Cars, Unions, Hiring, and Kim
Issue No 34
Welcome to the 34th issue of the weekly newsletter where I share some ideas, trends, podcasts and posts that caught my attention. You can subscribe to this newsletter that is out every Monday at 9:00am IST
1. Press the accelerator on innovation
When I go out to a coffee shop and ask for the menu, I am given a QR code that shows the menu. More people have adopted on-line shopping during the pandemic than ever before. From school teachers, to children in kindergarten, everyone was doing stuff on video that they thought was impossible till 2019.
Constraints drive innovation:
Genetic sequencing using advanced tech helped create the vaccine
Technology research may create unexpected shifts that create opportunities
China has been trying to take the lead in all things AI. They launched the Thousand Talents Plan: a Chinese government program that offers mainly Chinese scientists working overseas lavish financial incentives to “bring their expertise and knowledge back to China”.
Do a little digging around and you will discover that every nation is guilty of industrial espionage. Hacking data is the most common form of nation-states catching up on competition. Espionage is more common than you think.
Listen to this podcast from The Economist to hear the story of innovation
2. Virtual ‘whistleblowers’
“With the advent of YouTube, blogs, social networking and whistle-blower websites such as WikiLeaks, the paradigm of whistle-blowing is changing,” said David Yamada, a professor at Boston’s Suffolk University Law School and author of a blog about the workplace. “The new paradigm for ‘virtual whistle-blowing’ is increasingly online, networked and anonymous.”
Can you guess which year this post is from? Find out
Dating sites used for whistleblowing: More recently, Women on Bumble (social media dating site), expressed their interest in dating men who stormed the capital. They asked for pictures showing they did so to get their attention. The pictures were sent to federal authorities.
Instagram for whistleblowing: Corporate Governance expert Estelle Metayer tweeted about whistleblowing on social media. Several business leaders never tried using social media because it has one key differentiation - it is a listening device and then a two-way communication tool. Leaders have for years done press-releases where it is their point of view (written, polished and posted in print). The Board Members now have to start understanding the rules of social media if they want to get unfiltered information.
3. Trend: Your car is the new “living space”
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Vegas in the first week of January every year was the place to see the latest electronic gadgets. This year Jan 11-14, 2021 the show went virtual. See the technology that made waves and what evoked groans (the keynotes). Read more
What drew my attention
I was intrigued to see cars being displayed at CES 2021. Cars are no longer mechanical devices. They are fancy platforms for delivering mobility services. A car now has 100 MILLION lines of code.
“The third place” is a sociology-inspired concept, referring to another place outside the home and work, where people can gather and build a sense of community. Starbucks ($88 billion juggernaut) positioned the coffee shop as The third place - office, home and Starbucks. With home and office having merged, the car could become the third place. Concerts and gaming are coming to a car near you.
Do you see the car as the Third Place? Leave a comment and tell us.
Dealing with union leaders who have PhDs in AI
Industrial Relations has been the neglected child of Human Resources professionals. Dealing with unions (particularly in India) was always portrayed as the equivalent of joining the Bomb Diffusion squad. The history of militant trade unions made fresh entrants avoid or minimise doing a stint where they needed to deal with union office bearers. I believe, it builds skills that are hard to hone in any other assignment.
Trade Unions have had to bargain for better pay, benefits, perks, safety standards etc. What could make Googlers form the Alphabet Workers Union? Dealing with unionised employees who have PhDs needs different skills. Making the workplace more equitable will remain important says WSJ (read more)
You must read the reasons behind the unionisation of tech and why this is inevitable
Read the section called The Activists Are In the Office in Dreamers and Unicorns
4. Hire when you find these 3 qualities
What makes someone an effective hire boils down to three characteristics. Do they have the knowledge to do the job? Are they motivated to work hard (on their own)? Do they have social skills that will make it easy for them to work with others?
Do you believe it is important to be likeable if you are awesome at work and driven? Most people point out the example of Steve Jobs and say he succeeded without being likeable. Was he the exception that proves the rule? What is your take?
5. Kimberly-Clark Asia-Pac’s CFO
Kimsuka Narsimhan (known as Kim) is the CFO for Kimberly-Clark (APac). Kim of KIMberly-Clark brings three decades of experience in consumer goods. Her career spans stints at Unilever in India and London, for PepsiCo in India and Dubai, and now in Singapore for Kimberly-Clark. She spoke about a number of things ranging from how to identify talent, the state of consumer goods, grooming talent and leadership tips.
Statutory warning: The audio was acting up a bit. But the ideas are fabulous.
You may have been flooded with 2021 predictions. If someone got 2020 right, then go ahead and listen to their views about the future. Else, tell them that in hindsight everyone has ‘2020 vision’. 20/20 vision is normal vision clarity measured at a distance of 20 feet. If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at a distance.
Based on loads of data points based on what people are searching for Google is putting out some advice for Marketing pros. The ones I would endorse:
Consumers will see through brands (read businesses) who do virtue-signalling. Which brands are these? Watch out for companies who have all male Boards (except one statutorily mandated woman member) that release ads on Women’s Day. Leadership, talent and culture are great indicators to evaluate businesses.
Live-streamed e-commerce will help brands stand out. I believe live-streaming will be mainstream. This is just an extension of the trend of videos getting more mind-share. (Think how many videos get forwarded to you every day on WhatsApp)
There are seven more trends you can browse through. <dig deeper>
Share this newsletter
That is all for this week. Will be back next Monday at 9:00am IST with more ideas, trends, sketches and curated gems. You can email me at email@example.com