About

Columbia University Press Pinterest

Twitter

Facebook

CUP Web site

RSS Feed

New Books

Author Interviews

Author Events

Keep track of new CUP book releases:
e-newsletters

For media inquiries, please contact our
publicity department

CUP Authors Blogs and Sites

American Society of Magazine Editors

Leonard Cassuto

Mike Chasar / Poetry and Popular Culture

Erica Chenoweth / "Rational Insurgent"

Juan Cole

Jenny Davidson / "Light Reading"

Faisal Devji

William Duggan

James Fleming / Atmosphere: Air, Weather, and Climate History Blog

David Harvey

Paul Harvey / "Religion in American History"

Bruce Hoffman

Alexander Huang

David K. Hurst / The New Ecology of Leadership

Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh

Geoffrey Kabat / "Hyping Health Risks"

Grzegorz W. Kolodko / "Truth, Errors, and Lies"

Jerelle Kraus

Julia Kristeva

Michael LaSala / Gay and Lesbian Well-Being (Psychology Today)

David Leibow / The College Shrink

Marc Lynch / "Abu Aardvark"

S. J. Marshall

Michael Mauboussin

Noelle McAfee

The Measure of America

Philip Napoli / Audience Evolution

Paul Offit

Frederick Douglass Opie / Food as a Lens

Jeffrey Perry

Mari Ruti / The Juicy Bits

Marian Ronan

Michael Sledge

Jacqueline Stevens / States without Nations

Ted Striphas / The Late Age of Print

Charles Strozier / 9/11 after Ten Years

Hervé This

Alan Wallace

James Igoe Walsh / Back Channels

Xiaoming Wang

Santiago Zabala

Press Blogs

AAUP

University of Akron

University of Alberta

American Management Association

Baylor University

Beacon Broadside

University of California

Cambridge University Press

University of Chicago

Cork University

Duke University

University of Florida

Fordham University Press

Georgetown University

University of Georgia

Harvard University

Harvard Educational Publishing Group

University of Hawaii

Hyperbole Books

University of Illinois

Island Press

Indiana University

Johns Hopkins University

University of Kentucky

Louisiana State University

McGill-Queens University Press

Mercer University

University of Michigan

University of Minnesota

Minnesota Historical Society

University of Mississippi

University of Missouri

MIT

University of Nebraska

University Press of New England

University of North Carolina

University Press of North Georgia

NYU / From the Square

University of Oklahoma

Oregon State University

University of Ottawa

Oxford University

Penn State University

University of Pennsylvania

Princeton University

Stanford University

University of Sydney

University of Syracuse

Temple University

University of Texas

Texas A&M University

University of Toronto

University of Virginia

Wilfrid Laurier University

Yale University

Archive for the 'Business' Category

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Video: Interview with Michael Yogg, author of Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot

The following is an interview with Michael Yogg author of Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot.

The interview is with Glyn Holton, who writes the following:

Today, I interview Michael Yogg, author of the new book Passion for Reality. Its about Paul Cabot, a pioneer of the mutual fund industry. In 1920s Boston, Cabot cofounded State Street Investment Corporation, one of the first open-ended mutual funds. He shepherded the fund through frenzied markets, the crash of 1929 and into the Great Depression. As Washington turned to investigating and then regulating the fledgling mutual fund industry, Cabot played a central role. The book does more than tell Cabot’s story. It gives us a front-row seat on the emergence of this important industry.

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Moralism and the Facts — The Pillars of Paul Cabot’s Investment Strategy

Passion for Reality, Michael YoggWe conclude our week-long feature on Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot, with an excerpt from the epilogue. In these excerpts, Yogg considers some of the core values that shaped Cabot’s investment strategy and what it might mean for today’s investors:

Two modes of thought shaped Paul Cabot’s approach to investments and the conduct of his business: moralism, inherited largely from his fam­ily and the culture of Boston; and empiricism, a demand for the facts, a trait he was probably born with but which was reinforced by his education and his experience in the stock market. He was not unique in this, but Paul also had the self-confidence and the passion to challenge the prevailing business culture and move to change it.

When confronted with wrongdoing, Paul often displayed the mindset of a Massachusetts Puritan of an earlier era, even though his lifestyle was far from puritanical and he was not overly religious. When he discovered price manipulation of trust shares, he gave a speech that sounded in parts like a jeremiad. When the perpetrators tried to have him silenced, he “flamed up. (He) got so goddamn mad.” It was truly righteous anger. Echoing the early Puritans, he believed that if sinners were tolerated, they would—at least figuratively—bring God’s wrath down on the entire com­munity. Referring to the abuses of the British trusts of the nineteenth century, he declared in 1928 that “unless we avoid these and other errors and false principles we shall inevitably go through a similar period of disaster and disgrace. If such a period should come, the well run trusts would suffer with the bad as they did in England forty years ago.”

