All posts by Jonathan Meola

One of several Jonathan Meola's out there, I suppose. Hopefully you've found the right one. I like baseball, but my favorite position these days is in the bleachers with a scorecard.

Freelancing – From Fear To Freedom

As someone who has worked on a full-time basis for the past 25 way too many years, the idea of moving into a “full-time freelancer” mindset brought on a full-blown case of the FUDs (otherwise known as Fear / Uncertainty / Doubt for the uninitiated).

While I have worked on some small part-time freelance projects over the years (mostly in-between “permanent” positions) I never really considered going down this route on a full-time basis until recently. Working for companies both large and small offered me benefits, perks, and platinum statuses that (at the time) I couldn’t ever imagined going without. (To be honest, there was, once upon a time, something to be said for receiving that “extra” level of priority treatment from hotel, airline, and car-rental chains.)

At the same time, I also found myself stuck in a seemingly never-ending cycle of drafting & delivering multiple status reports, attending multiple (and IMHO, redundant) staff & team meetings that cut into a large portion of my working hours, and soul-crushing commuting cycles (both daily and weekly) that put a lot of strain & stress on my personal and family life.

After spending a couple of decades at corporate powerhouses, I decided to reposition myself as a freelance consultant, specializing in digital & content management, process management, & social collaboration. This took place at the same time that my wife and I relocated from the northern Virginia suburbs, to the Judean hills outside Jerusalem. Working as a freelancer, I no longer waste time worry about the daily drudge that came from commuting, meetings, and redundant reporting. I now have the opportunity to control my schedule, my projects, and my career.

Do I miss my above-mentioned corporate perks? Not really; the truth is, you can ask for (and usually get) the same level of treatment even without the latest platinum upgrade, etc. The trade-off is, of course, that I now find myself a much happier (and productive) individual thanks to my new status. Working in most corporate frameworks (with cultures ranging from traditionally stodgy to cutting-edge start-up), share at the very least one thing in common: Your boss / team lead / manager will take you for granted, expect you to comply with their directives, and will treat your input & opinion (assuming they even ask for it) as just so much white noise to be ignored. However, as a freelance consultant I am seen as the go-to guy, the subject matter advisor whose experience and advice are truly valued by my clients. Addressing (and fulfilling) their needs on time, on (or under) budget, and with quality results has been fulfilling, in both personal & financial terms.

My favorite scenarios generally involve working with my clients to identify and address their content & information needs, from planning how to bring their strategic initiatives from Powerpoint slides to functional and technical designs that will result in fully usable solutions. I also enjoy being able to help assist my clients in terms of selecting & assembling the best fits in terms of technology, applications, and architecture. With the right level of investigation, discovery, and scoping, I can present my clients with designs that address both their short and long-term needs. In these scenarios, experience and seniority really pays off; two decades of experience in the field, planning & deploying these kinds of leading-edge solutions across multiple projects for a wide variety of clients, allow me the ability to speak with well-earned expertise.

Does this all mean that freelancing is the perfect solution for everyone? Absolutely not. There are way too many stories out there about people whose experiences included encountering the negatives associated with this approach. The fact is, quite simply, that there is no approach out there which will ever fully address all contingencies, issues, and potential pitfalls. Working on a freelance basis means that you need to exert quite a bit of effort in terms of planning, in order to keep your “pipeline” of incoming work properly flowing. You need to accept that, even with this kind of planning in place, you may still find yourself in a “feast or famine” scenario. It’s just the nature of the business.



Why Internal Ventures are Different from External Startups

“A startup is a temporary organization in search of a repeatable, scalable business model. A corporation, by contrast, is a permanent organization designed to execute a repeatable, scalable business model. While a simple statement, this is a profound insight. When companies want to innovate a new business model (vs. innovating new products and services within an already scaled business model), the processes that companies have optimized for execution inevitably interfere with the search processes needed to discover a new business model.”

The following post by Steve Blank lays out, in simple and concise terms, the different challenges internal initiatives face when compared to startup ventures. “Lean” startup methods may work on their own (I use the qualifier “may” since the premise is still somewhat debatable, to be sure) in the outside world, but inside the corporate firewall? Think of it as more like Mad Max fighting in the Thunderdome – you have to be alert and ready to engage on multiple levels and fronts, all in order to succeed.

Steve Blank

Henry Chesbrough is known as the father of Open Innovation and wrote  the book that defined the practice. Henry is the Faculty Director of the  Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, at U.C. Berkeley in the Haas Business School.  Henry and I teach a corporate innovation class together.


Thanks to Steve for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you all.  This post follows directly on Steve’s earlier excellent post, Why Companies are not Startups.

The question of how corporations can be more innovative is one I have wrestled with for a long time.  For those who don’t know, I wrote the book Open Innovation in 2003, and followed it with Open Business Models in 2006, and Open Services Innovation in 2011.

More recently, Steve, Alexander Osterwalder and I have started sharing notes, ideas and insights on this problem.  We even ran an executive education course last…

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EMC World 2014 – Post Conference Thoughts

Was going to write my own post-mortem blog on Momentum 2014, but I think this one pretty much captures everything I’d wind up saying myself. Will be interesting to see what changes are coming down the road for IIG over the next year or two.

Observing Content Management

I’ve had a week now to gather my thoughts since EMC World, as well as to catch up on some sleep and get back into the UK timezone! Before the conference I posted about
3 things which I hoped I would find out more about so I’ll address those first:

Syncplicity – Clearly the rising star in the EMC IIG portfolio but the integration of the product into the rest of the brand is not yet there. Whenever Syncplicity was
pitched I still got the feeling its a new shiny product which is very good at what it does but is not fully integrated into the rest of the stack. I know it is
technically integrated but perception is as important as the technical aspects.

InfoArchive – This came across as one of the big plays from IIG, largely due to the compelling business case which can be generated for…

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