSION IT MAKES CLEAR ITS UNIQUENESS
DESCRIBING YOUR COMPANY’S ROOTS IT MAKES POSSIBLE FOR AUDIENCE UNDESTANDING NON JUST YOUR ORGANIZATIONAL CHART (F.I. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES) BUT THE WAY YOU ARE, THE PLACE WHERE YOU WORK, THE ATMOSPHERE ETC
FULLY DESCRIBING YOUR BRANDING POLICY EVERY BRAND NEEDS/HAS A STORY BEHING, SOMETIMES A GREAT STORY TO TELL
DESCRIBING YOUR BUSINESS PLAN IN A FEW WORDS BECAUSE BY DEFINITION EVERY STORY, NO MATTER HOW SHORT, IF IT’S A GREAT STORY HAS A BEGINNING, A MIDDLE AND AN END …EXACTLY LIKE YOU BP!
CREATING COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE IN PITCHING, IT MAY HAS THE SAME VALUE THAT A SIGNATURE SONG HAS FOR A SINGER.  EVERYBODY, RECEINVING THE PROPER TRAINING CAN TALK ABOUT ECONOMICS AND/OR TECHNICAL DETAILS…BUT NOBODY CAN TELLA YOUR STORY THE WAY YOU DO IT. IF IT HAPPENS…THE SONG NEVER SOUNDS THE SAME!
INVESTORS DECIDING A STORY IS NOT JUST DESCRIBING YOUR IDEA (LIKE EVERY GOOD BP ALREADY DOES QUITE EFFICIENTLY) BUT WHY YOU FIRST CHOSE FOR IT. BECAUSE YOU ARE, AS ENTREPRENEUR, THE VERY FIRST CUSTOMER OF YOUR OWN COMPANY!!
COMMUNICATION TELLING A STORY IS THE MOST VALUED AND LONG TERM (AND DIFFICULT!)  WAY OF COMMUNICATING WITH COMPANY’S STAKEHOLDERS
GIVING CUSTOMERS SOMETHING NICE TO PLAY WITH
IF THE STORY IS GOOD THEY WILL SPREAD IT ALL AROUND, MAKING YOUR COMPANY POPULAR FAR BEYOND YOUR WILDEST DREAMS. ABOUT THIS SPECIFIC POINT, REMEMBER THAT, WHETHER YOU WANT OR NOT, THAT WILL HAPPEN ANYWAY. WE ALL CREATE CONTINUOSLY STORIES AND RITUALS ABOUT EVERY ASPECT OF OUR DAILY LIVES. SO  CUSTOMER NEED TO CREATE A STORY AROUND YOUR COMPANY, AND THAT CAN EITHER POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE, BUT DEFINTELY NOT UNDER YOUR CONTROL, SO WHY NOT  TO USE IT TO YOUR OWN ADVANTAGE?
In evidenza

For efficient planning startups need to bridge the forecasting gap

 

sfera di cristallo

Business world is experiencing an evident schizophrenia which is causing considerable damage. In Italy (as well as to a greater or lesser extent, in many other countries) about 98 percent of the total amount of active firms have less than 20 employees. A cluster  made up of over 5 million small and micro  business that produce 40% of the annual national value added.

For those who are willing to manage a firm in the right way, first of all is necessary to plan, because nowadays the entrepreneurial intuition without planning and organization skills does not lead anywhere.

Planning of course means a lot of different things:

  • Strategic planning, played around the entrepreneurial vision, with a time horizon ranging between three and five years;
  • Marketing and commercial planning, for conquering new markets for their services and products, with times horizons sometimes short, seasonal or anyway generally between one and three years;
  • Financial and fiscal planning, necessary to ensure the company a sufficient and above all constant cash flow injection;
  • Risk and IT planning more and more necessary to keep up with a fast moving market and with the huge technological progress;
  • Planning of training, increasingly decisive for long-term success on the markets, but which often requires some time to appreciate its impact in terms of value production;
  • The planning par excellence, that is the one concerning research and development, which according to the various product fields, can absorb resources for many years to come;

Challenged with this growing demand for planning skills (and related investments), the reality that entrepreneurs are facing is constantly changing, almost ungraspable.

It is not just the markets that oscillate dangerously between unbridled globalization and a neo-protectionistism that is often illogical and counterproductive, it is the whole society at the global level. As a victim of something very similar to a sort of sociological and political “greenhouse effect”, the social and cultural climate seems to “overheat” everywhere, with phenomena of political instability and local virulence that are equally unpredictable and difficult to read as weather events.

