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Why moonshots elude the timid of heart
February 14, 2020 | Financial Times | by Tim Harford.

* Loonshots — by Safi Bahcall.
* Major innovations tend to result from investment that is high-risk, high-pay-off.
* Executives at the Cambridge, UK outpost of an admired Japanese company fret that success rate of their research and development, at 70%, was far too high. It signals that research teams had been risk-averse, pursuing easy wins at the expense of more radical and risky long-shots.
* Disney, the belief is that Disney if you weren't failing at half of your endeavours, you weren’t being brave or creative enough.
* The problem is a societal/systematic preference for marginal gains over long shots---It is much more pleasant to experience a steady trickle of small successes than a long drought while waiting for a flood that may never come.
* marginal gains do add up, but need to be bolstered by the occasional long-shot breakthrough.....Major innovations such as the electric motor, the photo­voltaic cell or the mobile phone open up new territories that the marginal-gains innovators & tinkerers can further exploit.[JCK: from Simon Johnson, "public investments in research and development contribute to what the authors call the “spillover effect.” When the product of the research is not a private firm’s intellectual property, its impact flows across the economy."]
* the UK Conservative party’s promise to establish “a new agency for high-risk, high-pay-off research, at arm’s length from government” — a British version of the much-admired US Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency.
* DARPA's failure rate is often said to be around 85%.
* a low failure rate may indeed signal a lack of originality and ambition.
* Arpa hires high-quality scientists for short stints — often two or three years — and giving them control over a programme budget to commission research from any source they wish.
* the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a foundation, deliberately looks for projects with an unusual or untried approach, but a large potential pay-off.....HHMI gets what it pays for — more failures, but larger successes, compared with other grant-makers funding researchers of a similar calibre.
* how long will UK politicians tolerate failure as a sign of boldness and originality? Eventually, they will simply call it failure.
* the trilemma: Be cautious, or fund lots of risky but tiny projects, or fund a few big, risky projects from a modest budget and accept that every single one may flop.
audacity  big_bets  boldness  books  breakthroughs  Cambridge  DARPA  failure  game_changers  high-reward  high-risk  incrementalism  industrial_policies  innovation  jump-start  marginal_improvements  moonshots  originality  politicians  public_investments  publicly_funded  quick_wins  R&D  risk-aversion  science  small_wins  spillover  success_rates  thinking_big  Tim_Harford  timidity  United_Kingdom 
5 days ago by jerryking
Where Computing Is Headed—Beyond Quantum
Feb. 4, 2020 | WSJ | By Sara Castellanos.

Startups are coming up with new ways to make computer chips and store huge amounts of data in DNA........dozens of companies gaining interest from investors and corporations because of their novel approaches to computing. They are using light, quantum physics, molecular biology and new design methods to build chips and create data-storage techniques for future computing demands.
data  DNA  engineering  fundamental_discoveries  good_enough  high-risk  innovation  light  molecular_biology  Moore's_Law  novel  quantum_computing  semiconductors  software  start_ups  technology  up-and-comers  vc  venture_capital 
15 days ago by jerryking
Venture capital investors should harpoon more whales
February 3, 2020 | Financial Times | by John Thornhill.

*VC: An American History by Tom Nicholas.
* The worry for Silicon Valley is that the impulse for creative destruction is now fading
* It is easy to be rude about the venture capital industry. So here goes. The criticism runs that the VC sector is full of too many over-funded, ill-disciplined chancers who pass off hype for reality, groupthink for insight and luck for good judgment.....What’s more, a staggering 95 per cent of VC firms fail to make a decent enough return to justify the risks their investors run......the current mindset of the VC industry is responsible for the slowdown in new business formation and lack of economic dynamism in the US. All too often, addicted to capital-light, metric-heavy software businesses, VCs are failing to bet big enough on the breakthrough technologies that tackle our biggest challenges, such as climate change or cancer.........Katie Rae, chief executive and managing partner of The Engine, a Boston-based “tough tech” venture fund, says that many VCs have lost sight of their original purpose......VCs were all about funding tech breakthroughs but that has got lost,” ...... “A lot of VCs look more like private equity companies that do not want to lose any money so they end up backing dog-walking apps rather than quantum computing.”......Historically, the best venture capitalists have performed a vital capitalistic function: turning seemingly outlandish ideas and transformative technologies into everyday realities. Semiconductors, recombinant insulin and internet search engines have all come to market largely thanks to VC backing........“The VC industry is cut-throat. .....It provides the capital and expertise for start-ups to succeed.”.......In VC: An American History, Tom Nicholas traces VC’s high-risk, high-reward mentality back to the 19th-century whaling industry, which developed a novel form of venture financing. The idea was to back an expert captain who could fit out a robust ship, hire the best crew and endure an average of 3.6 years at sea. On landing a whale, the captain would return investors’ money several times over. But many ships returned empty-handed or sunk.........the pattern of financial returns made by Gideon Allen & Sons, the smartest backers of whaling ventures, were almost identical to those achieved by Sequoia Capital, one of the best VC firms operating today..........one of the striking features of the subsequent evolution of the VC industry.......was how contingent it was on time, circumstance and people. The west coast model of VC investing, owed an enormous amount to massive government investments in technology during the cold war, the expansion of world-beating universities in California and the emergence of some remarkable entrepreneurs and visionary investors, such as Arthur Rock, Tom Perkins and Don Valentine.......The worry for Silicon Valley is that some of that Schumpeterian impulse for creative destruction is now fading. One argument has it that Silicon Valley is becoming increasingly “corporatised” with Big Tech firms, such as Google, Facebook and Apple, championing the mantra that “big is beautiful” in the face of emerging competition from China.

The benign view is that Big Tech may be internalising much of the innovation once carried out by start-ups; the malign interpretation is that Cupertino, California [JCK: that is, "Big Tech"] is snuffing out smaller rivals.......

“Silicon Valley is overdue a disruption. It is not a hotbed of start-ups any more,” ..........Metaphorically, at least, the VC industry needs to get back in the business of funding wildly ambitious entrepreneurs intent on harpooning some more whales.
19th_century  Arthur_Rock  big_bets  Big_Tech  books  breakthroughs  broad-based_scientific_enquiry  cancers  climate_change  creative_destruction  disruption  Don_Valentine  entrepreneur  finance  financing  fundamental_discoveries  funding  HBS  high-risk  high-reward  innovation  investors  Joseph_Schumpeter  moonshots  public_investments  semiconductors  Sequoia  Silicon_Valley  thinking_big  Tom_Perkins  tough_tech  whaling  vc  venture_capital  visionaries 
16 days ago by jerryking
Innovation diary: MIT professors keep the ideas flowing | Financial Times
John Thornhill

“But it is my duty to make something that solves an important problem,” he says. “It is all about the problem.”

Founded in 1861, MIT is one of the world’s leading research centres, with a reputation for “learning by doing”. It is affiliated with 95 Nobel Prize-winners.

Professor Kripa Varanasi, the co-founder of LiquiGlide, has developed a “solid liquid” that enables every last drop of ketchup to slide smoothly out of the bottle on to your fries........ between 5 % and 25 % of various consumer products are left in the bottle, with lotions being a particularly irritating, and expensive, problem for consumers.......LiquiGlide’s technology can also be usefully applied to all kinds of other surfaces, from paint tins to bread-making machinery to catheters. Intriguingly it can also be “inverted” to counter the hydrophobic surfaces of many plants, increasing the absorption rates of chemicals. “Only 2 per cent of what is sprayed sticks to the plants,”........the newly launched Schwarzman College of Computing, a project with $1.1bn in funding that counts the head of the Blackstone Group among its backers. The college has three main aims: to advance computer research; to infuse knowledge of artificial intelligence across all the university’s schools; and to focus on the social impact and ethical responsibilities of computing.

That seems like an urgent priority as we grapple with the malign effects of algorithmic discrimination and facial recognition technologies. “We have to think about all these ethical issues at the design stage,” ........Winston Churchill asserted that no technical knowledge could outweigh the knowledge of the humanities in which philosophy and history walked hand in hand. “Human beings are not structures that are built or machines that are forged. They are plants that grow and must be tended as such.”
artificial_intelligence  entrepreneur  entrepreneurship  fluidity  human_factor  humanities  ideas  innovation  MIT  patents  PhDs  scholars  start_ups  Winston_Churchill  worthwhile_problems 
19 days ago by jerryking
Tech innovation needs a level playing field
January 19, 2020 | Financial Times | by Rana Foroohar.

.........Creating an even playing field will require both monopoly scrutiny and a close examination of whether the pendulum in the patent system has swung too far towards benefiting tech companies that depend more on data and networks than patents, or have an interest in making it tougher to obtain patents.

Because their own products (for example, smartphones) require so many different bits of technology, the companies have an interest in keeping these inputs as cheap as possible. They can deploy legions of lawyers to protect any crucial IP of their own while “efficiently infringing” on the patents that belong to others (that’s the term for violations done knowingly by big companies as a cost of doing business).
......The US, in particular, has work to do there. “Our leadership on the global stage depends on our ability to promote and protect the innovations of American creators, engineers, and scientists,” said Democratic Senator Chris Coons, who has sponsored bipartisan legislation to strengthen America’s own IP protection. “I’m concerned that while our competitors — like China — strengthen their intellectual property regimes, we have been weakening our own innovation ecosystem.”
.......But the US has another problem — that of trying to compete with a state-run economy like China’s when it has no national innovation strategy. While large American companies are busy fighting each other in expensive legal battles to see who gets to set standards for smart speakers (or 5G, or AI, or a host of other areas), China is using its Belt and Road Initiative to roll out its own equipment, technology standards and interests across nations from Asia to Southern Europe. That’s not duplication. It’s just smart.
Big_Tech  China  cross-licensing  entrepreneurship  Google  industrial_policies  innovation  innovation_policies  intellectual_property  national_interests  One_Belt_One_Road  patents  patent_infringement  Rana_Foroohar  smart_speakers  Sonos  technical_standards  U.S.-China_relations 
4 weeks ago by jerryking
‘There’s Always A Premium On Great Ideas’ Says General Mills’ 301 Inc. Venture Group Leader While Talking Innovation
Aug 21, 2019, 01:39am
‘There’s Always A Premium On Great Ideas’ Says General Mills’ 301 Inc. Venture Group Leader While Talking Innovation

Barb StuckeyContributor
Food & Drink
beverages  Big_Food  brands  corporate_investors  food  incubators  innovation 
10 weeks ago by jerryking
Two MIT Economists Share A Bold Plan To Jump-Start The Economy In New Book
April 9, 2019 | Boston Public Radio | By Arjun Singh

On paper, America’s economy seems to be excelling. In March, the economy added 196,000 new jobs while the unemployment rate sat at 3.8 percent. Meanwhile, American startups like Uber and Pinterest are expected to go public with multi-million or higher valuations. But MIT economists Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson believe this hides a darker truth about the American economy: It’s slowly falling behind the rest of the world.

In their new book, “Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream,” Gruber and Johnson lay out their plan for how the United States can reclaim its mantle as a leader in not just gross domestic product, but also innovation and science. The key, they say, is government investment and encouragement in the scientific sector.......The economists are optimistic, however, that the United States can regain its lead and eventually develop a robust economy that sees economic growth and investment in the sciences. And not just in places like Boston or San Francisco, but throughout the rest of the country, where Johnson says there is a wealth of untapped talent and potential. They estimate there are at least 102 potential scientific hubs scattered across the U.S.

