Monetizing Bob Marley

BobMarley.jpg

Now we see that Bob Marley is going to be sold like soap.

Is this the end of the Marley brand?

Are we going to see Marley toilet seats and diapers?

Here comes Marley Cola, extra sharp.

Or: Marley chewing gum.

Or: Marley underwear:

Or: Marley real estate.

Or: Marley leisure wear.

Or: Marley golf clubs.

Rasta don’t work for no CIA, but he’ll work for a private-equity firm.

Shame on you Rita and Ziggy. Shame.

This could kill Bob for real.

Wild Phil Townsend: Where is GE’s Open Reverse Innovation?

Phil Townsend wonders why GE hasn’t opened up it’s Reverse Innovation model in his post: Opening up Reverse Innovation >>

Townsend makes a good point:

So why can’t a company like GE follow down this path with “open reverse innovation
– inviting small companies in India and China to submit their products,
services and ideas to be evaluated by GE for global distribution.  Of
course, the open model would require an environment of trust
but what better way to create goodwill in new markets than to be seen
as a development partner in the China, India, and resource-starved
Africa?  A.G. Lafley sits on GE’s board; surely he could help them get started.

Townsend also proposes the formation of innovation collaboratives funded by companies like GE to create a pipeline of new products for GE. 

Not a bad idea, if you consider that a recent
McKinsey survey found that 20% of companies have opened up their
innovation processes to employees and customers and they report a 20%
rise in the number of innovations
, on average.

The Future of Media: Not Just a Song but an Attention Platform

Edo Segal has an interesting guest blog at TechCrunch describing the “Future of Media.”

He points to Apple’s App Store as an example of what the rest need to learn:

The only way to block the incredible ease of pirating any content a
media company can generate is to couple said experiences with
extensions that live in the cloud and enhance that experience for
consumers. Not just for some fancy DRM but for real value creation.
They must begin to create a product that is not simply a static digital
file that can be easily copied and distributed, but rather view media
as a dynamic “application” with extensions via the web. This howl is
the future evolution of the media industry. It has arrived from a
company that is delivering the goods. Apple has made it painless for
consumers to spend money and get the media they want where they want
it, proving that consumers are happy to pay for media if delivered in
ways that make it easy and blissful to consume.

He also states, rather matter of factly, that “he premise of extending the media experience to the cloud is a core
necessity for the survival and growth of the media industry.”  I agree.  The media industry needs to “sell access and experiences, not media files.”

So how does an artist or a media company build these experiences?

I’ve been doing some thinking along these lines for a band I’ve followed for many years – Steel Pulse. What’s interesting is that while the band has a huge, global, cross-generational following built over the past 35 years – the media companies that were responsible for promoting them have done absolutely nothing to tap into this enthusiasm.  Not one thing.

The same goes for most of my business thought-leader clients as well.  The publishing houses do nothing to create a conversation with the passionate fans. 

Engagement is the key.  How does a musician or an author engage with their audience, their fan-base?  It starts with the quality of the conversation. And let me tell you, it’s far easier for an individual thought-leader or musician to do this than companies, largely because companies are too formal, too corporate, and don’t usually communicate with a human voice.

What’s needed is a way to go direct. 

Let the celebrity or thought-leader engage with their fans directly to build an attention platform, unique to the celebrity. The company that empowers this attention platform, and builds new services for the fans, will build the next media empire with the “lock-in” that comes with authentic engagement. 

Of course, none of this works without authenticity.  The celebrity must remain true to themselves. In Steel Pulse’s case, this means they need to stick to their core brand dimensions.  So each successive album, each song, each product, each statement, builds on the Steel Pulse Experience.wordle_spbrand.gif

They could even track the core messages of a successful album – in this case “True Democracy” – and extend their meaning in new songs and releases:

wordle_truedemocracy.gif

So now let’s talk engagement, and I’ll break it into two simple phases – push and pull (borrowed from JSB and JH3).

