Friday, July 25, 2008


Palo Alto. An oasis in the midst of economic pressures. A fantasy land of upscale shops, Bentleys, and beautiful people, all of whom seem to exude intelligence. Stanford casts its golden glow down University Avenue where scary-smart people huddle in cafes pondering the next Google, or eBay, or some other It is a greenhouse for ideas that will succeed and fail, providing safety for progressive experiments and thinking. Compared to the stress I find in many other parts of the U.S., it seems unreal. Maybe they just hide it well.

I'm here visiting with clients, and talking with the press. My press interviews are mostly on the economy (no surprise), so I need to climb out from under from the Palo Alto Pleasure Dome and get grounded.

The overarching advice to clients in these down times is "Simplify". Examine closely how to extract the most benefit out of existing investments and people. Determine which projects are critical to your ability to weather the storm, and delay those that can be delayed.

But simplification should not stifle innovation. Companies that can afford to innovate and invest in an economic downturn are more likely to survive. Some innovation can be implemented tactically, whereas other innovations help shape the future state. The worst thing that can happen is that innovation is shut down in favor of the purely tactical (I've written about this extensively). The best case is that simplification increases the ability of the corporation to focus on innovative ideas.

The great thing about Palo Alto (and other similar places worldwide), is that it is an engine for turning innovation into products and services. So much of the output of these engines fuels the economy, personal productivity and enterprise efficiency (consider virtualization technologies, predominantly spawned from the brain of Mendel Rosenblum at Stanford). In turn, innovation-turned-product fuels more innovation, keeping the Xanadu engine working.

So, Palo Alto is more of an Eden...a generative place...below its Pleasure Dome exterior.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xanadu, I believe (actually Project Xanadu), was also Ted Nelson's vision, pre-internet (like 1960!), of a hyperlinked world. So this post is appropriately named.

Ted was IT's answer to Hunter Thompson (Gonzo IT?)and is proof positive that copious use of drugs has no effect what-so-ever on longevity, since he is now 70ish...or maybe it does (positively), if you don't blow your head off during the journey...

...but I wouldn't know about that...hey wait a minute! BHB admitted to coke use, so I guess it's OK now. But just in case, I'm posting anonymously, and will leave it to the blog owner to guess who wrote this crap.... and IM me...

3:44 PM  

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