lunes, 29 de diciembre de 2003

Empecemos con algunos regalitos "con retraso", de Navidad:
unos cuanto pasatiempos logicos de Raymond Smullyan.
La America profunda, esa parte de los EEUU que solo vemos en las peliculas de las tardes de los domingos, y en las noticias acerca de "asesinos en serie"......... un ranking de la revista Money, acerca de los mejores sitios para vivir en USA .
Faltan todas esas ciudades de ensueño que podemos ver en las revistas de viajes!!.
Creo que es interesante el comparar el precio medio de la vivienda, con los ingresos medios familiares anuales: efectivamente, tienen mejor calidad de vida!!.

domingo, 28 de diciembre de 2003

El e-waste, un problema en aumento.

Bajo este anglicismo se esconde uno de los problemas ecológicos que el ser humano tiene que solucionar. Se trata del desperdicio como resultado del dinamismo de la tecnología: ordenadores obsoletos y otros electrodomésticos se amontonan en cementerios tecnológicos como si de un basurero se tratara. Por una parte, se incita a la re-utilización y posterior reciclaje, pero el mercado de la informática y de las nuevas tecnologías invitan a la constante renovación y al carpe diem virtual pensando que esos ordenadores que tiramos, no contaminan, o dejan de ocupar espacio automáticamente.
El artículo completo, en La Flecha.
Te gustaria saber cual de los dos hemisferios utilizas de forma predominante?.
Mira esta pagina web y lo sabras!!.
Un estudio acerca del perfil, en cuanto a valores de la persona. Interesante .


El resultado se refleja en un grafico del tipo anterior, y no lleva mas de 10 minutos el cumplimentarlo. ¿Como somos de tolerantes?.

sábado, 27 de diciembre de 2003


5 Top Mispronunciations by President Bush in 2003

1. a-MERR-ca a-MER-i-ca (America)

2. NEW-cue-ler NEW-clee-er (nuclear)

3. JU-ler-ee JU-wel-ree (jewelry)

4. Anzar Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar

5. Ne-VAH-duh Ne-VAE-duh) (Nevada)

Por si aun no os lo creeis, aqui
Aunque, para no faltar a la verdad, sus comienzos no fueron prometedores............

La obsesion de Bush por Bin Laden es porque.......sabe demasiado!!.


viernes, 26 de diciembre de 2003

N. Gregory Mankiw es un profesor de economia de Harvard y la 5ª ed. de su libro de macroeconomia, parece ser un excelente texto de estudio.
Para todos aquellos "toreros de salon", que piensan que lo harian mucho mejor que los denostados politicos de cualquier pais, os invito a jugar el Presidential Game , que consiste en.......
"Congratulations! It is 2009 and you have just been elected President. The Federal Reserve and Congress are at your beck and call. So, it is up to you to set monetary and fiscal policy. Your goal is to set policies that keep the economy healthy. Be careful. Unexpected events of all sorts can happen at any time. Your political opponents are everywhere. If the economy does badly your popularity will fall and soon you will be writing your memoirs".

miércoles, 24 de diciembre de 2003

Damos la Bienvenida a Javier, y esperamos que pronto podamos disfrutar de sus colaboraciones.

e-lancers: Cuando el suelo se hace Red.

"Libertad de horarios, no aguantar al jefe, atascos o el agobio del metro. Hay buenas razones para que el 2004 sea el año de los e-lancers. Según los expertos el yacimiento de empleo más jugoso de aquí al 2006. Redecorarás tu vida."

¿Quién sabía hace tan sólo cinco años qué era un e-lancer?. En el 2004 nos encontraremos el término hasta en la sopa. O al menos eso es lo que nos dicen los expertos en empleo que vaticinan que muchos de los lectores de esta noticia lo serán ya el año que viene. Un artículo de Natalia Fernández en la Bitácora de las Indias.

lunes, 22 de diciembre de 2003

martes, 16 de diciembre de 2003

The Future of Healthcare?
"The problem with predictions of the future of healthcare is that the future of healthcare only exists on PowerPoint. We seem to have jumped from one future to another without implementing any of them."

Ian Morrison
Senior Fellow Institute for the Future
and author of Health Care In The New Millennium

domingo, 14 de diciembre de 2003

Una simpatica contribucion acerca del test Mensa, o de como la probabilidad de que 5 compañeros de FT, tengan un IQ de 155 es de 1 en 24 millones.........

Is Mensa dumbing down?
By Sathnam Sanghera
Published: December 12 2003 16:33
Financial Times

The other week I learned something new and rather exciting about myself: I am a genius. At the invitation of Mensa, I spent 45 minutes completing their Home Test, the first step you need to take to join the high IQ society, sent it off in the post to be marked, and waited for the result.

A letter came back a few days later saying I had an IQ of 155. To put this in a bit of context: the average IQ is 100; to qualify for Mensa, which takes only the top 2 per cent of the population, you need an IQ of 148 or above. A score of 155 puts me in the top 1 per cent. In short, I am very clever indeed.

But while this happy letter from Mensa confirmed what I had always quietly suspected, it presented a problem. I had also got four colleagues to complete the Home Test and was now terrified that they had fared worse than me. I would have to tell them my brilliant score, they would have to face the fact that they were not as bright as me, and, frankly, it would be awkward. Nobody likes a show-off.

My heart skipped a beat as they opened their respective envelopes. FT columnist Lucy Kellaway was first. It was a relief to see the slight smirk: she had got 155 too. management editor Mike Skapinker was next. Again, that giveaway smug grin. 155 too. Then it was Paul Solman, the deputy features editor. A self-satisfied smile. 155. Ditto for employment correspondent David Turner.

In one way it was the ideal result - none of us were exposed as being measurably dimmer than the rest. But I couldn't help feeling deflated. It's fun being a genius, but when everyone around you is a genius too, it's not so exciting. I began wondering about the accuracy of the Mensa test. Lucy Kellaway, the genius that she is, did a calculation on the back of an envelope showing that the likelihood of us all having an IQ of 155 was somewhere around one in 24m.

I fired off an e-mail to John Stevenage, the chief executive of Mensa, asking why we had all attained the same fantastic score. His prompt reply listed several possible explanations: we all work for the same clever newspaper so a high score is "quite possible" (our favourite explanation); some of us might not have kept very strictly to the allotted 45 minutes (our least favourite explanation); the Home Test is only a trial indicator - in order to formally join Mensa you need to pass a more reliable supervised IQ test, or submit a qualifying test score from an approved test.

But my genius colleagues and I came up with an alternative theory: Mensa is so desperate for members that it flatters people who complete the free Home Test in the hope that they will then sit a supervised IQ test and become paid-up members. It's a horrible, cynical thing to suggest about a great British institution such as Mensa - but could it be true? Surely Mensa isn't that desperate?

Unfortunately, membership figures for the society, which was set up in 1946 by Lancelot Ware, a postgraduate Oxford student, and Roland Berrill, an Australian with a private fortune, suggest that it might be. Membership in the UK currently stands at a lowly 26,247 - the lowest figure in 15 years, more than 17,400 below the figure 10 years ago, when membership reached an all-time high of 43,652. While Mensa has a worldwide membership of 98,861, British Mensa, the heart and home of the society, is in a very sorry state indeed.

So what has gone wrong? Well, pretty much everything. Mensa did very well for a period between 1980 and 1997, when Sir Clive Sinclair was chairman, growing from about 8,000 members to about 36,000 when he stepped down. The expansion was the result of Sinclair's high public profile in the 1980's and the work of chief executive Harold Gale, who aggressively increased membership by placing Mensa puzzles and adverts in newspapers.

But things went very wobbly in the mid-1990's when Gale was unceremoniously sacked for running a small puzzle business out of Mensa offices. Though his appeal to an industrial tribunal was successful, he never got over the depression generated by the publicity. In 1997 the 55-year-old drove his car into a railway bridge support arch. The official verdict was accidental death, but those close to him believe he took his own life. Before setting out he had left a note on his kitchen table. "It would have been better," he was reported to have written, "if Sir Clive and the Mensa committee had put a contract out on me than let me endure the last two years."

