Weekly Download 14.4

download-158006_640Here’s a recap of news and notes from around the Web that caught my attention over the past week or so.

Innoveracy: Misunderstanding Innovation. Love it—the new term “innoveracy” defined as “the inability to understand the concept and role of innovation.” This quote has resonated with me: “Understanding that innovation requires passing a market test and that passing that test is immensely rewarding both for the creator and for society at large means that we can focus on how to make it happen. Obsessing over the mere novelties or inventions means we allocate resources which markets won’t reward.”

Disruptive entrepreneurs: An interview with Eric Ries. Digital technology is allowing entrepreneurs to “rent the means of production”.  Iterative innovation is critical within organizations as there isn’t just one entrepreneur trying to replace what you are trying to do, there are potentially thousands or tens of thousands.

Six must be the new magic number. A must read and must watch.6 Rules cover


Teaching Microsoft to Dance

Thai Elephant

Image courtesy of Aduldej / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Twenty-one years ago this month, Lou Gerstner came from RJR Nabisco to take over at IBM. He cut billions of dollars in expenses and made tough decisions that no insider would have made easily, including cutting OS/2 (IBM’s PC Operating System) and eliminating the dress code (pinstripe suits, white shirts, wingtip shoes) and the “no alcohol” policy. At the time, IBM was perilously close to running out of cash. It was expected that Gerstner would oversee the company’s dissolution, but, instead, he executed an extraordinary turnaround that has become a classic business case study.

Certainly the situation today is different at Microsoft, but perhaps no less challenging. Which begs the question: can recently-named CEO Satya Nadella teach Microsoft how to dance?

Satya Nadella certainly forged new ground in his first public speech at Microsoft. For example, he was using an iPad on stage and referencing Android, while there was a relative absence of plugs for Microsoft Hardware.

Here are some of the dimensions of his challenge as I see it:

Old Model New Model
Desktop or Laptop PC Mobile and Cloud
Enterprise I.T. Support Cloud Support
Multi-year Large Enterprise or Package Software Pay-as-you-Go and micro-transactions
Multiple years between major releases A few days (or less) between updates
Focus on I.T. Professional Experience Focus on Consumer Experience
Vertical Stack of Technology Part of a Horizontal Ecosystem
Thick, feature laden client side software Thin mobile or zero footprint services

The list could go on.  Probably the biggest elephant in the room is the culture.  How do you reshape the hide-bound Microsoft ways fast enough to capture market opportunities?  The reshaping of Microsoft has begun—it should be interesting to watch.

In the meantime, I’ll be dusting off my copy of Teaching Elephants to Dance. You can get yours on Amazon for a penny, or spend up for Gerstner’s first-person account, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?

An Inquisitive Learner

Bookshelf 032514

Photo by Mark Baker

This past Saturday, I had the luxury of some free time to catch up on my reading (almost all on my iPad these days). Even with a voracious daily reading habit*, it’s still easy to accumulate a backlog of articles, blogs, etc. that have captured my interest.  On this occasion, I was able to leisurely explore links to other sources, revisit past MBA School learnings, and, of course, purchase a few books. It was a rich, engrossing and rewarding journey that reinforced my long-term enjoyment of being an inquisitive learner.

I don’t deal well with “canned” learning.  I’m always asking myself “why” and “really?” For that reason, many times in the past I’ve felt that teachers, librarians and parents have restricted my access to information. The internet represents a rich new frontier for an inquisitive learner, with unlimited possibilities for accessing media and thoughts of all kinds. That is, as long as you don’t allow its gatekeepers to plan and control your travel routes. This is how Google is killing the web is an interesting counterpoint to those who think Google is the Holy Grail. Does this ring true for you?  Are you an inquisitive learner?  How does this article strike you?

*Daily consumption includes: