Author Archives: Greg Satell

How America Became Exceptional

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

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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Transforming Healthcare from Within

How One Woman Is Working To Transform The Healthcare System From Within The successful decoding of the human genome in 2003 was a historic achievement.  Not only because it unlocked the biological code to life, but also because it marked a new fusion of life sciences and information technology, using powerful computers and analytical techniques to multiply scientists’ efforts many times ...

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The Tony Soprano Problem

The Tony Soprano Problem

Tony Soprano, the heavy-handed mafia boss from the famous TV show, was a master of coercion.  Through violence, extortion and bribery he rose to the top of his industry, leaving competitors in his wake.  Despite the high employee turnover in his organization, he achieved attractive margins. Yet sensing that he could benefit by exploring alternative strategies, he often sought the advice ...

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There Is No One True Path To Innovation

There Is No One True Path To Innovation

Innovation has become like a religion in business today, with “innovate or die” as its mantra. When a company succeeds, people attribute its good fortune to superior innovation. When it fails, people say it lacked the ability to innovate, no matter how many new products it launched. The message is simple: you need to disrupt to survive. So it shouldn’t ...

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The Revolution Will Not Be Centralized

The Revolution Will Not Be Centralized

In his novel The Castle, Franz Kafka tells the story of a man named “K” who is summoned by mysterious authorities for unknown reasons.  He finds himself at the mercy of their bureaucracy and endless paperwork, which is carried out for a purpose that nobody can fathom but everyone seems to accept. Most people can relate to the story.  20th century ...

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The Science Behind Better Networking

Networking is a time-honored tradition. You go to a conference or other event, mix it up, meet new people and expand your circle. Hopefully, one of these random connections will be fruitful and lead to a new opportunity that will make you a richer, more fulfilled person. That does happen, but it’s exceedingly rare. Random connections are random for a ...

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The Art of The Shift

The Art Of The Shift

In an age of disruption the only viable strategy is to adapt. Today things move too quickly to stick with old paradigms once their time has passed.  Once outdated platforms fail to solve new problems, they will be overtaken with blazing speed and we must either make a shift or get left behind. Yet that’s easier said than done.  As I’ve ...

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