Tom's visit to Sweden continues today in Stockholm. If you attended the Bestseller event, we'd like to hear from you. And if you'd like to download the slides, you can do so here:
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"Bring in wild and wooly outsiders. E-x-p-a-n-d the box." Tom Peters
Tom's visit to Sweden continues today in Stockholm. If you attended the Bestseller event, we'd like to hear from you. And if you'd like to download the slides, you can do so here:
Last week Tom was in Mauritius. This week he's in Sweden, speaking to a group in the port of Göteborg. American spelling is Gothenburg, but Tom likes to use the same spelling as his hosts. In that spirit, I'm providing a link to a Swedish-language website about the city. If I'm wrong about what language it is, please let me know! We'd also like to hear from you if you attended the event.Cathy Mosca posted this on 05/29/2007.
Alas, Memorial Day finds me on the road. Then again, there are a lot of our troops on the road today as well. My thoughts go to everyone who is serving, but especially to those in Iraq and Afghanistan. And a particularly special thought is aimed at Keith Bishop, husband of our Abbey Bishop. Thanks, Keith.
It seems odd to combine thoughts of Iraq and beautiful Mauritius. But it's where I was, and you'll see a bit of it above and below. Note the lovely (to me) old boat that also served its time, and no doubt with distinction.
As wealth grows in India and the Middle East, and as Boomer restlessness accelerates from every corner of the globe, Mauritius stands poised to become a primo travel destination. Middle Eastern investment money is already flowing in, full tilt.
(Am in Göteborg, Sweden, as I write.)
Tom Peters posted this on 05/28/2007.
Tom has updated his Master Slides once again, and separated it into three parts to make downloading easier. And the three categories of slides that Tom considers to be the logical breakdown of his message? 1) Innovation, 2) Value added, and 3) People.Cathy Mosca posted this on 05/28/2007.
After, count 'em, 53 hours ... West Tinmouth VT to Boston to London to Johannesburg to Mauritius ... I'm ensconced in a fabulous oceanfront room at the Meridien hotel. I barely survived (remember, 53 hours in the same underwear) a TV crew that was waiting, upon my arrival at the hotel. The all-day seminar is for local business and government leaders.
[To download the slides, use the link below. It takes a while, the file is 6.3 MB.—CM]
XAlways, Innovate or Die, Mauritius
Stephen Bayley is the coauthor (with Roger Mavity) of Life's a Pitch ... How to Be Businesslike with Your Emotional Life and Emotional with Your Business Life. He introduces the book this way:
What we've written here is almost the ultimate design book, because it's about how to design yourself ... how to create a winning and attractive personality ... how to get to "yes" in an argument or presentation. So, the book is about the self—communication, self-presentation, and how we create impressions. It's a book about design, but design that is applied to people and ideas ...
And, having been the first chief executive of London's Design Museum, Stephen knows his topic. You can read the rest of his Cool Friends interview here. Or visit his website, www.stephenbayley.com, and his book website, lifesapitch.uk.com. Welcome to the Cool Friends, Stephen!Cathy Mosca posted this on 05/24/2007.
Check out the comments to "Packing Light(?)." There are superb links, worth a chunk of time, far better than I'd have offered ... I guess that's the whole point of Blogging, eh?Tom Peters posted this on 05/23/2007.
Just another ho-hum day in the Global Economy, circa 2007.
(Speaking of the global economy, above is a charming picture of my view from the Heathrow Terminal 4 Hilton, where I'm hanging out for 10 hours between my Boston to London flight and my London to Johannesburg flight. A little different from Vermont in full Spring bloom at this time yesterday. So, why do I do this?)Tom Peters posted this on 05/22/2007.
I'd never had in one place that list of books I offered yesterday. For me it is a very big deal, like publishing the Source Code for Tom. Hence, I put together this little PowerPoint version of the list, with a couple of additions that speak to the issue of non-rational factors in "life's little outcomes."Tom Peters posted this on 05/22/2007.
Packing for Mauritius, Sweden, and misc American destinations. Thanks to British carryon restrictions, pruning of my normal load is mandatory.
I am really & truly uncomfortable unless I am accompanied by my "bibles," or a hearty subset thereof.
As I've said many times before, all my training and observation cause me to throw oceans of icy water on the idea of linearity, rationality, and plans that matter.
Hence my biblical/iconic books, several mentioned before:
#1, no contender for the spot, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It starts this way: "This book is about luck disguised and perceived as non-luck (that is, skills) and more generally randomness disguised and perceived as non-randomness. It manifests itself in the shape of the lucky fool, defined as a person who benefited from a disproportionate share of luck but attributed his success to some other, generally precise reason." "We underestimate the share of randomness in just about everything, a point that might not merit a book—except when it is the specialist who is the fool of all fools." "Mild success can be explainable by skills and labor. Wild success is attributable to variance."
