Ken Tencer

About Ken Tencer

Ken Tencer is the CEO of Spyder Works, a business consultancy of choice for mid-market companies and intrapreneurs globally in the areas of innovation and intrapreneurship, brand and customer experience, marketing and channel management, organization and operations, and learning, culture and leadership.

Posts by Ken Tencer:

Will you help us by taking this Intrapreneur Assessment?

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Will you help us by taking this Intrapreneur Assessment?

As a global thought leader in intrapreneurship, I have been asked to collaborate with Multi-Health Systems, a people analytics and solutions company. MHS is currently developing an assessment on entrepreneurial competencies, and they are looking for participants to help them in the final stages of testing. At my request, MHS has agreed to incorporate individuals who self-identify as intrapreneurs. 

Will you help us by taking this 20-minute online assessment? We are looking for leaders, entrepreneurs and individuals who identify as intrapreneurs (i.e., they are employees of a company and are officially responsible for creating something new, or for solving problems using entrepreneurial skills). I am sure you will find the assessment questions interesting and thought-provoking. And in return for participating, you will receive a personalized report that will give you new insights into your entrepreneurial skills and behaviors.

To me, intrapreneurship is not a “program.” It is a necessary mindset that all organizations need to embrace to thrive in fast-changing, competitive markets. Ultimately, MHS’s research will provide an even richer foundation upon which Spyder Works will help our clients build more successful cultures of intrapreneurship.

Thank you in advance for participating in this important research project.

Gratefully,
Ken 

PS: As a member of my network, I would also like to offer you a 25% discount for the upcoming Intrapreneurship Conference in Toronto, Nov. 15th to 17th. The conference theme is “Building an Innovation Ecosystem.” To register, please enter the promo code IntraCnf-SpyderWorks. (I’ll be speaking on Nov. 15, to share four key insights for creating a more successful intraprenership program. Hope to see you there!)

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Small Steps, Epic Announcement.

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One of Canada’s brightest business minds has just joined Spyder Works.

Jeff Holland started as a manufacturing engineer who cut his teeth at Toyota. Then Honda hired him to be a Product Launch Leader, and then he became a manufacturing problem solver and troubleshooter for McKinsey & Co., jetting around the world to rescue troubled factories. Later he led the process and innovation performance practice in Canada for Accenture, and then he joined McKinsey – AGAIN! – to specialize in Operations and Organizational Transformational Change.

And now he’s become Spyder Works’ Vice-President of Organization & Operations.

You can see our opportunity. A seasoned pro like Jeff wants to work with growth-minded clients who don’t fear the future. You understand that ongoing technological and market disruption create big opportunities for organizations with the right mindset, processes, and aligned, positive teams.

Jeff is smart, funny, personable and modest, and he really wants to help. He’s totally about achieving great outcomes for clients. So, we want to keep Jeff busy with challenging projects that require all his skills in innovation, process improvement, organizational change and leadership development.

If you’re a market leader striving to stay on top, Jeff is eager to assist. Backed by Spyder Works’ deep expertise in business strategy, innovation, intrapreneurship, marketing and customer experience, Jeff can help you get ahead and stay there.

Here’s more about Jeff:

  1. He calls himself a “recovering” engineer, because he’s a people person.
  2. He loves to play guitar and banjo, and used to play the mandolin. His secret ambition is to make guitars for a living.
  3. He really cares. Ask him about the week in April 2014 when he flew around the world and saved nearly 3000 jobs. He’d been asked to monitor a plant in China that was scheduled to be closed. Just before leaving, a colleague asked him to visit an open-pit mine in South Africa that needed to reduce costs by 30% – and expected to cut 1500 jobs. Cut a long story short: after one day at the mine, he saw that a few organizational changes could slash costs and save all those jobs. Then he spent three days assessing problems at the manufacturing plant in Guangdong. He saw that their problem wasn’t manufacturing, but an undisciplined ordering process back in North America. “It was one of the best plant sites I’d seen in 10 years,” he says. “I gathered evidence to show that the planning and scheduling people were killing the plant. We postponed its closure, and it’s still going strong today.”
  4. Jeff still likes problem-solving. Even better, he enjoys helping and transforming organizations. “I want to work with companies that are growing, and people who are growing.”
  5. What’s the secret of a good client relationship? Jeff says great relationships are built on
    trust and openness. “I like situations where I have their back and I can feel they have my back. Where we can have truthful conversations in a risk-free environment. Don’t hold back. If you tell me exactly what you think and what you’re feeling, we can get down to business and solve the problem sooner.”
  6. Jeff is a true believer in design thinking, the fuel that powers Spyder Works. “To me, design thinking means two things. 1: Focusing on all the systems in an organization that need to be understood and integrated. 2: I want to be able to design into organizations the agility to anticipate what could happen, instead of what has happened.”
    People like Jeff don’t come along every day. As our CEO, Ken Tencer says: “Jeff Holland helps us expand Spyder Works’ impact, translating high-level corporate strategy all the way to the production floor or the customer’s loading dock. His work across five continents also helps strengthen Spyder’s international footprint, which already extends across North America and to Europe.

