Tag Archives: economics

Interesting stuff from August 8 to May 13

After too long a break, we return with the periodic roundup:

  • Bringing order to complexity – Paradoxically, “simple” is hard, and “complicated” is easy. We often end up with complicated business processes not because they are dealing with a complex problem, but because we haven’t taken enough time to design them properly. Design thinking, particularly human-centred design, is offered as an approach that applies multiple perspectives to the problem to understand the implications (upstream and down) of any changes made. One key suggestion: separation of process steps from the business rules being applied, which increases the re-useability of both. This is the stuff of business architecture …
  • Why Meetings Are Often Ineffective – Meetings have (quite rightly) garnered a bad reputation over time, mainly because they are used for the wrong reasons most of the time. Have you ever wondered why we often only schedule interruptions to our work, not the work itself? In this post, Johnnie Moore describes meetings as “action theatre” and “commitment ceremonies” where “we sit for too long, arguing with what we think is great cleverness when in fact our rational brain is already worn out and running on empty”. Fortunately he also has a couple of ideas about how we can make them better and more effective.
  • Business Models in Business Architecture – A very useful attempt from Nick Malik to describe the distinctions between business DNA (values, mission, etc.), business strategy, business models and business capabilities … as well as the relationships between them. Of particular value is the recognition that enterprises that are non-trivial in scale will often have multiple business models, each with its own strategy; and that these strategies may not co-exist happily. This is a problem when senior people don’t understand the interactions between business models and their related strategies, because it leads to turf wars, confused prioritisation and no idea what capabilities could be shared. This also is the stuff of business architecture …
  • Party politics is slowly dying. So what will take its place? – While the locale for this piece is the UK, Australia’s major political parties should take note, as the symptoms are similar here. We can recognise thoughts like “ … describes a draining away of authority from the main western parties, which, since the end of the cold war, have become increasingly bland: dangerously similar when it comes to ideology, and incorrigibly controlling” and “The mainstream politicians have forgotten that they are here to represent, not govern … We’re sick of being lied to”. The article describes the rise of single-issue movements, something increasingly echoed here in Australia. If the major parties seek a return to relevance, perhaps they should pay more attention to what issues people engage with, and “represent” rather than “govern”.
  • A Corporate Coup in Disguise | Alternet – Despite some raucous objections in the small, the TPP hasn’t hit the public’s consciousness to any great extent. This is partly due the excessive secrecy that cloaks its discussions, but also to the seeming lack of interest from the general public. This article, although slanted to the US, suggests there’s a number of reasons we should be paying attention, and why we shouldn’t let it happen …

 

Interesting stuff from April 3rd through July 11

The periodic round up:

  • Henry Farrell – On post-democracy – “Post-democracy is strangling the old parties of the left. They have run out of options. Perhaps all that traditional social democracy can do, to adapt a grim joke made by Crouch in a different context, is to serve as a pall-bearer at its own funeral.” The dilemma facing centre-left parties the world over is one of irrelevance. This poses a problem for democracy in general, as meaningful social democracy withers. While the Australian Labor Party is not mentioned here, it is recognisable in the description …
  • The Calm Before the Solar Storm – For some time we have been given the impression that domestic solar power generation has been A Good Thing. But in a system designed for power flowing in only one direction, in an industry populated by business models that don’t fit with widespread independent power generation, there is a collision pending.
  • The Great Disconnect – As Warren Buffet commented: “there IS a class war going on, and the rich are winning”. Buoyancy in financial markets is increasingly disconnected with real well-being, a situation that is politically unsustainable. The widening gap between the very rich and everyone else is the stuff of revolution …
  • Steve Mann: My “Augmediated” Life – “Until recently, most people tended to regard me and my work with mild curiosity and bemusement.” Steve Mann’s wearable computing gear has come a long way in 20 years. Google Glass now has people taking his work a lot more seriously (although Google hasn’t caught up to him yet). Life, augmented and mediated …
  • What the NSA Sees in Our Gmail – MIT runs a little exercise in metadata gathering from your GMail traffic … a sobering reflection on our loss of privacy which by now should even be worrying those of us with “nothing to hide” from the NSA

