With 2022 in the rear view mirror, here is a look back at some of the tech writing from a variety of sources that caught my eye in the past year. These pieces provide context into what constituted innovation in the past year, and explained the digital world we live in with great clarity.

Preparing Your Company for the Next Recession

by Donald Sull and Charles Sull, MIT Sloan Management Review, December 2022

While recessionary periods bring their share of economic pain, they also cause uncertainty to spike. The authors introduce three ways to manage uncertainty – resilience, local agility, and portfolio agility – and offer practical advice for improving them.

The Crypto Story

By Matt Levine, Bloomberg, October 2022

This piece goes way beyond bitcoin to explore the technological underpinnings of crypto, what its evolution means for the global financial system, and where things might go in the year ahead. At 40,000 words (it took up an entire issue of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine), it covers a lot. Two weeks after publication, the crypto exchange FTX imploded, prompting a recent postscript.

Why the Future of the Computer Is Everywhere, All the Time

By Christopher Mims, The Wall Street Journal, October 2022

Many of us are accustomed to phones in our pockets and smart devices in our homes, but the future of computing is more interconnected, more everything, everywhere, all at once. “In the ambient world, technology is all around us – unseeable and untouchable. Sensors know when we wake up, set the heat at what we always want, play the songs we like, get the autonomous car ready for the meeting they know we have and suggest clothes appropriate for the meeting,” Christopher Mims writes. But that new reality won’t arrive overnight, he notes. Much work is needed on the technological plumbing to make it possible.

Can Computers Learn Common Sense

By Matthew Hutson, The New Yorker, April 2022

The CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence says common sense is the “dark matter” of AI. “It shapes so much of what we do and what we need to do, and yet it’s ineffable.” This piece gives a nice overview of efforts to build that dark matter into modern algorithms, and the sometimes fraught role humans play in doing so.

What Makes A Great Leader

By Linda A. Hill, Emily Tedards, Jason Wild, and Karl Weber, Harvard Business Review, September 2022

This article argues that tomorrow’s leaders need to master their ABCs, in this case their roles as Architects, Bridgers, and Catalysts. Doing so will require them to shift their leadership style to one that enables and encourages collaboration, experimentation and shared learning across an increasingly diverse ecosystem.

How PepsiCo Became an Incubator for Leaders

By Phil Wahba, Fortune, December 2022

Sixteen former PepsiCo executives are now Fortune 500 CEOs. How did this happen? Much of it comes down to a well-oiled talent development program that identifies high-potential candidates early and throws them in the deep end. “Our model is first and foremost based on risk-taking and putting people into big jobs, uncomfortable jobs, and trusting they will flourish if you take a chance on them,” says Ronald Schellekens, PepsiCo’s Chief Human Resources Officer. “Sink or swim.”

Of God and Machines

By Stephen Marche, The Atlantic, September 2022

Check out one of the many stories about ChatGPT, GPT-3, and Dall-E 2 and you’ll get a glimpse of just how much machine learning has advanced in recent years, and the potential it has to change the way we think about and interact with art and language. This essay ponders how AI portends a big leap forward for both humans and machines, and what it might mean for how we understand the world.

The Power of Process: How to Create Transformational Change

By Mike Hayes, VMware, November 2022

Mike Hayes, now the COO at VMware, spent two decades with the US Navy SEALs, including a stint as Commanding Officer of SEAL Team TWO. In this essay, he argues that process, done right, is the key to organizational agility. In a fast-changing world, “you can really only pivot quickly and successfully when you have a system in place to do so.”

This Is Life in the Metaverse

By Kashmir Hill, The New York Times, October 2022

Bonus, this feature from Wired: What is the metaverse, exactly?

You never know who you’ll meet in the metaverse. In this piece, the New York Times’ Kashmir Hill dons a headset and embarks on a quest to meet some of the metaverse’s early adopters. “I wanted to understand who was currently there and why, and whether the rest of us would ever want to join them.” She grapples with the practical pros and cons facing the metaverse as it evolves while sharing stories of the colorful characters she encounters along the way.

5 mantras for digital leaders

By Brian Eastwood, MIT Sloan, July 2022

Onriva COO George Corbin, BAT technology leader Marina Bellini, and Liberty Mutual CIO James McGlennon discuss the changing role of the transformation leader and offer five focus areas for executives tasked with leading digital change: clarity, agility, risk management, ownership, and loss management.

Peter High is President of Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He has written three bestselling books, including his latest Getting to Nimble. He also moderates the Technovation podcast series and speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.


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