Most of the specific abuses that Paul objected to—price manipulation, dumping unwanted securities into mutual fund portfolios, unnecessarily complicated and deliberately confusing capital structures—were breaches of fiduciary duty, instances in which a manager put his own interests above those of the client. Takeovers in which a financially-driven conglomerate took over businesses it did not fully understand were another concern. There was a sense in New England and elsewhere, both before and during Paul’s day, that people should stick to their business, do what they do best, and not buy something merely because the acquisition would increase reported profits. He compared the takeovers of the 1960s to various past financial scandals, “all born of greed and lust for power.”

Paul’s lack of greed complemented his moralism. He was known for his frugality and even ridiculed for it. While writing this, I heard for the first time the story of how he raced a neighbor to the back of a Needham supermarket to grab the last loaf of discounted day-old bread. But being frugal and unostentatious meant he had no need for great wealth and was not even tempted to break the rules governing a fiduciary’s conduct. Unlike many financial executives during the 1982–2000 boom and since, he lived in the same world as his clients—wealthier than most but not or­ders of magnitude wealthier. It also meant he was not likely to get caught up in the greed-driven, frenzied last stages of a bull market….

(more…)

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Paul Cabot’s Jeremiad

In the following passage from Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot, Michael Yogg examines Paul Cabot’s ideas about reform for the financial industry and the characteristics of a good investment manager. He also looks at some of the parallels between Cabot’s time of the late 1920s and 1930s and our present time:

Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul CabotWhen a country loses its common sense and confidence, as America did in the late 1920s and the 1930s, it takes hundreds of clear-thinking leaders in government and the private sector to establish the rules, formal and informal, through which society rebuilds and functions. [Sidney Weinberg, head of Goldman Sachs] was one of those leaders. Paul was another….

For Paul, clarity, simplicity, and honesty were inextricably linked. He knew that a trust with an excessively complicated capital structure oft en had trustees who did not know what they were doing or had something to hide—in other words, trustees who were something less than able and honest. This is what lay behind Paul’s preference for the Boston-type open-end fund, with its one class of shares leading to all shareholders being treated equally. It is also why this type of fund accounts for almost all mutual funds today.

Among the many parallels between the late 1920s and late 1990s was the formation of exceedingly complicated investment funds whose structures of­fended the common sense of the clearest thinkers of their day. When Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) sought the aid and the capital of Warren Buffett during its crisis, Buffett’s objection to the fund—according to Roger Lowenstein, biographer of Buffett and chronicler of the LTCM saga—was the overly complicated structure. If it took hours for Paul to figure out how profits were divided by some of the trusts of his day, he would have required months to understand LTCM’s capital structure or Enron’s deals with special-purpose partnerships owned and controlled by its own corpo­rate officers. He would not have been tempted by either of these “opportu­nities,” so popular with “sophisticated” investors at the end of the century.

Both 1929 and 2000 marked peaks in what Galbraith refers to as the “bezzle, an inventory of undiscovered embezzlement,” which is a measure of corruption that is as cyclical as any financial index. In prosperous times, when people are making money, they relax and look less critically at ex­actly how it is being made. Unscrupulous operators take advantage of this by perpetrating various types of fraud and “the bezzle increases rapidly,” according to Galbraith. When the prosperous times end, everything goes into reverse. Investors are more skeptical, even suspicious. Morality im­proves and the “bezzle” shrinks. The stock market boom and the ensuing crash caused a traumatic exaggeration of these normal relationships.

(more…)

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Interview with Michael Yogg, author of “Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot”

Passion for Reality, Michael YoggThe following is an interview with Michael Yogg, author of Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot. Find out how to win a FREE copy of Passion for Reality!

Question: Why did you chose to write about Paul Cabot?

Michael Yogg: I knew Paul for the last 16 years of his life (1978-1994) and worked for his company for nearly two decades. I’ve spent most of my life in the investment business but have been trained as both an historian and an investor. Paul was an important pioneer of the mutual fund industry in the 1920s, when he was also known for his denunciations of corruption on Wall Street. He had a major hand in crafting New Deal securities legislation, including the Investment Company Act of 1940, which is still fundamental to mutual fund regulation. He was an extraordinary investor, in part due to his insistence on meeting managements face-to-face, long before most of his competitors did so. He also was among the first to value stocks on earnings, their price/earnings ratio and growth rate, rather than the more traditional dividend yield that had prevailed before the mid-1920s. He quintupled the Harvard endowment when he was treasurer. And he was a tough, no-nonsense corporate director. But the most important reason for the book is who he was, not what he did, his personality and his character.

