December 2005 Archives

Google keeps on introducing micro-services. Here's one I find very, very interesting: Blogger Web Comments for Firefox.

Despite the geek-inspired name of the service, it's another brilliant move. Here's how it works:

As you visit any given page in Firefox, a comment panel featuring blog posts linking to this page will appear on the bottom right of your browser. Clicking on any of the entries will open that blog post in a new tab. You can toggle between the compact and extended comment lists, or even hide the panel completely. To bring it back, just click the icon or the icon in the lower right corner of your browser and select "View comments." When there are lots of comments, you can click on the “Show lots more…” link, which will open a new tab in your browser with all Google Blog Search results.

Pretty nifty, ha?

Of course, to add your own comments on the page you're on, you'll need to have a Blogger account.

What it does for Google is take it one giant step further into the social-networking-wisdom-of-crowds space. And they didn't have to acquire anyone to do it.

Learn more about Google's product development process >>

Find me an honest politician, and I will spare this world. We looked everywhere, but could not find an honest politician.

I'm kidding here, but just barely.

"Abramoff is the central figure in what could become the biggest congressional corruption scandal in generations," writes the Washington Post.

And today there's another story: apparently "the U.S. Family Network, a public advocacy group that operated in the 1990s with close ties to Rep. Tom DeLay and claimed to be a nationwide grass-roots organization, was funded almost entirely by corporations linked to embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to tax records and former associates of the group."


"Two former associates of Edwin A. Buckham, the congressman's former chief of staff and the organizer of the U.S. Family Network, said Buckham told them the funds came from Russian oil and gas executives. Abramoff had been working closely with two such Russian energy executives on their Washington agenda, and the lobbyist and Buckham had helped organize a 1997 Moscow visit by DeLay (R-Tex.)."

"The former president of the U.S. Family Network said Buckham told him that Russians contributed $1 million to the group in 1998 specifically to influence DeLay's vote on legislation the International Monetary Fund needed to finance a bailout of the collapsing Russian economy."

Everyone knows how corrupt politicians are. These days, it seems worse than ever.

But now we are looking at the Enronization of Business, all business.

If competitive advantage is gained through "bribes," then why should business ever play straight?

Is corruption the core-competence of successful businesses? What happened to the rule of law?

From Exxon to Wal-mart, businesses have lost their way. In their hurry to boost shareholder value, they are destroying their brands and their future.

They are playing in Box 1 and ignoring Box 3.

So why is this happening? Why are so many smart businesses (and politicians) being so dumb?

The answer comes to us from the late Peter Drucker:

Drucker tells us this story about Alfred P. Sloan Jr. who is reported to have said at a meeting of one of the GM top committees, "Gentlemen, I take it we are all in complete agreement on the decision here." When everyone around the table nodded in assent, Sloan says: "Then I propose we postpone further discussion of this matter until our next meeting to give ourselves time to develop disagreement and perhaps gain some understanding of what the decision is all about."

Drucker's point is that "unless one has considered alternatives, one has a closed mind." Decision-making for Drucker is best only if based on the clash of conflicting views, the dialogue between different points of view, and the choice between different judgements."

The first rule of decision-making is that one does not make a decision unless there is disagreement.

Alas, few business leaders or politicians tolerate dissent in their ranks. In fact, they work hard to eliminate nay-sayers.

And that is the root cause of all this corruption. Not money, but bad choices, bad decisions. OK- perhaps it is money after all.

Where American education excels is in critical thinking, imagination, creativity and unstructured problem solving. People from India, and also China and Japan, have the basic skills drilled into them, “and when they acquire the knowledge taught at American business schools, the combination is dynamite.”

That's Vijay Govindarajan (VG) explaining how East meets West and increasingly how West will have to meet the East.

Govindarajan has taught more than 3,000 students in his 20-year career at Tuck, and he has specific advice for the area's high school students: “Learn languages, they open up your mind to different possibilities. Take courses in public speaking to build your level of confidence. Really focus on education, especially science, math and technology, and travel,” he said.

Is travel education? VG seems to think it is.

Read this article and listen to this audio interview on strategy.

Note his Box 1-2-3 freamework. According to VG, strategy is a competition for the future, not the present.

Box 1: Manage the Present
Box 2: Selectively Forget the Past
Box 3: Create the Future

Most companies are stuck in the present- Box 1. They spend their time in Box 1 and think they're doing strategy.

It's about continuous improvement (linear performance) vs. breakout performance (non-linear). Listen to his example about Hasbro- the family entertainment company. Who has time to play Monopoly for a half a day?

Again, listen to this interview. What happens when children go older younger- a non-linear shift in Hasbro's market. By focusing on the tweens- learn how Hasbro creates a whole new business with Video Now... Box-3 thinking.

Roots and chains... Fertilize your roots, but break your chains.

Nice language from VG. But how do you re-invent Monopoly?

What about Kodak? VG tells us why Nokia and HP are the biggest player in digital cameras.

How can companies succeed in strategic innovation? See Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators: From Idea to Execution >>

From The Five Dysfunctions of a Team:

Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust
Strategy for Overcoming:
• Identify and discuss individual strengths and weaknesses
• Spend considerable time in face-to-face meetings and working sessions

Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict
Strategy for Overcoming:
• Acknowledge that conflict is required for productive meetings
• Understand individual team member’s natural conflict styles, and
establish common ground rules for engaging in conflict

Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment
Strategy for Overcoming:
• Review commitments at the end of each meeting to ensure all team
members are aligned
• Adopt a “disagree and commit” mentality—make sure all team
members are committed regardless of initial disagreements

Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability
Strategy for Overcoming:
• Explicitly communicate goals and standards of behavior
• Regularly discuss performance versus goals and standards

Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results
Strategy for Overcoming:
• Keep the team focused on tangible group goals
• Reward individuals based on team goals and collective success

Makes sense, right? It's not quite so simple.

A manager in a large Fortune 500 company once gave everyone on the team (yours truly included) a copy of "Who Moved My Gouda?" as a substitute for addressing the real issues affecting performance. Was I inspired or what?

Message to management: do not go out and buy copies of a book for your team and expect to solve anything.

I think the real key to teams working well is a sense of shared purpose. Of course, results matter... which is why we all need to study the secrets of successful strategy execution >>

Just before the last US presidential election, I asked Joe Vitale to write a product press release for one of my clients. The product was a political toy- a frisbee for dogs- one for Kerry-bashers, and one for Bush-bashers.

Here's what he wrote:

Who Would Your Pet Vote For?
New Online Poll Lets Pets Decide Next US President

If you can't decide who to vote for this November, there's a better way to make a decision than flipping a coin: Let your pet decide.

"This race is going to the dogs anyway," says the three mysterious men in Arizona who created the world's first polling booth online for pets at

"We thought we would simplify the process by creating a poll where our pets can go vote," they explain.

The creators also developed a way to determine if your pet is a Republican or Democrat. There are twenty categories of statements. For example:

If your pet likes to display affection in public, it may be a Democrat. If it doesn't like to show affection, it may be a Republican.

If you pet sues incompetent vets, it may be a Democrat. If it always gets the best in vet care, it may be a Republican.

"We didn't stop with just the poll," says the creators. "If your pet wants to get out some aggression, it can get one of our chewable Frisbees and tear the heck out of it."

It's a cloth Frisbee with a caricature of either George Bush or John Kerry that has the international sign for ``no'' across the face. There's a navy-blue border with stars, and a squeak toy inside.

"People may find it comforting to chew on one, too."

Who will the pets decide should be our next President?

Watch for the results at

*** end ***

The results? In 48 hours we got 12 responses, 8 for national radio-talk shows. Part of it was the product, part of it was the "is your pet a Democrat or a Republican" angle I dreamed up, part of it was the distribution of the press release. But the most important part was the way in which Joe Vitale captured your attention with words. It was a press release that had to be read.

Copy is king. Hypnotic copy builds kingdoms.

Capturing Attention Data

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When you pay attention to something (and when you ignore something), data is created. This "attention data" is a valuable resource that reflects your interests, your activities and your values, and it serves as a proxy for your attention.

I like the model of rights:

You own your attention and can store it wherever you wish. You have CONTROL.

You can securely move your attention wherever you want whenever you want to. You have the ability to TRANSFER your attention.

You can pay attention to whomever you wish and receive value in return. Your attention has WORTH.

You can see exactly how your attention is being used. You can DECIDE who you trust.

This is what Google should have done if they were serious about their vision: "Don't Be Evil."

How do you go about getting a global mindset? That's a hot topic these days in B-school land...

Aside from learning Hindi and Mandarin and watching soccer on the spanish channel, you could read this book Managing With a Global Mindset >>

Kidding aside, the best way to get a global mindset is to travel, especially when you are young. Go East!

See as well.

If improving knowledge worker productivity is so important, why aren’t more companies doing something about it?

Tom Davenport seeks an answer in this fun post on the BabsonKnowledge blog >>

SBA Incompetence

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Doug Smith says: "Getting something -- anything -- wrong 85% of the time demands extreme "Brownie/FEMA" like incompetence -- incompetence on a scale that, seriously, shreds the use of the word 'administration'. "

In this case, he's talking about the Small Business Administration.

Apparently 85% of small businesses that got disaster recovery loans for 9/11 were not impacted by 9/11 in the first place.

Asks Smith: "Are you or anyone you know aware of any program or business or initiative that failed in its purpose and objectives 85% of the time?"

Read all about it >>

B-School's are booming in China, says BusinessWeek:

"For U.S. companies, the emergence of China's new managerial class has positive and negative implications. For those seeking to penetrate China's massive market of 1.3 billion people, the graduates of the nation's new MBA programs will supply a steady stream of local talent with in-depth knowledge of China, something their Western managers can't provide. But as Western management ideas take root in the nation's corner offices, multinationals could find themselves confronting a newly powerful adversary: Chinese companies suddenly in possession of the management knowhow needed to go head to head with global giants. Those same ideas -- about efficiency, productivity, profitability, and growth -- hold vast potential to ignite China's already blistering economy, raise living standards, and transform the nation from a low-cost manufacturing center to a make-or-break battleground for the global economy."

Read the full article: China's B-School Boom

Is this the MBA Blowback? Read JH3 and JSB's paper on "Innovation Blowback" to see where I'm coming from.

By contrast, in a BW article earlier this year, here's what they reported about US B-Schools:

"In 2005, just 19% of full-time programs in the U.S. reported an increase in application volume, down from 21% in 2004 and 84% in 2002, when applications reached an all-time high."

The news for US B-schools just keeps getting worse. A study from the Graduate Management Admission Council shows applications to full-time U.S. MBA programs down for the third consecutive year.

A tale of two empires? One going up, one down? Or is the world just getting flatter?

Here are a few things the staff of BusinessWeek and BusinessWeek Online think will happen next year -- or at least could happen. See if you agree:

• The economy, which is expected to show 3.7% growth when the final numbers for 2005 are in, will continue to grow at around 3.3% through the end of 2006. The jobless rate should also edge down by yearend 2006 to 4.9% from 5% now.