Things continued to fall apart when Sir Clive was in 1997 replaced as chairman by Julie Baxter, a sociable 45-year-old from Lancashire, the first ever female chairman of Mensa. In 1998 she resigned following a vote of no confidence passed at the society's annual meeting in Bournemouth. She had already been sacked once before by the board but was reinstated by the membership. She finally left threatening to set up a rival organisation, complaining that Mensa's leaders were "sexist, manipulative and bullying" and that there were "dark forces at work".

Speaking at the Mensa headquarters in Wolverhampton, where the society's collapse in membership has left the premises partially empty (they are looking for smaller offices), Mensa's current leadership - 47-year-old chief executive John Stevenage, and 55-year-old chairman Sylvia Herbert, a freelance PR consultant, admit that Mensa has been through a very difficult period. "In 1999 membership numbers were in freefall," says Stevenage. "It was a bit like stopping the Titanic going down. But we seem to have stabilised now."

Asked to explain why membership has collapsed so spectacularly, the two reel off contributing factors: Mensa suffered as a result of bad publicity over the Gale and Baxter affairs; the society can no longer afford to run adverts in the papers ("money got tight in the 1990's"); the membership fee has increased from £25 to £40; people have an increasingly large choice of things to do with their leisure time. But there is, I would suggest, another possibility: Mensa has a serious, almost insurmountable image problem. Rather than having cachet, membership of Mensa is now considered a mark of social inadequacy.

Again, it's a horrible thing to suggest, but I attended a recent Mensa social evening in London to see whether or not my prejudices were well placed. There are countless Mensa social meetings taking place every month - many of them, called Special Interest Groups, focus on particular areas of interest, ranging from board games to bible study to greyhound racing. The meeting I went to was a fairly unexotic new members meeting in a pub just off Oxford Street.

As with nearly all Mensa gatherings, the men outnumbered the women around two to one. And not everyone, of course, was a social misfit. But there were certainly more than your average proportion of eccentrics in the crowd. One middle-aged man arrived dressed in a yellow running top and tight black hotpants, looking a little like one of the guys from that 118 118 advert (On asking whether he had just come back from a jog, I was told: "No, that's his casualwear."). There was also an elderly gentleman in a tweed jacket who was using a tie as a belt.

When I asked a few members why they had joined, they all, invariably, gave the same answers: to prove that they were intelligent, despite having no flash academic qualifications; to meet like-minded people socially. Some of them had even met their long-term partners through Mensa. It confirmed what has long been said about the society, that it is essentially a social club or even a dating agency for nerds - "somewhere for egg-heads to get laid", or rather, somewhere for eggheads with chips on their shoulders to get laid. The last thing I witnessed as I left the meeting were two members snogging each other to death at the bar.

"Mensa is essentially a social thing," says Herbert, who was recently the face of Mensa in the BBC's IQ experiment, Test the Nation, and who enthusiastically reveals that Mensa has heard of seven engagements between members in the past 12 months. "If you have a high intellect sometimes you're not understood by the general population. At Mensa you will find like-minded people who will laugh at your jokes and that sort of thing."

However, when it was originally founded, with the aim of recruiting the top 1 per cent, rather than the top 2 per cent of the most intelligent people in Britain, Mensa wasn't just perceived as a social club. There was talk of members possibly advising governments. Even now it officially it has three aims, of which only one is "to provide a stimulating social environment for its members". The other two aims are "to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity" and "to encourage research into the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence".

Many Mensans have tried to get the society to do something useful, in line with these latter aims, but efforts rarely get anywhere. In 1990 there was talk of setting up a school in London for gifted children, but it didn't happen. A while back a prominent member talked about setting up a sperm bank, but that didn't happen either. A few years ago, Mensa International, the umbrella organisation (national branches are almost completely independent of each other) launched Mensa Intellectual Capital Ventures, to offer advice to members who wanted to convert ideas and inventions into reality. Nothing has hit the market yet.

And this, perhaps, is the main reason why Mensa is doing so badly. It lacks a sense of purpose. What is the point of a bunch of people with high IQ's getting together? And surely IQ tests simply measure one's competence at IQ tests rather indicating real "intelligence"? Besides, with the internet, nerds now have thousands of opportunities to get in touch with each other - ways that don't require the hassle of an IQ test.

Mensa's leadership, of course, reject the suggestion that Mensa's time may have been and gone. They say membership levels are stabilising, that a new website next year will boost recruitment, and that it is becoming fashionable to be clever. Stevenage is confident that Mensa can expand commercially: the international organisation has just signed a new global publishing deal to release Mensa puzzle books, it is working on releasing a Mensa board game, and Stevenage is pushing the Mensa brand into new areas. "There's lots of potential - we could do IQ testing for companies."

But Jane Baxter, the former Mensa chairman who was ousted a couple of years ago, is not optimistic. "Where is Mensa going? Nowhere," declares the woman who now runs an internet-based society called Atticus, designed to "explore emotional intelligence in relation to religion, psychology and philosophy." "It's outdated. There's a lot of social and professional mobility and people just don't have a need for it. It's sad but I just don't think it's very relevant."

Harsh words, no doubt coloured by bitterness and rejection. But I can't help thinking she may have a point. And what I think must count for something - I am a genius after all.

Calentito, del Financial Times.....

Spain and Poland may pay financial price
By George Parker and Judy Dempsey in Brussels and Hugh Williamson in Berlin
Published: December 14 2003 20:54
Financial Times

Germany has issued dark hints that Spain and Poland will be punished financially for blocking a deal on a new European Union constitution at the divisive EU summit in Brussels at the weekend.

The early breakdown of the meeting on Saturday has thrown the future of the constitutional treaty into doubt, and threatened to open up new rifts in Europe.

Germany is now expected to exact revenge on Spain and Poland early in 2004, when member states start discussing the next EU budget round. Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, warned there were "certain parallels" between the treaty negotiations and the the seven-year EU budget period, which starts in 2007.

Germany, the biggest net contributor to the budget, says it wants to keep spending pegged to just 1 per cent of the EU's GDP, or roughly ?100bn (£70bn, $117bn) a year. That is about ?25bn a year less than many inside the European Commission argue is needed to sustain aid to the poorest EU regions, including southern Spain and all of Poland.

José María Aznar, the Spanish prime minister, and Leszek Miller, his Polish counterpart, refused to agree to a new EU voting system that would have sealed a deal on the new constitution in Brussels.

Although both leaders received domestic praise for defending the existing voting system - which gives Spain and Poland disproportionate power inside the EU - they know there could be a price to pay.

"Poland should now brace itself for serious political and economic repercussions because of its stance over the constitution," said Roman Giertych, leader of the far-right opposition League of Polish Families.

Mr Schröder will now hope German threats of financial retribution will force Spain and Poland to back down when treaty talks finally resume. That may not be for some time, with most expecting the constitutional treaty to remain parked at least until the Dutch EU presidency in the second half of 2004, or even early 2005.

However Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister, whose country assumes the EU presidency in January, may decide to try again to broker a deal next June after the European elections - if there is sign of any movement from the main protagonists.

"He is one of the most experienced negotiators in Europe because of the Northern Ireland peace process," said an Irish diplomat. "We'll see what we can do."

The breakdown of the talks prompted French President Jacques Chirac to reopen his warnings that a Europe of 25 was heading for deadlock, and that "pioneer groups" would be needed to push ahead with integration.

"This will provide an engine, an example that will allow Europe to go faster, further and better," he said.

French diplomats said Mr Chirac blamed Polish and Spanish intransigence - and Britain's determination to hold on to its national veto in key fields - as evidence of the need for a so-called avant-garde, or vanguard.

Some suspect Mr Chirac and Mr Schröder were happy for the summit to collapse early, specifically to make that point. "You would think it was a stitch-up by Chirac and Schröder to have the summit collapse," said one east European diplomat.

However, hopes of agreeing an early statement of intent with the EU's other five founding members stumbled when Silvio Berlusconi of Italy and and Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg objected.

"A two-speed Europe would only be the result of persistent disagreements," Mr Juncker said.

Additional reporting by Stefan Wagstyl in Brussels

Spain remains tense with Paris and Berlin
By Judy Dempsey in Brussels
Published: December 14 2003 18:59
Financial Times

Any hope that Spain might improve its relations with France and Germany faded on the weekend after José María Aznar failed to make sufficient compromises over what could have been the European Union's first constitutional treaty.

