First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

A conversation with Grant McCracken on how to build “a living, breathing culture”

McCrackenTrained as an anthropologist (Ph.D. University of Chicago), Grant McCracken has studied American culture and commerce for 25 years. He has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and worked for Timberland, New York Historical Society, Diageo, IKEA, Sesame Street, Nike, the White House, and Netflix.

He started the Institute of Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum. He taught anthropology at the University of Cambridge, ethnography at MIT, and marketing at the Harvard Business School. He has been affiliated with the Department of Comparative Media at MIT and the Berkman School at Harvard. He is a student of culture and commerce and explored this theme in Culture and Consumption I and then in Culture and Consumption II.

Grant has also looked at how Americans invent and reinvent themselves. He had explored this theme in Big Hair, Transformations, Plenitude and Flock and Flow.

Six years ago, he published a book called Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation with Basic Books in which he argues that culture now creates so much opportunity and danger for organizations that they need senior managers who focus on it full time. He is hoping this will create a new occupational destination for graduates in the arts and humanities.

His latest book, Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas, was published by Harvard Business Review Press (2012).

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Chief Culture Officer and then Culturematic, here are a few general questions. First, in your opinion, what are the defining skills and characteristics of a great anthropologist?

McCracken: Anthropologists are good at reading culture and that gives them interesting powers of pattern recognition. Now that American culture is so dynamic, any such advantage n is a good thing.

Morris: To what extent can they be developed by formal education?

McCracken: Oh, I think they are entirely trainable. And it doesn’t take a formal education. All we need is a base of curiosity, intelligence, and creativity and it’s away to the races.

Morris: To what extent can they be developed only through real-world experience?

McCracken: I think a combination of formal education and experience serves best.

Morris: In your opinion, which of these skills and characteristics would be of greatest value to C-level executives?

McCracken: C-level executives have formidable powers of pattern recognition. The question is how we can give them the ability to read “soft indicators” in the study of contemporary culture, movies, trends, generations, subcultures. This is easier than it looks.

Morris: What are some of the core questions that anthropologists have in mind when preparing to begin a new project or assignment?

McCracken: Here’s one: “How to know what you don’t know…but think you do.”

Morris: How do you define “culture”?

McCracken: Culture is comprised of the meanings with which we define the world. And the rules with which we govern behavior.

Morris: In your opinion, to what extent is culture a structure? Please explain.

McCracken: The meanings of culture come from within a culture. That is why we define each generation in terms of both its structure and its values.

Morris: In your opinion, to what extent is culture an organism? Please explain.

McCracken: I don’t think culture is a organism in any useful sense, although goodness knows, it grows and changes as if driven by a genetic imperative.

Morris: What are the most common misconceptions about anthropology? What, in fact, is true?

McCracken: A lot of people think anthropology is about primates, or archaeology or small communities. These are all true in a way but it is also true that anthropology is very good at studying large, contemporary cultures.

Morris: Now please shift your attention to Chief Culture Office. When and why did you decide to write it?

McCracken: Culture matters so much to the success of a business. Take for instance the artisanal trend that has been growing at least since 1971 when Alice Waters founded Chez Panisse. McDonald’s, Kraft, and Subway are now struggling to adjust to the trend but had they had a CCO, they would have had around 45 years of early warning.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

McCracken: How so much of economics appears just to ignore culture.

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?

McCracken: It’s pretty close to it’s original concept, again a bad thing.

Morris: As you explain in the Introduction to Culturematic, it is ” a little machine for making culture. It is designed to do three things: test the world, discover meaning, and unleash value…It’s still a little vague, isn’t it? Some of you are saying, ‘I’m not exactly sure of what he means.’ Me neither. I am still working it out. The idea will get clearer as you read the rest of the book.” To what extent are you now clearer about “what it means”? Please explain.

McCracken: There are a couple of simple techniques for making culture out of culture…and this is where innovations come from.

* * *

To read the complete transcript of the conversation, please click here.

Grant cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

His blog website

His Amazon page

HBR link

Wired link

Psychology Today link

Twitter link

LinkedIn link

Sunday, June 28, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dorie Clark on How to Stand Out: An interview by Bob Morris

ClarkDorie Clark is the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013) and Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It (Portfolio/Penguin, 2015). A former presidential campaign spokeswoman, she is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Entrepreneur as well as the World Economic Forum blog. Recognized as a “branding expert” by the Associated Press, Fortune, and Inc. magazine, Clark is a marketing strategy consultant and speaker for clients including Google, Microsoft, Yale University, Fidelity, and the World Bank.

She is an Adjunct Professor of Business Administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a Visiting Professor for IE Business School in Madrid. She has guest lectured at Harvard Business School, the Harvard Kennedy School, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, the Wharton School, the MIT Sloan School of Management, and more. She is a frequent guest on MSNBC and appears in worldwide media including NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and the BBC.

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Dorie.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Stand Out, a few general questions. First of all, I think your previous book — Reinventing You — is a brilliant achievement. To what extent have you reinvented Dorie Clark over the years since you graduated from Smith College?

Clark: I’ve reinvented myself quite a few times. Right after college, I went to Harvard Divinity School and thought I’d become an academic, but (after getting my masters degree), I didn’t get into any of the doctoral programs I applied to. So I reinvented myself into a journalist, only to get laid off, and then a political campaign spokesperson, only to work on two consecutive losing campaigns. It took me until nearly a decade after college to land on my current profession as a marketing strategist/author/speaker. So my interest in reinvention comes quite naturally! I wanted to write Reinventing You to help other professionals go through the process more seamlessly, and faster and better.

