Tag Archives: vision

Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address (with intro by President John Hennessy) – YouTube

Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address (with intro by President John Hennessy) – YouTube.

Of course, there will be a lot of people to talk about how truly unique Steve Jobs was. For me, he will be mostly remembered for his extraordinary commencement speech at Stanford in 2005: maybe more than a highly successful business man, he was simply a Great Person !

God bless him !

From eGovernment to GaaS

We see them all over the place these days: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS),  Everything as a Service but GaaS, this was the first time I saw it in a paper and while reading it, it really started to make sense. GaaS or Government as a Service is the public sector implementation of “big data” on one side and “Everything as a Service” on the other side or IT innovation at the service of Citizens of all nations. This is a very ambitious and impressive public sector project where emerging countries like Kenya and Georgia are showing the way.

Interested? Read on…

Innovation in government: Kenya and Georgia – McKinsey Quarterly – Public Sector – Management.

The Old Capitalism is dead. Long life to the New Capitalism !

We are all used to all kind of activists in favor of replacing the current system, whatever it is: economical, political… whatever.

However, when a renowned organization like Harvard Business Review (HBR) invites someone to talk about reinventing Capitalism. This may be an early sign that a wave of change may be coming and it may be bigger than we currently think.

No matter what happens next, well, it is not harmful to dream of a better tomorrow 😉

IT growth and global change: Ray Kurzweil interview – McKinsey Quarterly – Strategy – Innovation

IT growth and global change: Ray Kurzweil interview – McKinsey Quarterly – Strategy – Innovation.

Utopia or dystopia? Vision or tomorrow’s reality? Time will tell how much of a visionary Ray Kurzweil was but I did not hear in everything he said something that seemed science fiction or extra-terrestrial to me. One thing is sure, technology is indeed progressing at an exponential pace rather than a linear one. Some will perceive it clearly as a threat when others will see opportunities for a better tomorrow. Again all a matter of perspective and opinion. But in reality, we are in the driver seat (who else would be?), we can decide where and how to apply technological innovation in order to solve mankind problems.

Did you know the story behind your Gore-Tex outdoor clothes?

This post is another reflection on the to be published book by IMD Professor of Marketing, Stuart Read.

W.L. “Bill” Gore was an employee at Dupont working on Teflon applications. Very early in the 1950’s, he envisioned that Teflon was promised to a bright future as a coating material for cables in the computer industry. However, Dupont was not convinced and refused to invest.

In 1958, Gore created his own company with his wife in his basement: WL Gore & Assiociates was born. 10 years later, they were employing 200+ employees and Gore cables were used on missions to the moon.

Later as the competition increased in the cable coating industry, Bill and his son figured out a way to stretch the material so that it could be woven as fabric: Gore-Tex was born.

That’s a great success story, isn’t it?

What is also interesting with WL Gore & Associates is their unwavering commitment to Innovation.  All employees are called Associates and carry the same level of authority. So Leaders can only emerge if they have followers for their projects and ideas.

Finally, Gore quantified the optimal team size and built his organization accordingly. As a result, a manufacturing plant at Gore will never exceed 150 Associates in order to keep personal engagement, commitment and accountability high.

Obviously the model has merits. But what could be some of the drawbacks? First off, production costs must remain high as there will be no plant with more than 150 associates, so production volume is capped. In order to double the production capacity, a new plant is required rather than extending the capacity of the existing one. What is true for production costs is also true SG&A costs (Selling General & Administration): as units are small, there must be a lot of overhead costs in the Gore model. Last but not least, corporate governance of a lot of small units of 150max associates must create some interesting challenges.

On the other hand, a lot of small and autonomous units makes it a lot easier to divest a business as it is not tightly intertwined and dependent upon shared resources provided by the corporation.

All together, the Gore model looks very interesting as an incubating model for a growing business started from scratch. You can keep it separated until it reaches the critical mass and then and only then integrates it into a bigger business unit. I have seen that in the past and did not understand the rationale for it. Now I do !

Creating and growing a business requires focus, attention and a mindset that varies greatly from the one commonly shown by corporate executives. So applying to innovation an organizational model that is radically different from the one we use to run mature businesses may help to ignite and sustain in major corporations a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that they are struggling to nurture otherwise.

Unifying economic challenge of the Arab Muslim world

What is currently happening in Tunisia, largely echoed on the media, reminded me one of the chapters of the “Start-up nation” (Cf. yesterday post) . As a matter of fact, I found in the book one paragraph that let me puzzled and made me wonder what kind of visionary skills will be required to fix an issue of this magnitude. This is an excerpt from the book, just make up your own mind:

“The unifying economic challenge for the Arab Muslim world is its own demographic time bomb: ~70% of the population is under 25-year old. Employing all of these people will require the creation of 80 million new jobs by 2020. Meeting this goal means generating employment at twice the US job growth rate during the boom decade of the 90’s. The public sector isn’t going to create these jobs. “The stability and the future of the region is going to depend on our teaching our young people how to go out and create companies”, said Fadi Gandhour, a successful Jordanian entrepreneur.”

As you can read above, it will require more than management skills to fix a systemic issue of this complexity and scale. It will require a bold vision and true leadership skills to make it happen. Any volunteers? 😉

3G Leadership

A while back, I was listening to Dr. Daniel H Kim, co-founder of Pegasus communications about “3G leadership” or Third Generation Leadership. I found his presentation enlightening. A replay can be found here with the following password: stia2010 

Why 3G leadership?

  • Because the 1st generation (G1) post world war II had a world to rebuild. Many of them were truly entrepreneurs and innovators
  • The second generation (G2) is the one of the managers, as we know them today: many of them inherited of the empires built by the leaders of the 1st generation. They are very much focused on making the numbers and fine tuning the system so that it delivers the best possible outcomes. Not much entrepreneurship in this generation of leaders and not much innovation either…
  • However, we have now reached the breaking point of diminishing returns where the time we spend in improving the system is no delivering benefits that outweigh what we invested in it
  • That’s the reason why we now need a third generation of leaders (3G), who will again heavily focus on entrepreneurship and innovation in order to deliver business value

What will set 3G leaders apart?

  • Most of the leaders as we know them today start by sharing with their organizations strategies, objectives and initiatives. Corporate Communications is usually heavily involved in that process so you can feel reasonably confident that the strategy will be communicated in a way that can be understood by most.
  • However, even though it should be understandable by most if not all, it does not seem to take off. So would that mean that we are missing some key ingredients?
  • Indeed, Dr. H Kim suggests in his presentation that strategies themselves should be rooted in people values and purpose. If people cannot relate the organization strategy to their personal values, beliefs and purpose in life, the reality is that they will not be committed to it beyond the salary they get at the end of every month for the work that they do
  • In that context 3G leadership is all about unleashing the power of the organization by anchoring its strategy in values and a purpose that can be shared with people at all levels
  • Obviously this goes far beyond and is far more complex than “next year we will grow revenues, increase margins and reduce costs…”, which by the way is no strategy because I know no company that would not adopt it as a goal for the coming year and the many next to come?!?!?