Category Archives: Core Purpose

What Innovators Do

Successful innovators don’t delegate creative work. They do it themselves!


The ability to innovate is key to business success. It all starts with research, or “discovery activities” as HBR calls it : associating, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking. They claim that successful innovators spend more than 50% of their time on discovery activities during which they engage both sides of the brain. It is more than the cognitive skill of being right-brained. You need to leverage both right AND left side of the brain.


Associating is the ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas from different fields. New ideas blossom at the intersections of diverse fields. Fresh inputs trigger new associations. As Steve Jobs has frequently observed, “Creativity is connecting things.” Associating is like a mental muscle that can grow stronger by using the other discovery skills. As innovators engage in those behaviors, they build their ability to generate ideas that can be recombined in new ways. The more frequently people attempt to understand, categorize, and store new knowledge, the more easily their brains will naturally and consistently make, store, and recombine associations.


Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge common wisdom. “The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question”.

Ask “Why?” and “Why not?” and “What if?”

Innovative entrepreneurs are likely to challenge assumptions. Innovative entrepreneurs like to play devil’s advocate. “My learning process has always been about disagreeing with what I’m being told and taking the opposite position, and pushing others to really justify themselves,” Pierre Omidyar said. “I remember it was very frustrating for the other kids when I would do this.” Asking oneself, or others, to imagine a completely different alternative can lead to truly original insights.


Discovery-driven executives produce uncommon business ideas by scrutinizing common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers. In observing others, they act like anthropologists and social scientists. “Often the surprises that lead to new business ideas come from watching other people work and live their normal lives”. Innovators carefully, intentionally, and consistently look out for small behavioral details—in the activities of customers, suppliers, and other companies—in order to gain insights about new ways of doing things.


Unlike observers, who intensely watch the world, experimenters construct interactive experiences and try to provoke unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge. Innovative entrepreneurs engaged in active experimentation, whether it is intellectual exploration, physical tinkering, or engagement in new surroundings. As executives of innovative enterprises, they make experimentation central to everything they do. One of the most powerful experiments innovators can engage in is living and working overseas. HBR research revealed that the more countries a person has lived in, the more likely he or she is to leverage that experience to deliver innovative products, processes, or businesses.


Devoting time and energy to finding and testing ideas through a network of diverse individuals gives innovators a radically different perspective. Unlike most executives—who network to access resources, to sell themselves or their companies, or to boost their careers—innovative entrepreneurs go out of their way to meet people with different kinds of ideas and perspectives to extend their own knowledge domains.



Perspective Acquisition

This journalists gets it:

Ultimately, it should be about people. No one individual builds a brand, a brand is built by a group of people working together towards a common goal. And this came up in my conversation with Yasmina. Peter and Aletta Stas wanted to be certain that in selling the company, they would not simply be leaving their team high and dry. There is no shortage of people with money out there who want to own a watch brand, so the challenge really became finding a buyer who valued the same things that they did. And in Citizen, they found the right fit. So to be clear, no redundancies, no terminations – things stay as they are. The agreement is that the Stas team will stay on for five (5) years to ensure continuity and continue the projects that are already in motion. In addition, the people behind the scenes will be staying on as well. Now I am fairly certain that the number I heard was five (5) but in fairness I was making an espresso just at that moment (it was early here at Tempus Fugit HQ), but I am fairly certain that was the figure.

The shock waves are that the days of the mighty, all-knowing, all-powerful Swiss group might be over.  At a time where brands are laying off staff then spending millions on America’s Cup sponsorships and the inevitable wining, dining and gifting that go along with it to keep the retailers and press members purring, this is a completely different approach.  This is a brand that put its PEOPLE above its own vanity.

News travels fast, you may have heard already, we hope to inform you personally about the acquisition of our company.

We have been approached in past to be taken over. Until last year, we never engaged in such discussions as we had idea that our children may take over in future. By now, we know that both our children do not want to work in the company, we started to have discussions with the two groups that approached us last year.

After a year of deep discussions, we felt best with one group in terms of expectations and strategy. This group required, specifically, to keep both us and the current management team in place for at least 5 years. Within this group, we will be the largest Swiss entity and we will continue to operate independently.

The group that will take over is Citizen Watch, a strategic watch industry buyer that has over 125 subsidiaries. Citizen has a reputation for innovation and letting its subsidiaries manage themselves independently. Coincidentally, this completes a circle for our company as Frederique Constant started with an order from a Japanese customer. The company has always had strong relationships with Japan and we feel good about long-term collaboration and continuity within the Citizen Group.