“The coastal superstar cities have become extremely expensive, but there’s a tremendous amount of talent spread across the U.S.,” Johnson said. “Good living conditions also matter. People also want to live in a place [with a] good climate, much better commute times than you have in the megacities, and low crime rates. Those are our very simple, transparent criteria.”..... public investments in research and development contribute to what the authors call the “spillover effect.” When the product of the research is not a private firm’s intellectual property, its impact flows across the economy.
books  breakthroughs  coastal  competitiveness_of_nations  economists  industrial_policies  innovation  jump-start  MIT  moonshots  NSF  public_investments  R&D  science  Simon_Johnson  spillover  superstars  U.S. 
august 2019 by jerryking
Makerspaces under pressure to revamp business models
July 29, 2019 The Globe and Mail | BRENDA BOUW, SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL.
3-D  bankruptcies  business_models  hacks  innovation  manufacturers  start_ups  Makerspace 
july 2019 by jerryking
For Sephora, the store is core to its beauty
July 24 2019 | | Financial Times | by Harriet Agnew and Hannah Copeland in Paris.

**Sephora stores focus on experience, allowing consumers to test products digitally on a virtual mirror for instance or personalise products **

Like its stores in New York’s Times Square and Dubai Mall in the Middle East, Sephora in La Défense has recently reopened after an extensive refurbishment. The investment reflects how bricks and mortar and experiential retail are key to Sephora’s growth. The LVMH-owned group, which stocks about 300 brands alongside its own label, has increased sales fourfold in the past eight years, fuelled by a booming beauty market........“A lot of people are scared of the retail apocalypse so they’re not investing in stores, and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said chief executive Chris de Lapuente in an interview on the shop floor. “We’re investing in our stores, taking our top 100 stores in the world and renovating them to the best possible standard.”....Mr de Lapuente says one attraction of Sephora is that consumers “discover brands they can’t find anywhere else”, noting that about a third of its offerings are exclusive to Sephora, and it acts as an incubator for upcoming or niche brands....Exclusivity might be with Huda, which began selling false eyelashes in Dubai and subsequently developed a collaboration with Sephora; pop star Rihanna’s cosmetics brand Fenty, which is on track for €500m sales this year; or an exclusive collaboration with Dior for the Dior Backstage range of make-up.

Pointing to the beauty bar where customers can get a free makeover, Mr de Lapuente added: “Experiential retail is crucial to our success. Sephora is a place where people come for advice, they come to listen. We teach, inspire and play . . . You’re not going to get this online. Online you can do your research . . . here you can come and experiment.”

Mr Fujimori agrees, saying Sephora “successfully combines experiential retail with a leading ecommerce presence, leveraging digital technology to enhance the shopping experience in-store and online”......
Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. The challenge now for Sephora is to stay ahead in a world where there are more make-up and beauty brands than ever, and social media has lowered barriers to entry and boosted the speed to market. Meanwhile, Amazon last month announced the launch of its professional beauty stores, aimed at the mass market.

“Amazon is just another one of the many choices out there,” said Mr de Lapuente. “They have a strong e-commerce offering. They don’t have stores. We love that consumers love to shop online and in store.” He says that customers who buy both on- and offline tend to purchase three times more than those who buy using just one channel. Ecommerce represents an average of 20 per cent of sales in each country for Sephora, which uses influencers to build its community. “Amazon just forces us to raise our game.”....

The pressure is on to keep on innovating. “Beauty is so fast-moving, you can’t cruise,” said Mr de Lapuente. He says innovation will come both from new products (citing untapped potential in haircare and wellness), and from the way in which brands reach consumers. He sees opportunities in areas like voice-activated ordering through home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, and social commerce through platforms like China’s WeChat.

But despite such technological developments, for Mr de Lapuente, the store has a robust future.

At La Défense, customers are returning to work with Sephora’s distinctive striped bags modelled on the black and white stripes of Italy’s Siena Cathedral. “Is physical retail alive or dead?” mused Mr de Lapuente among the throng of shoppers. “It looks pretty alive to me. The store is where the magic happens.”
Amazon  beauty  brands  bricks-and-mortar  customer_experience  cosmetics  digital_influencers  e-commerce  experimentation  experiential_marketing  high-end  in-store  incubators  innovation  LVMH  makeup  millennials  omnichannel  refurbished  renovations  Sephora  women 
july 2019 by jerryking
Opinion: Canadian CEOs facing an innovation disconnect - The Globe and Mail
ELIO LUONGO
CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED MAY 29, 2019

Both Canadian and global CEOs told us the environment, territorialism and disruptive technologies were their top three concerns.

For Canadian companies, lack of consensus on environmental issues weighs heavily given our disproportionate dependence on the resource sector. And with nearly a third of our gross domestic product tied to exports, growing trade differences with and between Canada’s two largest trade partners raises concerns about the continuing health of our economy.

While our leaders are carefully watching how these national and geopolitical issues pan out, they are putting their focus on technology. Almost two-thirds plan to increase investment in disruption detection and innovative processes – with the same number planning to collaborate with innovative startups.

But CEOs must also brace for the effects of automation and artificial intelligence on their work force. It comes down to culture, and three-quarters of CEOs say they want a culture in which failure in pursuit of innovation is tolerated. However, barely half say that it exists today.
Canadian  CEOS  collaboration  disruption  innovation  large_companies  start_ups 
may 2019 by jerryking
To Be a Better Leader, Ask Better Questions
May 9, 2019 | WSJ | By Hal Gregersen. Dr. Gregersen is executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and author of “Questions Are the Answer.”

1. Understand what kinds of questions spark creative thinking. The best questions really knock down barriers to creative thinking and channel energy down new, more productive pathways. A question that does has five traits. It reframes the problem. It intrigues the imagination. It invites others’ thinking. It opens up space for different answers. And it’s nonaggressive—not posed to embarrass, humiliate or assert power over the other party. Ask employees: “What are you wrestling with and how can I help?” Ask customers and supply-chain partners: “If you were in my shoes, what would you be doing differently than what you see us doing today?”
2. Create the habit of asking questions. in the early stages of building your questioning capacity, it’s helpful to start by copying other people’s questions. It’s the equivalent of practicing your scales. Once you’ve got the scales down, you can start to improvise..... management thinker Peter Drucker, liked to jump-start strategic thinking by asking: “What changes have recently happened that don’t fit ‘what everyone knows’ ”?

Another example: A leader in a consumer packaged-goods company constantly asks: “What more can we do to delight the customer at the point of purchase? And what more to delight them at the point of consumption?”......builds the habit of thinking in questions, which, in turn, leads to daily inquiry about matters large and small, and an organization that keeps pushing its competitive advantages forward.
3. Fuel that habit by making yourself generate new questions...... generate new and better questions, not to cap your questioning career at the level of playing flawless scales.
4. Respond with the power of the pause. When someone comes to you with a problem, don’t immediately respond with an answer. ........Instead, make it your habit to respond with a question—ideally one that reframes the problem, but at least one that draws out more of your colleague’s thoughts on the matter. ....not talking about the cop-out rejoinder of, “Well, what do YOU think we should do?” Help the person think through how the decision should be made, with questions like: “What are we optimizing for?” “What’s the most important thing we have to achieve with whatever direction we take?” Or: “What makes this decision so hard? What problem felt like this in the past?” You'll be teaching your colleagues the value of pausing to get the question right before rushing to the answer. And nine times out of 10, you’re going to wind up with a better answer than the one you would have blurted out with less deliberation.
5. Brainstorm for questions. Whenever you/ your team finds itself at an impasse, or there is a sense that some insight is eluding you regarding a problem or opportunity, just stop and spend four minutes generating nothing but questions about it--question bursts. Don’t spend a second answering the questions, or explaining why you posed a certain one. As in brainstorming, go for high volume and do no editing in progress. See if you can generate at least 15-20.
6. Reward your questioners. Bosses should reconceive what their primary job is. They aren’t there to come up with today’s best answers, or even just to get their teams to come up with them. Their job is to build their organization’s capacity for constant innovation.
Their enterprise’s future—and their own career trajectory—depends on their resolve to ask better questions.
books  brainstorming  creativity  creative_thinking  follow-up_questions  habits  imagination  innovation  leaders  nonaggressive  organizational_capacity  Peter_Drucker  Philip_Mudd  power_of_the_pause  problem_definition  problem_framing  questions  strategic_thinking 
may 2019 by jerryking
An equation to ensure America survives the age of AI
April 10, 2019 | Financial Times | Elizabeth Cobbs.

Alexander Hamilton, Horace Mann and Frances Perkins are linked by their emphasis on the importance of human learning.

In more and more industries, the low-skilled suffer declining pay and hours. McKinsey estimates that 60 per cent of occupations are at risk of partial or total automation. Workers spy disaster. Whether the middle class shrinks in the age of artificial intelligence depends less on machine learning than on human learning. Historical precedents help, especially...... the Hamilton-Mann-Perkins equation: innovation plus education, plus a social safety net, equals the sum of prosperity.

(1) Alexander Hamilton.
US founding father Alexander Hamilton was first to understand the relationship between: (a) the US's founding coincided with the industrial revolution and the need to grapple with technological disruption (In 1776, James Watts sold his first steam engine when the ink was still wet on the Declaration of Independence)-- Steam remade the world economically; and (b), America’s decolonisation remade the world politically......Hamilton believed that Fledgling countries needed robust economies. New technologies gave them an edge. Hamilton noted that England owed its progress to the mechanization of textile production.......Thomas Jefferson,on the other hand, argued that the US should remain pastoral: a free, virtuous nation exchanged raw materials for foreign goods. Farmers were “the chosen people”; factories promoted dependence and vice.....Hamilton disagreed. He thought colonies shouldn’t overpay foreigners for things they could produce themselves. Government should incentivise innovation, said his 1791 Report on the Subject of Manufactures. Otherwise citizens would resist change even when jobs ceased to provide sufficient income, deterred from making a “spontaneous transition to new pursuits”.......the U.S. Constitution empowered Congress to grant patents to anyone with a qualified application. America became a nation of tinkerers...Cyrus McCormick, son of a farmer, patented a mechanical reaper in 1834 that reduced the hands needed in farming. The US soared to become the world’s largest economy by 1890. Hamilton’s constant: nurture innovation.

(2) Horace Mann
America’s success gave rise to the idea that a free country needed free schools. The reformer Horace Mann, who never had more than six weeks of schooling in a year, started the Common School Movement, calling public schools “the greatest discovery made by man”.....Grammar schools spread across the US between the 1830s and 1880s. Reading, writing and arithmetic were the tools for success in industrialising economies. Towns offered children a no-cost education.......Americans achieved the world’s highest per capita income just as they became the world’s best-educated people. Mann’s constant: prioritise education.

(3) Frances Perkins
Jefferson was correct that industrial economies made people more interdependent. By 1920, more Americans lived in towns earning wages than on farms growing their own food. When the Great Depression drove unemployment to 25 per cent, the state took a third role....FDR recruited Frances Perkins, the longest serving labour secretary in US history, to rescue workers. Perkins led campaigns that established a minimum wage and maximum workweek. Most importantly, she chaired the committee that wrote the 1935 Social Security Act, creating a federal pension system and state unemployment insurance. Her achievements did not end the depression, but helped democracy weather it. Perkins’s constant: knit a safety net.

The world has ridden three swells of industrialisation occasioned by the harnessing of steam, electricity and computers. The next wave, brought to us by AI, towers over us. History shows that innovation, education and safety nets point the ship of state into the wave.

