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The Economist Magazine Looks Outside For Insight 139

Posted by kdawson
from the next-big-thing dept.
An anonymous reader writes "All of traditional media is scrambling to remain relevant on the Net, but The Economist of London is taking it to extremes, with a skunkworks operation called Project Red Stripe. The magazine gathered six staffers from around the world, set them up in a London office, and gave them six months to come up with a radically new idea for the business. As a magazine for free markets, they figured others would have the best ideas — so are throwing open the doors for community input."
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The Economist Magazine Looks Outside For Insight

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  • Business Model (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChadAmberg (460099) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:16AM (#18305196) Homepage
    Man, that rules as a business model.

    I'm hired to come up with new ideas. Paid who knows how much $$. So rather than do any actual work, I'm going to let the internet schmucks do it for me! I just have to pick which ideas are best.

    Man, I'm in the wrong job...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by figment (22844)
      No kidding.

      I've read the Economist religiously for several years. I firmly believe it to be probably the best magazine/newspaper out there. I subscribe despite their sub price being approximately 5 times that of Times or Newsweek or any other magazine out there.

      That said, this is the most stupid idea I have ever heard out of them. They actually will compensate you, with a rocking 6-mo web-subscrption to economist.com (street value: roughly $50).

      Perhaps the Economist should actually talk to their economis
      • Re:Business Model (Score:5, Informative)

        by PRC Banker (970188) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @01:26AM (#18305612)
        this is the most stupid idea I have ever heard out of them. They actually will compensate you, with a rocking 6-mo web-subscrption to economist.com (street value: roughly $50).

        Perhaps the Economist should actually talk to their economists, and ask them what 'Incentive Compatability' means. $50 for a new revolutionary business idea surely isn't incentive compatible. If I were the Economist, I'd be terribly embarassed about this.


        I couldn't agree more. They're failing at the first hurdle. Even worse, the terms upon which the idea is submitted basically means they can use the idea in any way they like and they will hold a patent on it. So it's not just getting a poor level of compensation for an idea, but giving that idea up for use by anyone except the Economist Group. Here are 4 clauses from their terms and conditions [projectredstripe.com]:

        1. You grant to The Economist Group and its designees a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive fully-paid up and royalty free licence to use such Submission without restrictions of any kind and without any obligation of payment or other consideration of any kind, or permission or notification, to you or any third party.

        2. The licence shall include, without limitation, the irrevocable right in the name of The Economist Group or its designees throughout the universe in perpetuity in any and all media now or hereafter known (i) to reproduce, prepare derivative works, combine with other works, alter, translate, distribute copies, display, publish, perform, license the Submission, and all rights therein; (ii) to apply for and obtain a patent in respect of any inventions disclosed in the Submission; (iii) to file an application to register any designs and/or any sign capable of being registered as a trade mark; (iv) to register any name capable of being registered as a domain name.

        3. In addition, you agree that you will (at the request and expense of The Economist Group) enter into such documents as may be required to perfect or secure such rights or to assign such rights to The Economist Group absolutely if so requested.

        4. In exchange, if we use your Submission then we will give you credit by acknowledging you as a contributor on our website at ProjectRedStripe.com and if we launch a product or service thanks to Submission, we will also offer you a free six-month subscription to Economist.com. Where The Economist Group applies for a patent in respect of an invention of which you are the inventor The Economist Group will name you as the (or if appropriate an) inventor in such patent application.

        • Re:Business Model (Score:5, Insightful)

          by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @02:41AM (#18305910) Journal

          1. You grant to The Economist Group and its designees a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive fully-paid up and royalty free licence to use such Submission without restrictions of any kind and without any obligation of payment or other consideration of any kind, or permission or notification, to you or any third party.


          Let's not ascribe more evil than necessary.
        • Love the bit about 'universe'. Yeah, just in case we conquer other solar systems. Although the idea of whether licence conditions set on Earth apply in other solar systems' legal jurisdictions is still going through the Galactic Supreme Court.
        • by Yvanhoe (564877)
          Well, as I read it, they protect themselves from you, in case you would like to patent your idea once it gets accepted. They want to be sure they can use your idea. The keyword here is "non-exclusive". They will be able to use it, and you will be able to "licence" it to anyone else.
      • Perhaps the Economist should actually talk to their economists, and ask them what 'Incentive Compatability' means. $50 for a new revolutionary business idea surely isn't incentive compatible.
        Have you submitted that idea yet? Because if you haven't, I'll do it claim the 6 month free sub!
    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @01:43AM (#18305682)

      I'm hired to come up with new ideas. Paid who knows how much $$. So rather than do any actual work, I'm going to let the internet schmucks do it for me! I just have to pick which ideas are best.

