Drops from the Fire Hose – November 7, 2012

In Praise of Slow Mastery: 10 Great Achievements That Took Time — 99u

In an ideal world, the road from idea to reality is proven and predictable, with a distance made fathomable by visible benchmarks. But more frequently – especially in pursuit of less linear concepts like art, drastic innovation, or even paradigm shifts – time is mutable and you can’t project when completion will come.

Structure Your Presentation Like a Story — Harvard Business Review

After studying hundreds of speeches, I’ve found that the most effective presenters use the same techniques as great storytellers: By reminding people of the status quo and then revealing the path to a better way, they set up a conflict that needs to be resolved.

That tension helps them persuade the audience to adopt a new mindset or behave differently — to move from what is to what could be. And by following Aristotle’s three-part story structure (beginning, middle, end), they create a message that’s easy to digest, remember, and retell.

There’s no quit in Michael Porter — Fortune

Eight years after graduating from high school, he was teaching at the world’s No. 1 business school.

He already knew what the focus of his research would be. As an HBS student, he had absorbed “the practitioner view of competition,” but back then it didn’t include many general insights; each case was unique. As an economist, he understood “the more abstract view of competition that one saw in industrial economics,” and it was the opposite: Individual firms were all pretty much the same and not interesting. “It was the juxtaposition of these various kinds of training that made it sort of obvious what some of the rich opportunities were,” he says. So those were what he worked on.

He explained the results in Competitive Strategy, which quickly became the bestselling business book ever up to that time. Every company, he said, is subject to five forces: the competitors it currently faces, the threat of new competitors, the threat of substitutes for its products or services, the bargaining power of its suppliers, and the bargaining power of its customers. Within that environment, every company must choose a strategy, and there are only three: achieving the lowest costs, differentiating its products and services, and dominating a niche. Trying to do some of each — getting “caught in the middle” — prevents a company from realizing the benefits of any of these strategies, and as a result it will lose to competitors who choose just one.


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