A Rear View Mirror – The Most Commented Articles

keep-calm-and-go-to-your-mind-palaceDear reader, in the past two weeks we have published a look through the rear view mirror on the top five and following up to top ten most popular articles here on The Bearing Wave since the blog was set up in 2009.

Today we will take a look at a bit more odd set of articles. Below follows the ten articles that we have got the most feedback and dialogue about in the past five years.

Over the years both employees and guest bloggers have expanded the scope of the blog and today it is more about leading edge ideas related to innovation, than only about the work of the management consultancy. Today´s set of rear view mirror articles are more about odd but for the readers apparently very interesting topics.

Through your feedback and comments, we know we have gained many regular readers and in 2014 we had 58,000 visits to this website. We thank you for your attention and we hope to keep you coming back here, as we publish new articles through 2015 and for years to come.

1. Place branding as a Competitive Tool

Marketing places EuropeThe article Place Branding as a Competitive Tool was published in 2012 and it presents some key findings from our research. It presents our past ten years of methodology development on how to work with place branding and benchmarking, and it builds upon a book written by Christer Asplund in collaboration with Philip Kotler in 1999, titled Marketing Places Europe.

Aimed at tourism agencies, students of tourism and local government agencies, the article explains how to work with benchmarking and and analysis to adopt a strategy that will enable places to successfully position place brands on the ever-evolving world marketplace.

Places, like products and services, needs to be marketed and marketed well. Market forces keep changing and there is no room for complacency. By treating places as businesses and applying a marketing and communication strategy, Place Managers can use traditional management science tools to achieve successful place branding.

2. The Power of Positive Thinking

The Power of Positive ThinkingImmediately when The Power of Positive Thinking was published in December 2013, it spread across LinkedIn and Twitter like wildfire. The article is about effective ways to train your brain to more easily pick out the positive angles in situations and not the opposite.

The message is that, learning positivity will not only make us generally happier but it will also make us better and more powerful researchers, entrepreneurs or business managers.

In our daily life we are surrounded by a variety of people. Some people we deal with are a joy to be with and their positive presence nurtures and encourages us. Others may have the opposite effect, draining us of our energy making us feel tired and exhausted.

As far as possible, we should try to be around and communicate with supportive people we can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Every move we make has an effect that touches all the people around us. If we want people to act in a way that helps us to be more positive, we should also try also to influence them positively.

3. The Evolution of Cooperation

FiremenThe article The Evolution of Cooperation was published in January 2013 and it is about the eternal question if we live our lives according to determinism or if we have a free will. It examples the forces and evolution of cooperation as a basic requirements in any organisation consisting of several individuals, whether it is an army, a society, a corporation, a club or a family.

It concludes, not surprisingly, that the best success strategy for life is to be nice. By being nice and collaborate we develop networks of people we interact with for the long run. Let us not forget, especially when it comes to business, healthy repetitive transactions are way better than looking for new suppliers, business partners or customers; which more often than not comes with associated monetary actual and shadow costs.

4. Cézanne and Innovation in Art

Rembrandt self portrait as an old manThe topic of the blog post Cézanne and Innovation in Art was creativity and innovation in fine arts. As the economist Schumpeter taught us, Innovation is creative destruction, where entrepreneurs combine existing elements in new ways.

In the article the paradigms of Schumpeter are applied to the field of art and it concludes that True innovation in art is not only about making something new and different but making something better. True innovation is thoroughly absorbed into the object and cannot be considered apart from the elements of the object. It touches upon us emotionally, builds our sense of character and betters our meme, our species common soul, bridging generations and builds beyond the individuals selfish purpose of survival and replication.

IMG_1095Yesterday evening I visited an exhibition in Zagreb, about the Italian painter Guercino and the light of the Baroque. Guercino from Cento was remarkable for his innovative compositions and psychological insight. In his paintings and frescos we can almost feel the artist’s pencil scratching the surface, as in the picture on the right which I took last night.

When considering a subject for a painting, Guercino imagined the scene from every conceivable angle. Other artists drew numerous sketches, but Guercino worked up a whole variety of solutions on a large scale. He often then used "close-up" studies to examine the relationships between characters and to explore their facial expressions, and in this sense he was a pioneer who brought innovation to the field of art. Also commercial as he had his studio and nephew copy his works and sell to the general public at lower prices. Guercino completed no fewer than 106 large altarpieces for churches, and his other paintings amount to about 144.

5. Whiskey Innovation Radar

johnnie-walker black and redWith Whiskey Innovation Radar, Bearings Research Manager wrote a brilliant text, in August 2014, on how business innovation is applied to market positioning and communication in the industry of fine Scottish whiskey.