The Spanish prime minister had refused to give up the generous voting rights his country received under the terms of the Nice Treaty. With half the population of Germany, but possessing almost the same voting power, he was not prepared to back down.

Mr Aznar said he was only defending Spain's national interests.

But José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, secretary general of the Socialist party - now in opposition - that negotiated Spain's entry into the EU in 1986, warned of the dangers that lay ahead for Spain. He said Spain should have stayed close to the Franco-German alliance. Mr Rodríguez Zapatero had already been critical of Mr Aznar's stance on the war in Iraq and his growing Atlanticism. Nevertheless, the summit might have given Spain the chance of mending fences with Paris and Berlin.

Instead, Mr Rodríguez Zapatero said, what was now at stake was "the European culture that our country has developed in the building of Europe".

Spain has never needed France and Germany as much as it does today. It is getting maximum support from the French security and intelligence services to curb Basque separatist extremists. "Without France, we would be in a very bad way," said a Spanish official.

Diplomats say Jacques Chirac, the French president, will not take revenge on Mr Aznar by withholding such co-operation. "But Spain just cannot take it for granted that its national interests can somehow function independently without working with its other EU partners," said another Spanish diplomat.

With Germany, one of the staunchest supporters of Spain's membership to the EU, it will be a different matter. Berlin has made it clear that it will play tough during the EU's 2007-2013 budget negotiations that start next month.

Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, had already warned Spain and Poland that if no treaty agreement was reached it would become hostage to the budget negotiations. "It is about solidarity," he said on Saturday. "Those who gained from EU accession should now pass the gains on to incoming members."

Berlin has denied it would use the budget negotiations as a form of blackmail. "It is not a threat," said Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister. "It is about timetables."

Mr Aznar will be spared Berlin's anger. He quits politics at the general elections in March. His designated successor, Mariano Rajoy, head of the governing Popular party, has vowed to continue the existing policy.

But diplomats said it would be difficult to sustain those policies in the coming months as Germany prepared to challenge Spain's national interests. Germany may not be so magnanimous towards Spain when it comes to EU budget talks.

Y si la pasion por los "japos" alcanza limites insospechados, un tutorial de escritura japonesa .
Realmente, todos los libros relacionados con la calidad, negociacion, el estilo japones, estan muy bien.....pero mas nos vale ponernos las pilas y estudiar Chino o Hindi, porque nos van a dar pal pelo con el outsourcing, y su nivel de TIC´s. (sobre los beneficios del offshoring, y la gestion del back office a distancia, hay un articulo muy interesante en el The Economist de esta semana).
Para ejecutivos de moda, "fashion victims", adictos a "sushi bars", aunque Blade Runner no sea su pelicula de culto, e ignoren a William Gibson, Asia Food , o todo aquello que siempre has querido saber, y........
"There's no business like show business"
Irving Berlin (1888 - 1989), Song title

Para nuestras ppt´s, la tipica frase resultona, redonda, con pedigri, la podeis encontrar en The quotations page .
"Cuando un hombre estúpido hace algo que le avergüenza, siempre dice que cumple con su deber".
G. Bernard Shaw
Y del mismo David Iwasaki Diario de un aspirante a tertuliano y posdatas .
Un blog distinto: el ladrillazo , que como comenta en su definicion "pretende construir un mosaico de informaciones, datos y análisis acerca de la situación del mercado de la vivienda en España.......Probablemente, reflejar una tras otra las reacciones que suscita la escalada espectacular de los precios de la vivienda en los últimos años contribuya a consolidar la impresión que inspira el subtítulo de este blog... que estamos, precisamente, a la espera del pinchazo de la burbuja inmobiliaria.
. Interesante
Muchacho,....eres tan listo como piensas?. Tienes 30 minutos?. Pues haz el test de Mensa y luego me comentas tus resultados.
Yo no me atrevo hacerlo, por no dejar "perjudicao" mi ya de por si maltratado ego, jajajaja...
En el web perogrullo , encontramos esta espeluznante realidad del pasado dia de la Constitucion:


Realmente suena a la España de Alfredo Landa y de la epoca del "destape".
Real como la vida misma.

Leido en un Blog:
En una empresa crecer un 5% anual le convierte a uno en materia de ascenso; un 10%, en material de jefatura, y un 15% en leyenda..
Me parece que este paisano no ha trabajado en las mismas empresas que yo!!
Lamento esta fijacion de los ultimos tiempos por la Planificacion......pero mi jefe me obliga a ser una mezcla de Rappel y Aramis Fuster, para que haga proyecciones ciertas para el año que viene. Y en las empresas de reciente creacion, en las que hay que tener un equilibrio entre el humo que se vende al "capital riesgo", y lo que se obtiene del mercado, pues........hay que ser adivino para acertar y ando un tanto "metafisico"!!.
Para la reflexion. Sacado del Blog de Frank Patricks, un tipo que sabe lo que realmente es el Project Management:

Value -- A random firing of synapses just came up with this blinding flash of the obvious...

Project Value = Scope x Quality / Time - Value of alternative uses of resources

Like I said...obvious.

But what might not be so obvious is the simplifying notion that the time and the resources (together adding up to "attention") involved in the equation are associated with critical, constraining resources -- not with the mass of supporting players.

Esta pagina web es muy curiosa.

sábado, 13 de diciembre de 2003

¿Buscas un buen regalo para las Navidades?.
Para "analfabetos funcionales" en algunas materias, como un servidor, el libro What the numbers say: A field guide to mastering our numerical world puede ser una eleccion sensacional. Aqui.
A mi humilde modo de ver, hay 3 formas de enfrentarse ante un nuevo reto:
- planificar de forma "optimista".
- planificar de forma "realista/pesimista", con lo cual, intentamos descubrir los peores escenarios, y su posible solucion.......segun los entrenadores de alto nivel, un entrenamiento duro, es la clave de que la competicion resulte sencilla y sea un exito. (pero es un proceso triste, duro y a veces, "irreal", dado que la realidad, siempre supera a la ficcion).
- no planificar en absoluto e ir tomando decisiones, lo mas adecuadas e inteligentes posibles, en cada momento y ante cada contratiempo (aventura "pal cuerpo", adrenalina garantizada!!).

Una inteligente frase, de Sir John Harvey-Jones, copiada del blog de Frank Patricks.
No comments.

On Planning...
"Planning is an unnatural process; it is much more fun to do something. The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression".
- Sir John Harvey-Jones

viernes, 12 de diciembre de 2003

Biz Blogs: la cara humana de la empresa.

Como dice Chris Shipley en su artículo The Blog Nation, los weblogs son la primera herramienta de publicación auténticamente libre y democrática, y los bloggers llegarán a tener una influencia tremenda en todos los aspectos de la sociedad. Las empresas lo terminarán comprendiendo y el fenómeno de los biz blogs tendrá cada vez más relevancia.
He aquí tres enlaces en los que se describe bastante bien qué podemos esperar de estas herramientas y su situación en nuestro país:

Biz Blogs I: la cara humana de la empresa.
Biz Blogs II: ¿dónde están los B-blogs españoles?
Biz Blogs III: ¿y qué es un blog?

miércoles, 10 de diciembre de 2003

España retrocede en desarrollo tecnológico.

Se ha dado a conocer el informe global sobre tecnologías de la información que elabora anualmente el WEF (World Economic Forum), una organización internacional e independiente que analiza más de cuarenta parámetros (como la calidad de la educación científica, la investigación en universidades y empresas, la cantidad y calidad de las infraestructuras disponibles, líneas de teléfono, penetración de internet, usuarios de telefonía móvil, número de ordenadores, ...) para establecer un índice comparativo de desarrollo tecnológico en los 102 países que cubre el estudio. Dicho informe sitúa a España en el puesto 29, por detrás de países como Malasia, Malta y Estonia, y cuatro puestos por debajo que el año pasado. El primer puesto del informe vuelve a ocuparlo Estados Unidos, después de que Finlandia se lo arrebatara el año pasado.

