Monday, May 04, 2009

Cases and lessons

If you are in business or in business school, cases studies are oxygen. The studies that find their way into the curriculum are just the sampling; you want to spend your whole career learning about the poignant episodes as they unfold. Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years is of a genre and a mostly a good read. The stories are worth knowing, but the authors spend too much time and space reiterating the obvious.

Yesterday's NY Times included "Encyclopedic Knowledge, Then vs. Now ... Ultimately Encarta couldn't match a search engine." Most of us are now big fans of Wikipedia and naturally smile at the big Microsoft misstep. Well, I never predicted Wikipedia and I do not know who did. The nature of progress is that there will be many misses before the market selects a hit.

Being open to new approaches and letting the other models fail is all we have. Sounds simple, but it's not. A substantial part of what politicians do all day is to try to stop or police new approaches while they do what they can to prop up the failures.