Korea Strategy, consulting and interim management related to Korea

Korea Strategy has just been launched. It provides strategy consulting and interim management for companies and consulting firms interested in Korean market and businesses.

You can see more information at the website.



The job of an innovator, comparing Bill Gates and Steve Jobs

Gates was a programmer, and Jobs was not. But because of that, I think Jobs showed more of a pure form of an innovator.

- What Gates did = innovation + engineering 
- What Jobs did = innovation

People often are very curious about what an innovator does. I think human beings still have a primitive tendency to associate work with something material. An 'idea' does not feel real. It's a part of explanation why people paid for books and newspapers, but won't pay for digital contents.

To simplify, an innovator creates ideas. It helps, often greatly, for an innovator to have the skills to build the product him/herself, but that's not the core of the job. Gates was innovator + engineer at MS, but with TerraPower he is probably just a pure-form innovatoand.

By the way, Gates is less associated with innovation, but Jobs once said Gates pretty much created a software industry, which I think makes a lot of sense.



Remote work will increase, but I understand what Marissa Mayer did.

I have real-life experiences in working remotely. I and my colleague, which means 100% of our workforce, worked remotely for more than a year until recently. I came to office everyday, but he worked out of his home. We only met once a week.

I have also worked with people in other countries: a designer in Belgium, another in Canada (was it Russia?), a coder in India, etc., never meeting them in person.

Here are some thoughts on the remote work.

- Remote work is likely to increase. It has a lot of benefits, including efficiency (your commuting time), costs (your office) and increased choice for employees (think working moms).

- It's a new way of working, but people won't need as much learning curve as some think. A lot of getting used to will simply come from using social media. In a sense, Facebook is a great training ground for remote work.

- This is probably the hardest to accept for traditionalists, but the loss of productivity is not so clear. It sometimes increases productivity. When people are around you, you tend to communicate verbally even when clear written communication is better. And you can focus on working on your priorities, as you are not bugged by your boss passing by.

And the collaboration tools became very good, as well as the our devices and network infrastructure.

- There is some loss in culture. Emotional binding is probably the most worried. I think we also learn to minimize this from using social media. Some Facebook friends are very close, even when not meeting in person for a long time. Also, the video conferencing, not very practical even a few years ago, is much better (than messaging or voice-only call) at delivering personal touch. And as a company, you have the additional advantage of forcing people to come to the office once in a while.

All considered, I believe remote work will increase. However, I fully understand what +Marissa Mayer did. I don't think she does not like remote work per se. I think she wants to restore the work discipline. If people abused remote work, I might do the same thing. This is probably a short-term shock therapy, and Yahoo probably needs to develop a newer remote work model in the long term.


Give me an e-ink smartphone.

There is no smartphone with an e-ink, or e-paper more generally, display. None as far as I know. Is Amazon, who is the most likely to consider it, developing one? I don't know, but I have heard no news about it.

Why? The main mobile players - Amazon, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Google, MS - must be thinking, if they have ever thought about it, it has no market. You can interpret what businesses think, by looking at what they do. All businesses do what they think make good businesses.

I don't agree. I can prove that there is a market. At least one. I would buy an e-ink based smartphone. Here is why.
  • I mostly read on my phone, which is an iPhone at the moment. I don't play games, and I don't watch videos very often. I read news articles, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. Quite a lot. So, I am fine with a smartphone that provides better reading but poorer gaming or video experiences.
  • I think the e-ink phone can be much cheaper. I actually have seen an e-ink phone a few years ago. This was before smartphones became popular. I think it was around 2006. I was invited to a brainstorming session at one of the major mobile phone makers, and they showed a very basic e-ink phone. I remember it was really light. They could manufacture it so cheap that giving it away for some promotion campaigns was a likely option for how to use it.
  • I don't want to carry two devices, a phone and an e-reader. I can own two devices, and sometimes carry both, but usually I would rather like to carry one and be able to do the basic things. And if I had to choose one between a phone and an e-reader, it's obvious I would choose a phone.
  • It consumes much less battery. I know many people complain about how their smart phone quickly runs out of battery. The e-ink display consumes much less battery. If you have both a Kindle and an iPad, you all know the difference. I am sure an e-ink smartphone will have much longer battery life than LCD-based ones. Perhaps a few days, compared to a few hours?
  • It seems more durable and lighter. When you drop an iPad and Kindle, I believe an iPad is more likely to be broken. And it's much lighter as well.
Then the remaining business question for them must be how many people think like me. I don't know, but I am pretty sure I am not alone.

