Sunday, November 23, 2014

When Russians Behave Badly

If history is correct, when Russian tanks roll across other peoples' borders, the price of oil falls.

Climate Change Adaptation

Link to Matthew Kahn's working paper on Climate Change Adaptation: Lessons From Urban Economics.

One of the Better Books on Strategy

From A.G. Lafley (former Chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble) and Roger L. Martin (Dean, Rotman School of Management at Toronto) - Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works. Reduces the complexity of strategic thinking and planning to the following:
  1. What is your winning aspiration?  The purpose of your enterprise, its motivating aspiration.
  2. Where will you play?  A playing field where you can achieve that aspiration.
  3. How will you win?  The way you will will on the chosen playing field.
  4. What capabilities must be in place?  The set and configuration of capabilities required to win in the chosen way.
  5. What management systems are required?  The systems and measures that enable the capabilities and support the choices.
The book also points our the major themes that lead to ineffective strategic thinking:
  • They define strategy as a vision - - vision offers no guide to productive actions and is not an explicit road map.  This is a huge problem that I have seen during my career.
  • They define strategy a a plan - - a detailed plan does not imply sustainable competitive advantage.  Plans make people more comfort - - especially in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world.  Being comfortable and thinking in terms of strategic competitive advantage are two different things.
  • They deny the long-term (or even medium-term) strategy is possible - - Yes, things are uncertain and complex, but always thinking in a reactive mode is very dangerous mode.  Value can come from long-term strategic clarity.
  • They define strategy as the optimization of the status quo - - Being all about optimization and greater efficiency is not strategic thinking.  While you are thinking optimization and efficiency - the other person is thinking revolution and transformation.  Your clients and customers are demanding cheaper, faster, and better.  Strategic thinking requires thinking and actions beyond just managing takeoffs.
  • They define strategy as following best practices - - Following the path of everyone else just leads to sameness.  Following the other sheep is not robust strategic thinking.
Product Details

The Delaware Aquaduct

Story on critical water resources management in New York from the New York Times.  The Times does a good job integrating the worlds of print with the worlds of screens in their video series.

60 Minutes to Cover Our Declining Infrastructure Tonight

HBO's VICE - You Don't Know Sh*t