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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Harvard Business Review's 10 Breakthrough Ideas for 2010: Innovation

#6 Innovation: A Faster Path from Lab to Market: Removing the technology licensing obstacle (by Litan and Mitchell). To make sure that researchers at universities got their inventions to the marketplace faster, Congress passed a bill that set up technology licensing offices on university campuses. Ironically, these intended facilitators have in some cases become obstacles and bottlenecks and have inhibited the very research-to-market goals originally intended.

The Breakthrough Idea: Simply amend the Bayh-Dole Act and allow professors to chose the technical help they need to bring their inventions to market as soon as possible.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Harvard Business Review's 10 Breakthrough Ideas for 2010: Energy and Environment

#5 Energy Alternative. A Market Solution for Achieving “Green”: Financing that encourages building retrofits (by Jack Hidary). It’s not nearly as difficult to get people interested in building green projects, but retrofitting an existing structure to make it “green” is another matter. The costs of retrofitting already standing construction can be prohibitive. Indeed, institutional investors have the money but not the patience and heart for the risk of small project failures with no risk mediation. Thus, these projects go wanting.

The Breakthrough Idea: Communities should offer Property Assessed Clean Energy Bonds (PACE Bonds). Such PACE Bonds are debt instruments issued by a municipality and backed by property tax liens whose owners take PACE loans from the bond pool to retrofit their buildings. In the end, you get increased property values, lowered monthly utility rates, and create new jobs. Not bad!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

HBR's 10 Breakthrough Ideas for 2010 from: Pharma


#4 Idea: Pharmaceuticals. Getting the Drugs We Need: Simple standards would spur innovation (by Bonabeau, Bingham, and Schacht).

As big pharma hunts down the next blockbuster drugs like Lipitor, the cost of bringing such a drug to market is staggering. Also, generic drugs are coming to market faster. And while this is going on, more boutique pharma companies are producing drugs targeted at smaller more focused markets.

The Breakthrough Idea: One way to make a difference: Create a common standard for sharing drug asset data that would unleash tremendous innovation. The reason: Such data is important and each company has idiosyncratic ways of collecting, storing, and using this information. Thus, any standardization could lead to large scale leveraging for all pharma.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

HBR's 10 Breakthrough Ideas for 2010: Finance

#3. Finance: What the Financial Sector Should Borrow: A military approach to keeping the economy safe (by Lawrence Candell). In the world of national defense, to stay ahead of emerging threats, the federal government invests in federally funded organizations (Federally Funded Research and Development—FFRD’s) like Mitretech, Mitlabs, and others. The author, who works at MIT labs in Lincoln, Mass., suggests the same approach for another important national security area: Finance.

The Breakthrough Idea: To prevent another financial meltdown like 2008, the author suggests: “Let’s federally fund an R&D center that, borrowing from the best practices of defense research centers, could design, analyze, prototype and troubleshoot financial innovations, making sure they promoted our [collective] economic security and prosperity.” Pretty good idea I’d say!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

10 Breakthrough Ideas for 2010: Medicine

#2. Medicine: The Technology That Can Revolutionize Health Care: And it’s not high cost of high tech (by Ronald Dixon). Breakthroughs in medicine are often slow in coming and expensive. However, that need not be the case. Simple, cheap and fast technologies could revolutionize health care, especially as the population ages and becomes more immobile.

The Breakthrough Idea: Physicians can positively impact patient health care with several simple virtual technologies that will eliminate costly procedures and guarantee much improved healthcare of an aging population. The author suggests several simple techniques: 1) Use email with patients to both transmit and monitor information (get and send data); 2) Use remote teleconferencing (like Skype); and 3) Use an intermediated device like a kiosk (as in a shopping mall) that collects blood pressure, pulse and respiration. Following those simple techniques, the author maintains that as much as 60% of office visits could be eliminated!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

10 Breakthrough Ideas for 2010: Leadership

#1. Leadership: What Really Motivates Workers: Understanding the power of progress (by Theresa Amabile and Steven Kramer). When surveyed about employee motivation, most leaders will tell you that recognition, financial incentives, and other similar leadership hygiene factors. WRONG. After a multi-year study of hundreds of knowledge works from a variety of venues, the authors studied over 12,000 daily journal entries tracking when employees felt motivated or not. Their unequivocal finding: The top motivator of performance is (drum roll, please…): Progress! When people felt that they were making headway and obstacles were being removed from their path (by leaders), they felt motivated. And the opposite was also true. On those days where they felt like they were spinning their wheels their motivation and mood suffered.

The Breakthrough Idea: As a leader, keep the ball rolling for direct reports and first do no harm! In short, grease the skids and don’t put up roadblocks if you want to motivate people. “When workers sense they’re making headway, their drive to succeed is at a peak.” Incentives are nice but don’t motivate like basic progress toward a goal.

