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GAMESbrief reading list – October 2016

Over on GAMESbrief, where I blog about the business of games, I have just published a list of the things I read that I found interesting in October. Not all of them were about games. These are the ones that I think will be of interest to my more general readers.

Economics and Management

  • Anthropologist David Graeber writes a compelling and scathing account of why capitalism creates pointless jobs (Evonomics). John Maynard Keynes would be surprised at how hard we work in the twenty-first century, given the massive improvements in standard of living. I continue to think that this is a very real problem that will only get worse as the “productive” jobs get handed over to robots and technology. Will we as a society adapt by choosing to work less, or will we continue to work harder and harder driven by a masochistic sense that work (as defined by our capitalist system) is inherently good.
  • Memo to Jeff Bezos: Stack-Ranking is a Destructive Employee Practice: Excellent piece on the destructive nature of competition-focused management styles. Based on seminal work involving chickens (spoiler: none of the hyper-competitive chickens survived: as they fought their way up the pecking order, they literally pecked each other to death.)
  • Why Tim Cook is Steve Ballmer and why he still as his job at Apple by the marvellous Steve Blank. If you followed the link to Xbox One: A flawed plan, well executed above, this will seem eerily familiar. In essence, the skills of being a visionary entrepreneur and being an excellent (“world-beating”) COO or salesman are very different. The difference between Lean-style execution and operating a large corporate are so wide that few people who are good at corporate can step up to Lean (and vice versa). Steve sets out his case against Apple clearly and compellingly.

Marketing

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  • I love this marketing hack. A bike company was suffering significant damage to its bicycles in transit with third-party shipping companies. Its solution? Print pictures of flat-screen TVs on the packaging. (Independent)
  • Why Mobile Marketing Teams Fail ( Mobile Dev Memo): Some interesting thoughts from Eric Seufert on why mobile marketing often fails. I fear we are still waiting for the solutions, though.

Books

I haven’t been reading a lot of business books this month. I’ve been enjoying The Chimp Paradox, a mind management book that is credited by the British Olympic cycling team with helping win their medals. More importantly, it helps split out the human, thinking part of our brains from the chimp, emotional, reacting part. It is a compelling read, and useful in both work and professional life.

And I’ve been getting into Dungeons & Dragons for the first time in my life. (I was firmly a Rolemaster player in my youth). I was given a copy of the 5th edition Player Handbook (thanks, Wizards of the Coast) and recently picked up the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master Handbook. The kids won’t know what hit them. Smile

Nicholas Lovell