Progress is a variable. Hamilton, Mann and Perkins would each urge us to mind the constants in the historical equation.
adaptability  Alexander_Hamilton  artificial_intelligence  automation  constitutions  disruption  downward_mobility  education  FDR  Founding_Fathers  Frances_Perkins  gig_economy  historical_precedents  hollowing_out  Horace_Mann  Industrial_Revolution  innovation  innovation_policies  James_Watts  job_destruction  job_displacement  job_loss  life_long_learning  low-skilled  McKinsey  middle_class  priorities  productivity  public_education  public_schools  safety_nets  slavery  steam_engine  the_Great_Depression  Thomas_Jefferson  tinkerers 
april 2019 by jerryking
The Missing Piece in Big Food’s Innovation Puzzle
April 1, 2019 | WSJ | by By Carol Ryan.

.......In truth, they are becoming reliant on others to do the heavy lifting. Specialist food ingredient companies like Tate & Lyle and Kerry Group work with global brands behind the scenes to come up with new ideas. These businesses can spend two to three times more on innovation as a percentage of turnover than their biggest clients.

One part of their expertise is overhauling recipes. Ingredients companies can do everything from adding trendy probiotics to taking out excess sugar or gluten. Nestlé got a hand from Tate & Lyle to remove more sugar from its Nesquik range of flavored drinks, while Denmark’s Chr. Hansen helped Kraft Heinz switch from artificial to natural colors in the U.S. giant’s Macaroni & Cheese......Another service food suppliers offer is coming up with successful innovations to help revive sales. Nestlé’s ruby chocolate KitKat, which has become very popular in Asia, was actually created by U.S. cocoa producer Barry Callebaut, for example.

=============================================
See also, "For innovation success, do not follow the money"
07-Nov-2005 | Financial Times | By Michael Schrage "There is
no correlation between the percentage of net revenue spent on R&D
and the innovative capabilities of an organisation – none,"...Just ask
General Motors. No company in the world has spent more on R&D over
the past 25 years. Yet, somehow, GM's market share has
declined....R&D productivity – not R&D investment – is the real
challenge for global innovation. Innovation is not what innovators
innovate, it is what customers actually adopt. Productivity here is not
measured in patents granted but in new customers won and existing
customers profitably retained..
customer_profitability  Big_Food  brands  flavours  food  foodservice  health_foods  healthy_lifestyles  ingredients  ingredient_diversity  innovation  investors  Kraft_Heinz  large_companies  Mondelez  Nestlé  new_ideas  R&D  shifting_tastes  start_ups  Unilever 
april 2019 by jerryking
University of Toronto announces largest donation in school’s history for construction of new centre, institute
MARCH 25, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | by JOE FRIESEN.
Billionaire investor Gerald Schwartz and Indigo chief executive Heather Reisman announced Monday that they will donate $100-million to the University of Toronto for the construction of a new centre for innovation and entrepreneurship as well as an institute that will study the impact of emerging technologies on society......We read an article together about this bold ambition the university had to create a new complex that would be devoted to the whole subject of technology and innovation,” Ms. Reisman said. “The things that they talked about housing there were things we were interested in – the Vector Institute [for Artificial Intelligence], the Creative Destruction Lab, the entrepreneurs. We looked at each other and said ‘We’d like to support that.’"

Mr. Gertler said the gift is affirmation of the role the university plays in innovation in fields such as machine learning, gene editing and regenerative medicine.

“There are very few gifts across the country that have been this big,” Mr. Gertler said. “It draws on U of T’s world class strength, both in machine learning and the ethics and philosophy of technological change and its impact on society.”
CDL  Colleges_&_Universities  entrepreneurship  Gerald_Schwartz  Heather_Reisman  innovation  Joe_Friesen  Meric_Gertler  moguls  philanthropy  uToronto  Vector_Institute 
march 2019 by jerryking
How the modern office is killing our creativity
March 14, 2019 | | Financial Times | by Pilita Clark.

Roger Mavity and Stephen Bayley, the design guru, have published "How to Steal Fire", ....a book on one of the most eagerly sought qualities in the business world: creativity. Companies buffeted by a storm of digital disruption and competitive pressures have embraced the need for creative thinking with gusto in recent years, which marks a turnaround......CEOs have talked ....about the importance of innovation (i.e. the implementation of new ideas), but far less attention has been devoted to figuring out how to foster creativity itself.....“The first thing that helps creativity is solitude,” “Creativity is essentially an individual rather than a collective activity.” Sir Isaac Newton was a case in point....The great thoughts that helped him go on to formulate the theory of gravity came after the Great Plague closed his university (Cambridge) and he spent nearly two years shut away in his home in Lincolnshire......When he was running Microsoft, Bill Gates used to head off by himself to a secluded hideaway twice a year for what he called Think Week.....Mavity says: “If you need to produce an idea, isolating yourself can be enormously beneficial.”......“How you do that in a big open-plan office with 100 other people trying to be creative at the same time?.......Solitude is in hopelessly short supply at a time when companies are captivated by the financial allure of the open-plan office and its evil twin, hot-desking. ....The idea that great creative thoughts come from teamwork, brainstorming and the ever-present away day is one of the “great myths” of creativity......the Ringelmann effect, named after a French engineer, Max Ringelmann, who first observed that individual productivity falls as group size increases. Away days can be useful for helping people get to know each other better, but not for generating ideas, said Mr Mavity. As his book puts it: “Brainstorming produces, at best, a light, irritating drizzle of complacent mediocrity.”....smart companies understand the need for focused concentration [JCK: sustained inquiry]...what should executives be doing to foster creativity?....“They have to walk the talk,” ....leaders need to set clear goals and then give people doing creative work the time, resources and autonomy to achieve them....Managers must be genuinely open to new thoughts and make sure good ideas are fostered. “None of it is rocket science or brain surgery,” “But you have to pay attention on a regular basis to whether people have these things.”
advertising  billgates  books  brainstorming  creativity  disruption  ergonomics  innovation  Isaac_Newton  myths  pay_attention  solitude  sustained_inquiry  teams  workplaces  ideas  open-plan 
march 2019 by jerryking
How to keep creative geniuses in check and in profit
March 10, 2019 | Financial Times | by Andrew Hill.

The story of how Eastman Kodak invented a digital camera in 1975 but failed to develop it is one of the most notorious misses in the annals of innovation. (It’s more complicated than that, but never mind.)

Polaroid, the instant-photo pioneer, took a slower path to the technology: its first digital camera appeared only in 1996. It filed for bankruptcy in 2001, 11 years before Kodak.
Polaroid’s founding genius, Edwin Land, could, though, have been first to the digital party. In 1971, as part of a secret panel advising the US president, he advocated digital photography, which the US eventually adopted for its spy satellites.
But Land was blind to the promise of digital cameras for the consumer.

This tale of failures of leadership, innovation and organisation is well told by Safi Bahcall, a physicist, former consultant and biotech entrepreneur, in Loonshots. There are four types of failure:
(1) Leadership failure. Edwin Land was guilty of leading his company into a common trap: only ideas approved by an all-powerful leader advance until at last a costly mis-step trips up the whole company.
(2) Innovation failure. Bahcall distinguishes between product-type and strategy-type innovation. Classic P-type innovators are the folks at innovation conferences conversing about new gadgets with less attention being paid to the analysis of innovative business models. Indeed, at some forums, P-type innovations also crowd the lobby. Delegates line up to try the latest shiny robot, electric car, or 3D printer.

(3) Organizational failure. Loonshots is based, refreshingly, on the idea culture does not necessarily eat strategy for breakfast. In fact, bad structure eats culture. Bahcall gives this a scientific foundation, explaining that successful teams and companies stagnate in the same way water turns to ice. A perfectly balanced innovative company must try to keep the temperature at the point where free-flowing bright ideas are not suddenly frozen by bureaucracy. How? Since the success of Bell Labs, companies have been told they should set up “a department of loonshots run by loons, free to explore the bizarre” separately from the parent. The key, though, is to ensure chief executives and their managers encourage the transfer of ideas between the mad creatives in the lab and the people in the field, and (the culture part) ensure both groups feel equally loved.

As for the assumption companies always ossify as they get larger, that risk can be mitigated by adjusting incentives, curbing office politics, and matching skills to projects, for which Loonshots offers a detailed formula.

Success also requires a special type of leader — not a visionary innovator but a “careful gardener”, who nurtures the existing franchise and the new projects. Though not himself an inventor, Steve Jobs, in his second phase at Apple, arguably achieved the right balance. He also spotted the S-type potential of iTunes. Even if Tesla’s Elon Musk is not losing that balance, in his headlong, top-down pursuit of loonshot after loonshot, he does not strike me as a born gardener.

Persuading charismatic geniuses to give up their role as leaders of organisations built on their inventions is hard. Typically, such people figure out themselves how to garden, as Jobs did; or they are coached by the board, which may install veteran executives to help; or they may be handed the title of “chief innovator” or “chief scientist” and nudged aside for a new CEO.

(4) They may find themselves peddling a fatally flawed product.
Bell_Labs  books  breakthroughs  business_models  creativity  digital_cameras  Edwin_Land  Elobooks  Elon_Musk  failure  genius  howto  incentives  innovation  inventors  Kodak  leaders  moonshots  office_politics  organizational_failure  organizational_innovation  Polaroid  product-orientated  Steve_Jobs 
march 2019 by jerryking
Store wars: short sellers expect more pain in US retail
February 26, 2019 | Financial Times | by Alistair Gray in New York.

Short sellers who made big bets against US retailers a couple of years ago had hoped for carnage across the board. No one could compete with the rise and rise of Amazon...which would make life hard for every mall tenant across America.

But after a period in which internet shopping seemed to hit almost every brick-and-mortar retailer, the industry seems to be dividing into winners and losers. Casualties are still piling up: bankruptcies since the turn of the year....Payless Shoes ....Sears, the once dominant department store chain, narrowly avoided outright liquidation.

However, some of the biggest companies e.g. Walmart & Best Buy are reporting their healthiest metrics in years......For short sellers trying to profit from falling share prices, it makes for a perilous environment.

“It’s a slow death by a thousand paper cuts, and not the kind of ‘mall-mageddon’ originally anticipated by that trade,”.....“Retail has been much more volatile than many would have expected. It hasn’t been decidedly one way down.”....an over-reaction in 2017 and that led to pretty nice opportunities [for longs] in 2018,”.....Investors who put money on the demise of retail that summer have lost out in many cases......It was almost as if they [shorts] were acting like no retail real estate space can work,” ....overcapacity doesn’t mean retail real estate is dead.”...Shares in the sector have been volatile in part because investors have had to consider a series of seemingly contradictory data points about the health of both the US consumer and the retail business.....Traditional chains are also trying to take on Amazon by improving their online offerings and making their stores more enticing. Both require hefty investment, although successful examples include Lululemon, which offers yoga lessons in its stores. Shares in the company have tripled since a 2017 low.