• A year from now, the Dow Jones industrial average, now trading in the 10,800 range, will be around 11,500, as inflation remains in check, corporations keep spending on technology equipment and on mergers, and earnings rise at a slower but sustained pace. The wild cards: Higher energy price or a slumping housing market could make the markets volatile.

• The Federal Reserve will lift its target rate to 4.75% by spring, up from 4% now, but that will be it for rate tightening in 2006. The yield on a 10-year Treasury note will rise to 5%, from about 4.5% now, by yearend 2006.

• Oil prices, still in the $60-a-barrel range, will fall below $55 by yearend 2006.

• The housing bubble will develop a slow leak, but no pop. Mortgage interest rates will continue to slowly creep up, and some valuations in major cities will drop slightly (see BW, 12/26/05, "Where to Invest").

• Germany will regain its status as Europe's growth locomotive next year, chalking up a GDP rate of 2% or better, vs an expected 0.9% for 2005. Tops for 2005: Spain with 3.4%, followed by Britain (1.6%) and France (1.5%) (see BW Online, 12/28/05, "A Better Tomorrow for the EU").

• China will revalue the yuan up by an additional 5%, after the modest 2.1% revaluation in July, in a gesture to appease U.S. trade hawks.

• India will move beyond outsourcing software and systems management into realms such as medical design.

• The New Rich of India and China will continue to develop a taste for building homes in "McMansion" styles reflecting their own distinctive national architectural tastes.

• Conservative Shinzo Abe will replace Junichiro Koizumi as Japan's Prime Minister when Koizumi's term as LDP President expires in September, 2006 (see BW Online, 9/14/05, "The Man to Watch in Japan").

• In a gesture toward cultural modernization, recently crowned King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia will grant the Kingdom's women the right to drive on Saudi highways.

• Surprise move by Apple (AAPL ) next year: Steve Jobs & Co. will introduce a computer that brings music, video, and games into a seamless digital entertainment unit for living rooms. It will prove to be a hit, but not quite another iPod (see BW Online, 12/29/05, "A Tough Act to Follow").

• Surprise deal of 2006: Google will acquire Vonage (see BW Online, 12/28/05, "10 Deals the New Year Might Bring").

• Faced with rapidly emerging economies in China, India, and Eastern Europe, America's top B-schools will be forced to come up with ways to weave global issues into their traditional coursework. International studies will become mandatory at the best schools (see BW, 1/9/06, "China's B-School Boom").

• By the end of 2006, a full line of Jim Cramer toys and action figures will be available for sale on the Internet (see BW, 10/31/05, "The Mad Man Of Wall Street" ).

• The New England Patriots will shock the football world and win their third Super Bowl next month.

• The Anaheim Angels will win the 2006 World Series.

Let's track these predictions, shall we?

Here are some highlights from a new report from Pew Internet and American Life which shows how men's and women’s use of the internet has changed over time.

The percentage of women using the internet still lags slightly behind the percentage of men. Women under 30 and black women outpace their male peers. However, older women trail dramatically behind older men.

Men are slightly more intense internet users than women. Men log on more often, spend more time online, and are more likely to be broadband users.

In most categories of internet activity, more men than women are participants, but women are catching up.

More than men, women are enthusiastic online communicators, and they use email in a more robust way. Women are more likely than men to use email to write to friends and family about a variety of topics: sharing news and worries, planning events, forwarding jokes and funny stories. Women are more likely to feel satisfied with the role email plays in their lives, especially when it comes to nurturing their relationships. And women include a wider range of topics and activities in their personal emails. Men use email more than women to communicate with various kinds of organizations.

More online men than women perform online transactions. Men and women are equally likely to use the internet to buy products and take part in online banking, but men are more likely to use the internet to pay bills, participate in auctions, trade stocks and bonds, and pay for digital content.

Men are more avid consumers than women of online information. Men look for information on a wider variety of topics and issues than women do.

Men are more likely than women to use the internet as a destination for recreation. Men are more likely to: gather material for their hobbies, read online for pleasure, take informal classes, participate in sports fantasy leagues, download music and videos, remix files, and listen to radio.

Men are more interested than women in technology, and they are also more tech savvy.

Still, the data shows that men and women are more similar than different in their online lives, starting with their common appreciation of the internet’s strongest suit: efficiency. Both men and women approach with gusto online transactions that simplify their lives by saving time on such mundane tasks as buying tickets or paying bills.

Men and women also value the internet for a second strength, as a gateway to limitless vaults of information. Men reach farther and wider for topics, from getting financial information to political news. Along the way, they work search engines more aggressively, using engines more often and with more confidence than women.

Women are more likely to see the vast array of online information as a “glut” and to penetrate deeper into areas where they have the greatest interest, including health and religion. Women tend to treat information gathering online as a more textured and interactive process – one that includes gathering and exchanging information through support groups and personal email exchanges.

Read the complete report here >>

Back in 2001, the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported that:

"Some 84% of Internet users have at one time or another contacted an online group. Tens of millions of Americans have joined communities after discovering them online. And many are using the Internet to join and participate in longstanding, traditional groups such as professional and trade associations. Furthermore, many Americans are using the Internet to intensify their connection to their local community."

That was before the blogosphere took off. I wonder what it's like now? If anyone has some data on this, please share if possible!

Read the full report here >>

Several online merchants reported record sales during the holiday shopping season, including online retail giant, which said popular items were iPod music players, video games, coats and jewelry.

Amazon said it had its best holiday sales season ever, with more than 108 million items ordered. The busiest day for the world's largest online store was Monday, Dec. 12, when more than 3.6 million items were ordered, or 41 items per second. The most expensive item purchased during the period was a pair of diamond earrings worth $94,000.

A study from Nielsen/NetRatings, Goldman Sachs and Harris Interactive found that between Oct. 29 and Dec. 16 holiday online retail spending reached $25 billion, a 25 percent increase from the same period last year. Shoppers spent the most on clothing, followed by computers and hardware, consumer electronics, books and toys, and video games, the study found.

Read all about it >>

Says Dunk:

"The world of broken systems is also a world of broken communication where citizens will have to be ingenious beyond belief to fight entropy. Broken systems turn ordinary citizens into guerilla fighters."

Read Dunk's brilliant "letter" here >>

Better yet, subscribe:

Simply send an email to Leave the subject field and the body of the email blank. You will automatically be subscribed to the Global Province.

Here's a quick look at a slice of Christensen's book- Seeing What's Next.

According to Christensen, the more interesting scenarios occur when there are asymmetries—important differences of motivation or skills. Asymmetries of motivation occur when one firm wants to do something that another firm specifically does not want to do. Asymmetries of skills occur when one firm's strength is another firm's weakness.

In this excerpt, he discusses three topics:

1. How asymmetries power the process of disruption
2. How to identify the company with the shield of asymmetric motivation and the sword of asymmetric skills on its side
3. How to identify circumstances in which a high-potential disruptive development will prove disappointing, ending in either a brutal fight or incumbent co-option

See also my archived interview with Clayton Christensen.

Thumbing through my "moth-eaten" (I use the phrase in jest) September 2004 issue of the Harvard Business Review, I stumbled across an article which made me raise my eyebrows.

The article makes the case that companies routinely squander their most valuable resource - the time of their top executives.

What was interesting about the article was the actual breakdown of how top management spends its time together in meetings.

The data was collected across 187 countries in a joint study by The Economist Intelligence Unit and a consulting company. Here's what they found: out of the total time available for senior management meetings - 250 hours per year - managers spend on average:

62 hours on operating performance reviews
27 hours on crises of the moment
22 hours on administrative issues and policy
22 hours on workforce issues
18 hours on corporate governance
14 hours on financial policy
12 hours on investor communications and guidance
11 hours on team building
10 hours on succession planning
6 hours on litigation
6 hours on community service and social responsibility
3 hours on "other"

The total "nonstrategic" time per year is 213 (out of 250). Which means that in any given year, only 15% of meeting time is available for strategic issues. That's 3 hours a month left for critical activities like strategy development and approval - at best.

And worst of all, they didn't even mention golf!

One of these company's got their strategy right, the other was not so lucky. Of course, it wasn't luck...

Read this MercerMC commentary on strategic planning >>

"When answering the android's questions...Japanese subjects were much more likely to look it in the eye than they were a real person."

The Economist highlights the agenda behind Japan's race to perfect their robots:

"Many workers from low-wage countries are eager to work in Japan. The Philippines, for example, has over 350,000 trained nurses, and has been pleading with Japan—which accepts only a token few—to let more in. Foreign pundits keep telling Japan to do itself a favour and make better use of cheap imported labour. But the consensus among Japanese is that visions of a future in which immigrant workers live harmoniously and unobtrusively in Japan are pure fancy. Making humanoid robots is clearly the simple and practical way to go."

Ouch. Read the article here >.

Bethlehem: Walled and Silent

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From the Voice of America:

"Every year at this time, Christians around the world turn their attention to Bethlehem, a small city in the West Bank, where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus was born. Christians have lived in Bethlehem for centuries, but now many are leaving. A bloody Palestinian uprising and the construction of a massive security barrier around the city mean the Christmas spirit is quickly disappearing."

How still we see thee lie...

From BusinessWeek: See how the world's largest online retailer ensures that gifts get delivered on one of the busiest shopping -- and shipping -- days of the year.

Here >>

In 2005, we have 125 journalists sitting in jail (that we know of).

China, Cuba, Eritrea, and Ethiopia are the world's leading jailers of journalists in 2005, together accounting for two-thirds of the 125 editors, writers, and photojournalists imprisoned around the world, according to a new analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The United States, which is holding journalists in detention centers in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, rose to sixth among countries jailing journalists, just behind Uzbekistan and tied with Burma, CPJ found.

Is this a good way to measure democracy?

See the numbers here >>

Sales of organic food and drink have almost doubled to more than £1 billion in just five years, reveals a new report.

The organic market has mushroomed in value by 94 per cent between 2000 and 2005 to reach £1.2 billion this year, say consumer analysts Mintel. And they tip the blossoming organic sector to double in value again in just five years to be worth £2 billion by the year 2010.

Now - with organic products championed by TV chefs including Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein - just one-in-three (29 per cent) of British adults say that they never buy organic, down from some 37 per cent just two years ago.

The research also found that organic goods can no longer be seen as the preserve of affluent "foodies."

Julie Sloan, Mintel's senior market analyst, said: "Among those who have bought organic produce in the last 12 months, there is in fact surprisingly little difference between the better off ABs and those in the middle income C1 group."

Go there to

The Draw: World Cup 2006

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Print this out and stick it in your wallet. My predictions are in bold :-)

Costa Rica

Trinidad & Tobago

Ivory Coast
Serbia & Montenegro


Czech Republic


South Korea

Saudi Arabia

Virtue is now, packaged, branded and sold.