Today we are doing the official announcement and attached is our letter for our employees and stakeholders.

We are exited about this next chapter of our company. Thank you for your continued support and sharing this journey with us.

Best regards,

Aletta and Peter Stas

Google Methods

Most probably you have recently heard about the new book : ‘How Google Works’. Reviews are rather negative; readers’ expectations should be suitably low. The book however describes interesting themes, some I would like to write about in this post.

Intriguing is the strategy to motivate ‘Smart Creatives’: those intelligent, self-motivated employees who are responsible for coming-up with next technologies, methods, and products. They are those we call true A-Players at Frederique Constant, they are our fuel for growth. We need to hire and retain them. Salary and perks do not motivate them. They seek meaning in their work and approach their careers with a missionary zeal ‘to make a difference’.

Company Culture is essential to retain ‘Smart Creatives’ and ensure continuous fuel for growth. At Frederique Constant our mission is ‘To let more people enjoy luxury’, it is a purpose beyond individual members of our company. It is a purpose that we expect will outlive us. We think of our mission daily.


‘Smart Creatives’ are obviously motivated by Creation, an incredibly important aspect of our innovation strategy. We trust our engineers and watchmakers, we say yes to them as much as possible. We stay flexible in communication and approach. ‘Smart Creatives’ power derives from merit and in-sight, not tenure or salary. We have thirty something watch geniuses assembling Perpetual Calendars with ultra complex patented mechanisms. At other watch manufacturers, only very senior (and old) watchmakers would be allowed to touch such complicated mechanisms. Being involved in creation and manufacturing of high-end luxury watch mechanisms motivates all watchmakers at Frederique Constant.

Another Google strategy that resonates is their approach to product launches: Launch quickly, iterate and don’t be afraid to fail. This is not necessarily the strategy of most Swiss watch manufacturers… At Frederique Constant however, we have never been afraid to jump-in. In 2001, we started to develop our first mechanical caliber with the Watchmaker Schools in Amsterdam and Geneva. Later we added students from the Ingenieurs School in Geneva. Developing and manufacturing our first mechanical caliber was a three year very intense effort with many ups-and-downs. We were driven to create a ‘perfect’ Heart Beat and introduced the first, most simple version in 2004. Ten years later we are an independent Manufacture that created 15 calibers, representing over 25% of our annual turnover. If we would not have started with what looked like an impossible project in 2001, we would never have reached where we are today. Innovation is at our core and a key motivator for ‘Smart Creatives’.

Lastly, Google’s hiring practices are of interest. Hiring processes are extremely important at any company. Companies should pursue versatile ‘Learning persons’ whose private passions suggest dedication and personal pride. Decisions on hiring and promotions should be peer-based, reached by committees of employees instead of individual hiring managers. Keep interviews to the point and revealing.

Results 2014


Frederique Constant Classics Manufacture

We are very happy to report that we have closed the year with 16% sales growth compared to 2013. This is an enormous performance considering that the watch industry exports only grew approximately 2% in 2014. We are very proud on this result! All teams in the company, our distributors, and our retail partners have been working very hard to realize maximum sales in an often-difficult environment. Thank you very much for this hard work!

Not only has the result been good in 2014, very important is also that we have made structural changes last year in our management approach. Aletta and myself have stepped back somewhat from day-to-day operations and this work has been picked-up increasingly by our Management Team. With hard work, help of coaches, planning meetings, and various IT systems, our overall accountability culture has improved significantly. This is very important as it creates a solid base for the future. We thank all at the company for this new way of working.

With more time available, Aletta and myself have been able to focus more on external relations, collection creation, and strategy. Never before have we had our new collection so well developed at this stage, more sophisticated, all details fine-tuned to a new level. Our merchandising strategy is showing increasing strong results.

All this gives us strong confidence for 2015. As always, we have great ambitions and we are sure that we will have another year of excitement and strong growth.

With our target to grow production and sales from 135K to 150K in 2015, we will let more people enjoy luxury. This core purpose is our reason of being and the driver to live our passion.

Thank you for your interest in Frederique Constant, thank you for your support. We wish you an excellent start of the year and are looking forward continuing our journey with you. Together we are strong and together we will be living our passion!