“Those who are innovating and investing in ecommerce, marketing and social media tend to be doing well...“The US is still over-stored,” ...Ecommerce meant “more of the store base is not economic. That’s going be a secular pressure for years to come. For those retailers that don’t have a digital strategy, it’s just a matter of time before they fall.”
Amazon  apocalypses  bankruptcies  barbell_effect  bear_markets  bricks-and-mortar  commercial_real_estate  death_by_a_thousand_cuts  department_stores  digital_strategies  e-commerce  innovation  investors  investment_thesis  Lululemon  pain_points  overcapacity  retailers  shopping_malls  short_selling  structural_decline  Wal-Mart 
february 2019 by jerryking
Jim Balsillie: Dragging Canada into the 21st Century | TVO.org
Technological innovation at the outset of this millennium has been nothing short of revolutionary. And it shows no signs of slowing down. Jim Balsillie, the former co-CEO of Research In Motion, says Canada is not keeping up. Worse, that policymakers and businesses still don't seem to fully appreciate the scope of the change underway. He's now chair of the Council of Canadian innovators, and he joins The Agenda to discuss his ideas.

#1 job. Accumulate valuable intangible assets. which you then commercialize. You acquire a lot of IP and data assets.
Jim_Balsillie  Canada  Steve_Paikin  policymakers  priorities  digital_economy  innovation  knowledge_economy  ideas  intangibles  intellectual_property  competitiveness  protocols  Sun_Tzu  under-performing  under_appreciated  21st._century 
february 2019 by jerryking
The opportunities left behind when innovation shakes up old industries
November 28, 2018 | The Globe and Mail | GUY NICHOLSON.

early meetings and phone calls were casual conversations with a couple of landscape photographers who specialize in golf.

The very nature of their business had changed fundamentally...After the Internet disrupted print magazines and media, they recast themselves as digital marketers, selling online rights to images created with high-tech arrays of digital cameras, drones and processing software. But even while embracing technology to take their work to new artistic heights, there were dramatically fewer places left for golfers to come across this art in print......Had their little corner of publishing been so thoroughly disrupted and abandoned that it now had more demand than supply? .....Technological innovation can be extremely disruptive and painful – and in the digital era, capable of changing entire industries seemingly overnight. But when creative destruction puts good things in peril, slivers of opportunity can emerge. After the masses and the smart money have flocked to newer technologies, formerly ultra-competitive spaces can be left wide open for innovation – abandoned fields for small businesses, start-ups and niche players to occupy.

It helps to offer a level of quality or service the bigger players consider uneconomical. Look at the travel industry, which has been thoroughly remade under waves of innovation: cellphones, digital cameras, GPS, Google Maps. Between internet comparison shopping and Airbnb, travel agents could have gone the way of the traveller’s cheque. But in the wake of all that disruption, tiny bespoke agencies specializing in advice, unique experiences, complicated itineraries and group travel have re-emerged to offer services too niche for the big digital players.....Similar things are happening in industries such as gaming, where video games have cleared the way for board-game cafes, and vinyl music, which survived the onslaught of MP3s and streaming music on the strength of nostalgia, millennial fascination and sound quality. As the rest of the industry moved into digital, neighbourhood record stores and small manufacturers picked up the pieces, catering to an enthusiastic subset of music buyers.

“We were growing very rapidly, not because vinyl was growing, but because a lot of pressing plants were going out of business,” Ton Vermeulen, a Dutch DJ and artist manager who bought a former Sony record plant in 1998, told Toronto journalist David Sax in his 2016 book The Revenge of Analog. Vinyl is back in the mainstream, but its disruption cleared the field for smaller players.

Abandoned fields aren’t for everyone. Building a business around an off-trend service or product can be a tough slog (jck: hard work)for fledgling businesses and entrepreneurs, and risky. In the case of the golf photographers, two dozen artists signed up to create a high-end subscription magazine. It’s beautiful, but with two years of work riding on a four-week Kickstarter campaign, there’s no guarantee this particular field will prove to have been worth reclaiming.

Of course, risk has always been part of small business. But a market waiting to be served – that’s a precious thing. As long as there is disruption, it will create opportunities for small businesses to reoccupy abandoned fields
abandoned_fields  analog  bespoke  books  counterintuitive  creative_destruction  David_Sax  digital_artifacts  digital_cameras  disruption  hard_work  high-risk  high-touch  innovation  Kickstarter  new_businesses  niches  off-trends  opportunities  photography  print_journalism  small_business  start_ups  structural_decline  travel_agents 
december 2018 by jerryking
Canada’s IP strategy is not in step with our innovation and commercialization goals - The Globe and Mail
JIM HINTON AND PETER COWAN
CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED 57 MINUTES AGO
UPDATED NOVEMBER 25, 2018
Jim Hinton is a principal at Own Innovation and Peter Cowan is a principal at Northworks IP

There is a global arms race for artificial intelligence-related intellectual property. The United States and China are amassing thousands of patent filings related to AI and machine learning.....The hype surrounding R&D funding has not translated to commercialization of AI outside of a small handful of domestic high-growth companies, such as Hatch and Sightline Innovation. This confirms what we already know: Innovation and IP funding announcements alone are not a strategy for growth. What Canada needs is a strategy to own its AI innovations and turn them into prosperity engines for the Canadian economy.

Lost in the hype around Canada becoming an AI hub is an absolute lack of follow-through to ensure intellectual property (IP) rights are preserved for current and future Canadian commercialization needs. There is currently no strategy in any of the taxpayer-funded programs ensuring IP ownership is maintained for the benefit of the Canadian economy. ......Companies such as Alphabet, Huawei and others will continue to partner with Canadian universities and use Canadian taxpayer-funded technology to their global advantage: Of the 100 or so machine learning-related patents that have been developed in Canada over the past 10 years, more than half have ended up in the hands of foreign companies such as Microsoft and IBM.......

.........To reverse the status quo, Canada’s IP strategy must include at least four key tactics: (1) IP generation, ensuring that Canadian firms own valuable IP and data stocks; (2) IP retention; (3) freedom to operate strategies for our innovative high-growth companies; and (4) alignment of the national IP strategy with the national data strategy.
arms_race  artificial_intelligence  Canada  commercialization  innovation  intellectual_property  IP_generation  IP_retention  Jim_Balsillie  machine_learning  property_rights 
november 2018 by jerryking
Walmart tells investors to expect more risk-taking
October 16, 2018 | Financial Times | Alistair Gray and Pan Kwan Yuk in New York.

Doug McMillon said at an investor meeting on Tuesday that the Arkansas-based company was experimenting with technology ranging from floor-cleaning robots to augmented reality and biometrics as he urged Wall Street to “challenge your thinking about Walmart”.

Walmart superstores have transformed shopping habits and became a dominant force in American retail. The bricks-and-mortar model, however, has been upended in by the rise of ecommerce.

“Looking back, we had a proven model, and we naturally focused on execution. As the numbers grew, we . . . unintentionally became risk averse,” Mr McMillon said at a meeting for investors.

“But today we’re getting to reimagine retail and our business. To do that we take risk — try quite a few things and learn from our failures. That type of behaviour’s in our DNA, and we’re waking up that part of our culture.”.....Online sales, in which Walmart has been investing aggressively as part of its response to Amazon, are expected to increase around 35 per cent for the fiscal 2020 year, compared to the expected 40 per cent for 2019.

Walmart also on Tuesday struck a partnership with Advance Auto Parts, allowing it increase its presence in the car parts business. Under the tie-up the companies will offer home delivery, same-day pick up at each other’s stores and installation of some parts.
Amazon  e-commerce  experimentation  failure  innovation  retailers  risk-taking  Wall_Street  Wal-Mart  augmented_reality  auto_parts  biometrics  bricks-and-mortar  home-delivery  same-day  shopping_habits 
october 2018 by jerryking
How Tech is Drawing Shoppers Back to Bricks-and-Mortar Stores - WSJ
By Rebecca Dolan
Sept. 12, 2018

Robin Lewis, "The New Rules of Retail"

E-commerce’s disruption of malls is impossible to deny, but sometimes shopping in stores is the only way to guarantee quality before you buy. The question: Will these technologies help you make the most of the trip?
books  brands  bricks-and-mortar  customer_experience  e-commerce  high-end  innovation  Nike  retailers  technology  mobile_applications  Nordstrom 
september 2018 by jerryking
Why big companies squander good ideas
August 6, 2018 | | Financial Times | Tim Harford

.....Organisations from newspapers to oil majors to computing giants have persistently struggled to embrace new technological opportunities, or recognise new technological threats, even when the threats are mortal or the opportunities are golden. Why do some ideas slip out of the grasp of incumbents, then thrive in the hands of upstarts?.....“Disruption describes what happens when firms fail because they keep making the kinds of choices that made them successful,” says Joshua Gans, an economist at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto and author of The Disruption Dilemma. Successful organisations stick to their once-triumphant strategies, even as the world changes around them. More horses! More forage!

Why does this happen? Easily the most famous explanation comes from Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School. Christensen’s 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, told a compelling story about how new technologies creep up from below: they are flawed or under-developed at first, so do not appeal to existing customers. Holiday snappers do not want to buy digital cameras the size of a shoebox and the price of a car.

However, Christensen explains, these technologies do find customers: people with unusual needs previously unserved by the incumbent players. The new technology gets better and, one day, the incumbent wakes up to discover that an upstart challenger has several years’ head start — and once-loyal customers have jumped ship.
............Within academia, Rebecca Henderson’s ideas about architectural innovation are widely cited, and she is one of only two academics at Harvard Business School to hold the rank of university professor. The casual observer of business theories, however, is far more likely to have heard of Clayton Christensen, one of the most famous management gurus on the planet.

That may be because Christensen has a single clear theory of how disruption happens — and a solution, too: disrupt yourself before you are disrupted by someone else. That elegance is something we tend to find appealing.

The reality of disruption is less elegant — and harder to solve. Kodak’s position may well have been impossible, no matter what managers had done. If so, the most profitable response would have been to vanish gracefully.

“There are multiple points of failure,” says Henderson. “There’s the problem of reorganisation. There’s the question of whether the new idea will be profitable. There are cognitive filters. There is more than one kind of denial. To navigate successfully through, an incumbent organisation has to overcome every one of these obstacles.”

......Henderson added that the innovators — like Fuller — are often difficult people. “The people who bug large organisations to do new things are socially awkward, slightly fanatical and politically often hopelessly naive.” Another point of failure......The message of Henderson’s work with Kim Clark and others is that when companies or institutions are faced with an organisationally disruptive innovation, there is no simple solution. There may be no solution at all. “I’m sorry it’s not more management guru-ish,” she tells me, laughing. “But anybody who’s really any good at this will tell you that this is hard.”
Apple  blitzkrieg  disruption  ideas  IBM  innovation  iPod  missed_opportunities  hard_work  Rotman  Steve_Jobs  theory  Tim_Harford  upstarts  large_companies  WWI  Xerox  Walkman  Clayton_Christensen  organizational_change  organizational_structure  MPOF  militaries  digital_cameras 
september 2018 by jerryking
PNC’s Bill Demchak hopes Pittsburgh’s old money will finance its tech-driven future
July 29, 2018 | Financial Times | Patti Waldmeir.

Pittsburgh native Bill Demchak, chief executive at PNC, to reflect on the rebirth of one of America’s great Rust Belt cities — and what lessons it may hold for other cities trying to recover from decades of decline.

Few American metropolises suffered the kind of economic conflagration that first hit Pittsburgh in the 1970s when its economic foundation, the steel industry, collapsed......one reason Pittsburgh has money today is because it had money yesterday: the fortunes earned by the city’s early industrial entrepreneurs — such as Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon — helped fund philanthropic institutions that were still in place to help bail the city out decades later.

The universities they funded were around too, generating the talent and the infrastructure for the innovation economy Pittsburgh is counting on for prosperity in the 21st century.