Según una de las autoras del informe, la economista Fiona Paua, los problemas que lastran la posición de España son el porcentaje de hogares con acceso a internet (48%), la burocracia administrativa (puesto 61º de la clasificación), la prevalencia de tecnología extranjera frente a la propia (55º), la falta de calidad de las instituciones de investigación (51º) "y, en general, la escasa colaboración entre universidades y empresas para investigar".

lunes, 8 de diciembre de 2003

A partir de ahora, si quereis explorar alguno de los links que os sugerimos, se abrira una nueva ventana en vuestro navegador. Es mas comodo, y asi continuais un rato mas con nosotros. Ademas, este fin de semana, hemos puesto el arbol en casa.........
Este es un post dedicado a tienes dinero, inviertelo en ti mismo!!.
Ya me gustaria a mi poder hacerlo, pero, mi capacidad de endeudamiento no me lo permite, al menos en los proximos años.

The ultimate work/life challenge
By Scott Barclay
Published: December 7 2003 20:27
Financial Times

As I begin the first instalment of my MBA diary, I am enjoying a two-day break after completing the first of five periods in this one-year odyssey otherwise known as the Insead MBA. I am exhausted, exhilarated and constantly amazed.

With me is my wife, a new first-time mother. She is away from her network of friends and relatives and in a foreign country, while her most important support, her husband, has to balance the demands of home with those of one of the world's most intense MBA programmes, a job search and learning French.

Before moving to Fontainebleau I lived a fairly well-balanced life in central Virginia, surrounded by family and friends. I had applied to Insead for January of 2004 but did not expect to get in - and, even if I did, January was some time away.

At the end of July, however, I received a phone call that sent my life into a tailspin. Not only had I been accepted at Insead but the only spot they had for me was for September 2003. "Could I be there on August 18?" they asked.

We deliberated for one torturous weekend. Should we take the risk? What about our finances? The employment outlook is still grim. What about the upheaval of taking a newborn baby to live in a foreign country? After much rational and spiritual debate, and despite our reservations, we knew we should go to Fontainebleau.

In a little less than three weeks we had to obtain visas, find accommodation in Paris, sell a car, settle finances, move out of our home, take care of the baby's immunisations, continue my job for a further two weeks and - oh, yes - squeeze together enough money for tuition and living expenses for a year for a family with no income.

And I had to do all this knowing that if I arrived in France and failed my second language test in Spanish - which I had not used since 1996 - I would be sent home, minus a lot of money, with all that effort for naught.

For an American who has never really needed to speak anything other than English and has not actively spoken Spanish for seven years, I cannot overstate the challenge of wagering everything on my ability to pass a Spanish test within a month. (However, as I am writing this today, you will know I managed to pass.)

What made me decide to study for an MBA? My experience as a liberal arts student, plus four intense years in the investment banking community, taught me this: to run, ultimately, a global business, be it a sub-unit of something larger, or my own family enterprise, I need a toolbox of business skills and the support network of other future global business leaders so that I may grow and learn effectively throughout my career.

I have great confidence in my long-term potential and a strong self-identity, but reading books on my own would not have provided the set of skills or door-opening opportunities of an MBA.

For me, getting an MBA is about having the confidence to invest aggressively in myself so that I may, in the long run, do more for my family and more for others.

Now, why Insead? Or, as it is usually put to me: "With most of the world's leading schools in the US, why come all the way to France?"

Insead appealed for two reasons: the one-year model and the value of diversity.

I believe the MBA education should be an intense, one-year experience. I doubt whether the US standard two-year model is based on sound academic theory. Instead US schools - as part of larger US universities - are bound for financial and historical reasons to the two-year programme.

Insead, in common with many other European schools, considers that the best conceptual, quantitative and strategic business education takes place with more experienced students in a more intense setting, for a shorter period of time.

More pragmatically, the one-year model makes economic and personal sense for me. While tuition and living expenses are high - and becoming higher as the dollar falls - I still pay less money than if I went to a top US school for two years. Additionally, I save the opportunity cost of an entire year's salary since I am at Insead for only one year. For a young family, moving to France for a year sounded much more attractive than moving to a US school where we would have to move at least twice more for the summer internship experience.

My second reason for studying at Insead is that its student body is one of the most diverse in the world, with no single nationality comprising more than 12 per cent of the intake.

Although US programmes try to be international, about 50 to 90 per cent of their intake are from within the US. At Insead, US students are about 9 per cent of the MBAs and many of them have dual citizenship.

I believe people grow most when their assumptions are challenged and when they learn from people very different from themselves. As an American, I felt that would best happen at Insead.

After three months, comparing what I know so far with what I expected yields the following: the academics are as top-notch and intense as advertised; the group work is less painful and time-intensive than feared (owing very much to the quality of my five-person team); my classmates are of a quality, breadth and acumen that have far exceeded my imagination. Insead may have its weaknesses but my classmates are not one of them.

My biggest challenge is balancing my demanding life at Insead with my role as husband and father. Regression analysis, net present value and marketing frameworks are important - they are why I am here - but they will never beat the value of coming home and having my five-month-old smile at me.

If this experience does not teach me to balance my time between work and family well, I shall never learn.

Un paso mas alla en la competencia: en los call-centers de la India, estan enseñando a los teleoperadores a "pensar en Ingles" y a hablar con un acento neutro, para no disgustar a los clientes. Esto si que es calidad de servicio a los clientes y un serio intento de frenar el enfado de los americanos, por todo el trabajo que se esta contratando ultramar.

India's call centres drop the fake accents
By Khozem Merchant
Published: December 7 2003 20:27
Financial Times

You can't turn an Indian into an American in three weeks [of training]," says Ali Potia in a North American accent that he was paid to pass on to young Indian workers at a call centre linked to AT&T, the US telecommunications company.

Amid renewed controversy - and indignation - about Indian accents blurring communications with customers in the US, Mr Potia, a voice trainer born in Bombay and educated in Montreal, is one of many who see the dispute as spurious. "Does it matter what you sound like so long as the job is done? That is to give customers what they want. As for the phoney accent, the guys at the other end [of the line] just don't buy it," he says.

Indian accents seem to have aggrieved US customers of Dell, the computer maker that employs 3,000 call centre workers in India. "Issues about accents" were raised, says Dell India, prompting the company to announce at the end of November that it was shifting some of its customer enquiries service from Bangalore back to Texas.

Dell subsequently said its decision was a routine "rebalancing of tasks". But the development, which coincides with rising political and union worries about the steady flow of call centre and back office jobs from the UK and US to India, has raised a touchstone issue.

India's call centres have been caricatured as places where college-age Indians "speak America by night and live India by day", says Julian Gurupatham of Convergeon, a training agency in Bangalore.

Yet as Indian call centres become part of the daily lives of people in the US and the UK, a subtle shift is taking place. Call centres are moving from the minefield of teaching national accents to teaching safe, neutral, international accents.

Western customers' initial fascination and disbelief at the accents of the Indian operators has given way to irritation as they realise that "Sam round the corner" was really "Samaydurai in Chennai". Once seen as "cute", now a false US or British accent grates as people become aware of jobs in rich countries moving overseas.

A neutral accent, progressively enhanced with idiomatic phrases relevant to particular countries, also makes staff more internally mobile as they move from speaking to people in Crewe, to those in Wyoming, to newly emerging markets such as Australia. This in turn cuts training costs.

A neutral accent allows a call centre agent to focus on the problem rather than the superficial need for a particular accent. He or she becomes a more careful and capable listener.

"Now our focus is unquestionably on teaching our staff to listen, understand and interpret, rather than speak as such," says Vikram Talwar, who heads EXL in Delhi, a call centre whose 3,000 employees speak daily to customers in the US and the UK. Good listening is crucial in countries with wide regional variations in accent and dialect, such as the UK. "We'd sooner concentrate on listening and minimise talking to someone with a strong Welsh or Scottish accent. This really aids problem-solving," he says.

Call centre managers cite several reasons for this evolution. One is that Indians speak very fast in their mother tongues, particularly Delhi Punjabi, northern Hindi and southern Tamil. When they switch to English, the average Indian speaks 180 words a minute, against 120 words by the average American, 90 by a Briton and 70 by people in the deep south of the US.

