Drops from the Fire Hose – November 23, 2012

Decide or Perish: How to make the right call — Forbes

It should go without saying that you want your decision to be an ethical one.  So if your ethical compass needs a bit more calibrating, think of Emmanuel Kant. His “categorical imperative” is a useful thought experiment to help you decide if you’re doing the right thing.

Here’s how it works: imagine that your decision, once you make it, becomes a universal law that forces everyone in your situation to act just as you did.  For example, let’s say someone parks in your reserved space.  You must decide between leaving a firm note and slashing the guy’s tires.  If you leave a note, from then on, everyone who parks in the wrong space will get a note on his windshield.   On the other hand, if you opt to slash, all parking space usurpers – including those who did so by accident or because of an emergency — will return to a car with slashed tires.  In which world would you rather park?

The rise of the African consumer — McKinsey Quarterly

Our research has broad implications for consumer-facing companies considering entering or expanding their presence in Africa. For one, they should concentrate on the countries and cities with the most promising markets. In addition, innovative product and business-model strategies are required to meet the needs of highly value-conscious consumers. To ensure successful execution, companies must address distribution challenges, invest in consumer research since data are scarce, and find and retain as many talented Africans as they can. And their approach to marketing should take into account the new reality of the digital consumer.

Learning to Love Volatility — Wall Street Journal

Fragility is the quality of things that are vulnerable to volatility. Take the coffee cup on your desk: It wants peace and quiet because it incurs more harm than benefit from random events. The opposite of fragile, therefore, isn’t robust or sturdy or resilient—things with these qualities are simply difficult to break.

To deal with black swans, we instead need things that gain from volatility, variability, stress and disorder. My (admittedly inelegant) term for this crucial quality is “antifragile.” The only existing expression remotely close to the concept of antifragility is what we derivatives traders call “long gamma,” to describe financial packages that benefit from market volatility. Crucially, both fragility and antifragility are measurable.

A Better Way to Brainstorm in Groups — The Management Tip

Brainstorming has gotten a bad rap for leading to uncreative and even unhealthy consensus. But getting together to try out ideas and come up with new ones can promote collaboration and creativity, if done right. Here’s how:

  • Assemble a diverse team. Bring together people from different disciplines, cultures, and age groups. Be sure that some members have necessary and relevant expertise, but that some are naïve about the issue at hand.
  • Be clear about who decides. If everyone in the room has to agree, you’ll gravitate toward the lowest common denominator. Name the person who is ultimately responsible and establish that everyone else is there to offer up ideas and build on others.
  • Let ideas live. At the end of the session, don’t kill the ideas that didn’t make it. Sometimes these lingering suggestions will make it into final concepts. Allow people to pick one and develop it further.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s