Drops from the Fire Hose – November 6, 2012

Generation Flux Salon: How Do You Measure The ROI Of A Risk? (How Do Silicon Valley And Hollywood Approach It Differently?) — Fast Company

It has often been said on this site that there can be no success without the willingness to take a risk. But how do you evaluate the potential ROI of a risk? Do Silicon Valley and Hollywood approach risk evaluation–and risk in general–differently?

Nate Silver on Predicting the Unpredictable — Harvard Business Review

So there are periods in the past where you have an exponential increase in the amount of information available to people. And one of them was in the 15th century, when the printing press was invented. And we went from a book costing literally about $25,000 to produce in today’s figures, to $50 or $100. So it was actually a little bit expensive still, but affordable.

And so people finally said, well, maybe we should actually write down some of the ideas that we have, and could mass produce them. And so the Protestant Reformation was very much tied in to the printing press, where Luther’s theses were reproduced 250,000 times, which was an amazing number relative to the population of Europe back then. That would be a bestseller even today.

So people have something down on paper. They can testify, now this idea is right, not this other idea that I learned. People tend to get very dug in, certainly about religion, but also about a lot of things. And so you had– basically, this is obviously a gross simplification, but the printing press helped to perpetuate 100 years of holy war in Europe, indirectly at least. And then we kind of realized all the benefits to science and commerce.

The Perils Of Ignoring The Softer Side Of Management — Fast Company

My philosophy is not based just on tolerating ambiguity and paradox, but sometimes on proactively creating them. Of course I took many decisions on instinct. But the management systems within Zain went all the way from the budget to setting specific objectives down to teams of three or four. The balance was unusual–perhaps 60 percent on culture and 40 percent on quantified “business” targets.

Optimal control is no control. If staff align their mission in life with the mission of the organization, and go about their life appreciating the complexities around this mission, that’s the highest level of discipline. They wake up and think: “How am I going to conquer the world today?”

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