Q: Tell us more about that.

MY: Paul received a traditional, upper-class Boston Brahmin upbringing, and this shaped his character. But he was also an iconoclast, a rebel really; his personality and his strong will made him stand out. When he discovered dishonest behavior he became incensed. In spite of all the ethical problems we face in the financial markets today, no one gets as angry as Paul did when he detected and publicized mutual fund price manipulation, and when the perpetrators tried to shut him up by pressuring a bank where he was a director. “I flamed up. I got so god damned mad.” His morality and his temper extended to his private life. When he was reprimanded for bringing his close friend Sidney Weinberg, a Jew who was then head of Goldman Sachs, to his private club, his response was to tell the club president to stick the club up his ass. And Paul promptly resigned. He accomplished more than his contemporaries because of his stubbornness and what today is called “out-of-the-box” thinking.

(more…)

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Book Giveaway!: Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot

Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot, Michael Yogg

This week we will be featuring Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot, by Michael Yogg on our blog, twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot to a lucky winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and indicate your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, February 14th at 3:00 pm.

Paul Cabot (1898–1994) was an innovative mutual fund manager and executive known for his strong character, charismatic personality, and trendsetting financial achievements. Iconoclastic and rebellious, Cabot broke free from the Boston Brahmin trustee mold to pursue new ways of investing and serving investment clients.

For more on the book, you can also read the introduction or preview the book.

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Dean Starkman Debates Whether the Business Press Failed the Public Trust

Recently, Columbia Journalism Review and Public Business, organized a panel Has the Business Press Failed the Public Trust?. Among the panelists were Dean Starkman, author of The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism

The discussion, which also included Larry Ingrassia, (New York Times); Felix Salmon (Reuters); Suzanne Kapner (Wall Street Journal) and Jeff Horwitz (American Banker) focused on the the distinction between reporting for investors and the general public, the the press’s ability to shape public debate, and the role of non-business reporters in covering business scoops. As evident in the video below of the event, the discussion often turned heated and revealed some of the challenges journalists face in covering business and financial news and underscored some of the arguments made in Dean Starkman’s book.

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Dean Starkman on How and Why the Business Press Failed

Dean Starkman, The Watchdog That Didn't Bark

In The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism, Dean Starkman argues that the business press missed the biggest story of the new century. More specifically,the mainstream business press failed to cover and convey to the public the looming dangers that would profoundly shake up the financial system in 2007.

The following is an excerpt from the opening of the book. A fuller excerpt can be found on the Columbia Journalism Review site.

The US business press failed to investigate and hold accountable Wall Street banks and major mortgage lenders in the years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008. That’s why the crisis came as such a shock to the public and to the press itself.

And that’s the news about the news.

The watchdog didn’t bark. What happened? How could an entire journalism subculture, understood to be sophisticated and plugged in, miss the central story occurring on its beat? And why was it that some journalists, mostly outside the mainstream, were able to produce work that in fact did reflect the radical changes overtaking the financial system while the vast majority in the mainstream did not?

This book is about journalism watchdogs and what happens when they don’t bark. What happens is the public is left in the dark about, and powerless against, complex problems that overtake important national institutions. Few need reminders, even today, of the costs of the crisis: 10 million Americans uprooted by foreclosure with even more still threatened, 23 million unemployed or underemployed, whole communities set back a generation, shocking bailouts for the perpetrators, political polarization here and instability abroad. And so on and so forth.

Was the brewing crisis really such a secret? Was it all so complex as to be beyond the capacity of conventional journalism and, through it, the public, to understand? Was it all so hidden? In fact, the answer to all those questions is “no.” The problem—distorted incentives corrupting the financial industry—was plain, but not to Wall Street executives, traders, rating agencies, analysts, quants, or other financial insiders. It was plain to the outsiders: state regulators, plaintiffs’ lawyers, community groups, defrauded mortgage borrowers, and, mostly, to former employees of financial institutions, the whistleblowers, who were, in fact, blowing the whistle. A few reporters actually talked to them, understood the metastasizing problem, and wrote about it. Unfortunately, they didn’t work for the mainstream business press.