Mr Taleb, a Wall Street trader among other incarnations, has favored us with a companion: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.
Mr Taleb waxes poetic about the work of Philip Tetlock. My tome of Tetlock's is Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? Experts take a beating (thrashing is more like it) in these insanely well researched pages. A sample from the dust jacket: "A fox, the thinker who knows many little things, draws from an eclectic array of disciplines, and is better able to improvise in response to changing events, is more successful in predicting the future than the hedgehog, who knows one big thing, toils devotedly within one tradition, and imposes formulaic solutions on ill defined problems."
Two others in this genre:
Scott Page's The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies. Consider: "Diverse groups of problem solvers—groups of people with diverse tools—consistently outperformed groups of the best and the brightest. If I formed two groups, one random (and therefore diverse) and one consisting of the best individual performers, the first group almost always did better. ... Diversity trumped ability."
The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. More of the same ... I can never get enough.
My oldest friend in my iconic stack, perhaps read (cover to cover) at least a half dozen times, is Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould. Once more, at the heart of the matter are discussions of various sorts of statistical distributions. I fell in love all over again, dare I admit it, with the importance of standard deviations in a set of observations.
Whoops, I lied. My oldest pal is Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases, by Nobel Laureate (economics) Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, and Amos Tversky. The distortions in our perceptions of events is the subject of this pioneering, seminal, and thoroughly researched work, which arrived in 1982, the same year as In Search of Excellence.
Along those same lines as Kahneman et al., I am taking with me Cordelia Fine's spanking new A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives. "Your brain has some shifty habits that leave the truth distorted and disguised. Your brain is vainglorious. It's emotional and immoral. It deludes you. It is pigheaded, secretive, and weak willed. Oh, and it's also a bigot." (What's not to love about that as a starter?)
Along the same vein, my core approach to innovation is to examine the real world, the messy stories about how new stuff really arrives on the scene. Such as:
An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States—Charles Beard (1913)
Tube: The Invention of Television—David & Marshall Fisher
The Soul of a New Machine—Tracy Kidder
Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA—Brenda Maddox
The Blitzkrieg Myth—John Mosier
Indeed, I can hardly jam this set into a bag that must accommodate the climates of Mauritius, Sweden and California over the course of the next ten days or so. Nonetheless, the spirit of these works will, as always, color my observations beyond measure.Tom Peters posted this on 05/21/2007.
Anniversary #25 of In Search of Excellence. Our favorite company on our list of 43? In a cakewalk, Hewlett-Packard, our hometown pals. Since 1982, when HP was an instrument company with about $1 billion in revenue (real $$ in '82, IBM was about $10 billion), the firm has gone through numerous transformations, including hiring Stanford MBAs to add strategy and marketing to its engineering prowess, and then, courtesy David Packard's astounding foresight, becoming a computer company by, initially, stealing some of IBM's best research talent.
More followed, and the New York Times yesterday proclaimed that HP had hit the $100 billion mark, and the final nudge had been great design! ("Design Helps H.P. Profit More on PCs.") The genius who replaced "ditzy" Carly Fiorina, Mark Hurd, brought home the bacon, and on the design side it had happened when he poached some dude from Palm. A few weeks before, the Wall Street Journal had been equally breathless in praise of Hurd as the guy who scaled (scale, that is size) computerworld's Mt Everest.
I have no doubt Hurd is a fine operating exec. Moreover he did reestablish much of the decentralization that had slipped under Ms Fiorina. (She had good reason to centralize, but I am a congenital decentralizer who can never excuse moves, no matter how apparently legit, toward central control.)
But, as I said in my title to this Post, "Enough, for God's Sake."
Consider two questions:
Q: Why is HP "enormous"?
A: Carly's much contested Compaq acquisition. I supported it then, as I couldn't see HP prospering as essentially Xerox Lite, and I support it now. Carly poured heart and soul and guts and reputation into pushing the merger, including overcoming the shameful tactics of Hewlett Jr and Packard Jr. If HP is the "biggest guy on the block" in 2007, benefiting from PC sales, the "first 98%" of the credit goes to Fiorina, not Hurd. PERIOD.
Q: Why is HP a nouveau design star?
A: Good God, it ain't the Palm guy, who may be very good, and it sure as hell ain't dreary Mr Hurd. Carly brought, again with deafening criticism by the engineers, style to a previously 100% style-free HP. PERIOD.
