Unraveling the Mysteries of Business Success: An In-depth Interview with Jaroslav Kaplan

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Unraveling the Mysteries of Business Success: An In-depth Interview with Jaroslav Kaplan

Entrepreneurship in this world is constantly changing. These constant changes can leave many struggling to find their footing moving forward with their businesses, start-ups, or other ventures. But Jaroslav Kaplan offers a deeper look into these changes and mysteries many are faced with in business. Known for his approach to business intellect and entrepreneurial thinking, Jaroslav has a new perspective on the way we understand the intricacies of business success.

The Essence of Business Intellect

Interviewer: Jaroslav, you have a unique take on business. What drives your approach?
Jaroslav Kaplan: My research is about understanding the core of business success. It’s not just about resources or profits but about understanding the context in which a business operates and the relationships it fosters with customers. This holistic view forms the crux of what I call ‘business intellect. ‘

Deeper Dive: Understanding the Business Context

Jaroslav emphasizes the importance of looking beyond numbers and profit margins. He argues for a more nuanced understanding of the market, customer needs, and how these interact with a business’s offerings. This approach, he believes, is crucial for sustainable success.
For those struggling to make progress with their business ventures, taking on an approach like that of Jaroslav’s is a great way to find out what is holding your business down and what steps you need to take to overcome these with a fresh perspective and understanding.

Rethinking Business Strategies

Interviewer: Your book “Business Incognito” challenges conventional business wisdom. What is its central message?
Jaroslav Kaplan: It’s about transforming the entrepreneurial mindset. The book is a culmination of six years of research, focusing on why businesses fail and how to redefine success. The key is to move beyond traditional actions and think differently.
First and foremost, this means considering the entire scope of an entrepreneur’s activities in the context of their consumers’ experiences.

Unpacking the Entrepreneurial Mindset

Jaroslav’s book posits that the solution to many business problems lies not in changing strategies or practices but in changing how entrepreneurs think about their businesses. This mental shift is critical for adapting to new challenges and seizing opportunities.

Layers of Entrepreneurial Activity

Interviewer: You often speak of different entrepreneurial layers. Could you explain?
Jaroslav Kaplan: Yes, there are three: the resource layer, the design layer, and the research layer. The transition from one layer to another is essential for a business’s evolution and its ability to adapt to changes in the market and technology.

Transitioning Through Layers

In Jaroslav’s view and, mentioned variously in his works, many entrepreneurs get stuck in the initial resource layer, focusing on tangible assets and basic operations. Successful entrepreneurs, however, progress to the design and research layers, where they build robust systems and anticipate future changes.

External Factors and Business Longevity

Interviewer: How do external factors influence a company’s longevity?
Jaroslav Kaplan: External factors are crucial. Companies must adapt to technological trends and changing market dynamics. Those that fail to do so, like Xerox with digital trends, face decline.

The Role of Adaptability

Jaroslav highlights the importance of businesses being mentally adaptable and responsive to external changes. He uses historical examples to illustrate how companies have either thrived or failed based on their ability to adapt. This offers not only a new perspective but also historical evidence to understand the perspective better.

The Concept of “Organizational Diabetes”

Interviewer: Can you elaborate on “organizational diabetes”?
Jaroslav Kaplan: This is a very approximate analogy – like insulin, which accumulates around cells in the body but cannot get inside, leading to the cells starving – in the external environment of any organization, there are plenty of data, which often remain unrecognized and do not get “inside” the organization, and the organization remains “starving”, if we talk about having vital data.
Thus, a company becomes insulated from vital external information, leading to missed opportunities. This condition affects many businesses, preventing them from recognizing and responding to emerging trends.

Recognizing and Responding to Change

Jaroslav uses the metaphor of “organizational diabetes” to describe companies that are unable to process and react to essential external stimuli, likening it to a health condition that impairs the ability to utilize critical inputs.
This is an important insight that is often not considered. Many will need to step back and analyze the position of their business to understand if this is holding them back from progressing as needed.

Creating Value in Products

Interviewer: What’s your take on creating product value?
Jaroslav Kaplan: It’s about the narrative and interaction with clients. Businesses need to create a story around their products that resonates with consumers, considering the environment and context of all activities.

The Story Behind the Product

Jaroslav believes that the value of the product for the customer is closely related to the context in which the interaction with customers takes place.
His favorite example is with a bottle of water. The same bottle of water has different values for consumers in a supermarket, restaurant, and airplane. Yet, it’s the same bottle of water if we are talking about the value from the perspective of the product itself.

The Relevance of Business Intellect Today

Interviewer: What do you see as the current relevance of the topic of business intellect?
Jaroslav Kaplan: We are in the era of artificial intelligence, which, in one way or another, juxtaposes artificial intelligence with natural intelligence. A computer can calculate, but a human understands. In this sense, a division of labor is inevitable.
Discussing new technologies from an entrepreneurial perspective, including artificial intelligence, we view them as tools that can enhance each entrepreneur’s abilities. What was once beyond the capabilities of many can now be solved almost for free. This technological shift undoubtedly raises the level of competition to an unprecedented level.
All of this together requires an entrepreneur to have a solid foundation. If they lack the basis — their individual business intellect — then the process of ‘enhancing’ such an entrepreneur with technology is doomed to failure.
You cannot ‘enhance’ the strength of a grasshopper to match the energy output of a tiger in a decisive leap.
Zero multiplied by anything still results in zero. Thus, A.I. will bring significantly more benefits to those who already have a sufficiently high level of individual business intellect and will be of little use to those who lack it.

The Nature of Business Intellect Today

Interviewer: Is business intellect inherent, or can it be developed?
Jaroslav Kaplan: It’s a bit of both. Some have a natural inclination, but business intellect can certainly be cultivated. It’s about seeing the bigger picture and understanding the general context of customer interaction.

Cultivating a Business Mindset

Jaroslav concludes that while some individuals may have a natural affinity for business intellect, it is a skill that can be developed with the right mindset and approach.


Jaroslav Kaplan’s insights offer a fresh perspective on the complex world of business. His focus on mental adaptability, understanding the broader business context, and evolving beyond traditional metrics provide a new roadmap for success in the fluctuating landscape of modern business. As we navigate these uncertain times, Jaroslav’s perspective reminds us that enduring success hinges not just on what we do but, more importantly, on how we think.