In one generation, the Internet went from opening up new free markets to creating a series of Fake Markets that exploit society, without most media or politicians even noticing.
1. The open internet markets
American culture loves to use the ideal of competitive free markets as the solution to all kinds of social problems. Though the vaunted Free Market has no incentives to, say, take care of babies with cancer, a well-functioning market can definitely be a great way to see which provider offers the cheapest price for a roll of toilet paper or a bushel of apples.
Given that cultural predilection, some of the first things people made in the early days of the web were new markets. Perhaps the canonical example was eBay; anybody (well, almost anybody) could list their ceramic figurines for sale on eBay and participate in a relatively fair market. On one side, a gaggle of figurine aficionados, enthusiastically searching for the best deals. On the other, a bunch of figurine vendors, competing on price, quality and service. In the middle, a neutral market that just helps connect buyers and sellers through instantly updated information. Everybody’s happy!
Later, a seller could buy preferred positioning for their products in eBay’s search results, and some product categories started to be dominated by wholesale suppliers, but it still remained a relatively open system. Everybody’s mostly happy!
Not long after eBay started, Google launched, as a sort of market of content, with its PageRank system choosing which pages show up in our search results, ranked by the number of inbound links. On one side were readers, and on the other side we had publishers, and in between was Google using a mysterious but still kind of comprehensible algorithm to create a market where almost everybody felt like they could participate.
But before long, those rankings started to be tainted by spammers… Read the full version from the author’s website.
Contrary to popular belief: meetings are not the devil. We look at how to get more creative – and productive – with your weekly gatherings.
But there’s good news: Rapid experimentation with meetings in the past decade by startups and Fortune 500 companies alike has produced a new set of rules to consider. Here are three that seem to be universal: Of course, there’s no need to stop there.
- All meetings must have a stated purpose or agenda. Without an agenda, meetings can easily turn into aimless social gatherings rather than productive working sessions.
- Attendees should walk away with concrete next steps or Action Items. We love Action Items here, but we’re not the only ones. From Apple to the Toastmasters, the world’s most successful organizations demand that attendees leave meetings with actionable tasks.
- The meeting should have an end time. Constraints breed creativity. By not placing an end time, we encourage rambling, off-topic and useless conversation.
Of course, there’s no need to stop there. Truly productive companies always continue tweaking to suit their specific culture. Here are a few highlights:
During the Steve Jobs era, Apple constantly worked to stay true to its startup roots while becoming the largest company in the world.
- Every project component or task has a “DRI.” According to Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, Apple breeds accountability at meetings by having a Directly Responsible Individual whose name appears next to all of the agenda items they are responsible for. With every task tagged, there’s rarely any confusion about who should be getting what done.
- Be prepared to challenge and be challenged. There are dozens of tales about Jobs’ ability to aggresively question his employees, sometimes moving them to tears. While you probably don’t need the waterworks at your office, everyone should be willing to defend their ideas and work from honest criticism. If a person has no ideas to defend, they shouldn’t be at the meeting.
Read the full version from the author’s website.