SPOS #198 – Figuring Out The "How?" With Nilofer Merchant

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Welcome to episode #198 of Six Pixels Of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast. When you ask people working in Digital Marketing how they develop their strategy, most of them look at you the same way a dog does when you talk to it (sideways). Nilofer Merchant lives in the world of helping companies (Adobe, Apple, Nokia, etc…) figure out not just their business strategy, but how to create and engage in a culture of strategy that is ongoing and iterative. I had the please of meeting Merchant in person at TED this past year and we became fast friends. She is the author of one of the best business books on strategy in the past long while titled, The New How, and she is also an excellent public speaker. As founder and CEO of Rubicon, she helps brands like Hewlett-Packard, Pinnacle, Logitech, Openwave, Symantec and others to create winning business strategies. Also, if you have never heard of an "air sandwich" or "murderboard", then you really should take a listen. Enjoy the conversation…

Here it is: Six Pixels Of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast – Episode #198 – Host: Mitch Joel.

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Download the Podcast here: Six Pixels Of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast – Episode #198 – Host: Mitch Joel.


  1. I was intrigued by this discussion and will definitely check out The New How. But Nilofer made a comment about how consultants are “hated” (with which I agree), attributed to the fact that they deliver the “why” but not the “how.” In my consulting experience I have often delivered the “how.” In fact, I have delivered 3-ring binders in the hundreds that contain the “how.” The problem is that I’ve delivered MY version of how, which is not necessarily perceived by the client as the right approach. Over the years, I have switched over to a coaching philosophy (rather than consulting) that respects the clients’ knowledge and deep understanding of their own organization. Through a process of asking them the right questions (based on the “what” and the “why”), they develop their own “how.” This seems to be a more effective and efficient way of generating the required actions. When they come up with their own “how,” the necessary buy-in is inherent. Their ideas will not collect dust in beautifully organized 3-ring binders. They will be implemented . . . mainly because the client owns the “how.” It didn’t come from some stupid consultant.
    I’m looking forward to reading The New How, and seeing how it might help me better serve my clients.
    Debi Davis

  2. I just finished reading Chapter 6 (about Phase III: Select, and MurderBoarding) that is linked to the website. First of all, I find the writing style superb. I flew through the 41 pages.
    Second, the use of examples, metaphors (when the popcorn stops popping; pruning a rosebush in bloom; mental elevator) and illustrations (my favorite: gears depicting the Test process) really helped to bring this concept to life for me.
    Third, I love the reliance on the art of asking questions, as it validates my own approach for respecting the clients’ knowledge and demonstrating that I as the consultant am not there to feed them the answers about how to design their strategy.
    I have added The New How to my wish list and look forward to giving it a thorough read.
    Debi Davis
    3D Communications

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