Coursera – Managing the Company of the Future

university-of-LondonVery interesting course – the course about the future of management, that considers current trends and possibilities that the “future” may not be so dramatically different from the present in five years…  though many business leaders would like it to be different.  Very realistic course – what makes it particularly useful.

The class classifies “means” and “ends” of management into traditional and new approaches.


Emergence – self-directing organization.

Linear alignment – objective of “making money” for shareholders.

Obliquity – objective of higher level, such as benefiting society in a fundamental way.

Interesting observation from the class: management innovation can come from the inception of the company at the start-up, from the company’s leadership, and from within of the organization.  The third approach is the most challenging.  Middle management attempting the change, is recommended to:

  • align with existing strategic priority of the organization
  • put the management innovation they are trying to implement in the language of business ($)
  • experiment, learn, adapt
  • build partners, build capabilities
  • stay under the radar as long as possible 🙂
  • and don’t expect to be appreciated…

Management innovation is a frustrating game





Interesting to note, an average company believes that it would like to be closer to the right in the next 5 years, but it does not believe it will actually achieve the needed shift.

The role of the manager is changing from the industrial era, to the “knowledge era” to the “post knowledge era.”  As the information is available, the manager becomes the enabler of employees to achieve their objectives – the role transforms into understanding of the employees’ needs and providing needed resources.




Instead of concentrating on the task, the manager of the future needs to concentrate on the potential of the employees (what can be achieved by understanding of their needs).




Coursera – Surviving Disruptive Technologies

university-of-MarilandQuite interesting course with many useful examples to illustrate main concepts.  The main point of the course is increasing pace of technological change and the need to adapt to the change to… survive.  Every organization will experience change in technologies; some will survive and some will perish.  The class gives a guide on typical process of evaluation of disruptive technologies and options of adaptation.


Interesting: profitable organizations with a strong brand have a “disadvantage” of their own profitability.  When the disruptive technology appears, it is difficult to make changes as the success of the company is rather obvious.  As it is more difficult for public companies to make changes (as the expectation for steady growth can create unnecessary pressure), the instructor mentioned Michael Dell’s attempt to make his company private to implement necessary changes.

Another interesting point:  successful companies are able to focus on their core strengths very well, their organization designed to be efficient and productive.  This particular approach hurts chances for their transformation – the success breeds rigidity necessary for focusing on profitability, in expense of flexibility vital for the future survival of the company.


Organizational structure also needs to change, even if it has been difficult to do for centuries 🙂


Survival guide:

  • Denying a disruption will affect you is dangerous
  • An innovation may not be impressive (at first)
  • Imagine the Worst Possible Scenario
  • Develop the strategy to survive the Worst Possible Scenario
  • Be bold
  • Change the organization (even if it has been hard topic for over 500 years 😉 )

Coursera – International Organizations Management

UniversityQuite interesting class, even if I thought initially that the class will cover management issues in corporations operating across the world, rather than international organizations themselves.  The class gives an excellent overview of the international dynamic and concept of international organizations.  The class also discusses in-depth PPP – Public-Private Partnerships, which are projected to grow.

A few interesting points:

WTO system under which all members need to agree on a particular measure is no longer functioning.  To better reflect reality of the international supply chain, regional trade agreements, mega-regional trade agreements and Plurilateral agreements are growing in number.


The chart above shows rise in regional agreements.

China surpassed US by internet population, but below in penetration (half of US rate).  Quite interesting chart of internet total use and penetration rate is below.


Will China become a new dominant player in the world based on its economic success?  Maybe not…

That it is more likely that China will continue its rise through competitive cooperation, and will become the center of the global network.

As “data” is becoming more and more important for businesses and countries, it can become an asset that could (or could not?) be controlled.

Will we see “data nationalism” with the requirement of certain or all data assets to be stored locally?  It will lead to fragmentation of the internet.


The class explains the concept and recent growth of PPPs – Public-Private Partnerships.




Interesting to see “attracting talented employees” as a business interest in PPPs.  From another side, it is an expected development as younger generations becoming disillusioned in the career experience of their predecessors.

Coursera – An Introduction to Consumer Neuroscience & Neuromarketing

neuromarketingVery interesting introductory course!  The course has just enough deep explanations of the brain structures not to intimidate an average marketer, and plenty of curious examples of experiments.  Discussion about ethics of neuromarketing is also fascinating – this subject is still little known even in the marketing industry.

Consumer neuroscience is located in the middle of the intersection of Neuroscience, Economics, and Psychology. It is interesting to see other new development in the field – behavioral economics in a relatively close proximity.  As the field is increasing in popularity, more interesting subjects will probably populate the triangle in the future.


Thought marketers know that people are influenced by advertising, if we ask consumers, they will typically say “non, I am not influenced by advertisement…” The example below shows eye tracking related to a specific product.  control group have not been exposed to the advertisement and the test group was.


Test group also bought more product.  However, everybody in the test group said that the advertisement had not effect on them 🙂

Neurovision – a tool allowing to determine what people will see automatically, without trying to pay attention to anything specific.  The tool is 85% accurate; based on science and validated eye tracking. Relatively inexpensive, DIY tool.



