Disruption and free access to MITSloan Management Review

A former colleague of mine recently mentioned that her current employer, MITSloan Management Review (MMR), was offering a free 60-day pass to their entire site. I've read a number of articles since then and wanted to pass that link along to you as well.

More importantly, I also discovered that the MMR has assembled a collection of very timely articles about disruption that they're also offering as a free downloadable PDF (courtesy of Deloitte). If you click here you'll be asked to give your name and email address to Deloitte but I think you'll find the content well worth that personal info.


The Acorn Method: How Companies Get Growing Again, by Henrik Werdelin

When I first met Henrik Werdelin he was a founding partner of Prehype, a "collective of entrepreneurial people who help each other build new ventures." My employer at that time had an agreement with Prehype to help us ideate and develop a new strategy for the organization's future. I always came away from those meetings with Henrik feeling both inspired and challenged; he forced us to look at our business in a completely new way.

When I learned that Henrik recently published a book called The Acorn Method: How Companies Get Growing Again, I immediately bought the e-version and started reading. I encourage you to buy a copy as well -- you won't be disappointed.

This quote from one of the first few pages provides the main concept behind the book:

I believe mature companies are like tall trees; they grow until gravity constrains them. They may shoot up rapidly, generating tiers of new branches and reaching great heights, but eventually, new growth can no longer successfully compete for resources with older branches higher up the tree.

The Acorn Method is a very quick read and, if you're like me, you'll end up with plenty of highlighted pages and notes to follow-up on. Highly recommended.


Embracing collaboration in the midst of scarcity

Many of us would probably say that we and our businesses operate in a world of scarcity, where my gain is at my competitor's expense. That's why it's so refreshing to read a story like this one from FastCompany, Why we opened our pandemic-born delivery platform to competitors.

Despite the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program there are going to be countless businesses that never reopen. Some of them could probably be saved if that segment's business community worked together, rather than in opposition, like that Maryland brewing company from the FastCompany article has done.

How might this work in your business segment? I realize I need to step back and start viewing others more as possible collaboration partners rather than competitors. More importantly, I need to start asking a simple question when I speak with each of them going forward: What can I do, and what might my employer be able to do, to help provide some lift for your operation? Who knows where those conversations might lead...


Experimentation Works, by Stefan H. Thomke

I can't remember who recommended this book but I'm glad they did. I'm talking about Experimentation Works by Stefan H. Thomke. The subtitle sums it up quite well: The surprising power of business experiments.

I'm still fairly early in this one but here are a few of my favorite highlights so far:

At Booking.com all employees can define a hypothesis and launch an experiment on millions of users without permission from management.

Even though the business world glorifies disruptive ideas, most progress is achieved by implementing hundreds or thousands of minor improvements that can have a big cumulative impact.

The serendipitous breakthroughs may be more likely to occur when managers are clear that understanding what does not work is as important as learning what does.

True experimentation organizations not only appreciate surprises, they cherish and capitalize on them.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to stop and think about each of those points individually. I'm particularly hung up on the last one. Why? Like a lot of people, I tend to view surprises as bad, mostly. An experiment that doesn't turn out the way I expected it to means I didn't know as much as I thought I did. I need to get past that though and embrace those surprises as the author suggests.

The book can feel overly academic at times as you'll sometimes think you're stuck in the middle of a textbook. If you skim through those sections and focus exclusively on the company success and failure stories I'm confident you'll find it worth the price of admission.