NOTE: From Jan-Feb. 2010 Harvard Business Review. Let me know what you think!

Breakthrough Ideas for 2010: Harvard Business Review

The January-February 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review presents a list of breakthrough ideas compiled by the editors in conjunction with The World Economic Forum. These ideas range from health care to nation building, which ideas the editors believe would make the world better if people got behind them. So, over the next two weeks, I’ll discuss each one and hope that one or several will appeal to you.

NOTE: I strongly invite your candid feedback that I will send to the editors. Currently, I serve on a HBR Advisory Council for the Review to give them regular feedback on the magazine.

Also, readers should know that on my blog I review selected books for the Harvard Business Press and other publishers--only those books that I consider of high value of the varied selection sent to me to review.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Final Words: My Kindle

--You can search the heck out of the content using Find, My Items, Store, and Google.
--It has a killer dictionary built in that automatically defines any word you set sic it on…like a dog with a bone. Sometimes a little annoying when the cursor sits on simple words like “dog” or “bone!”
--You can shop for new books, periodicals, etc. knowing that you’re usually paying about a third of the regular cost of the book.
--As mentioned before, you get to read a sample chapter from a book you might have an interest in.
--I suggest buying the leather carrying case…well worth the money.
--In short, go out and get one of these things…you’ll be glad you did. A reminder: I do not own Amazon stock, but I wish the heck I did!

Friday, January 22, 2010

What I Don’t Like about My Kindle


As much as I like my Kindle, and I do, there are some things that need to get fixed:

--No Index: You can’t click on an index in the back of the digital book and get to particular topic/page.
--No pages for traditional quoting, only sections. Need to figure this one out for academic and legit critique purposes.
--Sometimes you hit the 5-way and end up at some part of the book you don’t want...like at a new chapter.
--The "find furthest part of book" feature did not work. So, remembering roughly what section you’re on is important.
--I love the reader, however, often it’s robotic sounding…and cuts up words.
--Clipping limit: There is a limit to how much you can clip with certain books. However, that magic number unknown to the reader…frustrating as hell.
--My screen broke. AND, Amazon is replacing with a new Kindle; all I do is send the old one back. Very good service from them. Can't ask for more.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Kindle Series: Organizing Content

On the Kindle, you can do all the stuff you can in a real book: highlight, add notes, bookmark/ dog ear a page, and clip out some text—all done electronically. This takes a little practice but shortly you get the drift and it becomes much faster than doing it by hand AND you get to transfer the data very quickly…with the speed of a click. For the particulars on how to do all this (in the simplest form I’ve seen), click this link.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Kindle: Organize Your Content

Organizing Kindle Content: You can get books, including free samples of any book; periodicals, both single issues as well as a subscription; magazines; blogs that are regularly posted and purged periodically; Audio books (without all the discs to deal with); and personal docs…sent via Amazon’s WhisperNet for which you pay a nominal fee to download documents from your computer or email sent to your kindle account…something that’s part of the process to allow you to send things to your Kindle.

This is the FOURTH post of several this week about the Kindle.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Kindle: Third Post

Why a Kindle?

Frankly, the Kindle is just a far more efficient way to read. It holds up to 1,500 books! Everything is, well, electronic. So you can clip and paste, download your notes, dog ear pages, underline stuff—just like always—but the transfer to other mediums like Word, blogs, Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook is lighting fast. So, you can share knowledge quickly—as a teacher for me that’s very important. And you can even listen to it. It has a passable reader in either a man’s or woman’s voice. So, if you’re on the elliptical or treadmill, just turn it on and read 30-40 pages as you workout. Not bad…at all!

This is the THIRD post of several this week about the Kindle.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Kindle: Second Post

What’s a Kindle? By now most folks know about the Kindle, but simply put it’s an electronic notebook and reader. You can download periodicals, books, blogs, and even send yourself a long document to read on it--a feature I like a lot. And, it has a text reader...not bad for the elliptical trainer. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it if you want a more formal, technical cut at it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Kindle

This is the SECOND post of several this week about the Kindle.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Kindle Series: First Post

This week I’ll be reviewing Amazon’s Kindle. I’ve been eying Amazon’s Kindle for some time—taking me longer to acquire than most technical advances in the past. I tend to be an early technology adopter. However, have been a book writer and reader for many years, and guess I want to hold on to what I know—the look, feel and even the smell of a new book. But a couple of months ago I bought a Kindle for me and my tech guy, Dean. I’ve made it a practice to always make sure that he and I have the same technology. It makes life much easier, besides he’s a great guy who deserves any presents I could give him. Finally, let me be clear about this, I think the Kindle is the future of publishing and will be as ubiquitous as the laptop and the cellphone!

