Educational researcher Sugata Mitra conducted some really interesting experiments to determine what level of education young kids could reach if left to their own to learn. He talks about the results and the ideas that his findings have led him to in this inspiring 22 minute TEDtalk.
A well presented argument (a 16 minute TEDtalk) for why China is rapidly becoming the new idol that emerging economies are increasingly trying to mimic:
Markets, Firms and Property Rights: A Celebration of the Research of Ronald Coase (Dec 4-5, 2009) (Photo credit: k-ideas)
As part of pursuing my “business detox” research agenda, I have tried to pay due attention to the work of economist Ronald Coase who developed the first theories on “why firms exist”. As The Economist newspaper explains in their recent obituary for Ronald Coase:
As he watched American car plants in action, he realised that the existence of the firm compensated for a critical flaw in the price-setting mechanism. In the real world it is often costly for buyer and seller to arrive at a final price. “Transaction costs”, like the need to negotiate or draw up contracts, prevent the price mechanism from working smoothly. Firms would exist, he reckoned, when it was cheaper and easier to co-ordinate activity within a centrally planned organisation than to spell out contract details for every step in the production process.
Of course, our modern technological world is rapidly driving down transaction costs and making outsourcing of all parts of the firm much more cost-effective and do-able than ever. Hence, the end of the traditional employee-centric firm as we know it today…
As my own nod to Ronald Coase and his brilliant insights into why firms exist, I have reprinted the 7th September 2013 obituary from The Economist in its entirety below. Rest in peace, Mr. Coase. Continue reading
Posted in Business models, Employment, Measurement systems, Stories from the front line
Tagged Coase, Coase Theorem, Economics, Economist, London School of Economics, London Stock Exchange, Nature of the Firm, price mechanism, Ronald Coase, Transaction cost
(Thanks to blogger http://dougdoeslife.com/ for this gem…Thanks Doug!)
(Photo credit: Images by John ‘K’)
Last weekend, I spent my Sunday facilitating a fairly large not-for-profit board of a national association. My remit was two-fold; first, to help them develop an action plan for a major internal (mandatory) initiative spanning about 10 months, and second; to help them through a “visioning exercise” on the future of their professional discipline.
As it turned out, it took over 2 hours to work them through the first key deliverable and arrive at a real, tangible game plan (specific actions identified with names, dates, and such) for the internal initiative. The board itself was made up of a diverse group of about 18 people that were — perhaps not surprisingly for a volunteer Continue reading
Dream! (Photo credit: Melody Campbell)
After much internal musing, I have decided that I have a lot to gain from “going public”, as it were, and clearly declaring my interests in dream projects I would like to be involved in, and the kinds of people that I think might want to collaborate on those projects with me.
For anyone who has read my various materials on my “business detox project” (check here, here, and here for some quick background info), you will quickly see that my dream projects strongly intersect with my personal beliefs about how business is evolving (or more accurately, needs to evolve if it is to help us transform our Continue reading
I came across this article recently in the online version of strategy+business, which is the magazine published by management consulting firm Booz & Company.
The article makes the case that the source of much of the dysfunctional behavior our modern organizations demonstrate is due to the fact that for “simplicity’s sake”, we organization them as hierarchical tree structures, despite the fact that they do not at all operate that way in real life. Of course, we intuitively know this, however we’ve organized this way for hundreds of years, so it is how we do it anyway, reality be damned…
The full article is reprinted below for your ease of reading; the key take-away it makes is that what actually can pull our organizations together is shared understanding of Purpose, Values, and Performance. However, we tend to focus exclusively on measuring and chasing Continue reading
The following article is a re-post of some excellent advice about driving a turn-around situation. This article comes from Rosabeth Moss Kanter, in an HBR blog post of 5th November 2013.
While a quick read and some general advice, it is a great reminder that a reinforced and sustained focus on a few overriding key concepts helps the whole team to clarify their turn-around mission and drive the necessary results. For your convenience, it is Continue reading
Innovation is a big topic, and is getting a lot of attention these days in a lot of management circles. Several months ago I was asked to write a paper on how one might go about building more innovative thinking into a company’s culture. That article has just been published formally in the October 2013 edition of the Technology Innovation Management Review (TIM Review), put out by Carleton University, in a special edition titled “managing innovation for tangible performance.”
I hope my small contribution is helpful to advancing the thinking on innovation, and specifically will be useful to management teams that are truly interested in building more effective innovation practices into their company culture. The complete article is republished below, and also available at this link: Continue reading
Posted in Business models, Measurement systems, Risk management, Technology
Tagged Carleton University, Henry Ford, Innovation, Innovation management, Organizational culture, Steve Jobs, Strategic management, Thomas Edison
How to start a movement — 3:10 minute instructional guide, compliments of Derek Sivers:
The regular reader of my blog will know that I write a lot about how to go about transforming oneself through reflection, discipline, and new habit building. Here is a great little TEDtalk, clocking in at just over 3 minutes, that reinforces the point:
David Goliath Mormon (Photo credit: More Good Foundation)
Truth be told, I’ve been struggling a bit lately, trying to make sense of all the business and professional projects I’ve gotten myself involved in. Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m really enjoying the stuff on my plate: working with some great business clients, exploring “personal branding” attributes through my career coaching company, figuring out the keys to effective networking, getting positive traction on “detox research”, and generally enjoying my days. So what could be wrong with all that?