“What we had to our advantage, then and today, was a very strong university system, with University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. We had an extremely strong philanthropic community driven by the old money from the Mellon family, the Heinz endowments, Carnegie,” he says.

These foundations offered broad-based support as technology came to the fore in the mid-1990s, he adds, when CMU was a leader in robotics and autonomous vehicles, as it is today.
Andrew_Carnegie  Carnegie_Mellon  CEOs  cities  Colleges_&_Universities  industrial_Midwest  innovation  midwest  philanthropy  Pittsburgh  revitalization  Rust_Belt  Red_states  structural_decline 
july 2018 by jerryking
JetBlue Tech Execs Tap Startups To Help Airline Innovate - CIO Journal. - WSJ
As digital technology transforms business, enterprises can be at a disadvantage relative to newcomers. One solution is to work with startups, but that can be tricky because of security, regulatory and policy requirements at large companies. CIO Journal spoke to the top technology executives at JetBlue Airways about how they make the relationship work through a corporate venture arm, JetBlue Technology Ventures.

The Silicon Valley-based venture group looks for technology that could add business value within 18 months, as well as that which may have longer, 5- to 10-year payoffs. It has made early and mid-stage investments in 18 startups since 2016.

“Being part of the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem is very important for us,” Eash Sundaram, JetBlue’s chief digital and technology officer, tells CIO Journal.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Ms. Simi said JetBlue may have never come across the startups in the venture arm’s portfolio if they had simply made a request for proposals for a specific technology project. Instead, the dedicated venture team vets startups, makes strategic investments and works alongside them to match technologies to JetBlue’s current and future needs.

“It’s been hugely helpful at JetBlue in terms of keeping our thinking fresh and innovative,”
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
JetBlue  brands  large_companies  airline_industry  innovation  start_ups  CIOs  machine_learning  blockchain 
july 2018 by jerryking
Norway’s oil wealth swamps innovation
John Gapper OCTOBER 19, 2016

"omstilling", is the name for Norway’s nascent shift to living without the energy industry that has brought it wealth and welfare for 45 years.

Why hurry, some wonder. Its 5.2m citizens are among the world’s comfiest, with gross domestic product per head of $75,000. Its oil-funded sovereign wealth fund, set up in 1990 to help it avoid “Dutch disease” — the syndrome of resource wealth driving up national currencies and weakening other sectors — is worth $880bn. Its oil and gas reserves should last for another half-century.

The trouble is that Norway is too comfortable. It takes a crisis to get most people to change their ways radically or for an economy to adjust the way that it works. Whatever you think of Brexit, it is one of those crises. At the moment, Norway has more official think-tanks and innovation incubators than entrepreneurship and disruption.....The oil fund is exemplary in many ways: by taking the wealth largely out of the hands of the government and directing it into overseas investment, Norway has avoided the worst of Dutch disease. But it adds to the sense of the country having a cushion against change: the fund’s very existence extends its deadline to reshape the economy.

The citizens are also cushioned......Norway remains hesitant about change.....Norway is a consensus-driven society that feels comfortable only with reform that has been carefully discussed and agreed....Elisabeth Stray Pedersen, a 29-year-old fashion designer who last year bought a factory opened in 1953 by the designer Unn Soiland Dale. She wants to revive its Lillunn brand and sell more of its Norwegian wool blankets and coats abroad.
Norway  Norwegian  oil_industry  Brexit  United_Kingdom  innovation  natural_resources  resource_curse  sovereign_wealth_funds  complacency  fashion  apparel  start_ups 
april 2018 by jerryking
3G Capital’s rigorous diet of cost cutting is weighing down Tim Hortons owner RBI, Kraft Heinz
APRIL 18, 2018 | The Globe and Mail | by IAN MCGUGAN.

Tough, cost-conscious management is a vital ingredient at any good company. But right now, shareholders in Restaurant Brands International Inc. and Kraft Heinz Co. should be asking whether a lean and mean operating style is hitting its limits when it comes to peddling doughnuts and ketchup.

In recent months, RBI, the parent of Tim Hortons, and Kraft Heinz, maker of your favourite burger condiment, have disappointed investors....... the 3G approach is beginning to show some flaws. Critics argue that managers who focus on streamlining existing operations can create a temporary bump in earnings, but have less time to spend on product development, corporate innovation and brand building. The danger, skeptics say, is that efficiency increases but sales and earnings per share don’t.

“We harbor serious doubts about the management team’s ability to generate sufficient product innovation to grow its collection of ‘retro’ brands in highly commoditized categories,” Robert Moskow of Credit Suisse wrote this week in a report that downgraded Kraft Heinz to “underperform” status.....But softer measures suggest the profits are coming at a cost. Consider a survey of 1,501 Canadian adults published this week by Angus Reid Institute. Thirty five per cent of respondents said their opinion of Tim Hortons had worsened in recent years. While Tim Hortons’ advertising campaigns have tirelessly promoted the chain’s deep roots in Canadian communities, the reality on the ground appears to be shifting.

At Kraft Heinz, signs of stress are also becoming apparent, according to Mr. Moskow. The company’s Oscar Mayer cold cuts and Kraft natural cheese brands are losing market share to private labels, while Canadian retailers recently reduced their inventories, he said.

Employees may not be all that happy, either. Mr. Moskow said industry sources have expressed concern about growing turnover rates among Kraft Heinz staffers.
3G_Capital  Tim_Hortons  cost-cutting  product_development  innovation  Kraft_Heinz 
april 2018 by jerryking
Lost Einsteins: The Innovations We’re Missing -
DEC. 3, 2017 | The New York Times | David Leonhardt.

societies have a big interest in making sure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to become scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs. It’s not only a matter of fairness. Denying opportunities to talented people can end up hurting everyone.

.....Raj Chetty....is a Stanford professor who helps lead the Equality of Opportunity Project.... considered among the most important research efforts in economics today.....The project’s latest paper, out Sunday, looks at who becomes an inventor — and who doesn’t. The results are disturbing....The key phrase in the research paper is “lost Einsteins.” It’s a reference to people who could “have had highly impactful innovations” if they had been able to pursue the opportunities they deserved.....children who excelled in math were far more likely to become inventors. But being a math standout wasn’t enough. Only the top students who also came from high-income families had a decent chance to become an inventor.

This fact may be the starkest: Low-income students who are among the very best math students — those who score in the top 5 percent of all third graders — are no more likely to become inventors than below-average math students from affluent families:

....“There are great differences in innovation rates,” Chetty said. “Those differences don’t seem to be due to innate ability to innovate.” Or as Steve Case — the entrepreneur who’s now investing in regions that venture capital tends to ignore — told me when I called him to discuss the findings: “Creativity is broadly distributed. Opportunity is not.” [or life’s basic truth: Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.]
innovation  equality_of_opportunity  Steve_Case  Albert_Einstein  achievement_gaps  affluence  high-income  low-income  mathematics  capitalization  human_potential  inventions  inventiveness  inventors  creativity  quotes  unevenly_distributed 
december 2017 by jerryking
Support more thinkers, not only the tinkerers
NOVEMBER 4, 2017 | FT | Dr Simon Roberts, Stripe Partners, London SE1, UK

In my experience this is not just a decision based on the economics of innovation — it’s a shift informed by the changing temporal rhythms of modern organisations. The mantra “move fast and break things” appears to motivate the leadership and delivery teams of even the most slothful companies far beyond Silicon Valley. When research becomes a tool for rapid, iterative, continual improvement, not an activity committed to open-ended exploration and unconstrained thinking, it is unlikely to lead to the sort of breakthroughs in technology, products or strategic outlook that successful companies (and productive economies) depend on.
Tim_Harford  letters_to_the_editor  R&D  innovation  thinking  tinkerers  breakthroughs 
november 2017 by jerryking
Innovation: less shock and more awe
And al­though people say they like new things, often what they want is mere­ly for existing things to work better.

Innovations must be bought repeatedly if they are to succeed commercially. As Simon Roberts, an anthropologist and director of Stripe Partners, an innovation agency in London, puts it: “Businesses often look on innovations as ‘new things’. But to understand how new things become part of the everyday, it’s more helpful to think of them as skills and habits consumers ac­quire.”

Innovations that fit current circumstances may stand a better chance of bedding in than those that tear up the rule book.

How to turn an innovation into a consumer habit

●Respect social norms and work around any existing infrastructure. Even disruptive innovations need to fit into the world as it is – at least initially.

●Choose your words Analogies can help people grasp how innovations work and by referencing familiar things make the unfamiliar less daunting – for instance using “checkout” for online shopping.

●Show, not tell Bombarding people with data rarely helps. Concentrate instead on creating opportunities for people to experiment with innovations first hand.

●Engage the senses Building prompts and cues into new technologies – the swoosh signifying a text message has been sent, the artificial shutter click on digital cameras – is reassuring for novices.

●Get verbal Names that sound good as verbs − as in Skyping or Googling − encourage consumers to think of innovations as things others are embracing, which they should perhaps do too.
robotics  automation  autonomous_vehicles  innovation  habits  prompts  cues  adaptability  anthropologists  experiential_marketing  skills  customer_adoption  cultural_divides  analogies  social_norms  experimentation  haptics  senses  digital_cameras 
november 2017 by jerryking
With Deal-Making in the Doldrums, Goldman Tries Something New - The New York Times
OCT. 11, 2017 | WSJ | By JOHN FOLEY.

Goldman Sachs is trying to extricate itself from a box by thinking outside it. The Wall Street firm has set up a small team in what’s known internally as the Innovation Lab, to cook up supposedly clever ideas for big clients. The resulting acquisitions may end up destroying value for the shareholders of the companies involved, but Goldman’s own investors should be pleased the investment bank is trying new things.
innovation  Goldman_Sachs  idea_generation  experimentation  trading  Wall_Street  investment_banking 
october 2017 by jerryking
Retailers must innovate and adapt to thrive in the age of Amazon
JUNE 26, 2017 | The Globe and Mail | HARVEY SCHACHTER.

Mr. Stephens does not believe we are seeing the death of retail. But we will need to see retail's reinvention, and soon. At the core will have to be the understanding that we don't need physical stores for distribution of goods, as Amazon has shown. But we will need them for experiences.

To his mind, Amazon is actually not a retailer. It's a data technology and innovation company that succeeds by ignoring the conventional wisdom of retailing and following its own ways. He notes that last year Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren said that while Amazon might pose some threat in apparel sales it would suffer because it was not prepared to handle complexities such as returns of items. But to Amazon, that's just another challenge to be handled by data and technology, as it is showing. When Amazon opened a physical store, it looked at retail through its own eyes and, in an age of mobile devices, eliminated cash registers, checkouts and lineups.

"But Amazon does not want to play in the physical experiences arena. They want to take the friction out of the equation. So if retailers can make the experiences in their stores rich, they can gain an edge," says Mr. Stephens. But most, of course, aren't all that effective for now, even at a basic level of romancing the customer, let alone the redesigned future he is calling for, where stores are redesigned around experiencing the product under consideration.
retailers  innovation  Amazon  Harvey_Schachter  experiential_marketing  Doug_Stephens  emotional_connections  contra-Amazon  slight_edge  physical_experiences 
september 2017 by jerryking
The New Innovator’s Dilemma: When Customers Won’t Pay for Better - WSJ
Aug. 15, 2017 | WSJ | By Denise Roland.

As the turmoil at Novo Nordisk shows, there are commercial limits to innovation. Nokia Corp. and BlackBerry Ltd. both lost their market dominance in smartphones because competitors beat them with major technological advances. Both firms are in the process of reinventing themselves.