      Laugh as you might, but this is almost exactly what Venture Capital firms do. People beat on their door with business ideas, they pick the most profitable, dump some money in with ludicrously favorable (for them) terms, and see what happens.

      One might say, "ah, but people benefit from VC money; here, people just get a magazine subscription." Well, I'd argue that the benefit to the idea-holder is about on par, comparing the two...

      • Well, except for the fact that the VC's put thousands/millions of dollars (and quite often some of their own) into the idea. These guys just give you a magazine subscription.

        To me it sounds like they're copying the advice in "The Innovator's Dilemma" and attempting to hive off an "internal startup", but perhaps they should have done it with people who already had some ideas, plucked from within the organization...
    • Model (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @01:44AM (#18305688)
      This seems doomed to failure. You think comittee thinking is bad? Imagine a comittee of tens of thousands or more. Filtering good ideas out of the gibberish would be a gargantuan undertaking -- probably one that is more difficult than just thinking up your own ideas. Didn't the article say that they got some of the best minds in the business? So why would those great minds turn to a few thousand sub-mediocre minds? Given the choice, I'll take half a dozen smart people locked in a room with a whiteboard and an espresso machine over ten thousand jackasses making decisions by mob thinking.

      It's interesting how in every modern war, the government that wins (assuming there is anything even vaguely like a winner) invariably puts a very small group of top military minds in charge of the war effort, even to the point of managing relevant aspects of the economy. Losers do just the opposite -- they let their legislature, congress, senate, president, chairman, corporate interests, beauracrats, and cronies make war decisions. And naturally, they either make retarded decisions or they rob the public blind at the expense of the war effort.

      Comittee thinking is a disease. The bigger the comittee, the worse it gets. Human collaborative efficiency for creative works tops out at around 4 or 5 people. If you hope to invent new paradigms, you'll be hard-pressed to accomplish it with even as many a three people, and even two is pushing it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        This seems doomed to failure. You think comittee thinking is bad? Imagine a comittee of tens of thousands or more. Filtering good ideas out of the gibberish would be a gargantuan undertaking -- probably one that is more difficult than just thinking up your own ideas. Didn't the article say that they got some of the best minds in the business? So why would those great minds turn to a few thousand sub-mediocre minds? Given the choice, I'll take half a dozen smart people locked in a room with a whiteboard and an espresso machine over ten thousand jackasses making decisions by mob thinking. It's interesting how in every modern war, the government that wins (assuming there is anything even vaguely like a winner) invariably puts a very small group of top military minds in charge of the war effort, even to the point of managing relevant aspects of the economy. Losers do just the opposite -- they let their legislature, congress, senate, president, chairman, corporate interests, beauracrats, and cronies make war decisions. And naturally, they either make retarded decisions or they rob the public blind at the expense of the war effort. Comittee thinking is a disease. The bigger the comittee, the worse it gets. Human collaborative efficiency for creative works tops out at around 4 or 5 people. If you hope to invent new paradigms, you'll be hard-pressed to accomplish it with even as many a three people, and even two is pushing it

        Everybody here disagrees with you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dotslashdot (694478)
        You obviously thought this up all by yourself, without the help of a committee, because it is really stupid, thereby disproving your point. Democracies ARE committees; that's the whole point. When you leave one or a handful of people in charge, you get Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Incompetence. Occasionally you get Hitler, Stalin and Mussolinis. Unchecked madness. Are you saying democracies are losers and military fascists are winners? Also, your pointless rant is unfounded. These 10,000 assumed
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mark_MF-WN (678030)
          Democracy is a horrible form of government. Can you point out even a single example of a democratic state that doesn't operate in a state of complete and utter lunacy?

          The problem with Vietnam and Iraq is precisely the fact that they were run by committee. Congress got to periodically hamstring the war effort, senators got to earmark funds for projects that did nothing more than keep useless people employed, generals couldn't agree on how to wage the war and were going in a dozen directions at once. In

          • by DrSkwid (118965)
            I interpreted it that you get Vietnam and Iraq: the countries, not Vietnam and Iraq: the mess the US/UK make trying to sort out the mistakes they made incorporating said countries in the first place.
        • And we couldn't beat Hitler and Mussolini without Stalin, Churchill, and an insanely war-powers-dictatorial Roosevelt making decisions on their own, or delegating them to people like Eisenhower.
          • Exactly. It's a bit funny to think that the "democratic" and "capitalist" powers were operating as -- for all intents and purposes -- Communist dictatorships. It got results though; didn't America manage to field somewhere on the order of fifteen MILLION servicemen? That's greater than the population of most of the world's cities, and more than a few of the world's nations. Even Canada got about a million servicemen together, a remarkable feat for a nation of 25 million or so (although still less per-ca
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Antity-H (535635)

        Filtering good ideas out of the gibberish would be a gargantuan undertaking -- probably one that is more difficult than just thinking up your own ideas


        What if the garguatuan dataset was the filtered through a community process ? like everyone can submit ideas and everyone can vote for the ideas they like best ? :)
        • by ThosLives (686517)

          What if the garguatuan dataset was the filtered through a community process ? like everyone can submit ideas and everyone can vote for the ideas they like best

          Except "most popular" does not imply "best", and "best" does not imply "most popular". This is what the GP was stating by asserting that democracies aren't really that good at determining "best" courses of action.

          Of course, for this discussion to have any meaning, you have to have some more objective measure of what is meant by "best" in the first p

          • Democracies aren't about picking the best idea. Unless you're having a referendum. They're not about picking the most popular idea either.

            They're about picking the best leader. The best leader is the one that is respected and trusted by the people they lead.

            Once they're elected, democratic leaders don't have any less power in-the-moment than totalitarian leaders, although they do have less capacity to make long term plans.

            Modern democracies are a failure according to the objective view.

            They've been hopel
        • So they get 10,000 ideas submitted by ideas, and then we get more idiots to choose the best from among them? I take it you don't live in a democratic nation. Voting en-mass gives you results that are -- at best -- mildly horrible. At least when a small expert group makes a decision, you get the nice cleanly defined possibilities of -- at best -- awesome, paradigm-changing ideas, and -- at worst -- world-shatteringly stupid and evil. It's good to have such polarized outcomes, because it makes it easier t
      • by dodobh (65811)
        Fred Brookes put it far more succintly in TMMM.
        • The Mythical Man Month, if I recall correctly, is a book. That would seem to be significantly LESS succinct than my garbled pseudo-paragraph. Unless of course you mean the phrase itself -- which actually makes a lot more sense and is the very epitome of brevity.
          • by dodobh (65811)
            'The Mythical Man Month' is also chapter 2 of the book of the same name. Chapter 3 is 'The Surgical Team'.

            I would recommend reading the book anyway. It's still one of the best project management books out there.
            • I actually started reading it once, but got distracted by the necessity of learning COM and ASP for work. If I could do it all again, I probably wouldn't have accepted a job in which knowing COM was considered anything other than a character flaw.
      • Yeah, back in my day we had no stinking commitees, the Pharoh drew a trinagle in the sand and proceeded to beat people until he got what he wanted.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *
        Don't forget, though, that the country that wins gets to write the history. And, since people in power hate the idea of anyone but themselves making the decisions, they will invariably ascribe faults to the loser such as you describe:

        "They waged war by committee, legislature, blah blah blah".

        There were a couple of countries in "the modern era" that were extremely authoritarian in model (Germany, Japan) and who lost a fairly big skirmish to countries that were anything but (USA, England) who both had huge r
        • The point is that the USA and England each put small authoritarian groups in charge of their war efforts. In fact, part of the reason that England and her allies fared so poorly at first was that they DIDN'T operate in a centralized, fascist manner. It took the downfall of France and some early setbacks during the battle of Britain before they got their shit together. Both the USA and the UK were operating in an extremely Communist (in the Stalin sense, not the Marx sense) fashion by the end of the war.
          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            The big thing that Japan and Germany had going against them was that they were stuck with the authoritarian leaders that they had, leaders that were geared for waging the kind of blitzkrieg warfare that characterized the early portions of World War 2; the USA and the UK (and the USSR... sort of) appointed authoritarian military leaders that were primed for the kind of warfare that they were actually dealing with at that point.