Morris: My own opinion is that most people prune — if not reinvent — their lives every few years. Frankly, I have found this immensely difficult, sometimes painful. It’s such a struggle to resist what Jim O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” What are your own thoughts about all this?

Clark: Reinvention is definitely becoming a constant in most people’s lives. After all, how many people do you still know who spend a lifetime – or even a decade – at one company? But I like to differentiate between what I call “Capital R” Reinvention, which is a more dramatic job change or career change, and “lowercase r” reinvention, which is the practice of keeping ourselves flexible and adaptable with small choices we make, from taking a class on something new to being open to making a new friend in an unlikely place. The better we are at “reinvention” on a regular basis, the less likely “Reinvention” will feel traumatic when the time comes for a major change.

Morris: I congratulate you on what you have achieved in your career thus far. Presumably there have been a few setbacks along the way. Thus far, what has been the single greatest disappointment and what are the most valuable lessons that you have learned from it?

Clark: There continue to be setbacks and disappointments in my professional life, even though in general I feel happy with the success I’ve achieved. My first book, Reinventing You, was actually the fourth book proposal I created; the other three before it were all rejected. And there are at least four fellowships I’ve applied for in the last 2-3 years that I haven’t been chosen for. You have to keep pushing. But probably the hardest disappointment was the first, getting turned down for the doctoral programs. That’s because academia was my only plan; I really didn’t have a Plan B. But that taught me something important, which is that you should always have an alternate strategy, because you never know how things will play out, and you need to be prepared.

Morris: In your opinion, should people prepare for a career in a specific field or master skills that will be highly-valued in any field? Please explain.

Clark: My ideal advice would be to learn baseline skills – good writing and speaking, for instance – and then get professional experience in particular fields through internships or volunteering. Paying a university to educate you in a specific discipline, especially one that might change rapidly, could be quite expensive and leave you adrift if the field changes or if the need is no longer there because of demographic changes or technological advances. Far better to get specific work experience at work, rather than in a classroom.

Morris: Opinions are divided — sometimes sharply divided — about the how essential charisma is to effective leadership. What do you think?

Clark: I think people want to follow someone who seems “like a leader.” But charisma is often misunderstood. I like the research of the Center for Talent Innovation, which broke down the concept of “executive presence” – often related to charisma – into its constituent parts. They are communication skills, gravitas (i.e., can you handle pressure during difficult circumstances?) and, to a more limited extent, appearance (such as professional dress). All of these are things that individuals can master with practice.

Morris: Here are two of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. From Isaac Asimov: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but ‘That’s odd….’”

Clark: One of my favorite stories from Stand Out is about the psychologist, Robert Cialdini, who revolutionized the field by paying attention to his students when they questioned the typical way of doing business. In his field, experiments were done in a laboratory setting and then the findings were simply assumed to translate to real life. Students wondered how researchers knew the same principles would apply, and Cialdini told them they simply had to trust that human nature was the same everywhere. But he listened and wondered if there was a way to know for sure, so he started doing the first field experiments in psychology and became a legend in his field by advancing the discourse in a meaningful way.

Morris: And from Peter Drucker: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

Clark: In the business world, we often talk about the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Principle – i.e., that 20% of your effort yields 80% of your results. That’s particularly true when it comes to the research I did around breakthrough ideas. Most of these recognized experts are known for one or, at most, two “big ideas” and concepts that are associated with them. It shows the importance of doubling down when you’ve found an idea that resonates.

* * *

Here is a direct link to the complete interview.

Dorie cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Her home page with Free 42-Page Stand Out Self-Assessment Workbook link

Amazon page link

Reinventing You link

Stand Out link

TEDx talk: Finding Your Breakthrough Idea link

Twitter link

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get What’s Yours Rise to the Top Demonstrates Our Insecurity

GetWhat'sYoursCoverWhat does it say about Americans when a book about Social Security zooms to the top of the best-seller lists?

I say we are just insecure.  Or uninformed.  Or panicky.  Or lots of things.

As a elixir, book readers are buying Get What’s Yours:  The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security (Simon & Schuster, 2015) by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller, and Paul Solman.

Here is where the book stands on as I write this today:

The book is # 3 on the Wall Street Journal hardcover business best-seller list and # 4 on the non-fiction list.  I cannot find updates for the Bloomberg Business Week.  The book’s website claims that it is a New York Times best-seller, but I cannot verify that this morning as I write.  But, since the book has only been out since February 17, 2015, its rise to the top is meteoric.  It certainly did not hurt sales when Jane Pauley said this is “an indispensable and surprisingly entertaining guide for anyone who is retiring or thinking of retiring with all of the Social Security benefits they’ve earned.” With a flurry of endorsements from financial experts, many readers must have flocked to the physical and on-line outlets to see what it says.  Or, it likely did not hurt when the summary on proclaimed, “Many personal finance books briefly address Social Security, but none offers the thorough, authoritative, yet conversational analysis found here. You’ve paid all your working life for these benefits. Now, get what’s yours.
And, who wouldn’t be interested in a book with a summary from such as this:  “It tells you precisely which months you should collect retiree, spousal, survivor, divorcee, parent, and child benefits to achieve the highest lifetime benefits.  Maximize My Social Security incorporates all Social Security provisions and options for singles and married couples.
Who are these authors?  The book’s website provides these details:

Laurence Kotlikoff

Laurence J. Kotlikoff is William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and a professor of economics at Boston University.  He is also president of Economic Security Planning, Inc., a company specializing in financial planning software.  His company websites are and  He is author or co-author of sixteen books, including Spend ‘Til the End and The Coming Generational Storm (both with Scott Burns).  His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Forbes, The Economist, Huffington Post, and other major publications.  He has served as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, governments around the world, and major U.S. corporations including Merrill Lynch, Fidelity Investments, and AON.  In addition, he has provided expert testimony on numerous occasions to committees of Congress.  He lives in Boston.

