Businesses are always trying to “go faster” – to do more work in less time. It’s the only way to get more productive. Lots of them do it in quite a blunt way: they think it’s all about speed. But there’s more to it than that, I think, and that’s what this week’s article is about.

This week’s article

Cadence and speed

Going faster means doing things more quickly. But it also means setting a regular, sustainable rhythm. But how do you know how fast is too fast?

Click here to read the article »

This week’s two interesting links

Novak Djokovic: Doubts over timing of Covid test

Some fantastic sleuthing by Der Spiegel and a German research group called Zerforschung, highlighted here by the BBC:

“Doubts have emerged over the timing of the positive Covid test Novak Djokovic used to enter Australia to try to compete in the Australian Open. It was provided to exempt him from rules barring unvaccinated people.

“However, the serial number on his test on 16 December appears out of sequence with a sample of tests from Serbia over this period gathered by the BBC.”

It’s a great example of what’s known in statistics as the German tank problem, after the most famous instance of it in World War II. #

Start with why, end with wire fraud

Another thoughtful piece on brand purpose by Nick Asbury, following his first last year. Rather than simply looking externally – focusing, say, on the shallow nature of brand purpose, or the question of whether consumers care about it – Nick instead drills into the ways that purpose can distort the internal culture of a business:

“Once you’re convinced of the rightness of your cause, it’s easier – consciously or subconsciously – to justify any means towards that end. And right now a lot of companies – whether cynically, genuinely, or somewhere in between – are convincing themselves of the rightness of their cause.”

In the case of Theranos, focusing on grand missions and purpose actually obscured the fraud:

“Imagine you’re a journalist or investor quizzing Elizabeth Holmes back when she was in her prime. What would be the harder questions for her to answer? How questions would be tough – how exactly does this device work? When questions would be equally tricky – you’ve been promising this for a while, but when exactly are you doing to deliver? Questions of what, where and who might also demand specifics – what is your current balance sheet, where is your laboratory, who has signed up so far?

“But ask Elizabeth Holmes why and she will be in her element. She will talk for hours about changing the world, transforming lives, helping our troops on the battlefield, helping our doctors at home… Through a combination of grand vision and personal founding myth, she can hold any audience spellbound.”