Phase One: PUSH

So what does the celebrity do today?  In Britney Spears‘ case, she’s
tweeting her launch of a new song.  To me that’s not much of anything.
Yes, she’s reaching out through social media -Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace – but these are all still one way marketing pitches – push media.

The artist pushes their songs, their products, their newsletter, their tweets, etc. etc. No discussion, no give and take.  Products are created and sold. One market, one size fits all. Core fans are treated the same as newbies. Nothing special except the show and the products – media files: audio or video. See what I’m getting at?

All of this is still just pushing product.

Phase Two: PULL

What happens if the fans come to you – with their suggestions, requests, and insights? What happens when they want to participate? Is it possible to co-create products and services based on insights from yoru fans?  Of course it is.

Start the conversation. Go 80/20: focus on the 20% of fans that will get you 80% of your profits. Start talking (and listening) to your biggest supporters.

Engage: physically meet the 20%. Create special events for them. In soccer for example, fans pay $30-50 dollars just to watch Cristiano Ronaldo practice. What’s wrong with doing a 30 minute sound check for your fans?  Invite them to the sound check – and have exclusive “sound check products” available only for these fans – available at the event, and online as well.  You could even have a question and answer session that they get to download later that evening.

Then of course you sell the live version of the show – for a “limited time only.” Vary the show slightly with the song set, so every night is a different.

Let your fans download the raw tracks and make their own mixes. Have a contest for the best mixes. Sell the mixes to other fans.  Use them in your album.

And when you create a new album, it’s version-time.  Reggae music has a long history of selling versions. What’s sad is they’ve stopped this traditional practice when really they need to be exploiting it. (See Hal Varian on versioning.)  So every song should have the following versions: album version, extended version, dub version, accapella version, acoustic version, dance version, Nyabinghi version, etc. etc.  

Talk to the fans about the songs through webcasts, band-calls.  Let then know where and what’s next.  Let them vote on what you should do next.

For legacy songs, make sure you sell versions-in-time. The 1983 version of Chant a Psalm a Day is quite different from the 2000 version, which again is totally different from the 2009 version. Real fans want them all.

All of this is do-able today. It’s not about technology, it’s about attitude, and the ability to communicate, to lead.  For a cause-driven band like Steel Pulse, this is their opportunity to shine.

And let your fans share in creating and spreading your experience.

Now let’s take a quick look at the business world. 

VG, as he’s called affectionately, is an author and well known strategist. His latest article in the Harvard Business Review, co-authored with Jeffery Immelt and Chris Trimble, has been a huge success – introducing the world to a concept called reverse innovation.

What we’re doing now is building his engagement strategy – through his innovation newsletter.  The idea is to start a conversation about innovation with the people most interested in this topic.

A small step to start, but I know from experience that a “simple” newsletter can drive over 50% of monthly sales online.

The great news is anyone can build an attention platform like this. And if you have something important to say, your platform will bring you the attention you deserve. 

It may even elect you President!

As I was finishing up on this, I just saw a tweet from John Hagel on author platforms (read here). Again, if Apple can help an author or musician build that platform, then Apple will “lock-in” that artist for life.  Same goes for Amazon.com. The distribution model for media is changed forever, period.

Interview with Hal Varian: The Economics of Information

This is a digital reprint of an interview I did about ten years ago with UC Berkeley’s Hal Varian. At the time Varian was co-author of a bestseller: Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy; it’s still worth reading today. Today he’s the Chief Economist at Google. There are still a number of good things in this interview that the media companies could learn from…  (I’m a bit embarrassed by the silliness of my questions, but hey.)

I suppose we should begin by asking you for your definition of “information” and what you call “information goods”.

When we talk about information goods, we mean anything that can be digitized. Text, pictures, moving images, sound, all the media that can be delivered over a digital connection. Some people call them digital goods.

Information goods have some interesting properties. On the supply side there’s normally a big fixed cost to create the first copy, of say a movie, and then a negligible cost to create additional copies. On the demand side, the interesting feature is that you don’t really know what information is until after you’ve consumed it. So you have to experience it to know what it is.