So companies are faced with a clear schizophrenia, if on the one hand the market demands more planning skills (and therefore ultimately an increased forecasting capacity able to lead the investments that these plans always accompany) and on the other hand it always provides less certainty on how and in what direction the needs and aspirations of consumers will move ahead, as well as the socio-economic government policies, the possibilities of supplying resources and raw materials, etc, etc

In this context data are definitely not missing, rather we are submerged of numbers, often lacking the ability to classify, order, analyze this avalanche of data, in an aseptic way, free from prejudices or from ideological strabism deriving from the use and the abuse of theories and economic and entrepreneurial ideas.

There is therefore a need to moderate this evident asymmetry, to bridge this “forecasting gap”, endowing companies with reports that aim to reduce this huge uncertainty back into clear trends and scenarios with which the company can become step by step familiar (if at the same time we can also provide them with the appropriate interpretative keys), reducing at the same time the risk and instead increasing their possibility of success on the markets.

Therefore entrepreneurs and most of all startuppers should select structures, advisors and incubators able to provide these forecasting services too because not only  large companies should benefit from it.

Scenario planning helps reducing risks in many ways:

  • It compensates common and frequent errors in decision making
  • It’ very different from any other plan (f.i. contingency, risk, etc) because it connects all different uncertainties a form daily has to face

The scenarios and trends on the evolution of the international landscape and market that SME’s and startups need to have at their full disposal, in facts help to create that substrate on which the above described planning needs can consistently grow, finding confirmation and inspiration and, above all, the most necessary thing: a concrete reduction of the entrepreneurial risks.

In evidenza

The Naked Pitcher Book available starting September 1st

001.jpg

The Naked Pitcher represents the essence of an approach that proved to be effective with many different startups in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
In my experience with many young entrepreneurs from all over the world, I realized that very often what they really need beforehand are very basical informations on how to manage a consistent, quick and affective approach about strategy, postponing to a different and future stage further and more complete insights.

Just as very often we talk about MVP and any other mean useful to reduce time to market, so there must to be a way to reduce learning time when approaching strategy and the essental concepts of business modeling.

Time is scarce and all they want to know is:

– how to present their idea;
– how to depict an affective business plan;
– why the two above-mentioned points are so important;
– how to pitch communicating their business idea at its best.

 

In the Naked Pitcher Book we try to provide a credible answer to these questions.

In evidenza

What color is your startup?

colori

What color is your startup?

Using colors for your brand, presentations, packaging, web site and corporate fonts never happens by accident.

Every firm has a personality, and founder’s personality reflects on startup style. The same for colors used by entrepreneurs. What is your startup most dominant personality trait? Colors can reveal that.

At the other side, avoid using the wrong colors seems very important because it might turn customers away, and it may damage your corporate image in many other ways because is strictly connected with how people perceive you and your organization.

A few interesting facts:

  • Colors are commonly and widely used to assess personality, ability to work in groups, product and brand impact, customer reaction etc;
  • Blue shows up in 33% of the top 100 brands, while red comes second by showing up in 29% of the brands, followed by black or greyscale and then yellow or gold;
  • 95% of the top 100 brands only use one or two colors;
  • Growing corporate investments on a comprehensive corporate branding project that includes corporate fonts (and therefore colors) on order to enhance corporate identity.

tabella colori startup

In evidenza

Value left ih the shade

cono d'ombra

Sometimes ideas and projects into a startup are so good that we forget about the rest.

What is left in the shade?

  1. Skills and organizational roles: watch out for over specialization into your firm. At least once in a while try to measure/assess the distance between who you were (as a founder) and who you are (as a manager in charge of something into a startup): anything you aren’t completely satisfied about? Is the upskilling process working well enough?
  2. 2. Ideas: not just because one idea was successful you have to kill the others. Always good to have what is actually very often missing: an archive of previously developed ideas (even the unsuccessful ones)
  3. Corporate image: being a brilliant startupper and a kind of ingenious craftsman may be good at the very beginning but then you need a project for building up and consolidating of your brand image as well as for gathering feedback and refine your brand identity.
  4. Investments: the progression of your idea on the market will sooner or later reach a plateau. What’s next for keeping firm alive? Investments in training, company culture, internal communication and management feedback tools (no feedback is even worse of negative feedback), research & development are needed and space should be left for it
  5. Roots: roots are part of your company. No matter how short it can be, but your company story is very important as well as is fully understanding the…roots of your success! How determinant the context was (and is) in your success? Most of the times, fighting for success, this aspect is underestimated and that may lead to wrong evaluation of the next development steps of your startup. Never let that pursuit of success get in the way of your company identity.
In evidenza

Product or service startup dilemma? a real waste of time!

produt vs services

What is best? Starting up a product or a service -based startup? It looks like an interesting question but in reality it’s a waste of time.

