Got bullet-train doers on your team?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on LinkedIn

Many are already familiar with the concept of bullet-train thinking, but for those who aren't here's a quick blurb to clue you in. In 1956, Japanese engineers explored the concept of building a high-speed train service between Tokyo and Osaka. At the time, there was an existing double-track line in place so initial ideas were to increase the horsepower and add two more lines. Even though this approach would have doubled capacity and reduced travel time, the minor improvements wouldn't be enough to influence more business travel between the two cities.

To produce a quantum change, Japanese engineers would have to think outside of the box and they did. In 1964, Japan National Railways unveiled a train that revolutionized our thinking about modern railroads ... generating more power through an innovative electric system with widespread substations, adding four motors per travel car, widening the tracks, straightening the lines, quadrupling the number of passengers, and adding dynamic braking and automated safety features.

The first bullet-train cruised at speeds of 127 mph and reduced the travel time between the two cities from 6 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours and 10 minutes. In 1976, the milestone of 1 billion passengers was reached. Innovation did not stop there, the train now travels at speeds of 186 mph, and engineers have developed electro-magnetically elevated trains to travel at speeds greater than 300 mph that will soon be in service.

"Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is about doing new things." -Theodore Levitt

There's a big difference between bullet-train thinkers and bullet-train doers. Just about everyone can come up with a great idea, but only a very few actually possess the many dynamic skills needed to make it happen. This is why the R&D teams of mature companies with stagnant top-line growth should add at least one demonstrated top performer and innovator from another industry to their talent pool.

Like-minds and industry experts may drive incremental improvement, but can ultimately stifle the innovation needed to stay relevant.

Consider the example of the high-speed levitating train that travels nearly double the speed of all others. This concept was originally conceived back in 1968 by Dr. James R. Powell, a nuclear engineer, with 16 patents in advanced fission reactors, fusion reactors, space and defense systems. Dr. Powell brought this concept to reality when he switched industries to join the Maglev 2000 team.

clipper1To the contrary, I am reminded of a relevant story an executive I once worked with shared about the evolution of clipper ships ... The boom years for clipper ships began in 1843. These yacht-like vessels with three masts were very fast and heavily relied upon to trade goods around the world; which included opium and tea from China. During the same period the first cargo and passenger steam ship sailed from Liverpool to Boston. Even though the early steam ships were slow moving, they were able to haul more than clipper ships and weren't dependent on the vagaries of the wind to stay on schedule.

boatcompareAs the steam engine proved to be the superior technology and steam ships quickly evolved into high speed ocean liners, clipper ships still fought hard to compete by generating incremental improvements to the top speed through the addition of more and more sails.

Clipper ships received the final blow in 1869 when the Suez Canal opened; which created a great shortcut for steam ships between Europe and Asia, and was very difficult for sailing ships to use.

Most companies in business today play it safe by recruiting clipper-ship doers, those who conform to the status quo and may eventually help to drive incremental improvement. The idea of bringing someone new on board who already knows the industry stirs no waves and is essentially seamless for management to do, while recruiting the known talent from a different industry can be very tricky to pull off. In many cases, this candidate will come with an extremely high price tag and sport an ego as grand as his or her ideas, so there are legitimate trade-offs to be considered.

Bullet-train doers aren't necessarily good employees as their over-the-top passion places them in a high risk category. For this reason it is more common to find such individuals placed in the position of CEO. If you need an example, be reminded of former PayPal entrepreneur and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk. Elon's passion for developing a most cost efficient and reusable rocket through SpaceX almost bankrupted him. After two privately funded and failed rocket launches, Elon put his last penny into a third attempt. Luckily for Elon, the third time was in fact a charm and the company was awarded a huge contract from NASA; which preserved its existence.

Another bullet-train doer is entrepreneur and philanthropist, Alfred Mann, the former CEO of MannKind, the developers of the revolutionary inhalable insulin Afrezza. Driving this huge initiative came with criticism, controversy and one million dollars of Mann's own money. Similar to Elon Musk, after two failed attempts for FDA clearance, Mann also achieved success on his third try. Afrezza hit the market just a few weeks ago and will forever change the insulin industry as we know it.

