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Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

I first became interested in transformation in the fall of 2004. I was managing a leading news organization in Kyiv, Ukraine when the Orange Revolution broke out. It was an amazing thing to witness and experience. Seemingly overnight, a habitually dormant populace suddenly rose up and demanded change.

One of the things that struck me at the time is how no one really knew what was going on or what would happen next — not the journalists I spoke to in the newsroom everyday, not the other business leaders and certainly not the political leaders. …


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Photo by Cade Renfroe on Unsplash

In 1973, in the wake of the Arab defeat in the Yom Kippur war with Israel, OPEC instituted an oil embargo on America and its allies. The immediate effects of the crisis was a surge in gas prices and a recession in the west. The ripple effects, however, were far more complex and played out over decades.

The rise in oil prices brought much needed hard currency to the Soviet Union, prolonging its existence and setting the stage for its later demise. The American auto industry, with its passion for big, gas guzzling cars, lost ground to the emergent. …


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Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

It’s interesting how often books seem to reflect the zeitgeist, or at least our perception of it. As I prepared this year’s list, I began looking through earlier versions and was struck by how each seemed a remnant from a different age. Undoubtedly, some of that is a product of my own curation, but I do feel that books tap into important undercurrents.

I wrote some years ago that 2020 was shaping up to be a pivotal year, although I had no idea the extent to which it would be. I think it’s safe to say that we all got more than we bargained for. …


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Image: Unsplash

16 year-old girl Gracie Cunningham created a firestorm recently when she posted a video to TikTok asking “is math real?” More specifically, she wanted to know why ancient mathematicians came up with algebraic concepts such as “y=mx+b.” “What would you need it for?” she asked, when they didn’t even have plumbing.

The video went viral on twitter, gathering millions of views and the social media universe immediately pounced, with many ridiculing how stupid it was. Mathematicians and scientists, however, felt otherwise and remarked how profound her questions were. Cornell’s Steve Strogatz even sent her a thoughtful answer to her question

We often overlook the value of simple questions, because we think intelligence has something to do with ability to recite rote facts. Yet intellect is not about knowing all the answers, but in asking better questions. That’s how we expand knowledge and gain deeper understanding. …


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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The world today just seems to move faster and faster all the time. From artificial intelligence and self-driving cars to gene editing and blockchain, it seems like every time you turn around, there’s some newfangled thing that promises to transform our lives and disrupt our businesses.

Yet a paper published by a team of researchers in Harvard Business Review argues that things aren’t as they appear. …


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Photo by davisco on Unsplash

The March on Washington, in which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, is one of the most iconic events in American history. So it shouldn’t be surprising that when anybody wants to drive change in the United States, they often begin with trying to duplicate that success.

Yet that’s a gross misunderstanding of why the march was successful. As I explain in Cascades, the civil rights movement didn’t become powerful because of the March on Washington, the March on Washington took place because the civil rights movement became powerful. …


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In 2018, Steve Blank wrote a piece in Harvard Business Review questioning the viability of the “lean startup” model. Given that Steve had pioneered lean startup techniques, I was intrigued. Why would he, all of a sudden begin, to doubt an idea that had been so successful and, to me at least, still seemed so relevant, even for large enterprises.

As it turned out, what made Steve hesitate was a new venture called “New TV” that was headed up by the dream team of legendary Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and star Silicon Valley CEO Meg Whitman. Beyond talent and cache, it had raised almost $2 billion. …


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Photo by Anastasia Petrova on Unsplash

For decades, the dominant view of strategy was based on Michael Porter’s ideas about competitive advantage. In essence, he argued that the key to long-term success was to dominate the value chain by maximizing bargaining power among suppliers, customers, new market entrants and substitute goods.

Yet digital technology blew apart old assumptions. As technology cycles began to outpace planning cycles, traditional firms were often outfoxed by smaller competitors that were faster and more agile. Risk averse corporate cultures needed to learn how to “fail fast” or simply couldn’t compete.

Today, as the digital revolution is coming to an end, we will need to rethink strategy once again. Increasingly, we can no longer just move fast and break things, but will have to learn how to prepare for disruption, rather than just adapt, build deep collaborations and drive skills-based transformations. Make no mistake, those who fail to make the shift will struggle to survive. …


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image: Pixabay

There’s no doubt that capitalism in America is in bad shape. Higher market share concentration in industry is leading to higher profits for corporate giants, but also to higher prices and lower wages along with decreased innovation and productivity growth as well as a long-term decline in entrepreneurship.

You would think that the rise of progressive politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would be responsible for the decline in the power of capitalism and the demise of free markets. However, a new book by NYU finance professor Thomas Philippon, called The Great Reversal, argues exactly the opposite.

In fact, he shows through meticulous research how capitalists themselves are killing capitalism. Through the charade of “pro-business” policies, industry leaders have been increasing regulation and limiting competition over the past 20 years. We need to right the ship and return to an embrace of free markets, entrepreneurship and innovation. …


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Image: Pixabay

In 2011, IBM’s Watson system beat the best human players in the game show, Jeopardy! Since then, machines have shown that they can outperform skilled professionals in everything from basic legal work to diagnosing breast cancer. It seems that machines just get smarter and smarter all the time.

Yet that is largely an illusion. While even a very young human child understands the basic concept of cause and effect, computers rely on correlations. …

About

Greg Satell

Bestselling Author of Cascades and Mapping Innovation, @HBR Contributor, - Learn more at www.GregSatell.com — note: I use Amazon Affiliate links for books.

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