Knowledge@Wharton interviews Sunil Bharti Mittal, who started in business more than 30 years ago with $1,500 borrowed to make bicycle crankshafts. Today, he heads the $5 billion Bharti Group, whose flagship company, Bharti Airtel, is India's largest mobile phone operator. Mittal spoke on lessons learned from his experience, including the emphasis on speed as a strategy.
If you're caught between speed and perfection, always choose speed, and perfection will follow. You never wait for perfect positioning, because in business you don't have the time; especially if you're small, you can't do it.
Thanks to AK for the link.
Kevin Kelleher at GigaOm continues a thread started by Dave Winer in this strange little story about a talking pig, about how Google can take a successful idea started by Amazon with Amazon Web Services, and really do something with it. Kevin's quick description sums up how this is playing out in a way.
As valued Google workers pack up their desks and launch new startups, this is the single best strategy for Google to bring them back into the fold. And it’s a great way to pull the rug out from under Amazon, strategy-wise and profit-wise.
And this is where Google's brain drain might be perceived as not being a drain at all. Successful startup businesses operate without the control of the corporation, but have all the risk and therefore all the opportunity of innovating. If and when they are folded back into the company through acquisition, the reincorporation of the talent and the new techonologies they bring with them provide the bursts of innovation that keep Google's sails full.
It's an excellent analysis that I have to admit I've never thought about, and there doesn't seem to be any confirmation that this is what Google is thinking. But if they are, I would bet my dollars on that strategy.
David Pogue's blog entry, "Are You Taking Advantage of Web 2.0?" starts out talking about why companies aren't using Web 2.0, but specifically he is discussing business blogging and the advantages of transparency and open communication with your customers.
We all know, intellectually, that no matter what image a corporation tries to project, it's made up of ordinary people with personalities, insecurities and lives. But because the marketing and P.R. teams work so hard to scrub, control and package a company's image, the public ordinarily sees none of that human side.
When a company embraces the possibilities of Web 2.0, though, it makes contact with its public in a more casual, less sanitized way that, as a result, is accepted with much less cynicism. Web 2.0 offers a direct, more trusted line of communications than anything that came before it.
This is Cluetrain Manifesto stuff. Read that if you want to be convinced of the bigger picture of transparent businesses.
I like the meeting format described in this Business Week article on Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Products & User Experience at Google.
New features are digitally projected onto the right side of a conference room wall, big as a movie screen. Everything Mayer and others say is transcribed and projected on the left. Underneath both looms a giant mega-timer. Everyone gets an average deadline of 10 minutes. Mayer and her team add and subtract to the feature as time runs down. It is iteration at lightning speed.
While the formal quick pitch format is unnecessary in small groups, what makes sense is that this format allows for new features to be proposed with frequency high up the chain of command in a large organization with some amount of structure in terms of time restraints. I assume engineers working on the project can pitch directly to Mayer. The critique format also allows a good deal of iteration while exploring ideas so they can be worked on some more and revisited. This excerpt describes the process:
What's most fascinating to me is the projection of the demo on the screen and the immediate capture of the discussion, which I assume goes directly into that internal project management system they talk about. That's excellent. Capturing these trasactions of verbal communications, although using brute force methods of manual transcription, is what knowledge management is about. The post-processing and information retrieval in their system is what glues it all together. That they're openly capturing everything in these meetings is what makes it effective KM work. It's not so hard to imagine all the pieces fit together into a product or at least a process that could be sold as an idea for realistic KM at work:
- WebEx type presentation software
- Transcription (manual now, voice recognition later in the retrieval system?)
- Search mechanism with some simple hooks for metadata (parsing for based on minimal formatting conventions, e.g. "[field name]:")
If enterprise meetings all went this way, mining of the types of tacit information usually floating around in conversations might begin to mean a bit more. Taken too far it could make a lot of information also mean less I suppose, but who cares as long as we have bigger hammers to tackle the signal to noise problem in retrieval. So I'm wondering if that type of process could be adopted as a model and be rolled into a solution. I want to see more under the hood at Google.
Cafe Press is finally letting us sell black t-shirts! No idea yet of the quality and how it compares to the kind of screened t-shirts you would usually get from a shirt printing shop. I plan to make up a black t-shirt this week to try it out and will post it here.
UPDATE: I made my first black t-shirt on Cafe Press. Looks good so far, although there is no option to print to the back of the shirt.
Environmentally sensible shoes.
I really wasn't getting the point of 43 Things until I came across the Salon article, "Amazon's 43 secrets". Amazon is apparently linked to 43 Things, having funded the project. If somehow they are using this as a market information gathering ploy, I "get it" more and more, but I like their method and reasoning for doing this less and less.
Dynagifts business card case with pen. Perfect for your lowfi hipster personal assistant.
Bryan Eisenberg discusses how to make ads work by writing advertising for introverts.