8 Interesting Things to Read This Week about Strategy and Behavioural Science

Corporate Strategy

The current state of Apple. Recent interview of Apple CEO, Tim Cook. Link.

Macroeconomics & Digital

Interesting macroeconomics analysis of innovation and the cost of monopoly. Link.

Many modern monopolies are the consequence of network effects. They got where they are by creating entirely new markets. But then, easily fall into the convenience of collecting rents. Fortunately, the diffusion of new competing technology creates threats and opportunities that they either dare to seize (e.g. Amazon) or kill them (e.g. Kodak).

Modern monopolies aren’t limiting consumer choice by controlling supply (like oil) or distribution (like railroads) or infrastructure (like telephone wires); rather, consumers are self-selecting onto the monopolistic platform (e.g. Facebook) because it’s a better experience (and it ultimately offers the benefit of the network effect).

Product Strategy & Innovation

Facebook notoriously just copied Snapchat’s Stories (a feature that gives the ability to broadcast temporarily collections of photos and videos). Over the past year, its product teams implemented the “innovative” feature into WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger.

This is an example of low-risk “innovation”. What could be called the Audacity of Copying Well. Link. Or being Fast Second. Link.

Costas Markides describes it well in Fast Second: “How big the window of opportunity open to second movers will be depends on just how quick first movers are to take advantage of being first. Fast-second movers are often established firms whose business is threatened by the new technology. It is not in their interest for the new technology to become established, but once it seems likely that the new technology will take hold, it is in their interest to become leaders in the new market. Hence they have little incentive to move first but every incentive to move fast when someone else enters the market.”

This is exactly what happened with Snapchat and Facebook.

Strategy & Growth

Lessons from the growth of WeChat. A great example of how more companies should think about their digital strategy. Link.

Product Management

Two ways to improve the workflow of a growing product team. Link.

The symptoms of a broken product roadmap. Link.

Psychology

Do we have free will? Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) argues that this isn’t the case: “Your current human body allows the strongest “urge” to win every time. You later rationalize your actions after the fact as something like “thinking.” But in reality, your so-called thinking is just rationalizing for why your strongest urge won again.” Link.

Book

Human Behaviours. A great bullet-point summary of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. I highly recommend reading the book. Link.

“As far as we know, the humans of 30,000 years ago had the same physical, emotional, and intellectual capabilities that we have today. Evolutionary psychology claims that most of our psychology was developed during the period before the Agricultural Revolution about 10,000 years ago.”