Asymconf California

Asymconf California is the second[1] in the series and will expand in scope and intensity relative to the first event in Amsterdam. Attendees will be treated to an engaging, participatory experience. Using the case method to teach (and learn), we will look at the state, history and future of innovation as seen from a Californian perspective.

There will be four themes:

  • Being Back. How California came to disrupt and be disrupted.
  • It’s always sunny. Californians invented the concept of lifestyle. Did they also invent the concept of business style?
  • Going West. The role of frontiers (geographic, conceptual and societal) in the creation of wealth. Escaping the zero-sum trap.
  • North vs. South (California.) A modern civil war.

Distinguished guests will be invited to act as presenters and panel members.

Asymconf California will take place January 30, 2013[2] at the IBM Almaden Research Center near San Jose, California.

Two workshops are also planned. Read more and register at

  1. You can purchase the proceedings from Asymconf Amsterdam.
  2. The day before Macworld/iWorld in San Francisco. Transportation will be arranged from SF.

Asymconf 2012 videos now available

The Asymconf 2012 videos are now available for purchase from the new Asymco Store.

The package includes 1080p HD video produced by Kevin Krautle. Multiple camera angles capture all the action. Great quality audio and hours of conversation. It’s even subtitled. Over 20 gigs of content.

But wait, there’s more. You also get Perspective stories, Audio Podcast and Transcripts all for the low, low price of $89.99. Over 20 Gigabytes of content.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed producing it.

Asymconf 1.0

The first Asymconf was conducted on Friday, April 13th, 2012 in Amsterdam. Here are some statistics from the show:

  1. 155 registered participants and over 1000 participation hours
  2. Over 500 tweets generated during the day (#asymconf)
  3. Eight hours of conference executed on schedule
  4. Three iPads used to facilitate: one as a whiteboard, one as a slide presenter and one as an interactive motion chart.
  5. Seven video cameras used to capture over 1 terabyte of video data.
  6. Four cases conducted with majority of time spent on audience participation

Overall, feedback has been very positive. We will now edit the video to make it available for download. We will also analyze all aspects of the event to understand how it can be improved and post our findings.

We plan to hold Asymconf 2.0 in approximately six months somewhere on the West Coast of the US. We are already scouting for locations.

If you have photos or additional comments regarding the event that you’d like to share, please post them below.

My thanks to those who made Asymconf possible:


The role of capital [1]

At the end of 2011 Apple’s net property, plant and equipment (PP&E) was $7.8 billion. This reflects $12.34 billion gross PP&E net accumulated depreciation and amortization of $4.5 billion. The depreciation and amortization increased by a total of $533 million and the gross PP&E increased by only $572 million. I say “only” because in the previous quarter PP&E increased by $1.42 billion. If we assume that this growth is equivalent to capital expenditures for the quarter, it’s also a very small amount given the company’s stated intentions to spend $7.1 billion during the fiscal year.

The gap is illustrated in the following chart:

Continue reading “The role of capital [1]”

[Asymconf] What are the jobs that the entertainment industry is hired to do?

@mastermmik: love how @asymco thinks of everything and everyone as being “hired” to do something. lol

via Twitter.

Hiring products to do jobs for us is not a difficult cognitive leap to make. But can we extend the metaphor to “everything and everyone?” Aren’t there parts of the human experience that are outside the realm of the implied trade that hiring suggests?

Of course there are.

Continue reading “[Asymconf] What are the jobs that the entertainment industry is hired to do?”

What is disruption and how can it be harnessed?[1]

The phenomenon we call business disruption could benefit from a different name. Although it signifies a disturbance or an interruption in an industry, it’s much more than that.

The nominal definition I work with is that disruption is the “transfer of wealth in an industry from dominant incumbents to disadvantaged entrants.” It’s a convenient definition because it’s brief, it puts the emphasis on economic value and because it alludes to a reversal of fortune and the implied extraordinariness.

However, there are several nuances lost and contradictions ignored in this definition. I want to enumerate them here and now:

  1. Although in a disruption there is a transfer of wealth, that wealth is not necessarily conserved. An industry that undergoes a disruption often emerges larger, more productive or more influential. Disruption typically creates net growth.
  2. Although extraordinary and spectacular it is also very commonplace. Disruption is not rare. In fact, it rarely fails to happen. One could even say that if it does fail to happen, it’s a symptom of an industry in crisis.
  3. Being so common, it can be seen as a regular occurrence. But if the regularity of disruption can be considered to have a clock cycle, its frequency is increasing.
  4. Disruption in the literal sense implies discomfort, displacement and even destruction. But it’s necessary to the health of any economy. The analogy to biology is that death is the most important thing in life.
  5. Although only recently characterized and studied in cases set in the past century, the pattern is evident throughout history.

I’ve offered examples of these consequences or side-effects of disruption but I’ll emphasize once more the example I’m most familiar with. To illustrate the primary definition, the AMP index is a measure of the success of one company relative to a set of peers in the mobile phone industry. It’s the average of four market shares: mobile phone units, smartphone units, revenues and operating profits.

This chart shows the shift in AMP index values for the competitors whose data is public and which make up the vast majority of units sold: Continue reading “What is disruption and how can it be harnessed?[1]”

Update on Asymconf

Registration for Asymconf opened one week ago and about 42% of the available capacity has been reserved. For those who have registered and those who are considering registration, this is a brief introduction to how the event will be conducted.

The method of presentation and participation was originally designed as a teaching method[1]. What we’re going to do is a very simplified approach of the case method first introduced in the teaching of law and later adapted to the teaching of business administration. The key difference in this method vs. the classic lecture is that there is no assumption that a right answer exists and hence that there is no greater value placed on the lecturer vis-a-vis the audience.

The event is therefore performed by three key components:

  1. The facilitator
  2. The case team
  3. The spectators

The  diagram shows the venue and rough placement of the components (to scale and with reserved seats highlighted in green).

The facilitator’s role is similar to that of a conductor of an orchestra. It’s primarily to help the individual instruments working together but not to make the music himself.

The “music” is primarily produced by the case team. This will be a group of about 30 persons arranged in a semi-circle around the facilitator. They will “debate” a case that will be published as a blog post in advance of the event. They can put forward information, agree and disagree and generally try to uncover meaning or truth.

The case team, like an orchestra, should be diverse. They are not expected to be subject matter experts but to bring their particular expertise to a common problem. In fact, subject expertise in one member can be seen as a problem since it could discourage others from also participating.

The case team will be pre-selected from the pool of spectators and will change from case to case.

The reason we ask your area of expertise during registration is so that we can create diverse case teams, not to assign you to a team that has a particular experience.

Continue reading “Update on Asymconf”

Introducing Asymconf

Asymconf is the Asymco experience. Live.

Attendees will be treated to an engaging, participatory experience. Using the case method, you will be guided through four probing questions pertinent in modern market analysis.

  1. What is disruption and how can it be harnessed? The case of mobile computing.
  2. What are the jobs that the entertainment industry is hired to do? The case of Hollywood.
  3. Is Wall Street more than good enough? The case of financial over-service.
  4. What are the limits of education? The case of learning and the theater.

If you would like to take part, please register your interest here.

—Horace Dediu & Indrek Vainu