In the aftermath of the Lehman bankruptcy of September 2008, a great fight broke out over the causes of the crisis—a fight that’s more or less resolved at this point. While of course it’s complicated, Wall Street and the mortgage lenders stand front and center in the dock. Meanwhile, a smaller fight broke out over the business press’ role. After all, its central beat—the one over which it claims particular mastery—is the same one that suddenly melted down, to the shock of one and all. For business reporters, the crisis was more than a surprise. There was even something uncanny about it. A generation of professionals had, in effect, grown up with this set of Wall Street firms and had put them on the covers of Fortune and Forbes, the front page of The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, and the rest, scores of times. The firms were so familiar, the press had even given them anthropomorphized personalities over the years: Morgan Stanley, the white-shoe wasp firm; Merrill Lynch, the scrappy Irish-Catholic firm, often considered the dumb one; Goldman, the elite Jewish firm; Lehman, the scrappy Jewish firm; Bear Stearns, the naughty one, etc. Love them or hate them, there they were, blessed by accounting firms, rating agencies, and regulators, gleaming towers of power. Until one day, they weren’t.

(more…)

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Interview with Dean Starkman, author of “The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark”

Dean Starkman, The Watchdog That Didn't Bark

“Journalism can be the antidote to corruption…. It gives the public a fighting chance to understand complex problems when powerful institutions betray their trust and act against the public interest. It can be a clarifying force, without which democracy in a complex age just can’t work.”—Dean Starkman

The following is an interview with Dean Starkman, author of The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism

Question: Why did you write this book?

Dean Starkman: The short answer is, the financial crisis. Among business reporters, there were basically two broad responses among to the crisis: one group felt that it was a terrible catastrophe and should not be allowed to happen again. The other felt that it was more than that: just unacceptable, beyond the pale. I fall into the latter camp. Really, everyone understands that this was an epic event. But too few of my colleagues, I fear, have really internalized the dimensions of the disaster, the breadth of the corruption, the completeness of the regulatory collapse. This was one of those once-a-century moments when the system cracks open and allowed us all a long look inside and it’s important that this moment not be lost. For me, it all adds up to a story that needs probing from all angles, now and for many years to come. The fact that this disaster was entirely man-made, and occurred on the most high-profile of business-press beats—finance—made scrutiny of the media’s role all the more urgent from my point of view.

Q: But why you?

DS: Besides my journalistic credentials, which can be found here, it was and is actually my job to review and write about business news. I started running the Columbia Journalism Review’s business desk, The Audit, in the spring of 2007—an innocent time in retrospect. As many recall, the debt markets began cracking open not long after that and soon it dawned on us that the U.S. financial system—the envy of the world, powerful beyond imagination, festooned with brand names, blessed by armies of lawyers, accountants, raters, regulators, the crème of our elite educational system—might be a mirage. The crisis had a big impact on my worldview. In essence, it confirmed it.

Q: How so?

DS: In two ways. I spent the first 15 years or so of my career as an investigative reporter at regional papers, then made the transition to being a business reporter at The Wall Street Journal. I always felt an investigative reporter was something of a mini-expert on subcultures—of the police department, the court system, the state house, etc.—whose job it was to learn its mores and idioms, to figure out whether the culture was healthy or not, and to report back to the wider world on how things were going there. When I arrived at the paper, I didn’t know exactly what to expect but it soon became apparent that I had joined a different journalism subculture from the one I had known at regional papers. The Journal was unique in many ways, but it was also certainly part of, if not, the leader of, this business-press subculture, which had its own particular view of what a “story” was—that is, what got into the paper, what we today call “content.”

Admittedly, I wasn’t hired as an investigative reporter. Even so, the boundaries—invisible and unspoken yet real enough—struck me as arbitrary and, to my tastes, narrow. Also, they were fungible. They moved over time. In my view, they narrowed. In any case, coming from outside the culture, I spent a lot of time trying to decode it—where did these ideas about business news come from, and how did we decide these were the right ones—and part of that decoding formed the basis for this book.

Q: And the second way?

DS: The second way involves the idea of corruption. I cringe in way to use that word because it has a shrill tenor and yet I saw enough of it in Rhode Island to understand that it actually does happen, at the highest levels, and that its effects are immensely damaging. Unlike the muckrakers, I’m not sure it’s about good or evil on the part of individuals, although there’s that. But normally all it involves is power imbalance or perverse incentives, or both, leading a state where normal regulation, oversight, and law enforcement are subsumed. A great reporter and friend, John Sullivan, had a theory that 10 percent of the people can always be counted on to do the right thing, and 10 percent will always do the wrong thing, but 80 percent will go with the flow. That’s how corruption happens, and how it can become systemic, as it did in the mortgage industry.

The sense that the deck is stacked, that contracts are rigged, or that tax authorities or police act at the behest of a corrupt mayor, undermines the public’s faith in the system itself. Corruption actually threatens democracy. And it was clear to me at the time, just as it was clear to some of the journalists profiled in Watchdog, that the financial system had crossed a line from competition to recklessness and into corruption.

