Tag Archives: technology

Personal Genetic Testing Companies – an Update

Last week, I again attended VALUEx.   If you’re a Value Investor, this is no more interesting use of your time – it is an extraordinary gathering of intelligent, talented and fun people.

Like me, many people at VALUEx avoid investing in technology firms.  On the other hand, many participants know that it’s important to follow the evolution of what I call the “3 GRAIN” technologies (3D printing, Genetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Information Technology, and Nanotechnology).  Each of the 3 GRAIN general purpose technologies will have an increasing impact on the creation of value in the years ahead.   Moreover, how they will combine to produce social changes is something that Philippe and I think about a lot.
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Start with Geostrategy, or call it Tactics

Many business people seem to operate under the unconscious assumption that they’ll gain a competitive advantage through a careful daily reading of the business press.  They won’t.  The same goes for fund managers seeking to generate “alpha”:  the business press alone certainly won’t get you there.

They’re also unlikely to gain a decisive edge by combining the daily parade of conventional economic data with stale “strategic” frameworks like the BCG Matrix (which dates back to 1968), Porter’s Five Forces (created in 1979), or Value Chain Analysis (introduced in 1985).   Anyone who has studied business in the last 30 years – including your competition – uses these.   They also probably read the same newspapers and buy the same economic data.   In short, the old-school “Business Strategy 101” toolkit is like a white shirt in your closet:  always safe, sometimes useful, but not a decisive business edge.   Face it:  apart from their other limitations (see below), these old strategy models are fully depreciated.  How is the unconsidered imitation of commonplace ideas “strategic”?

Fully Depreciated Thinking

There is no clearer path towards creating a strategically autistic culture or organization than by mistaking the very definition of strategy.  That’s why to gain a competitive advantage in today’s world, you have to do more.  In my view, that “more” starts by gaining an understanding of what actually constitutes business strategy, i.e. understanding the deep, structural forces that bear on the long-term success of firms, and how these forces can be engaged and harnessed.  In the classes that I teach at IE, I argue that these deep forces are geopolitical.  The metaphor that I use to explain my approach is that geopolitics shapes the climate of business, whereas the daily news and conventional economics – even macroeconomics – simply address the weather of business.

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Crossing the Hudson to Spit: Moore’s Law, Steam Engines and Genetic Technology

One of the features of our age is the idea that business suffers from a unique level of technological disruption, an attitude that I call  Techno-Egotism.  Businesspeople are told routinely that they operate in an era of “unprecedented” technological change; as a result, they feel very Modern (and rather sorry for themselves).  They also, however, end up lacking perspective, and that can be a strategic liability.

I believe that if posterity registers our age’s Techno-Egotism at all, they will find it rather quaint.  This thought struck me with great force last week as I drove across the George Washington Bridge, from New York to New Jersey, specifically in order to spit legally into a tube, and then mail that tube.

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