CIA proud of using techniques from 30 years ago… scary.

My Notes on the “ Impossible Thinking” panel yesterday at Milken.

DISLAIMER: THESE ARE MY NOTES. THIS IS NOT A TRANSCRIPTION. IF YOU ARE FROM THE PRESS DO NOT QUOTE THIS AS SPOKEN QUOTES. I’M SHARING MY NOTES WITH EVERYONE TO GIVE SOME COLOR TO THE EVENT. THERE ARE TONS OF LITTLE ERRORS IN HERE, BUT I’M GIVING UP PERFECTION FOR SPEEDTHAT IS THE NATURE OF BLOGS!!

Moderator Yoram Wind described an experiment in which people were asked to watch a video in which two people in white clothing are throwing a ball back and forth. They are asked to count the number of times the ball is passed. At one point in a video a person in a black gorilla outfit would come across the screen, bang their chest and move on.

40-50% never saw the gorilla.

He questioned what black gorillas we miss every day.

He also mentioned the breaking of the four-minute mile. It turns out that 16 people broke the 4-minute mile within a year of the first person that did it. He said that the mental model inside the runner caused the sudden breakthrough. It was believing that you couldn’t break the four-minute mile that was holding them back.

The CEO of Starbucks talked about the firm being founder in 1987, going public in 1992 with $100m in revenue. Those revenues were now $4.1b. Compound growth rate is 40%. The market value of the company grew from $300 to $13-14b. 8,000 stores currently with 1,300 new stores a year (3+ new stores a day he said).

He discussed how the company is a vastly different company today, and how a frappuccino would never have occurred in the early days. He said Frappucino was now 20% of their sales. He talked about the five-year battle that finally ended with Starbucks selling coffee/beans in supermarkets. At first they didn’t think they wanted to be part of the supermarket experience, but eventually they felt their brand was strong enough. Turns out customers only bought coffee in supermarkets.

He said their 30-year goal was to become the most recognized and respected brand in the world. We’re taking on Coca-cola. I don’t know how many things we’ve passed up, how many gorillas we’ve missed. However, I think our success has to do with our culture more then anything else.

We are never content with what we achieve. Good enough never is. We inspire our people. They create the experience that keeps you coming back and back to those retail stores.

milken cia jamiA speaker from the CIA (right, on an earlier panel) was happy, even thrilled, about all their advances. She talked about a really innovative and controversial program where they were sending out scenarios and intelligence to science fiction authors to get their feedback. They were also reading novels for plot ideas.

Uhhh hello? Isn’t this the plot of Three Days of the Condor (and the book it was based on)?!?!

Now, I was already kind of insulted about her happy-happy demeanor, which excluded all of the failures in intelligence we’ve already had. This is a very sober subject and her attitude just wasn’t serious enough for me.

No questions were allowed (bad choice by the producers IMHO), but I found the woman from the CIA after the panel and asked her about the novelty of her concept of using authors to do scenario planning given Three Days of the Condor.

She said that was just a film and that now they are doing it. I replied that it was scary that the CIA’s ideas lag the movie industry by 30 years. She was not amused.

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