The crisis confirmed that view and reinforced the dangers of corruption to markets and to democracy itself. Clearly, ours was badly shaken, and the subsequent effects in Europe drive the point home even further.

Q: What’s all that got to do with journalism?

DS: Journalism can be the antidote to corruption. It certainly has been in the past, as I demonstrate in Watchdog. But even if it isn’t, it gives the public a fighting chance to understand complex problems when powerful institutions betray their trust and act against the public interest. It can be a clarifying force, without which democracy in a complex age just can’t work. If that sounds like I’m waving a flag with big “J” on it, well, so be it. The great Walter Lippmann despaired of democracy working in a far-flung industrial power and believed elites should be left alone to solve complex problems. I think we’ve learned that doesn’t work. So this is what we’re left with.

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Book Giveaway! Win a Free Copy of “The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism,” by Dean Starkman

“Journalism was complicit in the predation and corruption that brought down world financial markets and wrecked the lives of millions…. Dean Starkman is the author we have been waiting for to tell this story. He not only puts forward a keen, subtle, and fair account of the journalistic default, he names names.” — Todd Gitlin

The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism, Dean Starkman

This week we will be featuring The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism, by Dean Starkman, on twitter, facebook, and the Columbia University Press blog, .

We are also offering a FREE copy of The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism to a lucky winner.

To enter our Book Giveaway, simply e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select one winner on Friday, January 24 at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

You can also read an excerpt from The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism posted on the Columbia Journalism Review site.

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

August Turak on the Myth of Personal Development

Columbia Business School Publishing

August Turak, Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and AuthenticityIn a recent article for Forbes, August Turak, author of Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity (Columbia Business School Publishing), takes a closer look at what is meant by “personal development” and how it is frequently misunderstood.

In interviews about the book, Turak is frequently asked “What do you do for personal development?” However, how most people think about personal development in a business context is different from Turak’s view. While many tend to think of it as a means to success, Turak believes personal development is the end. Turak explains:

“Personal development” is compartmentalized; it becomes something we do off the clock and in our spare time in order to “get ahead” in the “real world.” Slowly and unwittingly we become like the real estate agent who religiously accompanies his family to church only because being perceived as a family oriented, God fearing man is “good for business.”

This entire world view tragically puts the proverbial cart before the horse. Whether you call it personal development, personal growth, self-actualization, self-transcendence, or spirituality does not matter. What matters is realizing that the reason you were born is to become the best human being you can possibly be. Personal development is not a tool for reaching a bigger goal. Becoming a complete human being is already the biggest and most noble goal you can aspire to.

(more…)

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks Shortlisted for a Best Business Book of 2013!

Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks, August TurakInterest and excitement for August Turak’s Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity continues to grow.

The book was recently shortlisted by 800-CEO-READ as one of the best business books of 2013 for the management category. As explained in the nomination, “the book’s message is clear and as business-centric as they come: you don’t need to be focused on money to make money, but instead be clear about your purpose.”

Turak was also recently interviewed for the podcast Entrepreneur of Fire , in which he discussed the factors that led him to be a successful entrepreneur.

Finally, in a recent post for the Huffington Post, Turak Tprovided a list of 9 principles of building an authentic business. These principles, developed with his partners, emphasized that success could also come with service and selflessness. The following is an excerpt from that list:

Our first principle was setting a company culture where personal growth, honesty, integrity, and selflessly putting people first were more important than making money.

Our second principle was high expectations. Starting a business based on higher values didn’t mean setting low bars and rationalizing away failure as just one of the inevitable costs of trying to do authentic business in a profane world. Instead, if we were truly in business for a higher purpose, our goals should be higher than the goals of those who were simply in it for the money. For example, we decided to begin work each morning at seven-thirty in order to get a jump start on those heathens better known as the competition. We maintained that start time for the next seven years.

Our third principle was compassion. This didn’t mean that we would never fire anyone. It meant that we would do everything we could to help everyone get over the bar — without lowering the bar. While more would be expected of some than of others, all would be expected to carry his or her own weight….

(more…)

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Video: Jeanne Liedtka on Design Thinking

In the following video, Jeanne Liedtka, coauthor of Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works describes the book and how design thinking offers businesses new ways of tackling problems. As she explains the effectiveness of design thinking is exemplified in the success of such design-oriented companies as Apple and Ideo.

For more on design thinking, you can visit the Coursera page for the class Design Thinking for Business Innovation.

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Book Giveaway! Win a Free Copy of “Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing”

Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing

“We are at the dawn of a major shift in the evolution of technology,” write John E. Kelly III and Steve Hamm in their new book Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing,

The victory of IBM’s Watson on Jeopardy! revealed how scientists and engineers at IBM and elsewhere are pushing the boundaries of science and technology to create machines that sense, learn, reason, and interact with people in new ways to provide insight and advice. These changes are explored in Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing, which we be featuring throughout the week on our blog, twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Smart Machines to a lucky winner.

