MEREDITH Strategy + Design

We design the places and spaces where people come together to do great work

The M-Shaped Strategy Weekly – on the no-hour workweek and other items of interest

A few of the things that we found interesting this week

The story of the success of Slack, the team messaging platform, may carry some good lessons for others in other businesses – responding to customer issues and delivering fixes immediately, paying attention to the unique metrics that define your business, keeping the user interaction simple and seamless, amplifying what makes you special, teach users why they need your product, and make active listening a core competency.

This excerpt from Walter Isaacson's book, The Innovators, makes the case that innovation is not a sudden breakthrough but is instead the result of multiple layers and iterations of development by  different people leveraging the work of others who had preceded them.

One of the emerging models of startup support is the concept of venture building. Venture builders pool ideas from their own internal resources and networks and then fund the ones that seem to have the most promise. "In its most basic form, the venture-building company is a holding company that owns equity in the various corporate entities it helped created. The most successful venture builders are, however, much more operational and hands-on than holding companies."

The most responsive companies are the ones that place purpose over profit, empower rather than control, appreciate emergent processes over planning, leverage networks rather than hierarchies, value adaptivity over efficiency and transparency over privacy, at least according to the Undercurrent List of the Most Responsive Companies of 2014.

There seems to be a lot of concern these days, initially voiced by Peter Theil, that "innovation" no longer connotes big changing moves. Nicholas Carr, however, believes its just that today's innovations are taking place at a different place in the Hierarchy of Innovation.

If you are trying to grow your business, Uber and Buzzfeed offer some good strategies – 1. Centralize data science but decentralize data gathering and decision-making; 2. Build a “closed-loop culture”; 3. Understand the accounting system for your industry; 4. Test and question everything, even your business model; and 5. Build internal tools.

I would have thought that the freight industry wold be among the most efficient by now. Apparently not, so a startup called Transfix is trying to become the "Uber for trucks,"

The problem, apparently, is embedded in the terms – "management" is vertical and "agile" is horizontal. That is, in organizations seeking to reap the benefits of agile development processes, management anxiety builds. Agile uses "self-organizing teams that work in an iterative fashion and deliver continuous additional value directly to customers."

White plastic chairs – "the most perfectly designed product" – are taking over the world.

And it looks like the 40-hour week is again under examination. We hope yours was good!