Interesting stuff from March 14th through March 20th

The periodic round up: 

  • The Great Devolution – It seems we have to get to within a hair’s breadth of catastrophe before we realise there’s a problem. Haque describes our current devolution as institutional failure, and leaves us on an uncharacteristically pessimistic note … 
  • The New Rules Of Innovation: Bottom-Up Solutions To Top-Down Problems – Another look at innovation and creativity; with some slightly off-centre ideas about how we can improve our chances of solving the “wicked” problems facing us. Major points: re-invent education to put it back in touch with the needs of this century, rather than the 19th; find a different type of capitalism to reward the productive economy; and rethinking government’s role in assisting innovation.
  • How to Be Creative – Interesting article about how everyone of us can be creative – it’s a skill rather than a gift. What may be “gifts” are the techniques of creativity, but they’re not exclusive to any of us; they can be developed.
  • Are jobs obsolete? – Douglas Rushkoff suggests that, as has been happening for centuries, technology is doing away with jobs as we know them. While the current idea seems to be to let the people who lose jobs suffer, Rushkoff posits that it is time for a rethink of whether or not the idea of working for someone else still makes sense. It is after all, a relatively recent phenomenon …

 

 

Interesting stuff from December 19th through January 23rd

The periodic round up:

  • Knock, knock, it’s the future (Building 59) – What’s behind SOPA/PIPA is a small group of large businesses whose business model is disappearing. Like Kodak, they are trying to ignore the future. Like Kodak, they may find that it is an exercise in futility and the road to failure …
  • A New Style of Work – This is not only pretty much how I work these days, it’s also the future for more and more of us. As conventional “careers” disappear into organisational restructures, those who can will trend towards the “distributed” working style. When you get there, give me a call – there’s a few of you I’d be happy to work with again :)
  • How Pursuit of Profits Kills Innovation and the U.S. Economy – … or any other economy for that matter. So outsourcing makes you profitable – what happens when somebody else does everything for your business? What reason do you have for it existing? This is one of the insidious results of a fascination with economic profit to the exclusion of other types of value, and also of only using percentage-type measures. Making your customers’ lives better will keep you in business longer and better than just chasing internally-focussed profit measure.
  • The Rise of Developeronomics – Know any good software developers? Invest in them. Whether you realise it or not, your company is a software company, regardless of what you are making as a product. And those tame developers you have?: “In most non-software companies, developers have so far accepted a sort of second-class-citizen status despite their increasing scarcity and increasingly critical roles. That is about to change.” Developers – the new kingmakers …
  • The City Solution – How to handle a rising population? Urbanise … National Geographic on the benefits of big cities
  • Don’t Break the Internet – Stanford Law Review – A reasoned view of the dangers inherent in SOPA and PROTECT-IP which also points out the irony of the USA taking censorship on the internet further than the repressive regimes it has criticised in the past

 

Interesting stuff from September 8th through October 20th

The periodic round up:

  • Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world – Just when you were thinking that #OccupyWallStreet was a conspiracy theory gone viral, comes a mathematical study of ownership networks among the world’s largest transnational corporations. Conclusion? 147 companies own ~32% of global revenue …
  • “Global Data Banking”: Are the Banks Really Ready? – An interesting potential role for banks to play – they already have secure data transmission networks in place, and have a trusted place in our lives. In reality, these days “digital assets” that AREN’T money look pretty much the same to a TCP/IP network – most of our money is moved around as bits rather than coins anyway.
  • Show Us A Way Out – This is a protest from the Middle Ages; neo-feudalism rather than neo-liberalism. Is this what happens when our short-term investment horizons encourage business to look beyond “healthy” sustainable profits, and insist on them producing increasingly-growing profits? I think we’re well past “enough” now …
  • Opinion – Image – NYTimes.com – An image from the NY Times with a sobering visualisation of the disparity in the division of spoils from improving productivity … and we STILL want to squeeze wages? Just how evil are we? 