Philip Moeller writes about retirement for Money magazine, the PBS website Making Sen$e, and other media outlets.  He is also a research fellow at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, and the founder of, a site for insurance information that has provided original insurance content to the Web’s leading business portals, including Microsoft, Yahoo, America Online, and MarketWatch.  Formerly a contributing editor at U. S. News & World Report, he has spent forty years as an award-winning financial journalist, Internet entrepreneur, and corporate communications executive for a Fortune 500 financial services firm.  He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Paul Soloman

Paul Solman is the longtime business and economics correspondent for The PBS NewsHour.  His many awards for work in business journalism include Emmys, Peabodys, and a Loeb award.  He is also a Brady-Johnson Distinguished Practitioner at Yale University, where he teaches in the Grand Strategy course, as well as teaching at New Haven’s Gateway Community College. He has been a member of the Harvard Business School faculty and a visiting professor at his alma mater, Brandeis.  Solman has written for numerous publications, from Forbes to Mother Jones, co-authored (with Thomas Friedman) Life and Death on the Corporate Battlefield, and wrote the introduction to Morrie: In His Own Words, created entirely from interviews with his former Brandeis sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz (of “Tuesdays with Morrie” fame).  He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

We won’t have this book at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, as we don’t include individual-based finance books in our monthly coverage.

But that doesn’t mean that plenty of our attendees will find this important to read.  While they won’t identify themselves, I am sure we get some people who are insecure, uninformed, and panicky about their retirement years.  Maybe they. and many others will find this book a great relief to that anxiety.

Saturday, March 21, 2015 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caroline L. Arnold: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

ArnoldCaroline Arnold has been a technology leader on Wall Street for more than a decade, managing some of the financial world’s largest software development teams and leading some of the industry’s most visible and complex initiatives. A dynamic and engaging speaker, she has appeared before groups as large as 5,000 people. Caroline is a recipient of the Wall Street & Technology Award for Innovation for building the auction system for the Google IPO, and her name appears on technology patents pending. Caroline serves as a Managing Director at a leading Wall Street investment bank. Caroline graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in English Literature, and lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Her book, Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently, was published by Viking Adult (January 2014) and is now available in a paperbound edition, published by Penguin Press December 2014).

Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my interview of Caroline.
* * *

Morris: Now please shift your attention to Small Move, Big Change. When and why did you decide to write it?

Arnold: After years of failing at self-improvement New Year’s resolutions, I hit upon a system where I was able to succeed virtually every time I made a resolution. I began sharing this “microresolution” method with family, friends, and colleagues who began to report successes and very entertaining stories about their microresolution experiences, and it occurred to me – Hey, this would make a really good book!

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Arnold: Well, the biggest head-snapping revelation was that I could actually write a book, after years of dreaming about it. I discovered that the only difference between doing it and not doing it is doing it, and that has had a huge impact on the way I now approach new opportunities and life in general.

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?

Arnold: The form of the book is very close to what I originally proposed, but there is far more research in it than I had anticipated when I outlined it. I became really fascinated with willpower and behavioral science as it helped me to understand scientifically what I had discovered for myself experientially,.

Morris: As I read and later re-read your book, I was reminded of Jørgen Vig Knudstorp’s response when asked how he and his leadership team were able to save the LEGO Group: “brick by brick.” You seem to endorse the same strategy for personal growth and professional development. Is that a fair assessment?

Arnold: I do see every successful change in behavior as a foundation on which to build, so yes, it’s a fair assessment. But I avoid and discourage others from thinking about a single change of habit as merely a step toward a greater goal. There really is no such thing as an insignificant behavioral change, and every positive shift in behavior you make has an intrinsic value. Too often when we talk about taking one step at a time we think of each step as only a means to a loftier goal, rather than signing up for the immediate value that your new behavior offers all on its own. So much of self-improvement is focused on a “someday” that never comes, rather than on the value you can experience immediately, today and for a lifetime, by making one behavioral change.

Morris: Please explain when any you realized the potential significance of a microresolution. Please cite an example or two.

Arnold: I realized the significance of microresolutions when I replaced a failed New Year’s resolution “to be organized” with my first microresolution, “to keep all my notes in one notebook.” First, I found my more modest resolution much more difficult that I had anticipated and it was then that I realized that any behavioral change that causes a change to routine will feel awkward and uncomfortable. Second, I found out how much value establishing just one new habit has – that notebook habit filled a critical gap in my organizational behavior, reduced my stress level, and taught me to respect the power of discrete behavioral changes. Third, I found out that if you practice any change in behavior with real focus for a few weeks it will become part of your personal autopilot and no longer require willpower to sustain.

