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G100 Network Notebook | May 2015

How Uber & Special Forces Operate

They adapt with technology that informs all people within their ecosystem to make better, quicker decisions, says a Business Insider video of General Stanley McChrystal, former head of Joint Special Operations Command and co-author of a new book, Team of Teams. He says:

The ability to become adaptable becomes more important than being rigidly effective.

Equally captivating is this book excerpt in Fast Company that contrasts a surgical team’s response to the Boston Marathon bombing with GM’s reaction to the ignition-switch problem.

GM’s byzantine organizational structure meant that nobody-venal or kindly-had the information to make the crucial decision.

Incubating a Startup Culture

Big companies hungry for innovation are thinking smaller, borrowing increasingly from startups and venture capital models that prioritize entrepreneurialism, risk, and learning, says this Fortune reportthat includes a useful chart of program highlights and results. For example:

In just 15 months, GE has funded 500 projects proposed by employees to “growth boards,” groups of top executives who hear pitches, award funding, and give the go-ahead for a team to develop and test ideas in a 90-day sprint. If a project flops, managers learn and change course.

What is a “Unicorn” Investment?

The New Yorker, in perhaps the most definitive profile yet on venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, answers that question and more, explaining: what motivates his strong Twitter presence, how he saved Airbnb from a PR disaster, and why pitch meetings resemble “minefields.”

The game in Silicon Valley…is not ferocious intelligence or a contrarian investment thesis: everyone has that. It’s not even wealth: anyone can become a billionaire just by rooming with Mark Zuckerberg. It’s prescience. And then it’s removing every obstacle to the ferocious clarity of your vision: incumbents, regulations, folkways, and people.

Can Anonymity Bridge Gaps in Cybersecurity?

What happens when a former cybersecurity advisor to President Obama teams up with the former Chief Security Officer at eBay? An upstart cybersecurity service, dubbed TruStar,  piquing quiet interest among some Fortune 500 companies. The startup collects security threat information from clients, makes it anonymous, and shares intelligence to bolster cyber defenses. Paul Kurtz of TruStar says:

The bad guys have used anonymity for years, sharing data on exploits and treasures from exploits behind the scenes, while the good guys operate in their own separate silos. I think that is ready to change.

Managing Work & Life

This is getting harder, say one-third of respondents to a global, cross-generational survey of work-life challenges. Although boomers and Gen X have long struggled to balance work and life, the issue has renewed interest, specifically as more Millennials assume the dual roles of managers and parents. The new study from EY includes several good data points, such as the top reasons why people quit. An excerpt:

Demonstrating the trend that managing work-life has become more difficult for parents, globally there is not a significant difference between managers with children who work more than 40 hours a week (44%) versus managers without children (50%). Managers who are parents (41%) say they have seen more of an increase in hours in the last five years than managers who are not parents (37%).

Culture Needs Greater Board Oversight

A Spencer Stuart white paper published recently in Director Magazine argues that cultural alignment should be on the board agenda and evaluated as part of executive performance. The research offers directors a blueprint to understand and challenge organizational culture. For example:

Effective leaders can describe both the culture as it currently exists and the culture to which the organization aspires, an ability sometimes called “cultural fluency.” Boards can assess management’s cultural fluency with questions such as: What is the difference between our current and ideal culture? Where do our most influential people, those who “get” our ideal culture, reside within the organization?

A Better Way to Gauge Corporate Performance

Sampling problems make it notoriously difficult for companies to measure relative performance accurately, but a free online tool unveiled by Deloitte simplifies the process to some surprising results . For example, architects of the new method say:

For the full population of U.S.-based, publicly traded companies, the average absolute difference in percentile rank between our method and the more common approaches is between 18 and 25 percentile ranks for both profitability and revenue growth. That means it would be typical for a company that considered itself to be in the top quarter of its peer group to be, based on our statistical approach, no better than average. Or for a company’s simplistic benchmarking approach to mask, in part, its excellent performance.

Is Traditional TV Doomed?

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made a bold prediction this month – Internet TV will eventually outpace “linear TV.” His time frame, however, may underestimate the rate of change, says reporter Mathew Ingram, who expects greater industry disruption from the creation, not delivery, of TV content. He adds in Fortune:

In many ways, this transformation is more like what has happened to print content—meaning newspapers and magazines—than it is like the music business, if only because a song as the atomic unit of audio entertainment hasn’t changed that much. But for text and video, the disruption is all about breaking down traditional formats and packages like “newspapers” and “TV shows” and either atomizing or re-making them in a different way.