            I don't know if it was that well thought-out. I think chance plays a very big par

        • by ccp (127147)

          There were a couple of countries in "the modern era" that were extremely authoritarian in model (Germany, Japan) and who lost a fairly big skirmish to countries that were anything but (USA, England) who both had huge running squabbles between political parties, legislatures, committees, etc. all through their war effort.

          In fact, they lost the said skirmish with Stalin's SOVIET RUSSIA (insert joke here), not a shining example of democracy.

          And yes, the Western front was really a skirmish in comparison, and op

      • by daigu (111684)

        Thank you Ayn Rand. If you are focused on decision making efficiency, then yes, committees don't tend to be efficient in that way. However, there are many circumstances in this world where a focus on decision making efficiency or heirarchicial models of decision making are worse than the committee model.

        I'll give you two examples - one abstract and the other concrete. People that believe in "free markets" are ultimately arguing that the decisions and inputs of many individuals in a committee called a "mar

        • This whole conversation was worthwhile, just for the fact that I have now been compared to Ayn Rand. When asked which historical figure I would most like to give a ritualistic bitch-slapping to, I almost invariably choose Ayn Rand (I can't hate Nietzche, since he at least had the decency to go completely fucking insane by the end of his life).

          It's interesting that you bring up free markets. I would suggest that free markets actually fit perfectly into the points that I have made. Free markets function

          • by daigu (111684)

            I couldn't agree with your sentiments on Ayn Rand more. But, reading this post and your previous one - particularly the despotism of one idea in this post - made me think instantly of her.

            I think there may be differences in how we view what domains these models work in. I've seen Quaker decision making [wikipedia.org] a number of times that have given fantastic results toward understanding and resolving thorny problems that, at another point in my life, I would have favored an up or down vote on or a more authoritative d

            • I don't know, I think decentralization solves the particular issues that you mention perfectly. Abortion? Let each person make up their own mind and make their own decision. It seems to work perfectly. The Iraq war? Wouldn't it be better if each person had a little checkbox on their tax return where they could indicate whether or not they wanted to pay the additional tax monies required to fund the war? Or better yet, anyone who favoured the war could just send a cheque to their local militia, which c
      • First, I agree with the grandparent that this seems a little chintzy, particularly the "if we like your idea, we give you a six month subscription to the online edition". Surely at least a 12 month subscription to the print and online editions would be warranted? I would hope my submitted idea would be worth a hundred and ten bucks at least, not $39.95.

        I actually think the idea itself is good. What they're trying to do is prevent the stale thinking caused by a bunch of like-minded toffs(*) in a room all
        • by Razor Sex (561796)
          So what you're saying, is that they're not being paid appropriately for their labor input? ;)
        • I have heard the term toff before. We demi-british do get exposed to enough of the BBC's sloppy seconds(*) to pick up on these things. ;)

          The free subscriptions are actually a pretty clever idea, in my opinion. They give out a bunch of six-month subscriptions, but they give them out as part of this idea-gathering project, so that people feel like they're getting a prize rather than a free sample designed to lure them into a lifetime of purchasing the magazine. I mean, common -- these dudes study economi

          • I can't begin to understand your politics. I agree with you that group think and council-based decision making can be dangerously bad, and therefore cannot understand why socialism would be your government of choice. However, you made me laugh with this one:

            We Canadians are big believers in taking money away from stupid people. After all, our entire economy is based on taking money away from Americans and selling them rocks, sticks, and ice.
            • Socialism is NOT my government of choice. I like a neoliberal government with socialist tendencies. You know, free markets, free trade, and a nice social-support network.
              • Disclaimer: not trying to argue, just understand.

                Does your view on health care fall under free markets, or social support?

                How do neoliberals differ from Libertarians?
                • Well, neoliberalism refers strictly to economic liberalism -- maximizing the economic freedom of the state's citizens and corporations. Neoliberals are very much into deregulation, free-trade, and they usually only interfere with monopolies if those monopolies are having a detrimental effect on their industry.

                  Libertarians believe in freedom from the government -- so even government policies that are intended to guarantee the preservation of certain freedoms (whether social or economic) are considered una

                  • Thank you for the thorough reply. As an American I am finding myself very leery of socialized healthcare, if only because of the quagmire my Government has made out of social security. However, I think you raise a valid point that socialized healthcare does not nullify free market advantages, such as suppliers competing on price, and private practices innovating new procedures.