Despite having released a best in-class product that will eventually prevent diabetic children from ever having to take insulin via needles again, the market has been very unkind to MannKind. Companies like Goldman Sachs continue to bet against it and MannKind carries a short interest of nearly 40%; which happens to be almost identical to what Tesla faced nearly two years ago. Perhaps this is a telltale sign that Wall Street does not like to back bullet-train doers like Mann and Musk who are not afraid to put their demonstrated talents to good use in different industries.

It is often the hardest roads traveled that lead to the greatest rewards.

As one who has a liking for the life sciences industry, I have followed the quest for the $1,000 genome since 2001. This effort represents a classic demonstration of the trade-offs between bullet-train doing, and wringing what you can out of proven technology.

Since the middle 80’s, it was recognized that the technology in place, electrophoresis, would be inadequate for the fast, inexpensive DNA sequencing needed for diagnostics and personalized medicine. There were many elegant, unsuccessful endeavors heavily funded to accomplish these goals (like sequencing by mass spectrometry) but improvements in the electrophoresis method continued to dominate the market until about 2005. During that time the technique of sequencing-by-synthesis (SBS), which had been an unfulfilled promise for many years, was finally able to demonstrate its potential. While it still took another seven years of refinement to displace electrophoresis, digital sequencing has become the method of choice and brought the $1000 genome to reality. This is the direct result of a small group of technologists whose passion and dedication aligned with a small team of investors, who were willing to absorb the great risk to fuel such innovation.

The many companies who now compete in the space of DNA sequencing work to stay relevant by enhancing processes wherever they can in clipper-ship-like fashion. This level of conformity will likely stifle any major breakthroughs in sequencing for the next two decades to come; which means it's now the perfect time for one big player to incur the risk of recruiting an out-of-the-industry doer instead of trying to groom another out-of-the-box thinker, and set its sights on the $5 genome.

 

Follow us on Twitter ... @BigLeaguesBook

Purchase a Signed Edition of Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie ...

ad6

 

 

"Welcome to the Big Leagues is a very enjoyable read that’s packed with many insights on how to succeed in corporate America and life in general. I strongly recommend it for all new college graduates who are now ready to up their game."

Andrew Del Matto, CFO, Fortinet

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-03-14T15:40:11+00:00

Andrew Del Matto, CFO, Fortinet

"Welcome to the Big Leagues is a very enjoyable read that’s packed with many insights on how to succeed in corporate America and life in general. I strongly recommend it for all new college graduates who are now ready to up their game."

"Welcome to the Big Leagues offers inspiration, humor, and the much needed insights to overcome the barriers that exist in the business world. It is a very enjoyable read where the author shares his personal stories in a way to help others."

Sally Jenkins, VP Marketing, VMware

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2015-03-30T12:25:09+00:00

Sally Jenkins, VP Marketing, VMware

"Welcome to the Big Leagues offers inspiration, humor, and the much needed insights to overcome the barriers that exist in the business world. It is a very enjoyable read where the author shares his personal stories in a way to help others."

"In the business world, greatness only comes to those who consistently perform at peak levels and work hard to raise the bar from there. Welcome to the Big Leagues is a profound guide; packed with essential tips and powerful stories to coach rookies on how to achieve all-star performance, while getting the most out of career and life."

Luigi Sciabarrasi, Senior VP, DTZ

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-03-14T16:08:32+00:00

Luigi Sciabarrasi, Senior VP, DTZ

"In the business world, greatness only comes to those who consistently perform at peak levels and work hard to raise the bar from there. Welcome to the Big Leagues is a profound guide; packed with essential tips and powerful stories to coach rookies on how to achieve all-star performance, while getting the most out of career and life."