When you startup a company there is a business idea, an intuition that slowly and hopefully turns into something more consistent: a business model. And a business model is then represented by the best answer an entrepreneur can find to the eternal question “based on which key competitive advantages and market scenarios my company will get paid?”.  As you can see, no mention of product or service.

In facts there is no dualism, instead there is very often integration. Very few products and services are used in a vacuum, and a firm is most of the times to be considered mature when is able to think in terms of product-services integrated platforms.

Firms are, by definition, a living organism: therefore they are continuously looking for a balance with the external environment and internally between their various parts. How original this equilibrium can be, it depends on the adopted business model. Another thing firms do sometimes is adopting a mimetic behaviour, which aims to imitate some specific entrepreneurial act of established and/or successful target-organizations. This endless search for balance and imitative behaviour sometimes request a change or an integration on firm’s core domain: transition and diversification.  So is most of the times really pointless to say that a service-based model is better than a product-based one or viceversa.  That choice will be instead a natural consequence of a well done and deep analysis of your business model and its various potential alternatives.

However, keep in mind that if you stick to your vision, in the end as an entrepreneur you are selling a way to fix someone’s problems and therefore make the world a better place to be: as long as this in going to happen, your customers can’t care less if according to you they  are purchasing a product of a service. All that they want is a pleasant solution to experience in order to break free from uncertainty and satisfy some of their needs.

Here some of the question you can better ask yourself, instead of puzzling on product vs service dilemma:

  1. What is exactly requested by your business model at an early stage?
  2. Will you start selling a product or a service? Which one will be ready for market in the quickest time? Can they be effectively integrated?
  3. Which approach, product or services –like, guaranties to the firm a wider and more various number of potential customers? How can they best be locked –in? (f.i.Microsoft, Apple business model)
  4. Is the product or service approach the most efficient one in order to raise entry barriers against your potential competitors?
  5. What about the profit margins? What’s best for your firm?
  6. Is product or service what makes you unique? In other words, what of the two things really represents the most valuable side of your business model in terms of related competitive advantages
  7. What are exactly the setup costs in both cases?
  8. Which approach offers the best chances of scaling up?
  9. Can you think of a minimum viable product or instead a m.v. service?
  10. What exactly happens all around your customer before, during and after the adoption of your product or service? Is product or service standing at the centre of this cluster of processes and events?
  11. What kind of product and services (f.i. pre and post sales assistance, training and consulting services, etc) can be complemetary and/or integrated with yours?
  12. Is product or service the characteristic of your firm which is harder to imitate?

 

In evidenza

The naked pitcher, strategy unveiled. The book.

cropped-triplo-infinito.pngThe Naked Pitcher will be soon available as a Manual, with a totally new,  easy and ready-to -use approach!!!!

“The Naked Pitcher is a practical blog that is surely to entertain, educate, and challenge our common understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur.”
Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry -President of the Euro-Mediterranean University, Slovenia (http://www.emuni.si/).

Are you a circular or straight start up?  And your entrepreneurial style is Kipling or a Parsifal- like? Following the experience of many years of consulting and teaching Prof. Massimiliano Bellavista proves an enjoyable and back –to-basic approach to strategy.  The naked pitcher is a “low cost”, simple and fast approach to strategy that proved to be successful with many different startups in the Euro-Mediterranean region: it is not a manual neither a book about strategy but a ready -to -employ vademecum for your entrepreneurial journey.

  • If you are somebody interested in understanding how strategy can be effectively applied to start up management, this is probably your book.
  • If you are an entrepreneur, and you want to get the basic concepts necessary to have a successful one avoiding the usual pitfalls, this is your book.
  • If you are in a multi-ethnic or in a multicultural team and you want to transform it into a successful firm, this is definitely your book!!!

“Initiatives such as the Naked Pitcher are of great importance, allowing to create a
cradle and an environment where those entrepreneurial gems can grow and prosper locally, without dispersion towards the dominant nations, increasing the intellectual potential of our peoples.”
Willy Burkhardt- founder and CEO of Arcares SPA (https://arcares.lutech. group/), the IT leading company for Factoring and SCF Management Systems in Italy

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