                    From a personal perspective, how do you rate your local healthcare? Have you ever been treated in America? If so, how do the two
                    • Strictly speaking, there is no neoliberal position on individual liberties and Human rights. The Liberal party that I originally mentioned is quite progressive about both, but that's a separate issue from Neoliberalism. Typically though, they take the position of protecting rights and liberties, while libertarians just want to prevent the government from impinging on those things.

                      The local healthcare? My position is probably VERY biased. I'm a student, and can't afford any healthcare coverage of any k

                    • Thanks again for replying and challenging my own opinions and bias.
                    • Eh, no problem. What opinions and biases are those? I'd have hoped that most of what I've communicated is simply fact -- the facts about whether one can afford health insurance with a 20-hour a week minimum wage job, the facts about what the Canadian Liberal party advocates, about what Neoliberalism constitutes, and about what Libertarianism constitutes. I've tried to keep opinion out of it, beyond explicitly stating my opinion that people who oppose public healthcare are literally advocating the prematu
                    • Sorry for the late reply. Let me give you my p.o.v. in a nutshell.

                      I am currently 26, born in 1980, American. I have been told my entire life that social security will not exist when the time comes for me to retire. Yet, despite this mantra of a doomed social security net, for my entire working life (~10 years now) I have seen a chunk of my paycheck, my labor, my LIFE, go to this system. At the same time, I hear horror stories of old people eating catfood to survive, and retirees working part-time to main
                    • That's the thing I always forget about Americans -- they never receive any benefit from their taxes, unless you count the huge amount of money that gets spent arranging for young Americans to be crippled in foreign lands. Frankly, if I were American, I'd probably boycott my taxes on principal, and be distrustful of anything the government did.

                      For starters, IF the US went in for a socialized healthcare system (probably in the European-style, where the public and private systems compete), taxes would have

                    • It seems to me that sometime around the year 2000, after the immense tech goldrush of the 1990's, a good chunk of Americans started to feel left out. Those who hadn't gone to college, hadn't gotten the "good jobs", hadn't invested in those awesome tech stocks, etc. It seems to me a lot of these people feel bitter that they were "missing out" on the future, and so, in a typical childish fashion, they prefer to have no future at all.

                      And then came 9/11, and suddenly racial bias was acceptable, religious war
                    • Well, such enlightened patriotism is always refreshing. Still, I'm not sure what you mean by "they prefer to have no future at all". I can't even begin to fathom what that would look like, outside of the idea of self-termination, which is probably not what you mean...

                      I guess it could refer to the staggering number of Americans that genuinely believe that the rapture will occur at soon, let alone that believe it will happen at all. I used to try to be tolerant of religion, but after seeing what it's don

      • by Raenex (947668)

        Filtering good ideas out of the gibberish would be a gargantuan undertaking -- probably one that is more difficult than just thinking up your own ideas.

        Is it really that much of an undertaking? Let's say only 1 in 1,000 ideas are any good, and that they get 10,000 submissions. Let's also say it takes, on average, two minutes to filter an idea. With 6 employees filtering, it would take less than 60 hours of work. Worth a shot, and by no means "doomed to failure". Worst case scenario is they get free publicity for their magazine. Best case scenario is that actually get a brilliant idea they would not have thought of themselves.

        • Two minutes seems optimistic to me; any idea worth even cursory examination would almost certainly require a more detailed examination. I mean, we're not talking about going through a pile of drawings looking for our favourite. We're talking about proposals for a website, something that would be inherently complex. Some good ideas could be missed (a proposal every two minutes is an aggressive rate), and there will undoubtedly by at least one false positive at some point. And I don't even know that 1/10
    • by Seumas (6865)
      I'll throw them a few ideas if they plan on paying me for them. If not, then fuck them.
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:17AM (#18305202) Journal
    We make a beer. But just not any beer. A beer that's brewed in Jamaica mon.
  • The plan so far (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wombatmobile (623057) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:19AM (#18305208)

    The magazine gathered six staffers from around the world, set them up in a London office, and gave them six months to come up with a radically new idea for the business.

    In the first week, the staffers bought beer, wine, wisky, condoms, flat screen televisions and gaming consoles.

    In the second week, the staffers hired a young graphic artist through the internet for $35 per hour to set up a rudimentary web page asking for innovative ideas.

    The next 5 months is a blur.

    The final two weeks were a flurry of activities. So many good ideas to review! So little time!

