Anger and Work

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?

Why Do They Want My Phone Number?

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.

Top 13 Web 2.0 Moments of 2005

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!

Innocentive: Open Source Innovation?

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 >>

Ricardo Semler’s Grupo Semco: The Democratization of Work

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 Strategy+Business (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:

– the Wikipedia entry on Ricardo Semler and Workplace Democracy

– the official Semco Management Model Manifesto:

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

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

– transcript of a CNN interview with Semler

– a somewhat dusty case study from Thunderbird on Semco

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

Pheed Read: RSS ads blow away Banner ads

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

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.

8 Big Ideas for the 21st Century

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

Sustainability: The Stumbling Block is Culture

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.

Mystery of the Narwhal’s Tooth Solved

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

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

also from Sensepage 9. Did I say it was brilliant?

Customer Experience: Starbucks vs. Petsmart

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…

Ram Shriram: On the Rise of India and China

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 >>

The German Niceness Subsidy

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”?

Warming Up: Adidas’ +Teamgeist

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

Craig Barrett: Where the Science Nerds At?

“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?

Edge View: John Hagel’s Visit to Dubai

“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 >>

The Legislators of Mankind?

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

Harold Pinter’s Nobel Lecture: The Pen Against the Sword

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

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 >>

9 Prophecies from Peter Drucker

[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!)

Innovation: inversely proportional to size of budget

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?”

Fantasy News: The Great Uncyclopedia

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

The Executive Guide to Business Service Management

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).

McKinsey’s Peter Drucker Collection

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: Knowledge Worker Productivity- The Key to Competitive Advantage?

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.

Worst Practices in Business Blogging

“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: Tribal Elders Take Over the Future?

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.

The 80-20 Rule Online: 18% of Shoppers do 46% of Buying

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

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?

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?