MEREDITH Strategy + Design

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

The M-Shaped Strategy Weekly for April 7, 2017

This has not been a project week for me, but a strategy week. 

That is, if I were asked to show the evidence of some concrete movement forward this week, I don’t know what I’d touch. 

Yet, I’ve made a number of moves this week that have felt substantial and, in my metrics, tangible. Each move has put in motion a perception, an approach, a proposal, an event, a meeting, or a resonating communication that I am confident will result in profound positive impact for our clients or ourselves in some near future. 

I hope I’ll get to discussion those moves in the blog sometime soon, But, in the meantime, here are a few of the things in the outside world that caught our attention this week. 


“Somehow we know by instinct that outsize buildings cast the shadow of their own destruction, and are designed from the first with an eye to their later existence as ruins … No one who has threaded through the metal detectors and endless layers of security can fail to notice the sense of desperation that is the modern skyscraper — an awareness of its physical tenuousness, the overwhelming desire of its bones to return to earth” [Link]

Is coworking really about reducing the cost of office space? HSBC supposedly saved $1B going to WeWork. This is an otherwise undeveloped reference in this report, but what does it mean? If any of you have any more information on this, please let me know. Does this mean that HSBC can't negotiate a lease better than WeWork? Does this mean that HSBC told a thousand people that they had to compete for 300 workstations at WeWork? Does this mean that WeWork can't negotiate subleases? Is this a story that erodes the WeWork brand, putting them back into the Regus world? Or is this a fake news story? [Link]

Success formula? “I’m not a businessman. I didn’t start a business, I started with an idea.” We might assume that all businesses start with an idea. We might also assume that at some point along the way, otherwise inspired people had to give in to managers. Scaling is clearly a big problem and, it seems, only big ideas (or big egos) can hold professional management off. [Link]

"Differentiation should be a prime motivator of any strategy; firms should always look to find an edge. But too often CEOs find themselves stuck in what I call an innovation plateau. They fall into chronic sameness, an inertia driven by a feeling that they must focus on cost, even cheapness, to remain competitive". (Alejandro Ruelas-Gossi [Link]

Is Fifth Avenue losing the luster of Fifth Avenue?  [Link]

Related? Malls are dying as shoppers move online and begin to embrace smaller, niche merchants. [Link]

New self-driving technology threatens an American way of life. [Link]

Autonomy and electrification will have bigger impacts on the world than you might expect. [Link]

Regarding cars, electrification and autonomy, “it's also useful, and perhaps more challenging, to think about second and third order consequences” [Link]

Autonomy drives a huge expansion in the auto market. The auto industry in Michigan is valued at $57 billion annually. Globally, the industry is valued at $3 trillion. Projections for the shared-use/mobility sector are somewhere around $10 trillion. [Link]

Data should be generative, not conclusive. [Link]

Recall the famous Sherlock Holmes story about the dog that didn’t bark [Link]

Parkorman, concepts for a walkway through the trees and redefining the urban park experience [Link]

8 photos showing why RCR Architects won the Pritzker Prize [Link]

Cities, of course, have always enjoyed outsized prominence in national economies, because density and agglomeration and general creative ferment do matter. But there are healthy degrees of prominence and unhealthy degrees, and America has shifted decisively toward the latter. [Link]

The “Trump Series” at the LATimes [Link]

The faster growing companies, and the fastest shrinking [Link]

The problem is obvious: it’s not clear what “artificial intelligence” means [Link]

When everything, absolutely everything, in your life is used for advertising [Link]

Internet Noise, a very clever device to mask your online activity in a time  when government conceals its secrets while commercializing yours.  [Link]

“Detroit’s future requires connecting the worlds of design, technology and innovation to neighborhoods.”  [Link]

A new report from Navigant Research shows two of the ‘Big Three’ Detroit auto companies, Ford and General Motors, ahead of auto and tech rivals based in Silicon Valley and Germany. [Link] and [Link]