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Week 52, 2021—Issue #184

Year-in-Review (2021): Data Analytics, Transaction Costs, and Innovative Cultures

Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash

Each week: three ideas on the future of work. This week: the three most liked, read, and referenced WorkMatters stories from 2021. (Originally published in the newsletter on December 31, 2021).

1. Data Analytics

Back in June, I made a bit of a departure from my usual fair of structures and systems to write about analytics. Specifically, I decided to write about how different types of data can help us make different types of decisions. And I must admit, I felt a little bit like Bambi on (thin) ice in doing so. I am, after all, not a Data Scientist. But I do work with a few of them and I must have absorbed something through that relationship because the story went on to become my best performing Medium post of all time.

The most ‘liked’ story of 2021:

2. Transaction Costs

Likes and claps are one way to measure popularity, at least on Medium. But in the world of newsletters, it’s the “open rate” that reigns supreme. In 2021, the story with the highest open rate (51%) was my treatment of transaction costs theory — the raison d’être of organizations. I’m glad… if a bit surprised; I honestly didn’t expect such an esoteric subject to score so well. But I guess it speaks to the interests and inclinations of you, Dear Reader. After all, it was you (well, 51% of you) who decided to hit “open”.

The most ‘read’ story of 2021:

3. Innovative Cultures

Last but not least: the most referenced story of 2021 was my treatment of Gary Pisano’s “The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures”. And when I say “referenced” I mean referenced by… me! Cheeky, I know — but I’ve gotten a ton of mileage out of this one! The story suggests that easy-to-like behaviors like “tolerance of failure” must be balanced by “hard truths” such as “intolerance of incompetence”. It also suggests that it’s the ability to strike this balance that sets the world’s most innovative organizations apart.

The most ‘referenced’ story of 2021:

Rendanheyi (RDHY) didn’t make it into the top-3 but if there was a theme to 2021 that has to be it: Haier’s organizational model made frequent appearances in 2021, and that is likely to continue in 2022 as well. But I can tell by looking at my backlog that 2022 will bring in new perspectives as well with stories about Web3, the Metaverse, and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO).

Should be interesting.

That’s all for this year.
Until next time: Make it matter.

PS. Visit for a complete list of stories from 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018.



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