P.S. I do not own stock in Amazon, but I wish I did!

This is the FIRST post of several this week about the Kindle.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Gen X: Final Words

I love the last paragraph of this book addressed to Gen X'ers: “Whether you take on formal leadership roles or voice your perspectives as senior contributors, I hope you will use your influence to create organizations that are humane and worthy. You deserve to work in places that you respect and feel good about, doing work that you care about. The world needs a breed of adults, able to acknowledge the complexity and legitimate diversity of views and yet find constructive paths forward. I hope all of you will take heart and find both hope and satisfaction in this challenge. This is your generation …and your time.”

Friday, January 8, 2010

Gen X: Branching Out


To celebrate the launch of this New Year, 2010, this week I will review What’s Next, Gen X? (Tamara Erickson, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010). This is the SEVENTH Post:

Branching Out. The author explores alternative workplaces and portfolio careers. She describes three alternative work setting for X’ers who by their nature want more control over their own destiny as well as express their creativity, while tending to family demands:

1. The Alternative Workplace: X’ers can move down to a smaller company and take on a larger role—from a manager of a large company to the COO of a smaller one. This also can offer an equity position for the X’er. Another alternative is for X’ers to work on an independent contractor basis that also provides, “autonomy, flexibility, and freedom from corporation lockstep.”

2. The Entrepreneurial Path: the author quotes Thomas Malone, a professor at MIT who predicts a golden age for the entrepreneur, while offering a cautionary note that only 1 in 10 succeed. To mitigate this statistic, the author recommends: a good idea, a good plan, tangible resources (right skills and the money to back them up), and intangible support (a great network and advisors).

3. Portfolio Careers: Keeping several back up options, like taking on a side job in addition to your day job! This approach can provide the groundwork for a future career change…a hedge against the entrepreneur failure rate, as it were. The author warns in this arena: Don’t take on more than you can be very successful at, make sure your day job and the outside work have complementary “crunch” periods so you’re not doing too much crunching at the same time, build in contingency time…in case, and as in the entrepreneurial endeavor—plan well, do market research, enlist advisers and the like.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Gen X: Managing Up

To celebrate the launch of this New Year, 2010, this week I will review What’s Next, Gen X? (Tamara Erickson, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010). This is the SIXTH Post:

Managing Up: I found this sub chapter one of the more useful in the book because it explained how X’ers could truly survive and thrive, especially as they worked for Boomers. The author cautions X’ers not to assume that Boomers will have great insight into what you want, largely because X’ers have already proven to be a challenge to the values that Boomers hold dear, like corporate competitiveness or a work-comes-first philosophy. So, she offers a few simple but effective tactics to “manage up”:

1. Understand how your boss is being measured by his or her boss. This is like starting with the end in mind. Your relationship to your boss is singly the most important one you have, largely because s/he can terminate the relationship. So anything you do that adds value to your manager’s success will only help your relationship. P.S. Let them take credit—even if you have to bite your tongue…and many of you will have to do just that!

2. Clearly communicate what you want. Be precise and only tell your manager your desires after you’ve built up a bank account of goodwill from your good works…not before, or else your manager will take it as an insult. Also, know that managers are not mind readers. They’ll never know what you really want unless you tell them.

3. Communicate your success. Often X’ers hold back and believe it’s their boss’s job to notice such things. Think again. Most executives are just trying to survive the often-shark-infested waters of corporate hierarchy. If you want them to know about your successes—you MUST tell them if only to keep a list for performance rating time. You definitely want a longer list of positives than the inevitable negatives that come with just doing your job.

4. Make giving you what you want easy for your boss. You need to decide what your brand offering to your boss is exactly. If you want him/her to believe you’re a real deliverer of the goods—then make sure you’re relentless about delivering quality—on time and on budget. Consistent with that brand value you deliver, you can ask for a perk consistent with that, like more job flexibility.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gen X: Surviving and Thriving

To celebrate the launch of this New Year, 2010, this week I will review What’s Next, Gen X? (Tamara Erickson, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010). This is the FIFTH post:

Surviving and Thriving for X’ers. Because about 95% of X’ers will be working in organizations for others—especially Boomers, who not only have a different work philosophy but also a propensity to hang on to their power, best to learn survival techniques sooner rather than later. Erickson offers several tips for increasing effectiveness at work:

1. Play to your strengths. Nobody ever succeeded by only shoring up their weaknesses. The way to get world class at a sport or a talent is to identify what your strengths are, communicate them to others, understand your liabilities and try to limit them, and know the difference between them both.