America's most successful churches are modelling themselves on businesses, says the Economist.

Is this Peter Drucker's fault? He was good friends and a strategic advisor to Rick Warren, for example...

Tough decision: join your tennis-&-golf-club OR the church-club...? What would Jesus do?

Most Admired CEOs for 2005

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Burson-Marsteller and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report on the "most admired" CEOs for 2005.
The 2005 CEO Capital™ study asked more than 600 global business influentials in 65 countries to write in which CEO or chairman they admire most in the business world today.

Result? Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and chief software architect, came out as the world’s most admired business leader. The CEO/chairman rankings appear below.

format: Rank CEO/Chairman Company Country

1 Bill Gates Microsoft U.S.

2 Steve Jobs Apple U.S.

3 Warren Buffett Berkshire Hathaway U.S.

4 Michael Dell Dell U.S.

5 Richard Branson Virgin Group U.K.

6 John Browne BP U.K.

7 Carlos Gohsn Nissan Motor & Renault Japan/France

8 N.R. Narayana Murthy Infosys Technologies India

9 Jeffrey Immelt General Electric U.S.

10 Rupert Murdoch News Corporation Australia

11 John Bond HSBC Holdings U.K.

12 John Chambers Cisco Systems U.S.

13 Jorma Ollila Nokia Finland

14 Terry Leahy Tesco U.K.

15 Lakshmi Mittal Mittal Steel Netherlands

Several interesting characteristics about the world's top 15 most admired leaders surfaced:

1. Despite the predominance of American companies among the top four most admired leaders, more than half (nine of 15 or 60 percent) represent other regions -- UK (4), Finland (1), Netherlands (1), Japan/France (1), India (1) and Australia (1).
2. Eight of the top 15 leaders (53 percent) are company founders.
3. All of the global most admired are insider CEOs (CEOs who have been with the same company for three years or more).
4. No female CEOs or chairmen were chosen.

Hmmm... I wonder how many of these CEOs will mess up in 2006? I can't say I think any of them will. But Gates has the potential to lose big in the next three years.

My vote goes to Ricardo Semler. And keep an eye out for Eric Schmidt!

In an interview in Business 2.0, Google's CEO explains the magic behind Google's success: 70/20/10.

What is 70/20/10? It's how they spend their time at Google:

- 70 percent on the CORE BUSINESS (AdSense, AdWords, Google Search)
- 20 percent on RELATED PROJECTS (Froogle, Google Desktop, Google Local, Google News, Google Print, Google Stocks, Google Toolbar, Google Video)
- 10 percent on NEW BUSINESSES (Blogger, Google Mini, Google Movies, Google Reader, Google Talk, Google Wi-Fi, Picasa)

Here's how Schmidt describes it:

" it works for management: We spend 70 percent of our time on core search and ads. We spend 20 percent on adjacent businesses, ones related to the core businesses in some interesting way. Examples of that would be Google News, Google Earth, and Google Local. And then 10 percent of our time should be on things that are truly new. An example there would be the Wi-Fi initiative -- which I haven’t kept up with myself. God knows what they’ve done in the last week. I’ve been too busy on core search and ads."

There are some more interesting things in the article. Read it here >>

For more on the Google R&D process, read my post: Google's Product Development & Management Process Revealed >>

The legal profession in the US is about to be turned upside down. With American lawyers costing $300 an hour or more, Indian firms can cut bills by 75%.

Can't be done? Don't be sure- we've already outsourced our engineers, now it's time for the lawyers. Like the engineering and construction firms before them, the big law firms will view this as a cost-cutting, "competitive" move.

See this article in the Economist >>

Oh, almost forgot, do you want fries with that?

Interesting set of articles in the latest Knowledge@Wharton. I was struck by this one: "One Road to Japan's Recovery Lies through China."

Wharton management professor John Paul MacDuffie outlines a Japanese theory that describes two major approaches to product architecture: modular and integral. An example of the modular approach to producing a personal computer would have each component designed and manufactured separately in plants around the world. "The integral approach is when all the individual pieces are designed together with [a high degree] of communication and simultaneous engineering." He says Japan appears to excel at the more integrated approach, while the United States is more modular.

Following this theory, Japan should concentrate on products that benefit most from an integral approach, including automobiles. "Another example is video games," says MacDuffie. "Unlike other kinds of software, the development of the story, the visuals and the music all have to be done in an integral fashion to end up with a game where everything works and the experience is also satisfying."

Another professor - Adrian Tschoegl - concludes that "pretty soon, in the next two generations, most of the good ideas will come out of China and India."

Read the article here >>

Business 2.0 does a nice job of executive soundbites:

Surround Yourself With People Smarter Than You
Chris Albrecht, CEO, Home Box Office
George Steinbrenner, owner, New York Yankees

Remember Who You Are, Not What
Brad Anderson, vice chairman and CEO, Best Buy

Make Hiring a Top Priority
Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft

If You Think You Can't, You're Right
Carol Bartz, CEO, Autodesk

Make Your Customers Your Sales Force
Marc Benioff, CEO,

Reinvent Yourself. Repeat.
Alex Bogusky, executive creative director, Crispin Porter & Bogusky

When People Scr*w Up, Give Them a Second Chance
Richard Branson, founder and chairman, Virgin Group

Check With the Wife
Po Bronson, author, The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest and What Should I Do With My Life?

There Can't Be Two Yous
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

The Customer Should Always Be Happy
John Chambers, CEO, Cisco Systems

Don't Be Interesting -- Be Interested
Jim Collins, management consultant; author, Built to Last and Good to Great

He Who Says It, Does It
Simon Cooper, president and COO, Ritz-Carlton

Treat your customers like they own you, because they do.
Mark Cuban, co-founder, HDNet; owner, Dallas Mavericks

and more...

I just got an email from; apparently the website is free again:

"After careful consideration and dialogue with our readers, we have decided to once again make a completely free website. All current and archived content, including Buyer's Guides, CFO magazine archives, Today in Finance, and more, is available to everyone at no charge."

I could be mean and say their content wasn't good enough, but instead I'll say- "Welcome back to the advertising business-model!"

Cartoon: The Judas Economy

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A landmark moment occurred this week in the cola wars. The value of Pepsi's stock now exceeds that of arch-rival Coke. Scott Simon and New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera discuss the development in this NPR podcast.

Three years ago, strategy guru John Hagel was urging Time-Warner to:

- Divest the distribution business and retain the content business.
- Create audience segment business units to address specific audiences that are economically attractive and fit with some of Time Warner’s existing properties - some natural examples: business executives, sports enthusiasts and teen-agers.
- Assign content businesses to report to specific audience segment business units (e.g., Sports Illustrated would report to the sports enthusiast business unit) or establish content production businesses as shared services units (e.g., Warner Brothers movie studio) to support the targeted audience segments
- Build distinctive overarching audience-centric media brands aggressively
- Invest in businesses and skill sets to deepen database marketing capabilities
- Acquire businesses selectively to broaden share of attention and share of wallet within targeted audience segments and develop licensing relationships to access an even broader range of relevant resources to serve target audience segments.

Read his latest blog post on the topic >>

Eric von Hippel is the Professor of Management and Head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at MIT's Sloan School of Management. Here's a downloadable video of his April 2005 lecture on "Democratizing Innovation."

What's it all about? From the description:

"If you have ever come up with a work-around or improvement for a balky product only to find that it performs better than the original, you are not alone. Eric von Hippel proffers multiple examples where an ordinary user, frustrated or even desperate, solves a problem through innovation. His research found innovative users playing with all manner of product: mountain bikes, library IT systems, agricultural irrigation, and scientific instruments. Often, manufacturers keep at arm’s length from these inventions. He describes the Lego company “standing like a deer in headlights” when technologically adept adults discovered they could design their own sophisticated Lego robots. User communities arise, freely communicate with each other, advance ideas and sometimes even “drive the manufacturer out of product design,” according to von Hippel. This widely distributed inventing bug is a good trend, believes von Hippel, because users “tend to make things that are functionally novel.” Not only is it “freeing for individuals” but it also creates a “free commons” of product ideas, parallel to the more restrictive world of intellectual property governed by less creative manufacturers."

And here's his downloadable book: Democratizing Innovation >>

Laurence Prusak ["Lorenzo"] told me recently he's studying the "democratization of knowledge." I'm going to tell him to look at the "democratization of media" as well.

He can start by checking out Mark Cuban's blog. Cuban's had two run-ins with the NYTimes, and both times the reporters have chosen to mischaracterize Cuban. Well, the "blog-maverick" doesn't take this lying down; instead, he just blogs about it here and here.

Finally, he asks: "NYTimes Sunday Business or Bloggers. Who has higher standards?"

Another step in the slow march towards the "democratization of media" ? I think so.

Unfortunately, the news media in the US is a joke. See my previous posts:

- Fantasy News: The Great Uncyclopedia
- Small Business Offshoring about the WSJ
- Koppel Steps Down: The End for Nightline?

The business of news is business. They're not interested in the truth. Leave it to the poets to go after the truth. See Harold Pinter's Nobel Lecture: The Pen Against the Sword. And of course, we're going to ban the poets from the Republic (following Plato's advice). Did you know that Gabriel Garcia Marquez isn't allowed to step on US soil? Bet you Harold Pinter won't be given a visa either.

Mark Cuban is a foot soldier for a bigger cause than he realizes. He's fighting to preserve integrity and, in the bigger picture, democracy.

Doug Smith, the author of On Value and Values posted this alarming news on his blog today:

"...two professors at UMass told their local newspaper about a student of theirs who "was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book... The student, who was completing a research paper on ... fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security."

Smith contrasts the attitudes of Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin with our very own King George. A great post. Read it here >>

"You can probably stitch together our plan from the moves we've made, the acquisitions we've made, the products we've put out to market," says Bradley Horowitz, Yahoo's senior director of technology development.

That plan: to try and make social search the next stage in the evolution of search engines.

First Yahoo bought photo-sharing site Flickr, and now it has snapped up bookmarking phenomenon Delicious. Why is Yahoo investing so heavily in the social networking stars of Web 2.0? And why team up with Six Apart to offer blog hosting?

"the real point seems to be the building of an innovative culture that can widen Yahoo's lens."

Read all about it in the Guardian

I still think this is true, only now it applies to business as well...

Anger and Work

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This is not new news. But it still applies.

According to Donald Gibson of Fairfield University and Sigal Barsade of Yale University, one out of four employees is substantially angry at work. Their study "The Experience of Anger at Work: Lessons from the Chronically Angry," indicates most workers are not so angry that they're ready to cause the boss physical harm, but they are angry enough to sabotage him.

Why are employees angry at work? The most common cause of anger at work -- cited by 11 percent of the survey respondents -- was the actions of supervisors or managers.

Here are some "root-causes":

- Employee was promised a raise, promotion or important project, and it did not happen.