After my success with the notebook habit I decided to try a microresolution focused on diet and had another success—I resolved never to eat a conference room cookie again. These two resolutions taught me that I could absolutely succeed at any resolution as long as my target was reasonable, limited, measurable, and sustainable for at least four weeks. These resolutions were the first of dozens that reshaped my life in every self-improvement area.

Morris: Please cite some examples of microresolutions in a workplace environment, microresolutions that could have great significance?

Arnold: One great microresolution from the book was from a lawyer who resolved “to always make the scary call first.” Every day when the she looked at checked her to-do list there was always a call she dreaded making, and she always put it off. But once she resolved to make the call first, her productively soared, because she got the task she feared most out of the way.

Another great microresolution from the book was about a person who had been told she wasn’t qualified for a leadership position because she was a bit negative. She thought this very unfair, but made a microresolution “not to be the first to complain at work.” The very next day there was a management announcement and this person waited for others to begin to bitch, but nobody said a thing. She realized in that moment that she had, inf act, been at the hub of this complaining. The book has many examples from the work world, from improving relationships, to productivity, to better communication, and every success story hinged on making one small change in behavior.

Morris: In your opinion, to what extent could a series microresolutions help to achieve what Jim Collins calls a “BHAG”? That is, a big hairy audacious goal?

Arnold: Microresolutions can help with goal achievement all around by demonstrating that one can be successful every time one makes a resolution. The worst part about the failed resolutions is that we learn the habit of failure—we make big resolutions, but we’re not surprised when they peter out, because they petered out last year and the year before. But by leveraging the very forces that often doom resolutions — limited willpower, autopilot’s tenacious resistance to change—we can teach ourselves how to succeed regularly and to hold ourselves accountable.

I want to be clear that in the work world, we often do succeed at BHAG because our entire day is organized around achieving our priorities. It was easier for me to execute the auction platform for the Google IPO in six weeks than it was for me to “be bikini slim by summer,” “to be organized,” “to save more money,” because the Google IPO was urgent and concrete and my personal improvement resolutions were closer to wishful thinking. So often we manage the biggest things – work and family – while failing ourselves, because by the time we’re done with work and family there’s not a whole lot of energy or willpower left to hit the gym.

Morris: Apparently you agree with Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Here’s my question. By which process can the selection and completion of “small moves” become [begin italics] habitual [end italics]?

Arnold: I love that quote from Aristotle and use it in the book. The full quote talks about men becoming just by performing just actions and temperate by practicing temperate actions, demonstrating that even the highest character traits can be learned through practice. For example, if one has a habit of shading the truth to one’s own advantage, one might resolve never to lie in a given circumstance, for example not making false excuses about why they are late (my train was evacuated at Penn Station, etc.). By practicing this one change in behavior one could learn to be more accountable, learn to be more on time, learn that telling the truth and opening oneself to criticism may be a healthier state than arriving with a lie prepared. Similarly, one might develop a better character by pledging not to one up a partner, or by resolving never to say “I told you so,” to a child. These changes in behavior are surprising in their power and open doors to personal growth.

* * *

To read all of Part 2, please click here.

Here is a link to Part 1.

Caroline cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Her website link

Twitter link

Link to video of her presentation at Microsoft headquarters

Facebook link

Sunday, March 8, 2015 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Geoffrey Moore on Big Data and RFID: An interview by Bob Morris

0c560a3Geoffrey Moore is an author, speaker, and advisor who splits his consulting time between start-up companies in the Mohr Davidow portfolio and established high-tech enterprises, including Salesforce, Microsoft, Intel, Box, Aruba, Cognizant, and Rackspace most recently. His life’s work has focused on the market dynamics surrounding disruptive innovations. His first book, Crossing the Chasm, 3rd Edition: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers, focuses on the challenges start-up companies face transitioning from early adopting to mainstream customers. It has sold more than a million copies, and its third edition has been revised. A majority of its examples and case studies reference companies come to prominence from the past decade. Moore’s most recent work, Escape Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past, addresses the challenge large enterprises face when they seek to add a new line of business to their established portfolio. It has been the basis of much of his recent consulting. Geoff has a BA in American literature from Stanford University and a PhD in English literature from the University of Washington.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing big data and RFID, a few general questions. First, as you reflect on all that has – and hasn’t –happened in the global marketplace in 2014, what do you consider to be of greatest significance? Please explain.

Moore: If I had to pick only one, it might be the change in leadership at Microsoft. It has freed the company to explore a variety of different roles and relationships at a time when enterprise CIOs are particularly concerned about how to manage the expansion of the IT footprint into Cloud, Mobile, Social and Big Data Analytics. Microsoft is uniquely positioned to make a big contribution here if it can realign its assets to meet the new set of demands.

Morris: In one of Tom Davenport’s recent books, Judgment Calls, he and co-author Brooke Manville offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment. That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.” What do you think?

Moore: Well, since “great man” eliminates half the human race, I certainly think it does need to be replaced in some fashion. And there is no question that management is becoming a much more collaborative enterprise, especially as we move away from supervised co-located workforces and toward more virtualized organizations and workflows. That said, when big bets are in the works, and the forces are unstable and hard to read, I do believe that a single individual needs to be at the tiller. Ideally, that person listens well, but also ideally, they are confident enough in their principles to make clear calls in a timely manner. I do not think a group can do this.

