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About this blog

This blog expands on some of the themes of Winners and Losers. The guide on the right allows you to look at these thematically under headings like business strategy or networked economy.

I stopped writing the blog in 2011 when I started work on a new project examining the dynamics of change.

Apple v Google, not quite a death match

18 January 2011

Robert Lane Greene has written a sparkling account in Intelligent Life of the growing rivalry between Google and Apple. For years Steve Jobs was an inspiration to Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and, Eric Schmidt sat amicably on Apple’s board until 2009. As Greene puts it, ‘the companies could have been a […]

What drives us to work

7 December 2010

Some books change your view of the world, not so much because they tell you something completely new, as crystallise ideas you half-understood already. Or as Proust put it, you see the world with new eyes. Daniel Pink’s Drive is such a book. Anyone who cares about work – how it can […]

Questions for market entrants

June 23 2010

In Winners and Losers I aim to describe and explain, not to prescribe or predict. The success factors I identified for organisations that create new markets and establish lasting industry leadership certainly contain lessons for any business, but they’re mostly implicit. In my workshops for business audiences, I suggest ten any business […]

How to create a new market

28 April 2010

A striking example of the ubiquity of obliquity is that scarcely anybody sets out deliberately to create a new market, yet that is what nearly all of my subjects in Winners and Losers did. One exception is eBay – Pierre Omidyar’s idea was always to create ‘a perfect market’, a level-playing field […]

The subtle charms of obliquity

19 April 2010

John Kay’s Foundations of Corporate Success is one of the best books on business strategy, a brilliant counterweight to Michael Porter’s thinking, with its emphasis on barriers to competitive entry. Like Porter, Kay is primarily an economist, though one with many intellectual interests. His latest book, Obliquity, pulls together ideas he has […]

The perils of hubris

3 April 2010

Hubris gets a bad press, and deservedly so. The reckless arrogance of the leaders of Enron and WorldCom not only destroyed their businesses but took some of them to jail. Many feel that bankers deserved a similar fate after ludicrous levels of overconfidence spurred them to take on unprecedented levels of debt, […]

Competitive advantage

10 March 2010

Two fascinating books on the troubled media industry have appeared recently. I have written a great deal about Google lately so I will comment on Ken Auletta’s Googled later. Reading The Curse of the Moguls by Jonathnn Knee, Bruce Greenwald and Ava Seave is a bit like coming across Machiavelli’s The Prince […]

Winners and prizes

21 February 2010

I discussed last week how different combinations of network effects and positive feedback loops have enabled a few winners to take something close to all the prizes in some markets. But we should beware of being deterministic and over-schematic about this – each case is different. Microsoft and eBay established effective monopolies […]

The Network Effect

February 11, 2010

The Economist recently published a special report on social networking, which attributed Facebook’s extraordinary growth to ‘the network effect’. This is more or less true but the writer is conflating two different phenomena: network effects, a concept drawn from economics, and positive feedback loops, from the world of engineering. It is their […]