To enter our Book Giveaway, simply e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select one winner on Friday, October 25 at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, October 4th, 2013

King: Four Design Thinking Tools for Engaging Your Team

book

This week our featured book is Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works, by Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King, and Kevin Bennett.

Today, we feature a Aug 2013 article by Andrew King, co-author of “Solving Problems with Design Thinking: 10 Stories of What Works.” (And don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of the book!)

King begins by setting the foundation of design thinking and its importance in solving problems. He states that bigger, complex problems usually start out as simpler and smaller issues and solving them requires creativity through design and implementation. Such creativity emerges from thinking uniquely about the data related to the issues.

Design thinking is a method for understanding complex problems – to really get at their genesis – and developing ways to eliminate or, better yet, leverage those problems into novel solutions. While this still sounds cryptic and too-good-to-be-true, these tools can sharpen your creativity to help you uncover obscured facts and use your knowledge in new ways.

In order to harness this creativity at a managerial level, King outlines four design thinking tools that will help to improve business operations and drive innovation.

Journey mapping is the art of observing what is really going on. Journey mapping requires careful investigation of the process.

Mind mapping is a method for finding useful patterns hiding in lots of noisy data. You have to help your team articulate those ideas and capture them. After many rounds of sharing ideas and letting everyone build on ideas, you’ll be able to see a rich set of patterns. Use the patterns to isolate problems.

Hypothesis generation is about figuring out what creates the problems and how to solve them. Figuring out if a hypothesis holds water is easier and more productive than starting at this point to create The Solution based only on the data that you have so far.

Prototyping helps you prove or disprove the hypotheses. You can prototype anything including processes. Prototypes generate hard data, not ephemeral comments about ‘good ideas.’ Prototypes are ideas that you and your team touch and are often underestimated beyond the world of product design.

King exemplifies the application of these design thinking tools with case studies from his upcoming book. He states that “our research with high performing teams at large multinational companies like Toyota and IBM all the way to non-profit organizations that have used design thinking, has uncovered many team enhancements.”

In addition, King highlights the fact that the success of these tools requires the participation of the entire team as the collaboration and feedback between the team members promotes new ideas and solutions.

King concludes by stating that a company’s focus is solely on the solution and truly innovative solutions emerge from conscious problem solving and paying attention to cure the problem rather than trying to find a quick fix solution: “It takes a creative managers to engage their teams deeply, and that deep engagement engenders trust and sense of purpose.”

For full article view, please click here.

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Kevin Bennett on How Design Thinking Leads to Better Planning

Solving Problems with Design Thinking

In an August 2013 Forbes article Kevin Bennett, co-author with Jeanne Liedtka and Andrew King of of Solving Problems with Design Thinking: 10 Stories of What Works,” explains how design thinking can create a better understanding of today to get a better tomorrow. (And don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of the book!)

Bennett begins by laying out the foundation of our thinking and how we approach problems in our life. There is a set origin, A, and a final destination, B. Our efforts lie in reaching point B from point A as soon as possible, with optimal investment of time and resources. This specific construct, as Bennett describes, is evident in all spheres of our thinking, whether it be in business or personal life: “Early in life we are taught to chase one ‘B’ after another, whether applying to college or jobs or getting to retirement, we are constantly chasing the ‘B’ just over the horizon. The same applies to business. We periodically set goals and then set out chasing them, trying to stay just ahead of the market.”

He stresses on the importance of focusing on our starting point, A, so we know where we are coming from as well as gain a solid understanding of our own self in relation to the world. He sheds light on two keys terminologies to enhance our understanding with regards to design thinking—journey mapping and mind mapping:

Design thinking guides us through an archeological dig to better understand “A” with a sense of openness to exploration and discovery. In this archeological dig, design thinking takes up ethnographic research tools to help us truly understand customers and other stakeholders. “Journey mapping” enables us to map other people’s personal experiences by walking in their shoes. “Mind mapping” allows us to understand the values, assumptions, beliefs and expectations of individuals, to see the world through their eyes as they walk through their journeys.

(more…)

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Jeanne Liedtka on the “Moses Myth” of Innovation

Solving Problems with Design Thinking

Today we continue our week-long feature of Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works, by Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King, and Kevin Bennett and published by Columbia Business School Publishing. (And don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of the book!)