    • Don't forget the webcam!!

      They couldn't have their own personal Real World® without a webcam!
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The final two weeks were a flurry of activities. So many good ideas to review! So little time!

      More like the final two minutes. The winning plan was:
      1. Steal underpants.
      2. ???
      3. Profit!
  • Focus on content, not the technology, okay?

    Now, decide upon what your content will be that will make it different or more useful than all the other content out there. That's hint #2.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mard (614649)
      Wow, you have no idea what you're talking about. Nice work!

      I'll qualify this troll-like statement by pointing out that The Economist IS IN THE BUSINESS OF MAKING CONTENT. Take a look at their website, since you've obviously never even heard of the little magazine they run that puts Newsweek and Time to shame, and you'll realize how uninformed your comment is: http://www.economist.com/index.html [economist.com]
  • Hold on... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:21AM (#18305226) Journal
    They want us to come up with their business plan?

    Well, ok. for a price I'll let them in on a way to turn their debt into wealth following my easy five step program. Soon, they will be able to afford the lifestyle they deserve. This is a risk free, money back guarantee on how to turn their outstanding debt into outstanding wealth.
    • I'll let them in on a way to turn their debt into wealth following my easy five step program.

      Let me guess: The fourth step is "????", am I right?
  • by Cyberax (705495) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:39AM (#18305320)
    1. Create Economics journal.
    2. Let the people on Internet do your work. ...
    3. Profit!
  • by jjeffries (17675) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:43AM (#18305352)
    They should start a business consulting for other groups who want to go into business but can't quite figure out what business they want to be in...
  • by tedhiltonhead (654502) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:43AM (#18305354)
    This raises an interesting question about the value of ideas. Naively, one might guess that anyone with sufficiently good ideas for the Economist's future are a) already working there, b) already working for some other organization that will use them, or c) independent entrepreneurs, implementing their ideas themselves. However, there is a real possibility that forward-thinking people do exist outside those categories, and who are perfectly willing and able to articulate their ideas to others in an actionable way.

    From the Economist's standpoint, however, creating an "innovation group" seems misguided. You can't *cause* innovation and creativity; you can only *allow* it to happen on its own. This occurs through maximal exposure to atypical influences, such as books, activities, people, and entertainment that one might not ordinarily choose. This, in fact, is how the brain grows -- by forming new synaptic pathways among its neurons.

    The Economist, or any organization, can best innovate by encouraging *all* its employees to, in the course of their ordinary work, occasionally take a moment to submit to management their views of how the organization's processes or other aspects can be improved, as it occurs to them. Good management must know how to create this culture. Everyone can be an innovator.
  • Anything that the Economist does is okay by me. That organization consistently releases exceptionally informative and insightful articles. If there had to be an Information Ministry for an ideal one world government, I'd hope that it would be as useful as what the Economist is.
  • I am running 1024*768, and the page sucks. If they can't even get a request for what is wrong done correctly - this may explain what they are doing wrong!
    • you have to have javascript turned on or their submission form doesn't work. they haven't even figured out how to make their entry form fail gracefully for people who don't have JS enabled. what can i say... this is like asking someone else for an answer while saying, "i already know the anwer, i just want to see if you do, too." frankly, i think this is in poor taste - those 6 folks are pulling in ~$500k per year and they want to add value by using the insight of others without compensation? they must
  • Deal killer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Somnus (46089) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:51AM (#18305412)
    From their FAQ [projectredstripe.com], on the subject of remuneration [projectredstripe.com]:

    What will I get for submitting an idea?

    Unfortunately, we can give no direct reward or compensation for your contribution. If, however, Project Red Stripe chooses to develop an idea you have submitted, you will receive recognition on the Project Red Stripe web site and a free six-month subscription to Economist.com.


    I'm sure as hell not giving a money-making idea to the Economist Group if I'm not getting a piece of the pie. If it might save the world, maybe; if it's not money-making and helps folks, I probably would.
  • One of the "best business books" of the year 2006 that
    the Economist recommended was:
    Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win
    By William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre. William Morrow

    In the book the cover some open source business models.
    One of their favorite example was an Canadian Gold mine
    that opened up their data and asked for new mining designs
    (or where to dig for gold in their fields).
    Sounds like the Economist is following this business model.
  • by Wazukkithemaster (826055) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @01:03AM (#18305470)
    Give me $10000 a month, every month for the next 100 years. Your business will improve every year. If it doesn't, I'll just blame uncontrollable global market forces and claim your losses would have been more significant if not for me. It's bloody brilliant.
  • Yes, what a model!!

