Top articles of the week | May 18

May 18, 2019

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

The journey to an agile organization McKinsey (reading time: 15 minutes)

This is one of better articles I’ve read on business agility. Ever since our firm started incorporated agile at the strategic planning, people unfamiliar with the concept were skeptical. We’re finally starting to see mainstream recognition of its efficacy.

The article does a good job of explaining business agility and its benefits. They are some valid points on cultural change on top of organizational change.

The Empty Promise of Data Moats a16z (reading time: 14 minutes)

There is a widespread belief that an enterprise startup can build a data moat, a distinct competitive advantage due to the data that it collects. The VC firm a16z dispels this myth with strong arguments. It doesn’t end there, they provide a good framework on evaluating your data and how to apply those insights competitively.

Many Strategies Fail Because They’re Not Actually Strategies Harvard Business Review (reading time: 7 minutes)

Our team stumbled on this HBR post and it’s a great summary of what we often see. The word strategy is often broadly used to discuss goals.

“A real strategy involves a clear set of choices that define what the firm is going to do and what it’s not going to do. Many strategies fail to get implemented, despite the ample efforts of hard-working people, because they do not represent a set of clear choices.”

Execution and communication are also key components. #mustread

How TPG Learned to Love Disruption Bloomberg (reading time: 17 minutes)

TPG, with more than $104 billion under management, is an established contrarian in the private equity industry. This is a fascinating interview with its two leaders that discuss the founding of the firm, their investment philosophy and their investments in technology.

Technology is biased as its makers Longreads, Lizzie O’Shea (reading time: 30 minutes)

Automotive manufacturers used to try to blame car crashes on the drivers. This changed in the 60s after a series of lawsuits, which forced car manufacturers to improve their design process greatly improving the death rate in accidents. We can trace a parallel line with technology companies today, which thrust blame on “users”.

Part of the reason that this ad ended up being racist is because the process of designing algorithms and training them on real-world data takes place with basically zero transparency. The inputs are secret, and there is no formal regulation properly adapted to these processes. There isn’t even a formal way to complain about it. There is barely a way to know about it. Biased algorithms exert considerable and increasing influence over many aspects of our lives. So long as they remain hidden or unexamined, we are allowing all manner of dangerous and oppressive practices to become embedded in new technologies, as machines learn to absorb the implicit biases that exist in the real world.


How McDonald’s Plans to Reinvent the Drive Thru QSR Magazine

(reading time: 10 minutes)

A few weeks ago, we covered McDonald’s acquisition of Dynamic Yield, an AI company. This post dives into how the company plans to integrate technology to drive a very specific business outcome, improving the drive-thru experience.