Good Managers and Bad Strategy

Knowledge@Wharton writes about comments by Michael Porter:

Bad strategy often stems from the way managers think about competition, he noted. Many companies set out to be the best in their industry, and then the best in every aspect of business, from marketing to supply chain to product development. The problem with that way of thinking is there is no best company in any industry. “What is the best car?” he asked. “It depends on who is using it. It depends on what it’s being used for. It depends on the budget.”

Managers who think there is one best company and one best set of processes set themselves up for destructive competition. “The worst error is to compete with your competition on the same things,” Porter said. “That only leads to escalation, which leads to lower prices or higher costs unless the competitor is inept.” Companies should strive to be unique, he added. Managers should be asking, “How can you deliver a unique value to meet an important set of needs for an important set of customers?”

Cheaper Tech

Hal Varian writes in The New York Times:

As technology advances and costs go down, a lot more amateur video will be produced. Economic rent comes from scarcity. It is true that there is only one Tom Cruise, but it is equally true that there are only 24 hours in a day. The more time young people spend watching Lonelygirl15, the less time they will have to watch Mr. Cruise.

I don�t think that the age of the megastar is over. Quite the contrary, there will still be big-budget movies, and stars with drawing power will still command high salaries.

But, at the same time, I believe that there will be a flowering of creative, inexpensive and compelling semiprofessional content available via the Internet. This content will occupy more and more of people�s attention, particularly young people.

Parakey

IEEE Spectrum writes about Blake Ross’ new venture:

The problem, according to Ross, is theres no simple, cohesive tool to help people store and share their creations online. Currently, the steps involved depend on the medium. If you want to upload photos, for example, you have to dump your images into one folder, then transfer them to an image-sharing site such as Flickr. The process for moving videos to YouTube or a similar site is completely different. If you want to make a personal Web page within an online community, you have to join a social network, say, MySpace or Friendster. If you intend to rant about politics or movies, you launch a blog and link up to it from your other pages. The mess of the Web, in other words, leaves you trapped in one big tangle of actions, service providers, and applications.

Rosss answer is named Parakey. As he describes it, from a users point of view, Parakey is a Web operating system that can do everything an OS can do. Translation: it makes it really easy to store your stuff and share it with the world. Most or all of Parakey will be open source, under a license similar to Firefoxs. There are differences between the two projects, however. Although Ross plans to incorporate the talents and passions of the free-software community, hes building Parakey around a for-profit business model. And hes leading the charge with a simple battle cry: One interface, not two!