Morris: Here’s a brief excerpt from Paul Schoemaker’s latest book, Brilliant Mistakes: “The key question companies need to address is not ‘Should we make mistakes?’ but rather Which mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?'” Your response?

Moore: When the outcome is not mission-critical, and the issues are nascent, for sure “fast failure” is part of a winning modality. The mantra I would add here is “Win, or learn.” Organizations that hold all efforts to the same standard are severely hampered in this kind of situation. Once you are driving to produce mission-critical outcomes, however, failure is not an option. Now if the forces are still nascent, you have to provision the effort in such a way that you have multiple back-ups. This drastically reduces the number of disruptive, mission-critical initiatives one can — or at least should — undertake.

Morris: Looking ahead to 2015, what do you think will be the single greatest challenge to CEOs? Why?

Moore: The challenge I am focused on for this decade is, how can an established market leader in a mature category catch the next wave? I don’t know it if is the single greatest challenge, but it is sufficient to keep me busy full-time for sure.

Morris: Any advice?

Moore: I laid out the problem statement in my last book, Escape Velocity. Now I am in the process of writing a shorter, crisper playbook for how to organize, measure, and compensate teams to actually get this done.

Morris: Now please shift your attention to big data. In your opinion, why has interest in it increased so rapidly and extensively in recent years? To what extent have disruptive innovations (e.g. social media technologies) been a major factor? Please explain.

Moore: Google, Facebook, and Amazon have each applied Machine Learning to Big Data to effectively eviscerate entire industries, driving all the established sector leaders back on their heels. Moreover, it seems pretty clear that this is just the beginning, so the wait-and-see option is looking pretty scary.

Morris: What are some of the most common misconceptions about Big Data? What in fact is true?

Moore: It is not really about Big Data. It is about Machine Learning. The big idea is that one can algorithmically detect actionable signals from the digital exhaust that trails every online process anywhere on the globe. Yes, there is a ton of data, but that is not the critical factor. It’s the analytics that transform it into information, and the connectivity needed to get that information into a decision flow in time to make a difference,

Morris: Based on what I’ve learned thus far, the term “big data” seems to be a misnomer. While its size receives all the attention, the most challenging aspect of big data seems — at least to me — to be its lack of structure. What do you think?

Moore: I am with you. The reason lack of structure is so important is that we already have the ability to analyze structured Big Data in a timely fashion. It is the unstructured (or rather, non-tabular) data that really are driving this new set of use cases, specifically the log files that sit behind the social graphs, the internet of things, the behavioral targeting, and the like.

Morris: There’s a lot of talk about Big Data, but when you look at retail stores, inventory accuracy is just 65 percent. Supply chains struggle with inventory accuracy, shipping accuracy, and other problems. What’s the value of big data if a lot of the data is inaccurate?

Moore: Actually, this is a different problem. Big Data is orthogonal to Bad Data. But there is an important point to note here. Bad Data claims to be Good Data. Big Data does not make any claims at all—it is just digital exhaust.

Morris: Here are some observations about issues related to big data and analytics by authors of recently published books. Please respond to each. First, from Gert H. Larsen and Jesper Thurlund’s Business Analytics for Managers: “We will move away from static retrospective reporting results toward factual real-time information and analytical knowledge to drive individuals and business processes.”

Moore: Yes, this is the whole point. My one quibble is that we not move away from the static stuff — it is still quite useful — but rather that we will commit increasingly to the real-time data-informed machine-enabled decision making.

Morris: From Christopher Surdak’s Data Crush: “Clouds will grow beyond infrastructure and will begin to migrate into markets higher up in the corporate value chain. This trend will rapidly lead to Everything as a Service (EaaS) marketplaces, where nearly any business outcome will be purchased by an outside provider.”

Moore: I think this is probably the pendulum swinging too far. But the point about migration is very real. Marketplaces are migrating from physical to digital locations, which does enable disaggregation of workloads, outsourcing to specialists, and the like. R.H. Coase had the right formula for the limiting factor here. It is transaction costs. At some point outsourcing imposes more cost, risk, or latency than doing it yourself—that’s where the new inside/outside boundary reestablishes itself.

Morris: From Victor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier’s Big Data: “What we are able to collect and process will always be just a tiny fraction of the information that exists in the world. It can only be a simulacrum of reality, like the shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave. Because we can never have perfect information, our predictions are inherently fallible.”

Moore: Prediction is not really the goal. Fast adaptation is the goal. Darwinism does not require you to know in advance. It requires you to respond in a flash.

Morris: From Eric Siegel’s Predictive Analytics: “Prediction seems to defy a Law of Nature: You cannot see the future because it isn’t here yet. We find a work-around by building machines that learn from experience. It’s the regimented discipline of using what we do know — in the form of data — to place increasingly odds on what’s coming next. We blend the best of math and technology, systematically tweaking until our scientific hearts are content to derive a system that peers through the previously impenetrable barrier between today and tomorrow.”

Moore: Right idea, but the last sentence overstates the outcome. If Eric were actually correct, a reasonable number of money managers would outperform the stock market indexes. But they do not. Once again analytics do not predict. They enable quick recognition of something that was not anticipated but has in fact occurred.