In mature markets, blended Scotch in particular badly needs to come up with a reason for someone other than greying men in suits to buy the product. Young people. Women. People with a pulse. And this is where the extremely strict rules governing Scotch whisky production are not doing the industry any favours. But that maybe changing and the Johnnie Walker brand has been a pioneer.

The main point of the article, taking Johnnie Walker as an example,  is that innovation can take place in any dimension of a business system and, when innovating, companies must consider all dimensions of its business system (“The 12 Different Ways for Companies to Innovate”, 2006). A closer look at the 12 dimensions of the innovation radar can be found in this article.

6. About Time

clockAbout Time is about a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and it is also about the measure of duration of events and the intervals between them. In our work, we plan projects based on time, on due date and calendar based milestones and the time it will take to deliver on tasks within a given budget and scope. Sometimes it works well. Sometimes people tend to waste our time. But is it really that easy?

A highly readable viewpoint on the same subject was published in New Scientist on January 10 this year, in an article titled “How long is now”.  "Now" is an idea that physics treats as a mere illusion, yet it is something we are all familiar with. We tend to think of it as this current instant, a moment with no duration. But if now were timeless, we would not experience a succession of nows as time passing. Neither would we be able to perceive things like motion. We could not operate in the world if the present had no duration. So how long is it? This sounds like a metaphysical question, but neuroscientists and psychologists have an answer. In recent years, they have amassed evidence indicating that now lasts on average between 2 and 3 seconds.

7. Inside the Doomsday Machine

The-doomsday-machine3The article Inside the Doomsday Machine is about a truly powerful and dangerous device, which by paradox is the same machine that has brought market economies wealth  and high standards of living, and at the same time in the information age risks bringing us into collapse.

Financial systems are important servants of the economy, but poor masters. A large part of the activity of the financial sector seems to be a machine to transfer income and wealth from outsiders to insiders, while increasing the fragility of the economy as a whole. Click on the articles link above if you are confused, or rather do it anyway.

However if you already have a firm opinion and want it justified, you may just as well click on this link and read Thomas Piketty´s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” instead.

8. Atom Heart Mother and Remarkable Purple Cows

Purple cowThis article, published in November 2012, is about Atom Heart Mother and Remarkable Purple Cows. These topics may sound seriously disconnected but they share the common trait of demonstrating the true heart and soul of disruptive innovation.

The main point of the article is that in a time when supply of products and services in hyper competitive markets seem endless, then visibility can only be achieved by being not only good, but truly remarkable. This may sound impossible to achieve for most of us, but in the context of the crossroads between product, target market and competitor offerings, it may not be that hard.

Ross Kaplan, one of my students in the MBA class at the International University of Monaco, said earlier this week that “hyper competition is when we come up with a product or service, and then we realise that there are many other products or services that deliver just the same, and they are backed by the Google founders and have endless resources to compete with us”. Yes, that may be the case, but then what can make us remarkable is the selection of the target markets where we can be unique.

If you are not a fan of neither music, nor Seth Godin, then the article The Man in the White Suit and Disruptive Innovation may be a better read. It is about the same topics.

9. Keynes and Long Term Accountability

mountains1During the summer 2011 we witnessed a dramatic increase in European and American national deficit crises and the article Keynes and Long Term Accountability was published in August 2011 as a comment on this. It is about the macro economic crisis when national governments are unable to manage national debts.

Governments have been allowed to fund themselves through borrowing since the 1930s, when John Maynard Keynes proposed that inadequate aggregate demand could lead to prolonged periods of high unemployment.  National governments should borrow and spend on public works in recessions to keep up demand, and thus smooth the transition to the next boom period when the national government budget should run a surplus.

The problem with the theory is that it justifies the decision by many politicians to run an almost permanent deficit. Political parties with the ambition to be re-elected are hesitant to recover the debt by running a surplus. Step by step small and big national decisions have been taken whereby irresponsible overconsumption has continued in too many countries.

10. The New Cathedrals

LoungeAn airport lounge is a facility in airports offering resting areas, meeting rooms, phone, wireless and Internet access and other business services, along with provisions to enhance comfort such as free drinks and snacks. At lounges, passengers also find more comfortable seating, quieter environments and better access to customer service representatives than in the airport terminal. This article from 8 May 2012  is about how the airport lounges can be seen as The New Cathedrals.

Over the holiday period and in the past two weeks, I have visited several traditional churches, monasteries and other places of spiritual sanctuary, and last night I was suggested I should maybe also go to a similar retreat in India. With this in mind I am rethinking the thoughts of The New Cathedrals and there may come a follow up text to this article sometime in the future.

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