When you’re selling information, you’re dealing with how do you give free samples, how do you give part of it away, how do you establish a reputation so people will purchase the information you’re providing, etc. etc.

I read about a travel publishing company that put its contents on-line, and their book sales went up, because people wanted the books with them when they traveled…

Yes. Another example is the National Academy of Sciences. They found when they put all their content on line and people could actually look at what the content was, they were more likely to buy.

What are some of the techniques you find companies use to create and sell information products? How do you sell an information product to different customers at different prices? How do you find out what the different customers will pay? Can you do this on a website?

The trick is to “version” your information product: construct a product line of your information goods that will appeal to different market segments. A common way to do this is to use delay: issue a book first in hardback, then, a few months later issue a cheaper edition in paperback. The people who are really interested will get the hardback, whereas people who are only casually interested will wait.

We see financial sites on the Web that sell real-time stock quotes, but give away quotes that are 20-minutes delayed. A movie first comes out first in the theater then six months later in video.

Then there are other things, user-interface, for example. If you look at Dialog, which is a search company, they have two types of search engines- one is a professional search engine, with Boolean searches and all sorts of options, and then they have an “ordinary-person” search engine, with a stripped down interface. It’s nice because the ordinary person wants to use the simpler interface, while the paying professional uses the professional interface. So there isn’t any cross-market cannibalization.

Other dimensions on which to version your product are user convenience, image resolution, capability, features, tech support, etc.

You mention Gresham’s Law of Information in your book. What is it?

Gresham’s law said “bad money crowds out good”. We coined “Gresham’s Law of Information” which says “bad information crowds out good”. Low-quality, cheap information can displace high-quality, authoritative information: look what happened with Encarta and Britannica. However, Britannica is now fighting back and has come out with products that are much better suited to computer use. Smart consumers will look for quality information.

Your example of the struggle between Encarta and Britannica, how Britannica lost out to the upstart $49 Encarta…

Right, although they’re coming back. They’re doing some clever things now. What happens there is the incumbent in the industry has a very low marginal cost, so they should be able to beat the entrant but they can’t quite change their business model. It’s hard. Telephone companies are having this problem, the print/publishing media is having this problem, TV networks have this problem vis-a-vis cable.

(This was before Wikipedia!)

Since there’s a high cost of innovation and a low cost of imitation on the web, isn’t it harder to keep “first-mover” advantages?

You’re right, we talk about this — the competition is only a click away. But the clever company, which has that first-mover advantage, will try its best to create “lock-in” for their customer base. For example, look at what Amazon has done- one click ordering, keeping information on what you purchase so they can recommend books to you. If Amazon is recommending good books to me and I want to switch to say Barnes & Noble, I have to start all over.

Another good example of that is e-toys. You put in the birthday of your nephew, your neice, and your cousins, whatever, and they send you a reminder that your nephew’s birthday is coming up and here’s a nice stuffed rabbit that’s very popular with children in his age group.

Can you tell us a little more about your lock-in strategies?

Since the competition is just a click away on the Web, it pays companies to invest in building customer loyalty. The best way to do this is to produce a product that is so much better than the competition that they don’t want to switch! But there are other ways too, such as loyalty programs, like frequent flyer programs that reward frequent purchasers.

What about lock-in strategies for suppliers and partners?

What we were thinking about there was that if you have a group of loyal customers that are purchasing your products, and there may be other complementary products that they would also purchase, but you may not be the best firm to supply that. So then what you do is sell access to your customers.

The portal companies are doing this. For example, I go to Yahoo, and Yahoo charges other companies to have access to me. Let’s say e-toys wants to move into baby or children’s clothes. They might not do that themselves, but they could partner with other companies that do that.

So once you have a loyal customer base, then you can sell access to that customer base for other products that complement what you are selling.

What about the dangers in this, with privacy issues?