I am not taking away from Mr Hurd's operating performance, which probably exceeds Fiorina's. But if we are primarily celebrating HP's megabulk, as the heavy in computerworld, and its fashion consciousness as engine of soaring PC margins and profits, then we are celebrating Carly Fiorina. As I said ... PERIOD.
Enough!Tom Peters posted this on 05/18/2007.
I attended a tippy-top exec conference in Orlando about a decade ago. GE's Jack Welch was an "obvious" keynoter. And he was paired with his European equal and superduperwonderexecextraordinaire counterpart, Daimler's Jürgen Schrempp.
Schrempp, 20 years after conglomeration had been dismissed in the U.S., had discovered a formula for making it work, and he was prepared to share. The presentation was late in the afternoon, and we can hope that none of the participants was peppy enough to take notes.
I was odd man out in my subsequent presentation, as I alluded, though acknowledging I was a mere observer, to my skepticism. (Something elliptical from me, no doubt, such as "How frigging stupid can someone be?" I was not quite hissed, but the body language from our best and brightest amounted to body language hissing. How dare I question the Mighty Duo?)
My point here is not to applaud my prescience; instead it is to wonder, once again, at just how stupid our "best and brightest" can be? Answer, TP flavor: stupid beyond belief.
Over and over ... and over.
Then over again.
By 2007, when the Chrysler "merger" (predictably) turned sour, this was the assessment of Mr Schrempp:
"His bets went sour one by one."—WSJ, 05.15.2007
A couple of years earlier, one Daimler"Chrysler" observer had said:
"Schrempp is one of the last dinosaurs of Germany Inc. He represents a strategy of acquiring assets and building empires that just didn't work."—Arndt Ellinghorst/ analyst/Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein
But, of course, the current assessment of Daimler is triggered by the Chrysler fiasco. Here are a few of the more choice comments:
"Marriage in heaven"—Daimler-Benz and Chrysler exchange vows, circa 1998 (Jurgen Schrempp is quoted here)
"the divorce on earth" —Daimler exec, circa May 2007, on probable Cerberus private equity purchase of Chrysler from Daimler
"Obviously, we overestimated the potential for synergies."—Dieter Zetsche, CEO, Daimler
And the prospects for poor Cerberus:
"This is a bar at 2 a.m. on St Patrick's Day. Everyone's wondering how much longer they can stay before the bar eventually closes."—Peter Morici, U of Maryland, on Cerberus-Chrysler and prospects for the U.S. auto industry
(Will somebody please explain to me how a "train guy," John Snow, previous CEO of CSX, will turn Chrysler to gold? Snow, not one of our "Top 40" Treasury Secretaries, is Chairman of Cerberus.)
Here's my not particularly brilliant Report Card on DaimlerChrysler 1998 to 2007:
Manifold Synergies/No (Predictable. Never happens.)
Severe Scale limits/Yes (Predictable. Always happens. Witness even Wal*Mart these days.)
Culture clashes/Yes (Predictable; a pretty good culture meld was the chief reason, as I see it, that the HP & Compaq thing worked, as suggested above)
Rushmorean ego issues/Yes (Predictable. Always!)
Customer acceptance /No (Predictable, as customer service always tanks when cost cutting becomes God.)
So why oh why oh why oh why do these "leading lights of management" do this shit over and over and over and over?
(More, used by me in a recent Post: "Despite a decade of banking mergers, there is no evidence that big banks are any more efficient or profitable than their smaller rivals."—Financial Times, 0329.07, on possible Barclays-ABN Amro merger "When it comes to asking the stock market whether bigger banks are better, the current answer is a resounding 'no.'"—Citigroup analysis, 2006, Uh-huh.)Tom Peters posted this on 05/18/2007.
Richard Branson has a big ego, which can be off-putting. (My one contact with him was unpleasant; it gave new meaning to the word "condescending.")
But God bless him!
Branson has succeeded again and again, and is often on the side of the saints. For starters, his idea of fun is going head to head with someone who has him by 100,001 pounds. As the New Yorker explained in a wonderful profile ("Branson's Luck: The Business World's High Roller Is Betting Everything on Biofuels," by Michael Specter, May 14), "Branson likes to enter a market controlled by a giant ... British Airways, say, or Coke or Murdoch. Then he presents himself as hip alternative."
He gets pissed off at something stupid (pathetic airline customer "service") and on a dime starts an airline, or whatever. (NB: I happen to believe that all, as in ALL, successful innovation, product or process, is the product of pissed off people.) With a fortune measured in the billions, he commands a payroll of about 55,000 feisty folks in 200 very independent companies. (E.g., Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Blue of Australia, Virgin Limousines, Virgin Money, Virgin Active health clubs, Virgin Galactic space travel.)
