John Kotter and Charlene Li Talk Business Strategy

The rate of change in our culture is increasing—and in order to compete, businesses need to increase their rate of change as well, says management guru John Kotter. 


In his Big Think interview, Kotter, the chief innovation officer at Kotter International, says that the two biggest drivers of change right now are technology and globalization.  "They produce lots of sub drivers," he says, "like competition in industries and the like, and those two are not going to go away. Globalization is going to bring us closer and closer together across nations and technology you can’t stop. So, the amount of change is going to, I think and the rate is just gong to go up and up and up for I don’t know how long."

Kotter also says it's important for companies to create a high sense of urgency when they want to achieve change. He says that people need to have "a gut level determination" that they want to get up every single day and mobilize people to take advantages that will benefit the company. "If you don’t have enough people with that frame of mind, it's like putting up a tall building and you don’t put in ... the pylons deep enough.  They really are the structure that supports everything.  That keeps things moving around.  That gets people into it in a 'want to,' not a 'have to' frame of mind."

Meanwhile, Charlene Li, the founder of the Altimeter Group, talked to us about the importance of social media for today's businesses, and why companies need to take it more seriously than they have in the past. "The days when you could actually ignore [social media] ... are long gone," says Li. "We’re at that point now where more people are using Facebook than are using Yahoo and Facebook is rapidly catching up to Google in terms of the number of people using it, so I think when it comes to business it is no longer a way to think about this is sort of a nice to have activity that your teenagers are using.  This is a place where you can actually build real relationships with real people and in fact, if you don’t do it you are in peril of being overrun by them."

Li thinks social media technology is only in its infancy, and that social networks will continue to evolve. "We are like just at the beginning of this," she says in her Big Think interview. "This is a place that never stands still. ... Things that change relationships fundamentally, that have power shifts involved are the things that you really need to pay attention to because those are the things that matter, things that change that relationship and therefore change the way that you have to run and act in your business."

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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