It’s certainly convenient for me to be reminded when my anniversary is or my nephew’s birthday or something. That’s a service, a good thing. Of course they can use the information about me in ways that could be detrimental- they could sell it to mailing lists and I get deluged by email. So the trick is to make sure that consumers give their consent; you want to know exactly how the information is going to be used by the company in question. There are companies like e-trust which meet a very important need.

I was looking at ANX, the auto-industry supplier network, and I found out that Chrysler, despite its enthusiasm during the pilot, isn’t part of the production version of ANX. And if you go to the Chrysler supplier website, you find they’ve created tons of business applications. So when does it make sense to join a standards organization and when does it make sense to go it alone?

There’s this fundamental equation that says that the value to you is your share of the market value times the size of the total market. So some of your actions, like standardization, can increase the total size of the market, but it can decrease your market share because it creates more competition. So you have to trade-off these two effects.

So you’re saying if the total size of the market gets bigger, and you make a bigger profit despite a lower market share, then you are on to something… How do you protect intellectual property on the web? Will the current move of providing patent protection to internet business models help or hurt the future of e-commerce?

The point is to maximize the value of your intellectual property, not maximize its protection. You can charge a lot lower price for content on the Web because you can reach a much larger audience.

I’m quite unenthusiastic about patent protection for Internet business models and feel that it will retard progress in this area.

(Like I said, my questions are quite stupid, but the versioning of information goods – that’s still something the media companies can learn about! This cartoon was also done about the same time…)

http://www.onewwworld.com/noodleman/noodle98.gif

Finally, to get you up to speed, here’s a decent interview with Prof. Varian with the [global-warming deniers](http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/winston/2009/10/superfreakonomics-misses-the-b.html) at Superfreakonomics >>

The Lying Cheneys and the Republic of Lies

The lies are simply who the Cheneys and the Republicans are. 

Why is anyone surprised at this any more? 

The entire structure of corporatism is built on these lies and astroturfing:

energycitizens.gif

And now we have Liz “Liar 2.0” Cheney and that lying Fox – Rupert Murdoch – continuing in this tradition of lies:

Here are some more lies:

Hunger and Republican Values
Healthcare Reform: Shameless Lies
When Lies Become the Truth
GOP Gone Wild
How Much Does that Senator Cost?

Apparently you can fool 30% of the people all of the time.  Coincidentally, that would be the same number of people watching Rupert Murdoch’s FOX News.

Of course, you have to listen to a comedian to learn about how FOX operates:

BTW, those “energy teabaggers citizens” at EnergyCitizens.org, you know, the ones that got their “grass-roots” organizational act together and raised enough money to advertise in the NY Times, they’re brought to you by your concerned lobbyists from the Oil & Gas industry and chambers of commerce everywhere. They really want you to know that carbon-dioxide is a good thing!

How can companies and businesses keep doing this? Funding these lies? 

Is it time for a shareholder revolt yet?  This isn’t going away.

Happy Halloween, everybody.

Steel Pulse: Go Barack!

Back in 1983, the night before my Calculus finals, a friend in the college dorms convinced me to join him to go see Steel Pulse. Luckily, I made the right choice and went. They were the best band I’d ever seen – the best music, voice, and message – period.

A few years later, I invited Cathy to a Steel Pulse concert (our band was supposed to open for them along with three or four others). 

http://www.globeschooling.com/UnitedFsteelpulse.jpg

When we got married, we never missed a Steel Pulse concert until we had kids.

And now, recently, even our kids got to see Steel Pulse! See Cat’s blog post about our Steel Pulse experience >>

We still think they’re the greatest. (And what’s more, they’re working on a new album!)

Politically, Steel Pulse continue to support Obama with this song: “Go Barack!” 

“We need a leader, a leader / To march on to liberty / Get it together / Go Barack, Barack (Obama) / Put the country in the right direction / Fighting racists and Stop corruption / Go Barack, Barack (Obama) / World Peace is the best solution / Say we’re talking about / The future is bright / I see it in sight / Jericho walls are crumbling / And haters started stumbling / Stooping so low / I and I have spoken / I and I have chosen / Go Barack, Barack (Obama)…”

It’s time for the Obamas to invite Steel Pulse to the White House for a concert! 

Now that’s a Da Vinci!

leo1.jpg

Poor Leonardo. After losing out to Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni during his lifetime, he still doesn’t get the credit or recognition his work deserves. Finally, someone trusted their intuition, and bought a sketch which looked to him like a Leonardo, and, lo – it was! His $19000 investment is now worth $150 million:

Now that’s what I call reverse innovation!

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the basement to see if I have any Da Vinci’s lying around in my art collection…

Innovation in Turbulent Times: Two Heads are Better than One

In their article Innovation in Turbulent Times, Darrell Rigby, Kara Gruver, and James Allen make the case that the key to growth is pairing an analytic left-brain thinker with an imaginative right-brain partner:

lbrb.gif

Fine, but the problem is that in most “rational” industries – dominated by “maximize shareholder value” thinking, there no room at the top for the creative thinker.  In fact, I would argue that most companies are too sharply skewed to the left brain. The CEO, CFO and the heads of all the business units are too focused on P&L to think outside the proverbial box.

They need to improve their “intuitive intelligence” by chatting with Francis Cholle >>

It’s Time to Quit the US Chamber of Commerce

Simply put, it’s a values issue.
The irrational position of the US Chamber of Commerce should cause member companies to rethink their position within the organization. PG&E, PNM Energy, Apple, and Exelon Energy have already quit the Chamber, rather than continuing to support an organization which is so out of touch with reality.
Ultimately, companies must ask themselves – is it worth my company’s reputation and brand to stand on the wrong side of science and history?
The following companies are still part of the US Chamber of Commerce:
AT&T
State Farm Insurance Companies
United Parcel Service
The Charles Schwab Corporation
Edward Jones
FedEx Express
Pfizer Inc.
Xerox Corporation
ConocoPhillips
Massey Energy Company
Spencer Stuart
American Water Works Company, Inc.
Landstar System, Inc
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Deloitte LLP
Kimberly-Clark Corporation
DonahueFavret Contractors Holding Company
Ryder System, Inc.
Cargill, Inc.
Leading Authorities, Inc.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Emerson
My Chef Catering
AEGON N.V.
VAST Solutions, LLC
Walker Information
Allied Capital Corporation
Telcom Ventures, L.L.C.
The Coaching Group, LLC
Deere & Company
The Robertson Foundation
Nortex Holdings, Inc.
CAIVIS Acquisition Corp.
CVK Personnel Management & Training Specialists
Sunrise Senior Living, Inc.
The Dow Chemical Company
US Airways
Eastman Kodak Company
Alcoa, Inc.
Buffalo Supply, Inc.
HARM GROUP LLC
Quam-Nichols Company, Inc.
FACES Day Spa
PERMAC Industries
Hawk Corporation
Southern Company
Vulcan Materials Company
A.O. Smith Corporation
Alpha Technologies, Inc.
Fluor Corporation
Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLC
Paper and Chemical Supply Company
Incorporated AGL Resources Inc.
Arnel & Affiliates
J.R.’s Stockyards Inn
Entergy Services, Inc.
Oldcastle, Inc.
Siemens Corporation
PEPCO Holdings Inc.
Anheuser-Busch Companies
Fox Entertainment Group
Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc.
IBM Corporation
Accenture
3M
Amway
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.
New York Life Insurance Company
American Medical Association
CVS Caremark Corporation
Stanwich Group LLC
Kirby Financial, LLC
The Carlyle Group
Rolls-Royce North America, Inc.
AGCO Corporation
Caterpillar Inc.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Tandy Leather Factory, Inc.
High Companies
Norfolk Southern Corporation
CUNA Mutual Group
KCI Technologies, Inc.
International Bancshares Corporation
Hutchison Advisors
Ingram Industries Inc.
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
Memphis Chemical & Janitorial Supply Company
Awkard & Associates
UniGroup, Inc.
Nana Development Corporation
Pool Corporation
48hourprint.com
Duke Energy Corp.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation
Ruan Transportation Management Systems
CNL Financial Group, Inc.
Navistar, Inc.
HPA Strategies
Ford Motor company
Trailmobile Corporation
Human Genome Sciences, Inc.
Con-way Inc.
Peabody Energy
Mountain Plains Equity Group, Inc.
RPM International, Inc.
Tramco, Inc.
Melaleuca, Inc.
COMSYS Information Technology Services, Inc.
MI Industries
Mindover Corp.
Authentix, Inc.
You can help urge them to quit – here >>