Morris: From Thomas Davenport’s big data @ work: “The greatest barrier to analysis is that we first have to impose structure on big data; most of those 2.8 zettabytes are not currently in row-and-column formats. We have a huge task ahead of us — to start structuring the data, analyzing it, and getting value from it. Not all of it will be useful — one study [‘Big Data, Bigger Digital Shadows, and Biggest Growth in the Far East,’ conducted by John Gantz and David Reinsel in 2012] estimates about 25 percent has potential value — but whatever the number, we are only scratching the surface of what’s possible.”

Moore: I think even quantifying the amount of data is a mistake. I think you want to start with decisions or bets you want to make, and then work backward from objectives and achievables to information that could improve your odds, and then to mechanisms that might generate that information in a timely manner. You would get to the data eventually, but it is never really about the data. Rather, as I have already suggested, what you do with the data.
* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Geoff cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

His website



Saturday, December 13, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Geoffrey Moore: A third interview, by Bob Morris

Moore, GGeoffrey Moore is Managing Director, Geoffrey Moore Consulting; a venture partner with Mohr Davidow Ventures, Chairman Emeritus, TCG Advisors, The Chasm Institute and The Chasm Group; and a member of the Board of Directors, Akamai Technologies and several pre-IPO Companies. He is also an author, speaker and business advisor to many of the leading companies in the high-tech sector, including Aruba, Box, Cisco, Cognizant, Intel, Microsoft, Rackspace, SAP, and Salesforce. Geoff divides his time between consulting on strategy and transformation challenges with senior executives and speaking internationally on those same topics. His latest release, Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers (Third Edition), brings Moore’s classic work on marketing disruptive innovations up to date with dozens of new examples of successes and failures, new strategies for marketing in the digital world, and Moore’s most current insights and findings.

Geoff has written numerous other books including Escape from Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past (2011), his sixth, for business leaders in the high-tech sector looking to reinvigorate their established franchises with next-generation lines of business. He is also an active public speaker who gives between 30 and 60 speeches per year, addressing a spectrum of topics including high-tech market dynamics, business strategies, innovation, organizational development, and industry futures. His other published works include Inside the Tornado: Marketing Strategies from Silicon Valley’s Cutting Edge (1995), The Gorilla Game: Picking Winners in High Technology (1999), Living on the Fault Line, Revised Edition: Managing for Shareholder Value in Any Economy (2002), and Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution (2008).

Here is an excerpt from my third interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to have a third edition of Crossing the Chasm? What new material do you provide in it?

Moore: I was getting feedback from entrepreneurship classes that, while the theory of crossing the chasm was as applicable as ever, the examples in the book were out of date. So this new third edition has all new examples from the past ten years, featuring companies like Salesforce, VMware, Box, Aruba, Rackspace, Lithium, Rocket Fuel, Infusionsoft, and the like.

Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Moore: I think the biggest change in the past decade has been the explosion of consumer computing, completely transforming our culture from end to end, and more recently, the transformation of enterprise computing as it seeks to integrate social, mobile, analytics, and cloud technologies into its legacy architectures. This led me to include a new appendix to the book focused on consumer adoption of technology, something that plays out sufficiently differently from the chasm model to require its own framework, which we called the Four Gears.

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned for the third edition?

Moore: I worked very hard not to change the argument of the book itself, only the examples and references. But the chapter on Distribution and Pricing simply would not admit of that approach, given how dramatically the consumer side of things has changed. Other than that chapter, however, people will encounter the same frameworks as in the original edition because they have held up surprisingly well over the years.

Morris: To what extent do you develop in much greater depth insights shared in the previous editions?

Moore: This was not my intent. Rather, each of my books has sought to build on the frameworks of the prior books, a kind of “backward compatibility” approach that seeks to maintain coherence across a set of models as it builds outwards to address a broader landscape. Thus Inside the Tornado took the Technology Adoption Life Cycle beyond the chasm all the way through to its conclusion. It was followed by The Gorilla Game which applied these ideas to an approach to high-tech investing. That was followed by Living on the Fault Line, which applied ideas from the Gorilla Game to the general idea of managing for shareholder value. Then Dealing with Darwin took on the challenges established franchises have with getting a good return on innovation, and the most recent book, Escape Velocity, extended that work to address how best to onboard and integrate a next-generation line of business into an established franchise. The thread that runs through all these books is the market dynamics that underlie the introduction of disruptive innovations into any community of customers and suppliers.

Morris: To what extent is material in Chasm 3 entirely new? Please explain.

Moore: The appendix on the Four Gears is entirely new. It is about how markets develop when the technology is not disruptive to the consumer but the business model is hugely disruptive to the status quo. It focuses on four stages of adoption, or “gears,” which we call Acquire, Engage, Convert, and Enlist. The idea behind the model is that you need to get all four gears spinning in unison to create a self-reinforcing “network effect,” and that therefore the key imperative at any given point in time is to speed up your slowest gear.

Morris: What are what you characterize as “the erratic results of high tech marketing”?

Moore: When companies spend most of their marketing energy talking about themselves and their products, the results are erratic because, in most cases, nobody cares about either topic anywhere near as much as the company itself does. Effective marketing requires you to work backward from the audience and the audience’s interests and find the nearest point of intersection with your interests and messages. The Technology Adoption Life Cycle is one of a number of frameworks that allows you to segment audience by interest in technology, and that is why it has had such a big impact on high-tech marketing.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Geoff cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Geoffrey Moore website link

Geoffrey Moore Amazon page link

Geoffrey Moore blog link

Geoffrey Moore Twitter link

Please click here to read my first interview of him.

