Interesting view on Tumblr/Yahoo deal

Yahoo, Tumblr, and the Loyalty Factor – Ben Gomes-Casseres – Harvard Business Review: a blog post analyzing f some of the strategic issues underlying the Tumblr/Yahoo deal: 

“…Still, after the initial shock subsides, can Yahoo count on Tumblr users staying on? That is probably how the investment bankers framed it — as a question of switching costs, lock-in, network externalities, and the like. Where are these users to go? There is no equivalent forum of this type, richness, and network size (at least not yet). It would seem that the 18-24 year-old demographic that Yahoo is pining for does not have an easy exit choice….” (from:

Ben Gomes-Casseres – Harvard Business Review)

He also mentions a book – Exit, Voice, and Loyalty (Hirshman) – that seems to have anticipated some of the lock-in, churn and loyalty challenges that subscription based online services of all kinds face, way back in the 1970’s. Seems like an interesting book, well worth reading: 

“Mr Hirschman’s most famous book, “Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organisations and States”, remains as suggestive today as it was when it first appeared in 1970, for managers and policymakers as well as intellectuals. Mr Hirschman argued that people have two different ways of responding to disappointment. They can vote with their feet (exit) or stay put and complain (voice). Exit has always been the default position in the United States: Americans are known as being quick to up sticks and move. It is also the default position in the economics profession. Indeed, when his book appeared, Milton Friedman and his colleagues in the Chicago School were busy extending the empire of exit to new areas. If public schools or public housing were rotten, they argued, people should be encouraged to escape them.” (from: The Economist)

 

 

 

[EDUCATION] Crowd Sourcing your Strategy

The other day I referenced an article questioning the motivation and effectiveness of large scale strategic planning exercises in universities today. 

In this vein I was interested to see this article describing how certain organizations have totally thrown open the process of developing and communicating strategy by employing some good old crowd sourcing.

“In 2009, Wikimedia1 launched a special wiki—one dedicated to the organization’s own strategy. Over the next two years, more than 1,000 volunteers generated some 900 proposals for the company’s future direction and then categorized, rationalized, and formed task forces to elaborate on them.

The result was a coherent strategic plan detailing a set of beliefs, priorities, and related commitments that together engendered among participants a deep sense of dedication to Wikimedia’s future.

Through the launch of several special projects and the continued work of self-organizing teams dedicated to specific proposals, the vision laid out in the strategic plan is now unfolding.”  (from The Social Side of Strategy)

[EDUCATION] Strategic Plans – are they worth the paper they are written on?

I came across a very provocative article about why and how universities seem to often get buried in a time consuming and torturous process of strategic planning.

My experience in the private sector is that it is very easy to get sucked into a process that takes on a life of its own and sucks a massive amount of time out of the organization for very questionable outcomes.

Caveat: I don’t claim that I have a broad view on this, as my experience is quite limited but I’ll just say that for my money “Strategic Plans” are the management equivalent of “Big Design Up Front”, both of which I try to limit as much as possible.

Remember I am neither against planning nor design. I am against spending massive resources on the creation of massive documents which are out of date as soon they are written down, and are never ever looked at again.

Here’s the conclusion from the article:

“This interchangeability of visions for the future underscores the fact that the precise content of most colleges’ strategic plans is pretty much irrelevant. Plans are usually forgotten soon after they are promulgated.

My university has presented two systemwide strategic plans and one arts-and-sciences strategic plan in the past 15 years. No one can remember much about any of those plans, but another one is in the works.

The plan is not a blueprint for the future. It is, instead, a management tool for the present. The ubiquity of planning at America’s colleges and universities is another reflection and reinforcement of the continuing growth of administrative power.” (from The Strategic Plan: Neither Strategy Nor Plan…”