- By Zachary M. Seward
- May 23, 2013
The US government’s price-fixing lawsuit against Apple goes to trial next month in New York. Ahead of its court date, the US released emails that purport to show Apple was the “ringleader” in a scheme to set artificially high ebook prices with some of the largest American publishers, which have already settled the case.
The emails have mostly been viewed in the context of the lawsuit, but they also provide an extraordinary view of high-stakes negotiation between the leaders of two powerful firms, Apple and News Corp. They start far apart, but over the course of five days, Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs successfully pulls the son of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch over to his side.
Jobs was a famously hard-nosed negotiator who won these kinds of battles all the time. Before book publishers, there was the movie industry. And before that, music record labels. But most of those negotiations were hidden from view. What follows are the emails released last week along with some context; spelling and grammar have been preserved from the originals.
- By Adam Grant
- May 23, 2013
Frank Lloyd Wright is often touted as the greatest architect in American history, but he is also remembered as a man corrupted by power. Before he became famous, Wright was the head draftsman for the renowned architect Louis Sullivan. Sullivan tasked him to create drawings for the Charnley Cottage, a picturesque waterfront house in Mississippi, as well as a Charnley house in Chicago. Sullivan was the designing partner, and most experts assumed that he was responsible for the buildings. In 1897, Charnley Cottage burned down. “Sullivan, who had fired Wright by this time, rebuilt it in the same character,” notes architecture expert Jay Pridmore, “suggesting that Sullivan regarded the original design as his own.”
Four decades later, in 1932, Wright wrote in his autobiography that he was responsible for the Charnley work. Critics assumed that he was only claiming responsibility for the drawings, not the designs. After another seventeen years, in 1949, Wright took credit fordesigning the house. Pridmore was suspicious: “Despite the property’s obvious Sullivanesque elements, Wright claimed that design as his own.”
Architecture professor Paul Sprague agreed: “When the cobwebs of misunderstanding are finally cleared away, the evidence confirms Louis Sullivan as the author of the ...
- By John Kamensky
- May 22, 2013
What inspired me at the Excellence in Government Conference? I liked the emphasis on innovations underway in different places around the government.
Sometimes we get caught up in buzzwords of the day: Total Quality Management, Lean Six Sigma, Agile, Business Process Reengineering, or Reinventing Government. But the bottom line in each of these types of management improvement initiatives is: how do we create a culture of innovation?
What is “innovation?” There are plenty of different definitions, but one I’ve found to be practical is: “New ideas, or current thinking applied in fundamentally different ways, resulting in significant change in operating models, business processes, or products and services.”
Within this framework, innovation is both a process and an attitude. Many reports document various innovation processes, and examples are provided below of several in use in government agencies. But the “attitude” part is really important. The panel on “intrapreneurship” (acting like an entrepreneur inside your organization) at the Excellence in Government Conference typifies that approach. In that panel, presenters talked about what they were doing, but they also pointed to some helpful resources, like how to be a “good rebel” within your organization (and provided a link to an inspirational website ...
- By Jackson Nickerson
- May 22, 2013
Ask EIG is your chance to seek answers to public sector management challenges and conundrums. Submit your questions here.
How do we maintain a mission focus for our agency when operationally we are constantly pushed and pulled by administration priorities and political directives? The game seems to always be changing. How do we maintain our constant mission focus over four to eight year cycles when our energies are always getting pulled in divergent directions?
Almost by definition, working in leadership for a government agency will naturally expose you and your agency to the swirling winds of politics. Every administration has its desires: its agenda, its platform, its set of constituencies and supporters to acknowledge. Like sudden winds storms, every administration also faces political difficulties that can surprise and swirl around it, threatening desires and the potential for re-election. These storms often create pressures for agencies to rapidly respond. It is also important to note that laws and policies usually are written to provide at least some discretion in how the administration implements authorities. It is the conjunction of desires, difficulties, and discretion that opens the door to the pushing and pulling of administrative priorities by political appointees. How can ...
- By Dr. Francis Collins
- May 22, 2013
Migraines—pounding headaches sometimes preceded by a visual “aura,” and often coupled with vomiting, nausea, distorted vision, and hypersensitivity to sound and touch—can be highly debilitating if recurrent and prolonged. They affect millions of Americans and an estimated 10–20 percent of the global population. Yet what predisposes individuals to them is somewhat of a mystery. Though there are certainly environmental triggers, the tendency for migraines to run in families suggests that there’s likely an inherited component. Recently, a team of NIH-funded researchers, one of whom regularly suffered from migraines herself, found a gene that plays a part.
The clue that helped them to identify the rogue gene came from a family that suffers from both migraines and a rare sleep disorder, called familial advanced sleep phase syndrome. The syndrome disrupts their sleep cycle, causing family members to fall asleep early, about 7 pm, and rise around 4 am.
The researchers hunted for the cause of the sleep cycle disorder and discovered a mutation in the casein kinase I delta (CKIδ) gene. The gene produces an enzyme that’s important for brain signaling and for regulating our circadian rhythms. The particular mutation in this family seemed to reduce ...