In a September 2013 Bloomberg Businessweek article Jeanne Liedtka contests the “The Moses Myth” which suggests that “innovation is the miracle that results when a special person raises his or her hands to the heavens and the Red Sea parts, or the iPod (AAPL) is born.” Liedtka claims that companies should not wait for such a miracle man to make the innovation possible and that all managers can be inculcated with the right guidance to produce such “miracles” and bring forth innovation in their companies.

This is where Liedtka jumps into the concept of design thinking, “Design thinking gives us the ability to do just that in the form of a reliable set of processes and tools. Though it sounds mysterious, design thinking is just another approach to problem solving, an especially effective one if your goal is innovation.”

She supports this central idea by presenting a few examples of how design thinking supports innovation, as well as providing solutions to their business needs and problems:

IBM (IBM) reframed the challenge of transforming its trade show booths from traditional Las Vegas-style glitz—one-way monologues by which companies hawk their wares at attendees—to an environment that promotes a dialogue with potential clients. To accomplish this, the company garnered insights from conversations with a diverse set of outside experts (from Montessori’s founder to neuroscientists) and then tested the new concepts at a financial services show. The result: much deeper customer engagement leading to significantly more “hot leads” and higher revenue generation.

Suncorp (SUN:AU), one of Australia’s largest financial services companies, was able to speed up the post-merger integration of two very different cultures in the insurance industry. They did this by using the metaphor of a thriving city, inviting employees to design their own neighborhoods within it. Sounds wacky? Yes, but the exercise produced a more than 60 percent increase in employees’ understanding and ownership of the new strategy.

Liedtka concludes by suggesting that such an approach can make a remarkable difference in the way we do business, especially since it deals with the specific sets of tools and concepts that designers frequently use but is not very well-known as a means of innovation by business managers: “These tools emphasize attention to developing deep user-driven insights as the basis for envisioning new possibilities, engaging a broader group of stakeholders in co-creation, and then prototyping hypothesized solutions and testing these in small-scale experiments.”

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Book Giveaway: Solving Problems with Design Thinking

book

This week our featured book is Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works, by Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King, and Kevin Bennett. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author here on our blog as well as on Twitter feed and Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Solving Problems with Design Thinking. To enter our Book Giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select one winner on October 4th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, August 30th, 2013

An Interview with Adam Arvidsson and Nicolai Peitersen

The Ethical Economy

As we continue our week-long feature of The Ethical Economy: Rebuilding Value After the Crisis, by Adam Arvidsson and Nicolai Peitersen, we look to the authors’ interview with Zoe Romano at Digicult as they discuss the ideas of productive publics, economy reputation, and their joint role in the plausible shift toward an Ethical Economy.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of The Ethical Economy!

Ethical Economy. The New Distribution of Value

Zoe Romano: How do you see ethical phenomena like the signal of the emergence of a new way of production (what you call ‘Ethical Economy’) in addition to the emergence of a market niche, a term often used and abused to clean up the image of a company? Are we really facing a substantial change?

Adam Arvidsson & Nicolai Peitersen: The reason why these phenomena do not represent only a market niche is because they are companies’ and brands’ rational response to a deeper structural change. This deep transformation is made of two main elements: On one hand there is the rise of what we call “the productive publics,” and on the other hand the growing of the economy reputation.
In the book we show how the “productive publics” are becoming increasingly important for the organization of both the immaterial and the material. The “productive publics” identify collaborative networks of strangers who interact in a highly mediatic way (which often doesn’t need the use of informatic networks or social media) and who coordinate their interactions through sharing a common set of values. By coordinating production in such a way, the productive publics are different from markets and bureaucracies, not only because they allow one to consider as good reasons a wider range of issues, but also because they tend to be highly independent in conferring a value to the productive contribution of their members. In the book, we suggest that the productive publics are becoming increasingly influential in the information economy, not only in alternative circuits like Free Software, but also within the corporate economy itself, especially around the immaterial assets that in some sectors reach two thirds of the market value. As a result, there is recent growing emphasis on ethics and social responsibility in corporations which can be understood as an attempt to accommodate the orders of worth promoted by the productive publics.
(more…)

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Adam Arvidsson: Can Capitalism Evolve? (Part 2)

The Ethical Economy

This week our featured book is The Ethical Economy: Rebuilding Value After the Crisis, by Adam Arvidsson and Nicolai Peitersen. Today, we have the second half of an essay by Adam Arvidsson: “Ethical Economy: Can Capitalism Evolve?” In his essay, Arvidsson discusses how the information age is changing current models of corporate capitalism and looks to the future to predict how those changes will play out. You can find the first half of the essay here.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of The Ethical Economy!