“But he works fast, so we need lots of projects to keep him busy.”

If you have bottlenecks to clear, new strategies to carry out, or questions about the future, give Jeff a call at (506) 852-1422. Or email jholland@spyder.works. Help us put off that guitar factory as long as we can.

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Halifax’s Springboard program turns academics into entrepreneurs

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Originally published on June 27, 2017 as a Guest Column in The Globe and Mail: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/halifaxs-springboard-program-transforms-academics-into-entrepreneurs/article35296361/

There’s an old saying that you can accomplish anything you want – so long as you don’t care who takes the credit.

This is not just a powerful insight into human nature. It may also be the clue to solving Canada’s innovation problem.

The consensus is that Canadians are great at coming up with new ideas, but we’re not so good at commercializing them. That’s the hard part: turning new insights into products and services that people want to buy, and then building smart, well-financed companies to profitably bring those products to market.

In Atlantic Canada, however, a below-the-radar not-for-profit is finding commercialization success by helping other people turn college and university research into winning businesses. The secret to Springboard Atlantic’s winning record: it serves as a catalyst, bringing business resources and commercialization expertise to bear on ideas coming out of 19 Atlantic-region postsecondary institutions. As a government-funded community builder, Springboard CEO Chris Mathis doesn’t seek credit; he only wants results.

“These universities create IP [intellectual property] on a daily basis,” says Mathis, himself a mechanical engineer turned entrepreneur. “We help these educational institutions decide which ideas can best be commercialized, and then help them connect with the people and partnerships that can bring them to fruition.”

Take the case of Fredericton-based Eigen Innovations, an internet-of-things (IoT) company that helps manufacturers reduce defects and boost productivity through machine learning and data analytics. The company was founded on thermal-vision analysis algorithms developed by Dr. Rickey Dubay, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of New Brunswick (now Eigen’s chief scientific officer) and one of his grad students, Scott Everett (now CEO).

“Eigen’s IP was initially supported by funds within the business office at University of New Brunswick, as well as Springboard,” Mathis says. “Now they have more than a dozen employees, and major customers working with their technology.”

In fact, Eigen has raised more than $1-million in venture capital, and it’s now embedding its technology with Tier One automotive manufacturers and industrial equipment suppliers. The company won awards from industry leaders such as Cisco and Dell, and it has been named one of the 100 top influencers in the industrial Internet of Things.

Starting a business is never easy, and bringing them out of university labs is a special type of hell. There’s no easy road. Researchers are often driven by curiosity rather than market need, and even when they develop a commercial idea, many would rather simply publish their results than turn them into a business.

Most colleges and universities have technology-transfer officers, but their efforts are often frustrated by isolation within the halls of academe and a lack of business contacts. According to Mathis, a group of Atlantic universities saw these problems 12 years ago, and created Springboard to develop and share commercialization best practices. “They realized they should work together to build up their research, industry engagement and commercialization capacity,” says Mathis says.

Funded by the universities, colleges and the federal government’s Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Springboard has a staff of five but serves clients directly and through a network of institutional industry liaison and technology transfer officers. Its role is to help on-campus commercialization and develop better relationships with faculty members, to sharpen their own abilities to analyze IP and evaluate market potential. In practice, Springboard also helps the network explore the process of commercialization with their academic colleagues, to determine their interest in partnering with industry, licensing or venturing into business themselves.

Most crucially, Springboard’s network serves as a matchmaker between academics and business, opening doors to help them find the companies, business leaders, consultants or investors that can guide them to market success. “There are multiple points where research discovery can lead to social and economic benefits, or go by the wayside,” Mathis says. “We try to show them what’s working well, and what isn’t. We end up with communities in the region that interact.”

The results speak for themselves. Springboard has been a catalyst in supporting the development of numerous Atlantic companies with global growth potential and impacts, from helping a Halifax firm that creates screens to protect pilots from exposure to lasers, to research in St. John’s that drew on Newfoundland’s population data to develop a technique for evaluating who should be screened for hereditary genetic heart issues. Mathis says Atlantic Canada is starting to develop global leadership in specific niches– not just ocean sciences and aquaculture, but sustainable energy, smart grid technologies and cybersecurity.

Canada is always wrestling with its innovation gap. I think it’s because we don’t realize that successful innovation, while difficult, starts with fig a series of easy, practical steps. What can this discovery do? Who needs what it does? What will it cost to develop this product or solution? How much will the people who need it pay for it? No one academic, entrepreneur or hired consultant can answer all these questions. We need more catalysts like Springboard to explain the process, make introductions and help these solitudes find each other.

Fear, ignorance, walls and silos are the enemies of innovation – not a failure of research or business will. We’re all better off when governments stop trying to pick winners, and invest in community and humble catalysts instead.

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