In other cases, though, innovation has hit a wall. That is especially the case in some pockets of the pharmaceuticals business, where the scope for big improvements is narrowing.
CDC  Novo_Nordisk  innovation  pricing  marketing  strategy  insulin  diabetes  Denmark  Danish  pharmaceutical_industry  pharmacy-benefit_management 
august 2017 by jerryking
Keeping America's Edge
Winter 2010 | National Affairs | Jim Manzi.

.....One of the most painful things about markets is that they often make fools of our fathers: Sharp operators with an eye for trends often outperform those who carefully learn a trade and continue a tradition. ...First, To begin with, we must unwind some recent errors that fail to take account of these circumstances. Most obviously, government ownership of industrial assets is almost a guarantee that the painful decisions required for international competitiveness will not be made. When it comes to the auto industry, for instance, we need to take the loss and move on. As soon as possible, the government should announce a structured program to sell off the equity it holds in GM. ....Second, the financial crisis has demonstrated obvious systemic problems of poor regulation and under-regulation of some aspects of the financial sector that must be addressed — though for at least a decade prior to the crisis, over-regulation, lawsuits, and aggressive government prosecution seriously damaged the competitiveness of other parts of America's financial system ........Regulation to avoid systemic risk must therefore proceed from a clear understanding of its causes. In the recent crisis, the reason the government has been forced to prop up financial institutions isn't that they are too big to fail, but rather that they are too interconnected to fail......we should therefore adopt a modernized version of a New Deal-era ­innovation: focus on creating walls that contain busts, rather than on applying brakes that hold back the entire system.....Third, over the coming decades, we should seek to deregulate public schools. .....We should pursue the creation of a real marketplace among ever more deregulated publicly financed schools — a market in which funding follows students, and far broader discretion is permitted to those who actually teach and manage in our schools. There are real-world examples of such systems that work well today — both Sweden and the Netherlands, for instance, have implemented this kind of plan at the national level......Fourth, we should reconceptualize immigration as recruiting. Assimilating immigrants is a demonstrated core capability of America's political economy — and it is one we should take advantage of. ....think of immigration as an opportunity to improve our stock of human capital. Once we have re-established control of our southern border, and as we preserve our commitment to political asylum, we should also set up recruiting offices looking for the best possible talent everywhere: from Mexico City to Beijing to Helsinki to Calcutta. Australia and Canada have demonstrated the practicality of skills-based immigration policies for many years. We should improve upon their example by using testing and other methods to apply a basic tenet of all human capital-intensive organizations managing for the long term: Always pick talent over skill. It would be great for America as a whole to have, say, 500,000 smart, motivated people move here each year with the intention of becoming citizens.
social_cohesion  innovation  human_capital  Jim_Manzi  immigration  recruiting  interconnections  too_big_to_fail  economic_downturn  innovation_policies  outperformance  capitalization  human_potential  financial_system  regulation  under-regulation  too_interconnected_to_fail  systemic_risks  talent  skills 
august 2017 by jerryking
Can the Tech Giants Be Stopped? -
July 14, 2017 | WSJ | By Jonathan Taplin.

Google, Facebook, Amazon and other tech behemoths are transforming the U.S. economy and labor market, with scant public debate or scrutiny. Changing course won’t be easy....."we are rushing ahead into the AI universe with almost no political or policy debate about its implications. Digital technology has become critical to the personal and economic well-being of everyone on the planet, but decisions about how it is designed, operated and developed have never been voted on by anyone. Those decisions are largely made by executives and engineers at Google, Facebook, Amazon and other leading tech companies, and imposed on the rest of us with very little regulatory scrutiny. It is time for that to change.

Who will win the AI race? The companies that are already in the forefront: Google, Facebook and Amazon. As AI venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee recently wrote in the New York Times , “A.I. is an industry in which strength begets strength: The more data you have, the better your product; the better your product, the more data you can collect; the more data you can collect, the more talent you can attract; the more talent you can attract, the better your product.”".....How did we get here? I would date the rise of the digital monopolies to August 2004, when Google raised $1.9 billion in its initial public offering......This shift has brought about a massive reallocation of revenue, with economic value moving from the creators of content to the owners of monopoly platforms. Since 2000, revenues for recorded music in the U.S. have fallen from almost $20 billion a year to less than $8 billion, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. U.S. newspaper ad revenue fell from $65.8 billion in 2000 to $23.6 billion in 2013 (the last year for which data are available). Though book publishing revenues have remained flat, this is mostly because increased children’s book sales have made up for the declining return on adult titles.....The precipitous decline in revenue for content creators has nothing to do with changing consumer preferences for their content. People are not reading less news, listening to less music, reading fewer books or watching fewer movies and TV shows. The massive growth in revenue for the digital monopolies has resulted in the massive loss of revenue for the creators of content. The two are inextricably linked......In the third quarter of 2016, companies owned by Facebook or Google took 90% of all new digital ad revenue. ....The history of Silicon Valley itself offers some guidance here. The astonishing technological revolution of the past half-century would never have occurred without the impetus of three seminal antitrust prosecutions. ....The clear historical lesson, which is waiting to be rediscovered in our own day, is that antitrust action has often served not to constrain innovation but to promote it.
Apple  Alphabet  Big_Tech  Google  Amazon  Microsoft  Facebook  artificial_intelligence  privacy  antitrust  Silicon_Valley  content  platforms  virtuous_cycles  content_creators  public_discourse  oligopolies  oversight  value_migration  regulation  innovation  seminal  no_oversight  imperceptible_threats  FAANG  backlash  Kai-Fu_Lee 
july 2017 by jerryking
How Nature Scales Up
June 23, 2017 | WSJ | By Charles C. Mann

Review of SCALE By Geoffrey West; Penguin Press, 479 pages, $30
books  book_reviews  scaling  physicists  growth  innovation  sustainability  cities  economics  business  linearity  efficiencies  economies_of_scale  sublinearity  massive_data_sets  natural_selection  powerlaw 
june 2017 by jerryking
Among the iPhone’s Biggest Transformations: Apple Itself - WSJ
By Tripp Mickle
June 20, 2017

The iPhone was so revolutionary it raised expectations that the company would introduce radical new products regularly, said Patrick Moorhead, a technology analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. “That’s what I call the leadership burden,” Mr. Moorhead said.

That has made innovation more difficult in some ways, former employees said. Apple developed products that were linked to the iPhone, such as the Apple Watch and AirPod headphones, but was late to pursue hot internet-connected home devices like Nest’s thermostat and an intelligent speaker like Amazon’s Echo.

“There was a real opportunity missed there,” said Mr. Cannistraro. Still, he said, Apple recognizes and supports innovative ideas internally and executes better than competitors. “The right ideas tend to be the ones that get through.”
iPhone  Apple  transformational  Amazon  breakthroughs  Echo  expectations  innovation  Nest  new_products  smart_speakers 
june 2017 by jerryking
Review: How Laws of Physics Govern Growth in Business and in Cities
MAY 26, 2017 | The New York Times | By JONATHAN A. KNEE

Book review of “Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies” (Penguin), by Geoffrey West, a theoretical physicist.....Mr. West’s core argument is that the basic mathematical laws of physics governing growth in the physical world apply equally to biological, political and corporate organisms.....The central observation of “Scale” is that a wide variety of complex systems respond similarly to increases in size. Mr. West demonstrates that these similarities reflect the structural nature of the networks that undergird these systems. The book identifies three core common characteristics of the hierarchal networks that deliver energy to these organisms — whether the diverse circulatory systems that power all forms of animal life or the water and electrical networks that power cities. First, the networks are “space filling” — that is, they service the entire organism. Second, the terminal units are largely identical, whether they are the capillaries in our bodies or the faucets and electrical outlets in our homes. Third, a kind of natural selection process operates within these networks so that they are optimized......These shared network qualities explain why when an organism doubles in size, an astonishing range of characteristics, from food consumption to general metabolic rate, grow something less than twice as fast — they scale “sublinearly.” What’s more, “Scale” shows why the precise mathematical factor by which these efficiencies manifest themselves almost always relate to “the magic No. 4.”

Mr. West also provides an elegant explanation of why living organisms have a natural limit to growth and life span following a predictable curve, as an increasing proportion of energy consumed is required for maintenance and less is available to fuel further expansion.

....Despite his reliance on the analysis of huge troves of data to develop and support his theories, in the concluding chapters, Mr. West makes a compelling argument against the “arrogance and narcissism” reflected in the growing fetishization of “big data” in itself. “Data for data’s sake,” he argues, “or the mindless gathering of big data, without any conceptual framework for organizing and understanding it, may actually be bad or even dangerous.”
books  book_reviews  business  cities  economics  efficiencies  economies_of_scale  growth  innovation  Jonathan_Knee  linearity  massive_data_sets  metabolic_rate  natural_selection  physical_world  physics  physicists  powerlaw  scaling  selection_processes  sublinearity  sustainability 
may 2017 by jerryking
20 Years On, Amazon and Jeff Bezos Prove Naysayers Wrong - The New York Times
Andrew Ross Sorkin
DEALBOOK MAY 15, 2017

Twenty years ago this week, Amazon.com went public........Here we are, 20 years later, and Mr. Bezos has an authentic, legitimate claim on having changed the way we live.

He has changed the way we shop. He has changed the way companies use computers, by moving much of their information and systems to cloud services. He’s even changed the way we interact with computers by voice: “Alexa!”......he has bought — and fixed — The Washington Post,.........Most executives are worried about the next quarter, but Mr. Bezos is worried about what will happen years from now. That is a competitive advantage that many chief executives could learn from.

“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people,” Mr. Bezos told Wired in 2011. Here, he was expressing the view that some chief executives think in three-year cycles — a relatively generous assessment, given that most top executives don’t last many more years than that.

“But,” he continued, “if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that.”....Is Mr. Bezos an easy boss? Hardly. He is unbelievably demanding. ......I’m supposed to hate Mr. Bezos. After all, he has pressured publishers, cut their margins and practically put old-school bookstores out of business. As if to rub it in, he’s now introducing bricks-and-mortar Amazon bookstores.

But to take that view would be to misunderstand what innovation looks like. It upends industries — witness the current carnage in the retail industry, which has been outmoded by Amazon and all the companies trying to copy it.

“Amazon is not happening to book selling,” Mr. Bezos explained, defending his role in a 2013 interview with Charlie Rose. “The future is happening to book selling.” And the future is now happening to retail stores and even supermarkets — Mr. Bezos’ next conquest. And the future is clearly happening to enterprise computing.
Andrew_Sorkin  Jeff_Bezos  Amazon  WaPo  newspapers  e-commerce  anniversaries  moguls  trailblazers  time_horizons  cloud_computing  Alexa  long-term  Warren_Buffett  innovation 
may 2017 by jerryking
What’s New in the Supermarket? A Lot, and Not All of It Good - The New York Times
By STEPHANIE STROMMAY 16, 2017
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grocery  innovation  supermarkets 
may 2017 by jerryking
Prepare for a New Supercycle of Innovation - WSJ
By John Michaelson
May 9, 2017

Things are about to change. Consider information technology. Today’s enterprise IT systems are built on platforms dating from the 1970s to the 1990s. These systems are now horrendously expensive to operate, prone to catastrophic crashes, and unable to ensure data security. The cloud only made this worse by increasing complexity.