The Rise of Employee Unhappiness

From the Economist:
A survey by the Centre for Work-Life Policy, an American consultancy, found that between June 2007 and December 2008 the proportion of employees who professed loyalty to their employers slumped from 95% to 39%; the number voicing trust in them fell from 79% to 22%.
At France Telecom, 24 of the firm’s employees have taken their own lives since early 2008.
What’s up with this craziness? Of course, the recession is partly to blame, and industries like the automobile industry and the telecoms are under real stress. But to decide that you can’t live without your sorry job?
Everyone needs to get some perspective.
Sure, the Great Cycle of Failure is spinning away as fast as it can go at your company, but don’t let it mess you over.
Ask yourself, if I was starting today, would I join this company? If the answer is no, then you need to rewind and reassess. What do you really love doing and are good at? Are you better at it than just about everyone? Then go do it.
Sure it sounds simple, but it’s a lot of work. Back in 2004, I ended up quitting my steady corporate job to start a new company with no prospects and no customers in hand. I wasn’t even a good salesman. And yet, I survived. Not because I was so clever, but because I did what I thought was best for each customer. Sometimes I even told them that what they wanted wasn’t the right thing. And now I have a handful or two of loyal customers who work with me through rain and shine. I really do see their successes as mine. And that’s my job description: help my customers succeed.

Is the US Chamber of Commerce irrelevant?

We know they’re just another Republican puppet organization, and now it’s so obvious it’s hurting them.
But don’t expect them to back off.
Global warming is a hoax to these people, and nothing short of a memo from Exxon-Mobil will make them change their views.
Yes, the US Chamber of Commerce is irrelevant.

“How GE is Disrupting Itself” by Immelt, VG, and Chris Trimble

VG has touched a chord with this article in Harvard Business Review

HBR

How GE is Disrupting Itself describes the concept of reverse innovation – how products developed in and for low-cost countries (like India and China) by multinationals (like GE) lead to growth – not only in the low-cost market, but at home as well.

VG says the article has touched an “emotional” chord with readers who are saying that this approach is just what “western” multinationals should be doing – designing products for the local market at a price-point which is within reach.

Check out the advertisement for one such product:

To me, this is just the first step to being truly global (as they say at Thunderbird). With business commitments at a local level, social commitments will surely follow. 

Now let’s see some “ecomagination” in action and build portable solar/wind electrical generators for off-grid villages at an affordable price-point. Right, Bob?

What Global Warming?

Corporate fascism? What’s that?

Listen to this Henry Wallace quote from 1944:

“The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power…

Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion…

The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism… They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

Hard to believe? Not.

Here’s an example of the latest garbage: CO2isgreen.org. What global warming? 

Go Michael Moore!

Boycott Whole Foods: John Mackey’s Branding Problem

A few weeks ago I gave up on Silk Soy.
Now, I’m done with Whole Foods.
How does the CEO of a company justify his “politics” when it goes against the brand of his company?
The short answer is: he’s not the right person for the job. I mean, you won’t see the NRA electing Howard Dean as CEO. So how does Whole Foods have a CEO so out of touch with his customers values? Or his company’s values? On Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ no less. What’s next, FOX?
Bye-bye, Whole Foods.
Additional Reading: On Value and Values by Douglas K. Smith

Health Care Reform: Is Bill Moyers the Last Journalist?


