“Much reading after a certain age diverts the mind from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking, just as the man who spends too much time in the theaters is apt to be content with living vicariously instead of living his own life.”
- Albert Einstein
Ernst & Young recently released the results of the 2010 Globalization survey that they first undertook in 2009 along with the Economist Intelligence Unit. In a nutshell, the main theme is the challenge facing businesses of reconciling the conflicting need for both global scale and local relevance. The report lays out four priorities:
1. Redefine global and local
The need for local relevance is demanding greater decentralization. Leading companies are adopting a more balanced approach whereby local autonomy is combined with globally consistent strategic direction, a shared corporate culture and set of values. This allows companies to draw upon capabilities and resources from anywhere in the world.
2. Develop a “polycentric” approach to innovation
Companies are increasingly decentralizing the innovation process. Rather than innovate centrally, then adapt or de-feature products to suit different price points, now products, processes or components are developed primarily with local markets in mind, but reapplied when appropriate in other markets.
3. Rethink relationships with government and tax administrations
Government is playing a bigger role in business than at any time in living memory. This new dynamic requires companies to think carefully about how they engage with the public sector. This requires companies to manage and anticipate potential risks on a global basis.
4. Build diverse leadership teams with strong global experience
The skills and capabilities that are required to succeed in fast-growth markets are different from those needed in more mature markets. While business success in developed markets has been more recently rooted in process and efficiency, emerging markets demand experimentation, risk-taking and entrepreneurship.
The Globalization Index 2010 ranks the 60 largest economies by how connected they are to the rest of the world. The top 10 are all smaller European countries, except for Hong Kong and Singapore which take the #1 and #3 positions respectively. Canada is tied with Germany at #17, just ahead of France, while the US is further down at #28. I wonder how the results might change if intra-European "connectedness" is stripped out or otherwise adjusted for.
“[One] might well conclude that the true objectives of management education are indistinguishable from those of the liberal arts:”
"... to provide an interdisciplinary education in literacy, numeracy, and an understanding of people, so that one can marshal all these competencies in the service of creating and running sustainable institutions."
- David K. Hurst, author of Crisis & Renewal, writing in strategy+business (Winter 2010)
Had the opportunity to listen to David Suzuki speak at the Royal Ontario Museum after the preview of the new CBC documentary "Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands". The documentary will be shown on CBC on Thursday, Jan 27, at 8pm. Unavoidably polemical, but definitely interesting.
When Steve Jobs provided a select group of journalists a preview of the iPad last year, he was asked what consumer and market research Apple had done while developing the product. His answer? "None, it isn’t the consumers’ job to know what they want."
Wow. Talk about chutzpah. But with Apple's latest off-the-charts quarterly results, it's hard to argue with that. Truth be told, Apple employees undoubtedly provide an opinionated and cutting-edge focus group, and Steve Jobs is said to visit the Apple store in Palo Alto frequently (although I wonder whether and how he interacts with shoppers there). According to John Kao, an innovation consultant, Apple has been introducing "seeing-around-the-corner innovation", and that "these are not the kind of breakthroughs that market research, where you are asking people’s opinions, really help you make."
As the NY Times puts it, "Mr. Jobs, by all accounts, relies on intuition and his own sense of taste, in decisions ranging from hiring to matters of product design." An illustration that there's a limit to what analysis and quantitive methods can do for you; may all of us refine our own senses of intuition and taste. And here's wishing Mr. Jobs better health.
- Can Apple Find More Hits Without its Tastemaker (The New York Times)