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jerryking : office_politics   8

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
Henry Kissinger’s infamous remarks
Henry Kissinger’s infamous remark, “Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small.”
academia  campus_politics  Colleges_&_Universities  Henry_Kissenger  internal_politics  office_politics  quotes  viciousness 
september 2018 by jerryking
Commodity trading enters the age of digitisation
July 9, 2018 | Financial Times | by Emiko Terazono.

Commodity houses are on the hunt for data experts to help them gain an edge after seeing their margins squeezed by rivals......commodity traders are seeking ways of exploiting their information to help them profit from price swings.

“It is really a combination of knowing what to look for and using the right mathematical tools for it,” ........“We want to be able to extract data and put it into algorithms,” .......“We then plan to move on to machine learning in order to improve decision-making in trading and, as a result, our profitability.” The French trading arm is investing in people, processes and systems to centralize its data — and it is not alone.

“Everybody [in the commodity world] is waking up to the fact that the age of digitisation is upon us,” said Damian Stewart at headhunters Human Capital.

In an industry where traders with proprietary knowledge, from outages at west African oilfields to crop conditions in Russia, vied to gain an upper hand over rivals, the democratisation of information over the past two decades has been a challenge......the ABCDs — Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus Company — all recording single-digit ROE in their latest results. As a consequence, an increasing number of traders are hoping to increase their competitiveness by feeding computer programs with mountains of information they have accumulated from years of trading physical raw materials to try and detect patterns that could form the basis for trading ideas.......Despite this new enthusiasm, the road to electronification may not come easily for some traders. Compared to other financial and industrial sectors, “they are coming from way behind,” said one consultant.

One issue is that some of the larger commodities traders face internal resistance in centralising information on one platform.

With each desk in a trading house in charge of its profit-and-loss account, data are closely guarded even from colleagues, said Antti Belt, head of digital commodity trading at Boston Consulting Group. “The move to ‘share all our data with each other’ is a very, very big cultural shift,” he added.

Another problem is that in some trading houses, staff operate on multiple technology platforms, with different units using separate systems.[JCK: one Don Valentine's criterion for making an investment: "Are there great installations of incompatibility that need to be linked?"]

Rather than focusing on analytics, some data scientists and engineers are having to focus on harmonising the platforms before bringing on the data from different parts of the company.
ADM  agribusiness  agriculture  algorithms  artificial_intelligence  Bunge  Cargill  commodities  data_scientists  digitalization  food_crops  grains  incompatibilities  informational_advantages  legacy_tech  Louis_Dreyfus  machine_learning  office_politics  pattern_recognition  traders 
july 2018 by jerryking
Peter Thiel on Why Big Companies Don’t Think Like Startups - WSJ - WSJ
November 3, 2014 | WSJ | Interview of Peter Thiel by Mr. Dennis K. Berman.

Changing the World
MR. BERMAN: The term you use in your book is that a startup is an excuse to change the world. How do people inside big companies take that idea and make something of it? MR. THIEL: There are a number of larger companies that are still innovating fairly aggressively. I’m very biased, as an investor, to be pro-companies that are still led by the founders. The founders are often able to make more choices and take more risk and have more inspiration than more politically minded CEOs. The old founders don’t always live forever, that’s true. You need a figure that’s as close to a founder as possible.

In theory, large companies could do far more than small companies. They have more capital. They have longer time horizons. They can take more risks. I tend to think it’s always that the internal politics somehow get in the way.
bubbles  founders  internal_politics  large_companies  office_politics  Peter_Thiel  risk-taking  Silicon_Valley  start_ups  time_horizons  valuations  vc  venture_capital 
november 2014 by jerryking
Want to land a big client? Here are four important tips - The Globe and Mail
MATTHIJS KEIJ
Young Entrepreneur Council
Published Tuesday, Aug. 12 2014

Study them

Landing a big client isn’t about you. Let me say that again: It is not about you.... remember that to succeed, you must help your client succeed. How do you do that? Study everything you can about the client until you fully understand the business, strategies and objectives.

Next, clearly define how your product or service will help the company achieve its goals. If you can identify a problem or isolate areas for improvement, then you can clearly illustrate your ability to provide a unique solution.