Trainers say 120 words a minute is the desirable speed in a conversation that can contain unsettling and emotive phrases: "Madam, your rising debts are no longer acceptable" or "What do you mean, you don't have a modem, sir?"

Indians' English conversation is often translated from their mother tongue. A phrase such as "tonight" is rendered "today, night". "Thank you" is frequently said at the wrong moment. The overall effect can be unintentionally to halt a conversation. Indeed, trainers say Indians' "conversational English" is highly deficient, a function of an education system whose focus is on the written word.

"A call centre agent will listen in English, translate into a mother tongue [Hindi], think of a reply in Hindi and speak to the customer in English. It makes for poor sentence structure and an unhappy customer," says Diane Christian, who heads human resources at Infowavz, a call centre in Mumbai. The trick is to employ people who think in English, she says.

Dell, AOL and other foreign companies that operate call centres in India outsource some training, though the current dispute over accents may hasten moves to do more in-house.

External trainers say foreign-owned call centres tend to be under the greatest pressure to keep costs down and are prone to squeeze training to save money. Foreign clients usually stick to training in "processes" - how to chase bills, check a credit history, correct the details of an address. The training they tend to outsource is for voice, accent, cultural sensitivity and soft skills such as "empathy" (some callers are debtors) and the engaging, harmless chatter in the lull while data are being keyed in.

But external trainers warn that foreign companies can hit problems when they try to teach soft skills themselves.

"Self-training is not good because it's not a core competence," says Mr Talwar at EXL. The upshot is that remedial training has to be undertaken which is often hasty and improvised and takes place while people work.

"We've had to correct training that's gone wrong because companies are in such a hurry to roll out and ramp up services," says Mr Gurupatham at Convergeon. "When we go in under these conditions it is no surprise that workers are hostile towards us and training can be ineffective."

There are also complaints that the focus on accents that Dell's move has produced obscures the training efforts of third-party call centres - owned by specialist, usually Indian, companies - as opposed to centres owned directly by foreign companies such as Dell.

"We can't afford to get the training wrong. It's our differentiator. India is our profit centre whereas for captives [foreign-owned centres that provide services to sister companies] India is a cost centre," says Aashu Calapa of ICICI OneSource, a call centre in Bangalore. Daksh e-services, which employs about 6,000 mostly in Delhi, says training costs amount to a quarter of its overheads.

And there is still no shortage of young Indians ready to be trained. Convergeon, one of the largest external trainers in Bangalore, has about 350 students on its books at any time, each paying Rs10,000 (£130), - slightly more than the starting salary for a job at a call centre - for 144 hours of training over four weeks. Many squeeze in the course between classes, keen to get a job that may pay more than their father's salary. This is an unexpected early bounty, allowing them to save for six to 12 months before quitting, typically for higher education.

domingo, 7 de diciembre de 2003

Mas generadores....... uno en castellano , un analizador de costes de mal uso de intranets corporativas , uno algo mas elaborado , de argumentario para la campaña del partido Republicano ,holandes acerca del comercio electronico, de cargos y puestos de trabajo corporativos , de argot de Dilbert , todo un listado muy variopinto, ..........

sábado, 6 de diciembre de 2003

Los graves problemas que deben afrontar las grandes empresas del sector farmaceutico y su futuro incierto.

Big trouble for Big Pharma

Dec 4th 2003 | NEW YORK
From The Economist print edition

Why Big Pharma urgently needs a new business model

WHEN GlaxoWellcome and SmithKlineBeecham announced their merger in 2000 to form GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the world's second-largest drug firm, its new boss, Jean-Pierre Garnier, said that the merged firms would be “the kings of science.” This week GSK unveiled its crown jewels: a full pipeline of compounds in research and development, the result of a £2.6 billion ($4.5 billion), 16,000-researcher-strong effort. 82 new drugs and 20 vaccines are in development, 44 of them moving into later-stage trials.

Yet if Mr Garnier hoped that these numbers would impress his shareholders, he had to think again: GSK's share price actually fell on the news. Like investors in many other big drug firms, GSK's shareholders have little confidence that many of its new compounds will earn them a cent anytime soon. Of the 20 drugs that GSK plans to put into final-phase human testing in the next three years, the chances are, on current industry averages, that less than half of them will make it to market.

Next, consider Merck. On November 20th, news that the firm was stopping development of a diabetes drug after finding tumours in lab mice was met with dismay—and a wave of selling that knocked 11% off the firm's already-battered share price. With another vaunted project—an experimental anti-depressant—also failing last month, Merck's near-term pipeline now looks horribly empty. Even an upbeat profit forecast for next year, on December 3rd, did not cheer investors much.

Merck and GSK are not alone. In 1998-2002, according to Lehman Brothers, Big Pharma firms launched on average 59 drugs per year. In 2002-06, reckons Lehman, they will launch just 50 per year. Moreover, as many patents for the industry's existing products expire in the next five years, competition from generic-drug makers will threaten $30 billion (one-fifth) of annual sales in America alone, says AT Kearney, a consultancy.

When the drugs don't work

Big Pharma now faces two big challenges. First, control costs better. Stuart Walker, head of the Centre for Medicines Research International, reckons that total industry spending on R&D will reach $50 billion this year, over 25% up on 1998. Sales and marketing overheads have soared, too. In the past four years, says Dean Hart, head of North American sales at Takeda, a Japanese drug firm, the number of sales representatives employed by drug firms in America has risen by 54%, to 90,000. Each rep costs on average $200,000 a year.

Sales, general and administrative expenses account for 17% of a typical big American firm's revenues, says Christopher White of AT Kearney. In the drug industry, such overheads (even excluding the big American sales forces) account for 33% of revenues. Standard management practices such as consolidating procurement, outsourcing personnel and finance functions and automating transaction processing all compare poorly with other industries, says Mr White. Many firms still make pills in-house, a job perhaps better done by a contract manufacturer.

But the tougher challenge is to improve the productivity of R&D. As Mr Walker points out, it is not just the number of new products that has fallen in recent years, but also their originality. Less than 30% of drugs launched last year were first or second in their class. The proportion was far higher in the late 1990s. Roughly 40% of R&D spending by Big Pharma is now on “line extensions”—improving existing drugs, not creating entirely new ones.

Many big drug firms have begun to license more of their technology and products from outside companies, especially biotechnology start-ups: having slumped in recent years, the value of biotech firms is now rising again. Novartis has set up a big R&D centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in part to better position itself to collaborate with outside academics. Eli Lilly's InnoCentive subsidiary runs a website where problems confronting drugmakers, such as how to generate a particular compound in chemical synthesis, are posted to be tackled by more than 25,000 registered problem-solvers as far afield as Russia and China. For a reward of $10,000-100,000, the firm gets a solution that would have cost more time and money to solve itself.

Others hope to improve the way they manage in-house R&D. Wyeth is encouraging its researchers to perform their tasks better by changing how it pays them. Unusually for the industry, its scientists get to share a bonus pool which depends, in part, on how many new drugs they launch each year. There used to be a temptation for Wyeth's early-stage researchers to throw their work “over the wall” before it was ready to the scientists who run clinical trials, says Robert Ruffolo, the firm's head of research. Because early-stage researchers now share incentives with later-stage scientists, the later-stage researchers have begun to “pull” the development of the most promising compounds forward. A corresponding “push” from early-stage workers hastens the process. GSK fundamentally reorganised its R&D in 2001, splitting its more creative arm into smaller “centres of excellence”, and enlarging the arm that enjoys economies of scale. Mr Garnier claims that his “best of both worlds” strategy is now paying off.

The industry's bloated overheads appear to be driving its decisions on the sort of drugs it seeks to develop. Like a supermodel who will not get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day, Big Pharma has decided that it is simply not worth investing in anything but a blockbuster. This means that lesser, albeit interesting, compounds fall by the wayside. An oft-quoted figure from the Tufts Centre for the Study of Drug Development puts the average cost of bringing a new drug to market at $897m. But as F.M. Scherer, an economist, points out, this is an average cost for big firms producing drugs for chronic diseases. Other firms can bring drugs for other complaints—infectious diseases or rare conditions, say—to the market for around $100m-200m.

