First up this week is an article from Harvard Business Review about what the U.S. should be doing to protect intellectual property. While IP comes in all shapes and sizes, the U.S. has done little to change how it is protected or controlled since the 1980s, and many of the laws actually hearken back to the founding of our country. There’s much debate about the relevancy of today’s laws, what with the changing landscape of what is IP and there are challenges in changing the law given how many frivolous lawsuits are filed in any given year. That said, and as the HBR article points out, IP is a cornerstone of the global economy, enabling efficient transfer of knowledge, monetization of discoveries, and rewarding of creators. An estimated 80% of the value of U.S. corporations lies in their IP portfolios. The risks of failing to adopt a coherent strategy should be just as obvious: declining innovation, contracting international trade, and stagnant growth.
If you pay attention to what’s happening in the world of Twitter, you’re aware that not only is the 144 character limit gone, but the platform is being seen by many as a “has-been” platform when compared to the growth and market potential of Instagram and Snapchat – so much so that The New Yorker just decreed the end of Twitter. The decline of Twitter started well before that, however, with the approach Facebook took when it pushed full bore into mobile and they’ve not looked back since. It makes sense: in the developing world, mobile is the much more dominant way people interface with technology than the desktop and Facebook has been good at creating a GUI that will fit into the mid-level device platform available in those markets, and as well creating a GUI that pleases the higher end devices we carry with us every day. Stratechery has a great article that digs more into this, and while I still use Twitter myself, I treat it as more of a news aggregator than a social outlet these days.
Target first opened its doors in 1906 in the US but didn’t head north into Canada until February of 2013. They shut down operations just slightly two years later, losing more than $7 billion and ruining the brand for an entire country. As this article notes, there was much excitement (by consumers) and fear (by competitors) as Target entered the market, only to have an overambitious launch schedule, an inexperienced leadership team, and fundamental errors take the retail giant out. It’s a long read, but worth it, especially for how technology failed them. It wasn’t the root of all their woes, but it certainly played a great part.
strategy+business had several good articles the past few weeks, including creating a strategy that works, growing from your strengths, superstars at your service, why it makes sense for managers to go slow to go fast, and turbocharging your organization in 2106. The last article is tied to the need of an organization to have focus and agility (as well as the organization’s leader). Balancing those two is likened to every employee in an organization both being aware of how they plug into the strategic intent, but being vested in it themselves. If employees don’t understand why they are there, they’re set up for failure. That idea ties back to one of Patrick Lencioni’s books, Three Signs of a Miserable Job, where he posits that job misery comes from an employee’s sense of irrelevance, immeasurement, and anonymity. You can listen to Lencioni speak about the concepts at this Harvard Business Ideacast.
Maybe you’ve seen it, perhaps you haven’t, but a few years ago a slide deck made the rounds that had a great impact both inside and out of Silicon Valley. What deck was it? The Culture deck for Netflix. You can find the deck in numerous places, but this article hosts it and digs into the “why” behind its importance and the woman responsible for creating Netflix’s enviable culture. Take the time to read the genesis of the deck and the deck itself.
As a follow up to last week’s article, take a moment to read about Ellen Ullman’s vision for Silicon Valley and the fact that code is ambivalent, it is a function, a tool, and a tool for anyone to wield. We need to open the door to the clubhouse and let more people in.