Nice quote from Dante.
This is what we’re up against. Is this the America we want? Bad news: we already have it. Well done, CIGNA. Thank you, Blue-Dog Dems. And of course, this edition of American Reality is brought to you by the Republican party, or as they call it now, the GOP.

The Rise of Intuitive Intelligence: An Interview with Francis Cholle

Here’s my intuitive intelligence interview with Francis Cholle at Emory Marketing Institute >>
Cholle’s main point is that businesses have lost track of how to manage holistically. They are too focused on counting beans to create sustainable business value.
He’s not saying analytics are useless. He’s just saying that Mark Hurd at HP isn’t going to come up with the products HP needs for the future by using analytical processes (that’s not in the published interview – but we did discuss it!).
Read the interview here>>

Silk Soy Milk Loses its Way: Adventures in Corporate Unsustainability

My family has been a customer of Silk Soy for well over seven years. As of today, we quit. Why? Two reasons:
1) the soy beans aren’t organic anymore
2) they’re from China
Anyone who trusts food from China is being foolish. Remember this? Not to mention the carbon costs of transporting food all that way…
Read all about how Dean Foods destroyed its brand and beat up on American organic farmers at the same time. I thought about writing them or calling them, but it’s less work to just switch. They’re obviously not going to listen to their customers anyway.
Just another example of the short-term, unsustainable mindset of the multinational company.

Intel and Wind River: Shaping Strategy for the Future of the Consumer Experience

The acquisition of Wind River by Intel should not come as a surprise for anyone who has been paying attention to the rapid evolution of the online experience. We know for example that the future of electronics is collaboration, sharing, and accessanytime, anywhere, on any device..
Companies that build a vision around the future and then work to make that future a reality using their business ecosystems will win the next round of competition after we emerge from the recession. Intel’s shaping strategy, as my friend John Hagel would call it, is nothing short of brilliant.
Let’s see why.
In the automobile “infotainment” world, Intel has been quietly working with Wind River and BMW (and others) to build a shared platform for devices based on open source standards. The ecosystem partners comprise the Genivi Alliance and are in competition with another, smaller ecosystem of partners driven by Microsoft. The difference is that Microsoft’s infotainment stack is not open. Ford’s Sync and Fiat’s Blue & Me products are based on this competing platform. (How long before they switch?)
The ultimate irony – both platforms are built on Intel. And in this case, Intel knows something that Microsoft doesn’t – that open systems are the future.
The Wind River platform is not limited to automobiles. They’re doing the same across a variety of marketspaces, like the Open Handset Alliance Android – another open source platform.
The Wind River acquisition also helps include “Intel Inside” on all the devices which cloud computing will bring. Intel is making sure that the Telcos, IT hosting providers, hardware and software vendors – everyone gets to use Intel as the foundation of their future business.
Shaping Strategy 101: Intel gets it.

Burger King: “Global Warming is Baloney”

Business stupidity is always a sign of something else more worrisome. Several Burger King franchises in Tennessee have been displaying “Global Warming is Baloney” signs outside their restaurants.
Now that they’ve decided to speak their minds, how about we speak ours with signs like these:
– “Try our Massive-Coronary-Failure Burger – Buy 1 get 2 Free”
– “No Mad Cows Allowed on Premises”
– “Our Burgers are E-Coli free, or Your Money Back”
– “Our Rats are Sanitized for Your Protection”
– “Our Employees Wash Their Hands after Using the Restroom”
See what I’m getting at?
The franchises are all owned by a company called the Mirabile Investment Corporation (MIC) that owns more than 40 Burger Kings across Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.
Nice going, guys. What next? A “whites-only” sign?
Burger King should yank their licenses. I’m sure they can get some other, more responsible, business owners to take over.

