FF Daily #491: Know-how and know-what

October 5, 2021: Learning to live with Covid-19; Daniel Craig’s James Bond; Why art matters

Founding Fuel

[Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay]

Good morning,

In Deep Work, Cal Newport recounts a fascinating story that Clayton Christensen shared in his foreword to another book The 4 Disciplines of Execution.

Newport gives the background first, and then the story. “In the mid-1990s, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen received a call from Andy Grove, the CEO and chairman of Intel. Grove had encountered Christensen’s research on disruptive innovation and asked him to fly out to California to discuss the theory’s implications for Intel. On arrival, Christensen walked through the basics of disruption: entrenched companies are often unexpectedly dethroned by start-ups that begin with cheap offerings at the low end of the market, but then, over time, improve their cheap products just enough to begin to steal high-end market share. Grove recognized that Intel faced this threat from low-end processors produced by upstart companies like AMD and Cyrix. Fueled by his newfound understanding of disruption, Grove devised the strategy that led to the Celeron family of processors—a lower-performance offering that helped Intel successfully fight off the challenges from below.”

Newport then goes on to share the key anecdote. “As Christensen recalls, Grove asked him during a break in this meeting, ‘How do I do this?’ Christensen responded with a discussion of business strategy, explaining how Grove could set up a new business unit and so on. Grove cut him off with a gruff reply: ‘You are such a naive academic. I asked you how to do it, and you told me what I should do. I know what I need to do. I just don’t know how to do it.’”

Know-how can be as important as know-what, and once you have figured out the strategy, there is nothing as important as know-how. ‘The 4 disciplines’ in the title of the other book we mentioned inspired Newport himself to make his research on deep work much more actionable. 

Here’s a summary of the rules from the 4 disciplines. 

  1. Focus on the Wildly Important: Your finest efforts should go towards the one or two goals that will make all the difference.
  2. Act on the Lead Measures: Your lead measures are the “measures” of the activities most connected to achieving the goal.
  3. Keep a Compelling Scoreboard: Doing it ensures that everyone knows the score at all times, so that they can tell whether or not they are winning. 
  4. Create a Cadence of Accountability: This is where execution happens. It is a frequently recurring cycle of accounting for past performance and planning to move the score forward.

In this issue

  • Learning to live with Covid-19
  • How Daniel Craig’s James Bond is different
  • Why art matters

Have a great day!

Learning to live with Covid-19

In his recent interview with Dr Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases specialist and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Govidraj Ethiraj, founder of India Spend, asked about the parallels between Covid-19 and measles. Here’s Dr Gandhi’s answer. 

“The thing about measles is it can also do great harm. Measles was first identified in the ninth century, and we actually didn't get a vaccination for measles until 1963. So remember, the way that measles was controlled prior to mass vaccination is that people would be born, they would be non-immune to measles, they’d unfortunately have to get measles to become immune, and that immunity was lifelong. In fact, we actually don't vaccinate people who are born before 1963, because we assume they’ve had measles.

“Covid-19 is more deadly, but we also have better treatments than we’ve ever had for measles. We actually have true treatments now—monoclonal antibodies, remdesivir, steroids, there's an antiviral coming out named molnupiravir, that we have great hope for: The results are going to be released this week. So hopefully, we'll be able to treat more mild cases. And the question of lifelong immunity is still a debate. But there are good features of immunologic research that show long T-cells and long B-cells that we hope will get lifelong immunity to Covid-19. So, there’s a lot of hope that it can become like measles. And if you think about measles, you don’t actually think about measles very much in the general population. As an infectious disease doctor, I think about it. But it is gone from the public view that it is actually still a problem. It’s not gone. It’s called ‘under control’. And that’s the hope for Covid.”

Dig deeper

How Daniel Craig’s James Bond is different

How does a franchise created in a different era—politically, economically and socially—adapt to changes and appeal to audiences today? Daniel Craig’s James Bond could well become a case study in a leading business school. 

In GQ, Keith Phipps reflects on how the character of James Bond changed during the Daniel Craig era, which ends with No Time to Die. Right from the time Casino Royale hit the theatres the new Bond drew comparisons with Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne. At another layer, Craig’s Bondverse also drew comparisons with another unlikely universe, which for years represented anti-Bond, John le Carre’s world of George Smileys and other brooding spies.  

However, the character is not the only difference. Each movie in the Craig series connected with the others in a way previous Bond movies didn’t. Phipps writes: 

“Previously, Bond films would more or less forget earlier Bond films existed. Sure, there would be an occasional reference to a past film’s plot development (like Tracy, Bond’s doomed wife in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and supporting characters like M, Felix Leiter, Moneypenny, and Q would remain (albeit played at various points by different actors), and villains would sometimes return for encores. But the series mostly took a clean slate approach and never demanded viewers have any knowledge of what had come before.

Quantum changed that, picking up almost immediately where Casino Royale left off as Bond deals with a villain left over from his previous adventure. The film ends with him capturing another bad guy tied to Vesper. Rather than a fresh start each time out, Craig’s Bond series would become a continuing story.

“That suits Craig’s approach to the character. His Bond becomes increasingly weary as the series progresses.”

Dig deeper

Why art matters

(Via WhatsApp)

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Bookmark Founding Fuel’s special section on Thriving in Volatile Times. All our stories on how individuals and businesses are responding to the pandemic until now are posted there.

Warm regards,

Team Founding Fuel

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