    I hardly think gathering "staffers", employees, from around the world, is outside-the-box thinking, LMAO!
  • Yea, Economics!
  • The knee jerk reaction to this sort of thing is that they are trying to get something for nothing on the backs of us under appreciated geniuses. I've
    seen the NGASAEB W.C. Fields quote in The Economist many times so this mindset may actually exist in thier mission statement somewhere. However,
    I have a list of ideas in my head that I would like to see happen but know I will never make them happen. Ideas--even really good ones--are cheap. The hard
    part is making them happen. If they can extract something u
  • They deserve to be (Score:3, Informative)

    by 2Bits (167227) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @01:23AM (#18305596)
    ... doomed if all they can do was set up a lousy web site to ask for ideas from people on the street.

    That said, that's what the so-called "business consultants" do anyway. So what do you expect?

    (Note: I'm a long time Economist reader, I like it, although I do not necessarily agree with their sometimes-very-conservative view. I think they should throw those fuckheads out of the window instead of wasting time there.)

    • by martijnd (148684)
      The Economist itself is one of the few fine print magazines that does not have to worry about going extinct anytime soon, but I second this-- the website and its pathetic implementation, not to mention the "submit your ideas, we will give you a honorable mention" fall far short of what I expect from the Economist.

      They gathered their most notorious underachievers in one spot -- and set them up to hang themselves?

      Potentially good idea -- but so far looks pretty shitty.

  • by sugarmotor (621907)
    When I read the Economist it strikes me their readers are interested mostly in humour pieces about world events, mixed with right-wing illusions and then also flashy ads.

    In other words, it's in my mind in a league with "The National Enquirer", and "The Globe", of course with a different audience and subject matter, but of comparable actual usefulness.

    Stephan
  • It takes 6 staffers to run a blog?
  • by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuelNO@SPAMbcgreen.com> on Sunday March 11, 2007 @02:13AM (#18305800) Homepage Journal
    That, if they get a useful idea from the public, that they patent it (at least, in the US, where business method patents are allowed).
  • I have no idea if this plan will result in some way for The Economist to survive, but I hope they find a way to modernize where so many other papers are currently failing, because I've found them to be one of the single best sources for news in the world. Sure it's a week old by the time the paper (okay, "magazine") reaches my mailbox, but I still find myself learning more about topics that I'd previously only find headlines and blurbs about in mainstream national media. Sometimes the paper takes a stance I
  • I'm reading a lot of what sound to me like childish viewpoints regarding their request for idea submissions. Great ideas are thought up every day. In bars and laundramats and grocery lines all over the world people come up with ideas. Most of them suck, and most of the rest are never shared with anyone, even if they're decent ideas. How many people thought of a chip-clip before somebody actually made and marketed one? My mom used to use clothes pins back when they weren't such a rare item. WAY before
    • by popo (107611)

      Riiight. You send them your "crappy back of the napkin idea", and they'll use their razor sharp Oxbridge eyes to spot its actual brilliance. (You didn't even *know* it was brilliant. Afgterall, you're just some dolt in a bar.)

      Yes, these chosen ones have a unique talent: not for actually generating ideas, but for "knowing it when they actually see it". \

      Now here's the question: Let's just say for the sake of argument you had the most incredible idea for a media company in the history of corporate media.
      • Let's just say for the sake of argument you had the most incredible idea for a media company in the history of corporate media...

        You're missing the point. Ideas all by themselves are worthless. You have to actually take big risks to do something with them to create value. Anybody who thought of the next "most incredible media company" has 3 options,

        1- interrupt their busy schedule, miss their kids soccer games, likely quite their job, and then dedicate a good portion of their lives trying to get seed money.

        2- share it with their bar buddies and tell themselves it would probably never work anyway.

        3 - or toss their idea at

        • by sane? (179855)

          You're missing the point. Ideas all by themselves are worthless.

          Let's see: Good idea + Effort = Success
          or. . . . . . . .No Idea + Effort = Failure

          If you refuse to value ideas, then you get NOTHING. Why should I? For all I know I might have use for it in the future, or I might find the effort to exploit it myself. Not telling you maintains its value; telling you loses it.

