In this issue:
The Guardian • February 11, 2011
Requiem for an era. Writer Alex Clark attributes the current trend toward slapdash editing to a combination of cutbacks in the publishing industry and a deluge of user-generated content: "Publishing in its popular incarnation—the legendary long lunches, the opportunistic punts on unheard-of but brilliant young writers, the smoke-filled parties and readings—is probably gone for good." His gloomy assessment suggests the discerning reader may become an endangered species.
Pretty interesting, particularly the remarks towards the end by vaunted editors. My unease with this piece is that, like many other discussions of publishing, it takes the viewpoint of the "world of letters." This fits the default view of the enlightened reader who might pay attention to these types of commentary. But literary publishing is a small part of global publishing. Just ask Pearson or Reed Elsevier. ( Michalko)
Scholarly Kitchen • February 21, 2011
The two-pizza rule. Smaller teams tend to be more efficient in accomplishing their mission—a simple rule of thumb is never to assign more team members than can be fed by two pizzas. Read on for more ideas on ways to assemble innovation teams that produce.
No one but us cares if we're in business ten years from now. "It's all about the users." Amen. ( Michalko)
The Wall Street Journal • February 19, 2011
The upside of ADD. We've all read that innovative solutions are most likely to strike us when our minds are elsewhere, but this article reports on studies that show attention deficit may actually prove a creative advantage: "People unable to focus are more likely to consider information that might seem irrelevant but will later inspire the breakthrough. When we don't know where to look, we need to look everywhere."
If you're looking for an external justification for your distractibility and a reprieve from whatever guilt this might cause you, here it is. Given the rising ADHD diagnosis rates a lot of us, or at least our kids, will grasp the excuse. ( Michalko)
HBS Working Knowledge • February 14, 2011
It's all about jobs. Clayton Christensen advises managers to assess "jobs-to-be-done" before devising new products or services. The idea of matching a solution to a customer need is not new, but it reminds us to consider what basic problems our patrons are trying to solve when they walk in the door or visit our Web site. Teens may be looking for a social encounter or homework help. Adults, on the other hand, may be seeking the solace of comfortable seating, good lighting and a quiet atmosphere. Some people like to browse, others are zeroing in on a specific topic and everyone needs computer access. How do we define and address those jobs in our bricks-and-mortar spaces, and how do we adapt the "jobs-to-be-done" metaphor to our Web site design?
Christensen must always be heard (even Dogbert Consultants relies on him) and here he's captured an approach in a phrase that I can only hope would find its way into the dynamic of our meetings and discussions. I often ask what problem we're trying to solve but now will ask what job are the clients trying to get done. ( Michalko)
Kellogg Insight • February 2011
Pennywise, pound-foolish. Finance professor David Matsa correlates retailer borrowing with customer dropoff, but the real culprit is the decline in inventory that generally precedes a trip to the bank: "If I go to a store once and they don't have my brand of peanut butter, it's annoying, but if they are out almost ten percent of the time, then I start thinking about doing my shopping somewhere else." When we think about cutting back on subscriptions and acquisitions, at what point to we become irrelevant to some portion of patrons?
An interesting and probably predictable correlation between debt, inventory and satisfaction if one bothered to think about it. I am afraid that we will draw the wrong conclusion by relating it to our collecting practices. If you wanted 100% satisfaction you'd buy everything on demand from the cheapest and fastest source. ( Michalko)
The New York Review of Books • March 10, 2011
After the flood. James Gleick's book, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood , provides a survey of information history from drumbeats to databases. Read this review for a discussion of what the information flood—which Gleick attributes to the 20th century disconnect between information and meaning—portends for 21st century science and society.
This is one of those reviews that for the modestly motivated credibly stands in for the book itself. If you're really motivated you can see read Claude Shannon's original 1948 Bell Labs paper " A Mathematical Theory of Communication." I first encountered it when I had motivation in graduate school. Motivation may be a prerequisite but it's not sufficient for understanding. ( Michalko)
Above the Fold Quiz:
According to an item in this week's News and Views section, who is the Frederick G. Kilgour Award Recipient for 2011?
Click here to find the answer.