Whether you ate hemp mush or quinoa sauteed in beet juice, I hope you were able to successfully escape the GMO bugbear over the holiday? It meant more GMO fatted turkey and dressing for me! I appreciate it.

If you so deprived yourselves, here’s something to think about.

The evidence continues to roll in that you too are a Genetically Modified Organism and are likely still modifying this very minute. There’s a fascinating teaser piece in Monday’s NYT on how agriculture changed European humanity. Eating grains and yoking animals forced our biology to change, a lot for the better, and some not.

(Which makes me wonder whether all this Paleo diet stuff might also run counter to our Genetically Modified selves? Although I note that Google turns up 1.6 million results for “paleo pumpkin pie” which means there are a lot of ways to avoid the refined sugar and white flour and still stuff your gut!!)

All a way to suggest that adopting religious zeal (and near tyrannical absolutism) about the food we eat really only marks us as idiots. Life it still too darn short and still too many in our world go hungry.

So how about we just work to pass around more pie?

Whatever your beliefs, know this:  You are lucky to spend a small time on this warm, lush and life-filled orb. Whether by chance or design, you have much to be thankful for. The hurts, disappointments and bad turns pass away. The manifest blessings of life march on. So pray!

If the only prayer you said in your life was, “thank you”, that would suffice.  Meister Eckhart

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  Thornton Wilder

Now, let’s eat!


So read the Armistice order in November, 1918.  And the guns fell silent.

Today, the English speaking world Remembers … it is Remembrance Day, honoring the dreadful sacrifice of an entire generation on the fields of France and Flanders.

We in the US have broadened this holiday to honor all our military veterans.  Take a moment to thank them for their service!


American breweries

OK, so the other day I lampooned the strategy of consolidation by the mega-brewers. Here is a great series of videos discussing the craft-beer revolution that has caused such angst for ACME MEGA-BREW INC! They are quick and fun. ENJOY!

1) The first installment talks about the revolution brought on by deregulation -really, decriminalization- of home brewing:

2) The second installment shows the impact of the MEGA-BREW distribution network and the need to circumvent it in order for craft beer to thrive:

3) The last installment shows who benefits the most from you thumping down so much money to enjoy good beer. Any guesses? Yes, the government! Finishes with a good nod to how much more good beer might be available to you if we could cut consumption and excise taxes:


When you propose marriage you aren’t supposed to look desperate. But that seems to be the stance at Anheuser-Busch InBev, which just got jilted after its 3rd offer to buy SABMiller in less than a month.

The numbers are ridiculous:  $104 Billion to “buy” (a.k.a., merge) a structural basket case that is “big brewing”. Huge dollar mergers & acquisitions, followed by massive cost cutting, and then gi-normous fees for the consultants, bankers and executive parachute artists. This is what passes for “fixing” businesses that are being out-competed, fair and square.

The healthier the beer business gets, the worse the big brewers do. Why is this?

Simple answer:  Craft beers taste better and you’re willing to pay for them.

Instead of riding the value curve, the big brewers tried to capitalize on craft beer pricing to harvest margin as their consumption and market shares drifted downward. What used to be relatively cheap (24 pack cases of canned lagers), doesn’t look that way anymore. A few more bucks for a couple 6’s of the good stuff and who wants 24 cans of plain vanilla suds?

So all the big guys seem able to do is fight a massive rear guard action of merge and cut. They refuse to lower prices and force consumer choice or spur consumption. They can’t seem to stick with and grow new offerings. Their craft-like efforts tend to fall flat because of a lack of meaningful differentiation and local flavor.

What to do?

Rather than waste cash on mergers and ruin balance sheets with restructuring games, do the hard work! Cut prices and own the value message on core offerings. Pick credible innovations (e.g., fruit infused) and support them consistently. Do craft offerings but win on value … understand that you can’t “out local” the local guys.

As for competition, don’t simply try to beat out craft beers. Instead, look for ways to co-opt them. Share brewing capacities and distribution channels. Co-market, especially at major events and sports venues. Let the craft guys shine in the “great but expensive” department while you own the “good and inexpensive” territory.

The choices are not hard. The execution, however, is mighty difficult!

It requires “Big Brew” to accept the changed environment in which they find themselves. It also requires that they adjust their ambitions in ways that depart starkly from how they have traditionally conceived of themselves and their brands. In other words, they have to redefine what it means to be a leader.