Big Pharma also needs to do something about its poorly trained, generalised sales force, which is simply not equipped to chase smaller, more specialised markets. Most sales calls end, at best, with just a few seconds of a doctor's time, laments Mr Hart of Takeda. Some reps do not even make it past the reception desk before dropping off their free samples. Drug firms lag behind other industries in the way they use information technology to discriminate between profitable and unprofitable customers. Only one in five drug companies invests in any salesforce training beyond initial courses offered to recruits. Who, after all, needed to bother with trifles such as training and IT when, without much effort, a drug such as Lipitor, Pfizer's cholesterol-lowering medicine, was making sales of $8.6 billion last year alone?

Can Big Pharma achieve transformation without changes at the top? The bosses of big drugs firms have been horribly slow to grasp the enormity of their problems. Until recently, Merck's boss, Raymond Gilmartin, has been reluctant to license much technology from outside, instead putting his faith in the firm's own scientists. With Merck's in-house R&D now struggling, it will be no surprise if Mr Gilmartin's head is the first to roll.
Un articulo de ComputerWorld, acerca del marcado de productos con etiquetas RFID y la experiencia de Wal-Mart, aqui .
Varios nuevos links a tener en cuenta y candidatos sin duda a la lista de Bookmarks:
El de Juan Luis Hortelano un Blog de Internet y Nuevas Tecnologias, eBusiness Strategies y......
La verdad es que no es una idea nueva....en su dia surgio el Web Economy Bullshit Generator , de mayor profundidad conceptual, pero en la lengua de los amigos de la "junk food".
Si tengo un ratillo este fin de semana, os prometo un nuevo generador, adaptado a las necesidades del ejecutivo patrio (bueno, lo de ejecutivo es un decir.....mejor "road warrior"), y actualizable periodicamente con vuestras contribuciones. He dicho.
Falta en vuestra presentacion esa frase unica y deslumbrante?. Aqui teneis un generador de verborrea empresarial .

No se si habra mujeres entre la audiencia, pero el autentico John Forbes Nash Jr., se parece a Russell Crowe como un huevo a una castaña.
Aun asi, su mente era extarordinaria. Si quereis, aqui teneis el extracto de su autobiografia de la pagina de los premios Nobel.
Fantastica frase de nuestro no bien siempre admirado George W. Bush :
"increasingly our imports are from abroad" .
Hoy creo que voy a estar un poco mejor informado. Habia caducado mi suscripcion a Financial Times on line y un teleoperador, en la lengua pura de la Reina Madre, me hizo una oferta que no podia dejar pasar: un año por 75 €!!.
Asi que, si alguien nos lee, va a poderse nutrir de "copy pastes" seleccionados del .
Y para muestra, una columna de mi admirada Lucy Kellaway, lista e ironica donde las haya, comentando un articulo de la HBR de noviembre, en donde señalan que la ignorancia, resulta a priori, mas interesante empresarialmente que el conocimiento, dado que es un bien escaso y una vez que se pierde.......(¿?). Dejemos de estudiar, dejemos de informarnos, todos al bar!!,

Lucy Kellaway: Blissful ignorance
By Lucy Kellaway
Financial Times
Published: November 30 2003 18:36

It is not often that reading the Harvard Business Review makes you feel better about yourself. But in the November issue there is an article that makes me sense my time has come at last.

Ignorance, it tells us, is the new knowledge. This is exciting news for people like me, who despite a lot of formal education and two decades' work experience, still know nothing at all. The scale of my ignorance was rammed down my throat a couple of weeks ago at a starry media quiz night when I was unable to answer a single question, save supplying the botanical name for a potato.

Now my self-hatred can stop. According to the HBR, ignorance is a precious resource that organisations should cherish. For the past 10 years companies have worshipped at the temple of knowledge: they have told us we are all "knowledge workers" and have devised knowledge management programmes run by chief knowledge officers. They should all be fired and replaced with chief ignorance officers.

The brain behind this theory is David Gray, director of Boston Consulting Group's Strategy Gallery. I can now come right out and admit I have never heard of his outfit. Saatchi Gallery, yes. Strategy Gallery, no.

Why Mr Gray is such a fan of ignorance is that he thinks knowledge encourages everyone to think in well worn ways. Ignorance allows us to be creative and to question things. His argument goes like this. Knowledge is everywhere; ignorance is a scarce resource. It is a one-shot thing: once ignorance has been displaced with knowledge it is hard to get it back.

As I said, ignorance is something I know a lot about, enough to confirm that it is something Mr Gray knows nothing about at all. Ignorance is not a scarce resource. It is as plentiful as air - it is in my own head, on the street, on the TV, at home, in the office. Neither is it precious. It is stupid. It is not a one-shot thing - ignorance gets displaced by knowledge and then comes back effortlessly. I find I learn something and then forget it again. The waters of ignorance close over only too quickly.

The author is aware that ignorance has some unfortunate connotations. So he has discovered the word "nescience" (never heard of that, either), which means the same but is without the negative brand values. He then provides a four-step guide to managing nescience. The principles are: Deferment, Prematurity, Irrelevance and Waste. I'll keep you in ignorance on exactly how these work. It would be better for you not to know.

If Mr Gray is anywhere near right in his general theory, it is very, very bad news for his employer, Boston Consulting Group, and all management consultants. The only excuse for employing consultants is that they have seen it all before and may know something about best practice. In this new ignorance-is-bliss world there is no place for consultants at all.

Hiding under all the nonsense about nescience is one - fairly obvious - truth. Managers should not get so hung up on knowledge that they think they know everything. They should recognise that the past may not be a guide to the future.

But this should come as no surprise - surely anyone with any knowledge knows all this already.

Mr Gray may be right that ignorance at work should be rehabilitated, but for quite different reasons. The problem with ignorance is how paranoid we all feel about letting ours show. We strive to look knowledgeable and are terrified that the scale of our ignorance will one day be found out and massive humiliation will follow. This fear is worse than the ignorance itself and leads to some pretty sick behaviour.

Instead of admitting when we do not know something, we bluff and bluster. Think of all those meetings you have sat through, in which everyone was interested only in demonstrating how much they knew. I remember going to grand boardroom lunches with colleagues at the FT when a chief executive of a large company would be invited. Instead of trying to get our guest to talk, my colleagues and I would show off to each other and to our editor by trying to ask the most arcane questions. The result was that no one ended up finding out anything.

By contrast, an admission of ignorance is almost always disarming. It is easier to bring this off if you are young, bright and dashing. I once went to a training day for financial journalists held at the Bank of England. We sat through several hours of detail on the ins and outs of banking supervision (not a word of which I remember, by the way). At the end of the session one of the journalists put up his hand and asked in a loud voice: "What is a bond?" He went on to be very successful. I admired him for ever.

The problem arises if you are neither intelligent, knowledgeable nor young and if, for example, you are president of the US. Then ignorance can be a problem. When George W. Bush says "increasingly our imports are from abroad" he looks an idiot. But for him to admit his ignorance, and ask what imports are, would not do either.

In the end the HBR article does impart some knowledge. It tells us where we have got to in the cycle of management thought. What happens is that the pendulum hovers over glaringly obvious fads for a bit (knowledge is good) and, when everyone is tired of banality, it swings to the opposite extreme. I have more evidence that this is what is happening now. In the same post as the HBR came Strategy and Business, the rival heavy mag from Booz Allen Hamilton. Its cover story: What Sartre Can Teach Business Strategists.

You may not be surprised to know I am fairly ignorant about Sartre. But in my ignorance I can confidently tell you that Sartre can't teach business strategists anything at all.

jueves, 4 de diciembre de 2003

Los de la Universidad de Berkeley continuan calculando cuanta informacion se ha producido durante el año 2003 . Si tenéis morbo, aquí tenéis la página principal.
Los amigos de Accenture tuvieron la osadía de publicar en su número de enero de la revista Outlook, un Ranking de los 50 Principales Gurus de Negocios . Ahí queda eso.

miércoles, 3 de diciembre de 2003

Los sitios más visitados por los usuarios españoles.

Nielsen//NetRatings acaba de publicar la lista de los sitios más visitados por los usuarios españoles. Parece que, según la encuesta de octubre, nosotros nos decantamos por MSN, Windows Media Player, MSN Messenger,, KaZaA, eBay, Microsoft, cada uno como primera opción en sus respectivas categorias.