Corporate CEOs complain that they are unable to get the data they need. These rickety systems cannot easily accommodate data mining and artificial intelligence. Evidence of their deficiencies is seen daily. The New York Stock Exchange stops trading for hours. Yahoo acknowledges the compromise of one billion user accounts. Airline reservation systems go down repeatedly. The pain level for users is becoming intolerable.

Each decade for the past 60 years, we have seen a thousand-fold increase in world-wide processing power, bandwidth and storage. At the same time, costs have fallen by a factor of 10,000. Advances in these platforms, in themselves, do not produce innovation. But they facilitate the development and deployment of entirely new applications that take advantage of these advances. [jk: The Republican intellectual George F. Gilder taught us that we should husband resources that are scarce and costly, but can waste resources that are abundant and cheap] Amazing new applications are almost never predictable. They come from human creativity (jk: human ingenuity). That is one reason they almost never come from incumbent companies. But once barriers to innovation are lowered, new applications follow.
10x  artificial_intelligence  CEOs  creativity  cyber_security  data_mining  economic_downturn  flash_crashes  George_Gilder  Gilder's  Law  innovation  history  human_ingenuity  incumbents  IT  legacy_tech  Moore's_Law  NYSE 
may 2017 by jerryking
The Data Behind Dining
FEB 7, 2017 | The Atlantic | BOURREE LAM.

Damian Mogavero, a dining-industry consultant, has analyzed the data behind thousands of restaurants—which dishes get ordered, which servers bring in the highest bills, and even what the weather’s like—and found that these metrics can help inform the decisions and practices of restaurateurs.....Mogavero recently wrote a book about analytics called The Underground Culinary Tour—which is also the name of an annual insider retreat he runs, in which he leads restaurateurs from around the nation to what he considers the most innovative restaurants in New York City, with 15 stops in 24 hours.....they really understood the business problem that I understood, as a frustrated restaurateur. There was not accessible information to make really important business decisions.

Lam: Why is it that the restaurant business tends to be more instinct-driven than data-driven?

Mogavero: It is so creative, and it really attracts innovative and creative people who really enjoy the art and the design of the guest experience. When I was a frustrated restaurateur, I would ask my chefs and managers simple questions, such as: Who are your top and bottom servers? Why did your food costs go up? Why did your labor costs go up? And they would give me blank stares, wrong answers, or make up stuff. The thing that really killed me is why so much time gets spent in administrative B.S.

They were frustrated artists in their own way, because all those questions I was posing were buried in a bunch of Excel spreadsheets. What I like to say is, nothing good ever happens at the back office. You can't make customers happy and you can’t cook great food there. That was the business problem that I saw. I assembled a chef, a sommelier, a restaurant manager, and three techies as the founding team of the company. The message was: We’re going to create software, so you can get back to what you love to do with a more profitable operation.......Mogavero: Because information is flowing so quickly, you’re likely to see trends from a big city go to a secondary city more often. But you’ll see regional trends come to the big city as well. It’s all part of this information flow that’s more transparent and faster. The secondary-market awakening is coupled with the fact that it’s really expensive for chefs to live in big cities, and we’re seeing many chefs leaving the big cities.
bullshitake  dining  data  books  restaurants  data_driven  New_York_City  innovation  restauranteurs  analytics  back-office  information_flows  secondary_markets 
may 2017 by jerryking
Canada’s biggest obstacle to innovation is attitude - The Globe and Mail
JAMES MAYNARD
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Apr. 30, 2017
innovation  obstacles  Canada 
may 2017 by jerryking
Bank of Canada warns automation will lead to job losses - The Globe and Mail
ANDY BLATCHFORD
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, Apr. 18, 2017

In a speech in Toronto, senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins said Tuesday innovations like artificial intelligence and robotics are expected to help re-energize underwhelming productivity in advanced economies like Canada. Over the longer haul, she added that new technologies should eventually create more jobs than they replace.

However, the fast-approaching changes come with concerns for Wilkins – from the challenging adjustment for the labour force, to the distribution of the new wealth......“Innovation is always a process of creative destruction, with some jobs being destroyed and, over time, even more jobs being created,” said Wilkins, who added that what will change is the type of workers in demand.

“We’ve seen this process in action throughout history.”.......Wilkins said the Bank of Canada has also taken steps to help it deal with the fast-approaching changes. It has created a new digital economy team with a focus on how automation affects the economy as well as its impacts on inflation and monetary policy
Bank_of_Canada  automation  productivity  artificial_intelligence  technological_change  robotics  layoffs  inflation  monetary_policy  digital_economy  creative_destruction  innovation  job_creation  job_destruction  job_displacement  rapid_change 
april 2017 by jerryking
Does innovation have to mean jobs? - Western Alumni
 Fall 2011
Does innovation have to mean jobs?

by Paul Wells, BA'89
innovation  Apple  Colleges_&_Universities  design  Paul_Wells 
april 2017 by jerryking
Marginal gains matter but gamechangers transform
25 March/26 March 2017 | FT | by Tim Harford.

In the hunt for productivity, the revolutionary long shot is worth the cost and risk.

.............................As Olympic athletes have shown, marginal improvements accumulated over time can deliver world-beating performance,” said Andrew Haldane in a speech on Monday, which is quite true. Mr Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist
........The marginal gains philosophy tries to turn innovation into a predictable process: tweak your activities, gather data, embrace what works and repeat.......As Mr Haldane says, marginal improvements can add up.

But can they add up to productivity gains for the economy as a whole? The question matters. There is no economic topic more important than productivity, which in the long run determines whether living standards surge or stagnate.
........
The idea that developed economies can A/B test their way back to brisk productivity growth is a seductive one.

An alternative view is that what’s really lacking is a different kind of innovation: the long shot. Unlike marginal gains, long shots usually fail, but can pay off spectacularly enough to overlook 100 failures.
.....
These two types of innovation complement each other. Long shot innovations open up new territories; marginal improvements colonise them. The 1870s saw revolutionary breakthroughs in electricity generation and distribution but the dynamo didn’t make much impact on productivity until the 1920s. To take advantage of electric motors, manufacturers needed to rework production lines, redesign factories and retrain workers. Without these marginal improvements the technological breakthrough was of little use.
....Yet two questions remain. One is why so many businesses lag far behind the frontier. .......The culprit may be a lack of competition: vigorous competition tends to raise management quality by spurring improvements and by punishing incompetents with bankruptcy. ....
But the second question is why productivity growth has been so disappointing. A/B testing has never been easier or more fashionable, after all. The obvious answer is that the long shots matter, too.
.....In a data-driven world, it’s easy to fall back on a strategy of looking for marginal gains alone, avoiding the risky, unquantifiable research (jk: leaps of faith). Over time, the marginal gains will surely materialise. I’m not so sure that the long shots will take care of themselves.
adaptability  breakthroughs  compounded  economics  game_changers  incrementalism  innovation  leaps_of_faith  marginal_improvements  moonshots  nudge  organizational_change  organizational_improvements  organizational_structure  power_generation  production_lines  productivity  productivity_payoffs  slight_edge  taxonomy  thinking_big  Tim_Harford 
march 2017 by jerryking
Good Schools Aren’t the Secret to Israel’s High-Tech Boom - WSJ
March 20, 2017

Israel’s shadow education system has three components. The first is our heritage of debate—it’s in the Jewish DNA. For generations Jews have studied the Talmud, our legal codex, in a way vastly different from what goes on in a standard classroom. Instead of listening to a lecture, the meaning of complex texts is debated by students in hevruta—pairs—with a teacher offering occasional guidance.

Unlike quiet Western libraries, the Jewish beit midrash—house of study—is a buzzing beehive of learning. Since the Talmud is one of the most complex legal codes ever gathered, the idea of a verdict is almost irrelevant to those studying. Students engage in debate for the sake of debate. They analyze issues from all directions, finding different solutions. Multiple answers to a single question are common. Like the Talmud itself—which isn’t the written law but a gathering of protocols—the learning process, not the result, is valued.

The second component of our shadow education system is the peer-teaches-peer model of Jewish youth organizations, membership-based groups that we call “movements.” Teenagers work closely with younger children; they lead groups on excursions and hikes, develop informal curricula, and are responsible for those in their care. As an 11th-grade student, I took fifth-graders on an overnight hike in the mountains. Being given responsibilities at a young age helped shape me into who I am today.

The third component is the army.
Israel  ksfs  education  high_schools  schools  Jewish  Talmud  protocols  Judaism  books  religion  coming-of-age  technology  science_&_technology  venture_capital  innovation  human_capital  capitalization  struggles  convictions  tough-mindedness  rigour  discomforts  cultural_values  arduous 
march 2017 by jerryking
Empty talk on innovation is killing Canada’s economic prosperity
Mar. 19, 2017 | Globe & Mail | by JIM BALSILLIE.

Immigration, traditional infrastructure such as roads and bridges, tax policy, stable banking regulation and traditional trade agreements are all 19th- and 20th-century economic levers that advance Canada’s traditional industries, but they have little impact on 21st-century productivity.

The outdated economic orthodoxy behind our discourse on innovation is causing the steady erosion of our national prosperity.

Over the past 30 years, commercialization of intellectual property (IP) became the primary driver of new wealth. The structure of the 21st-century company shifted and IP became the most valuable corporate asset. IP is an intangible good that requires policy infrastructure that’s completely different than the infrastructure required to get traditional tangible goods to market. IP relies on a tightly designed ecosystem of highly technical interlocking policies focused on scaling companies, which are “agents” of innovation outputs.....Canada doesn’t have valuable IP to sell to the world so we continue exporting low-margin resource and agricultural goods while importing high-margin IP. If our leaders want to create sustainable economic growth, Canada’s growth strategy must focus on creating high-margin IP-based exports that the world wants and must pay for.........IP ownership is the competitive driver in the new global economy, not exchange rates that adjust production costs. That’s why despite the strong U.S. dollar, U.S. company valuations and exports are soaring – IP-intensive industries added $6.6-trillion (U.S.) to the U.S. economy in 2014. So what is Canada’s strategy to increase our ownership of valuable IP assets and commercialize them globally? Supply chains in the innovation economy are different than in traditional economies because IP operates on a winner-take-all economic principle with zero marginal production costs. IP is traded differently than tangible goods because IP moves across borders on the principle of restriction, not free trade. Trade liberalization increases competition and reduces prices, but increased IP protection does the exact opposite. The economy for intangible goods is fundamentally different than the one for tangible goods. Productivity in the global innovation economy is driven by new ideas that generate new revenue for new markets. What Canada needs is a strategy to turn its new ideas into new revenue.....The Growth Council missed our overriding priority for growth: a national strategy to generate IP that Canadian companies can commercialize to scale globally.

