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Purchasing Power

To compare what you get for your money in different countries and cities, is an interesting thing to do. UBS publishes every third year since 1970 a report, where they investigate the differences. In August 2009 they released their latest “Prices and earnings report”. On page 11 in the report you’ll find a very specific index where you’ll learn how many minutes you have to work before you can afford a Big Mac, 1 kg of bread or rice or an iPod nano. The Economist published an article from the report regarding the alternative Big Mac index.

Just look at the figures and reflect upon the huge differences there are…

UBS Prices and earnings

The Economist

18th century and copyright

Things take time as the old saying says. The British philosopher David Hume stated back in the 18th century that a society with unlimited resources doesn’t need ownership or right of possession.

Today this statement is probably even more appropriate with the discussion of intellectual properties and file sharing.

So, do we need to have copyright in a society with almost unlimited resources?

Is patent something regressive or is it progressive?

David Hume

To change patterns – figuratively and literally

To change a pattern, a behaviour or a habit is something many peole describes as one of the hardest things to do. To be creative and to think different is something many companies strive for, when developing new solutions for their customers. We know today that our brains like to do things over and over and that the connections get more solid the more often we do them. E.g. the more often you get angry, you learn the brain to be angry and the only way to outcompete the “angry connections”, is to create new connections which gradually will replace the old ones.

A good example of a pattern interruption and how to change patterns both literally and figuratively, and also something that tell us about our way of living is the phenomenon of  “Reverse Graffiti”. In a lot of cities in the NA, SA and Europe people have made their reverse graffiti footprints.

The professor of dirt

Dirty wall

Presupposition # 5: “The winner doesn’t take it all”

Are you in to trotting or to cycling? Then you know that the best position is just behind the # 1.

What about the old saying; the winner takes it all? Of course it’s still relevant however there are a lot of examples in business where the number two position is the better one. Sometimes when the challenging company reach the number one position, it’s not prepared for it.
The classical example is Avis with their “We try harder” from 1962. When they became number one the company changed their pay off, and the perception of the customer became someting different. This wasn’t the challenging company they were used to. In a very short time Herz outperformed Avis. Avis went back to the We try harder motto, became prosperous and they still use it in these days.

This phenomenon has been noticed before. Back in 2003 a Swedish author Thomas Ahréns wrote a book (translation directly from the Swedish version) called “To grow with success – the number two wins”. Recently there has been a new book released which focuses on the issue called “Secondomics” by Graham Bower where Apple is scrutinised.

Why do we have indulgence with the challenging companies attitudes and products?
Why couldn’t e.g. Microsoft have made the “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” commercials?
Why do we have these presuppositions?

Avis first ad 1962

Avis second ad 1962

Avis third ad 1962

Development and change

The aggregated amount of information in the world, is as we all know today, endless. Some claim that the amount of new technical information is doubling every second year. This means that for students starting a technical degree at a university, half of what they learned year one is outdated at the end of year three. Others claim that we are met by more than 4000 messages each day and that a week’s NY Times contains almost as much information as a person came across in her lifetime, during the 18th century.

During these times described by some as times of extremely rapid change, what have happened with; how we communicate, how we teach, how we learn and how we internalise things?

How have our brains developed?

Did you know

Strategies and intentions

Business strategies are like fashion. There are trends and tendencies in everything. 20 years ago you should diversify and have vertical integration. 10 years ago you should concentrate and focus on your core business and outsource processes which wasn’t.

Today you have companies which are extremely successful by focusing on their core business and companies in the same line of business which are suffering using the same strategy. You have competitors who are prosperous by using the opposite strategy e.g. vertical intergration.

Examples of this are Apple who as we all know make hardware, software (programmes) and OS, that is to say is vertically integrated, and Dell who makes hardware, servers and networking products, that is to say is more focused.

How can two competitors be almost as prosperous while following totally different strategies?

How can we see so contrasting results for companies in the same line of business using the same strategy?

The most obvious isn’t always obvious…

One of the oldest ways to express one’s feelings and thoughts is the lyrics (from the greek word Lurikos; “singing from the lyre”). Over the years there have been an immense amount of splendid lyrics and song titles. One brilliant and almost forgotten one is not that old but remind all of us about why or why we don’t succeed with what we set about to do, that is to say reminds us about our intentions or phrased in another way; the state of minds.
The song is from 1984 and the title “you can’t get what you want (till you know what you want)” which is so obvious that we have to read it twice to understand it…

Joe Jackson

The world of ranking

Remember Hi Fidelity? The book written by Nick Hornby about the guy who remains in the late teens even though he’s 30 years, running a record store and ranking everything from the best guitar solo to the most beautiful female voice.

Apparently we are all like Rob (the main character in Hi Fidelity). We love to make lists and rankings and the demand seems to be infinite, since almost everything is ranked today and most often also celebrated through an event where the results is presented.

Here’s another of all these lists. Business Week has listed the world’s best tech companies based on the following criterias:  shareholder return, return on equity, total revenues, and revenue growth. Those with the best aggregate ranking go to the top of the list.

Why do we have the faiblesse for all rankings?

What’s the driving force behind them?

Is it a male phenomenon or is it equal between the sexes?

Business Week’s “best tech companies”

Communication

A lot of persons claim that one of the most difficult things to do is to express feelings openly and freely, in ways that do not hurt other beings. Social medias is obviously a great opportunity to express one’s thoughts, but what are the underlying causes to all the threats, evil and malicious things that people writes on e.g. blogs?

How can we create teams where people dare to ask if they do not understand a situation, instead of being silent and making their own conclusions?

How can we create teams where we will have skilled members who can express what they would like to do, without hurting others?

What can we as managers do to uphold this condition, while we’ve achieved it?

Intention

As the old saying says: “If you have the wrong map, you are unlikely to reach your destination”.

Which map do you follow?

Which map does your project follow?

Which map does your unit follow?

Which map does your company follow?

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