Passin' the Time …

Leg #1, BOS to SFO. (7 hours!) Great reads:

"Can Spies Be Made Better?" in the 19 March Economist (cover) and "Fixing the FBI" in the 28 March US News & World Report (cover). Intel is Priority One in the War on Terror, and the Cold War intel culture is almost impossible to remold. The stories per se are of the utmost importance; moreover these are the Mothers of All Org-Culture Change efforts!

"The New Pitch: Do Ads Still Work" in the 28 March New Yorker. The superb media guru Ken Auletta has written a terrific piece. Perhaps because it reflects my biases. Somewhat unlike my super-pal Steve Yastrow, I believe that bad ads are a large part of advertising's problem. Good Auletta quote: "[Agency CEO & Creative Director] Linda Kaplan Thayer ... worries most about self-indulgent and risk averse advertising." Me too! (NB: In launching the iPod, Steve Jobs spent 90% of his $70M marketing budget on TV ads. Very Cool TV ads, I might add.)

"The Digital Hospital" in the 28 March BusinessWeek (cover). Another of my hobby horses. Healthcare quality would rise dramatically if acute care centers edged out of the dark ages on IT!

"The Immelt Revolution: He's Turning GE's Culture Upside Down, Demanding Far More Risk and Innovation," in BusinessWeek/03.28.05. From Jack Welch's efficiency drives and financial engineering (which worked in another era) to a hard-nosed, investment, incentive- and penalty-laden (typical GE!) emphasis on risky "Imagination Breakthrough" projects. Acquisitions are (mostly) out. Innovation-led organic growth is definitely in! Cool! (And I bet he pulls it off.) Kudos to Welch on talent development: All three of the finalists for his job—Jeff Immelt, Bob Nardelli at Home Depot & Jim McNerney at 3M are going gangbusters!

Just started: China, Inc: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World, by Ted Fishman. All China stats are bizarre. Like this: People are moving from rural areas to cities so fast that China must create urban infrastructure equivalent to Houston ... every month for the next 15 years!