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On December 14, 2015, Austin commented on In-Q-Tel: How to Keep Your Spies In the Know :

I really enjoyed reading this post and the comments that followed. I would like to know how many of their products have actually gone into production for the agencies. Furthermore, what the impact and degree of success such products showed. It is difficult to assess given the nature of the community, as the most successful products should never be heard about. I guess time will be the real test of the efficiency of IQT to bring new and useful technologies to the intel world.

Great post John! One of the most fascinating aspects of DeBeers’ history was the “diamond is forever” campaign you mentioned. The history behind it is another great tale of aligning operations with business strategy. Back in the 40’s, when the phrase was coined, the diamond was not the symbol of eternal love that is is today. Many couples didn’t buy a ring at all for the engagement, and if they did, it was not uncommon to use other stones. DeBeers essentially fabricated a demand by marketing to women by telling them that a man who RELLY loves them will buy them a diamond ring. By creating a cultural phenomenon, they manufactured demand, and the tradition lives on today. I like how you described the next iteration in the future of the company!

On December 8, 2015, Austin commented on FedEx: The world’s largest continuous flow process :

Great post JP. As someone who grew up in a FedEx Family (Dad, Mom, and brother all worked for FedEx at one point) and grew up in Memphis, the scale is impressive. Watching the aircraft arrive at night is truly a sight to see. One point you alluded to WRT FedEx vs UPS owning trucks is actually quite interesting. FedEx is primarily an airline, meaning its employees are covered by the Railway Labor Act, and have little to no capability to unionize, whereas UPS is a trucking company whose employees are covered by the National Labor Relations Act, allowing them to unionize. This was because national coverage meant that union problems in one area could rob work from a different state. This has played out significantly in favor of FedEx, and is a huge reason they enjoy some advantages over competitors. UPS actually lobbied to change this and force FedEx to operate under the NLRA so that they become burdened with the same regulations. Obviously, this would have a HUGE impact on operations. Food for thought!

On December 8, 2015, Austin commented on Delta Airlines: Flying High in a Competitive Industry :

As a Delta frequent flyer, the changes you highlight are evident in their day to day operations and their customer service. I remember when there was much debate about Delta purchasing their own refinery. Many analysts saw it as a risky move, but Delta was looking long-term, and saw the vertical integration as a potential competitive advantage. The customer service is also industry leading. I maintained loyalty to the program, and became less price sensitive as a result. Delta saw the value in the intangibles, and created value. Overall, very good choice for your project. This is a stellar example of a company whose operations are aligned with its core business strategy.