Mental Model Posts ‘Zipf’s Law’

Finding Angels in the Details: The Value of Information

InformationLayers

Photo by Stuck in Customs

Many of the most powerful inventions throughout human history, from language to the modern computer, were those that enabled people to better generate, capture, and consume data and information.  And at no time in our history have we captured more data than we do today.  McKinsey estimates that global data is growing at a rate of 40% per year.  The more data captured, the more opportunity for enhanced decision-making.  But in order for that to happen, data must be turned into information, and information must be turned into knowledge.  Read More »

The Story of Microsoft and the Three Men Who Made It

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Photo by Amit Chattopadhyay

The story of Microsoft, considering its creation spawned 3 of the 60 richest men in the world today, is an important one to understand.  Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Steve Ballmer have amassed incredible amounts of wealth from Microsoft.  This is the story of how.  Read More »

How to Avoid a Bad Business: The Ravages of Commoditization

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Photo by Stuck in Customs

Certain aspects of business can behave in fairly predictable ways.  One of the ways, which is more painful than funny, is the tendency of products or services to become commodities over time.  When this happens, it’s often five mental models that come together and drive everything towards commoditization.

First of all, Zipf’s Law (R.I.P. George Zipf) has been repeatedly observed in many different environments.  Zipf noticed that the most common word in the English language appeared 10 times more often than the tenth most common word.  He noticed it in other languages as well – he got excited.  What he really noticed was the phenomenon we now call “winner takes all.”  So in any market, this is at work.  Get to number one – it’s just better that way.  Read More »