Welcome to the fourth edition of the Tzu & Co In-review. With so much activity in the world of digital, I realise how difficult it is to keep up. Each issue I’ll cover what we’ve found at Tzu & Co to be the most important, stories, articles or conversations. I’ll cover strategy, communication, platforms, trends, opinions and everything in-between.
Why do we innovate?
Essentially, a business innovates in order to survive or thrive. Driven by the need to either incrementally or radically differentiate its positioning to the market, in order derive new or alternative commercial value back to the company.
By why do we invent and innovate? As a species?
Here’s my theory.
One’s conscious desire to progress beyond sufficiency is fundamentally what separates us from animals. This desire is emotionally fueled, by our primitive need to survive our competition (fellow man) and an inherent curiosity to explore for the greater good of all. It’s a paradox, we innovate and transform to both create and destroy.
Man harnessed fire for warmth, light to see and medicine to sustain. In doing so, man created gunpowder, pollution and biochemical warfare.
Therefore, any innovation, by man is a game of alchemy. We create tomorrow at a cost of today. And there’s never been a more advantageous time in history, than now, for us to invent.
This issue of Tzu In Review centres on that very premise. Innovation as a double-edged blade.
What conversations do we need to have and tools do we need to sharpen, as business leaders responsible for the commercialised wielding of this sword? How do we morally commercialise innovation?
Any action taken by one begins with one’s self. Therefore, in the pursuit of transformation, does the answer to balancing moral integrity with corporate mission begin with personal development?
John Paul Rollert teaches business ethics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, here’s he’s ‘5 Principles for Moral Leadership.’
Read it here
Preparing for Change: Models & War Games
Simulating outcomes and playing three-dimensional scenario planning allows us to anticipate better the fallout of our decisions. It’s a practice usually reserved for the biggest of companies launching the biggest of products. But the game’s changed; small businesses are coming outside of expected industries and disrupting the status-quo. Therefore, there’s now cause for companies of all sizes – from start-up to enterprise, to include war games as a part of their strategic exercises.
The Box Conundrum
“Taxi services think inside a box. So did Blockbuster. So does Microsoft.
But here’s the thing. Uber, Netflix, and Apple also think inside boxes. So do you. So do I.
A box is a frame, a paradigm, a habit, a perspective, a silo, a self-imposed set of limits; a box is context and interpretation. We cannot think outside boxes. We can, though, choose our boxes. We can even switch from one box to another to another.”
Mark Chussil is the Founder and CEO of Advanced Competitive Strategies, Inc. He has conducted business war games, taught strategic thinking, and written strategy simulators for Fortune 500 companies around the world. Chussil’s recent Harvard Business Review article ‘No One Can Think Outside The Box’, takes us through real case examples of war game techniques and simulations. These allow decision makers to be more agile and approach the ‘box’ differently. Chussil calls on us to stop trying to think ‘outside the box’ but rather, ask how many boxes we can think inside!
Read it here
Remove Human Factors – Models
In the HBR article ‘Innovation Risk: How to Make Smarter Decision’, we’re asked if humans can ever truly simulate the outcomes of their innovation?
“No human being can possibly foresee all the consequences of an innovation, no matter how obvious they may seem in hindsight”.
Read it here
A Promising Example
Consider the case of Mark Zuckerberg, one of the world’s wealthiest men, creator of Facebook. In 2013, Mark announced Internet.org, an effort to bring affordable internet access to everyone in the world. Specifically the developing world.
Mark states the following as Facebooks driving reason do to this;
“We believe that every person should have access to free basic internet services – tools for health, education, jobs and basic communication.”
Internet.org is an amazing initiative – if developing countries had better access to information, education and communication, it would lead to more rational and healthier societies.
There is another side to that blade. Facebook in turn, becomes a walled garden – the tradeoff to free access is net neutrality. Facebooks membership doubles in size, and their shareholders get fatter wallets as all traffic goes through them.
So Facebook, fuelled by both the desire to help billions of people while crushing any competition is on its way to innovating the way humans connect in the most inaccessible parts of the world. They’ve even developed a huge drone that will beam down the internet to people of earth!
If Mark can deliver on his promise, then he successfully proves the existence of conscious capitalism, through innovation, i.e. one can innovate through both a moral and commercial intent. And should be regarded as a good example of how to navigate a minefield in doing so.
Want to read more about the drone technology? Click here
Want to read both sides of the argument? Click here
Some Last Food For Thought
As Artificial Intelligence draws closer to reality, philosophers are consulting with inventors because questions need to be asked about the moral implications of technology. These are conversations we, as business leaders and influencers all need to be having. We may not be creating the next internet.org or driverless car; but as humans, we’ll always be exploring. So it’s up the individual to question their own decisions, and up to each business to balance the moral intent with that of the commercial. What are you prepared to trade, in your lab of alchemy?
Curation: Bits From The Web
Artificial Intelligence: Connecting artificial intelligence with the internet of things
17+ Content Marketing Revelations from 2015
Apps disrupting universities
The Linkbait Bump: How Viral Content Creates Long-Term Lift in Organic Traffic
Don’t forget to join us and continue the conversation
Want to read past reviews? Check them out here
-Fabian Di Marco, MD and Founder of Tzu & Co.