Will Britain be the next Newfoundland?

From the Economist:
An ocean current in the North Atlantic is getting weaker. That may be bad news for north-west Europe…
“Those who worry about climate change worry about many things: rising temperatures, rising sea levels, changes in rainfall and stronger storms, for example. One of the things they worry about most, though, is changes in the circulation of the ocean’s currents. That is because these currents are the main way that heat is redistributed from the tropics, where there is a lot of it, to the polar regions, where there is not. If the currents shifted, it would mean that temperatures in some parts of the world changed much more than they would merely as a result of the local atmosphere warming up as heat-trapping greenhouse gases accumulate. Indeed, it could mean that in some places temperatures fell, rather than rising.”
“The result, when the numbers were crunched, suggests that the volume of water being carried by the Atlantic Conveyor Belt has dropped by 30%.
“If that is correct, and more importantly, if it were sustained, the result for places such as Britain would be a 1°C drop in average temperature—enough to be noticeable. If it were not merely sustained, but got bigger (and the 2004 figure was larger than that for 1998), the temperature drop would be greater. And if the conveyor belt stops altogether, as it has in the past on more than one occasion, Britain’s climate would come to resemble that of Newfoundland. The questions, of course, are why is this happening, and can anything be done?”
Will Britain freeze?
Read all about it.

The Online Holiday Shopping Rush

The fastest growing retail category on the day after Thanksgiving was toys/video games, with a 152 percent week-over-week growth. Consumer electronics followed close behind, and computer hardware/software rounded out the top three.
Daily Percent Change from11/18/05 to 11/25/05
Toys/Video Games 151.8%
Consumer Electronics 142.0%
Computer Hardware/Software 101.8%
Apparel 99.0%
Flowers and Gifts 95.3%
Home and Garden 87.3%
Shopping Comparison/Portals 84.0%
Jewelry 71.3%
Retail 40.5%
Books/Music/Video 3.8%
Total (across 10 categories) 38.7%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday eShopping Index, November 2005

Keep Web Videos Under a Minute Long – Jakob Nielsen

“You can’t recycle video and expect to create a good online user experience.”
Jakob Nielsen in his latest Alertbox:
“While I’ll surely have many more guidelines later, for now the main guideline for producing website video is to keep it short. Typically, Web videos should be less than a minute long.
“A related guideline is to avoid using video if the content doesn’t take advantage of the medium’s dynamic nature. This doesn’t mean incessant use of pans, zooms, and fades to add artificial movement. It does mean that it’s better to use video for things that move or otherwise work better on film than they would as a combination of photos and text.
“Finally, recognize that Web users are easily distracted, and keep distracting elements out of the frame of your shots. If there’s a road sign in the video, for example, users will try to read it and will thus miss some of the main content.”
Nielsen’s remains at the vanguard of user experience design. Check out his “eyetracking” chart for web video and his 1997 post: “TV Meets the Web.”
Finally, here’s an interview I did with Jakob a while back:”Creating The Loyal Customer.”