Or think about it this way, if you were Amazon. Launch a Kindle with a phone feature, and see how people react. Perhaps you could make it smaller to fit in a pocket, but if you don't want to invest too much for this test marketing, just add the phone function to one of your existing models. I am willing to be a test user.


What's wrong with silly love songs?

I like Paul McCartney. I once listed my favorite Beatles songs, and they were more likely Paul's songs than John Lennon's.

I also like his attitude (or philosophy) towards music. In the 1970's, John Lennon and other music experts criticized Paul's songs. They said Paul make light and silly love songs.

Paul seems to have considered changing his style. "I listened to him for a few years," said Paul, "and used to think, 'I can't write another of those soppy love songs. We've got to get hard and rocky now.'"

But then he said, "In the end, though, I realized that I just had to be myself. It's bolder, you know, to say, 'What's the difference? I like it.'" (source: http://www.superseventies.com/1976_6singles.html)

His ultimate answer was his song in 1976, 'Silly love songs.' See the lyric below.

[Paul McCartney & Wings - Silly Love Songs - Del album de 1976; Wings at the Speed of Sound.]
You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs.
But I look around me and I see it isn't so.
Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs.
And what's wrong with that?
I'd like to know, 'cause here I go again
I love you, I love you,
I love you, I love you,
I can't explain the feeling's plain to me, say can't you see?
Ah, she gave me more, she gave it all to me
Now can't you see,
What's wrong with that
I need to know, 'cause here I go again
I love you, I love you

Love doesn't come in a minute,
sometimes it doesn't come at all
I only know that when I'm in it
It isn't silly, no, it isn't silly, 
love isn't silly at all.

How can I tell you about my loved one?
How can I tell you about my loved one?

How can I tell you about my loved one?
(I love you)
How can I tell you about my loved one?
(I love you)

Yes, Paul! I agree with you. The same can be told about the visual art. If I like a piece of art, I don't need a deep meaning. I may like one because of the meaning or the historical importance, but not always. If I don't like a work of Andy Warhol, I don't like it however high the work is viewed by experts. It is not that someone has better eyes for appreciation and others don't. We just have different eyes.

What's wrong with silly love songs?


Intramodel competition vs. intermodel competition

There are two kinds of competition.

One is intramodel competition, which is competition in the same business model or industry. It is Hyundai car against Toyota car, and IE vs. Chrome browsers.

The other is intermodel competition, which is competition between different business models that target (or happen to address) the same needs. It is book vs. ebook, or even wrist watch vs. mobile phone (for the needs of telling time).

People tend to look at only intramodel competition, or look at both with the same perspective. They need different perspectives.

An innovation inevitably generates an intermodel competition, though the potential competitors may not be aware of it for a long time.


Slow information

(Originally written as a comment at http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2009/10/slow-capital.html)

I am a slowblogger. I tend to know about a news later, and tend to make my opinion about it much later after the stormy initial debates have gone, when the topic has been outdated. Even at AVC.com, I find myself leaving comments days after.

But why do fast blogging/twitting dominate?

One reason is that the world is becoming more complex and moving faster, and the average shelf life of information has to become shorter. There are more and more new information, and a piece of information gets outdated after even newer information arrives. This is natural.

So, this explains all why we don't see much slow information (generation, distribution, discussion)? Probably not. There are topics that deserve longer thinking and discussing. I think the other reason must be that we made it easier and cooler for fast information.

Blogging has made information faster. With Twitter, even blogging looks slow now. Average shelf life probably being 1-2 hours vs. 1-2 days. All the marketing and journalism encourage you to join the wave. So we get rapid progress in the fast side of the information, which is good. But the other side, the slow, is left undeveloped. The fast information is likely be more popular as the world, which is the ultimate source of information speeds up, but not this much.

The ebook is showing some hope, but it has not fully utilized the advantage of the Internet. It is just substituting the tree paper with the electrononic paper, an old model using new technology. I am not saying old models are bad, but there must be other new possibilities.

More than any other areas, we need innovation for slow information.