Branson is his brand, but as told here he enjoys his nutty stunts, and engages in them even when out of camera range; going back to his hotel after a recent party that included the Google founders, half Branson's age, said car was full, so Sir Richard simply hopped in the trunk. The profile also calls him the "anti-Trump." Around the office, "Branson's nickname is Dr Yes, largely because he has never been able to bring himself to fire people, and often has trouble saying no to even the most ridiculous and unsolicited ideas."
As I read the Branson profile I not only let my mind wander to DaimlerChrysler (see immediately above), but also to Howard Schultz, Starbucks founder. I like Schultz and his company. But it seems to me that when one hears of its future, it's almost always in terms of Howard's goal of making it to 100,000 shops, or some such. Branson is surely happy when his businesses succeed and grow (though not awash in tears when one fails, as long as it was a good try), but his primary goal is the fun of doing something cool to twit a giant or, more recently, saving the world.
In short (and long), I wish there were many more like him.Tom Peters posted this on 05/18/2007.
For the Sheer Hell of It!
"If it's not fun you're not doing it right."—Fran Tarkenton
Richard Branson does things that matter to him ... for the sheer hell of it. Personally, I think that's a very legitimate career and business philosophy. Frankly, the reason that I take on new stuff, and keep accumulating frequent flyer miles, has long been the unadulterated joy I get from doing what I do, and the sheer pleasure from marching in the opposite direction from the crowd. The same was true, if I may admit it, to me as a builder/junior officer, age 23, in Vietnam in 1966+.
Don't do it unless it's fun.
Make it fun. (Always possible, per me.)
Make it fun for others. (Which makes it fun/more fun for you.)
Tarkenton, the NFL quarterback and wildly successful businessperson, "gets it."
Sir Richard Branson "gets it."
So do I.
(PLEASE: Don't dismiss this as "motivational bullshit." Act as if your life depended on it; your professional life does.)Tom Peters posted this on 05/18/2007.
Sometimes a thousand well chosen words can change your view of something important. So it was for me with a brief piece in yesterday's New York Times, "Why Is Income Inequality in America So Pronounced? Consider Education," by Tyler Cowan. To make a short story even shorter, Cowan cites several serious academic studies that conclude we've given far too much weight to outsourcing and the riches of the top 1% as cause of rising wage and wealth inequality. The true culprit, to an overwhelming degree, is the growing chasm between the prospects of those who have (or don't have) a college degree. It's almost that simple, and I urge you to read the article.
(NB: The author admits his answer is not for the ages. The growing potency of technology means that even the college sheepskin holders will be under attack fairly soon. But for now that sheepskin matters ... a lot.)Tom Peters posted this on 05/18/2007.
US News & World Report of 21 May 2007 has an article titled "The Best Business Books of All Time? Here Are the Choices of Our Panel of CEOs and Experts." Experts are the likes of Chris Anderson, editor of Wired and author of The Long Tail, who recommends Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, mentioned here a couple of times. An erstwhile CEO in the group is Carly Fiorina, who names Re-imagine! among her selection of best business books ever. Thank you, Carly!Cathy Mosca posted this on 05/17/2007.
Here is a postulate:
In a retail service business (store, hotel, restaurant, hair salon, etc.) it is always "better" when the customer learns the service employee's first name, either from a personal introduction or a name tag.
Is this true? Always?
If so, what can "better" mean?Steve Yastrow posted this on 05/17/2007.
Las Vegas is where Tom finds himself today. I wonder if his suitcase also made the trip. He's speaking to a group from State Farm, which is now more than an insurance company. Their website shows banking and mutual funds among their offerings. If you attended the event, let us know how it went (and what Tom was wearing!). If you want to get the slides, you can use these links:
State Farm, Las Vegas
State Farm, Long Version
Addendum: We can be glad that Tom still has his camera! He sent us the great photo above.Cathy Mosca posted this on 05/15/2007.
The University of Oregon brought in an outsider and successful businessman, Pat Kilkenny, as Athletic Director. Pat asked Tom to come to Eugene to talk to his coaches and staff. (Tom reports that United Airlines decided he didn't need clean underwear—so they diverted his bags to Sri Lanka or somesuch. He said Eugene rolls up the sidewalks at dusk—but he found, current spotty earnings notwithstanding, a 24-hour Wal*Mart in town. At last communication, Tom was deciding whether or not to wear his new, Pakistani-made Oregon Ducks pajamas to the event. Stay tuned ...)
If you attended the event, click on "comments" below and let us know how it went. If you'd like to download the PPT, here's a link:
University of Oregon Athletics Dept, Eugene
So what did I do to deserve all this?
After a presentation yesterday—and a followup all day seminar today—I'm exhausted to the point of collapse.
