Nordic Track Book Club Review: Blur

Blur: the Speed of Change in the Connected Economy.
Stan Davis and Christopher Meyer

Blur has been sitting on my shelf since the dotcom days when I bought it, but its one of those breezy Pop Business books I typically enjoy while on the Nordic Track.  Blur was published in 1998 and makes references to eToys, PointCast and Peapod like most marketing books of the time, but Blur had many smart and insightful things to say.  I was surprised how much I got out of it.  A great Nordic Track read.  4 out of 5 stars!  Excerpts below.


P.5 Speed, connectivity, intangibles = BLUR

P.7 Your job as a manager, as an entreprenueur, as a consumer, and as an individual is to master the BLUR, to keep the acceleration going, to keep your world changing and off balance.

P.13 A successful business is neither at rest nor in focus at any given moment.  Built to last now means built to change.

P.24 Bundling isn’t enough…The real value comes when these things are blended so that they can’t be separated–and can’t exist independently

P.30 The chip will take over as “host object” and the toaster will take on the attributes of software.

P.36 Does your offer get smarter with use? Does your offer anticipate your customers’ needs?  Does your offer deliver only the information your customers desire?  Are your offers customizeable?

P.113 Managerially, much of the West runs its corporations like the Soviets ran their economy.

P.117 Learn to build an organization that adapts to the economy as fast as the economy changes; in other words, build a BLURRED organization.  As you do this, remember one crucial fact:  It is not different from the economy; it’s a part of the economy, subject to the same forces.  Thus, your organization needs to run by the same rules.

P.121 BLUR requires that we construct organizational structures that are designed for adaptability, not efficiency.

P.127 Adaptive systems exist in a state known as the “edge of chaos,” where they are stable enough to persist, yet flexible enough to quickly discover new solutions when a new problem arises.

P.135 Churn your offer, your knowledge, and your people

P.139 Consider Branch Rickey, baseball general manager in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. He put a rookie in the starting lineup every year.  This ensures that new skills enter the mix on an annual basis, that every veteran perceives himself as fighting for his job every year, and that the team can’t get old all at once.

P.147 What happens when your ability to connect means you can work for a company 2,000 miles away–or for five companies, or for a hundred? When your talent–your intangible value–is so visible it can be priced on the open market, and even “securitized” like David Bowie’s?

Connectivity enables you to seize more independence while independence motivates you to become ever more connected.

P.154 Be careful not to place all your eggs in that one [employer] basket.  In other words, even if you have a great job, make sure you have a second one in the wings. Better yet, do some work to promote your marketability and value.  Adaptability matters for the individual too.

The most challenging aspect of being a free agent is that it puts the onus on you to understand where the market for your skills is heading.

P.170 More valuable than any of these perks is the work itself…Many will be lured by the leverage promised by proprietary knowledge bases and best-practice work processes.

P.173 As churn becomes a fact of life, it won’t be enough to weather it.  You have to learn to exploit it.  Most of the people who come through your doors will not remain in your direct employ but in your economic web for a long time.

P.174 Who gets the value I’m adding? Is this business adding value to me?

P.184 Value what’s moving, not what’s standing still.

P.188 The human body, as valued by the sum of its elements is worth about $2.  The same applies to companies: asset ownership bestows little credit.

P.192 Don’t own anything, unless it is absolutely your core competence.

P.198 New forms of capital are intellectual, human and structural.  Intellectual–brain power, codified, transferrable.  Human capital–relationships and their tacit knowledge.  Structural capital–the experience and expertise of the organization embedded in processes, policies, and systems.  All intangible.

P.226 The first release is your take on things.  The customer enters the feedback loop and starts to influence things with release 2.0 and beyond.

P.231 Push Power to the Periphery.

P.234 Use it, don’t own it.  If you do own it, use it up.  In today’s virtual world, you should keep your assets in cyberspace and off the balance sheet.  The more intangible your business, the easier it will be for you to manage it according to BLUR economics.  The more stuck you are in physical stuff, the more you’ll be locked into yesterday’s rules.

P.238 Seek novelty forever.

Become a Free Agent while still on a payroll.  You, not your boss or employer, are responsible for your future.  In other words, even though you’re on somebody’s payroll, think of yourself as self-employed and currently under contract to one team.


[tags: Blur, Nordic Track Ski]

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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.