Top 5 Stories of the Week: Ideating Buzzwords, Educating For Free, and Retailing's Race to the Bottom

January 6, 2012

Hi, I hope all is well. A small favor: Would you mind socializing this blog post with your colleagues and ideating a response? Two sentences, three of the worst management terms of 2011, according to Business Insider. Some of the others: weaponize, socialize, internalize, ideate. I'm not sure I've ever heard weaponize used in a meeting, but maybe I'm just attending the wrong meetings. In any case, the last week which bridged 2011 and 2012 ideated some year-end frivolity, sure, but mostly professionals were interested in big, buzzword-free topics. Top stories included everything from why Best Buy was sure to fail to how education was going to go free. The full list: 

Top 5 most-shared articles on LinkedIn (Dec. 29, 2011 - Jan. 5, 2012)

  1. M.I.T. Game-Changer: Free Online Education For All 12/21 (Forbes)
  2. The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives, 01/02 (Forbes)
  3. The Ten Most Annoying Management Terms Of 2011, 12/29 (Business Insider)
  4. Why Best Buy is Going out of Business...Gradually, 01/02 (Forbes)
  5. What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success, 12/29 (The Atlantic)

It's not surprising that two school-related pieces grabbed the attention of workers everywhere. Both tackled a major question with significant implications for the future: How do you make sure education is widespread and not just reserved for the wealthy? Finland has handled this by making all schools free - something the author says American educators routinely overlook as they study Finland's success:

Only a small number of independent schools exist in Finland, and even they are all publicly financed. None is allowed to charge tuition fees. There are no private universities, either. This means that practically every person in Finland attends public school, whether for pre-K or a Ph.D.

MIT, meanwhile, has even broader implications: It's building a complete set of courses available online, for free, and that come with official certificates of completion. That means top brains everywhere, not just those who can afford to enroll or to travel to the U.S., can learn from the best of MIT and have some document to prove that they've mastered the information. Forbes writer James Marshall Crotty calls it "nothing short of revolutionary" and points out that it could also pose a challenge to the for-profit online universities. Also under threat: Best Buy, says Forbes writer Larry Downes. He calls Best Buy's wound self-inflicted and looks at what the company can and should be doing differently. Why self-inflicted? Downes spells it out simply:

There's no magic to retailing 'hot products' and doing so at a profit.  Efficient inventory and distribution, managing customer relationships for the long term, competitive pricing, pre and post-sales support for technically complex items:  these are the most basic elements of competitive advantage for a retailer that actually wants to stay in business, now but in the past as well.  Most of what Amazon does right has nothing to do with technology or the Internet at all.

The story is worth a read and the lessons stretch across all industries. Folks in the education sector, especially, might want to internalize the learnings. Before MIT weaponizes its courses.

Here are the top stories by industry:

Be sure to bookmark LinkedIn Today and follow @LinkedInToday to keep up with the most important news in your industry as it's breaking.