I want to let you know about a great business event coming up in October at the OSU Fisher School in Columbus. And you’re invited!

Making the Elephant Dance:  A Personal Journey to Lean Innovation featuring Clay Phillips.

I’ve known Clay for some years and he’s seen the struggle to innovate from both sides – inside the corporate bureaucracy and in the wild west of Silicon Valley.  He has a lot of great stories and insights! Clay promises to cover some interesting ground, from his time at General Motors, to his conversion to the Lean Innovation methodology, to helping companies, both big and small, use the Lean approach to get to market faster and more successfully.

If you can’t make it, please pass this along to your friends and colleagues!

In addition to learning from Clay, this will be a great networking opportunity.  Members of OSU’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship include some of the best Ohio based companies.

And did I say it’s free?!

Here are the details.

When: Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 8:30 – 11:00am 

Light breakfast items and beverages will be provided.

Where: The Blackwell, Pfahl Hall Room 302, 2110 Tuttle Park Place, Columbus, OH 43210

Parking: Available in the Lane Avenue or Tuttle Park Place parking garages.

Register by clicking here.


Serendipity is a wonderful thing … probably should be studied on a larger scale.

On Tuesday I was talking to an industry group about whether they can make strategy and find competitive advantage in capital S sustainability (hint: they can’t!). Then this afternoon I come across this delightful little post. (Thanks Maggie’s!)

It is a humorous and THOUGHTFUL way to wind down the week.

I’ve said here and other places that we now live in the Age of Received Wisdoms, where we believe all manner of hogwash to the point of choosing self destruction over progress. David Warren gives us great historical perspective on the phenomenon…

This is an old story; I taught a course on it once. The same thing happened in the ancient world, to dismember an earlier development of empirical science in the Hellenistic age, centred finally on Alexandria. By the time of the Roman Empire, it was quite dead. The focus of all work was now on applied technology; scientific thinking had, not in contrast to this, but by the same oppressively practical habits, turned to astrology, alchemy, and other fanciful researches. Science had succumbed to scientism, and its results were now the product of “consensus.”

It took more centuries than ten for the idea of demonstrable scientific truth to slice back out of the cocoon of superstition — a large, still mostly unknown history that, in turn, connects the renaissance of the twelfth century with the baroque renaissance that led to such as Newton, and Pasteur.

Yet no sooner had that been achieved, than the gnostic impulse was re-asserted. By the nineteenth century, the “just so stories” (of Marxism, Darwinism, Freudianism, etc.) were back in play, masquerading as empirical science, and we began again weaving our way into a sack of darkness, under the direction of scientistic high priests, girded about by “consensus.”

Please laugh just a bit this weekend!


Anybody remember this old placard from journalist Stephen Brill? A better piece of strategic advice would be hard to find.

Thank you Nick Adams!

I like trains as much as the next nostalgic, but to believe “street cars are the future” requires a particular madness. This funny but sharp commentary nails it…

“Modern” … “Environmentally Friendly” … who are we kidding!?

Cincinnati is in the final lap of constructing said white elephant akin to the DC pike. The politics are a complete joke. One fib after another, from “it’ll only cost x millions” to “it’ll pay for itself” to a mayor who told voters “I’ll kill it if elected,” only to flip-flop within hours of being sworn in.

It’s rich that the primary palace advocate’s name is La ‘Hood’. Hood-wink more accurately.

What’s even sillier are all urban hipsters and millennials who think the streetcar is cool, no doubt thinking it’ll be just grand to hear the ring-ring of the bell as they sip their latte at the cafe. But they’ll likely never ride a mile on the thing!

A little schooling: By the 1920’s, the country had thousands of miles of trolley systems. (Look up Samuel Insull for fun.) Whether they were municipal trolleys or interurbans whining across the countryside, nearly every town of any significance was connected. By the First World War, trolleys were the 5th largest industry in the US.

But the truth was that, from the very beginning, most trolley systems had trouble making ends meet. They couldn’t haul much rich freight (the big trains did that). And the per person costs of moving Aunt Betty from the big town to the big city for a day of shopping just couldn’t cover the hardware.

Once roads began to be improved in the 1920’s, trolley systems started going bankrupt left and right. Once the Depression hit, it was game over.

Advocating for and building trolleys today is political windmill jousting at its finest!