A magazine (mine) takes aim at this 'age of ideas' in business

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Twenty-three years ago, as a waif covering politics, I sat down with a conservative young man who had bested a moderate Republican incumbent to win his party's nomination to the U.S. Senate in New Jersey, and received a lesson in life. Surveying the issues that had catapulted him to his improbable victory--supply-side economics, a vigorously anti-Communist foreign policy, higher military spending--the candidate told me, "Ideas matter." Although he lost his race, the subsequent election of Ronald Reagan and the political revolution that followed amply proved his point.

Today, with politics a hollow squabble between bankrupt factions, the locus of intellectual ferment in our culture has shifted. With new companies arising and dying by the score every day, with the stock market gyrating on the news of arcane technological discoveries, with the patent system straining to absorb the weight of unprecedented new filings, it is clear that if ideas matter anywhere it is in the world of business.

Which gives ample reason to celebrate the relaunch of Strategy+Business magazine, perhaps the only approachable publication devoted solely to the exploration, analysis and assessment of new business knowledge.

The reintroduction of Strategy+Business is newsworthy for several reasons. First, its bold redesign aims to reify a new niche in the business magazine category--that of the "thought leader journal," tied not to the movement of markets but to the movement of concepts through management suites. Second, it signifies an intensification of the "intellectual capital wars" that had been smoldering in major management consultancies; S+B is backed by Booz-Allen & Hamilton, one of several consulting firms to have invested significant resources in--and hired brand name journalists for--the promulgation and marketing of new ideas in business. Finally, S+B is edited by me--a fact that should really be of concern only to those who monitor conflicts of interest in column writing.

Unabashed self-promotion aside, there is clearly something vibrant operating in business today, something that's caught the old guard off guard. When a publication such as Fast Company--conceived by several editors from the Harvard Business Review--can come from nowhere to become the magazine for future CEOs, you know the world has changed. When Professor Clayton M. Christensen's book "The Innovator's Dilemma" can rocket from the pages of the aforementioned HBR to the top of the best-seller lists, again it's clear that business is operating by new rules. Once, value resided solely in plant and equipment; today, nothing is more valuable than talent. Where in the past stability was treasured, today the watchword is transformation.

Strategy+Business is dedicated to making sense of this tumult for today's CEOs and the people who influence them. The new issue--it boasts a smart, clean almost European look, thanks to the prodigious efforts of my friends at Pentagram Design--explains the self- management revolution about to engulf American health care, after which most of us will start managing our health plans the way we now do our 401(k)s. It explores what went wrong with the scores of strategic rollups, as serial multi-mergers are known, that occurred in the 1990s--and how to make them right.

The "S+B Case Study" goes deep inside Toys `R' Us, the listing category killer, and shows why, despite its fumbles in e-business, its brick-and-mortar advantages still make it the best toy store in town. We profile management thinker Geoffrey Moore, whose many metaphors have made him Silicon Valley's favorite strategist. In this issue's "Thought Leader Interview," Priceline.com founder Jay Walker talks about the controversy over patenting business models. And the relaunch also heralds the introduction of a new column, "The Innovators," by the renowned editor and author Harold Evans, whose next book will explore the history of innovation in America.

While S+B is not the only publication devoted to intellectual capital in business, its combination of assets makes it unique. Among publications sponsored by top consulting firms, Strategy+Business is the only one available to newsstand buyers and subscribers, who make up half the 100,000-plus circulation. (The others are the top officers of every U.S. company with $1 billion or more in revenues.) It's the only journal in this group that blends work by strategists, scholars and independent journalists.

Since this is Ad Age, I should also point out that S+B is the only magazine in its set to sell advertising against this very desirable demographic group. (I warned you this was self-promotion.)

Way back when, there was a famous poster that said, simply, "Think." My colleagues and I think we've created a publication that will help business leaders do exactly that.

Copyright April 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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