2. Create the Context for Your Success: Because work is a tightly woven social construct, X’ers, like all of us, must figure out the social framework of the company. This demands that we create and maintain a host of social relationships in order to get the support needed to have professional success.

3. Influence the Organization: The smartest people rarely become the CEOs of the world. Rather, leaders tend to come from the ranks of people who can discern the corporate rules (both written and unwritten), as well as the values, beliefs, characteristic of their particular organization. Thus, diagnosing the culture and working within it, makes X’ers more likely to be successful.

4. Understand each role you play: Things change! Now there’s a universal if ever I saw one. The key is can X’ers change as well? The role you play one day may be different the next as organizations shift and change. Understand a new role and allowing yourself the freedom to switch to it is not only helpful but healthy in corporate life.

Monday, January 4, 2010

GenX: What's Ahead

To celebrate the launch of this New Year, 2010, this week I will review What’s Next, Gen X? (Tamara Erickson, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010). This is the FOURTH post:

What’s Ahead for X’ers (and the rest of us too): Technology, the democratization of knowledge, and access to people has re-created the world as we know it now and in the future. So, here’s what the author Erickson sees as changes for the organization and workers:
  • Innovation will be the key to keep up with rapid change.
  • Strategy will be replaced by continual experimentation to keep pace with hyper-change.
  • Corporate success will be based on sustainability.
  • Chain of command will give way to democratic process.
  • Results will replace hours (task vs. time). And we will be working less hours.
  • Status titles will be less important.
  • Schedules (time off and work) will be much more flexible…weekends, per se, will disappear.
  • Managers will fashion systems that encourage employee engagement.
  • Managers will function more like project managers (and cheerleaders).
  • Careers won’t be linear or continuous. Also, people won’t retire at a specific age.
  • Leaders will have to become much more like coaches than like evaluators.
  • Individuals will customize their work experience. Much more negotiation about what and how things get done.
  • Leaders will have to be flexible.
  • Learning and education will become core to any company that remains competitive.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Gen X: What GenX'ers Want

To celebrate the launch of this New Year, 2010, this week I will review What’s Next, Gen X? (Tamara Erickson, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010). This is the THIRD post:

Erickson lays out some simple X’er wants: Self reliance, money (mainly for self reliance and sense of security), being good parents, having good friends, free to choose how to spend their time, and meaningful, rewarding and engaging work.

She observes that due to being sandwiched between the Boomers, who it appears will only retire kicking and screaming and the Y’s who want to be executives on the third or fourth day at work—many X’ers suffer from “middlescence” or being stuck in the middle. Thus, she notes many X’ers can at times suffer from the 3 B’s (my term, not hers): Burned out, Bottlenecked and Bored.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Gen X: A Distinct Generation

To celebrate the launch of this New Year, 2010, this week I will review What’s Next, Gen X? (by Tamara Erickson, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010). This is the SECOND post:

Erickson discusses what constitutes a “generation,” how they’re programmed, and how specifically X’ers can move forward in their lives, given their “sandwiched” position.

A generation, according to Erickson, is “…a group of people, who, based on their age, share not only a chronological location in history but also the experiences that accompany it.” She argues that who people are now/today is a direct corollary of what they have collectively experienced personally and culturally as teens. She bases her opinions on Swiss biologist and psychologist Jean Piaget, known widely for his theories and research on child development. So, she concludes on this basis with some observations about X’ers, who have:
  • A gift for detecting rhetoric (BS)
  • A healthy distrust of organizations
  • Strong survival skills
  • Great personal networks
  • A way of operating globally and digitally
  • Are looking for alternative roads forward
  • A tendency to be free agents
  • Are entrepreneurial, yet pragmatic
  • Are dedicated to being good parents
Here’s her take on when the various generations were born:

Traditionalists: 1928-45

Boomers: 1946-1964

X’ers: 1965-1979

Y’s: 1980-1995

Re-Generations: 1996

Friday, January 1, 2010

GenX and the New Year

To celebrate the launch of the New Year, 2010, this week I will review What’s Next, Gen X? (by Tamara Erickson, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010).

This is an excellent primer for GenX’ers (ages 30-44 in 2009). I strongly recommend purchasing this book. I’m giving a copy to my Gen X daughter!

Sandwiched between the hyper-competitive Boomer generation and the idealistic Y generation, sit the GenX’ers, those folks between 30-44 years old. I guess one reason I like X'ers so much is that a) I have a GenX daughter, and b) they’re the ones who will be picking out the nursing homes for us Boomers! Beyond that, I’ve found X’ers to be creative, technically savvy, and entrepreneurial. And, most are unwilling to wait for Boomers—many of whom will seemingly NEVER retire.

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