America’s Economy Is Officially Inside-Out – “But when growth rises and living standards fall? That begins to hint that there is something wrong—very wrong, perhaps terribly wrong—with the way things are. It suggest that what is happening to this society is not merely a simple, passing, self-healing ailment; but a chronic, possibly permanent, definitely debilitating condition. Not a flu—but a cancer.” As always, Haque’s language is quite forceful, but it doesn’t invalidate the points he makes … that this may not be part of a familiar economic cycle that will ultimately right itself, but be a permanent change to our economy.
Hierarchies were a solution to a communications problem – “The high-value work today is in facing complexity, not in addressing problems that have already been solved and for which a formulaic or standardized response has been developed. One challenge for organizations is getting people to realize that what they already know has increasingly diminishing value.” … the ability to learn new things (where networks are very useful) is, for a lot of work, of much greater value than existing knowledge. Knowledge is power no more.
Entrepreneurs or the state: Innovation comes from public investment. – This is one reason that disinvestment in research & development by the Australian government is a bad thing. Contrary to popular belief, most innovation comes off the public dollar rather than the widely-lauded tech entrepreneurs we hear so much about. Now, commercialising innovation is an extremely useful and necessary step … but we should recognise where the ideas come from, so we don’t kill the golden goose by mistake.
How politics makes us stupid – This is why more facts and better logic aren’t as persuasive as they should be; our ideology actually prevents our brain from working properly … “As a way of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups, individuals subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values”. Doesn’t augur well for a world that needs to come to its senses.
Do Things that Don’t Scale – Technologist and venture capitalist Paul Graham with advice for start-ups (it IS his game, after all) … it’s the stuff that can’t be automated that makes a difference, so do that.
How Drucker Thought About Complexity – You could be forgiven for thinking that since Peter Drucker worked in a simpler time, his thinking might not apply in our more complex environments these days. You’d be wrong … check out what John Hagel III has to say (read it quickly – it’s a limited access HBR article)
Overcoming the Barriers to Enterprise Collaboration – All the time I’ve been involved with technology, people and organisations have been pre-occupied with technology as a “silver bullet”, the magical answer to their problem(s) – enterprise social/social business has been no different. This is a reasonably balanced view of enterprise social media, and where/how it might help with your collaboration efforts
Robert McNamara and the Dangers of Big Data at Ford and in the Vietnam War – “McNamara felt he could comprehend what was happening on the ground only by staring at a spreadsheet—at all those orderly rows and columns, calculations and charts, whose mastery seemed to bring him one standard deviation closer to God.” Big data can be a powerful tool, but sometimes what you really need is eyeballs on the ground, where people do real things … either that, or we all just become part of the body count
Journalism Inside® – While we may have outgrown the need for dead-tree newspapers, we will continue to value the practice of journalism (even if we don’t call it that in the future). Jeff Jarvis explores some possibilities for the future of journalism …
Game-change: Moneyball and the reality of social business – So, you thought Moneyball was a movie about baseball? Wrong … it’s a morality tale about YOUR business, and how outdated business models are killing you, and all you can do is sack the people who tell you that. Will you be playing in your industry’s equivalent of the World Series, or will your season end prematurely? Start listening to the folk who are telling you things you don’t like to hear, because they don’t fit your current models … pioneer or dinosaur?
Ten graphs on organisational warfare – A fairly deep look at (and great synthesis of) models of business competition tied together as an explanation of how organisational warfare is conducted, and why business can be complex.
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 …
What Makes The Most Creative Teams? – Somewhere between “complete strangers” and “have worked closely together for years” is a sweet spot for collaborative innovation; where the overhead of building relationships is done, and the team hasn't settled into groupthink yet.
Privacy in the Age of Big Data – A balanced discussion on the privacy cost: public benefit trade-offs we make (wittingly or not) with the increase in data collected and aggregated. The data domain under discussion is one (health care) where both privacy concerns and public benefit are magnified … some interesting points made about personal control over data, too.
Now Every Company Is A Software Company – and the reason is the explosion of data: “Big data can get us to business at the speed of thought … But the reality is that most companies do business at the speed of the weekly meeting.”
Companies in all industries are finding that software and the data it manages are becoming core to their business, rather than a back-office prop.
Social Business – or whatever happened to Enterprise 2.0? – Possibly the most balanced, nuanced, and comprehensive look at the structure of Enterprise2.0/Social Business I've seen in quite a while. Key point – it won't work too well if you haven't got Enterprise 0 and 1 working as well.
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
The mind is for having ideas not holding them – [Video] The “Getting Things Done” guy, David Allen, talking about creating clear space for your brain to do creative things. “Getting things done” isn’t about getting things done – it’s about making space in your head for more important things.
When Employees Misinterpret Managers – “What gets measured gets done” – but you need to beware of unintended behaviours driven by poorly-thought-through metrics. And another caveat: managing by numbers only is a bit like painting by numbers: for amateurs and pre-schoolers.
Bored People Quit – And who gets bored quickest? Your smartest people. How do you stop them getting bored? Give them interesting tasks. What if I have no interesting tasks? Prepare for a slow and tedious extinction …
IT Outsourcing: How Offshoring Can Kill Innovation – A cautionary look at the dangers of outsourcing, particularly as it moves up the value chain from “grunt” work to “thinking work” – once you outsource your thinking, and your unique capabilities, you have no business. And as the interview points out, it’s broader than a single organisation – it means countries lose the infrastructure and network of suppliers in an industry, so the outsourcing becomes a continuing death spiral.
Empowering Leadership – Leadership doesn’t necessarily mean having a leader: “On teams that function well, every member of the team leads. Each person takes responsibility for helping the team move forward.” Rather than trying to discover leaders, we should be developing leadership …
The Big Idea: Creating Shared Value – Michael Porter suggesting that there is a way to build economic value that provides societal value as well – it’s just that we might have to think outside of out-dated business models to achieve it: “The purpose of the corporation must be redefined as creating shared value, not just profit per se. This will drive the next wave of innovation and productivity growth in the global economy. It will also reshape capitalism and its relationship to society. Perhaps most important of all, learning how to create shared value is our best chance to legitimize business again. “
Hierarchy and Network: Two Structures, One Organization – Kotter makes the valid point that hierarchies are optimised for repetition, stability and efficiency. Which means they don’t change or adapt well. He explores the possibility of a simultaneous network structure to handle change … an idea that strikes me as unlikely in practice. What I CAN see happening is a continuous flux between network (for periods of change or instability) morphing into hierarchy, and then back again through the cycle. What I PREFER to see is network structures for operation, and hierarchy for administration – suit the structure to the purpose.