Edge Competencies

Umair Haque writes:

What do Googles use of markets to disrupt advertising, Lego harnessing prosumers to amplify innovation, and connected consumers self-organizing into networks on MySpace all have in common? Theyre all nascent examples of edge competencies.

Management thinkers and economists have long speculated that cheaper and cheaper information would disintegrate value chains into more and more highly specialized segments. Less often, theyve considered the possibility that as value chains disintegrate, value creation might begin to shift outside the boundaries of firms themselves.

Yet this is exactly the world thats emerging. Because coordination is becoming cheaper, the universe of value outside the boundaries of the firm the resources, activities, and skills external to it is beginning to explode: different organizational forms, like markets, networks, and communities, are beginning to emerge as powerful economic forces.

Great Design

Joel Spolsky writes:

You know those gorgeous old brownstones in New York City? With the elaborate carvings, gargoyles, and beautiful iron fences? Well, if you dig up the old architectural plans, the architect would often just write something like “beautiful fretwork” on the drawing, and leave it up to the artisan, the old craftsman from Italy to come up with something, fully expecting that it will be beautiful.

That’s not design. That’s decoration. What we, in the software industry, collectively refer to as Lipstick on a Chicken. If you have been thinking that there is anything whatsoever in design that requires artistic skill, well, banish the thought. Immediately, swiftly, and promptly. Art can enhance design but the design itself is strictly an engineering problem. (But don’t lose hope — I’ll talk more about beauty in future articles).

Design, for my purposes, is about making tradeoffs.