- Employee was told to do something he felt was wrong or incorrect.

- Employee could not live up to a supervisor's expectations, because the expectations were too high or continuously changing.

- Supervisor was a micromanager and criticized employee frequently.

- Employee felt better qualified and skilled than his supervisor.

- Another employee doing the same job made more money.

Take a few minutes. Take a deep breath. What two or three steps can you take today to make things better around you?

Next time you go to the store and they ask you for your phone number when you're checking out, just say "NO."

Here's an ABC News article to shed some light on the mess we're in.

"The various data companies are trying to acclimate people to invasions of privacy. It started with the zip code and now it's moved on to phone numbers," said Chris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in San Francisco. "I'm willing to bet that retailers' market research is showing a willingness of customers to share the telephone number, and that's why it's happening."

It could open a person up to telemarketing -- even if they are on the federal "do not call" registry. According to Hoofnagle, giving a phone number while making a purchase may establish a business relationship, and companies can call individuals on the "do not call" list with whom they have prior business relationships.

Susan McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for Toys R Us Inc., said its stores have asked for phone numbers for several years. She believes most customers have no problem voluntarily giving their numbers at the register — though it's "no problem at all" if they decline. "It's so we can send you offers, coupons, et cetera, and we don't sell it to third parties," she said. "I'd say the majority of people like getting coupons."

The ToysRUs people just upset me. Next time they ask for a number, give them: 1-800-869-7787. That's their "guest" line.

And don't look to the government for help with privacy. They're busy spying on you.

Richard Mc Manus has a great post on Web 2.0 highlights in 2005:

- Bloglines acquisition by Ask Jeeves and weblogsinc sale to AOL
- Amazon's innovations- the Mechanical Turk and Alexa web services
- Microsoft embracing RSS (I'm not impressed with SSE, however)
- Asynchronous JavaScript + XML or AJAX
- Memeoradum and
- Googlebase
- Yahoo acquires Flickr and
- eBay buys Skype
- Microsoft's wakeup to software as a service (see leaked memo here)
- Web 2.0 Conference
- iTunes support of podcasting
- HousingMaps
- Tsunami-help blogs

Read the post here, and add your own highlights to the list!

The answer to your problem lies outside your company. Why? Because there are more smart people outside your company than in it.

That's the premise behind InnoCentive, a web-based community matching top scientists to relevant R&D challenges facing leading companies from around the globe.

Here's how it works:

- Companies contract with InnoCentive as "Seekers" to post R&D challenges to the Innocentive web site

- Each Challenge includes a detailed description and requirements, a deadline, and an award amount for the best solution.

- Award amounts are determined by the Seeker and range from $10,000 to $100,000. You can view the list of previous award recipients here.

- The name of the Seeker company posting the Challenge remains confidential and secure.

- Scientists worldwide are eligible to register on the web site as "Solvers."

- Anyone may view summaries of Challenges at But to view detailed descriptions and actually work on challenges, registration is required.

- To register as a Solver, scientists fill out a short online form, select a username and password, and log in.

- InnoCentive has registered scientists from over 170 countries around the world.

How about that for open source innovation? Vist the site >>

Cartoon: Health Care Reform

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from the archives:

Back in November I blogged about one of my early heroes when I first got interested in business- Ricardo Semler. Now I'm happy to see a wonderful article about Semler and his management style in S+B.

Grupo Semco, as I mentioned earlier today, is the company that's had 14 straight years of double-digit growth.

Semler has literally turned our current understanding of management on its head. He has taken the philosophies of Deming ("management is the problem") and Drucker ("dedicated employees are the key to success of any corporation") seriously and implemented them in a way that no one dreamed possible.

Drucker's main thesis, as the Motley Fool opines, was "that workers were no longer interchangeable units of production. Instead, they needed to have some level of independence, which Drucker deemed critical for a company's growth. He saw employees as "knowledge workers." Take that to the extreme, and you get Semco.

Here's what Charles Handy has to say:

“I just wish that more people believed him,” laments Charles Handy, the British management guru and social philosopher. “Admiring though many are, few have tried to copy him. The way he works — letting his employees choose what they do, where and when they do it, and even how they get paid — is too upside-down for most managers. But it certainly seems to work for Ricardo.”

Also from the S+B article:

"Semco’s 3,000 employees set their own work hours and pay levels. Subordinates hire and review their supervisors. Hammocks are scattered about the grounds for afternoon naps, and employees are encouraged to spend Monday morning at the beach if they spent Saturday afternoon at the office. There are no organization charts, no five-year plans, no corporate values statement, no dress code, and no written rules or policy statements beyond a brief “Survival Manual,” in comic-book form, that introduces new hires to Semco’s unusual ways. The employees elect the corporate leadership and initiate most of Semco’s moves into new businesses and out of old ones. Of the 3,000 votes at the company, Ricardo Semler has just one.

"In Mr. Semler’s mind, such self-governance is not some softhearted form of altruism, but rather the best way to build an organization that is flexible and resilient enough to flourish in turbulent times. He argues that this model enabled Semco to survive not only his own near-death experience, but also the gyrations of Brazil’s tortured politics and twisted economy. During his 23-year tenure, the country’s leadership has swung from right-wing dictators to the current left-wing populists, and its economy has spun from rapid growth to deep recession. Brazilian banks have failed and countless companies have collapsed, but Semco lives on."

I remember an article by Rajat Gupta years ago in which he wrote about the irony of businesses in democratic countries. They were all run as totalitarian regimes! At the time, I thought- surely there must be companies that run on the principles of democracy (tells you how naive I was). Now Ricardo Semler changes the world of business forever.

I tell you, this is not a flash in the pan. Semler has uncovered the secret to sustainable business, and if you read Maverick : The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace or The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works you'll agree that something more spectacular than futbol has emerged from Brasil, er, Brazil.

Read the S+B article here. Keep your eyes open- eg. Semco does not, repeat not, have an HR department. Note also Semler's non-profit work and his eco-resort idea.

More fun:

- a case study from Steel Case on Semco's workplace design.

- a somewhat dusty case study from Thunderbird on Semco

- the Wikipedia entry on Ricardo Semler and Workplace Democracy

- the official Semco Management Model:

1. Be a serious and trusted company
2. Value honesty and transparency over momentary interests
3. Search for the balance between long term and short term profit
4. Offer fair prices for our products and services and be the best in the market
5. Provide diversified services to clients, putting our responsibilities before profit
6. Stimulate creativity, prizing people who take risks
7. Incentivize participation, and question decisions imposed from the top down
8. Preserve an informal environment with professionalism and without preconception
9. Maintain safe working conditions and control the industrial process to protect the environment
10. Be humble and recognize mistakes, knowing that there is always room for improvement

- Chapter one from Semler's book- The Seven-Day Weekend

- 'Idleness is good' in the Guardian

- Ricardo Semler's Transformation at Semco by the folks at Imaginization

- Lessons from Semco on Structure, Growth and Change by Wally Bock

- transcript of a CNN interview with Semler

Fun quote:

"Semco has no official structure. It has no organizational chart. There's no business plan or company strategy, no two-year or five-year plan, no goal or mission statement, no long-term budget. The company often does not have a fixed CEO. There are no vice presidents or chief officers for information technology or operations. There are no standards or practices. There's no human resources department. There are no career plans, no job descriptions or employee contracts. No one approves reports or expense accounts. Supervision or monitoring of workers is rare indeed... Most important, success is not measured only in profit and growth." - Ricardo Semler

Findings from a very interesting study on RSS advertising by Pheedo:

- Standalone RSS ads are far more successful than inline ads
- Placing RSS ads in every other post yields the highest percentage of click throughs
- RSS content CTR varies significantly based on day of the week
- Mid-week readership of RSS feeds highest
- RSS ads are outperforming similar Web ads
[standalone RSS ads= average CTR of 7.99% versus 20% to 1.17% CTR for rich-media ads]
- Bloglines leads RSS readers in market share

I must say I'm impressed by Pheedo.

Here are the details on their research.

The CFO View of IT

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Says CFO magazine:

"The tightening of IT purse strings that followed the dot-com collapse forced most companies' finance and IT departments to collaborate as they never had before, a trend that gained further momentum when Sarbanes-Oxley came along. One result, many predicted, would be a more formal and confidence-inspiring assessment of the value of IT investments, as finance contributed the analytical acumen that IT lacked. But rigor appears to be turning to rigor mortis; companies seem less satisfied that IT investments are producing the expected returns, and a number seem to be abandoning formal approaches altogether. Nor does it look like Sarbanes-Oxley is having the unifying effect that last year's survey found, as the percentage who say the act has brought the two functions together declined from almost half last year to just over a third this year.

"Despite that, CFOs are in some ways surprisingly bullish on IT. More CFOs this year than last say they regard IT as strategic rather than as a utility, and spending plans are up this year compared with the same period last year. Our 2004 survey found that 16 percent of respondents said they planned to cut IT spending in the ensuing 12 months; this year that figure dropped to 10 percent, while those planning to increase IT budgets rose from 62 percent of respondents last year to 65 percent this year."

Read the article.

CFOs do have their hands full. In many ways it is the CFO's office that determines the agility and competitiveness of a company. How fast can the CFO make a decision? How centralized is that decision-making process? What's your Return-on-CFOs?

Later today I'll post an example of a company that's totally changed the way it governs and has succeeded beyond all expectations. I have been tracking this company since 1995, and they have 14 straight years of double-digit growth. Hint: the company is Brazilian.

Coming soon in Ben Hammersley's new book: "Octet: The Eight Big Ideas You Need to Understand in the 21st Century"

1. Information wants to be free (vs. copyright).
2. Zero distance (vs. borders).
3. Mass amateurisation (vs.censorship).
4. More is much more. (vs. network blocking).
5. True names (vs. identity cards & databases).
6. Viral behaviour (vs. more network blocking).
7. Everything is personal (vs. everything is trackable).
8. Ubiquitous computing (no privacy).

Hat-tip to Hugh at

From a back issue of Harvard Design Magazine:

Environmental prophets come in four types: the hysterics, who warn of the apocalypse, the assuagers, who adhere to hope, the disclaimers, who see no dire threat, and the fatalists, who see the future as steady, unavoidable, irreversible decline.

The first three types, the hysterics, the assuagers, and the disclaimers, dominate current discourse. Their views make for more effective hype for whatever public media share their political allegiances. The view of the fatalists is least palatable to society in general and the media in particular, which are thriving on a mix of fear and hope. In the absence of the fatalists, all kinds of compromises are considered able to promote sustainability, from the Kyoto Protocol to emissions trading to Smart Growth. Yet even their proponents admit that these measures cannot stop, let alone reverse, global climate change.

The reason for this is as plain as it is simple. The change in global climate is not caused by financial or technological factors alone and will not be solved just through financial or technological solutions. Global climate change results from the realities of Western, post-industrialist, capitalist culture. It is embedded in unsustainable lifestyles.