Interesting stuff from July 11th through July 18th

m4s0n501

The weekly round up:

 

  • Refuse to be Terrorized – This post is nearly five years old … have we learnt anything yet? The object of terrorism is causing fear, and our governments and press do a better job of it than most terrorists. Yes, it’s a risk … but it’s a tiny portion of the risk we face every day, so let’s get a reasonable perspective on it.

 

 

 

 

  • Rebecca MacKinnon: Let’s take back the Internet! – In this TEDGlobal talk from Edinburgh July 2011, the intermediary role the Internet plays between people and their governments is explored, with some warning that we as yet haven’t had the Internet’s “Magna Carta” moment, and we don’t yet run the Internet with the “consent of the networked”. We’re missing the political mechanisms that would ensure that governments and technology work for the benefit of the public on the web.

 

 

 

 

  • The Future of companies & the modern workforce – A video conversation with John Hagel about the future of companies and workforce. Takeaways:
    • after decades of making our supply chains efficient via reduction of supply partnerships, deeper trust-based relationships with possibly many more partners will lead to greater agility and specialisation.
    • large companies are still necessary where there are large infrastructure requirements, but many small companies will be able to flexibly scale via loosely-coupled partnerships brokered over the internet
    • the next decade will see increasing pressure on companies that maintain an industrial-age business model that emphasises efficiency over effectiveness and agility

 

 

  • Why a Rise in M.B.A.s Coincided with the Fall of American Industry – What happens when senior management becomes more and more abstracted from the business’ product(s). In the end people deal with the things they are most comfortable with, and ultimately MBAs deal with finances and organisational structures … not the product; so the product suffers. When that happens, all the case studies in the world can’t help you. Who is more interested in products? Engineers … 

 

Interesting stuff from June 6th through June 16th

The weekly round up:

     

  • TEDx Talk on the Open Enterprise – “We live in democracies, but work in dictatorships” … a simple statement of the issue of HOW we work (particularly in Western economies) – the structures and practices of business are thousands of years old, and aren’t necessarily a good fit anymore. This contributes to an estimated 75% of workers (number is from the US, I believe) being disaffected and disengaged from their efforts. Do we REALLY think that 3/4 of the workforce under-performing against their own will is the best way of organising our companies?
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  • Rory Sutherland makes a change – Every now and then, it’s good to be able to give bouquets to a bank, and not brickbats. Kudos to Westpac (in New Zealand – how about Aus!?) for doing something a little out of the ordinary – making it easy for customers to impulse SAVE, rather than impulse BUY … just hit the big red button.
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  • Influence Measurement Optimization – There’s a lot of noise around social networks about “reach” and “influence”, as players like Klout and Peerindex attempt to translate numbers of followers/friends and the depth and breadth of conversation (and some other black magic) to estimate how much social currency you might be able to wield. Of course (as Google continually struggles with) any system of algorithmic ranking will get gamed, and (more subtly) just observing something changes what is observed …
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  • Breakup of the euro? Is Iceland’s rejection of financial bullying a model for Greece and Ireland? – It’s clear that national sovereignty in the Eurozone is subservient to the interests of bankers – the EMU insists that the PIIGs should repay failed loans to speculators by mortgaging their economies for two generations. Iceland still has a sovereign currency, and so far has thumbed its nose to protecting private profits … do Ireland and Greece have the cojones to leave the Euro and re-establish currency sovereignty? The pain will be sharp, but will last two years (cf Argentina) rather than two generations.
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  • Take your SharePoint implementation to the next level – In which it is demonstrated that it IS possible to turn a Sharepoint implementation into a social business tool … but it’s still lipstick on a pig. There’s a whole lot of good reasons for not using Sharepoint as your social tool of choice – and this is a pro-Sharepoint post! Biggest issue – Sharepoint is document-centric, not people-centric; it is structurally non-social. If you’re interested in Enterprise 2.0/Social Business, there’s a lot of stuff that works better – but hey! – it COULD work.
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