"Finally a 'manual' for true professionalism in today's corporate workplace. From my seat, I have witnessed far too many times a recurring theme: Rookies, newcomers, young employees all looking to go from A to Z without any stops in between. This book should be a mandatory read for all job applicants and veterans like us who could surely use a refresher. Carmine Del Sordi knocks it out of the park."

Todd Kauffmann, Senior VP, UBS Financial Services

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-03-14T16:05:40+00:00

Todd Kauffmann, Senior VP, UBS Financial Services

"Finally a 'manual' for true professionalism in today's corporate workplace. From my seat, I have witnessed far too many times a recurring theme: Rookies, newcomers, young employees all looking to go from A to Z without any stops in between. This book should be a mandatory read for all job applicants and veterans like us who could surely use a refresher. Carmine Continue Reading

"As a manager and mentor of recent college graduates throughout my whole career, I have finally found a guide book to recommend to those that want to succeed. Welcome to the Big Leagues gives straight-forward advice to new entrants to the maze that is corporate America. Passionate, practical and with a purpose!"

Jeanne Phares, VP, Group Controller, Macerich

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-03-14T16:10:18+00:00

Jeanne Phares, VP, Group Controller, Macerich

"As a manager and mentor of recent college graduates throughout my whole career, I have finally found a guide book to recommend to those that want to succeed. Welcome to the Big Leagues gives straight-forward advice to new entrants to the maze that is corporate America. Passionate, practical and with a purpose!"

"I've read Welcome to the Big Leagues twice and found it to be just like watching a movie, where you pick up more the second time around. This book is very powerful and packed with real world advice that college students, graduates, and millennials will all benefit from."

Spencer Hughes, Radio Host, The Spencer Hughes Show

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-09-25T07:10:06+00:00

Spencer Hughes, Radio Host, The Spencer Hughes Show

"I've read Welcome to the Big Leagues twice and found it to be just like watching a movie, where you pick up more the second time around. This book is very powerful and packed with real world advice that college students, graduates, and millennials will all benefit from."

"Carmine presents this treatise against the backdrop of professional baseball; it is a highly entertaining read, providing humor and insight to cement his points and advice. Welcome to the Big Leagues is not only a guide for the corporate neophyte, but a useful guide for evaluation at any level in one’s career. After 30 years in technology development, I have found that it brings clarity to events that have affected my own professional career. I strongly recommend the read."

Steve Menchen, Scientific Fellow, ThermoFisher Scientific

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-03-14T15:44:27+00:00

Steve Menchen, Scientific Fellow, ThermoFisher Scientific

"Carmine presents this treatise against the backdrop of professional baseball; it is a highly entertaining read, providing humor and insight to cement his points and advice. Welcome to the Big Leagues is not only a guide for the corporate neophyte, but a useful guide for evaluation at any level in one’s career. After 30 years in technology development, I have found Continue Reading

"Welcome to the Big Leagues does a very good job of guiding the corporate rookie through the minefield of joining corporate America and providing a path to a successful career. Having played the game for close to 40 years; which included owning the roles of coach and mentor, I highly recommend this book for rookies and veterans alike."

John Sorci Jr., VP Global Operations, Symantec

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-09-24T16:00:37+00:00

John Sorci Jr., VP Global Operations, Symantec

"Welcome to the Big Leagues does a very good job of guiding the corporate rookie through the minefield of joining corporate America and providing a path to a successful career. Having played the game for close to 40 years; which included owning the roles of coach and mentor, I highly recommend this book for rookies and veterans alike."

"Every business rookie and professional will recognize themselves somewhere in Welcome to the Big Leagues, as it presents thought provoking stories and solutions to the challenges we face in our daily lives. Del Sordi creates a powerful tool that helps readers to align actions with who they want to be and where they want to go in life."

Jack Morgenstern, Global Head, Wipro Technologies

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-03-26T20:17:43+00:00

Jack Morgenstern, Global Head, Wipro Technologies

"Every business rookie and professional will recognize themselves somewhere in Welcome to the Big Leagues, as it presents thought provoking stories and solutions to the challenges we face in our daily lives. Del Sordi creates a powerful tool that helps readers to align actions with who they want to be and where they want to go in life."

