Author Archives: Greg Satell

How I Learned To Hack

How I Learned to Hack

The origins of the term “hack” are unusually rich and expansive.  Originally, it was a wholly pejorative term, meaning to work haphazardly.  When people called you a “talentless hack,” it meant that you were wholly unoriginal, cobbling together mediocre performance from the scraps of others’ work. Yet these same attributes, when applied to technology, came to represent the height of ...

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Innovation Starts…OR Ends with Mindset

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In her bestselling book Mindset, psychologist Carol Dweck argues that people who see their skills as a fixed set of strengths and weaknesses tend not to achieve much. On the other hand, those that see their skills as dynamic and changeable are able to continually grow their abilities and soar to great heights. Businesses are the same way. Most see their business ...

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How Innovative Companies Get their Best Ideas from Academic Research

great-minds

Since World War II, the United States has been an innovation superpower. In virtually every advanced field, whether it be information technology, biotechnology, agriculture or renewable energy, America holds a leading position. Other nations may challenge in one field or another, but no one can match its depth and breadth. To account for its success, many point to America’s entrepreneurial ...

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The Shift Economy

The Art Of The Shift

In the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall, both Russia and Poland embarked on remarkably similar journeys. Using the same western advisors, they privatized state-owned companies, implemented free market reforms and transformed their legal systems to compete more effectively in the world economy. Yet despite the nearly identical programs, the results couldn’t have been more different.  Poland today ...

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Stop Chasing The Last Big Thing

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Business in the digital age has become a seemingly neverending series of “next big things.” Whether it’s e-commerce, search engine optimization, social media, big data or something else, the pattern of firms struggling to adapt is as predictable as Gartner’s hype cycle. First there is widespread panic, then a rushed effort to get up to ...

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How to Build an Effective Culture

How To Build An Effective Culture

In Team of Teams, General Stanley McChrystal credits his focus on transforming military culture as key to turning the tide in Iraq. He writes that “the role of the leader was no more that of controlling puppet master, but of an empathetic crafter of culture.” He’s not alone.  Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly says, “Culture will beat scheme every day.” Former IBM ...

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How America Became Exceptional

dome of US Capitol building Washington DC with rippled American

In 1929, just before the stock market crash, Louis Bamberger and his sister, Caroline Bamberger Fuld, sold their department store in Newark to R.H. Macy and Company for $25 million ( $343 million in 2015 dollars). Grateful to the people of Newark for their support, they planned to endow a medical college in that city. Yet when they approached Abraham Flexner, the foremost authority ...

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Leaders Must Inspire AND Shape Networks

Leaders Must Inspire AND Shape Networks

In a classic Harvard Business Review article, Abraham Zaleznick contrasted two very different styles of authority. Managers he argued, take a rational approach and seek order and control.  Leaders, on the other hand, are more emotionally driven and seek to drive change. Every organization needs both.  Managers provide the continuity needed to execute efficiently and leaders drive the kinetic energy needed ...

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Four Things You Should Know About Platforms

Four Things You Should Know About Platforms

Steve Jobs didn’t want to build an app store.  As Walter Isaacson describes in his biography of Apple’s founder, the famously controlling Jobs was wary of the “bandwidth” needed to police a veritable army of third party developers. At first, he wouldn’t even discuss it. Yet eventually, even Jobs had to relent and the App store has become an enormous success.  Last ...

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The Uncertainty Problem

Businessman falling the Sky into a safty net

Business runs on certainty.  Investors want predictable profits and will punish companies that vacillate up and down.  Managers want accountable employees who they can trust to get things done.  Customers want to deal with firms that they can be sure will be around next week. When things are uncertain, penalties are imposed. Valuations tumble, people get fired, customers flee.  That’s ...

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