The M-Shaped Strategy Weekly, 3 January 2015
I hope to be more disciplined about getting out a posting with clips or references from the things we've noticed during the week and that might be of interest to you. Let me know in the comments.
Imaginative distortion in architectural history – A very fascinating article on the largest stone block from antiquity ever, found during a period of quiet in the Syrian civil war. It's a 3 million pound megalith, carved out of stone in an ancient quarry near Baalbek, "Nobody seems to know on whose orders it was cut, or why, or how it came to be abandoned."
Capitalism and climate change – An interesting exchange of letters by Naomi Klein and Elizabeth Kolbert on the occasion of Kolbert's review of Klein's book.
Poverty and climate change – Related to the above, the Pope is preparing to weigh in.
The end of art as we know it? – There was a very good examination of the rise of "producerism" mad possible by digital expression might now be redefining the meaning or art and the artist. "What we’re now persuaded to consume, most conspicuously, are the means to create. And the democratization of taste ensures that no one has the right (or inclination) to tell us when our work is bad. A universal grade inflation now obtains: we’re all swapping A-minuses all the time, or, in the language of Facebook, 'likes.'"
The end of the design business as we know it? – There is a great respect for the power of design in corporate domains, now. But as corporations build internal design competencies, Wired magazine is concerned, observing that "design is increasingly critical to addressing issues that sit outside a single corporate mandate or organizational footprint." There is an interesting response here.
The end of the End of History? – A nice article on the evolution of Francis Fukuyama's thinking. "Though he still stands behind the assertion that liberal democracy is the eventual destination of history, he has qualified his argument and narrowed the scope of his ideological triumphalism, postponing the arrival of liberal democracy to the indefinite 'long run.' He would not, he tells me, use the same heightened rhetoric today that he used in 1989 to describe what he now calls a “historically contingent demand for greater political participation” that ensues as people become more prosperous and educated."
Where innovation thrives – It's about origins, apparently. "People with ideas flow from place to place, spreading entrepreneurship. The geography doesn’t matter. It just so happens that cities attract a lot of people born far away. Hence the assertion that density and cultural diversity foment creative behavior."
Strategy moves from terrains to trajectories – John Hagel, in a yet to be completed article, argues for developing strategy from a different perspective in a world of rapid change. "Rather than looking from the present out to the future, we need to look from the future back to the present to determine which actions will have the greatest impact and create the most economic value over time."
A field manual for design and planning – We were appreciative of Shane Parrish's reference to the U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. The discussion on planning and design was interesting and we offered our own thoughts.