I'm a Creative at MediaFront and Co-founder of The Refinement Club. Seeker of inspiration, knowledge and ideas.

This is a feed of my thoughts and things that I find enlightening. Basically its a 21st century version of the commonplace book.


Posts tagged business

The Making of McKinsey: A Brief History of Management Consulting in America 

In a 1925 speech at a conference for financial executives in New York, McKinsey offered the kind of pointed insight for which he is remembered: “Usually, I find that the executive who says he does not believe in an organization chart does not want to prepare one because he does not wish other people to know that he had not yet thought through his organization properly. For the same reason many men are opposed to budgets. They are unwilling for anyone to see how little they have thought about what they are going to do in future periods.”

Most Likely to Succeed How do we hire when we can’t tell who’s right for the job?  

…the students of a very bad teacher will learn, on average, half a year’s worth of material in one school year. The students in the class of a very good teacher will learn a year and a half’s worth of material. That difference amounts to a year’s worth of learning in a single year.

An interesting piece from Malcolm Gladwell on how hard it is to predict success in football and teaching, and of course it’s applicable in other fields as well.

Is Stanford Too Close to Silicon Valley? 

The long-term value of an education is to be found not merely in the accumulation of knowledge or skills but in the capacity to forge fresh connections between them, to integrate different elements from one’s education and experience and bring them to bear on new challenges and problems… 
Interesting read about Standford and how it is influencing/infiltrating Silicon Valley, but what I found most interesting is their approach to interdisciplinary education and their focus on a broad knowledge as well as deep. Making students which are skilled in connecting different disciplines and ideas, a key to creativity and innovative thinking.
“interdisciplinary education.” This is the philosophy now promoted at the various schools at Stanford—engineering, business, medicine, science, design—which encourages students from diverse majors to come together to solve real or abstract problems. The goal is to have them become what are called “T-shaped” students, who have depth in a particular field of study but also breadth across multiple disciplines
Among the bolder initiatives to create T-students is the Institute of Design at Stanford, or the d.school… Its founder and director is David Kelley… His mission, he says, is to instill “empathy” in his students, to encourage them to see the human side of the challenges posed in class, and to provoke them to be creative. …Kelley’s effort is widely believed to be the most audacious. His classes stress collaboration across disciplines and revolve around projects to advance social progress. The school concentrates on four areas: the developing world; sustainability; health and wellness; and K-12 education. The d.school space is open, with sliding doors and ubiquitous whiteboards and tables too small to accommodate laptops; Kelley doesn’t want students retreating into their in-boxes. There are very few lectures at the school, and students are graded, in part, on their collaborative skills and on evaluations by fellow-students.

Another interesting topic; online education and how Stanford is pioneering this field of learning. We have just scratched the surface of the online education revolution.

Stanford, like newspapers and music companies and much of traditional media a little more than a decade ago, is sailing in seemingly placid waters. But Hennessy’s digital experience alerts him to danger. He says, “There’s a tsunami coming.
One thing I learned is that while your vision should never change, you should keep trying different strategies until one works. If you can fine-tune your instinct and have confidence in it, then you can keep taking different bites of the apple and keep approaching the problem in different ways until you get it right.

Valve Handbook for New Employees

…it’s your job to insert yourself wherever you think you should be.

Valve create great games and great business, but after reading their handbook for new employees it seems like their true innovation is their way of managing employees and projects:

We’ve heard that other companies have people allocate a percentage of their time to self-directed projects. At Valve, that percentage is 100.

Since Valve is flat, people don’t join projects because they’re told to. Instead, you’ll decide what to work on…
Cabals are really just multidisciplinary project teams. We’ve self-organized into these largely temporary groups since the early days of Valve. They exist to get a product or large feature shipped. Like any other group or effort at the company, they form organically. People decide to join the group based on their own belief that the group’s work is important enough for them to work on.

This is so bold, so amazing and I guess a stupidly obvious way of running a business. What better way to create engagement than letting your employees choose to work on the things they find most important and interesting.

Read Valve’s Handbook for New Employees