"Carmine identifies the critical components that are necessary to live, survive and succeed in the corporate world. He does so in a manner that parallels the world of baseball and adds a dash of humor along the way. He is right on the mark and hits home as I relate back to the early part of my career. The corporate world is a very competitive environment that can be loaded with stress, ill feelings towards others as well as being a very unhealthy place to be. It is only those who understand how to identify roadblocks and how to handle them who thrive in such settings. In his book, Carmine has done an excellent job in highlighting all of this and giving some great advice to the corporate rookie, but I will also say that it is a refreshing read for us veterans that have been through it. I found that I was very entertained and recommend it to all."

Peter Gebert, VP Finance, Mannkind Corp

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-03-14T15:37:11+00:00

Peter Gebert, VP Finance, Mannkind Corp

"Carmine identifies the critical components that are necessary to live, survive and succeed in the corporate world. He does so in a manner that parallels the world of baseball and adds a dash of humor along the way."

"Very creative! Welcome to the Big Leagues is a unique thesis on how to make an impact on the corporate environment. Using baseball as the backdrop, the reader is able to easily absorb and remember the lessons, the author, Carmine Del Sordi, is conveying. Very few business books speak to both physical and mental wellbeing; which further makes it essential to read."

David Tu, President, DCL Inc

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-03-14T16:28:33+00:00

David Tu, President, DCL Inc

"Very creative! Welcome to the Big Leagues is a unique thesis on how to make an impact on the corporate environment. Using baseball as the backdrop, the reader is able to easily absorb and remember the lessons, the author, Carmine Del Sordi, is conveying. Very few business books speak to both physical and mental wellbeing; which further makes it essential Continue Reading

"Welcome to the Big Leagues embodies Carmine's passion and commitment towards achieving greatness. The valuable tips and concepts apply throughout all industries and business sectors. With three corporate rookies of my own, I bought each a copy."

David Laverty, COO, Nixon Inc

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-03-14T16:03:36+00:00

David Laverty, COO, Nixon Inc

"Welcome to the Big Leagues embodies Carmine's passion and commitment towards achieving greatness. The valuable tips and concepts apply throughout all industries and business sectors. With three corporate rookies of my own, I bought each a copy."

"The corporate rookie of today could benefit from additional support, as the demanding and competitive business landscape has become less forgiving of mistakes and poor decisions. Welcome to the Big Leagues emphasizes the importance of actively managing a host of critical success factors like the ability to drive results, strong collaboration and fiscal responsibility. It provides readers with the much needed edge on how to succeed."

Bettina Koblick, CHRO, Symantec

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-03-14T15:43:04+00:00

Bettina Koblick, CHRO, Symantec

"The corporate rookie of today could benefit from additional support, as the demanding and competitive business landscape has become less forgiving of mistakes and poor decisions. Welcome to the Big Leagues emphasizes the importance of actively managing a host of critical success factors like the ability to drive results, strong collaboration and fiscal responsibility. It provides readers with the much needed Continue Reading

"A positive wake-up call to remind us on how to do things right again. Welcome to the Big Leagues logically details the methodologies needed for building a blue print towards success. I wish I had this when I was entering the working world after my undergraduate degree. Every college graduate with the aspiration of performing at full potential should read this book."

Jay Kaufman, VP Marketing & Strategy, Annai Systems

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie
5.0
2014-03-26T20:14:08+00:00

Jay Kaufman, VP Marketing & Strategy, Annai Systems

"A positive wake-up call to remind us on how to do things right again. Welcome to the Big Leagues logically details the methodologies needed for building a blue print towards success. I wish I had this when I was entering the working world after my undergraduate degree. Every college graduate with the aspiration of performing at full potential should read Continue Reading
5.0
14
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on LinkedIn

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment

You must be Logged in to post a comment.