Also in the same article >>

The five material principles for a sustainable architecture:

1. Build less. Frei Otto wrote: “To build in a sustainable way means not to build at all.”(2) The replacement of existing built fabric cannot be the long-term goal of any society.

2. Everything built should be given as long a life expectancy as possible.

3. Reuse and recycling of material should be maximized.

4. Non-recyclable materials should be not be used in buildings.

5. Anything that is built should be retained, sustained, and maintained.

Read the article by Wilfried Wang.

Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) researcher Martin Nweeia, DMD, DDS, answers a marine science question that has eluded the scientific community for hundreds of years: why does the narwhal, or "unicorn," whale have an 8-foot-long tooth emerging from its head, and what is its function?

The narwhal has a tooth, or tusk, which emerges from the left side of the upper jaw and is an evolutionary mystery that defies many of the known principles of mammalian teeth. The tooth's unique spiral, the degree of its asymmetry to the left side, and its odd distribution among most males and some females are all unique expressions of teeth in mammals. The narwhal is usually 13 to 15 feet in length and weighs between 2,200 and 3,500 pounds. Its natural habitat is the Atlantic portion of the Arctic Ocean, concentrating in the Canadian High Arctic: Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, and northern Hudson Bay. It is also found in less numbers in the Greenland Sea, extending to Svalbard to Severnaya Zemlya off the coast of Russia.

Nweeia has discovered that the narwhal's tooth has hydrodynamic sensor capabilities. Ten million tiny nerve connections tunnel their way from the central nerve of the narwhal tusk to its outer surface. Though seemingly rigid and hard, the tusk is like a membrane with an extremely sensitive surface, capable of detecting changes in water temperature, pressure, and particle gradients. Because these whales can detect particle gradients in water, they are capable of discerning the salinity of the water, which could help them survive in their Arctic ice environment. It also allows the whales to detect water particles characteristic of the fish that constitute their diet. There is no comparison in nature and certainly none more unique in tooth form, expression, and functional adaptation.

"Why would a tusk break the rules of normal development by expressing millions of sensory pathways that connect its nervous system to the frigid arctic environment?" says Nweeia. "Such a finding is startling and indeed surprised all of us who discovered it." Nweeia collaborated on this project with Frederick Eichmiller, DDS, director of the Paffenbarger Research Center at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and James Mead, PhD, curator of Marine Mammals at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution.

Nweeia studied the whales during four trips to the Canadian High Arctic. In the past, many theories have been presented to explain the tooth's purpose and function, none of which have been accepted as definitive. One of the most common is that the tooth is used to display aggression between males, who joust with each other for social hierarchy. Another is that the tooth is a secondary sexual characteristic, like a peacock's feathers or a lion's mane.

Nweeia's findings point to a new direction of scientific investigation. Fewer than 250 papers have been published about the narwhal, and many offer conflicting results. Because of its Arctic habitat and protected status in Canada, the whale is difficult to study. Nweeia has brought together leaders from the fields of marine mammal science, dental medicine, engineering, mathematics, evolutionary biology, anatomy, and histology.

The sensory connections discovered by Nweeia and his colleagues also are capable of tactile ability. Narwhals are known for their "tusking" behavior, when males rub tusks. Because of the tactile sensory ability of the tusk surface, the whales are likely experiencing a unique sensation.

Results from the team's research already has practical applications; studies about the physical makeup of the tusk, which is both strong and flexible, provide insight into ways of improving restorative dental materials. (An 8-foot-long tooth can yield one foot in any direction without breaking). Nweeia also leads the Narwhal Tooth Expeditions and Research Investigation, founded in 2000, which combines scientific experts with Inuit elders, who have collected notes for hundreds of years, to discover the purpose and function of the narwhal tusk.

"Now that we know the sensory capabilities of the tusk, we can design new experiments to describe some of the unique and unexplained behaviors of this elusive and extraordinary whale," said Nweeia.

Sense outta NonSense

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Brand structure establishes the shape of how a company and its operating units and brands communicate...

also from Sense - page 9. Did I say it was brilliant?

From Lippincott Mercer:

How structural equation modeling helps drive decision-making at a theme park
[click on image to enlarge]

see page 17 from this brilliant issue of Sense.

Monica (my sister) recently told me about this interesting experience she had with Starbucks. I told her to write about it for my blog.

What struck me about her experience was how different it was with one that I had with Petsmart. I'll tell you about that after she tells her story which, btw, happened in San Francisco:

Starbucks wins… today

I left my wallet at home today and didn’t have the
time or inclination to drive all the way back home and
pay an extra 18 bucks to repark so I could go get it.
By 2pm my stomach started growling in protest.

When I realized my wallet was at home that morning I
started thinking about my options. I had my checkbook
with me, but hardly anyone will cash one without ID
(yes, in my wallet). I don’t think you can get money
from an ATM without a card…yet. And, although someone
only suggested it after the fact, I didn’t really
think calling Visa or MC for a money transfer was
worth it. I have no idea what that involves but it
just sounds complicated. I may be forgetful but I’m
also lazy.

When I stopped by the Starbucks just down the street
by my office though, I picked up a Starbucks gift card
(with no money on it) because I was starting to form a
little idea in my head. Any yes, I bought a latte and
a morning bun with a few bucks I borrowed from a
coworker…but I just hate borrowing money from anyone
not related to me. So I decided that was not a plan
for lunch.

I was thinking about whether I could eat the tortilla
chips that were still in my desk drawer from a few
weeks ago, but for a transplanted Texan, that’s a
pretty unappetizing thought without melty cheese or at
least some salsa. Nope.

I have a Starbucks card that I refill regularly so I
don’t have to carry cash, and so I can keep track of
how much I spend there...not that I want to know these
days, it’s the closest food and coffee place to my
work. Anyway I hardly know what money looks like
anymore. I got a new 5 dollar bill the other day and
thought it was counterfeit because his head was so
big. I hadn’t looked at one in a long time. Did I
mention I registered my Starbucks card on their
website a couple of weeks ago? I remember it said
that if I lost my card they could restore the balance
on another one. Hmm…

So I called them up around 2pm and spoke to a
friendly, knowledgeable customer service rep. I could
hardly believe my luck!

I asked if they could transfer the balance from my
card at home to the one I had just picked up at the
store. I wanted a sandwich. The rep had to check with
a supervisor to make sure, but after about five
minutes they informed me that they had done just that
and my new card would be active in another five. Yes I
had to answer questions and give them the “secret
word” or whatever, just like any other authentication
process, but after a few minutes my card in my hand
had my money on it. Brilliant.

I was impressed as usual by my problem solving skills,
but even more so by Starbucks. I had lunch money at
home, lunch money in the bank, lunch money on any
number of credit cards from Chase, from Citi, you name
it, that all boast fancy rewards, but when all I
wanted was a sandwich and maybe an iced latte,
Starbucks was the only company to come through…fast.

- Monica Sarkar

By contrast, I had a terrible experience with Petsmart. I took three so-called "gift cards" to them in the hopes of buying an aquarium for the kids. They told us the cards didn't work- they were "not in the system." So how does one get in the system? You have to go home, call up their customer service- read them out a 20-digit code on each card and wait to here them tell you: "OK, that card has $10.00 on it."

When you ask: "What happens if they tell me there is no money on the card at the store?" the reply is:"Then have them call us and we can transfer them to tech-support."

Is this what Tom Peters calls a WOW experience? Maybe we can call it a "BOW-WOW" experience.

Sadly, multi-channel integration is a challenge for many companies. Jeffrey Rayport and Bernie Jaworski write about it in their book Best Face Forward: Why Companies Must Improve Their Service Interfaces With Customers.

Personally, I hate shopping- so as far as I'm concerned, I never want to see Petsmart again.

Finally, if you want to picky, you can argue that "customer service is not the same as customer experience" as Mark Hurst does in this post.

It's still a "BOW-WOW" experience as far as I'm concerned...

The Activist CFO

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"CFOs are increasingly aligning their function not just with the business but with the company’s overall strategy. And by doing so, they are not just supporting the business with information and analyses, but also ensuring that the entire enterprise delivers on its commitments."

from "The Activist CFO—Alignment With Strategy, Not Just With the Business" a report prepared by CFO Research Services in collaboration with Booz Allen Hamilton.

The "fear of failure" is being replaced by the "urge to succeed" - that's what Ram Shriram says of the cultural change taking place in both India and China. The focus on math and science is finally paying off in these countries.

Read his Stanford presentation ==> "Perspectives on the rise of India and China"

The US has chosen another road. And we are already paying the price... Here's what Doug Smith says >>

Andrew Hammel has a great post on "kid-friendly" policy-making in Germany:

The German government showers money and benefits on people who have children. They're allowed to take a"child-raising vacation" from work (i.e. to reduce their work-week to between 15 and 30 hours, if they choose), they get a per-child bonus called "child-money," and starting in 2007 there will be a new kind of "parent-money."

The exact opposite of the US.

Read the full post here.

Doesn't this tie in neatly to "The ExecutiveTalent Revolt"?

Here's the official spin from adidas:

The +Teamgeist is the Official Matchball of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It's the most accurate football ever produced. No other ball reacts so flawlessly shot after dribble after pass, in the air and on the ground.

• Revolutionary panel shape eliminates surface irregularities to create a perfectly round ball for greater accuracy
• Panels are thermally bonded to create a smooth, seamless kicking surface
• Complete underglass print significantly decreases wear of colors and design
• New carcass retains shape better for improved accuracy and power
• FIFA approved with highest FIFA rating
• 100% PU leather
• Imported


BTW- that's $130.00

Here's an idea for a true global index: What's the cost of the average [actually used by kids] soccer ball in your country? In the US it's $19.95 for a decent kick-about ball. In Europe? China?

UPDATE:: Reaction to the new ball:

"It is the way a ball should be made," - David Beckham, England

"The balls design is great, it is going to be a success," - Kaka, Brazil

"I like this ball a lot because of its return to the more traditional colors," - Alessandro Nesta, Italy

"When you kick it, it goes in the right direction," - Zinedine Zidane, France

"In China engineering accounted for 65% of all science and engineering degrees; in South Korea for 58%; and in Japan for 29%. In the U.S. that figure is less than 5%."

That's Craig Barrett talking about the dearth of students signing up for scientific degrees in BusinessWeek.

He goes on:

"While the number of jobs requiring technical skills is increasing, fewer American students are entering -- and graduating from -- degree programs in science, math, and engineering.

Why does this matter? Science and technology are the engines of economic growth and national security in the U.S., and we are no longer producing enough qualified graduates to keep up with the demand. "

Intel spends $100 million a year on education programs- to create a deeper pool of qualified talent at home. Is it working?

I wonder how much Microsoft is spending... or Exxon-Mobil?

And when they spend the money, how do they measure performance?

Read the article >>

I posted on this earlier: Have We Given Up on Science?

