jueves, 5 de abril de 2012

La verdadera lección de Steve Jobs

His saga is the entrepreneurial creation myth writ large: Steve Jobs cofounded Apple in his parents’ garage in 1976, was ousted in 1985, returned to rescue it from near bankruptcy in 1997, and by the time he died, in October 2011, had built it into the world’s most valuable company. Along the way he helped to transform seven industries: personal computing, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, retail stores, and digital publishing. He thus belongs in the pantheon of America’s great innovators, along with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney. None of these men was a saint, but long after their personalities are forgotten, history will remember how they applied imagination to technology and business.
In the months since my biography of Jobs came out, countless commentators have tried to draw management lessons from it. Some of those readers have been insightful, but I think that many of them (especially those with no experience in entrepreneurship) fixate too much on the rough edges of his personality. The essence of Jobs, I think, is that his personality was integral to his way of doing business. He acted as if the normal rules didn’t apply to him, and the passion, intensity, and extreme emotionalism he brought to everyday life were things he also poured into the products he made. His petulance and impatience were part and parcel of his perfectionism.

Global businesses have entered a new era of decision making. The ability to gather, store, access, and analyze data has grown exponentially over the past decade, and companies now spend tens of millions of dollars to manage the information streaming in from suppliers and customers.
For all the breathless promises about the return on investment in Big Data, however, companies face a challenge. Investments in analytics can be useless, even harmful, unless employees can incorporate that data into complex decision making.
Our research offers a succinct warning to managers. At this very moment, there’s an odds-on chance that someone in your organization is making a poor decision on the basis of information that was enormously expensive to collect.


Businesses clearly have a major role to play in any strategy for saving the planet. They are the engines of the developed economies that devour a disproportionate share of the world’s nonrenewable resources and produce a disproportionate share of its emissions. They also generate innovations that reduce resource use and lessen pollution. As both a cause of and a solution to environmental degradation, they are inevitably at the center of sustainability debates.
But how, exactly, can businesses contribute? According to one line of reasoning, rescuing the environment involves restraint and responsibility: Consumers and companies must do more with the resources they consume, recycle and process their waste more efficiently, and curb their appetite for consumption. In short, resources are finite and need to be carefully husbanded—an argument that appeals directly to the traditional virtue of moderation. This worldview achieved perhaps its clearest expression in the works of the 19th-century economist Thomas Malthus, who feared that at prevailing population growth rates the planet would eventually be unable to feed itself.

It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Believe

Adam Lashinsky's new book Inside Apple offers lots of intriguing material about Steve Jobs and the strategic choices, design principles, and business tactics that created the most valuable company on earth. But for all of Lashinsky's behind-the-scenes material about Apple's legendary leader, it was a public story about Apple's new leader, CEO Tim Cook, that captured my attention — and offered a powerful insight for leaders everywhere looking to create value in their organizations.
The story goes back to January 21, 2009, during Cook's inaugural conference call with investors after Jobs announced his medical leave of absence. The very first question, Lashinsky reports, was from an analyst who wanted to know whether Cook might replace Jobs permanently and how the company would be different if he did. Cook did not respond with a detailed review of the products Apple made or the retail environments in which it sold them. Instead, he offered an impromptu, unscripted statement of what he and everyone at Apple believed — "as if reciting a creed he had learned as a child" in Sunday School.
"We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products, and that's not changing," Cook declared.
"We believe in the simple not the complex...We believe in saying no to thousands of products, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us," he added.
"We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in ways other cannot...And I think that regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well," he concluded.
It's not what you sell it's what you believe. If there is one principle that explains why some organizations — Apple, Southwest Airlines, USAA, Cirque du Soleil, the Marine Corps, Pixar — consistently and dramatically outperform their rivals, it is that every person in the organization, regardless of job title or function, understands what makes the organization tick and why what the organization does matters.
Roy Spence, one of the toughest-minded business thinkers I know, is a cofounder of GSD&M, the legendary advertising agency based in Austin, Texas. In a provocative and saucy book, It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For, Spence explains the unique beliefs behind many of the one-of-a-kind organizations he has studied or worked with over the years, from BMW to Whole Foods Market to Southwest Airlines. Sure, these and other organizations are built around strong business models, stellar products and services, and (of course) clever advertising. But Spence is adamant that behind every great company is an authentic sense of purpose — "a definitive statement about the difference you are trying to make in the world" — and a workplace with the "energy and vitality" to bring that purpose to life.
In a chapter on the mission and culture at Texas A&M, the huge (48,000 students), rabidly conservative, steeped-in-tradition university that traces its history to 1871, Spence and his coauthor, GSD&M "purposologist" Haley Rushing, highlight a saying about the school that students have been reciting for decades: "From the outside looking in, you can't understand it. From the inside looking out, you can't explain it." That's a neat way to capture how it feels to change the sense of what's possible in your field — and a reminder of why so few leaders muster the commitment to build an organization with a unique sense of itself. "The unique culture you encounter when you step foot in 'Aggieland,'" argue Spence and Rushing, "is like nothing you'll experience on any other college campus."
That's the same feeling I get when I step foot inside business organizations that stand for something special in their field. I've written before about the one-of-a-kind strategy and culture at Umpqua Bank, a fast-growing financial-services company in the Pacific Northwest that has reimagined how a bank can interact with its customers. Umpqua's branches are unlike anything you'll find from other banks, and the culture is rooted in a commitment not just to serving customers but to entertaining them, surprising them, going beyond their loftiest expectations. This approach to retail and customer service is not just about business strategy, though. It's about a set of personal beliefs that define why the bank does what it does.
Umpqua's corporate "manifesto" explains that what makes the company tick is a "state of mind," not just a strategy. "It's constantly surprising the world with what a bank can be and how a bank can actually be part of a customer's life." It's "equal parts checking account and knitting club, commercial loan and local music source, IRA and Internet café." It's "building something that's never been built before."
What do you promise that nobody else in your industry can promise?
What do you deliver that nobody else can deliver?
What do you believe that only you believe?
The organizations that can answer those questions crisply, clearly, and compellingly are the ones that win big and create the most value.

