Author Archives: Greg Satell

We Need To Accelerate Innovation

We Need To Accelerate Innovation

Here’s how… Look at any marvel of our technological age, whether it be an iPhone, a self driving car or a miracle cure and you’ll find three things: An academic theory, a government program and an entrepreneurial instinct. When it all works it is a wonder to behold, not only creating prosperity, but solving our most difficult problems in the process ...

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4 Questions Every Business Needs to Answer

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When Alfred Sloan conceived the modern corporation at General Motors, he based it on hierarchical military organizations.  Companies were split into divisions, each with their own leadership.  Authority flowed downwards and your rank determined your responsibility. Yet lately, those top-down structures are being called into question. Brian Robertson, whose new book Holacracy offers a well thought out alternative to traditional organizations, ...

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The Power of Story

Keys for Compelling Storytelling

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Institute for Advanced Study, the place where Einstein worked till his death in 1955.  His arrival there was a sort of a tipping point for America—after him the trickle of leading scientists coming from Europe became a flood—and the legend of the place is still very much intertwined with his. Of course, the Institute ...

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The Debate Between the US Government and the Tech Industry About Encryption, Explained

The Debate Between the US Government and the Tech Industry About Encryption, Explained

In an unusually contentious political season, there seems to be one thing that unites leaders from both parties: the need to thwart terrorists using encrypted messages. Everybody from President Obama and Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump and Jeb Bush are calling on the private sector to facilitate backdoors for security officials. The tech industry, for its part, has balked. A letter to ...

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It Takes More than a Big Idea to Change the World

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In 1882, just three years after he had almost literally shocked the world with his revolutionary lighting system, Thomas Edison opened his Pearl Street Station, the first commercial electrical distribution plant in the United States. By 1884 it was already servicing over 500 homes. Up till that point, electric light was mostly a curiosity. While a few of the mighty elite could ...

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Why Social Skills Are Trumping Cognitive Skills

Why Social Skills Are Trumping Cognitive Skills

From roughly the time of Jesus to Napoleon, life changed little. Then the industrial revolution replaced muscle power with steam power and human existence was transformed. Incomes, life expectancy and population, which had long been locked in Malthusian conflict, began to reinforce each other and rise in tandem. It’s hard to overestimate how profound that change was. Prosperity, rather than being tied ...

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Why Organizations Fail

A man stands outside a store advertising that it is going out of business in New York

A few weeks ago, my little girl came down with a case of strep throat. From there, things followed a predictable pattern.  My wife soon came down with it as well and then I did too. We took turns lying in bed unproductively, woozy from a high fever and struggling to swallow. It was a silly episode when you think ...

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The Next Frontier: Why innovation needs exploration

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  In Sapiens, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari argues that it was the exploratory mindset that led to European dominance over the world. Other empires, such as the Chinese and the Ottomans, had far greater military and economic power in the 18th century. Yet, it was the Europeans quest for understanding that made the difference. To explore, you first need ...

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Innovation Is The Only True Way To Create Value

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In The Outsiders, William Thorndike argues that the most essential skill for a manager is capital allocation. To prove his point, he profiles CEOs such as Henry Singleton of Teledyne and John Malone of TCI who, while not household names, achieved outsized returns by wisely deploying their firm’s resources. Thorndike also points out that most CEOs get their jobs not through exhibiting financial ...

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