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links for 2008-10-31 October 31, 2008

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links for 2008-10-30 October 30, 2008

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links for 2008-10-28 October 28, 2008

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  • "The infield was tough. The ball would do funny things," Phillies second baseman Chase Utley said. "It was in bad shape. It was not playable."
    (tags: sports)
  • Capital is the reward the market gives to good designs. Interestingly, though, the nature of capital changes over the course of a company’s lifecycle. Early on, a company’s capital is tied up in cash and the visions of its founders—but later, capital can be equated with what some economists have termed “know-how.” In classical economics, the necessary economic inputs for production are land, labor, and capital, but know-how—the sum total of an organization’s ideas, plans, and production capabilities—eventually replaces all of them as the economic driver in a modern company. A big part of know-how is derived from customers. Having bought and used a product or service, the customer develops not just an understanding of that offering but, more important, the know-how for what its next iteration ought to be. To capture and leverage know-how, companies must find better ways to understand what their customers know.
  • Think of it in evolutionary terms. Innovation is really a form of competition. Why do companies innovate? They innovate for only one reason: to outperform their peers, to create something that their peers don’t have from which they can gain economic benefits. And because innovation is a form of competition, it’s subject to the laws of evolution. If you look at the CPG sector from the macro perspective, what you’ll see is lots of companies introducing lots of new innovations, and it will look like many random events. Those that really meet consumer expectations or change consumer expectations survive — those that don’t, die. Ultimately, the environment chooses which products work and which don’t.
  • Management fashion is full of stark choices: Centralize or decentralize? Global or local? Cost or growth? There’s a long-standing proverb in the system dynamics field: “You can have everything you want, but not all at once.” In the 1990s, many consumer products companies decided that they would give up growth in order to have the security of lower expenses. Now they are riding the pendulum back to growth. But in the end, those who succeed in growing their company will do so with all their frugality intact. With an organization design in place that balances the roles of the core, the business units, and the functional infrastructure, they should be able to have it all.

links for 2008-10-27 October 27, 2008

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  • Don't think I'm not a little worried about voting for Obama mind you… just less worried that I am about voting for McCain – here's an excerpt (the WSJ's Murdoch is starting to show):

    … growth in government spending outstrips revenues. Fiscal and trade deficits soar. Public debt, excessive taxation and unemployment follow. The central bank tries to solve the problem by printing money. International competitiveness is lost and the currency depreciates. The system stagnates. And then a frightened electorate returns conservatives to power.

    The economic tides will not stand still while Washington experiments with European-type social democracy, even though the dollar's role as the global reserve currency will buy some time. Our trademark competitive advantage will be lost, and once lost, it will be hard to regain. There are too many emerging economies focused on prosperity and not redistribution for the U.S. to easily recapture its role of global economic leader.

  • A paradox of human life is that the evolutionary forces that have made us cooperative and empathetic are the same ones that have made us prickly and explosive. Jonathan Haidt, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, is a leading theorist in the field of moral psychology. He says the paired emotions of gratitude and vengeance helped us become the ultrasocial, ultrasuccessful species that we are. Gratitude allows us to expand our social network and recruit new allies; vengeance makes sure our new friends don't take advantage of us.

    You could say our lives as social beings are ruled by the three R's: respect—the sense that proper deference has been paid to our status, reputation—the carefully maintained perception of our qualities, and reciprocity—the belief that our actions are responded to fairly. In other words, high school may be the most perfect recapitulation of the evolutionary pressures that shaped us as a species.

  • Last night came final and irrevocable proof that the country is entering tough economic times, unseen since the 80s: AC/DC have returned to the top of the album charts for the first time in 28 years.

    Even by the standards of a band whose commercial success is a given – the venerable Australian rockers have shifted more than 80m records since forming 35 years ago (in the midst of the 1973 oil crisis) – the circumstances of their 16th studio album's British success seem striking.

    At one point last week, AC/DC's Black Ice was outselling its nearest competitor, Kaiser Chiefs' Off With Their Heads, by two to one, despite the fact that they declined to release it as a digital download, preferring vinyl and CD.

links for 2008-10-22 October 22, 2008

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links for 2008-10-21 October 21, 2008

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links for 2008-10-19 October 19, 2008

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links for 2008-10-18 October 18, 2008

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links for 2008-10-17 October 17, 2008

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  • We can't use the word innovation here, because if a market is known and a company has a good foothold in that market already, they should be very impatient for growth: invest aggressively and get ahead of the competition is the only way to succeed. But this particular type of innovation we call disruption needs a longer runway for it to take off, and part of the reason is that many of the strategy details are just unknowable in advance. You've got to get into the market, try a few things, fail a few times and iterate towards a viable strategy. Then, once the strategy is known and tested, it's very important to invest aggressively to grow. But the evidence really is strong that when a corporation needs that new business to get very big, very fast, they won't allow it to take that time on the runway — the time to make sure it's headed in the right direction. They just force it to take off very quickly and almost always, it fails.
  • I have a little vignette in The Innovator’s Dilemma about how people were trying to fly in the Middle Ages by fabricating wings, strapping them onto their arms, jumping and flapping real hard. For centuries subsequent innovators framed the problem as: The guys who died just didn’t flap hard enough. Yet it still never worked. Once they understood that there were some basic laws of nature that they needed to account for, once Bernoulli understood fluid mechanics well enough to articulate his principle, then there was a law of nature we could actually harness. I think that to some degree prior to my research, a lot of good managers were flapping their wings. They were working very hard to fight some fundamental laws of organization nature.

links for 2008-10-16 October 16, 2008

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