The World on your Shoulders: Map Tattoos

I’m still not sure what Pinterest is for [1], but scrolling a recommended collection of maps on the site, I couldn’t help but notice that the number of cartographic tattoos was remarkably high. This blog has featured map tattoos on two earlier occasions [2], but the cornucopia of examples - and the emergence of a few curious patterns - warrants a second, closer look. 
World Map Back 1
The World on Your Shoulder - the most popular cartographic tattoo according to a non-scientific study conducted by this blog (This image taken here). 

Tattoos have made a remarkable comeback over the last century. Very little material evidence remains, but a few inadvertent glimpses into the distant past point to tattoos being very widespread in prehistoric times. The skin of the iron-age corpses retrieved intact from permafrosted Siberian graves [3] was rife with depictions of wild animals, dancing the hunt. Pritani, the oldest known name for inhabitants of Britain (and the origin of its name), means ‘the Painted People’, after their prominent tattoos.
Looks similar to the one above, but note the variation in centricity: the previous one has the Pacific in the middle, this one is centred on Europe/Africa. (Original context here).

Whether it was disdain of the civilised for the primitive, or a proscription for the pious from the profane [4] is a matter for tattoo historians, but fact is that inked skin pretty much seems to have disappeared from Europe from the advent of Christianity until the exploration of Polynesia in the 18th century. European sailors then enthusiastically adopted the local tradition of tatau - and by the end of the next century, over 90% of British sailors were tattooed. 
Can you tell what's missing on this map? A hint: it's mentioned by name in this post. (Map found here).

Tattoos remained the preserve of the naval, criminal, and other marginal elements of society [5] until the latter half of the 20th century, when a cultural revolution upturned many social norms and conventions. In 1936, only 6% of Americans had a tattoo; in 2003, that percentage had risen to 16%  - a net increase of approximately 10 to 40 million inked Americans. A 2008 study indicated that 36% of Americans in the 18 to 25 age bracket had a tattoo - rising to 40% for the 26- to 40-year-olds. 
The world goes round: a nice variation on the world map, now divided in two hemispheres (first seen here).

Today, tattoos have become respectable, or at least acceptable. Celebrities lead the way: Angelina Jolie and David Beckham hit the headlines whenever they add a new one to their already extensive collection. As to subject matter, a few themes dominate (and are subject to peaks and troughs of popularity): the traditional tattoo (anchors, skulls, roses, hearts, swallows), the tribal symbol (Celtic, Native American, Maori, etc.), the calligraphed quote or meaningful maxim, the black-and-gray tonal, the colourful ‘New Skool’ tattoo.
Flexing global muscle: a tattoo of the world map on the upper arm (map first seenhere).

Soon the non-tattooed will be in the minority. But in the new mainstream, new subcultures emerge. Cartographic tattoos, while still relatively small in number, demonstrate a perhaps unwitting unity of characteristics. 
He's got the whole wide world in his hands (taken here).