Not much relationship, but I know both of these bloggers and follow their writing. One is thinking business strategy and the other operational. Both are important.

Death Spiral

Jon DiPietro’s Domesticating IT blog today includes a must-see video of Douglas Adams discussing parrots and death spirals. Oh, the answer is “42”.

Jon discusses several industries, including mine, that could exhibit the death spiral response to stress that Douglas Adams describes–you gotta follow the links to the video.

The problem for probably all of us when we are up to our butts in alligators is to be able to think long range enough to see the horizon. I have been in so many businesses that were boom and bust that I try often to stop and sniff out the horizon. Then change behavior (in my case change industries and even careers).

When I started at Airstream we were manufacturing about 50 travel trailers a DAY in three plant with about 1,800 employees. It’s done about 12 a MONTH for the past 30 years (I think, on average). At my first pure marketing position, we made a PC add-on board that outputted high-resolution printer graphics to dot-matrix printers. At that time, the Intel 80386 microprocessor came out. I thought, “Hmm, this can do everything our board does while also running all the rest of the system and more. We’re SOL.” And we were. I got a job back in manufacturing automation. See where that landed me!

I’m in publishing now. I don’t think print is going away. I don’t think magazines are going away. But both need to continue to morph. Magazines serve niche markets (the general ones are struggling). You must always be sensitive to your niche market. How many suppliers and how many readers still care about that niche? If it dwindles, then you’d better be ready to find a new niche.

Magazine people in general have had a terrible time figuring out digital (better than newspapers, but that’s another story). I agree with Wired’s Editor in Chief Chris Anderson that each has its own strength and purpose. Print magazines are an event. It’s a once a period thing that combines information around a niche market and presents it in a package. Digital (Websites and the like) are either a repository (where people visit as the result of a Google or Bing search) or (better) they are a constant stream of news and ideas that also serve the niche. What was that song, “different strokes for different folks”?

Operational Gains

Meanwhile, Jim Cahill at Emerson Process Experts searched out one of his experts whom I’ve interviewed several times about how the proper use of Foundation Fieldbus can improve your operations. That is also good thinking.

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