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Posts from the ‘Management’ Category


Review: The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation
The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jon Gertner’s “The Idea Factory” tells an important story about the history of many of the communications and information technology underpinnings of our current era. More importantly, it explores (indirectly and eventually) a major question of what is needed to make large basic and applied research labs successful. I’m glad I read this book, but can’t say I necessarily enjoyed reading it. As such I’m struggling with whether to rate 3 or 4 stars … if Goodreads allowed 3.5, that’d be it.

Growing up very close to Bell Labs’ Holmdel NJ facility, I was attracted to this book because of the place the Labs occupied in our local culture. If you were bright, technically oriented, and wanted a well-paying job, Bell Labs was the place to strive for. The invention/discovery of radio astronomy at Crawford Hill added to the mystique. Read more »


Review: The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes’ Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy

The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes’ Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It probably takes a special sort of person to dive into an entire book about one statistical theory, but for those so-motivated, this one pays off.

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As a latest foray into lifelogging I’ve been playing with a tool called “Moodscope“, a lightweight daily quiz which tracks excursions into positive and negative moods.  It appears to be rooted in the established psychometric metric of the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS).  In short, you take a short quiz, and get back a 0-100 score, with 50 being neutral, >50 being “positive affect” (er, “good mood”), <50 being “negative affect” (“bad mood”).   Faced with such a temptation, I couldn’t resist seeing if this was all hooey or if there would be signal in the noise…

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Is the market really looking up for commercial space?

A while back I published a hard look at the optimistic launch demand estimates generated by FAA’s COMSTAC annual forecast.  This year’s forecast has just been released.    In addition to the forecast, the report has for many years included a valuable and underutilized source of information, which provides a more believable and fundamental basis for optimism in the commercial launch sector.   Read more »


Interns: On Your Mark, Get Set …

Want to attract the attention of the best summer interns?   Target your communications campaign to be ready on the first of the year.   It shouldn’t be a surprise that interest in internships follows an annual cycle with a peak in the late winter and spring … but what it is surprising is how sharply peaked this interest is. Read more »


Management Tools Fad-O-Meter (Midyear Refresh)

Bain & Company has released the 2011 data from their biannual Strategic Management Tools survey, so I’ve taken the opportunity to update my “meta-analysis” of these tools,  a mashup of the full 20 years of Bain data with Google Books and Google Insights trending.   The result, the Strategic Management Tools Fad-O-Meter 2011, version 1.1.   Without further ado: Read more »


Review – Business Model Toolbox (for iPad)

Several months ago I reviewed Business Model Generation, a handy book and toolbox for preliminary sketching and development of, well, business models.   I was particularly intrigued by the book as it is simple enough to help untangle “business 101’s” for my customer base of engineers, scientists, and assorted government-side bureaucrats (of which I am one).   The author of this book has recently released version 1.0 of the accompanying iPad app, so … here’s the review. Read more »


Three Books in a Storm

Very little can be said to have been “good” about the brutal Alabama tornado outbreak of 27 April 2011.  I was fortunate enough to come through unscathed both in body and property, inconvenienced only by five days without power.  In a “glass half full” sort of way, five powerless days and public entreaties to stay out of the way of recovery efforts did have one upside: I got to catch up on quite a bit of reading.  Below are some drive-by reviews of an odd assortment of pent up reading material. Read more »


Review: Business Model Generation

Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The cartoonish packaging and presentation of this book shouldn’t dissuade prospective readers, there actually is some meat. BMG’s slug ambitiously reads, “You’re holding a handbook for visionaries, game changers and challengers striving to defy outmoded business models and design tomorrow’s enterprises…” While this is a little of a breathless oversell, BMG contains good tools to work with. Read more »


Some Numbers In Our Defense

Since changing careers from science in 2005, I have had the privilege of shadowing a series of NASA executives whose “drive” has been the continual improvement and maturation of NASA’s management and working culture.   Motivated by the findings of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, and by the imperative of “rallying to the cause” to support Beyond Earth Orbit exploration, NASA’s field Center management has made culture change a quiet but determined mission. Read more »