Top 50 Business Brains: Step Aside, Peter Drucker – it’s Michael Porter

The most influential living management guru is Michael E. Porter, head of Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, according to the rankings of The Thinkers 50 2005.
The Thinkers 50 ranking is based on the votes of 1,200 business people, consultants, academics, MBA students and visitors to the project’s website. Nonetheless, Professor Porter only just made it to the top. Had the ranking been compiled a few weeks earlier, the title would have gone to Peter Drucker for the third successive year. But the father of modern management died on November 11 at the age of 95…
read the Times article >>
The Top 50 Business Brains
1 Michael Porter (2)* Harvard strategy specialist
2 Bill Gates (20) Founder of Microsoft
3 C. K. Prahalad (12) LBS strategy man
4 Tom Peters (3) Leadership consultant
5 Jack Welch (8) GE’s ex-CEO and celebrity
6 Jim Collins (10) Author of Good to Great
7 Philip Kotler (6) Kellogg’s marketing guru
8 Henry Mintzberg (7) Promotes Managers not MBAs
9 Kjell Nordstrom & Jonas Ridderstrale (21) Funky Business exponents
10 Charles Handy (5) British portfolio worker
11 Richard Branson (34) Entrepreneur and Virgin flyer
12 Scott Adams (27) creator of Dilbert
13 Thomas Stewart (37) Intellectual Capital author
14 Gary Hamel (4) Strategy consultant
15 Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne (31) Blue Ocean Strategy duo
16 Kenichi Ohmae (19) Japanese strategy master
17 Patrick Dixon (46) Futurist and change guru
18 Stephen Covey (16) Knows The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
19 Rosabeth Moss Kanter (9) Harvard’s change manager
20 Edward De Bono (35) Lateral thinker and author
21 Clayton Christensen (22) Harvard’s new-tech guru
22 Robert Kaplan & David Norton (15) Balanced scorecard creators
23 Peter Senge (14) Learning organisation inventor
24 Ram Charan (-) Coach to the CEOs
25 Fons Trompenaars (50) Intercultural management man
26 Russ Ackoff (-) Specialist of systems thinking
27 Warren Bennis (13) Humanist leadership guru
28 Chris Argyris (18) Action and learning guru
29 Michael Dell (33) Dell Computer’s founder
30 Vijay Govindarajan (-) Tuck’s strategy innovator
31 Malcolm Gladwell (-) Blink and Tipping Point guru
32 Manfred Kets De Vries (43) Psychoanalytic economist
33 Rakesh Khurana (-) Harvard labour market guru
34 Lynda Gratton (41) LBS people and strategy guru
35 Alan Greenspan (42) Head of US Federal Reserve
36 Edgar Schein (17) MIT organisational psychologist
37 Ricardo Semler (36) Radical CEO of Semco
38 Don Peppers (48) Customer relationship man
39 Paul Krugman (40) Economist and columnist
40 Jeff Bezos (39) Amazon’s main man
41 Andy Grove (26) One of the Intel founders
42 Daniel Goleman (29) Emotional intelligence inventor
43 Leif Edvinsson (-) Professor of intellectual capital
44 James Champy (25) Advocate of re-engineering
45 Rob Goffee & Gareth Jones (-) Authentic leaders
46 Naomi Klein (30) No Logo author
47 Geert Hofstede (47) Cultural expert
48 Larry Bossidy (-) Chair of Honeywell
49 Costas Markides (-) LBS strategy professor
50 Geoffrey Moore (38) Hi-tech marketing man
* 2003 ranking in brackets
My opinion: this is a watered-down version of Tom Davenport’s Guru Index in “What’s the Big Idea?”
Stuart Crainer tells us that “The Thinkers 50 ranking actually pre-dates Tom Davenport’s. It first appeared in 2001 and is updated bi-annually.”
The methodology behind the standings is shown below (thanks, Patrick Dixon). So, I take back what I said about this being “watered down”… [I just wish they ranked the top 200 nerds, instead of just 50!]
Are the ideas and examples used by the thinker original?
Have the ideas promoted by the thinker been implemented in organizations? And, has the implementation been successful?
How proficient is the thinker at presenting his/her ideas orally?
How proficient is the thinker at presenting his/her ideas in writing?
How committed are the thinker’s disciples to spreading the message and putting it to work?
Do they practice what they preach in their own business?
How international are they in outlook and thinking?
How well researched are their books and presentations?
Have their ideas had an impact on the way people manage or think about management?
The clincher: are they, for better or worse, guru material by your definition and expectation?

The Globalization Index: How Global is Your Country?

The Global Top 20
1. Singapore
2. Ireland
3. Switzerland
4. United States
5. Netherlands
6. Canada
7. Denmark
8. Sweden
9. Austria
10. Finland
11. New Zealand
12. United Kingdom
13. Australia
14. Norway
15. Czech Republic
16. Croatia
17. Israel
18. France
19. Malaysia
20. Slovenia
The A.T. Kearney/FOREIGN POLICY Globalization Index™ explores the relationships between a country’s global integration and its levels of public education spending, political freedom, perceived corruption, and susceptibility to terrorism. The results show that:
– On average, more globally integrated countries spend more on public education. This relationship was particularly strong in developing countries.
– Citizens of globally integrated countries also enjoy greater political rights and civil liberties. And globalization may keep politicians honest, as the adoption of higher international standards for transparency tends to discourage corruption and increase government efficiency.
– Opening a country’s borders alone does not make the country more vulnerable to terrorism. Little correlation was found between a country’s level of global integration and the number of significant terrorist attacks on its soil.
Sounds to me like the US is going backwards not forwards in this area. Funny- we’re global when it comes to military incursions and insular when it comes to business.
The study finds that the United States rose on the strength of its growth in Internet hosts and secure servers, which are enabling factors for continued technological integration. But it was much less open in the economic realm, lagging behind in trade and foreign direct investment (FDI), due in part to a large and vibrant domestic market.
Another finding: in political and diplomatic terms the United States ranked 57th of the 62 ranked countries when it comes to signing international treaties.
About the Index: The A.T. Kearney/FOREIGN POLICY Magazine Globalization Index ranks 62 countries representing 85 percent of the world’s population, based on 12 variables grouped in four categories: economic integration, personal contact, technological connectivity, and political engagement.
How it Works: The index quantifies economic integration by combining data on trade and foreign direct investment. Technological connectedness is gauged by counting Internet users, Internet hosts, and secure servers. Political engagement is assessed by taking stock of the number of selected international organizations and the number of selected international treaties that each country signs, as well as each country’s financial and personnel contributions to U.N. peacekeeping missions and levels of governmental transfers. Personal contact is charted by looking at a country’s international travel and tourism, international telephone traffic and cross-border transfers, including remittances.
FREE FOOD: Download the report here. Get the detailed data here.

