Friday is Touching Base to Leverage an Empowering Strategic Fit Across Stakeholders

[Mrs. Toad has very kindly contributed this Friday’s Fives, as I am busy being mounted like a five-dollar hooker at Proper Job.  Enjoy.]

I am in the middle of a secondment at Proper Job which basically means that instead of rushing around trying to get new clients or speak to existing ones about what is going on in the world of stocks and shares, I am undertaking company analysis and have time on my hands to contemplate the mysteries of the future.

So at the moment, I am mulling what cars will be like in 2030 and how many of them will be on the roads. This is usually predicted using an S-Curve function which predicts growth of consumption goods accelerating from matching income growth at low levels at twice the rate of income growth for a certain range of income finally slowing again to match income growth at higher levels giving an S shaped graph. According to this, there will be 2 billion cars on the road in 2030 (there are about 800 million now). Scary stuff. However, population density is also rising (only 46% of New Yorkers own a car whereas 92% of Americans do) and car sharing (ZipCar/City Car club) is also on the rise. So how the hell am I supposed to come up with an even half sensible estimate? Even Volkswagen don’t seem to think we will all own our own cars.

Of course, the point is that you can’t get it right, you just have to make a reasonable estimate and assign a probability to it based on current evidence. Despite the shelves and shelves of strategy books in airports worldwide, there is a great deal of serendipity involved in most business successes. The guys at Google for instance, didn’t start out to be in the advertising business but ending up there is why their company is worth $135bn. There is also the occasional trying to be too clever moment. If I said to you that buying a share of 100 dodgy mortgages packaged together and sliced up is as safe as lending to a blue chip company like IBM, you’d laugh in my face but that’s what all the physics graduates and math whizzes at places like Lehman Bros really believed. Business is hard especially, when mistakes mean that you could go down the pan or get taken out. Its easy to err too far on the side of caution and become defensive and oppressive rather than innovative (yeah, that’s you Microsoft).

Which makes it all the more galling that a non profit entity such as the BBC has apparently confused “value for money” with “bums on seats” in its recent strategic review, leading to the closure of 6 Music, the watering down of local content, and the downsizing of their successful website. The questions in the review also point to them considering reducing some of the innovative projects that they have undertaken such as pushing DAB and developing iPlayer. iPlayer is in large part why people like Murdoch(s) have it in for them, Sky and Virgin Media cannot make money if they cannot control content provision. By pushing people online to a familiar and trusted brand, the BBC has hastened their demise.

This has already been linked to but I would urge you all to take some time to respond to the BBC’s strategic review in full because its clear that fear of Tory/Murdoch harpies is pushing them in an all together more stolid direction than we have seen in the last ten years and that would be a great shame.

1. What do you think cars will be like in 20 years time?
2. Best piece of bullshit bingo you have heard?
3. Company/brand or product you most admire?
4. Company/brand or product you detest?
5. Your soothsayer like prediction for the world in 2030?

Ballboy – All the Records on the Radio are Shite

Depeche Mode – Everything Counts

Phil Ochs – Automation Song

The Clash – Complete Control


The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Company Town

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