We urgently need sophisticated strategies to drive the commercialization of Canadian ideas through our most innovative companies.
innovation  Jim_Balsillie  happy_talk  intellectual_property  scaling  tax_codes  winner-take-all  productivity  intangibles  digital_economy  ideas  self-deception  patents  commercialization  national_strategies  global_economy  property_rights  protocols  borderless 
march 2017 by jerryking
Have Americans Given Up?
MAR 5, 2017 | The Atlantic | by DEREK THOMPSON.
...this is a mirage, according to the economist and popular writer Tyler Cowen, whose new book is The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream. In fact, the nation's dynamism is in the dumps. Americans move less than they used to. They start fewer companies. Caught in the hypnotic undertow of TV and video games, they are less likely to go outside. Even the federal government itself has transformed from an investment vehicle, which once spent a large share of its money on infrastructure and research, to an insurance conglomerate, which spends more than half its money on health care and Social Security. A nation of risk-takers has become a nation of risk-mitigation experts...So, what happened? Cowen’s thought-provoking book emphasizes several causes, including geographic immobility, housing prices, and monopolization.....several studies have shown that many U.S. workers don’t start new companies because they’re afraid of losing their employer-sponsored health insurance. A single-payer system might increase overall entrepreneurial activity. As I read Cowen’s book, I thought of an acrobat show. No circus performer wants to leap between swings without a net to catch them as they fall. The trick is to design for safety without designing for complacency.
large_companies  dynamism  America_in_Decline?  self-defeating  Tyler_Cowen  economists  books  innovation  illusions  Silicon_Valley  geographic_mobility  economic_mobility  housing  Donald_Trump  elitism  restlessness  safety_nets  risk-mitigation  monopolies  the_American_dream 
march 2017 by jerryking
Why Starbucks Might Be Innovating Too Fast - Barron's
By Alex Eule Jan. 26, 2017

Big Picture: Starbucks is seeing rapid success with its mobile ordering system, but it might be coming at the expense of in-store service.......The company now has so many customers placing advance orders via smartphones that some of its stores are having trouble keeping up.... “mobile order and pay” made up 7% of U.S. transactions in the latest quarter, up from just 3% a year ago.

But, it turns out, the existing stores haven’t been set up to handle the changing consumer behavior.

(From personal experience, I’ve noticed that Manhattan Starbucks counters are often over-filled with advance orders and those customers walk in and out, while the wait for in-store service is now longer than before.)

Starbucks president and chief operating officer Kevin Johnson, who’s set to become CEO in April, told investors that smartphone order volume has “created a new operational challenge...significant congestion at the handoff point. This congestion resulted in some number of customers who either entered the store or considered visiting a Starbucks store, and then did not complete a transaction.”
innovation  Starbucks  congestion  handoffs  in-store  order_management_system  mobile_applications  smartphones  consumer_behavior  operations  wait_times  brands  large_companies  shortcomings  revenge_effects  the_big_picture 
january 2017 by jerryking
Thomas Friedman’s Guide to Hanging On in the ‘Age of Accelerations’ - Bloomberg
by Paul Barrett
November 11, 2016,

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28)....the wisdom of pausing.... take time “to just sit and think”— a good reminder for the overcommitted.....Friedman's “core argument,” is his description of our disruptive times. By “accelerations,” he means the increases in computing power, which are enabling breakthroughs from 3D printing to self-driving cars. Meanwhile, globalization is creating vast wealth for those who capitalize on innovation and impoverishment for populations who don’t. All of this sped-up economic activity contributes to rising carbon levels, feeding the climate change that threatens civilization.....Friedman relishes catchphrases like “the Big Shift,” borrowed in this case from the HBR. He deploys B-school jargon to explain it, but the definition boils down to companies making the move from relying exclusively on in-house brainpower, patents, and data to exploiting “flows” of knowledge from anywhere in the world.... Friedman makes the case for changed policies to respond to the accelerations he chronicles.
accelerated_lifecycles  sustained_inquiry  Tom_Friedman  books  slack_time  reflections  3-D  globalization  impoverishment  climate_change  in-house  talent_flows  information_flows  GE  prizes  bounties  innovation  contests  contemplation  patents  data  brainpower  jargon  thinking  timeouts  power_of_the_pause 
january 2017 by jerryking
Why this economist thinks government intervention is a good thing - The Globe and Mail
PAUL WALDIE
The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Nov. 28, 2016

Many governments are moving away from austerity and toward stimulating economic growth by spending on infrastructure projects. Is that the right approach?

This is not about the panacea of infrastructure. It’s ridiculous if you think about it. All these smart, smart people in the IMF—once they finally admit that austerity was shit and it was very damaging, what’s their solution? Infrastructure. (3) These people have PhDs. Can they not come up with something more interesting than spend a bunch on bridges and roads?

What do you think about Brexit?

A massive, massive disaster. I just can’t believe that the people who engineered it haven’t been put in prison. It’s so obvious now that they were lying. Think of it: If Coca-Cola lied with advertising campaigns like that, they’d be in prison. All these civil servants are going to be spending decades unravelling something that was not the problem. The real problem in the U.K. is low productivity, very high inequality and a lack of serious planning around industrial and innovation policy. That had nothing to do with Europe. Brexit is just going to take away huge amounts of government resources that could have been spent thinking about what it really means to increase productivity. As well, it just really makes things complicated.
Paul_Waldie  economists  Brexit  industrial_policies  innovation_policies  innovation  iPhone  Mariana_Mazzucato  infrastructure  austerity  government_intervention  PhDs  IMF  productivity  income_inequality 
december 2016 by jerryking
Inside the mind of a venture capitalist | McKinsey & Company
August 2016 | McK | Steve Jurvetson is a partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Michael Chui,
(1) entrepreneurs who have infectious enthusiasm.
(2) sector of the economy believed to be experiencing rapid growth/ massive disruptive change.
(3) wide range of industries, from synthetic biology to rockets to electric cars to a variety of sectors that weren’t ripe for venture investment in prior decades but now are becoming software businesses.
(4) attributes and people somewhat similar to what I look for in the team at work: enough self-confidence to be humble about what it’s proposing and respect for the team over individuals
How should large companies respond? The large companies that are most exciting to me are the ones that innovate outside their core. big companies need to innovate outside their core businesses. The biggest start-up: Space.
Steve_Jurvetson  McKinsey  DFJ  venture_capital  vc  disruption  space  large_companies  software  core_businesses  Moore's_Law  machine_learning  passions  Elon_Musk  accelerated_lifecycles  space_travel  innovation  self-confidence  high-growth  humility  teams 
august 2016 by jerryking
The Power of ‘Why?’ and ‘What If?’ - The New York Times
JULY 2, 2016 | New York Times | By WARREN BERGER.

business leaders want the people working around them to be more curious, more cognizant of what they don’t know, and more inquisitive — about everything, including “Why am I doing my job the way I do it?” and “How might our company find new opportunities?”....Companies in many industries today must contend with rapid change and rising uncertainty. In such conditions, even a well-established company cannot rest on its expertise; there is pressure to keep learning what’s new and anticipating what’s next. It’s hard to do any of that without asking questions.

Steve Quatrano, a member of the Right Question Institute, a nonprofit research group, explains that the act of formulating questions enables us “to organize our thinking around what we don’t know.” This makes questioning a good skill to hone in dynamic times.....So how can companies encourage people to ask more questions? There are simple ways to train people to become more comfortable and proficient at it. For example, question formulation exercises can be used as a substitute for conventional brainstorming sessions. The idea is to put a problem or challenge in front of a group of people and instead of asking for ideas, instruct participants to generate as many relevant questions as they can.......Getting employees to ask more questions is the easy part; getting management to respond well to those questions can be harder.......think of “what if” and “how might we” questions about the company’s goals and plans........Leaders can also encourage companywide questioning by being more curious and inquisitive themselves.
5_W’s  asking_the_right_questions  questions  curiosity  humility  pretense_of_knowledge  unknowns  leadership  innovation  idea_generation  ideas  information_gaps  cost_of_inaction  expertise  anticipating  brainstorming  dynamic  change  uncertainty  rapid_change  inquisitiveness  Dr.Alexander's_Question  incisiveness  leaders  companywide 
july 2016 by jerryking
50 Smartest Companies 2016
Our editors pick the 50 companies that best combine innovative technology with an effective business model.

June 21, 2016

Each year we identify 50 companies that are “smart” in the way they create new opportunities. Some of this year’s stars are large companies, like Amazon and Alphabet, that are using digital technologies to redefine industries. Others are wrestling with technological changes: companies like Microsoft, Bosch, Toyota, and Intel. Also on the list are ambitious startups like 23andMe, a pioneer in consumer-accessible DNA testing; 24M, a reinventor of battery technology; and Didi Chuxing, a four-year-old ride-hailing app that’s beating Uber in the Chinese market.
MIT  lists  start_ups  large_companies  innovation  technology  business_models  job_search  23andMe 
june 2016 by jerryking
How fascination is a brand’s trump card - The Globe and Mail
HARVEY SCHACHTER
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Jun. 19, 2016

She boils it down to seven forms in her book Fascinate and an online diagnostic tool:

Innovation: Such brands revolve around the language of creativity. She lists five adjectives that indicate how to make that advantage come alive: forward-thinking, entrepreneurial, bold, surprising, and visionary. Virgin and Apple are exemplars. Innovation brands open our eyes to new possibilities and change expectations. They invent surprising solutions; they do the opposite of what is expected.

Passion: This is about relationships – building a strong tie between the brand and users. Key adjectives: expressive, optimistic, sensory, warm, and social.

Power: This brand trait speaks of confidence. Key adjectives: assertive, goal-oriented, decisive, purposeful, and opinionated. The Tesla she and her husband recently bought is a power brand – not afraid to have opinions and lead the way. Beyoncé is also a power brand. Power brands need not be overpowering; they can guide gently, even lovingly. But they are confident, pursuing specific goals.

Prestige: This is about excellence. Key adjectives: ambitious, results-oriented, respected, established, and concentrated. It’s a mark of excellence such as Chanel or Louis Vuitton. People shell our big bucks for the prestige of Channel sunglasses, she notes, while Louis Vuitton maintains its standards by shredding unsold bags so they don’t end up sold at discount somewhere. She points to Brooks Brothers and Calvin Klein losing their prestige status as they opt for stores in malls.

Trust: This brand trait expresses the language of stability. Key adjectives: stable, dependable, familiar, comforting, predictable. I

Mystique: this is the language of listening, saying “Mystique reveals less than expected. It provokes questions. These brands know when to talk, and when to be quiet.” Key adjectives: observant, calculated, private, curiosity-provoking, and substantive (e.g. KFC’s 11 secret herbs and spices play to this sense of mystery).

Alert: This is the language of details. Key adjectives: organized, detailed, efficient, precise and methodical. ... Public-health campaigns are alert brands.

To use her shortcut, you need to identify the prime advantage you hold for prospects and customers.
brands  branding  brand_purpose  hacks  Harvey_Schachter  fascination  prestige  trustworthiness  innovation  books  political_power  mystique  forward-thinking 
june 2016 by jerryking
Beth Comstock of General Electric: Granting Permission to Innovate - The New York Times
By ADAM BRYANT JUNE 17, 2016

Early on, I wasn’t confident, and I’m sure that showed. I probably asked a lot of questions that started with, “Would you …? Could you …? Might you think about …?”

There was probably a tentativeness about me. But I also remember being very impatient about wanting things to go faster in my career, and wanting people to move faster.

I’ve also had to learn to ask for help, rather than waiting until everything is perfectly done. Sometimes you feel like you can’t put an idea out there until you’ve looked at it from every angle, as opposed to saying, “Here’s a seed of an idea, help me make it better.” In those early days, I was afraid to put something out there if it wasn’t totally baked and perfect.

Being part of collaborative teams, I’ve come to appreciate the power of them a lot more than I did early on. When you get the teamwork right, it’s like magic because everybody has a role. You’re different, but you come together and you have a mission.

Those are the things I really love about work. When it hasn’t worked, it’s because the team hasn’t been right. The dynamics aren’t right.
CEOs  GE  innovation  women  Beth_Comstock  leadership  teams  asking_for_help  personal_chemistry 
june 2016 by jerryking
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