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Creative Inspiration: HBR Special


Along with many other discerning progressive business types, we regularly read the Harvard Business Review. This venerable title churns out high level content on a daily basis – some of it from the monthly print issue, with a lot more limited to online only. It’s a lot to keep up with – so here we’ve picked out four recent articles most suited to our audience.

In Four Keys to Thinking About the Future, Jeffrey Gedmin offers some insights in why some people are better equipped than others to predict trends and opportunities. These people:

– Have great powers of observation and patience: careful listening, a lost art in today’s culture of certitude and compulsive pontificating, can help us distinguish the signal from the noise.

– Appreciate the value of being (a little) asocial: Gedmin mentions a colleague who eschewed conferences and professional gatherings, convinced that this otherwise entirely pleasant socialising and socialisation led invariably to a kind of groupthink among the community of experts.

– Study history. Not because history repeats itself, but because history often rhymes, as Mark Twain put it. This is the realm of patterns, but also — frustratingly and fascinatingly — of infinite complexity and unpredictability.

– Learn to deal with ambiguity. Whether it’s nature or nurture, most of us seem hard-wired to sort the world into simple binary choices. Alas, there’s often lots of grey out there.

Gedmin finishes by recommending we always hedge our forecasts with qualifiers such as “will likely” or “is apt to.” Life is seldom linear and best estimates frequently become undermined by those eternal “unknown unknowns.

In Sell Your Product Before It Exists, David Burkus (who we profiled on our blog here) discusses the latest example of “vaporgoods”, Coin,  a new device that aggregates all of your information from credit, debit, and even loyalty cards and can be swiped just like a regular credit card. Coin’s makers reached a $50,000 crowdfunding goal (inside 40 minutes!) without ever actually releasing the physical product. Coin’s pre-existence sales push the concept of minimum viable product (MVP) even further, proving there’s a market demand for their product using the only research method that counts: the market itself.

Burkus argues that Coin’s strategy allowed them to mitigate our internal bias against innovative new ideas. Often when a new product, creative work, or ideology is released, the initial reaction isn’t as strong as the creators hoped. Research led by Jennifer Muller has shown that, at least subconsciously, humans have a hard time seeing past the newness of something to recognize its usefulness.

In 10 Charts from 2013 That Changed the Way We Think, Gretchen Gavett collects some interesting charts to ponder. We’ve shared two below:



[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”]In How Netflix Reinvented HR, Patty McCord gives a commentary to a remarkable document that has been viewed more than 5 million times on the web – a PowerPoint deck explaining a strategy to shape the culture and motivated performance at Netflix. See the PowerPoint below – it, and the commentary, is highly, highly recommended.

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