But I am also happy to the bursting point. I've had the privilege of working and arguing and cajoling and laughing with a wonderful audience in Dubai from all over the Middle East. (And beyond.) Lots from amazing Dubai. (Stat: 24% of all, as in all, the world's quarto construction cranes are at work in this wee flyspeck of an Emirate.) (And, good God, Emirates Air just ordered another batch of A380s.) Plus: Saudis. Bahrainis. Egyptians. Kuwaitis. Omanis. Jordanians. And so on ... and on. A conversation with a Palestinian who is now a Saudi citizen is an education all by itself.
I am hardly expert, but I do today feel like a true internationalist—enjoying the company of and sharing the challenges facing an exceptionally thoughtful group of public and private sector executives.
Lucky me. Lucky, lucky me.
(You'll find my presentation attached. Developing talent to support an agenda of radical innovation was my chosen topic. Amid a set of speakers with more or less formulas for success, I made my contrarian case, what else, for the inherent and irreducible messiness of all innovation efforts—and the implications of that perpetually chaotic state for organizing and applying talent. To me, messiness is no cause of despair—but it does call for an approach that accepts and exploits the disorder per se.)
(On the foodie front—true Arabic mezzeh is a gift of the gods.)Tom Peters posted this on 05/10/2007.
David H. Freedman is the latest addition to our roster of Cool Friends. He's a contributing editor and technology columnist at Inc. magazine, and he's also written for Newsweek, the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, and Wired, among others. He got together with Eric Abrahamson, a professor of management at Columbia Business School, to write A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder—How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place. His interview may come as welcome news, depending on what your office looks like. You can read his Cool Friends interview here, and, if you want to learn more, he has a website, too.Cathy Mosca posted this on 05/09/2007.
Look at some of the people Tom is sharing the stage with today and tomorrow: Renée Mauborgne, coauthor of Blue Ocean Strategy; Ram Charan, coauthor of Execution; Tom Kelley, Managing Director of IDEO. Our friends at IIR brought them (and others) all together for a Management Innovation Forum in Dubai. If you were lucky enough to attend what must have been a fantastic event, please let us know about it in the comments below this blog post. If you'd like to get Tom's PowerPoint presentation, you can download it here:
Management Innovation Forum, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai, Day 2 | 10 May
In Christopher Buckley's wonderful Boomsday (mentioned here before), Gen X revolts successfully against a future of, in effect, watching their earnings disappear into the aging pockets of the emergent Boomer Nation.
The issue Buckley so effectively satirizes is indeed very real—earthshaking, actually, unprecedented in human history, in fact. But there's reason to believe the results may be quite the opposite of Buckley's plotline. Or at least that's the story from Sunday, May 6, 2007.
All the coverage here in Europe (I'm in Munich, on the 8th, heading for Dubai as I write) tells us that Mr Sarkozy trounced Ms Royal to make it into Élysée Palace. Indeed, in electoral politics a 53%-47% beating is at least a semi-trounce.
But one small story in Britain's Independent, digging an inch or two below the surface, caught my eye, then fully grabbed my attention. Call it Boomsday Reverse.
Mr Sarkozy, a tough cookie, ran on an uncompromising platform that aims to deal with France's dire slippage in global competitiveness. Some are predicting he'll be France's Margaret Thatcher. He aims to lengthen the work week, cut taxes, hammer the unions, and such to get the French economy in tune with 21st century economics. Ms Royal, on the other hand and in stark contrast, effectively ran on a "What's all the fuss?" platform, claiming that the hyper-liberal French employment practices can be retained without further damage to France's ranking in the global competitiveness polls. So, the rather straightforward story goes, "the voters" went to the polls in record numbers, bit their collective tongues, prepared to accept the bitter medicine—and awarded the powerful presidency to Atilla the Economic Reformer.
Not so fast ...
The real story is far different. As to "the trounce," Trounc-ee Royal was in fact the trounc-er with a "very interesting" "little" slice of the population. She in fact handily topped Sarkozy among those who are in the 18-59 demographic. That ain't Gen X, my friends, that's more or less everybody on active duty in the workforce!
So how, in the end, did Sarkozy become the Ultimate Grand Trounc-er? Simple. He beat the bloody hell out of Royal among the 60-and-up crew. "Beat the bloody hell out of" equates to unheard of margins that were above 2-1.
That is, Team Elder exerted incredible, decisive de facto unity and power in France's demographically old-and-getting-older-and-we're-healthy-and-will-
be-around-for-a-long-long-time population. It's not that Sarkozy beat Royal. The actual story is that the 60+ geezers have ordered the wee 60 minus crew to get the hell to work and stay the hell at work ... so the Six Zero Plussers can get their hands on the loot they need to spend their remaining winters in Nice, or some such.