Linking… is stronger for simple positive association compared to factual association


How do people look at the financial reports when they evaluate companies?  People state that they look at the bottom – revenue numbers.  However, the eye-tracking study indicates that they are looking at key profit numbers more 🙂


Eye-tracking experiment showed that when people are asked to look at the abstract art, they will be distracted by pictures of food (more if they are hungry).  However, the images of high-calorie food are very tempting, but the healthy food not so much.



Typical approach: a problem > a resolution > brand exposure

This approach might be not the most effective as from the perspective of the human brain, the resolution might signify a “conceptual closure;” or “mental door” from one memory “room” to another.

Ad below was analyzed in its impact on memory formation.  At the point of the transition to the product (screen turns white) – neuro-scientists saw a dramatic drop in memory encoding.  “…It was classic conceptual closure…”  The ad was very popular, but sales went down for Avian brand that year and the brand lost market share.

If the popularity of viral video could result in any behavior changes, it would be reasonable to expect an increase of the interest to the brand, and the drop in market share would probably not happen…

Memory encoding for advertisement depends on the environment where the advertisement appears.  If a high-level emotional ad appears in the TV program where people are expected to pay attention to details the impact will be less compared to a situation where the ad matches the environment.

journalExcellent class – highly recommend for any marketer!

Coursera – Advanced Competitive Strategy

courseraVery interesting course – a wonderful overview with latest examples from European and American business landscape.  I also liked the questions of the quiz – questions required to pay attention rather than simply recall most relevant of multiple choice options 😉

Very organized and concise overview of strategies for growth, network effects, and international strategies.

A few interesting points from the course:

Interesting chart with customer profitability in different industries over time and also a chart indicating that “switching activity” is increasing in a particular industry.





The “browser wars” chart was used as a switching standards (network effect).




Mergers and Acquisitions chart – M&A activity occurs in waves, increases in time and deal value is also raising.





And a very comprehensive slide on M&A not achieving what was expected 🙂





Global strategy: Is in high need for global integration and favors efficiency over responsiveness to local requirements for the sake of lowering costs.  Examples: Microsoft selling the same software, P&G establishing a global brand.

Multidomestic: Is in high need for local adaptation but has only a minimal pressure to lower costs. It will thus sacrifice efficiency for the sake of responsiveness to local requirements.  Example: Adaptation of H.J. Heinz products to match local preferences (non garlic and onion ketchup is tailored to the Indian taste)

Transnational: Is in high need for both local adaptation and global integration (Middle ground). Example: McDonald’s in Europe – rely on global brand, but include some national variations.

International:  Is neither in need for local adaptation, nor does it require to react to pressures to lower costs , or “export strategy.”  Examples are export of food, clothing, etc.

Coursera – Understanding Media by Understanding Google

classThe course is part of the journalism program, what gives it a different perspective compared to an average marketing course.  The course is evaluating “what is” rather than “how we can use the medium for promotion of our company” – what is a very legitimate question 🙂

This different perspective does broaden horizon of the topic.  Marketing is changing…  the newspaper industry is probably experiencing a more dramatic change…  or rather dealing with the consequences of the change.




The quote from the course: every medium at first becoming a container of the old one.  When radio just appeared, it was used to read the content of the local paper.  Glossy magazines spent millions crating iPad apps for their magazines that were not accepted by users…

New medium (online news and social media) demonstrate what kind of news people find the most interesting – disasters… celebrities… politics probably depends on the country 😉


Interesting: Google became important enough to deserve a class in the school of journalism… 😉

Coursera – Analyzing Global Trends for Business and Society

instructorThis course states interesting questions, and encourages pondering about the answers.  the most interesting, in my opinion, is the collection of charts.  Many are surprising, some represent known facts, but just make the viewer more dramatically aware about the these facts.




Very interesting chart below – generally population of the world is aging, and the same process can be seen in china and Russia.  My native country (Russia), in addition to the trend has a male-female dis-balance most likely brought by the damage of alcohol.




General economic trends were interesting to watch.  Though rise of Chinese economy is well-understood, the chart describing its proportion as part of the global economy is rather dramatic.

AnocracyAnother trends that is interesting to see on the chart is the tendency of developed world to have much higher public debt compared to the developing world. The change of public spending as a percentage of GDP is showing cultural differences and a tendency of the developing world to grow public spending.

It was quite interesting to see that the total tax revenue as percentage of GDP of China now exceeds US.  It will be interesting to watch how this tax revenue will be used, and if it will continue to grow.






One of the most dramatic charts is the one below that shows how the last recession affected the world.  It was the first recession to affect all OECD Countries without exception.  This chart gives many reasons for the businesses to be cautious about the future and hopefully, it can inspire some solution from governmental international organizations.



What will happen in the future?  The instructor believes that China won’t become the most dominant power in the world as it is held back by a variety of constraints.  Instead, several countries will share the dominant position.  Could it be different?  Maybe.  We will see – trends are interesting to watch.