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Cancer researchers are growing increasingly enthusiastic about harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight tumors

May 15, 2013

Melanoma Treatment Harnesses Immune System to Combat Cancer Cells

By ANDREW POLLACK

Cancer researchers are growing increasingly enthusiastic about harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight tumors. And new research shows that two drugs that use this approach may be even better than one. Researchers reported on Wednesday that a combination of two drugs from Bristol-Myers Squibb shrank tumors significantly in about 41 percent of patients with advanced melanoma in a small study. In few of the 52 patients in the study, tumors disappeared completely, at least as could be determined by imaging.

“I think it was really the rapidity and the magnitude of the responses that was impressive to us,” Dr. Jedd D. Wolchok of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said in a telephone news conference organized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Read more of this post

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The Buffett Formula — How To Get Smarter

The Buffett Formula — How To Get Smarter

by SHANE PARRISH on MAY 15, 2013

“The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.” — Charlie Munger

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up.” — Charlie Munger

Most people go though life not really getting any smarter. Why? They simply won’t do the work required. It’s easy to come home, sit on the couch, watch TV and zone out until bed time rolls around. But that’s not really going to help you get smarter. Sure you can go into the office the next day and discuss the details of last night’s episode of Mad Men or Game of Thrones. Sure you know what happened on Survivor. But that’s not knowledge accumulation, it’s a mind-numbing sedative. You can acquire knowledge if you want it. In fact there is a simple formula, which if followed is almost certain to make you smarter over time. Simple but not easy. It involves a lot of hard work. We’ll call it the Buffett formula, named after Warren Buffett and his longtime business partner at Berkshire Hathaway, Charlie Munger. These two are an extraordinary combination of minds. They are also learning machines. Read more of this post

Why companies need inventors, not just their ideas

Why companies need inventors, not just their ideas

By Peter Gwynne May 13, 2013

Peter Gwynne is a former science editor of Newsweek and a freelance writer who covers science, technology and business.

According to an early and frequently quoted aerodynamic model, bumblebees cannot possibly fly. Of course, any entomologist or gardener knows that the fuzzy insects make it into the air with great success; the model simply had it wrong.

As with bees, so it is with business. Researchers have long held the conceit that innovative entrepreneurship is impossible. “They assert that ‘entrepreneurs can’t do anything new in the economy,’” says Daniel Spulber, a professor of management and strategy at the Kellogg School.

This is because established firms have several advantages when it comes to taking inventions to the market. “They have all kinds of assets that are complementary to innovation,” Spulber says, including established corporate structures, marketing channels, an existing customer base, and access to capital. To go it alone, on the other hand, the inventor must undertake the cumbersome effort of setting up a new firm and dealing with the uncertainty that any new invention faces in the market. Even Joseph Schumpeter, perhaps the greatest advocate of entrepreneurs, suggested in his classic book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy that only large companies have the resources and market power necessary for innovation. Read more of this post

What Is Organizational Culture? And Why Should We Care?

What Is Organizational Culture? And Why Should We Care?

by Michael Watkins  |   2:00 PM May 15, 2013

If you want to provoke a vigorous debate, start a conversation on organizational culture. While there is universal agreement that (1) it exists, and (2) that it plays a crucial role in shaping behavior in organizations, there is little consensus on what organizational culture actually is, never mind how it influences behavior and whether it is something leaders can change.

This is a problem, because without a reasonable definition (or definitions) of culture, we cannot hope to understand its connections to other key elements of the organization, such as structure and incentive systems. Nor can we develop good approaches to analyzing, preserving and transforming cultures. If we can define what organizational culture is, it gives us a handle on how to diagnose problems and even to design and develop better cultures.

Beginning May 1, 2013, I facilitated a discussion around this question on LinkedIn. The more than 300 responses included rich and varied perspectives and opinions on organizational culture, its meaning and importance. I include several distinctive views below, illustrated by direct quotes from the LinkedIn discussion thread — and then I offer my own synthesis of these views. (There often were multiple postings with similar themes, so these are simply early selections; unfortunately it was not possible to acknowledge everyone who made helpful contributions.) Read more of this post

Don’t Let Predictability Become the Enemy of Innovation

Don’t Let Predictability Become the Enemy of Innovation

by Michael Schrage  |   1:00 PM May 15, 2013

Unhappily shocked by Sputnik’s unexpected 1957 success, President Eisenhower quickly pushed the Pentagon to establish the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Its ostensible mission: “to prevent technological surprise to the U.S. military, and to create surprises of its own.”

Anticipating and enabling “technological surprise” has become even more challenging, DARPA director Arati Prabhakar recently told an MIT audience, because more people in more places have more access to more technology that ever before. Surprises can come from anywhere. In an era of greater global trade, knowledge transfer and transparency, Prabhakar unsurprisingly reports DARPA’s core value proposition demands disproportionately greater imagination and ingenuity. Predictability breeds complacency. Predictability is DARPA’s cultural, technical and organizational enemy. Read more of this post

Have we all been duped by the Myers-Briggs test? Despite its popularity, the personality test has been subject to sustained criticism by professional psychologists for over three decades

Have we all been duped by the Myers-Briggs test?

May 15, 2013: 11:13 AM ET

Despite its popularity, the personality test has been subject to sustained criticism by professional psychologists for over three decades.

By Roman Krznaric

FORTUNE — When Frank Parsons opened the world’s first career guidance center in Boston in 1908, he began by asking prospective clients 116 penetrating questions about their ambitions, strengths, and weaknesses (and how often they bathed). But then he did something more unusual: He measured their skulls.

Parsons was a committed believer in phrenology. If you had a large forehead, he might recommend you become a lawyer or engineer. But if your skull was more developed behind the ears, you were of the “animal type” and best suited to manual work. Read more of this post

The Leader’s Code: Mission, Character, Service and Getting the Job Done

May 15, 2013 4:25 pm

Management lessons from the frontline

Review by Morgen Witzel

The Leader’s Code: Mission, Character, Service and Getting the Job Done
By Donovan Campbell (Random House, $27)

That the experience of military leadership offers some useful lessons for leaders in other fields has long been understood. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is still read by business leaders and sports coaches, and more recently Norman Dixon’s On the Psychology of Military Incompetence offers lessons from military failure.

The latest crossover book that draws from military experience is Donovan Campbell’s The Leader’s Code. As such efforts go, it is a pretty good one. Campbell, a former captain in the US Marine Corps who served in Iraq, writes fluently and persuasively, blendingabstract ideas and personal experience in a highly readable narrative. He begins by arguing that people no longer trust their leaders, whom they see as greedy and selfish. “The widespread destruction of trust has left a leadership vacuum that is slowly becoming filled with despair,” he says, pointing out that this is true of business and government alike. “We trust no single leader, or class of leaders, to fix what is broken.” Read more of this post

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