Top articles of the week | July 25

July 25, 2020

Every week, we put together a list of our top 5 articles of the past week. Happy reading!

A More Holistic Framework for Military Competition: How the War Might Be Won The Strategy Bridge (reading time: 12 minutes)

For long time followers of this newsletter, you might remember my affinity towards history and particularly military strategy. This article has nothing to do with history but is rather focused on a potential US-China military conflict and the probable strategies of each side. It is said that business strategy is derived from military strategy. This post is a good example of how military planners conceive of strategic concepts particularly with numerous elements to consider. The notion of a “superbattlefield” is particularly interesting.

The Adjacent User Theory Andrew Chen (reading time: 28 minutes)

I’m still amazed by all the possibilities that digital connectivity brings to business. For instance, being able to precisely analyse your customers and from there intuit your next customer cohorts. This post by Bangaly Kaba, former head of growth at Instagram and Instacart is a perfect example of this type of analysis. There are many great insights from this post that are applicable to many areas beyond social media.

How to master strategy, as simply as I can Simon Wardley (reading time: 8 minutes)

This is great post I’m going back to often. We’ve often written about Wardley Mapping and the gentleman that started it, Simon Wardley. This post from a few years ago explains the foundation of his strategy theory. He borrows from Sun-Tzu and John Boyd to present the strategy cycle. In my humble option, Wardley Mapping is one of the most innovations in the field of strategy in over 30 years. I find myself going back to the basics of Simon’s teachings often.

The Gap Between Large and Small Companies Is Growing. Why? Harvard Business Review (reading time: 6 minutes)

Contrary to the popular notion, we find that large corporations are more and more likely to maintain their dominant positions, while small corporations are less and less likely to become big and profitable.

Recent market data has shown that there is a performance gap; the size difference between big and small companies is growing. This study in HBR attempts to understand the reasons why. The findings are not based on a statistical analysis. One of the most interesting findings is that investment in physical assets, share buybacks, dividend payments, and acquisitions were negatively associated with the likelihood of escape for small size companies.

Thread about GPT-3 and its applications Kaj Sotala, Twitter (reading time: 10 minutes)

You might have heard about a recent advancement in the field of AI called GPT-3. It is a new machine learning tool released in beta by OpenAI. It’s a generative text model, trained on an unprecedentedly large data set, which means that can give it some text and ask it to generate more. There were stunningly good examples shared over social media. This twitter thread is a collection of some of the best examples. If you squint a bit, you can envision the implications this type of technology has – well for everything.