"Why should business executives care about what is happening in the container port business in Dubai? It provides insight into much more fundamental trends that are re-shaping our global economy at an awesome pace. It shows that countries and companies on the edge have an opportunity to become significant global players by understanding and harnessing the forces at work. It also drives home that our most well-known and well-established companies, even those granted royal charters in 1840, are vulnerable to these same changes and can succumb quickly to the initiatives of more aggressive competitors, even those just formed in 1999."

read John Hagel's post here >>

2005 Harold Pinter

2004 Elfriede Jelinek

2003 J.M. Coetzee

2002 Imre Kertész

2001 V.S. Naipaul

2000 Gao Xingjian

1999 Günter Grass

1998 José Saramago

1997 Dario Fo

1996 Wislawa Szymborska

1995 Seamus Heaney

1994 Kenzaburo Oe

1993 Toni Morrison

1992 Derek Walcott

1991 Nadine Gordimer

1990 Octavio Paz

1989 Camilo José Cela

1988 Naguib Mahfouz

1987 Joseph Brodsky

1986 Wole Soyinka

1985 Claude Simon

1984 Jaroslav Seifert

1983 William Golding

1982 Gabriel García Márquez

1981 Elias Canetti

1980 Czeslaw Milosz

1979 Odysseus Elytis

1978 Isaac Bashevis Singer

1977 Vicente Aleixandre

1976 Saul Bellow

1975 Eugenio Montale

1974 Eyvind Johnson, Harry Martinson

1973 Patrick White

1972 Heinrich Böll

1971 Pablo Neruda

1970 Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

1969 Samuel Beckett

1968 Yasunari Kawabata

1967 Miguel Angel Asturias

1966 Samuel Agnon, Nelly Sachs

1965 Mikhail Sholokhov

1964 Jean-Paul Sartre

1963 Giorgos Seferis

1962 John Steinbeck

1961 Ivo Andric

1960 Saint-John Perse

1959 Salvatore Quasimodo

1958 Boris Pasternak

1957 Albert Camus

1956 Juan Ramón Jiménez

1955 Halldór Laxness

1954 Ernest Hemingway

1953 Winston Churchill

1952 François Mauriac

1951 Pär Lagerkvist

1950 Bertrand Russell

1949 William Faulkner

1948 T.S. Eliot

1947 André Gide

1946 Hermann Hesse

1945 Gabriela Mistral

1944 Johannes V. Jensen

1943 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

1942 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

1941 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

1940 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

1939 Frans Eemil Sillanpää

1938 Pearl Buck

1937 Roger Martin du Gard

1936 Eugene O'Neill

1935 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section

1934 Luigi Pirandello

1933 Ivan Bunin

1932 John Galsworthy

1931 Erik Axel Karlfeldt

1930 Sinclair Lewis

1929 Thomas Mann

1928 Sigrid Undset

1927 Henri Bergson

1926 Grazia Deledda

1925 George Bernard Shaw

1924 Wladyslaw Reymont

1923 William Butler Yeats

1922 Jacinto Benavente

1921 Anatole France

1920 Knut Hamsun

1919 Carl Spitteler

1918 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section

1917 Karl Gjellerup, Henrik Pontoppidan

1916 Verner von Heidenstam

1915 Romain Rolland

1914 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section

1913 Rabindranath Tagore

1912 Gerhart Hauptmann

1911 Maurice Maeterlinck

1910 Paul Heyse

1909 Selma Lagerlöf

1908 Rudolf Eucken

1907 Rudyard Kipling

1906 Giosuè Carducci

1905 Henryk Sienkiewicz

1904 Frédéric Mistral, José Echegaray

1903 Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

1902 Theodor Mommsen

1901 Sully Prudhomme

From Harold Pinter – Nobel Lecture

Art, Truth & Politics


In 1958 I wrote the following:

'There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.'

I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?

Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond to the truth, often without realising that you have done so. But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.

I have often been asked how my plays come about. I cannot say. Nor can I ever sum up my plays, except to say that this is what happened. That is what they said. That is what they did.


I have said earlier that the United States is now totally frank about putting its cards on the table. That is the case. Its official declared policy is now defined as 'full spectrum dominance'. That is not my term, it is theirs. 'Full spectrum dominance' means control of land, sea, air and space and all attendant resources.

The United States now occupies 702 military installations throughout the world in 132 countries, with the honourable exception of Sweden, of course. We don't quite know how they got there but they are there all right.

The United States possesses 8,000 active and operational nuclear warheads. Two thousand are on hair trigger alert, ready to be launched with 15 minutes warning. It is developing new systems of nuclear force, known as bunker busters. The British, ever cooperative, are intending to replace their own nuclear missile, Trident. Who, I wonder, are they aiming at? Osama bin Laden? You? Me? Joe Dokes? China? Paris? Who knows? What we do know is that this infantile insanity – the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons – is at the heart of present American political philosophy. We must remind ourselves that the United States is on a permanent military footing and shows no sign of relaxing it.

Many thousands, if not millions, of people in the United States itself are demonstrably sickened, shamed and angered by their government's actions, but as things stand they are not a coherent political force – yet. But the anxiety, uncertainty and fear which we can see growing daily in the United States is unlikely to diminish.

I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man's man.

'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it.'

A writer's life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don't have to weep about that. The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, no protection – unless you lie – in which case of course you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician.

I have referred to death quite a few times this evening. I shall now quote a poem of my own called 'Death'.

Where was the dead body found?
Who found the dead body?
Was the dead body dead when found?
How was the dead body found?

Who was the dead body?

Who was the father or daughter or brother
Or uncle or sister or mother or son
Of the dead and abandoned body?

Was the body dead when abandoned?
Was the body abandoned?
By whom had it been abandoned?

Was the dead body naked or dressed for a journey?

What made you declare the dead body dead?
Did you declare the dead body dead?
How well did you know the dead body?
How did you know the dead body was dead?

Did you wash the dead body
Did you close both its eyes
Did you bury the body
Did you leave it abandoned
Did you kiss the dead body

When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimetre and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections. But sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror – for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us.

I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.

If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us – the dignity of man.


Read the whole thing and weep.


The ExecutiveTalent Revolt

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From a great article in Forbes:

It's a lesson corporate America needs to learn before an entire generation of senior talent melts down or decides to stay home. The 60-hour weeks once thought to be the path to glory are now practically considered part-time. Spouses, kids, friends, prayer, sleep—time for things critical to human flourishing is being squeezed by longer hours at the top. Says Bill George, a self-described 60-hour man who ran medical-device leader Medtronic for a decade and who now serves on the boards of Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil, and Novartis: "It didn't use to be this intense. It got much worse starting 15 years ago, when we went to this 80-hour week." Top executives are increasingly strung out, he and others say. Service firms in consulting, law, and investment banking have built 80-hour weeks into their businesses. If it keeps up, the toll could make itself felt not only on companies but on the nation, eroding productivity growth in an era when global competition has never been more intense.

Indeed, dozens of interviews with top executives, consultants, and researchers suggest that a revolt of talent is brewing, and that it's time to reenergize the stale "work-life" debate by starting at the top.

What will it take to make headway on this agenda? Business leaders need to do four things. First, quit defining the desire for doable jobs as a "women's issue." Men want this too. Second, start viewing efforts to humanize senior jobs as a competitive advantage and business necessity, not as one-time accommodations for the CEOs' pets. Third, realize that progress is actually possible; there are examples to show that work at the top can be retooled. Finally, make it safe within companies and firms to talk about these things. "Businesses need to be 24/7," says Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy. "Individuals don't."


Consider some facts. While every red-blooded American knows that the U.S. has the most productive economy in the world, the truth is that in 2002 it was actually less productive per hour worked than countries that are supposed to be slackers: Belgium, France, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands. True, the U.S. had more output per person, but that's only because a bigger share of Americans worked, and many Americans work longer hours.

Read this remarkable article here >>

[cross posted at]

The latest newsletter from Geoffrey Moore's TCG Advisors has a cool tribute to Drucker:

Peter Drucker, the most influential thinker on the practice of organizational management, had many admirable qualities that kept his mind young and active right up until the day he died in early November at the ripe old age of 95. One of them was his uncanny ability to interpret trends and foresee critical socioeconomic changes.

Examples cited in a recent Wall Street Journal article by magazine publisher Steve Forbes include the following nine amazing insights:

In the fifties and sixties:

- The rise of knowledge workers, resulting from the bulge in education that occurred as a direct effect of the post-war GI Bill;
- The breakdown of the traditional, integrated, hierarchical industrial corporation;
- The rise of Japan as a major economy, when many experts thought that it would remain a nation of small farmers and cheap and shoddy goods;

In the eighties and nineties:

- The decline of the Japanese economy as a result of an aging population and a lack of vigorous entrepreneurship and worker flexibility;
- The adverse impact on corporate governance of the rise of corporate and government pension funds;
- The backlash against the rise of CEO pay that eventually occurred after the bursting of the late nineties bubble;

More recent predictions:

- The threat to conventional higher education institutions to come from the rise of satellites and the internet;
- The positive effects of outsourcing on the U.S. economy, resulting from the fact that “we import two to three times as many jobs as we export”;
- The huge and enduring advantage that the U.S. has over Europe and Japan due to American workers’ flexibility, not only for changing jobs but for physically moving from one geographic area to another in order to pursue a new opportunity.


There's some more good stuff in the newsletter, including an article on deliberate innovation. (That's a separate post!)

Here's how the Wall Street Journal loses credibility in my eyes. Outsourcing strategy 101!

Michael Porter's take on how to rebuild New Orleans.

Download the report >>

Maybe we need Porter to take a look at Iraq as well...

Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah!

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Virgin Mobile pushes it - see - a viral online campaign...

To me this is just tasteless and actually hurts the brand. Why? Because the soul of the Virgin brand is innovative, gutsy and classy. This ad falls short on the third attribute- classy.

Oh well.

BAH gives us a "special report" on innovation by Barry Jaruzelski, Kevin Dehoff, and Rakesh Bordia: "Money Isn’t Everything."

"The myth that higher R&D spend translates into competitive advantage has been around for decades, but it appears to be particularly strong now. Pick up any business magazine or newspaper. You’ll find ample evidence of the belief in the effectiveness of larger budgets, for both corporate and national competitiveness:

“U.S. spending on R&D will also have to increase if the country wants to remain technologically dominant.” —Fortune, July 2005
“We need at NEC to increase our R&D spending by as much as 50 percent to keep ahead of the competition.” —NEC Corporation (#41 on the list of 1000) senior vice president, quoted in The Age, July 2005
“The European Commission will today appeal to E.U. countries to increase spending on research and development, or face being out-paced by competitors such as China.” —Financial Times, July 2005
“[Yahoo] spends as heavily on product development and R&D as Google and Microsoft…falling behind in this arms race would spell big trouble.” —Fortune, August 2005

The results of the recent study of the Booz Allen Hamilton Global Innovation 1000 — the 1,000 publicly held companies from around the world that spent the most on research and development in 2004 — may provoke a crisis of faith. The study, which may be the most comprehensive effort to date to assess the influence of R&D on corporate performance, suggests that nonmonetary factors may be the most important drivers of a company’s return on innovation investment.