El artículo se puede consultar a partir de este enlace de

lunes, 1 de diciembre de 2003

Aunque ya os presente a John Kay en su día, creo que este brillante artículo merece vuestra atención. Es una crítica al American Business Model. Hay que tener en cuenta el nivel de Mr. Kay, como economista, como empresario, y como académico ("ha sido cocinero antes que fraile").

John Kay: The Thought Leader Interview
by Des Dearlove
strategy + business

The controversial U.K. economist dismantles four myths about the American business model.

George Bernard Shaw observed that if all the world’s economists were laid end to end, they still wouldn’t reach a conclusion. Although the line sums up a popular view of the dismal science, an enormous swath of business theory and practice is rooted in economics.

John Kay personifies the bridge between theory and practice. One of the U.K.’s most prominent economists, he is a prolific writer, a business consultant, and a one-time business-school dean whose work encompasses both business strategy and public policy. Mr. Kay is no stranger to conclusions, or to controversy. Management as an academic discipline, he argues, is still in its infancy. In terms of scientific rigor, it is at the same stage of development as medicine was in the Middle Ages.

Mr. Kay’s most recent book, The Truth about Markets: Their Genius, Their Limits, Their Follies (Penguin, 2003), argues forcefully that there is no single economic or corporate blueprint for success. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the industrialized West came to believe that the triumph of capitalism was complete. History was over, and the American business model was victorious. That view of the workings of a market economy system is, Mr. Kay contends, a caricature of capitalism, a simplification of the American business model that was based on an ideology of market fundamentalism. Not only was it a false description of how the U.S. economy functions, but its prescriptions have actually damaged business and markets around the world.

Mr. Kay’s arguments do not emerge solely from the cloistered tower; he boasts a proven commercial track record. Elected a fellow of St. John’s College, Oxford, at the age of 21, he went on to hold professorships at both London Business School and Oxford University. He was also the first (and only) professor of management to receive the academic distinction of Fellowship of the British Academy. In 1986, he founded the consulting firm London Economics, and was executive chairman until 1996. During that time, the firm grew into Britain’s largest independent economic consultancy, with annual revenues of $15 million and offices in London, Boston, and Melbourne.

In 1996, Mr. Kay became the first director of Oxford University’s newly created Saïd Business School — an appointment he saw as an opportunity to raise the profile and academic standing of management in the U.K. But just three years later, Mr. Kay resigned in frustration, citing the university’s archaic decision-making processes. “The opportunity to create a business school in Oxford is fabulous,” he says of his move and the ensuing controversy. “But people need to be allowed to get on and do it. It’s very hard to imagine an institution that essentially has no decision-making processes at all. What exists instead is simply a set of vehicles for evading decisions and avoiding choices.”

Since then, Mr. Kay has concentrated on his writing, including a regular column for the Financial Times. In The Truth about Markets, which he began writing around the time he left Oxford, Mr. Kay argues that the strengths of markets are rooted in context — especially a nation’s financial and legal institutions and business infrastructure. The U.S. economy has evolved over more than two centuries and cannot be replicated, he believes. There are no universal blueprints for success for nations or organizations. Neither the U.S. economic model nor the U.S. business model, he says, can be transplanted successfully into other countries.

The implications are profound. What works in the U.S. context, Mr. Kay asserts, will not work in India or China — just as what works at General Electric will not work at IBM.

John Kay talked with strategy+business in his London office.

S+B: Your most recent work attempts to separate the truths about markets and market economies from the myths. What prompted you to tackle this subject now?

KAY: The idea for this book was conceived really in 1999. At that time I said to myself, and my publisher, I need a Wall Street crash to provide the background for this, and I’m confident that we will get one. So it was planned in that sense. Quite what I’d have done if the Nasdaq was still soaring, I don’t know. But I never thought that was likely.

S+B: Executives already feel chastened by their acceptance of irrational thinking during that period. What else is left to learn about that “era”?

KAY: The key message for businesspeople is that during the 1990s they were offered a very facile and oversimplified description of how market-economy systems work. That model is not only wrong, but the attempt to act on it has actually made business and markets work worse. That’s true if you’re talking about the attempts to introduce a market economy into Russia, or if you look at the damage that has been done to the long-term position of companies by excessive focus on financial markets and short-term shareholder value.

S+B: Your book describes and dismantles what you call myths about markets. What are some of them?

KAY: There are four central myths behind what I call the American business model, or ABM. The first is that greed is overwhelmingly the most important motivation in economic affairs. Of course, it is a motivation, but it is not overwhelming for most people. Most people work because they want to do a good job, because they enjoy the respect of their friends, and so on. If you ignore these other motivations, you actually undermine the relationships that make corporations effective.

False premise two is market fundamentalism. It says you should impose as few restrictions and limitations as possible in the operation of markets. But this doesn’t recognize that markets actually operate — and can only operate — through an elaborate social, political, and cultural context. While some of that may be government regulation, a lot of it is self-regulation — the ways people expect to behave. To suggest that unregulated markets are more efficient is wrong. Markets rely on rules and signals. Without these, you get chaos.

The third premise, which in a sense is obviously mistaken, is that a successful business needs a minimal state. This argues that the only legitimate role for the state is in the protection of property rights and the enforcement of contracts. But when you look at them closely, you find that successful market economies have the largest and most powerful governments the world has ever seen.

S+B: And the fourth myth?

KAY: The fourth is that there’s an overriding need for low taxation, which is also untrue.

S+B: This is a controversial book — not least because its publication coincides with a rise in anti-American sentiment around the world. Superficially, someone might hear echoes of the anticapitalist, antiglobalization protesters.

KAY: I have no doubt at all that the market economy is the only successful form of economic organization, and that both rich and poor countries benefit from an open international trading system. But I see the market economy today described — not just by its opponents, but by its defenders — in terms of a lightly regulated society in which individual greed is the dominant motivation. This is ethically unattractive, which is why the protesters win sympathy from a much wider audience. But, more importantly, it is not a correct description of how real market economies work. The societies that are closest to that model — Nigeria, Haiti, and modern Russia — are not successful.

A polarization exists today between a market-fundamentalist view that believes there is a market solution to any problem, and the antiglobalization protesters, whose incoherence is summarized in the slogan “capitalism should be replaced by something nicer.” Both positions are caricatures of markets and market economies — and they both distort the reality. And that is bad for business and economic development.

S+B: Why has this simplistic view of market economies become so pervasive?

KAY: The ABM has come to play the role in the political economy that Socialism enjoyed for most of the 20th century. All political positions, even hostile ones, are defined by their relationship to it. Prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Left determined the vocabulary of politics, but with the collapse of the Soviet system, the Right has seized the language of political debate. That debate, whether for or against, is now focused around the ABM.

Markets are remarkable institutions. The creation two or three hundred years ago of what are now the great market economies of Western Europe is one of the great human achievements. But we need to understand how subtle and complicated they are. If competitive advantage weren’t subtle and complex, it would be easy to reproduce and wouldn’t be as remarkable in its effects.

S+B: And this subtlety and complexity means each economy is unique — there can be no blueprint?

KAY: Exactly. Market economies are necessarily embedded in social, political, and economic institutions — and cannot work unless they are. Market economies draw their strength and legitimacy from their context.

We don’t have — and never can have — the capability to see the future a long way ahead and do the sort of planning that crafting these kinds of structures would demand. People find it very hard to see that Socialist plans failed for the same reasons centralized directives in market economies or large corporations will fail.

S+B: You draw parallels between the centralized planning departments at U.S. corporations in the 1960s and 1970s and the Soviet system.

KAY: The 1960s were the heyday of centralized planning, both at the level of the national economy and at the level of the corporation. Looking back on it now, there seem to be quite interesting reasons for that. People did not understand then that the Soviet Union was not doing well economically. It’s hard to believe what was written at the time. Even those on the Right believed that the Soviet economy was doing pretty well; what was wrong with Socialism, they argued, was its morality. Similarly, national planning was at its height in most European states. That was also the high tide of corporate planning.

