What's new in business?

Rob at BusinessPundit publishes another in a series of book reviews on Hard Facts, Dangerous Half Truths & Total Nonsense, through which he raises a question I've been wondering about as well.

What's new?

More accurately, I think he's asking (my paraphrase) if business is about breakthroughs at all. I like Rob's bottom line: "sexy doesn't always get you a good ROI."

In the spirit of dialog, here's what I think is new. These macro themes, if they apply at all, fit strategically, not to the day to day business of business and its execution. You decide.

  • The role of networks in non-monetary value creation, which is the theme of Yochai Benkler's Wealth of Networks. Knowledge coordination in the pursuit of value outside of the market or firm is a new development in economic history. Is there a global $50 trillion virtue economy? I do not, however, believe in a Big Giant Head dispensing wisdom.
  • Aesthetics. All thing being equal, stand-out design can improve a product or service. Far from ornament, great design is increasingly about making the complex simple. The long tail surfaces all variety of aesthetic taste from which networks subtract the cost of discovery. I'm also very interested in how design communicates.
  • Bias can't be eliminated but they can be profitably explored. Bias can be a hindrance, or thoroughly understood, a great help. Individual passion can be profitably pursued thanks an always-on world and the general success of capitalism in producing wealth, in raising the bar, very broadly speaking, for everyone. The number of possible businesses is thereby enlarged. Like Rob, I think execution is still what matters most. Unlike Rob, I only think these things up.

My thoughts.


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