The major findings:

Money doesn’t buy results. There is no relationship between R&D spending and the primary measures of economic or corporate success, such as growth, enterprise profitability, and shareholder return.

Size matters. Scale leads to advantage. Larger organizations can spend a smaller proportion of revenue on R&D than can smaller organizations, and take no discernible performance hit.

You can be too rich or too thin. Spending more does not necessarily help, but spending too little will hurt.

There isn’t clarity on how much is enough. Instead of clustering into any coherent pattern, R&D budget levels vary substantially, even within industries. This suggests that no single approach to spending money on innovation development is universally recognized as the most effective strategy.

It’s the process, not the pocketbook. Superior results, in most cases, seem to be a function of the quality of an organization’s innovation process — the bets it makes and how it pursues them — rather than the magnitude of its innovation spending.

Collaboration is key. The link between spending and performance tends to be strongest in those areas most under the control of the R&D silo, such as product design, and weakest in those areas where cross-functional collaboration is most difficult, such as commercialization.

Meanwhile, the big boys keep flushing their money down the toilet:

Read the full report. Take notes. Forward it to your CEO.

see my post: "Have We Given Up on Science?"

Meaning. Meaningful. Meaningless. The news is fiction. Lies are truth. What happens when the news becomes "magical realism"? The largest post-modern mashup of thought and ideas: the Uncyclopedia.

a few samples:

- The How-To section [ see subsection: How to Make Up Quotes ]
- Attack of the 500 foot Jesus
- United States of America
- Bill Gates

What's scary is that the Uncyclopedia reminds me of the "new and improved" Nightline, now that Ted Koppel is gone. Koppel- can you believe how they've destroyed your show in so short a time? The work of decades destroyed in days.

"Ignorance is Strength!" see UnNews

"I get better news coverage watching Entertainment Tonight" - Oscar Wilde

John Hagel has just written an insightful paper on Business Service Management, as they call it.

What is Business Service Management? The different vendors describe it in their own terms, but basically it's about connecting your business processes to your IT processes, so you know the business impact (in $) when a server goes down. You could say that BSM makes IT accountable, finally.

Check it out here (registration required).

The great and growing collection of outside work that Drucker’s thinking has generated testifies to the seminal place of his ideas on the role of knowledge in companies. These articles from the McKinsey Quarterly archive look at how companies might maximize the benefits from their in-house knowledge.

- Best practice and beyond: Knowledge strategies (premium)
- Managing the knowledge manager
- Do you know who your experts are?
- Making a market in knowledge
- The 21st-century organization (premium)

I particularly liked this diagram in "Managing the knowledge manager":

Check out the collection here >>

Did I mention I hate McKinsey's "premium" content policy? Those McK-partners are just penny-pinching millionaires. The Mercer people get it: their content is open. Open-up, McKinsey!

McKinsey spits out an interesting article today- "The next revolution in interactions."

"In today's developed economies, the significant nuances in employment concern interactions: the searching, monitoring, and coordinating required to manage the exchange of goods and services. Since 1997, extensive McKinsey research on jobs in many industries has revealed that globalization, specialization, and new technologies are making interactions far more pervasive in developed economies. Currently, jobs that involve participating in interactions rather than extracting raw materials or making finished goods account for more than 80 percent of all employment in the United States. And jobs involving the most complex type of interactions—those requiring employees to analyze information, grapple with ambiguity, and solve problems—make up the fastest-growing segment."

What they're saying is that knowledge work is up, manual work is down- and they do a good job of breaking this down by industry.

"Over this past year, we looked closely at different kinds of interactions. Companies in many sectors are hiring additional employees for more complex interactions and fewer employees for less complex ones. For instance, frontline managers and nurses—who must exercise high levels of judgment and often draw on what economists call tacit knowledge, or experience- are in great demand. Workers who perform more routine interactions, such as clerical tasks, are less sought after. In fact, companies have been automating and outsourcing jobs that involve many of these transactional interactions.

"The shift from transactional to tacit interactions requires companies to think differently about how to improve performance—and about their technology investments. Moreover, the rise of tacit occupations opens up the possibility that companies can again create capabilities and advantages that rivals can't easily duplicate."

Worth reading.

The McKinsey folk need to spend some time chatting with Tom Davenport. His latest book - Thinking for a Living: How to Get Better Performance and Results from Knowledge Workers - gets into this in some detail.

The Best of George Best

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The greatest soccer player ever? Yes, says Pele.

Judge for yourself. See this video clip >>

"The days are over when a business could market a crappy product or treat their customers like marks and assume that the worst that would happen is that they get a few angry letters they could then just dump in the round file."

So says David Kline in this post "Don't Mess With the Blogosphere!"

Also: "How many more battered and bloody companies will have to litter the corporate landscape before business wakes up to the new, customer-empowered marketplace we're living in?"

Good question, David.

Patrick Dixon warns businesses (and governments) about the socio-demographic changes just around the corner:

"Your company may have a reputation for brilliant leadership, outstanding innovation, clever branding and effective change management, but the business could fail if the world changes and you are unprepared.

"Many debates about the future are about timing, such as the uptake of technology. But the future is also about emotion. Reactions to events such as bird flu are often more important than the events themselves.

Read Dixon's FT column: "Wake up to stronger tribes and longer life." See the great little sidebar on futurology.

Nielsen//NetRatings reports that nearly a fifth of the online buying population, or 18 percent, accounts for nearly half, or 46 percent, of total online spending. These buyers, dubbed “Most Valuable Purchasers” (MVPs) by Nielsen//NetRatings, spend more dollars online and make more purchases on the Internet than the rest of the online buying population.

The Nielsen//NetRatings MegaPanel online retail study segmented online shoppers into four categories based on the amount of their online spending (low or high) and their frequency of purchases (low or high). The MVPs, shoppers who spent the most money online and made the largest number of purchases, comprised 18 percent of the online buyers, driving 46 percent of total online spending. In comparison, those spending the fewest dollars online and making the fewest purchases made up the majority, or 55 percent, of online buyers; this group accounted for 21 percent of online purchases.

MVPs are heavy users of comparison shopping tools as compared to other online buying segments. In addition, they skew towards a higher household income, are more likely to be connected via a broadband connection, and are heavier Internet users in both overall time spent online and time spent on retail Web sites.

Takeaway: E-tailers should focus on building extraordinary online experiences for their MVPs. Also their demand generation tactics should target the MVP crowd.

Read the press release for details >>

BusinessWeek: Holiday Tricks

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BusinessWeek reports:

"Forrester Research Inc. says online retail sales this holiday will surge 25%, to $18 billion. The increasingly strong profitability of Net commerce is giving retailers the chance to experiment with a stockingful of new sales and marketing tactics. They're tapping into technologies such as blogs, social networking, and wireless phones to draw shoppers to their sites.

"The experiments are coming from startups to Web giants alike. Yahoo! Inc. is testing Shoposphere, a networking site within Yahoo! Shopping that offers thousands of reviews, blogs, and shopping lists generated by members. Rob Solomon, a vice-president at Yahoo! Shopping, says relying on users lets Yahoo serve markets too small to command space on its front pages.


", a site with thousands of product reviews, offers visitors cash-back rewards of up to 10% when they make purchases at more than 60 other sites, including Macy's and cosmetics retailer Sephora. Yahoo plans to let people earn cash for posting reviews that lead other users to make purchases."

Read the article >

What Would the Lord Sell?

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The Economist says it all: "Onward, Christian shoppers"

"The reason for corporate America's new-found interest in religion is simple: the market is booming. Packaged Facts, a market-research company, estimates that the “religious products” market was worth $8.6 billion in 2003 and will grow to $8.6 billion in 2008. Christian radio has seen its market share expand from 2.2% in 1999 to 5.5% today. The Association of American Publishers reports that the market for religious books grew by 37% in 2003. The definition of religious books is vague—but religious publishing is undoubtedly growing much faster than the industry as a whole."

Moneylenders in the temple?

From the Economist:

An ocean current in the North Atlantic is getting weaker. That may be bad news for north-west Europe...

"Those who worry about climate change worry about many things: rising temperatures, rising sea levels, changes in rainfall and stronger storms, for example. One of the things they worry about most, though, is changes in the circulation of the ocean's currents. That is because these currents are the main way that heat is redistributed from the tropics, where there is a lot of it, to the polar regions, where there is not. If the currents shifted, it would mean that temperatures in some parts of the world changed much more than they would merely as a result of the local atmosphere warming up as heat-trapping greenhouse gases accumulate. Indeed, it could mean that in some places temperatures fell, rather than rising."

"The result, when the numbers were crunched, suggests that the volume of water being carried by the Atlantic Conveyor Belt has dropped by 30%.

"If that is correct, and more importantly, if it were sustained, the result for places such as Britain would be a 1°C drop in average temperature—enough to be noticeable. If it were not merely sustained, but got bigger (and the 2004 figure was larger than that for 1998), the temperature drop would be greater. And if the conveyor belt stops altogether, as it has in the past on more than one occasion, Britain's climate would come to resemble that of Newfoundland. The questions, of course, are why is this happening, and can anything be done?"

Will Britain freeze?

Read all about it.

Exxxon's War on Earth

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The lead U.S. climate negotiator in Montreal, Harlan Watson is an Exxon stooge. That's what environmentalists are charging, and they're probably right. Here's the story in the Washington Post.

Why is anyone surprised?

See Will Ferrell's "Earth to America" spoof of the President.

The planet dies in front of our eyes.

The fastest growing retail category on the day after Thanksgiving was toys/video games, with a 152 percent week-over-week growth. Consumer electronics followed close behind, and computer hardware/software rounded out the top three.

Daily Percent Change from11/18/05 to 11/25/05

Toys/Video Games 151.8%
Consumer Electronics 142.0%
Computer Hardware/Software 101.8%
Apparel 99.0%
Flowers and Gifts 95.3%
Home and Garden 87.3%
Shopping Comparison/Portals 84.0%
Jewelry 71.3%
Retail 40.5%
Books/Music/Video 3.8%
Total (across 10 categories) 38.7%

Source: Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday eShopping Index, November 2005

"You can't recycle video and expect to create a good online user experience."

Jakob Nielsen in his latest Alertbox:

"While I'll surely have many more guidelines later, for now the main guideline for producing website video is to keep it short. Typically, Web videos should be less than a minute long.

"A related guideline is to avoid using video if the content doesn't take advantage of the medium's dynamic nature. This doesn't mean incessant use of pans, zooms, and fades to add artificial movement. It does mean that it's better to use video for things that move or otherwise work better on film than they would as a combination of photos and text.

