Disruptive Leadership

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

Netflix: Another victim of the innovator’s dilemma?

“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...]

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?

Will the iPad disrupt the Kindle?

How many companies these days can create the buzz that Apple does when they announce a new product line? Having disrupted, transformed and gained leadership positions in the markets for music players and mobile phones, some are wondering if Apple will do the same to the markets for notebooks/netbooks and e-readers with it’s new iPad.

Steve Jobs certainly is targeting netbooks, stating at the iPad launch that “they’re not better at laptops than anything, they’re just cheaper.” CNet ran an interesting article, “10 things Netbooks still do better than an iPad.” Of these 10 reasons, I think the most interesting was the keyboard issue. While the iPad has a built-in touch keyboard similar to the one on the iPhone, it will be very difficult to use on your lap, on a table, or while you’re moving. Apple has provided an optional keyboard dock to address this, but at an additional cost.

[Read the rest of this entry...]

Rice paddies and culture

China_rice_paddies2If you haven’t read Outliers, or Malcom Gladwell’s previous books The Tipping Point and Blink, you are missing out on some of the most insightful, entertaining, and mind-opening dissections of human behavior.  In Outliers, Gladwell explains what makes a person extraordinarily successful.

Here is the Cliffs Note version:

  • You need a minimum level of smarts, but not “off-the-chart” IQ.
  • You have to put at least 10,000 hours of practice into your area of talent or expertise.
  • You have to be lucky, meaning born at the right place and the right time.

The last point I found most fascinating.  It is made of up several dynamics.   When were you born is crucial.  Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were born in the mid-50’s, allowing them to be at the right age when information technology was in its nascent stage of development.

But the “where were you born” dynamic that I found most interesting was Gladwell’s findings on the impact of culture.

[Read the rest of this entry...]