Separating the wheat from the chaff…

27Jul09

I know I’ve gone dark for a couple of weeks since my return from Silicon Valley.  Suzi and I have been absorbed by due diligence for an investment that we’ve now decided to go forward with.  More on that in a later post.

We’ve also been thinking through Suzi’s new consultancy. It’s based on her 30-year immersion in the most advanced wellness, nutrition and alternative health philosophies and practices.  More on that later, too.

Today’s thoughts organize around the challenge of extracting something actionable and useful out of the tons of topical reading I’ve been doing since firing myself from the training biz.  In support of my strategic goal of identifying an emerging, high-impact problem upon which to base a high-value new business, I embarked on the (indulgent, though necessary, I felt) first step of reinserting myself into the idea stream.  It proved as intellectually stimulating as I’d hoped.  Unfortunately, each blog exposed me to other interesting ones, etc., until the stream became a torrent, fed by a fire hose.  My RSS reader is now at paralysis density, so it’s time to thin the herd in a serious way.

One benefit of ingesting so much information in a short period is that you’re able to see patterns.  One that I’ve noticed is the degree of product-centricity that defines much of the dialog, i.e., most of the innovation conversation is about product.  Far less is about distribution, pricing, business-building, etc.  This appears true to a lesser degree in the tech world, where there is a robust debate about how pricing, distribution and user behavior are driving entirely different business models.  So many other industries, however, appear to be focused largely on divining ways to revive dissipated demand within their existing business model, which implies — to me, anyway — that they may not see or acknowledge the need to do things completely differently.

This brings me to a wonderful, feet-firmly-on-the-ground blog post today in Venture Beat by Dharmesh Shah, “10 Things Business Schools Won’t Teach You.”  It qualifies as a wise reminder that although much is changing radically in the global economy, certain principles never fade in importance.  Number two on Mr. Shah’s list is “There are always more things to do than there is time to do them.  Startups are a continuous exercise in deciding what not to do.  You can sometimes win by just not doing things faster than your competition.”

These two sentences crystallized for me my need to dial back the information flow, arbitrarily if need be, and start testing some of the “seems like…” observations I’ve accumulated in recent weeks.

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2 Responses to “Separating the wheat from the chaff…”

  1. 1 Mike O'Horo

    It’s far from a waste of time, precisely for the reasons you point out. There is an infinite amount of interesting, stimulating, useful, etc., ideas circulating. Unfortunately, perhaps because I’ve only recently reinserted myself into the idea stream and am therefore experiencing years worth of pent-up demand, my filtering skills/methods aren’t up to the task of containing what is becoming indulgent time consumption.

    I now understand how the ancient Greeks could spend days upon days in the agora debating philosophical questions. It’s stimulating and, like any stimulant, can be addictive. Now, how those guys managed to do that all day and avoid the need to work and generate a living, that’s the part I wish I could figure out. I guess they were all gentlemen of independent means, i.e., members of the Lucky Sperm Club.

  2. I can’t say it’s a waste of time scanning the blogsphere everyday via my Google Reader because there’s a lot of ideas worth contemplating, but it’s making me totally ADD. Recently I decided to read more long format stuff these days (books), at least for a while. Reading a book allows me to focus on that one theme and come to some clear conclusions that I can add to my knowledge base and apply. Plus I have time to think and come up with my own ideas. It’s much better for my own thoughts. When I surf the blogsphere i pick up so much random information, most of it really good, but it prevents me, some how, from thinking on my own. I often find it hard to distinguish what my original thoughts are. Does that ever happen to you?


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