Monday 20th February 2017
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Have you ever wondered about internal organization dynamics and why some groups of people (who aren't on the same team) are more successful than others? Why different "tribes" inside the organization seem to be at war with one another lowering performance by increasing politics? Why certain groups of people never seem to do anything? Or why its hard to move into the next level? Welcome to Tribal Leadership: The Key to Building Great Teams
"India has successfully launched 104 satellites in a single mission, setting a world record of launching the most satellites at one go. For those wondering if a poor country like India can afford such missions, here's some more information. Of the 104, 101 are foreign satellites to serve international customers as India seeks a bigger share of the $300 billion global space industry. Modi is bullish on India's space programme and has repeatedly praised the efforts of scientists who three years ago pulled off a low-cost mission to send a probe to orbit Mars that succeeded at the first attempt. Out of 101 nano-satellites, 96 were from the United States and one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates." More on how international media reported India's big achievement here
A DeepMind (Google company) project has been developing an "early warning" app known as Streams using machine learning, which will go into use in the NHS (National Health Service) this year. Streams analyzes patient data and delivers cellphone alerts directly to a doctor or nurse when urgent intervention may be required. Initially it is being trained to detect signs of acute kidney injury (AKI) but could potentially learn to spot many other conditions. Google is not seeing any direct profits from these healthcare partnerships, which may initially seem strange considering it spent more than half a billion dollars on the tools to do these jobs." More here
No matter how much their carnivorous friends might deny it, vegetarians have a point: cutting out meat delivers multiple benefits. And the more who make the switch, the more those perks would manifest on a global scale. But if everyone became a committed vegetarian, there would be serious drawbacks for millions, if not billions, of people. "It's a tale of two worlds, really," says Andrew Jarvis of Colombia's International Centre for Tropical Agriculture. "In developed countries, vegetarianism would bring all sorts of environmental and health benefits. But in developing countries there would be negative effects in terms of poverty." More here
Brexit, Trump, Global Economic Doom? Not so fast, says Jim O'Neill, economist and former Goldman Sachs exec. He tracks 6 indicators from around the world, which taken together act as a reliable indicator for the near-term future of the global economy. They are all trending upward at the moment. The first indicator is weekly unemployment claims in the US, from which one can gauge the overall strength of the US economy. Next, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index provides a pretty good preview of the US economy for the next three-six months. A third indicator is a subcomponent of the same ISM survey: manufacturers' new orders and inventories. Looking beyond the US, a fourth indicator is the ratio of Chinese retail spending relative to industrial production (adjusted for inflation). These figures give us a glimpse of both cyclical trends and China's structural rebalancing away from exports and towards domestic consumption. A fifth indicator is South Korean trade data, which is consistently reported on the first day of each month after trades occur - faster than any other country. The last key indicator is the monthly Ifo Business Climate Index in Germany which contains useful cyclical data for Europe overall, owing to Germany's centrality in the continent's economy. More here
"Fake news is killing people's minds", Apple CEO Tim Cook told the Daily Telegraph. Meanwhile, New York City has launched a new program called "One Book, One New York" to encourage all city residents to read the same book. The initiative allows New Yorkers in all five boroughs to vote on one of five books to start reading in the month of March. Residents can vote online or in kiosks in subway stations until February 28. The effort is an attempt to give small bookstores throughout the city a boost and, as the program's title suggests, create a sense of community among the city's readers. How's that for a social (and mind-enhancing) experience in the real world! More here
Some common threads run through a number of Indian SME units. Most of them are in niche areas, are run by owners who are increasingly qualified and well-educated and they are mostly unlisted companies. These are the unsung heroes of India's growth over the last two decades, boosting it in good times and providing the anchor in bad times. They constitute India's Mittelstand, the micro, small and medium enterprises sector, which contributes nearly 8% of the country's GDP, 45% of its manufacturing and 40% of its exports. More pertinently they also provide the largest share of employment after agriculture. The numbers though, could be better, much better. In Germany, the Mittelstand, which make up over 90% of all German firms, account for nearly 52% of the country's GDP. That's possible in India too provided we get off our obsession with large-cap companies as well as the new-age start-ups looking to be the next unicorn. More here
I was having the 'product vs service startup' discussion with a colleague yesterday and how entrepreneurs should adapt their thinking based on life-stage and risk appetite. The holy grail of a product startup is the elusive 'product-market fit' after which revenues can grow exponentially like Uber or Facebook. However, the probability of achieving this fit is really really low, even in niche B2B areas (think of all the expense solutions and marketing automation products out there). Some of us entrepreneurs in our late thirties may not be able to afford jumping from one failed product to another. We need to grow revenues with predictability, which is what a service business allows you to do (relatively speaking). However, productizing portions of your business internally is a great way to achieve some non-linearity in growth. It can help cut costs, while still keeping customers happy.
Brian Little, one of the world's leading experts on personality psychology, is renowned as a public speaker. If you watch his recent TED talk on personality, as millions of others have, you will see an engaging and witty orator holding his audience's attention with aplomb. You'd probably conclude that Little is an extravert: he's not only good at what he's doing, but he seems to be revelling in the opportunity. In fact, Little is a self-proclaimed introvert. After his talk you would quite likely find him seeking a few minutes of quiet refuge behind the locked door of a toilet cubicle. This is one of the "restorative niches"... More here.
Uber is making moves to expand the scope of its flying car experiment - the company just hired NASA engineer Mark Moore. Uber has articulated its vision for "on-demand aviation" as networks of small vehicles that can take off and land vertically, are powered by electric sources, and have ranges of between 50 and 100 miles on a single charge. The ultimate goal is to have these operate autonomously, summoned via an app on a passenger's phone, but in the near-term Moore tells Bloomberg that we'll probably see a bunch of competing designs hit the field that operate well but with human pilots for now. VTOL are a pursuit of other companies, too, including two startup funded by Google's Larry Page, and commercial aviation giant Airbus, which is exploring similar territory to Uber with its own Vahana project. More here.
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