Boomsday was a fable about a very real issue, and a hilarious one at that. Boomsday Reverse, Variety Française, is episode one of Ultimate Reality TV—and it's going to be a long-running show, from France to Japan, with impact that buggers the imagination.
Stay tuned ...Tom Peters posted this on 05/08/2007.
As you can see by the headline (above) on Ankara's English language newspaper for 0508.2007, the Turks are not exactly thrilled with the French election results. Sarkozy bluntly declared on the campaign trail that there was no way in hell his government would support Turkey's membership in the EU.
(For what it's worth, and the answer is "not much," I think it would be an epic strategic mistake to shut out this moderate Islamic country. Of course there are a jillion ramifications—but my vote is a crystal clear "Yes" for membership.)Tom Peters posted this on 05/08/2007.
Though I'm of liberal descent, I'm an unabashed member in very good standing of Capitalist Pigs LLP. The private sector is my weapon of choice for most human development issues, and the venture capitalist who unearths the upstarts is my chosen shooter.
Thus, years ago when I wrote a syndicated column, I put an address, not a company or individual or product on my annual Most Valuable Player list. In short, 3000 Sand Hill Road, just a few hundred yards from the border of the Stanford campus and in the heart of Silicon Valley (it is, arguably, the heart of Silicon Valley) was home to the greatest density per square meter of venture capitalists, including an unfair share of the best of the best.
I'm still the champion of the VCs, the good ones at least. But a recently released report reminds that there is indeed more to economic vitality than the private sector. The Monday (05.07) Financial Times reports on a study just released by Marks & Clerk, described as an "intellectual property firm." The topic is more or less the attributes of the engine of the jillion revs biotech industry-revolution.
And the answer is: It ain't (mostly) the VC-funded start-ups. It is, instead, primarily universities and institutes. Though there are many other important ingredients, the measure is the 5-year (2002–2006) history of industry patenting. And the result surprised even the authors, the FT reports.
The top three are the Japanese Science and Technology Agency, with 1,022 "biotech patent families," the University of California (543) and the U.S. government (443, mostly from the NIH). Private sector kingpin Genentech did indeed take the 4th spot at 421—it is a rare non-university entry in the top 25 ranking.
My point, mostly, is to remind myself, and you if you need it, that in such critical areas the government and the universities, have for decades played a, and often the, leading role. My ignorance is not infinite—I've often called for very aggressive gov't and university R&D support. And, alas, the government support of late hasn't matched the need, and certainly the magnitude of the opportunity.
Economically and in terms of overall power ranking, we and others such as Western Europe, Southeast Asia and Japan will rise—or fall—primarily on the basis of our R&D prowess. (And, of great import indeed, the private sector skills at translating research into products and their distribution.)
I, at least, need to acknowledge the decisive role of our Universities (I'm lucky enough to be a graduate of two of the world's best—and I love them both) and to become a far more vigorous and vocal advocate.
At any rate, very, very interesting ... eh?Tom Peters posted this on 05/08/2007.
We have a host of new presentations posted at tompeters.com. The "ExcellenceAlways Master" is bigger than ever. "Boomers' Dominance" and its corollary, "Brand Loyalty," highlight the huge opportunity for marketers in the aging of the Boomer population. And, finally, "Project Eleanor" is a handy tool to keep on your desktop as a reminder to yourself to make every day matter.Cathy Mosca posted this on 05/08/2007.
Crusty & curmudgeonly former Chrysler boss and almost presidential candidate Lee Iacocca is back with ... Where Have All the Leaders Gone? The political commentary is pointed—to say the least. Here are a couple of the business quotes, FYI:
#1: "It's the Cars, Stupid!"
"Make [as auto boss, circa 2007] sure your top team includes top talent in design, engineering and manufacturing, because that's your only priority—to build cars people want to buy. Hot styling sells them and quality keeps them sold."
"These days, everybody wants to merge. Too often they're just blindly gobbling up as many players as they can, in the false belief that bigger has to be better. It kind of makes you wonder if merger-mania isn't really ego-mania. Or something even more destructive. If you look at it objectively, most mergers do not revitalize companies. Rather, they provide short-term gains for a relatively small group of people, usually Wall Street bankers and lawyers."Tom Peters posted this on 05/07/2007.
Turkey had another legislative brouhaha yesterday in its presidential election process. I picked up an extraordinary book on Atatürk, who is as much alive today as in the 20s. Good reading, and it kept me up most of the night, to be honest—along with a couple of Turkish political journals! Amazing human being.