Sensible Prices

During the discussions in the advisory board, we often spoke about what makes FC different and what we see as the purpose of the company. From the beginning, we saw that ‘sensible prices’ were our competitive edge. The attractive prices were essential to reach a younger target group of 30-45 year olds who have limited budgets. Most are business men and women at the beginning of their career, in first management functions, but still at low salaries. At the same time, these people are starting families, which requires funds as well. Still, there is an enthusiasm for Swiss mechanical watches. It is for these persons that Frederique Constant offers beautiful time pieces. We determined that our company produced Accessible Luxury, beautiful Swiss watches from Geneva at sensible prices. We defined our purpose as ‘Let more people enjoy luxury’.

However, beautiful watches at sensible prices was not enough. We also had to work on the ‘luxury’ part of our purpose ‘Let more people enjoy luxury’. Hence, we started to discuss how to create an image around Frederique Constant. First step was the sponsoring of classic car rallies, the Healey partnership that developed into the Vintage Rally Universe. Then, followed the Runabout, the classic gentlemen’s sports boat. Finally, with the various charity activities, we developed a campaign and purpose for our ladies Double Heart Beat Collection.


Record First Half Results

We just announced record first half year results with 26% growth compared to 2013.

We are proud to have realized our best first half year ever, and it clearly proves that our product proposition – Accessible Luxury – continues to have great potential. The initial concept behind the brand was to create Swiss Made, high quality and innovative watches at sensible prices To let more people enjoy luxury. Still today, it is this mission that drives our passion. We would like to take the opportunity to thank our worldwide partners for their continuous support to Frederique Constant.

We have seen a significant increase in activity across most of our regions in 2014. With our Accessible Luxury positioning, we have been gaining market share in the US$ 1,000 to 5,000 segment. Frederique Constant grew strongly in Japan, South Korea, Australia United States and Canada, which is expected to continue in the second half of 2014.

This year, Frederique Constant celebrates its 10th anniversary of its in-house handcrafted movements. Since 2004, Frederique Constant is delivering timepieces with manufacture movements that are in-house developed, in-house manufactured and in-house assembled. The company developed 15 in-house handcrafted calibers, including the last 2014 creation: the Heart Beat Manufacture FC-945 with Silicium Escapement Wheel, Silicium Anker and Silicium Plateau for improved accuracy and reliability.


Frederique Constant Heart Beat Manufacture Tourbillon FC-980G4S6 with Silicium Escapement Wheel and Silicium Anker. Limited Edition 10 pieces for the 10 Years Anniversary of Heart Manufacture.

In view of a good start in 2014 and our intensive programs of merchandising, training and promotional activities, as well as new product launches, sales growth is expected to be strong for the year as a whole. Over the past 25 years, Frederique Constant has experienced annual growth rates of 15-25%. This year, Swiss watch exports will realistically rise in the single digits, and we will outperform the market.


Ideal Way to Grow Your Business

Maximum growth and high ideals are not incompatible.
They’re inseparable.


Grow Your Business

In his book, Grow, Jim Stengel shows how 50 of the highest-performing companies in the world harnessed the power of brand ideals to tower over their competitors – and how your business can, too. Grow presents an actionable framework for developing the roots that are necessary to thrive in the new business climate. Start big or start small, but start by formulating your Core Purpose.

Jim Stengel’s ten-year growth study of more than 50,000 brands reveals the secret: those centering their business on improving people’s lives outperform their competitors.

At Frederique Constant, we do not want to restrict the interest in Frederique Constant watches to a limited and elitist circle of connoisseurs, but rather to open it to a broader selection of appreciative enthusiasts who want to enjoy Swiss high-quality classical watches at sensible prices. We want to Let more people enjoy luxury.

Let us look a little more at the individual elements that make up Let more people enjoy luxury:

More people: Democratize luxury; Make luxury accessible to a broader
group of people; Equality; Not elitist.
Enjoy: Pleasure to own and experience a beautiful and well finished product; Appreciate quality and refinement; Make people feel happy, good; Share passion; Show you have taste; Feel strong, reassured, recognized; Have a memory of a special moment.
Luxury: Beautiful products; Quality of design, materials, and manufacture; Attention to details; Refinement; Craftsmanship; Respectable brand.

Developing your Core Purpose is not an easy task. It took us years and various Off-Sites to determine our Core Purpose Let more people enjoy luxury. Particularly interesting was the outcome of exercises we did during an Off-Site:

1. Mission to Mars
2. Collage Culture
3. Select no more than six values
4. Core Values Exercise
5. Core Purpose Exercise
6. BHAG Exercise

Read more about these in this link.

Coming back to Jim’s book, please check this short video and his book.