          Personally I'd say that a good idea has more worth to a company than the CEO, since its been shown time and again that most CEOs ha

  • "We have no ideas."
  • ... which will cut transport carbon emissions by at least 75%.

    BUT I'll share it with you lot only after I see a few million dollars / pounds / euros / whatevers. Yup, it'll work absolutely guaranteed!

  • The Economist is the best magazine ("newspaper") in the world, which is why I pay a premium price to subscribe to it. The entire USA, sadly, has nothing that comes close. Hey geniuses: don't change anything.
  • by JRHelgeson (576325) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @05:37AM (#18306502) Homepage Journal
    Cantor Fitzgerald is a bond trading firm, one of the few firms who can trade U.S. Government securities with the Federal Reserve Bank. They lost 658 souls on the 9/11 attacks, more than any other single company (their offices being above the impact site of One World Trade Center).

    In the early 1990's, it became apparent that their traditional way of doing business was going away. The future lay in electronic trading, not in suits talking on phones. The problem was their entire culture was built up around the brokers working the phones. They soon realized that changing the entire culture of how they did business would be nearly impossible.

    They realized that failure to change meant that newer startups would be soon coming online to take advantage of electronic trading, and that they would be doomed to a slow death of attrition as the competition cannibalized the marketplace.

    Rather than waiting to be cannibalized by some unknown competitor, they decided to create their own competition, to create their own cannibalizing agent. Thus was the birth of eSpeed which went public in 1999. As the broker/dealer market declined, the eSpeed market took up the slack and eventually consumed the old guard completely.

    The transition was so successful that before 9/11, Cantor handled about one-quarter of the daily transactions in the multi-trillion dollar treasury security market. The fourth quarter of 2001, after losing 2/3 their workforce, Cantor Fitzgerald posted a 25% profit.

    Today, thousands of traders at hundreds of global financial institutions conduct transactions worth over $45 trillion annually in eSpeed's multiple buyer/multiple seller markets.

    %-%-%

    Traditional media is scrambling to remain relevant on the Net because the 1:1 communication provided by the internet has completely decimated their existing business model. They are used to owning the information gathering and distribution networks.

    I have now completely abandoned the print media because I know that the reporting I will read is going to be one-sided, heavily slanted, while at the same time professing complete objectivity. How many print newspapers have had to shut down the online feedback on their editorial pages because the blowback was so overwhelming that they couldn't tolerate it?

    Digg is nothing but a groupthink mob rules mentality with no decent way to hold an actual conversation, which is fine because the one thing the groupthink mob mentality abhors is open discussion, so Digg is a perfect match for them. The positive result is that the level of discourse on Slashdot forums have risen significantly now that the Diggers have gone.

    I say that the future for The Economist would look a lot like Slashdot's discussions, where experts from around the world can opine on the news of the day.

    I have more to add, but it is getting late.
  • I'm willing to bet that the Project Red Stripe initiative springs from their current advertising agency - BBDO!

    Why else would the team be situated at AMV-BBDO

    Where is the project based?

    Our digs are at AMV-BBDO, The Economist's ad agency, on Marylebone Road in London. Take a look at our web cam.

    And Ad agencies (I've worked in one) are usually credited for such poor ideas..

  • they figured others would have the best ideas -- so are throwing open the doors for community input
    In other words "er, we dunno!".
  • Tilting at windmills (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SideshowBob (82333) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:55PM (#18308256)
    There are no 'revolutionary business ideas'. For a century people have been conditioned to expect electronic media to be free, while print media has always been for-pay. The 'revolution' will be in changing those expectations. That just takes time.

    I'd also add that electronic media hasn't caught up to paper media in the area of convenience. I can roll up a copy of the Economist and stick it in my back pocket and read it while I'm waiting in the doctor's office. To read the Economist.com I have to take a laptop (or at the very least a PDA) and I have to somehow get the articles downloaded onto it first or rely on wi-fi service wherever I'm going.
  • Most of the comments I've seen have been on the level of "those guys want us to do their job for free. Right" or "this is stupid and will never work."

    Flip it around and be selfish: The Economist has a certain set of resources: primarily access to a set of reporters around the world and some cash. If you're a reader, you know what the magazine (aka "newspaper") is like. So what would you prefer it to be? That is: what's the XXX in "gosh, if only someone would do a XXX, I'd be glad to buy it?" Tell the

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