IBM and its success across a century

I spent many months together with IBM Italy during the first years of their ‘Linux initiative’ and learned to appreciate this huge corporation. I worked with their engineers certifying the now-defunct Linux distribution MadeInLinux for IBM x86 servers and later in a big marketing nation-wide tour to demonstrate the power of Linux to their massive VAR channel that had never heard anything good about Linux and Open Source before.

I was lucky enough to meet Irving Vladawsky-Berger, the brilliant strategist that helped shape the present of IBM, leading the Linux initiative. I consider myself lucky to have met one of the leaders that turned a huge ship around and brought it to modern times.

Nancy Koehn on HBR blog summarises the lessons worth sharing about IBM’s capability to Outlast Depression, War, and Competition

A possible explanation of why Google Health failed

Interesting thoughts on the rise and death of Google Health. I’m not sure I agree with all of it, definitely it’s worth spending some time thinking about why the product failed.

Simply put, Google Health was never a true Web 2.0 application. Google Health didn’t get better the more people used it. Google didn’t get smarter every time someone made a link or search. Google certainly didn’t ‘immediately act on that information’ to improve the Google Health user experiences. The real heart of Google Health certainly wasn’t a harnessing or harvesting of ‘collective intelligence.’

via What Google’s Quiet Failure Says About Its Innovation Health – Michael Schrage – Harvard Business Review.

Turn your next marketing campaign an “expression campaign”

A very good piece of advice from Coca-Cola’s Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, shifting from measuring consumer’s expressions instead of impressions.

  • Accept that consumers can generate more messages than you ever could
  • Develop content that is “Liquid and Linked”
  • Accept that you don’t own your brands; your consumers do
  • Build a process that shares successes and failures quickly throughout your company
  • Be a facilitator who manages communities, not a director who tries to control them
  • Speak up to set the record straight, but give your fans a chance to do so first

With the ambitious objective to double its business by 2020, Coca-Cola’s leaders know that they can only reach it leveraging its powerful community.

I wouldn’t work as community manager for Coca-Cola but if you have ambitious business and marketing objectives this is the way to go.

Read the full Coca-Cola Marketing Shifts from Impressions to Expressions – Joe Tripodi – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

Breaking the Email Addiction

Reading this made me think that my piece about the limitations of email at work is overdue. In Breaking the Email Addiction author Tony Schwartz argues that email distracts people from life (work and everything else) and must be cured as you would cure an addiction.

We’re pulled to anything that provides instant gratification, even when we know we’d get a bigger reward for delaying. We’re also quick to respond to any excuse to stop working on something that is difficult and requires high concentration.

That all seems correct. My argument for less email at work focuses on discovering of information within the corporation. Now I only need to cure myself from the email addition and finish writing my piece 🙂

Why Toyota still has a lot to teach

All my friends know how much I love Toyota’s production system because it’s simple and elegant, does extraordinary things with minimum effort, focuses on people, condemns waste, pushes to perfection knowing you can’t reach it. It’s like poetry 🙂

If only journalists and reporters learned how to do a proper root-cause analysis the recent Toyota recall wouldn’t be reported so poorly. To all Toyota fans out there, I suggest you to read The Wrong Lessons From Toyota’s Recalls — And the Truth.

Six comments worth reading about iPad

Saturday morning is the best day to read more in depth analysis. I collected six articles that amused me, largely from the HBR blogs (one of the best source of food for thoughts, IMHO).

If you, like me, are fascinated by innovation and by the physicality of objects I suggest you to read Apple iPad’s Product Development Approach . It’s a brilliant lesson to learn for all companies out there building devices

Beyond the half-pound device’s elegant silhouette, interface, and operating system, the gadget is worth paying attention to for innovation lessons from Apple.

Many comments have given me the impression that the iPad is not clearly positioned. It’s clearly not a phone nor it’s a notebook/netbook. Strategically, the iPad opens a new market for Apple, one that may cannibalize its own products: if you already have an iMac/MacBook and an iPhone, would you buy also an iPad or sell the iPhone and get an iPod nano instead? As Scott Anthony says in Does the Apple iPad Make Strategic Sense?

The two things I admire most about the company are its ability to think holistically about business models (iPod + iTues, iPhone + the App store, iPad + iBookstore) and its willingness to keep innovating. Imagine how different it would have been if Apple stopped at the first generation iPod, or just rode the iPod for as long as it could. Its willingness to step out and enter into new categories is an important lesson for all companies.

The blurred positioning of iPad make it harder to identify a clear competitor. TechCrunch clearly identifies Kindle in Top 10 Reasons The Apple iPad Will Put Amazon’s Kindle Out of Business.

Apple has upped the game for Amazon. Jeff Bezos and his team better start a clean sheet of design if they want Kindle to catch up again and play as a leader with consumers.

For HBR the ultimate competitor is only maybe Kindle, but in The iPad Showdown: Apple Versus Comcast argues that Comcast may get some headache.

At twice the price, maybe the iPad is a Kindle Killer — maybe. But Kindle is a single-purpose device for reading, while iPad is a multi-purpose device for entertainment.[…]  The real face-off  […] is Apple versus Comcast — the largest cable provider in the United States, serving 24 million homes […] [T]he new device creates “anywhere, anytime” access to the broadband Web, including broadband video streams.

A colleague argued that tablet pc have existed for over 10 years, with many more features than the iPad. Looking at the facts, though, tablets never took off: too expensive and with poor user experience due to bad software and hardware. Another lesson about product development and radical innovation is in Apple’s Secret? It Tells Us What We Should Love:

This was validation of Apple’s peculiar innovation process: Insights do not move from users to Apple but the other way around. More than Apple listening to us, it’s us who listen to Apple. This contradicts the conventional management wisdom about innovation.

I learned about the iPad name from twitter while I was at the gym and I didn’t understand the jokes about the name until my american wife explained it to me. The comment The Day Apple Turned the Web into Junior High from HBR about naming is interesting.

Perhaps Apple underestimated the power of a viral joke, but it seems more likely that the company, thinking long-term, has so much well-founded faith in its products and its brand that it has no doubt the real iPad will eclipse the joke iPad in the minds of consumers as soon as it’s released.

I would add that the name has other meanings only for native English speakers, not for the rest of world.