Disruptive Leadership

"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare."

Disruptive leaders – Jeff Bezos and the Kindle

[Originally published July 2009]

Recently, I came across an article in the NY Times about Jeff Bezos’ speech at a conference about disruptive business models.

I googled the article and found that Wired magazine hosted a conference called “Disruptive by Design,” the first conference that I know of focused specifically on disruptive business models.  They have a video library of all of the speakers.

Two stood out.  The first was Wired’s editor-in-chief, Christopher Anderson, who is more famously known as the author of Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More.   He has introduced a new book: Free: The Future of a Radical Price, which was the primary topic of his speech. (You can get the e-book and audiobook free here.) He suggests that as things go from bricks to bits, and with the internet as a frictionless marketplace, you get perfect competition where prices fall to equal the marginal cost of a product.  Since the marginal cost of “bit-based” products (e.g. software) is nearly zero, he suggests that that they may eventually be free.  Using Google to search is free.  You can get free operating systems (e.g. Ubuntu).  And so on.  But he is not suggesting that this is a world of no profits. [Read the rest of this entry...]

Netflix: Another victim of the innovator’s dilemma?

[Since this was written in 2011, NetFlix escaped the "innovator's dilemma," something only a handful of companies have ever accomplished, by offering top-notch original programming like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, making "binge-watching" a part of our lexicon.] “I messed up and owe you an explanation.” That’s the first line of an email that millions of Netflix customers received in their inboxes recently. Before then, not many customers even new who Reed Hastings, the co-founder of NetFlix, was. For those that took the time to read the 671-word apology, they were likely disappointed, confused, or both. Netflix’s decision to separate subscriptions between their DVD and streaming businesses over a month ago created a huge backlash from both customers and analysts. In order to continue their current DVD and streaming service, Netflix customers would incur a 60% monthly fee increase. Many, including this author, decided to downgrade their service to streaming-only. After apologizing for “the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes,” Mr. Hastings goes on to explain that they had found that there were two separate and distinct markets for DVDs and streaming. [Read the rest of this entry...]

Do public/private global initiatives make a difference?

DANGOThe public and private sectors have introduced a plethora of initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide and bringing computers to underserved markets.

Intel launched the World Ahead program in 2006, a sweeping initiative to encompass all activities Intel was driving to bridge the digital divide.  Microsoft launched Unlimited Potential in 2007. AMD was ahead of the curve, introducing 50×15 in 2005.

International and regional development agencies have also gotten into the game.  The United Nations introduced the UN Global Alliance for ICT Development (UN GAID) in 2006. Africa had the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), which included bringing ICT to schools throughout Africa.

There are many more public and private initiatives, but I will use these few to answer the question: have these initiatives, having been in place for five years or more, made an impact accelerating ICT for Development?

My view?  Mixed. [Read the rest of this entry...]

Did you know …

20101016_WOC465… that more than half of the 20 richest women in the world are Chinese, according to the Shanghai-based Hurun Report. The list compiled its own findings with data from similar rankings from Forbes Magazine.  The top 3 on the list are from China. Some attribute this to the communist ethos of gender-neutrality.

Having read the book Three Swans, a moving biography by Jung Chang of her life and the lives of her grandmother and mother as they grew up in China in the 1900’s, I find these statistics remarkable.  I found it even more remarkable that when I mentioned this list in a work meeting with my Chinese work colleague, he told me Wu Yajun is his classmate’s wife from college.  It’s a small world, even in China.

What’s a country?

A few years ago, this author decided to count how many countries he had been to. The count was 45. But does anybody know what percentage that represents?

You would think that is a fairly straight-forward question. Shouldn’t the definition of a country be any land with a defined border with a functioning government? According to The Economist, what defines a country is not straight-forward at all.

  • The U.S. Department for Homeland Security, in its application for a visa, lists 251 choices for a country.
  • Registering for a Microsoft Hotmail account lists 242 countries.
  • There are 192 members of the United Nations.
  • Kosovo, a country the U.S. went to war to protect its sovereignty, has no internet domain, international football team, nor phone prefix. It has to rent its dialing codes from Monaco and Somalia.

How would you define a country?