Ethical Economy: Can Capitalism Evolve? (Part 2)
Adam Arvidsson

Value
But values matter in an even more fundamental way. Financial valuations of companies at two to three times their book value are supported by so called ‘intangible assets’, chiefly brands, but also more esoteric things like ‘knowledge capital’ or ‘social capital.’ The problem is that nobody knows how to evaluate such intangible assets, or rather, there are as many methods as there are operators in the intangible-assets-valuation business. The Apple brand, for example, was evaluated at $150 billion by brand evaluation company Brand Z in 2012, while the market leader Interbrand valued it at $30 billion. But what are intangible assets? Some of them are probably cover-ups for speculation. But that aside, they are essentially estimations of a company’s ability to draw value from its use of common resources. The Apple brand reflects the fact that the Apple corporation is able to create cooler and more innovative products than, say, Samsung, while relying on the same suppliers, the same patents, and similar technical solutions. Louis Vuitton is not the only company around able to make high quality bags. But its brand is so highly valued because it is able to provide high quality bags that enable people to feel beautiful and elegant in ways that appeal across the world. Today the valuation of brands and other intangible assets are based on companies’ reputations for such excellence in the use of common resources. ‘Reputation’ in this sense refers to the opinion and hearsay among a small community of market analysts and experts (in some cases supported by a more participatory social media-based opinion). It looks a bit like 19th century monetary politics before the gold standard, where a small community of rich bankers came together to set interest rates and the price of money more generally, without there being any possibility for popular participation in the business. This way members of productive publics who continuously create the values that guide their own productive co-operation are excluded from the more important overall financial evaluations of what they produce. This is irrational in many ways. First, because it tends to perpetuate the ‘value crisis’ that now grows within corporations as well as in society more generally, creating a widespread perception, not only among the radical fringes but also within the core of knowledge of the working middle class, that corporations are not in the business of catering to what they really need and value. Second, because the absence of a wider participation in the opinion and reputation economy in which the values of intangible assets are set makes these evaluations unstable, incoherent, and insecure, thus providing an additional source of systemic risk and market volatility. Third, and perhaps most importantly, in this way ever more popular demand for really valuable products and innovation, that is, the kind of products and solutions that can help us transit to a more sustainable economic system, have no effect on the financial markets in which crucial decisions about the allocation of resources are made. This is a problem for corporations too. Most people who work in big corporations want to do something meaningful and constructive with their life; they want to feel that their professional activity is coherent with the overall values that they nourish. They want to do good. And intelligent corporations understand that they need to begin to cater to real use values, to acquire real social usefulness, if they want to survive the chaotic next century marked by resource scarcity and global warming. But as long as a company’s ability to do good is not reflected in the standards that reflect its economic performance, it is very difficult for this desire to have any serious practical consequences at the level of actions.
(more…)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Adam Arvidsson: Can Capitalism Evolve? (Part 1)

The Ethical Economy

This week our featured book is The Ethical Economy: Rebuilding Value After the Crisis, by Adam Arvidsson and Nicolai Peitersen. Today, we have the first half of an essay by Adam Arvidsson: “Ethical Economy: Can Capitalism Evolve?” In his essay, Arvidsson discusses how the information age is changing current models of corporate capitalism and looks to the future to predict how those changes will play out.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of The Ethical Economy!

Ethical Economy: Can Capitalism Evolve?
Adam Arvidsson

In the last century, capitalism could generate growth and prosperity by expanding consumer markets. Now that model has exhausted itself in various ways. In the West, popular prosperity as steady and secure employment have become a thing of the past. This happened to blue collar jobs in the 1990s and it is happening to white collar jobs now as the AI revolution kicks in. As a result, support for capitalism will continue to decline, even among the middle classes. And while the promise of capitalism might still seem attractive in rapidly growing economies like China, the present paradigm of consumerist growth is unsustainable, even in the not-so-long term, as climate change and resource scarcity are creating serious bottle necks. At an even more fundamental level, the corporate model is losing its social relevance. The business of actually making and selling stuff that meets people’s needs only accounts for a small part of the value added by the corporate economy, with most large companies making their money on financial markets. Worse, innovation seems to be slipping out of corporate control, even as companies pump unprecedented amounts of cash into R&D. We are likely to see a growing distance between an ever more financialized and self-referential economy, where ‘intangible’ values are tossed around while people actually need useful and innovative products. This gap will become particularly evident as the imminent ecological crisis will create a demand for radically innovative products: not just a new iPhone, but workable solutions to food, energy, and water scarcity. Capitalism will look ever more like the French monarchy in the 18th century, increasingly distant from the real needs of the people, offering the proverbial cakes in lieu of bread. Something similar is already happening as mistrust in big corporations is growing, despite soaring spending on goodwill and corporate social responsibility.
(more…)