A Department of Defense study in the 1970s described GE as the best centralized-planning system in the world. When he became CEO, Jack Welch identified the problems this created, such as the absence of honest feedback — the same problem that was so damaging in the Soviet Union. Facing reality was not one of the company’s strong points. Its superficial congeniality made candor extremely difficult. It is striking that Welch uses GE’s approach to nuclear power to illustrate the issue.

I contrast that with experience in Britain, where superficial congeniality continued and candor was never achieved — not even today.

S+B: But by the 1980s, that kind of centralized planning was largely discredited, in the corporate world at least. There is a general acceptance now that it is not possible to create a detailed plan for five or 10 years down the road.

KAY: Both corporate and national planning faded in the 1970s because they didn’t work. That was accompanied by a move to the kind of vision and leadership style of centralized corporate management in which the vision of the heroic individual becomes a key element. And again, if you think about that in terms of the experience of national economic planning, you see the corporate analogue.

Look at Khrushchev and Mao and their failures in agriculture. You can see the same mistakes reflected with business leaders. People like Henry Ford, who got some calls absolutely right early on in his career, but then for the rest of his life got them increasingly wrong. His mistake was to believe that his inspired judgment was the basis of business success.

S+B: Heroic leadership is still very much alive in both political and business thinking.

KAY: That isn’t surprising. If you have an aggressively individualistic perception about how the world works, then it is hard to understand that it’s the corporation as a sort of organism and entity that is the strength of market economies.

S+B: There seems to be a bit of a paradox here. You say the American business model is a myth. Yet you also say the U.S. economy works very well. Can you reconcile this?

KAY: When I’m asked the question, which I frequently am, “How do you reconcile your criticism of this American business model with the success of the American economy?” the answer is that the American economy is not built on the kind of caricature model I was describing earlier, and couldn’t be.

The U.S. economy, like other successful market economies, is based on disciplined pluralism over a long period. Or to put it another way, the wealth of the richest 20 countries in the world today is a product of two centuries or more of political, social, and cultural evolution. It is naive to imagine that the lessons of that can be distilled into a few easily transferable maxims — and that is why our efforts to promote economic development in poor countries have enjoyed so little success and why the experience of post-Communist Russia has been so poor. We can only find real solutions to these problems when we understand that there are no simple solutions. As happens so often in business and economics, we are looking for prescriptions when we have very little understanding of the issues or the diagnoses.

S+B: One of the other great perceived strengths of the U.S. economy is the entrepreneurial culture. But there seem to be many instances where the originator of an idea does not reap the commercial rewards — which seems like a market failure. Do markets actually reward innovative talent?

KAY: The answer is yes, but very roughly. There are lots of reasons the inventor or originator of an idea may not get the lion’s share of the rewards. In the book, I talk about the history of the personal computer industry; few of the firms that made the innovations that were really important to the ultimate development of the industry succeeded commercially from it. The most important company in the inventive sense is probably Xerox, which is not there at all today and has never been there in terms of commercial success in that industry.

The other really important question to ask is: If you take the most important innovations of the 20th century, who paid for them? And the surprising answer to me when I looked into it was not only that it wasn’t private companies, but it wasn’t government either: It was private philanthropies of various kinds.

S+B: Can you give us an example?

KAY: My list of these innovations includes computers, antibiotics, “green revolution crops,” and television. If you take just these four for the moment — with computers, the basic idea was academic and then developed in the war by the British government. Antibiotics were discovered famously by Alexander Fleming in a hospital in the 1920s, then nothing happened for 10 years. It was only when the Rockefeller Foundation put money into research and development that things started to happen. Both the British and American governments in World War II also picked up that one.

The development of television is typical of those things that happen a lot with a certain sort of applied innovation. All the bits needed to do it were there — so television was effectively invented half a dozen times, more or less simultaneously, by different people around the world. Probably the most plausible claim to be the inventor of the commercially viable television is a small entrepreneur in the U.S. supported by business angels. The other example is green revolution crops. That, interestingly, was the Rockefeller Foundation again.

S+B: We’ve talked about the American business model — real or imagined. Is there a European business model?

KAY: There’s no one distinctive model. There’s a multiplicity of models. The market economy is centrally and fundamentally a West European institution. It came into being in Western Europe a couple of hundred years ago. And almost all of the countries today that are effective players in the market economy are either West European or they’re what Madison called the West European offshoots. That includes the United States because its political, social, and cultural institutions are basically West European in origin.

So what we have across most of the productive world is a set of variants on that particular theme. It’s then an open question to what extent the Asian partial success is just another variant on that theme, or to what extent that represents a somewhat independent strand of historical development.

S+B: There’s another paradox, which you rightly point out: Despite there being no single American business model, that model is the most admired in the world.

KAY: One of the oddities about the last decade has been the belief — on the basis of no evidence — that the U.S. is not just the world’s most successful economy, but that it’s so markedly more successful than any others. The truth is that the richest countries in the world are small Western European states: Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, and so on.

S+B: Do you see any decline in the competitive position of the U.S. economy relative to Europe?

KAY: If you look at growth rates during the last 20 years, there is no marked difference between American economic performance and European economic performance. The bizarre thing is that not just Americans but a lot of Europeans seem to have brainwashed themselves into believing that Europe is doing much worse than the United States. One of my favorite comments at the moment is to say American GDP is 20 percent above French; but French working hours are 20 percent shorter. The only difference is the French have more holidays and longer lunches.

There never really has been a huge gap between European and American productivity. People seem to have convinced themselves in the late 1990s that Europe has a major problem in comparative economic performance.

S+B: But many people believed that the U.S.’s rapid adoption of new technologies was giving it a major structural advantage over the rest of the world.

KAY: There is nothing to suggest that something has permanently increased the U.S. growth trend, or the growth rate of any other major economy. Nor is there any convincing evidence to support the notion that information technology has fundamentally changed the characteristics of a successful business.

S+B: Is globalization a force for economic good in the world? Does it benefit poorer countries, or is it a form of economic colonialism?

KAY: Globalization is another of those words that has so many meanings and connotations. There is an easy and positive way to define it. Market economies have really developed because of an ever-finer division of labor by which the tasks performed by both individuals and organizations become more and more specialized. Growth in international trade has been a part of that; in that sense, globalization is a great dynamic for economic development. If globalization means the international influence of large corporations, then a lot of that is good, as well. Large corporations are vehicles for transferring not just technology but institutional knowledge to poorer countries, which desperately need it.

S+B: But does it make the poorer countries richer in the long run — or does it just make the rich countries richer?

KAY: I think it makes the poorer countries richer. One of the points I emphasize at the end of the book is that the reason rich countries are rich is not because poor countries are poor.

S+B: What about globalization in terms of the opening of global markets?

KAY: I don’t think the globalization of finance has been particularly helpful, but I don’t think it’s stoppable even if one felt that to be desirable. What I think we really have to do is recognize that active securities markets are not as important in the development of a market economy as people seem to think.

S+B: You mean stock markets aren’t the engine of economic growth?

KAY: Correct.

S+B: Management is still regarded by many as a pseudoscience. It seems to occupy the position occupied by economics a century ago.

KAY: That’s right. One very good test of that is if you do an introductory physics course, the basic course will be much the same wherever you do it. That’s the sign of a subject that is mature — to have an agreed-upon, understood, recognized body of knowledge that anyone who is serious recognizes as being the basis of the subject. Economics has now basically got there in these terms. But I don’t think management has.

S+B: But economists still get bad press.

KAY: A lot of the bad reputation of economics is because most people, especially businesspeople, think that what economists do is macroeconomic forecasting. Since they don’t do that very well — not primarily because economists aren’t good, but because it’s impossible to answer those sorts of questions — they have a correspondingly low reputation.

S+B: Even though many business theories are adapted from economic theory?

KAY: Yes, but they have to be adapted to be accepted. The best translation of standard economics into business language is what Michael Porter did, but it involved cutting off all the laundry labels. If you look at Porter’s books, there’s very little indication that he was trained as an economist, or that the ideas he’s using are basically drawn from economics. And that, I’m sure, is because people thought it would be less appealing if it was presented as economic theory.

S+B: Perhaps it’s human nature to seek simple answers. We want to believe in a visionary leader. We want to have management gurus to hand us down the solution. Do you see that ever changing?

KAY: People have a psychological need for simple explanations.