Please click here to read my second interview of him.

Friday, March 14, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Secret to Innovation: Think Like a Kid

SecretHere is a brief article by Tim Brown for LinkedIn in which he shares his thoughts about how naturally creative children are and how important it us for all of us to help children sustain their creative confidence. His comments remind me of an observation by Pablo Picasso that he had spent most of his adult life (he lived until age 92) struggling to see the world again as a child. To check out all of Tim’s articles, please click here.

* * *

“I’m not a creative person.” I hear that all the time from clients when they first start working with IDEO. It’s an offhand comment, meant as an excuse for not being able to come up with innovative ideas on their own, but behind it lies a fear of failure -— of being judged by others. While it’s tempting to blame oppressive corporate culture for this crisis of creative confidence, its roots can often be traced to the classroom.

If you’ve ever watched young children play, you know what uninhibited creativity looks like. Toddlers will belt out off-key tunes at the top of their lungs, dance with abandon down the aisles of a supermarket, or color on walls and floors, never questioning their ability. But somewhere along the way—maybe because of a remark by a parent, teacher, or peer, or maybe because of their own insecurities—many kids lose confidence in their creative instincts, especially during their high school and college years.

Inspired by Tom and David Kelley’s new book, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, our friends at the open-innovation hub OpenIDEO have launched a global design challenge to help reverse this troubling childhood trend. In the past, the OpenIDEO community has rallied to address such issues as healthy aging, human rights, and urban revitalization, creating breakthrough services, campaigns, and social enterprises in the process. Their current challenge is about generating inspiring ideas to help teenagers and young adults around the world nurture their creativity. The question they’re asking anyone interested in participating is:

How might we inspire young people to cultivate their creative confidence?

The world is full of complex, thorny challenges that require innovative solutions. It’s critical that young people start flexing their creative muscles today so they can take the lead in addressing those challenges in the future.

If you haven’t yet contributed ideas to the challenge, I encourage you to do so before November 20, when the initial Ideas Phase ends. Afraid your ideas won’t measure up? Take the Kelley brothers’ advice: “The best way to gain confidence in your creative ability is through action, taken one step at a time.”

* * *

Brown, TimTim Brown is the CEO and president of IDEO. Ranked independently among the ten most innovative companies in the world, IDEO is the global consultancy that contributed to such standard-setting innovations as the first mouse for Apple and the Palm V. Today IDEO applies its human-centered approach to drive innovation and growth for the world’s leading businesses, as well as for government, education, health care, and social sectors. Tim advises senior executives and boards of Fortune 100 companies and has led strategic client relationships with such corporations as Microsoft, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Steelcase. He is the author of Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, published by HarperBusiness (2009).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Digital Footprints: The Journey from Business Intelligence to Analytics

MooreHere is a brief article by Geoffrey Moore for LinkedIn. To read entertaining as well as informative articles by other thought leaders, please click here.

Photo: alengo / Getty Images

* * *

Big Data and Analytics are still a hot ticket, both in the venture community and in the IT budgets of selected verticals—including any of the e-commerce enterprises competing directly with Amazon, any of the online transaction companies voluntarily exposing their sites to increasingly clever purveyors of fraud, or the media properties seeking to move beyond print and broadcast to get a real foothold on the Web. What underlies all these pockets of deep investment? The search for clues among our digital footprints. It’s a whole new era for enterprise IT.

Traditional enterprise IT vendors with strong Business Intelligence practices have sought to position themselves as the natural bridge to this new era. But there is a lot of water to cross over here. Traditional BI sits on top of a data warehouse that aggregates a history of structured data from an enterprise’s own transaction systems. Big data analytics sits on top of a Hadoop data engine that aggregates log files from a partially overlapping set of transaction engines and seeks to extract inferences from them that can be acted upon in real time. Even more basically, BI is for people and is about the past, present, and future state of things, of nouns. Analytics is for machine learning and is about drawing inferences from the traces left by actions, by verbs. They really are as different as chalk and cheese.

The amazing thing about log files is that they really do let you see what people are doing. This is incredibly revealing if for no other reason than we have yet to develop masking behaviors on line to disguise what we are up to. Did you go to the site? Did you stay? Where did you linger? Did your mouse pause above a button? Did you leave quickly without participating? Did you buy anything? If so, what? And who else bought that? What other sites do we know they visited? What other ones did you visit? Who is in your cohort? Who has the most influence in your cohort? How many cohorts are you in?

Whether it is Omniture tracking the traffic on your web site or LinkedIn or Facebook drawing your social graph, there is much to learn about you just from the records in their logs of your comings and goings. A lot of people want to make this a privacy issue—which it certainly can become—but that is a red herring. Privacy can be protected, albeit through sacrifices on many sides. Perhaps more to the point, neither you nor I are really all that interesting, so our privacy, important though it may be to us personally, is not actually what this is all about. Instead it is about behavioral targeting, fraud prevention, business process reengineering, marketing optimization, health diagnostics, and the like. And at its best, as I said, it is amazing stuff.

So do not be fooled. This is not people drawing inferences from reports and charts. This is computational engines grinding through billions of data points in real time to extract probabilistic inferences that can move the yield on programmatic initiatives by a few percentage points. It is hardly personalization yet. But it does have big economic impact, enough to catapult the leaders in this field to the top of the stack, and leave the uninitiated grasping at straws.

