April 2009 Archives

The Work of Byron Katie can be used as a tool to challenge business assumptions.

Here, on Byron Katie's blog we find the following business inquiry: "Having More Customers Means Having More Profits" in which a biz-dev manager starts questioning his team's belief that "more customers equals more profit."

The process is described as business inquiry.

Here are the manager's conclusions:

"Having fewer customers means having more profit."

"One, we could focus on the customers that have the strongest cash positions, the ones who are most likely to weather the recession.

"Two, we could stop wasting time on difficult customers, the ones that keep changing their orders. They're very high maintenance, but we keep them because we think we need them to meet our numbers.

"And three, we could stop serving customers that don't pay in a timely manner, the ones with poor payment history."

More at Byron Katie's blog >>

UPDATED: HealthMap from Google.org and the CDC >>

I have to say I'm not impressed by the swine-flu coverage in the traditional media.

What's interesting is that one company - Veratect - has done a better job of identifying, elevating, and monitoring this crisis.

Their swine-flu Twitter feed is here. Judge for yourself. >>

Other good sources include the CDC and Google News, and the Flu Wiki...

Photos here >>

Background: the politics of health >>

The biggest threat to global stability is the potential for food crises in poor countries to cause government collapse.

Read all about it in Scientific American >>

There was disturbing report at the beginning of the week which said that Mein Kampf was flying off the bookshelves in New Delhi, fueled by demand from students "who see it as a self-improvement and management strategy guide for aspiring business leaders, and who were happy to cite it as an inspiration."

I don't think so.

In my view, this is merely the latest round in the political extremism which is being fomented by groups like the BJP and thugs like Varun Gandhi.

When politicians use race, religion, and background to divide people and win votes, you know we're in a bad place. It doesn't matter if it's the Republicans or the BJP using these tactics, it's just plain evil.

We don't need another Sanjay Gandhi.

There are plenty of candidates out there vying to be India's Hitler. The question is: where is India's Obama?

Tata Nano or not, India still has a long way to go to get to Satyameva Jayate

Will a real Gandhi please stand up?

Gaurav Bhalla's latest company Knowledge Kinetics is all about getting your customers involved in value creation.

Their "Listen, Engage, Respond" solution methodology shows you how to transform your marketing (and your company).

And don't forget to check out Gaurav Bhalla's blog.

The ad-agencies will probably take this seriously.

Presenting: the world of nano-blogging >>

Too much fun!

David Reibstein's theory holds true online as well. Let's look at an example of how this works with online communities, knowledge - based communities in particular. Let's say we build an online community around a specific topic. When the site starts up, we attract the early adopters - some of them thought leaders in their fields. The posts, articles, and debates are generally led by a handful of these thinkers, and they attract a following. The newbies, as they engage with the community start off by learning, asking questions, sometimes just lurking. The quality of these early debates is typically high and participation intense and invigorating.

So what happens when the community suddenly experiences growth - massive numbers of the hoi-pollloi descend on the site and suddenly the quality of discussions takes on a Twitter-like feel - stupid and stupider. The old school rebels, first through silence, and second by disengaging. This takeover by the wisdom of the masses can be avoided, through ruthless editorial direction and skilled moderators. And every once in while, the new participants challenge assumptions that deserve to be challenged, and are given their space in the sun.

So how do we manage this growth and stay true to the community's intent?

Three options come to my mind:

1) Manage membership - simply keep the community at growing in a measured way - firing the "bottom" 10% each year, and bringing in a fresh crop of participants at 20%... This is the surest way to sustainable growth.

2) Create a merit-based aristocacy - with tiered membership based on the value of the participant's contributions.

3) Create a feeder community which is built for the masses and an elite community for the thought leaders and their followers. Moderate the interaction between these groups with the possibility of upward migration based on peer-based invitations.

You'll notice I am not advocating open communities where everyone has an equal voice. That's because I'm not talking about social communities, but communities of practice where respect is reserved for the competent.

While newspapers and print outfits are losing their shirts all around us, the German company Axel Springer recently reported its "highest net income since the company was founded" 62 years ago.

How is this possible?

What are they doing that our friends at the NY Times aren't?

From the NYTimes:

Axel Springer generates 14 percent of its revenue online, more than most American newspapers, even though the markets in which it operates — primarily Germany and Eastern Europe — are less digitally developed than the United States.

One reason, Mr. Döpfner said, is that Axel Springer has dared to compete with itself. Instead of trying to protect existing publications, it acquired or created new ones, some of which distribute the same content to different audiences.

At one newsroom in Berlin, for example, journalists produce content for six publications: the national newspaper Die Welt, its Sunday edition and a tabloid version aimed at younger readers; a local paper called Berliner Morgenpost, and two Web sites.

Though advertising has slumped in Germany, Axel Springer has been able to offset the shortfall by raising the price of publications like Bild, which sells more than three million copies. Now Axel Springer is looking for “undervalued assets” to buy.

Mr. Döpfner said the company would even have a look in the United States “if a meaningful position arises in a significant market.”

OK. So what are newspapers in this country going to do? Stay tuned.

The End of Mexico?

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This isn't funny at all.

And once Mexico falls, we're next.

The Economist's Econoland beats Google's Caddie.

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