2 big reasons for thinking the unthinkable

Many people use scenario planning as a tool for ensuring they are prepared for all eventualities. No doubt it is valuable in this manner, but there are two even bigger benefits of considering scenarios that are unthinkable:1. Losing the fear of deathIn business we mostly steer clear of consciously thinking through the consequences of total failure….

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3 unexpected ways the iPhone has made my world a better place

Putting the kids to bed My wife and I used to fight over who would take our daughter to bed. The loser was in for an hour of staring into space in a dark room whilst waiting for the gurgling and crying to be replaced with peaceful sleep. We still fight, but now it’s the…

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Can Africa create its own Silicon Valley?

Have you heard of the Barrosos Well effect? It refers to the strategy of focusing attention on areas where things are already happening spontaneously. For example: Focus your attention on an oil well that spurts into the sky with no technological assistance rather than a well that shows no such excitement.Based on this, are there…

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Yet another way the mobile web is saving the world

Have you noticed how people don’t lose their cool when kept waiting? In the old days, it wouldn’t take much of a delay for your average “very important and very busy” person to get angry at unexpected delays…Now, thanks to smartphones and 3G, every idle moment is welcomed as an opportunity to catch up on…

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The link between cultural complexity and innovation

Prof Cesar Hidalgo of MIT recently argued that a country’s level of economic complexity (and therefore wealth) is linked to its cultural complexity. By cultural complexity, he means the variety of “humanities” in a country, ie: theatre, movies, games, music, art, writing, religion, restaurants, etc.The theory goes that the reason America and France are amongst…

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SA is winning the currency war

(tongue in cheek post)Many publications are reporting that the USA has started a global currency “war” by printing more money, thereby accelerating inflation and weakening the US Dollar, allowing for stronger exports and the reduction of its national debt in real terms.The USA is made stronger by a weaker currency.It seems the South African government…

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3 reasons why teams fail

3 reasons why teams failI’ve just finished a short executive education course during which we had the obligatory team project, and having survived relatively unscathed I have some observations on why teams fail (MBA’s are famous for the unhappiness caused by bad team combinations!)1.             LeadershipEither the leadership is weak or there is no leadership. Both…

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How the middle class affects political unrest

Ishac Divan of the Harvard Centre for International Development has an interesting theory on the cause of the Egyptian revolution.After comparing stratified inequality data over the past couple of decades, he argues that the reason for the political unrest was not the growing inequality between the poor and the elite.The reason was rising inequality between…

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3 keys to maximising collaboration between people

The people must get along at a personal level. There must be a common language. Collaboration is maximized amongst people of the same discipline (this plays to the first 2 points). Ignore at your own risk.

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Start-ups vs Government on innovation

Comparing tech start-ups and the government is strange, I know. Nevertheless, having just finished a short course on economic development, I’m quite sure there are some parallels in the thinking of professors and civil servants in charge of the economy, and the thinking of the likes of Eric Ries of Lean Startup fame.The first thing…

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Using economic theory for innovation in your company

This post is an adaption of a theory know as The Product Space used by Hidalgo & Haussmann to describe economic complexity & innovation within a country.The company is a forest.The trees are areas of product knowledge (either datasets or individuals).The monkeys are the products.There are different types of trees; the “type” is determined by the productive…

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3 reasons government should pay attention to big business

 Dear government,Please don’t forget small business (i.e.: me), but pay attention to big business.Yours truly, Alan   This is a counter-intuitive statement, but it is true.If government is trying to spur entrepreneurship and create employment, it should spend more time helping big businesses.Why? Big business is the target market for most small to medium sized…

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