That’s what I think. What do you think?

* * *

Geoffrey Moore is an author, speaker, and business advisor to many of the leading companies in the high-tech sector, including Cisco, Cognizant, Compuware, HP, Microsoft, SAP, and Yahoo! He divides his time between consulting on strategy and transformation challenges with senior executives and speaking internationally on those same topics. His latest book Escape Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past, keeps this intent in mind and is the result of his years of experience working with large enterprises. He cordially invites you to check out the resources at his website by clicking here.

Link to my first interview of him

Link to my second interview of him

Thursday, November 21, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Take the Metaskills Quiz 2.0 and discover your talent


I am deeply grateful to Marty Neumeier for sharing the Metaskills Quiz 2.0, developed by the Liquid Brand Agency with which Marty is associated as its Director of Transformation. Here is Marty’s introduction, followed by a link.

* * *

We have just released the Metaskills Quiz 2.0 and I am inviting our friends to see which of their talents are most developed: Are you intuitive, or studious? Empathetic, or logical? Imaginative, or driven by process? The quiz takes only a few minutes and it will immediately generate a “talent handprint” which I’d like you to share with us. By doing this you will contribute to a study we’re conducting to better understand links between metaskills and success. Also, the first 25 people to share their talent handprint on Facebook will receive a signed copy of my new book Metaskills. So, what are you waiting for? The link is below. Have fun!

Please click here.

* * *

Marty Neumeier is a designer, writer, and business adviser whose mission is to bring the principles and processes of creativity to industry. His latest book, METASKILLS, explores the five essential talents that will drive innovation in the 21st century. His previous series of “whiteboard” books includes THE DESIGNFUL COMPANY, about the role of design in corporate innovation; ZAG, named one of the “top hundred business books of all time” for its insights into radical differentiation; and THE BRAND GAP, considered by many the foundational text for modern brand-building. He has worked closely with innovators at Apple, Netscape, Sun Microsystems, HP, Adobe, Google, and Microsoft to advance their brands and cultures. Today he serves as Director of Transformation for Liquid Agency, and travels extensively as a workshop leader and speaker on the topics of innovation, brand, and design. Between trips, he and his wife spend their time in California and southwest France.

Friday, October 25, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tim Brown asks, “What’s Stopping You from Being Creative?”

Brett Myers (center) and his team at State Farm Next Door; A chalkboard calendar of events at Next Door's bustling Chicago café and co-working space

Brett Myers (center) and his team at State Farm Next Door; A chalkboard calendar of events at Next Door’s bustling Chicago café and co-working space

Here’s a brief article by Tim Brown for LinkedIn Today. To check out a wealth of other superb articles, please click here.

* * *

“In our experience, everyone is the creative type.”

So true. The quote comes from Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, the new book by my good friends and colleagues, Tom and David Kelley. The book comes out on October 15, and I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the manuscript. It’s an engaging collection of personal and professional stories about people who have overcome their fear of failure and rediscovered their creativity.

Reading the Kelley brothers’ inspiring anecdotes reminded me of a conversation I had recently with Brett Myers, the jovial Program Director of Next Door, State Farm’s design-savvy café and co-working space that offers financial coaching and classes free of charge. Friendly and approachable, Brett exudes creative confidence, but that wasn’t always the case.

“I grew up in a small town in southern Illinois. I was the second of nine kids and was super-quiet and shy,” Brett told me. “I would say I had ideas as a child, but I wouldn’t have described myself as capital ‘C’ creative.”

This is a common belief. “Many people equate being ‘creative’ with ‘artistic.’ It’s a myth,” Tom and David Kelley write. “Creativity is not a fixed trait, like having brown eyes.”

Brett was good with numbers and wanted to run a business, so he went to school for accounting and eventually landed at State Farm. He was working as a research analyst there in 2010 when he was put on the Next Door project.

The hands-on experience of prototyping the new retail space, service, and brand, getting feedback from consumers, and then quickly iterating left a lasting impression on Brett. He started thinking like a designer.

“The whole idea of aiming for progress, not perfection, was incredibly liberating,” Brett said. “I learned you didn’t need to solve everything before trying stuff out. Sure, there were failures along the way, but we learned from our mistakes and our ideas got better because of it.” The Kelleys would describe this as having “permission to fail” and cultivating a “do-something mindset.”

Three-and-a-half years later, Brett continues to apply this approach to his work. He tells his 15 Next Door employees, “not every idea is going to be great, that’s why you have to have a lot of them.” Tom and David call this the “surprising mathematics of innovation.”

When I asked Brett what his biggest “a-ha” moment was while working on the Next Door prototype, he said: “I used to think creative was a type of person. Now I know creativity is a way of being.” The Kelley brothers couldn’t have said it better.

* * *

Tim Brown is the CEO and president of IDEO. Ranked independently among the ten most innovative companies in the world, IDEO is the global consultancy that contributed to such standard-setting innovations as the first mouse for Apple and the Palm V. Today IDEO applies its human-centered approach to drive innovation and growth for the world’s leading businesses, as well as for government, education, health care, and social sectors. Tim advises senior executives and boards of Fortune 100 companies and has led strategic client relationships with such corporations as Microsoft, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Steelcase. He is the author of Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, published by HarperBusiness (2009).

To read Tim’s other articles, please click here.

Friday, September 27, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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