"Finally, recognize that Web users are easily distracted, and keep distracting elements out of the frame of your shots. If there's a road sign in the video, for example, users will try to read it and will thus miss some of the main content."

Nielsen's remains at the vanguard of user experience design. Check out his "eyetracking" chart for web video and his 1997 post: "TV Meets the Web."

Finally, here's an interview I did with Jakob a while back:"Creating The Loyal Customer."

... and that's my last Peter Drucker cartoon for a while. Goodbye Peter!

The most influential living management guru is Michael E. Porter, head of Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, according to the rankings of The Thinkers 50 2005.

The Thinkers 50 ranking is based on the votes of 1,200 business people, consultants, academics, MBA students and visitors to the project’s website. Nonetheless, Professor Porter only just made it to the top. Had the ranking been compiled a few weeks earlier, the title would have gone to Peter Drucker for the third successive year. But the father of modern management died on November 11 at the age of 95...

read the Times article >>

The Top 50 Business Brains

1 Michael Porter (2)* Harvard strategy specialist
2 Bill Gates (20) Founder of Microsoft
3 C. K. Prahalad (12) LBS strategy man
4 Tom Peters (3) Leadership consultant
5 Jack Welch (8) GE’s ex-CEO and celebrity
6 Jim Collins (10) Author of Good to Great
7 Philip Kotler (6) Kellogg’s marketing guru
8 Henry Mintzberg (7) Promotes Managers not MBAs
9 Kjell Nordstrom & Jonas Ridderstrale (21) Funky Business exponents
10 Charles Handy (5) British portfolio worker
11 Richard Branson (34) Entrepreneur and Virgin flyer
12 Scott Adams (27) creator of Dilbert
13 Thomas Stewart (37) Intellectual Capital author
14 Gary Hamel (4) Strategy consultant
15 Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne (31) Blue Ocean Strategy duo
16 Kenichi Ohmae (19) Japanese strategy master
17 Patrick Dixon (46) Futurist and change guru
18 Stephen Covey (16) Knows The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
19 Rosabeth Moss Kanter (9) Harvard’s change manager
20 Edward De Bono (35) Lateral thinker and author
21 Clayton Christensen (22) Harvard’s new-tech guru
22 Robert Kaplan & David Norton (15) Balanced scorecard creators
23 Peter Senge (14) Learning organisation inventor
24 Ram Charan (-) Coach to the CEOs
25 Fons Trompenaars (50) Intercultural management man
26 Russ Ackoff (-) Specialist of systems thinking
27 Warren Bennis (13) Humanist leadership guru
28 Chris Argyris (18) Action and learning guru
29 Michael Dell (33) Dell Computer’s founder
30 Vijay Govindarajan (-) Tuck’s strategy innovator
31 Malcolm Gladwell (-) Blink and Tipping Point guru
32 Manfred Kets De Vries (43) Psychoanalytic economist
33 Rakesh Khurana (-) Harvard labour market guru
34 Lynda Gratton (41) LBS people and strategy guru
35 Alan Greenspan (42) Head of US Federal Reserve
36 Edgar Schein (17) MIT organisational psychologist
37 Ricardo Semler (36) Radical CEO of Semco
38 Don Peppers (48) Customer relationship man
39 Paul Krugman (40) Economist and columnist
40 Jeff Bezos (39) Amazon’s main man
41 Andy Grove (26) One of the Intel founders
42 Daniel Goleman (29) Emotional intelligence inventor
43 Leif Edvinsson (-) Professor of intellectual capital
44 James Champy (25) Advocate of re-engineering
45 Rob Goffee & Gareth Jones (-) Authentic leaders
46 Naomi Klein (30) No Logo author
47 Geert Hofstede (47) Cultural expert
48 Larry Bossidy (-) Chair of Honeywell
49 Costas Markides (-) LBS strategy professor
50 Geoffrey Moore (38) Hi-tech marketing man

* 2003 ranking in brackets

My opinion: this is a watered-down version of Tom Davenport's Guru Index in "What's the Big Idea?"

Stuart Crainer tells us that "The Thinkers 50 ranking actually pre-dates Tom Davenport's. It first appeared in 2001 and is updated bi-annually."

The methodology behind the standings is shown below (thanks, Patrick Dixon). So, I take back what I said about this being "watered down"... [I just wish they ranked the top 200 nerds, instead of just 50!]

Are the ideas and examples used by the thinker original?

Have the ideas promoted by the thinker been implemented in organizations? And, has the implementation been successful?

How proficient is the thinker at presenting his/her ideas orally?

How proficient is the thinker at presenting his/her ideas in writing?

How committed are the thinker's disciples to spreading the message and putting it to work?

Do they practice what they preach in their own business?

How international are they in outlook and thinking?

How well researched are their books and presentations?

Have their ideas had an impact on the way people manage or think about management?

The clincher: are they, for better or worse, guru material by your definition and expectation?

The Global Top 20
1. Singapore
2. Ireland
3. Switzerland
4. United States
5. Netherlands
6. Canada
7. Denmark
8. Sweden
9. Austria
10. Finland
11. New Zealand
12. United Kingdom
13. Australia
14. Norway
15. Czech Republic
16. Croatia
17. Israel
18. France
19. Malaysia
20. Slovenia

The A.T. Kearney/FOREIGN POLICY Globalization Index™ explores the relationships between a country's global integration and its levels of public education spending, political freedom, perceived corruption, and susceptibility to terrorism. The results show that:

- On average, more globally integrated countries spend more on public education. This relationship was particularly strong in developing countries.

- Citizens of globally integrated countries also enjoy greater political rights and civil liberties. And globalization may keep politicians honest, as the adoption of higher international standards for transparency tends to discourage corruption and increase government efficiency.

- Opening a country's borders alone does not make the country more vulnerable to terrorism. Little correlation was found between a country's level of global integration and the number of significant terrorist attacks on its soil.

Sounds to me like the US is going backwards not forwards in this area. Funny- we're global when it comes to military incursions and insular when it comes to business.

The study finds that the United States rose on the strength of its growth in Internet hosts and secure servers, which are enabling factors for continued technological integration. But it was much less open in the economic realm, lagging behind in trade and foreign direct investment (FDI), due in part to a large and vibrant domestic market.

Another finding: in political and diplomatic terms the United States ranked 57th of the 62 ranked countries when it comes to signing international treaties.

About the Index: The A.T. Kearney/FOREIGN POLICY Magazine Globalization Index ranks 62 countries representing 85 percent of the world's population, based on 12 variables grouped in four categories: economic integration, personal contact, technological connectivity, and political engagement.

How it Works: The index quantifies economic integration by combining data on trade and foreign direct investment. Technological connectedness is gauged by counting Internet users, Internet hosts, and secure servers. Political engagement is assessed by taking stock of the number of selected international organizations and the number of selected international treaties that each country signs, as well as each country's financial and personnel contributions to U.N. peacekeeping missions and levels of governmental transfers. Personal contact is charted by looking at a country's international travel and tourism, international telephone traffic and cross-border transfers, including remittances.

FREE FOOD: Download the report here. Get the detailed data here.

The Stupidity of GM

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"Performance in our crazy world is helped through learning from others. Suggestion: Take a look at how your organization's resources and talents line up against the evolving picture of customer needs. Then evaluate your efforts against a "NOT GM" scale. The better you do -- the more your strategy is unlike GM's -- the better your organization's future and performance is likely to be."

So says Doug Smith in this brilliant and sad analysis of stupidity at GM.

Blog or no blog, Bob Lutz, the vice chairman of product development at General Motors is not doing his job. Maybe he should stop blogging and focus on his customers' needs! Here's what he's blogging on...

Just how sick is GM?

"Bloggers have damaged a number of companies, but it's time to think of the blog as your friend. Skillful blogging can boost your company's credibility and help it connect with customers."

Finally, the folks at Harvard think the blogging is OK for business. Thanks for the green light, but I still don't see Michael Porter or Clayton Christensen blogging, or Dorothy Leonard for that matter... what's up with that? Harvard, time to practice what you preach.

Here's why businesses may want to blog:

"...a blog is an incredibly effective yet low-cost way to:

Influence the public "conversation" about your company: Make it easy for journalists to find the latest, most accurate information about new products or ventures. In the case of a crisis, a blog allows you to shape the conversation about it.

Enhance brand visibility and credibility: Appear higher in search engine rankings, establish expertise in industry or subject area, and personalize one's company by giving it a human voice.

Achieve customer intimacy: Speak directly to consumers and have them come right back with suggestions or complaints—or kudos."

Here's their blogging endorsement.

A.T. Kearney has a interesting report on how mega-sporting events can transform a city:

"Forgotten neighborhoods get desperately needed makeovers. Massive clean-up efforts curb smog and pollution. Transportation upgrades enhance mobility. Yet for every story of a city cleaned up, there is another of lingering debt and disrepair. Only a few large-scale events live up to their full potential. Even fewer deliver the promised long-term rewards. But for cities and nations that focus on both the immediate and the longer term, they do more than simply host an event, they build a legacy.

"Host nations are far less adroit at capturing the longer lasting, less tangible benefits that can result from a mega-event. These rewards reach into every part of an economy and culture by reinvigorating communities, improving health and educational systems, and cleaning up environments (see figure 1). Hosts tend to treat mega-events as prestige projects that are justified (accurately or not) through a measurement of tangible benefits minus tangible costs. Countries tag on some social programs to help make their case and obtain local support, but both the benefits and the add-ons are rarely integrated into broader national or regional strategies.

"A mega-event should be incorporated into a comprehensive national strategy that captures the tangibles while also advancing a nation’s social and economic development, inspiring passion and national pride, and building a global reputation—all of which can last a lifetime."

Read the entire report here.

Doug Smith of Wisdom of Teams and Discipline of Teams fame blogs about two traps that hurt teams.

Check out Doug Smith's post

"Growing Talent as if your Business Depended on It" by Jeffrey M. Cohn, Rakesh Khurana and Laura Reeves.

The authors explain what makes a successful leadership development program, based on their research over the past few years with companies in a range of industries. They describe how several forward-thinking companies (Tyson Foods, Starbucks, and Mellon Financial, in particular) are implementing smart, integrated, talent development initiatives.

Companies whose boards and senior executives fail to prioritize succession planning and leadership development end up experiencing a steady attrition in talent and becoming extremely vulnerable when they have to cope with inevitable upheavals - integrating an acquired company with a different operating style and culture, for instance, or reexamining basic operating assumptions when a competitor with a leaner cost structure emerges. Firms that haven't focused on their systems for building their bench strength will probably make wrong decisions in these situations.

Personally, I think companies need to develop their workers as well, not just their leaders. That's the real problem.

Also, most companies make leadership development an HR function. That's another problem.

It's the CEO who needs to develop leaders across the company. Remember Jack Welch and Crotonville?

And, oh, I forgot about executive pay. Our leaders are too busy lining their pockets to lead...

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