How Driverless Cars Hurt the Environment


Does that sound strange to you?  Is it possibly a bad idea to come up with something that is more efficient because it causes more people to use it or the same people to use something more often?  Maybe so, according to this article posted by the Wall Street Journal.

How do we think critically about things like this?  The reactions to this blog are telling.  Is the ultimate goal to keep consumption under control or to be sure we are as efficient as we can be about producing goods and services?  Do we believe the quality of life is important, or should everyone live in the dark and huddle together to stay warm?

Why aren’t we having this conversation?




sportsmanshipI do not follow sports, as you no doubt have learned from my blogs.  Perhaps that is because Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where I went to college set the record for most consecutive losses in football.  I graduated with my first master’s degree having never experienced a winning game, even when we brought in an all-girls college that had just gone coed and formed a football team.  They beat us as well … by a wide margin as I remember.

We got used to losing.  We still showed up at games and cheered for our side.  Of course, our cheers were geeky as well, routinely including the digits to the irrational number Pi.

So, I am puzzled when I watch sports today and fail to see any level of grace and

sportsmanship.  And, I am especially puzzled when the lack of sportsmanship goes viral, as it appears to have done in basketball.   For example, why on earth would we condone scenes like this during the basketball game?  When did the rules get rewritten that distracting players was part of the game?  Why don’t I ever hear complaints?  Where is the sense of sportsmanship?

We do seem to get more upset about the team’s name, especially if it has tribal roots.  I guess birds don’t have any rights, so Ravens and Hawks are safe … but if they learn to speak I fear those will be out as well.  Yet we condone scenes like the one pictured above.

Tennis still seems to insist on decorum.  The judge can quiet the crowd and, during the point, no one is allowed to do anything that might be a distraction.  That seems right to me.  But, then again, tennis is a game that is not generally followed like basketball, football, or baseball.

The masses seem to behave badly.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that the election cycle follows the same lack of sportsmanship.  Maybe we Americans have lost our sense of it.

The New Cs of Customer Choice


Susan and I were traveling recently and found some really cheap airfares.

However, as we soon found out, these seats came along with some limitations.  For example, we were not able to choose our seats (until everyone who paid the high price exercised their choices).  The seats also came with less legroom.  Forget about using my multi-million miler status to upgrade … but who cares anyway when the number of people with even more miles than I have is enormous now.   And, by accepting this lower fare, we forfeited the right to catch an earlier flight even if we were willing to stand by for it.

Perhaps there is something to be learned here for our industry.  Maybe, just maybe, the historical basis for rates and rate design needs to consider something far different from what our founding fathers conceived.  Maybe Edison was right, his concern that no one would ever want to buy electricity because people had no idea what it was … he suggested selling light and heat.  Doing that would make it intrinsically attractive to the providers to use cost-effective efficiency measures.

If customers really want low prices, perhaps they should have to compromise choice, comfort, convenience, and control.  Lots of Cs at work here.  But maybe this set of attributes permits us to truly rethink the electricity industry.  After all, if you want comfort, you probably want to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  If you want the lowest price, perhaps you have to give up some or even all of that.

Maybe the costs of service concepts needs to be designed to reflect the value of service.  If you value convenience, you should be willing to pay more for it.


Just trying to help …


What do you Crave?

Hershey chocolate production  Hershey, Pa. Jeff Lautenberger for The Wall Street Journal
Hershey chocolate production Hershey, Pa. Jeff Lautenberger for The Wall Street Journal

Today’s consumers are certainly fickle.  All you have to do is to watch how some restaurants become popular while others wither in their shadow.   You have to wonder how you can ever predict or even know what customers are looking for these days.

One craving I thought was sacred was the American love affair with chocolate.  After all, who can argue with that?  Well, I guess if you are THE chocolate company that everyone declares the leader, you have to innovate … but who would expect them to be experimenting with meat … of all things!

Take a look.  It may be a lark, but it is not a joke. Read the WSJ article here.

Perhaps this is the model for today’s truly innovative companies.  Break the mold and reach far beyond what might normally seem to be the bounded space any market normally thinks exist.