"It's the team, folks." That's the conventional wisdom, and usually true. Probably in Turkey, too, way back when. But make no mistake, one determined person can move a nation—dramatically and in a short period of time. There's no "I" in "team," but there's an "A," as in Atatürk, in both "dramatic" and "change."
(I'll offer you a couple of quotes when I get a free minute or two.)Tom Peters posted this on 05/07/2007.
As Tom says above, he's in Turkey for an important time in its history. He's in Ankara speaking to MilSOFT, a Turkish company specializing in software development and systems integration, that works mostly in defense areas—all over the world, including the U.S. Please join our comments if you attended the event. And, if you'd like to get the PPTs, you can download them here:
MilSOFT Software Technologies, Ankara, Turkey
MilSOFT, Long Web Version, Ankara
Tom's audioblog last week talked about the new book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan. I loved hearing Tom's comments because I was, at the time, on vacation immersed in The Black Swan. But I have only just finished Part 1, 133 pages. This book is not to be read smoothly from start to finish. As it is a book about the importance of what you don't know, and how we all tend to fool ourselves about what we do know, it requires time to read, absorb, think, and challenge some of your most fundamental ways of learning and seeing the world. (And, I say, ignore Gregg Easterbrook's NY Times review on April 22. Easterbrook picks on Taleb for certain comments and ignores the mind-shocking new perspectives Taleb offers us.)
We had some good discussion on this site about Taleb's Black Swans back in December around my post, "The Aflac Duck is a Black Swan," as I was eagerly awaiting the book's April publication. Black Swans are highly improbable events. Our problem is that we give undue importance to Black Swans that have already happened, assuming they (despite their unpredictability) will predict the future, and blind ourselves to those that might happen, because they don't fit our generalized narratives about how the world works. One of the comments from a reader on my December post was that "the (Aflac) duck shows us that hard work can pay off in advertising." A better assessment is that the unique success of the Aflac Duck, relative to the gazillions of clever ad campaigns that don't work, is that the Aflac Duck is a fluke that will more likely be duplicated through luck than hard work. Taleb would call these many failed ad campaigns "silent evidence."
Taleb first started putting his ideas together as a young person in Beirut as the Lebanese civil war began, making the assessment that "nobody knows what's going on." (Even his grandfather, the defense minister.) Taleb says we have gone from living in Mediocristan, where any one individual event doesn't affect the entire picture very much, to living in Extremistan, where individual events, such as 9/11, can change the dynamics of our entire situation. But our minds are still wired for living in Mediocristan, so we retrospectively generalize after Black Swan events, and infer patterns and narratives that we have no real reason to believe in.
This is a very interesting topic, and I'm eager to hear your comments. (And if you don't have a copy of this book, get one!)Steve Yastrow posted this on 05/06/2007.
Off to Ankara and Dubai this afternoon. Non-fiction reading:
The Summer of 1787, by David Stewart. (The idealism and realpolitik behind the writing of the Constitution.)
The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, by Phil Zimbardo. (Reflections on the famous-infamous Stanford prison experiment—effectively random citizens drawn from the streets of Palo Alto were abusing "prisoners" (other randomly selected Palo Altoans) within about 72 hours, and the experiment had to be cancelled.)Tom Peters posted this on 05/04/2007.
Our Amalfi Coast hike was overseen by Country Walkers. I'm busy writing my lengthy assessment. Views great, group great—chief guide awful, substance and style,* and I'm being generous, and hotels average to awful (Capri, view of stone wall—no shit) and food—in Italy!!!!—mediocre.
(*We had to fill in a detailed form ahead of time—food concerns, medicines, etc. Obviously confidential. Or so we thought. When the guide did the first night intros, he made semi-snide remarks about Kosher food, etc, etc. "Appalling" is far too kind a judgment; and then it went downhill.)
Country Walkers: a resounding "No bloody way"—so much so that I'll actively try to discourage others (e.g., with this Post).Tom Peters posted this on 05/04/2007.
The Ultimate Question ...
Okay, get up your nerve. No bull, scrap your "Customer Satisfaction Survey," British Air or Joe's Local Accountancy. Instead limit your "survey" to One Question:
"Would you recommend us to friends and professional associates?"Tom Peters posted this on 05/04/2007.
Queen Elizabeth has ruled with grace for over a half century. Her meeting with Virginia Tech people today is just one more example of that. Of course some handler suggested it—but she agreed and, I have no doubt, expressed sympathy as few could.
God save the queen.
Only for an ESPN seminar could I scrap the tie and show up with a Johnny Unitas shirt and [Washington] Nats hat. Above and below, the next day re-construction, courtesy Abbey Bishop.
Tom Peters posted this on 05/03/2007.