It’s that nagging feeling that I STILL haven’t quite got the mix right, haven’t still figured out WHY I’m doing the things I’m doing. I KNOW they are the things I should be doing, but I have been struggling a bit with the WHY… until, that is, I stumbled across this gem: Malcolm Gladwell’s recent take on David and Goliath in a TEDtalk (15 minutes), Continue reading
The Passage of Time (Photo credit: ToniVC)
On my own meandering personal journey to enlightenment, I’m increasingly puzzled by something – most people seem to avoid a pretty obvious truth about their own lives and how they choose to live them. That “truth” is our own personal relationship with TIME. We manage ourselves as if we have infinite time to get around to doing the things we want to do, eventually. Yet we KNOW we actually have a FINITE amount of the stuff to work with. We spend time in endeavors we don’t value, we waste time doing things we don’t really enjoy, we put off things we know to be important to “another time”. We have a pretty strange relationship with “time”, and meanwhile the clock ticks on. For your consideration (excerpted from Lewis Timberlake’s “First Thing Every Morning”) — six things regarding your relationship with time:
First: Nobody can manage time. You can manage the things that take up your time.
Second: Time is expensive. A huge percentage of our day is spent on those things or those people that bring us a small percentage of our results.
Third: Time is perishable. It cannot be saved for another time, for later use.
Fourth: Time is measurable. Everybody has the same amount of time, no matter your station in life. It is not how much you have; it is how you use it.
Fifth: Time is irreplaceable. We never make back time once it is gone.
Sixth: Time is a priority. You have enough time for most anything you choose to do, so long as it ranks high enough among your priorities.
Here is a great, short (less than 10 minutes) take on what “changing the rules” that currently drive our economy might look like. This clear and easy to follow presentation comes from Annie Leonard, who gave us “The Story of Stuff” about 5 years ago. While there is certainly lots of “complexities” inherent in her story that she doesn’t get into in this presentation, it is a great 1st level take on what a “better system” might look like…
TEDtalk by Kelly McGonigal about the science behind stress. Interesting stuff and well worth watching — key take-away: “caring creates resilience”. Awesome thought for a stressed out society….
English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Well OK, there is probably really not that much that is “funny” about anxiety, whether you are dealing with it personally, or are confronting it in others around you in your personal or professional life.
In my professional work as a change catalyst, I’m continually rediscovering the importance of appreciating the role that anxiety plays in most everything. In my own personal life, over the past several years I’ve discovered a few things that have helped me to be somewhat less anxious about things (see especially fact #4 below). This very short article (authored by Jeremy Dean at PsyBlog) is well worth the read if anxiety is something that Continue reading
Here is a wonderfully thoughtful article from Peter Buffet, son of Warren and director of philanthropic foundation NoVo Foundation. In this short article, Peter presents a well-reasoned argument that far from actually “solving” the problems that our many charitable organizations are created to focus on, they are in fact becoming part of the “establishment” that feeds into maintaining the status quo. As he states:
The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.
Read the piece in its entirety here, you may find the re-framing he presents thought-provoking.
A friend of mine put this on my radar screen a couple of days ago, and I got a kick out of it and wanted to share it — it is a short video excerpt from a longer (16 minute) TEDtalk by researcher Frans de Waal, the full TEDtalk is available here. For those of you with shorter attention spans, you’ll get a good chuckle from this 2:44 minute excerpt below:
Calvin & Hobbes dance (Photo credit: RBolance)
I have always been a big fan of Watterson’s classic comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes”. I have just come across this wonderful little comic about “finding your own way” that I really liked and wanted to share. If you click on the URL (128. BILL WATTERSON: A cartoonist’s advice) you’ll get the full comic, a short article about the comic and about Watterson, and a load of comments from various viewers.
If, like me, you just like to soak in the artwork and the ideas of the strip, I’ve copied and pasted that below. Enjoy!
English: The official title artwork for the upcoming film “The Lottery” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you have ever wondered why so many people play the lottery (heck, why you even play the lottery even when you know the odds suck…), here is a great article laying out the psychology of the trap. And the bonus is, the article is just long enough to entertain you while you wait in line at the local lottery kiosk to play your favorite numbers. Enjoy!
In this 20 minute TEDtalk, Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for “practical wisdom” as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.
Just came across a fascinating article about what kinds of webs that spiders under the influence of various kinds of drugs actually weave — as it turns out, they weave all kinds of crazy things! Check out the short article here , and then for your chuckle for the day, watch the 2 minute video below, which is a take-off on the old Canadian public service TV spots of Canada’s Hinterland. Enjoy!
Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955. Deutsch: Winston Churchill, 1940 bis 1945 sowie 1951 bis 1955 Premier des Vereinigten Königreichs und Literaturnobelpreisträger des Jahres 1953. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’ve been using a standing desk now for about 8 months, and I am a very enthusiastic endorser of the practice now. I find that my work quality is better, I am more productive, my energy levels are better, and overall I just feel a lot more effective in my work and my physical well-being. This Economist article points out the current scientific inquiries behind this kind of “low level activity” and why it might be so effective in terms of better health and wellness.
All I know is that my work is a lot better, and I’m not going back to a sitting desk anytime soon. The fact that Winston Churchill, Leonardo da Vinci, and Ernest Hemingway also all “got it and practiced it” is just the icing on the cake — great to be in such exalted company!
English: Portrait of Ivan Pavlov, Russian physiologist and experimental psychologist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of my concerns about our modern society is the amount to which we are being manipulated to do things that, upon reflection, most decidedly are not in our own personal best interests.
Of course, I understand and appreciate the argument that as individuals we have ultimate “free choice” and that no one else — governments, churches, other groups — should be allowed to make choices on our behalf. This is often pulled out as the fundamental logic behind less government intervention, no regulation, self-regulation, “free” markets, and the like.
What I think is not very well understood by the general public is that the very essence of business is to sell us more of what they make, and so each individual business has a strong and sustained financial incentive to do everything (within legal boundaries) in their power Continue reading
Posted in Business models, Consumption, Ethics, Measurement systems, Regulation
Tagged Aldous Huxley, B.F. Skinner, Classical conditioning, Food, Ivan Pavlov, United States, Washington Post
Canada Day Protest 2010 (Photo credit: nouspique)
Recently I read Margaret Heffernan’s book “Willful Blindness” (2011, Random House). The byline of the book really says it all: “Why we ignore the obvious at our peril”…
In my own research work, I have been pondering this concept of “willful blindness” for quite some time. I think it explains a lot about why as a society we are often slow to take action on things which — when examined from a somewhat independent and objective perch — seem blindingly obvious and urgent. Continue reading
Posted in Book reviews, Business Detox Project, Ethics, Reputation management, Risk management
Tagged Blindness, Book, Decision making, Health, Law, Margaret Heffernan, Random House, Willful Blindness
The great capitalists of their day — like Henry Ford — clearly saw the need for a strong and growing middle class to buy their products. We would do well to remember that a strong and prosperous middle class acts as a shock-absorber for society. Through several decades of poor design choices, neglect, and excessive greed, our current shock absorbers are becoming frighteningly worn through…. Continue reading
… review this list of “worst jobs in the world” taken from Lapham’s Quarterly, a magazine of history and ideas. Then decide whether your complaint is reasonable!
I weighed in on the current shenanigans playing out in Canadian federal and municipal politics: the Mike Duffy/Senate expenses story, and the Mayor Rob Ford/crack smoking video allegation. Here is my blog post satirizing it all as a new Canadian reality TV show…
Well, all reality shows need ads and trailers to attract an audience, so I wanted to share these as possible contributions to the network promotion — enjoy! Continue reading
Men Behaving Badly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I don’t usually resort to commenting on either politics or TV shows. I want to stay above the fray, I honestly do.
Still, it is pretty hard not to have some strong negative opinions about the 2 current pilot episodes of the new reality series show Men Behaving Badly that have been running on Canadian media outlets for the past few weeks. You’ve almost assuredly seem them, featuring those new reality show stars Mike Duffy, Rob Ford, and Nigel Wright. Continue reading
Posted in Heros and Zeros, Risk management, Stories from the front line
Tagged accountability, Canada, Duffy, Ethics, Men Behaving Badly, Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright, Ottawa, Prince Edward Island, Rob Ford
A car crash on Jagtvej in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, as I work to better relate my own “transformation” value proposition into language meaningful and attractive to my clients. I mean, who wouldn’t want to own and operate a “high performance business”? But, what does that actually mean? What does a high performance business actually look like, and why are they so darn hard to build and maintain?
It’s pretty easy to speak generally about a “high performance business”: superior performance through a tight, well articulated business model and associated streamlined Continue reading
Posted in Business models, Heros and Zeros, Stories from the front line, Technology, Uncategorized
Tagged Business, business model, Business process, Business Services, Consulting, Management, Manufacturing, Strategic planning
Golden number 10000 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here is a fascinating look at the length of a day, as a proportion of a month, a year, lifetime, eon, and various other measures of time. This was particularly compelling to me as I am going through a thinking exercise where I am trying to get some handle on some things I want to create/achieve over a 10,000 day period (27 years), in addition to the natural aging I am most assuredly going to accomplish…. this little timeline is a great reminder about the relative brief nature of our time here… so make the most of it…what did you accomplish today? http://hereistoday.com/