Little Britain

Szpylberg cartoon showing a British Bulldog

Today your cartoonist is risking a political post: how exactly is it “plucky” if one of the biggest countries in Europe walks away from its European partners (and friends!), as the Telegraph casually writes? Your cartoonist really, really doesn’t get what some media people in England have against the EU. Is it having the straightness of bananas regulated by a shared institution? Your cartoonist is serious about this. The EU has never been about taking power, it is about sharing power.

The Californian hypothesis

Szpylbert cartoon showing a one up mushroom

If the latest literature about information-based business models is anything to go by, the world of commerce is in for some big changes. Basically, the argument is that “platform” businesses (like FB or Don’t-be-evil) will beat more traditional “pipeline” businesses wherever they meet – fascinating and quite worrying! Of course, Szpylbert will keep reporting on this…

Why “Ecosystem” and “Democratisation” are fishy words in business

Szpylbert cartoon showing fish bones

Your cartoonist sometimes gets to go to places where business strategy is discussed. Always listening carefully, Szpylbert developed a pet hate for two particularly misleading words: “ecosystem” and “democratisation”. Both are supposed to somehow sound inviting and empowering – but in reality their meaning is very different.

Ecosystems are created by big businesses to get small companies to do risky things or stuff that they think is not worthwhile. Naturally, that includes the possibility of involuntary exit from the ecosystem, a.k.a. “death”. With survival being a struggle, an ecosystem is not a happy place!

Now for democratisation. This is normally suggested to entice amateur usership of technology or something without a proper value proposition, e.g. low-cost 3D printing or blogging. Of course, there is no real commercial opportunity here for the dilettante – and the money is made elsewhere. If there’s a gold rush, don’t join it. Sell shovels!

Something for the office

Szpylbert cartoon visualising Antagonism

Szpylbert’s been reading a lot of managment and economics books lately for work. One thing that is apparent is that seeking one’s own benefit usually comes at the expense of someone else. This has always been the case (think Sun Tzu’s The Art of War) and great efforts normally are made to hide this from the naïve. As the saying in poker goes, if you don’t know who the fish is, it’s you!

Trade secrets

Szpylbert_Better_Be_WrongFirst post of the year – your artist was quite busy feeling confused as a recently appointed academic lately. We start the year with a bit of wisdom from Szpylbert’s last summer intern: quizzed why engineering students always wear suits to interviews (and in academia almost no one wears a suit), the intern said: “If you are wrong and wearing a suit then at least you look competent, all engineering students know that”. This had your cartoonist thinking. Perhaps this was also the trade secret of all those bankers and politicians. Time to buy a suit.

Secretly, you hope you’re not like that

Szpylbert_Dragonlord

Today, a post on one of the stranger ambitions in the modern world: trying to become a youtube star.  As we all appreciate, the internet is open to everyone, also to those with a thirst for admiration but no discernible talent. Szpylbert is often amazed by how bad some people are at judging the impression they create of themselves on the internet. And there is some deeper meaning to this. All of us sometimes struggle to reconcile how we think we appear to others with how we are really perceived. It’s one of the more harmless parts of the human condition. But wouldn’t social interactions be terribly safe and boring without this? Szpylbert’s wisdom is: if you notice you’re crap at this sort of thing, just don’t try to become a youtube sensation…

Roughing it in economy

Szpylbert cartoon about the fine line of civilisationSzpylbert has started flying a lot for work over the past few years and is often annoyed by how unpleasant air travel is. Intrusive and badly organised procedures at the airport and unnatural closeness to strangers on the plane. Making things worse, your cartoonist seems to be a magnet for those who struggle with the basics of normal behaviour. Ever sat through an 8 hour flight with a curly-haired teenager you’ve never met before sleeping on your shoulder? But despair not if you’ve got the funds: with an upgrade to business (or at least premium economy…) you are allowed to be a human again.