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Serendipity, obliquity and resilience
Ephemeral Reviews, Essays and Opinions s°02.ep05 - 2020.03.10
So, what do you do when you are young and quarantined? Link (S)
Financial software heavyweight Intuit acquired consumer finance portal Credit Karma for $7bn. Investor Semil Shah derives 5 insights from this deal, and analyst Ben Thompson highlights the main rationale behind it - creating a new acquisition channel for Intuit. (T)
Famed VC fund Andreessen-Horowitz revealed the list of the top 100 online marketplaces in the US. Great to discover the top segments as well as the fastest-growing ones. Link (T)
So many articles and posts those days referring to an apocryphal marxist concept, late capitalism. It’s worth looking into this meme, but I share Rachel Connelly’s opinion and will to absolve ourselves: there is not so much wrong or new in brands trying to thrive. Link (S)
What’s great - among many things - with Stéréo is that it’s a formidable playground to test ideas of frameworks. So, without much of an introduction and much of a conclusion, with the sole aim of provoking thoughts and debate, here is an intuition I’d like to share:
In a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world, there are 3 key capabilities that organizations have to develop to survive:
Serendipity, the ability to generate or leverage fortunate accidental discoveries. That is, to start from a point A… and being open to which point B to reach.
Obliquity, the ability to identify and focus on proximate goals to better achieve broader goals. That is, to focus on point B’ to better reach point B.
Resilience, the ability to achieve a goal through various pathways. That is, to be able to link point A and point B through points C, D or E.
Now I can hear you screaming “examples, please!” Here they come:
Serendipity ⇒ the lean startup methodology, which through laying assumptions and testing them with actual users can lead to unexpected insights.
Obliquity ⇒ quite obviously to me, customer - and employee - centricity are the best examples today. Rather than to maximize revenue directly, maximizing customer satisfaction leads to better results.
Resilience ⇒ a well-defined, encompassing purpose leaves options open. Your goal is to improve employees' health? Creating an insurance solution, a telehealth service, a healthy food-delivery service or a mood-tracking app are all valid paths.
Even more interesting, examples can be found at the intersections between the 3 capabilities:
Serendipity <> Obliquity ⇒ intrapreneurship programs
Obliquity <> Resilience ⇒ diversity efforts
Resilience <> Serendipity ⇒ pivot, in the definition given by author Eric Ries: “a change in strategy without a change in vision”
Last but not least, I think the 3 capabilities I laid out can be found at the startup ecosystem level:
Serendipity ⇒ venture capital, which helps to identify new needs and relevant solutions through startup funding.
Obliquity ⇒ the startup model, which consists in burning a lot of money first… to better mint cash later on - in the best-case scenario, needless to say.
Resilience ⇒ creative destruction, which for a given need or job-to-be-done - entertainment, food delivery, money management etc. - continuously and ruthlessly crowns the best solution.
If this tentative framework sparks something, please share your thoughts!
I can’t make up my mind to know how positive or scary this chart can be interpreted? (S)
These 10 trends for e-commerce in China were drawn before the Coronavirus outbreak. Let’s consider how they will succeed after such a stress test. Link (S)
“Botnet is a social network simulator where you're the only human along with a million bots who are obsessed with you.” With the option to add paid features such as… trolls. Weird and clever at the same time. Link (T)
Whether to make data science or automated worfklow creation more accessible, “no-code” startups are a trend to keep an eye on. Proof point: in mid-January, Google acquired AppSheet, which as its name implies enables businesses to turn spreadsheets into apps without coding involved. (T)
In Stéréo, I’ve been lamenting too often the European tech downgrade and unicorns desert. It looks like there is an exception: ASML, a low-key Dutch company and the world’s sole manufacturer of the most advanced equipment critical to modern chipmaking. Link ($) (S)
Garry Kasparov may be the best chess master of all time. But he is even better known for being the first to lose to a machine, the famous IBM Deep Blue. He has now made peace with AI and his perspective is incredibly insightful. Link (S)
The Undying Tiranny of Terrazzo. If only because of the beauty of the title I could share this great read on my favorite hobby: interior design. Link (S)
The more I’m told that I should read a book, the less I’m inclined. That’s why I still haven’t read Sapiens, but at least now I know the story of the man behind the blockbuster. Link (T)
2 industries are always at the forefront of technological (r)evolutions: porn and the media. Regarding the latter, an inside story of The Telegraph’s website feels a little bit like a history of the web itself. Link (T)
Before 1998, only 3 women made it to the Time “Man of the Year” (sic). To right that wrong, and before International Women’s Day last Sunday, Time magazine issued the 100 Women of the Year project. Thank you ladies. (S)
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Edited by Stéphane Distinguin (S), Founder and CEO of Fabernovel, and Tom Morisse (T), Fabernovel alum and Knowledge Manager at Spendesk, Stéréo is a digital-oriented newsletter highlighting the main developments and weak signals affecting the world’s societies and economies.
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