Customer-Driven Innovation: Interview with Gaurav Bhalla

Here’s my “Customer-Driven Innovation interview” with Gaurav Bhalla for the Emory Marketing Institute.
According to Bhalla, the key building blocks of value co-creation are:
Listening: learning about consumers’ experiences; their angst, frustrations, desires, and aspirations

Sustaining value co-creation conversations:
meaningful conversations that yield the raw material for co-creation
Experimenting and rapid prototyping: to manage risk, improvise, and enable speedy value co-creation
Execution: only when co-created value is delivered can the next round of value co-creation be initiated
Read all about it >>

Hitler: Not the Right Management Guru for India

There was disturbing report at the beginning of the week which said that Mein Kampf was flying off the bookshelves in New Delhi, fueled by demand from students “who see it as a self-improvement and management strategy guide for aspiring business leaders, and who were happy to cite it as an inspiration.”
I don’t think so.
In my view, this is merely the latest round in the political extremism which is being fomented by groups like the BJP and thugs like Varun Gandhi.
When politicians use race, religion, and background to divide people and win votes, you know we’re in a bad place. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Republicans or the BJP using these tactics, it’s just plain evil.
We don’t need another Sanjay Gandhi.
There are plenty of candidates out there vying to be India’s Hitler. The question is: where is India’s Obama?
Tata Nano or not, India still has a long way to go to get to Satyameva Jayate
Will a real Gandhi please stand up?

Backlash: How Early Adopters React When the Mass Market Embraces a New Brand


David Reibstein‘s theory holds true online as well. Let’s look at an example of how this works with online communities, knowledge – based communities in particular. Let’s say we build an online community around a specific topic. When the site starts up, we attract the early adopters – some of them thought leaders in their fields. The posts, articles, and debates are generally led by a handful of these thinkers, and they attract a following. The newbies, as they engage with the community start off by learning, asking questions, sometimes just lurking. The quality of these early debates is typically high and participation intense and invigorating.
So what happens when the community suddenly experiences growth – massive numbers of the hoi-pollloi descend on the site and suddenly the quality of discussions takes on a Twitter-like feelstupid and stupider. The old school rebels, first through silence, and second by disengaging. This takeover by the wisdom of the masses can be avoided, through ruthless editorial direction and skilled moderators. And every once in while, the new participants challenge assumptions that deserve to be challenged, and are given their space in the sun.
So how do we manage this growth and stay true to the community’s intent?
Three options come to my mind:
1) Manage membership – simply keep the community at growing in a measured way – firing the “bottom” 10% each year, and bringing in a fresh crop of participants at 20%… This is the surest way to sustainable growth.
2) Create a merit-based aristocacy – with tiered membership based on the value of the participant’s contributions.
3) Create a feeder community which is built for the masses and an elite community for the thought leaders and their followers. Moderate the interaction between these groups with the possibility of upward migration based on peer-based invitations.
You’ll notice I am not advocating open communities where everyone has an equal voice. That’s because I’m not talking about social communities, but communities of practice where respect is reserved for the competent.

Axel Springer: Thriving in a Dying Industry – Newspapers!

While newspapers and print outfits are losing their shirts all around us, the German company Axel Springer recently reported its “highest net income since the company was founded” 62 years ago.
How is this possible?
What are they doing that our friends at the NY Times aren’t?
From the NYTimes:
Axel Springer generates 14 percent of its revenue online, more than most American newspapers, even though the markets in which it operates — primarily Germany and Eastern Europe — are less digitally developed than the United States.
One reason, Mr. Döpfner said, is that Axel Springer has dared to compete with itself. Instead of trying to protect existing publications, it acquired or created new ones, some of which distribute the same content to different audiences.
At one newsroom in Berlin, for example, journalists produce content for six publications: the national newspaper Die Welt, its Sunday edition and a tabloid version aimed at younger readers; a local paper called Berliner Morgenpost, and two Web sites.
Though advertising has slumped in Germany, Axel Springer has been able to offset the shortfall by raising the price of publications like Bild, which sells more than three million copies. Now Axel Springer is looking for “undervalued assets” to buy.
Mr. Döpfner said the company would even have a look in the United States “if a meaningful position arises in a significant market.”

OK. So what are newspapers in this country going to do? Stay tuned.