The Stupidity of GM

“Performance in our crazy world is helped through learning from others. Suggestion: Take a look at how your organization’s resources and talents line up against the evolving picture of customer needs. Then evaluate your efforts against a “NOT GM” scale. The better you do — the more your strategy is unlike GM’s — the better your organization’s future and performance is likely to be.”
So says Doug Smith in this brilliant and sad analysis of stupidity at GM.
Blog or no blog, Bob Lutz, the vice chairman of product development at General Motors is not doing his job. Maybe he should stop blogging and focus on his customers’ needs! Here’s what he’s blogging on
Just how sick is GM?

Harvard: “Business! Start your Blogging”

“Bloggers have damaged a number of companies, but it’s time to think of the blog as your friend. Skillful blogging can boost your company’s credibility and help it connect with customers.”
Finally, the folks at Harvard think the blogging is OK for business. Thanks for the green light, but I still don’t see Michael Porter or Clayton Christensen blogging, or Dorothy Leonard for that matter… what’s up with that? Harvard, time to practice what you preach.
Here’s why businesses may want to blog:
“…a blog is an incredibly effective yet low-cost way to:
Influence the public “conversation” about your company: Make it easy for journalists to find the latest, most accurate information about new products or ventures. In the case of a crisis, a blog allows you to shape the conversation about it.
Enhance brand visibility and credibility: Appear higher in search engine rankings, establish expertise in industry or subject area, and personalize one’s company by giving it a human voice.
Achieve customer intimacy: Speak directly to consumers and have them come right back with suggestions or complaints—or kudos.”
Here’s their blogging endorsement.

Nation-Branding Using Sports Events

A.T. Kearney has a interesting report on how mega-sporting events can transform a city:
“Forgotten neighborhoods get desperately needed makeovers. Massive clean-up efforts curb smog and pollution. Transportation upgrades enhance mobility. Yet for every story of a city cleaned up, there is another of lingering debt and disrepair. Only a few large-scale events live up to their full potential. Even fewer deliver the promised long-term rewards. But for cities and nations that focus on both the immediate and the longer term, they do more than simply host an event, they build a legacy.
“Host nations are far less adroit at capturing the longer lasting, less tangible benefits that can result from a mega-event. These rewards reach into every part of an economy and culture by reinvigorating communities, improving health and educational systems, and cleaning up environments (see figure 1). Hosts tend to treat mega-events as prestige projects that are justified (accurately or not) through a measurement of tangible benefits minus tangible costs. Countries tag on some social programs to help make their case and obtain local support, but both the benefits and the add-ons are rarely integrated into broader national or regional strategies.
“A mega-event should be incorporated into a comprehensive national strategy that captures the tangibles while also advancing a nation’s social and economic development, inspiring passion and national pride, and building a global reputation—all of which can last a lifetime.”

Read the entire report here.

Leadership Development: The Talent War

Growing Talent as if your Business Depended on It” by Jeffrey M. Cohn, Rakesh Khurana and Laura Reeves.
The authors explain what makes a successful leadership development program, based on their research over the past few years with companies in a range of industries. They describe how several forward-thinking companies (Tyson Foods, Starbucks, and Mellon Financial, in particular) are implementing smart, integrated, talent development initiatives.
Companies whose boards and senior executives fail to prioritize succession planning and leadership development end up experiencing a steady attrition in talent and becoming extremely vulnerable when they have to cope with inevitable upheavals – integrating an acquired company with a different operating style and culture, for instance, or reexamining basic operating assumptions when a competitor with a leaner cost structure emerges. Firms that haven’t focused on their systems for building their bench strength will probably make wrong decisions in these situations.
Personally, I think companies need to develop their workers as well, not just their leaders. That’s the real problem.
Also, most companies make leadership development an HR function. That’s another problem.
It’s the CEO who needs to develop leaders across the company. Remember Jack Welch and Crotonville?
And, oh, I forgot about executive pay. Our leaders are too busy lining their pockets to lead…