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G100 Network Notebook | February 2015

G100 At Apple

Soon after Apple delivered record-breaking quarterly financials, news broke about “Titan,” their secret R&D project to create an electric vehicle. This represents a game changer for auto industry innovation, says MIT fellow Michael Schrage, who warns not to dismiss Apple’s talent and resources:

Apple’s command of UX and technical infrastructure create multiple opportunities to transform the economics and expectations of every value-added aspect of the automobile experience. … Even if it never built a single car, Apple would likely prove the most serious and worthy competitor Toyota ever confronted.

How to Turnaround McDonald’s

The fast food icon struggles in the face of shifting consumer preferences and declining market share from stiff competition. Nevertheless, a quick turnaround is possible if management takes some cues from the past, when the company had more product discipline, argues former McDonald’s CMO Larry Light in this Wall Street Journal op-ed:

New products are important to maintain customer interest. Too many new products introduce complexity, and too many rollout failures damage brand credibility. …The goal: a few heroes and no zeros.

A Looming Market Correction

Stocks could fall 30-50% in the next year or two, Business Insider founder Henry Blodgett argues, despite the fact that he owns stocks and does not intend to sell them. His walk through the evidence that stocks, on a historic basis, are expensive is hard to refute. He has lots of relevant charts:

So, go ahead and tell yourself that stocks aren’t expensive. But be aware of what you’re likely doing. What you’re likely doing is what others who persuaded themselves to buy stocks near previous market peaks (as I did in 2000) were doing, You’re saying, “it’s different this time.”

Delivering Better Assessments

Our process for giving feedback is broken. This Inc. Magazine article echoes some useful takeaways:

Not everyone prefers to receive feedback the same way. … Leaders should ask employees how they like to receive feedback early on in the relationship. Some people like a direct, almost blunt message, others like to hear specific examples, and some need to hear feedback and then go away to process it before they can address next steps.

How Demographics Erode Family Values

“Within the foreseeable future American children who reside with their married birthparents will be in the minority.” That comes from a sobering piece by AEI political economist Nicholas Eberstadt, who exposes the most overlooked impact from declining marriage/birth rates and increased longevity. Interestingly, this demographic shift – and its potential fallout – is not limited to developed nations:

Every stage of the Arab world’s female flight from marriage is taking place on roughly a third of the GDP per capita, and just half the mean years of schooling, of the corresponding steps for societies from the affluent West or the affluent East. What this means: High levels of income and educational attainment are not preconditions for the new family revolution in those spots on the globe it hasn’t reached.

CEO Challenges in 2015

A thorough list from our friend Stephen Miles reveals the pertinent issues CEOs must overcome to grow their businesses this year. Top among them? Global talent:

Boards today are demanding global experience and capabilities in a whole new way – and this is not as simple as doing a short stint in Western Europe. Emerging markets and Asia experiences are at a premium. The future will be about developing truly global executive talent, and the CEO selection criteria will change from “nice to have” global experience to “must have.”


The Economist offers a unique perspective on RadioShack’s rise and recent bankruptcy, with a former loyalist explaining how the company lost its way amid shifts in technology.

That modern electronic products like the Raspberry Pi come pre-assembled says much about how the hobbyist movement has evolved. … Today’s enthusiasts tend to get their kicks more from connecting and programming electronic parts to do useful things, rather than simply making a box of tricks from scratch and having the thrill of seeing it work for the first time.

Sustainability Accounting and Talent

Keep your eye on the growing push for business to improve measurement of non-financial performance, says USC Business Professor John Boudreau. His hopeful op-ed explains what human capital reporting looks like under SASB and how the accounting standards can open new opportunities for executives to create value. For example:

CFOs and CHROs should seek to move beyond the typically vague risk assessments of today, such as “inability to attract and retain talent may impact our performance” to offer specific data on the risks of losing talent in pivotal roles and the potential financial impact. For CHROs, these requirements may provide a platform for HR analytics and measurement to gain more prominence at the Board and C-suite level.