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July 2004

Thought provoking articles

We are on the lookout for articles that offer a thought-provoking perspective on complex business issues. It is often easier to glean an insight into an absorbing issue by looking for an analog in an different area. Leaps in thinking often happen in this way.

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The following two articles will be thought provoking for people interested in whole-systems thinking. The specific articles are related to the healthcare industry. The thinking behind the articles could be very relevant to any industry.

Why we are losing the war on CANCER (and how to win it)

by Clifton Leaf
Fortune Magazine, March 22, 2004
<www.fortune.com/fortune/articles/0,15114,598425,00.html>

Mr. Leaf leads with a powerful assertion: in the United State the mortality rate from advanced cancer has "barely budged since the 1970's." During this period $200 billion has been spent. The author goes on to substantiate this assertion and then present a composite of expert views on the current model of medical research and cancer drug development. The author sets out to openly air several factors that permeate the entire system. In his article Mr. Leaf identifies leverage points to establish a new model and a new level of performance.

Redefining Competition in HealthCare

by Michael E. Porter and Elizabeth Olmstead Teisberg
Harvard Business Review, June 2004
<www.hbr.org> reprint R0406D On Point 6964

The authors begin the article with a powerful assertion:
"In healthy competition relentless improvements in processes and methodology drive cost down. Product and service quality rises. Innovation leads to new and better approaches which diffuse widely and rapidly. Uncompetitive providers go out of business. Health Care could not be more different."

The article discusses:

  1. The features of Zero-Sum Competition
  2. The features of Positive Sum Competition
  3. The ingredients for Change

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The Power of Design

Business Week, May 17, 2004
<http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/
04_20/b3883001_mz001.htm>

A very succinct story on the IDEO approach to identifying customer insights and translating them into product concepts and valued customer experiences.

P&G - Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Fortune, May 31,2004
<http://www.fortune.com/fortune/ceo/articles/0,15114,638446,00.html>

P&G has really kicked up growth through innovation. Recent products that became blockbusters through collaboration between different business units include: Crest Whitestrips, Swiffer WetJet, Tide Stain Brush. P&G has also built successful brand extensions through licensing technologies or forging alliances. These include the Spinbrush, Prilosec (heartburn), Olay Regenerist (anti-aging cream). The article highlights ways P&G and its CEO have broken from tradition.

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