Review: Rethink–A Business Manifesto for Cutting Costs and Boosting Innovation

5 Star, Best Practices in Management, Change & Innovation, Complexity & Resilience, Information Operations, Information Technology, Intelligence (Commercial), Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean)
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's About Context, Business Ecosystems, and IT Impact

September 18, 2010

Ric Merrifield

I bought this book on the recommendation of a colleague whom I have known for twenty years, both of us members of the Silicon Valley Hackers Conference started by Stewart Brand and now managed by Glen Tenney. When I came to buy the book and say all of the very short, very empty, largely negative reviews, I was surprised. Trying to understand this, and having looked up the author's history, I speculate that a bunch of folks bought this book because of who the author is (Microsoft's business rethink strategist and innovator), and then did not have the contextual background to appreciate the story line.

Of course the books suffers some from being a book-length expansion of a core idea originally published in the Harvard Business Review, “The Next Revolution in Productivity” (free online at Phi Beta Iota), but from where I sit, 47 of the 53 reviews miss the whole point, and I am not that thrilled with the remaining six, but they did help me.

POINT NUMBER ONE: Businesses are eco-systems within eco-systems. The industrial era has piled up a mish-mash of stovepipes, conflicting chains of command, etcetera etcetera. Until Web 2.0 (I'm working on Web 4.0) there was not much one could do about it, but now Information Technology (IT) has reached a point where it CHANGES EVERYTHING. Bare bone zero sum reviews are a priority.

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Worth a Look: Ric Merrifield Blog, Extract on Privacy

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. . .even Zillow

Not familiar with these companies?  You should be, because they are plotting the course for the future of internet privacy and how we interact with people and merchants.

Bynamite is just the latest and there is a very good article about them here.  In short, Bynamite has (correctly, in my opinion) seen that each time we conduct a search on the internet, the search itself is a transaction because it gives merchants and the search engines more information about our interests, tastes, and needs.  Bynamite also thinks that this sort of profile information will in short order play a very real role in the prices we pay for goods and the kinds of coupons we get.  I think they are right about that as well – and this by itself is one of the most fundamental changes in the world of commerce to come along in a very long time – a set of one, or many, micro transactions prior to the primary transaction(s) that then inform the price we pay for future transactions – in essence context-rich transactions.

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