Make the connection. to land that enterprise client, try to identify your Norgay or Hillary. Talking to the wrong people wastes valuable time. However, if you can create a relationship with a strategic partner, that person can help get you in front of the right people and into the necessary meetings – all the more quickly than you could do on your own. Your target client is Mount Everest. Start climbing.
Gain influence

“An enterprise client needs to be convinced that working with your company is the best decision they could ever make,” says Karthik Manimozh, president and COO of 1-Page. “One of the most effective ways to help them arrive at this conclusion is to let your reputation precede you.”

The leadership, prestige and visibility that your company wields in the marketplace are all key factors that influence buying decisions. The answers your potential enterprise client seeks rest on your ability to shape your story. Good PR and marketing is the foundation. Strategic networking and social proof are pillars.

Remember, influence is something that comes with hard work...Be everywhere; talk with everyone (but ensure your conversations are informative and upbeat, never desperate).

Persevere through tough times

It can take months or even more than a year to land an enterprise client. Nothing worth having comes easy.

During that time, you’re bound to find yourself in countless meetings, possibly caught up in the middle of office politics, or jumping through hoops as the legal and procurement departments vet your company. Don’t dismay. This is par for the course when trying to land an enterprise client.
solutions  solution-finders  marketing  business_development  tips  indispensable  influence  networking  JCK  due_diligence  large_companies  perseverance  Communicating_&_Connecting  value_propositions  serving_others  strategic_thinking  client_development  hard_work  enterprise_clients  hard_times  office_politics  Michael_McDerment  the_right_people 
august 2014 by jerryking
What's Next for Newsmagazines? - WSJ.com
April 4, 2008 | WSJ | By REBECCA DANA.
Fading Publications Try to Reinvent Themselves Yet Again

"Like any managers anywhere, we looked at a revenue picture that could be more thrilling and said, 'How can we accomplish two or three things?,' " Mr. Meacham said in an interview. " 'How can we control costs? How can we have money to rebuild and hire new voices and new reporting talent? And how can we do that in the service of what we've been trying to do with the magazine of the last year-and-a-half, which is make it more serious and try to make ourselves indispensable to the conversation?' "....."My whole view was there's more information out there than any time in human history. What people don't need more of is information," Mr. Stengel said. "They need a guide through the chaos."..."What's happened in the business as a whole is talk is cheap and reporting is expensive," said Newsweek writer Jonathan Alter, a 25-year veteran at the magazine who qualified for the buyout but declined it. But he adds, some of the change in culture is welcome. "In general, the office politics are at a much lower volume than in the past because the old fight of space is different than it was. If there's not room in the magazine for something, you can just do it online," he said.....At a recent speech at Columbia University, Mr. Meacham delivered a blistering response after he asked who reads Newsweek and none of the 100-odd students in attendance raised their hands.

"It's an incredible frustration that I've got some of the most decent, hard-working, honest, passionate, straight-shooting, non-ideological people who just want to tell the damn truth, and how to get this past this image that we're just middlebrow, you know, a magazine that your grandparents get, or something, that's the challenge," Mr. Meacham said. "And I just don't know how to do it, so if you've got any ideas, tell me."
chaos  commoditization_of_information  cost-controls  cost-cutting  curation  indispensable  information_overload  Jon_Meacham  journalists  journalism  magazines  multiple_targets  newsstand_circulation  office_politics  print_journalism  questions  reinvention  talent_acquisition  think_threes 
june 2012 by jerryking
THE BIGGEST GROUPS ARE ILL WITH INEFFICIENCY
April 06 2011 | FT | Luke Johnson
● Sunk cost fallacy:
● Groupthink:
● An obsession with governance:
● Institutional capture: the phenomenon whereby mgmt. end up running an
enterprise for their own benefit, rather than for the real owners. Also
known as the principal/agent problem.
● Office politics: self-destructive infighting for power within large
businesses is endemic, and perhaps the biggest value destroyer of all.
● Lack of proprietorship:
● Risk aversion: in large corporates, the punishment for management
failure is greater than the rewards for success. So, rational
individuals pursue cautious strategies to avoid damaging their career
prospects. (aka "playing it safe")
● The burden of history: many older companies have legacy issues such as
pension scheme deficits, union contracts, inefficient equipment and so
on.
● Anonymous mediocrities: there is nowhere to hide in a small company –
if you can’t deliver, you’re out.
● Commodity products: large companies need large markets,
playing_it_safe  start_ups  inefficiencies  size  groupthink  Luke_Johnson  large_markets  large_companies  bureaucracies  risk-aversion  mediocrity  owners  office_politics  commodities  self-destructive  brands  legacy_tech 
april 2011 by jerryking

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