ERII has just arrived to celebrate Jamestown's 400th. As a guy born south of the Mason-Dixon line, with a Virginia born (and proud) Mom, I could never understand what all the fuss was over Plymouth, the iconic rock, and the Pilgos. Clearly, J'town got there first! And now it's getting some belated recognition. Good on 'em.
NB: You know me on the topic of effective leadership—I have a longstanding split with Jim Collins over the attributes of the best leaders:
JC: "Quiet, workmanlike, stoic leaders bring about the big transformations."
Here's Time (0507.07) on Captain John Smith & Jamestown: "He was a bully, a braggart, and a rebel with a big chip on his shoulder. They would never have made it without him."
Tom's caption from yesterday, repeated below, was supposed to go with the photo above. Now we see what he means.
[T.T.D./Things To Do: Run like hell when the volcano pops ... a lesson from my recent visit to Pompeii.—TP]Cathy Mosca posted this on 05/03/2007.
[T.T.D./Things To Do: Run like hell when the volcano pops ... a lesson from my recent visit to Pompeii/see photo above.]Tom Peters posted this on 05/02/2007.
A couple of weeks ago Fortune had a little article called something like "where are they now." A lot of the vignettes were interesting, but one almost made me weep. A former bigtime CEO sitting in what I'd guess was his library surrounded by pictures of himself, including a lifesize cutout.
"The frugal times forced [British Air] to focus on being profitable rather than big." —Economist, 04.28.07
"Despite a decade of banking mergers, there is no evidence that big banks are any more efficient or profitable than their smaller rivals."—Financial Times, on possible Barclays-ABN Amro merger (subscription required)
"When it comes to asking the stock market whether bigger banks are better, the current answer is a resounding 'no.'"—Citigroup analysis, 2006
Dick Kovacevich, Wells Fargo: "You don't get better by being bigger. You get worse."
NB: Saving grace, per TP, is that Royal Bank of Scotland counteroffer will likely result in breaking up ABN Amro.
#2: So why do we keep doing the same stupid stuff over and over and over?
You must read—cover to cover—the Forbes 90th Anniversary Issue. Title: "The Power of Networks."Tom Peters posted this on 05/02/2007.
Back home, Tom traveled only a short distance for today's event in Chatham, Massachusetts, where he's speaking to people from ESPN. Sports experts. We all know Tom will enjoy that conversation. If you attended the event, let us see your comments using the link below this post. If you'd like to download the PPTs, you can get them here:
ESPN, Chatham, MA
ESPN, Long Web Version
I have spent a lot of time in Muslim nations and enjoyed it and felt of value and felt very welcomed and made friends and hopefully been a statesman of sorts and a useful representative of the United States of America—as well as perhaps providing some suggestions about the effective management of human resources and enterprises in a way that contributes to global prosperity and stability. In the last year I've been to: Saudi Arabia, Oman, Dubai, Bahrain, Turkey, Malaysia. Next week my schedule includes return trips to Turkey and Dubai, the former experiencing political turmoil over the maintenance of Atatürk's state.
I look forward to my visits.
And yet on the way home from Italy yesterday, I read results of a poll revealing that 91% of Egyptians, our longtime "allies," feel that attacking American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is justified. Obviously this pisses me off at Egyptians. But it also pisses me off at me. This is not a political Blog. I bend waaaaaaay over backwards to keep my deeply held political views to myself. But stuff such as the 91% figure demand comment.
In short, in response to very legitimate issues, we have nonetheless exacerbated the most Godawful mess imaginable in the Middle East. And in the process screwed up almost beyond recognition, hopefully not beyond repair, America's reputation in the world as a beacon of hope and decency. (To want to shoot American soldiers is, at least metaphorically, to want to shoot at me. I am an American, and regardless of how I cast my vote, I am responsible for my government—that's the way it is in Democracies. Why do they want to shoot me? Because they're hopeless? Because I'm hopeless? Both?)
The situation is ridiculously complex, the enmities thousands of years old, and ready solutions there are not.
I intend to go to Turkey and Dubai. I will try to be of service. (Jaw jaw beats war war, per Churchill.) And I must declare that, in the process, I will be almost as pissed off at "Washington's" "blunders"—manifest incompetence—as at the 91% of Egyptians who are maddened by us.
So/but: Do I indirectly support the 91% of Egyptians who want to kill our troops by going to Turkey and Dubai? You may say, "Of course not." I think I agree—but, frankly, I'm not sure.
What do you think?
Should I go?
(No simplistic, sloganistic answers please.)
(A State Department report released yesterday concludes that our "liberation" of Iraq has increased global terrorism—not ameliorated it. This is "news"?)Tom Peters posted this on 05/01/2007.
What we're talking about on the front page.
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.
What we're talking about
on the front page.