Liu Xiaobo: China’s Nelson Mandela?

FREE_XIAOBO.gifWhat a wonderful world. While you were wrapping Christmas presents, China decided to lock up Liu Xiaobo and throw away the key.

Xiaobo’s crime?  He drafted Charter 08, which demands the open election of public
officials, freedom of religion
and expression, and the abolition of
subversion laws.

His wife’s cell phone mysteriously stopped working so she could not be reached by the press. Nice touch.

See Wikipedia >>

More info from PEN >>

Emotions and Decision-Making

Insights on Anger, fear, and escalation of commitment
via strategy-business.com
“…angry employees are more likely to commit further resources to a failing project or choice. By contrast, fear makes people second-guess themselves and often abandon support for efforts that have gone even slightly off the tracks.”
OK. What happens when you have other emotions like sadness, joy, or just plain happiness? Do you make stupid decisions when you delude yourself? Or does a cynic make better decisions?

IBM: Keys to innovating your business model

This is something that keeps happening with IBM’s FTP server.

ibm_oops.gif

I was just trying to download this report: Seizing the advantage. When and how to innovate your business model”…

I have to say, this happens all the time on the site.

What’s going on IBM? This is not exactly the best way to win friends and influence prospects.

P.S. – will let you know if I ever get to the document!

UPDATE: Not sure if this is the same document, but I found it on the UK site.

UPDATE #2: Look what I found at Booz >>

UPDATE #3: And this from EY >>

Orit Gadiesh on Curiosity

Orit-Gadiesh.jpg

How do you encourage curiosity across a global organization?

Many consultants out there would rather just give answers and are even afraid to ask questions. We deliberately hire people who aren’t like that, even early in their careers, and senior consultants coach them on how to be inquisitive. Sometimes that means asking a client’s managers very difficult questions, really pushing them hard to reveal or do things they’re not comfortable with–getting a CEO to explain lagging sales, for example, or to acknowledge why a competitor’s pulling ahead. Other times that means encouraging constructive dissent–deliberately engaging with people who disagree with you and being willing to probe them on their point of view. That can be tricky, but persistent questioning usually produces the best solutions.”

Orit Gadiesh in an interview HBR, Sept. 2009

Remember when she debuted?  Too bad her purple reign is over…

Bet You Can’t Eat Just One: Addiction as a Strategy

Listen to this:
Junk food elicits addictive behavior in rats similar to the behaviors of rats addicted to heroin, a new study finds. Pleasure centers in the brains of rats addicted to high-fat, high-calorie diets became less responsive as the binging wore on, making the rats consume more and more food. The results, presented October 20 at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting, may help explain the changes in the brain that lead people to overeat.
So is this another example of addiction as a business strategy – similar to what the tobacco companies were doing earlier?
Maybe that’s why the IT geeks have such a hard time implementing Lean IT >>

free2work.org: The End of Business As Usual?

free2work.gif

If you haven’t heard about free2work.org, you will. This is part of a growing explosion of consumer-education organizations dedicated to exposing “worst practices” among multinationals.

The hope is that if consumers know what is going on, they will vote with their purchasing power and seek out the companies that are doing good. I’m all for it. Who wouldn’t be? Oh, I forgot about the US Chamber of Commerce

On the academic side of things, we see the same story emerging:

Rosabeth Moss Kanter‘s latest book, SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good argues that “the model of American capitalism that worked so well to raise the fortunes of millions of people last century appears to have hit a wall. What’s good for General Motors may no longer be good for the country. In its place must arise a new model of the company, one that serves society as well as rewarding shareholders and employees.”

Maybe Doug Smith was just a little ahead of the times when he wrote On Value and Values: Thinking Differently About We in an Age of Me – which to me is still the best book in this space.

Monetizing Bob Marley

BobMarley.jpg

Now we see that Bob Marley is going to be sold like soap.

Is this the end of the Marley brand?

Are we going to see Marley toilet seats and diapers?

Here comes Marley Cola, extra sharp.

Or: Marley chewing gum.

Or: Marley underwear:

Or: Marley real estate.

Or: Marley leisure wear.

Or: Marley golf clubs.

Rasta don’t work for no CIA, but he’ll work for a private-equity firm.

Shame on you Rita and Ziggy. Shame.

This could kill Bob for real.

Wild Phil Townsend: Where is GE’s Open Reverse Innovation?

Phil Townsend wonders why GE hasn’t opened up it’s Reverse Innovation model in his post: Opening up Reverse Innovation >>

Townsend makes a good point:

So why can’t a company like GE follow down this path with “open reverse innovation
– inviting small companies in India and China to submit their products,
services and ideas to be evaluated by GE for global distribution.  Of
course, the open model would require an environment of trust
but what better way to create goodwill in new markets than to be seen
as a development partner in the China, India, and resource-starved
Africa?  A.G. Lafley sits on GE’s board; surely he could help them get started.

Townsend also proposes the formation of innovation collaboratives funded by companies like GE to create a pipeline of new products for GE. 

Not a bad idea, if you consider that a recent
McKinsey survey found that 20% of companies have opened up their
innovation processes to employees and customers and they report a 20%
rise in the number of innovations
, on average.

Cloud Computing = Disruptive Innovation

disruptionchart.gif

Mezeo’s Steve Lesem explains how Cloud Storage is a disruptive innovation:

The common assumption is that the traditional IT vendors will be disrupted by cloud computing offerings from Amazon and Google
The truth is, Amazon and Google may eventually impact this market, but
they will not be the first to disrupt traditional IT service
providers.Already we see hosting providers like Rackspace and SoftLayer provide their own suite of differentiated cloud offerings.

My thinking is that the entire cloud story is a paradigm shift for IT. See this article I just co-authored: Considerations for Migrating to the Cloud: How Cloud Computing is Changing the Enterprise »

See also
: Lesem’s Cloud Storage and The Innovator’s Dilemma »

Stay tuned for more on the cloud.

The Future of Media: Not Just a Song but an Attention Platform

Edo Segal has an interesting guest blog at TechCrunch describing the “Future of Media.”

He points to Apple’s App Store as an example of what the rest need to learn:

The only way to block the incredible ease of pirating any content a
media company can generate is to couple said experiences with
extensions that live in the cloud and enhance that experience for
consumers. Not just for some fancy DRM but for real value creation.
They must begin to create a product that is not simply a static digital
file that can be easily copied and distributed, but rather view media
as a dynamic “application” with extensions via the web. This howl is
the future evolution of the media industry. It has arrived from a
company that is delivering the goods. Apple has made it painless for
consumers to spend money and get the media they want where they want
it, proving that consumers are happy to pay for media if delivered in
ways that make it easy and blissful to consume.

He also states, rather matter of factly, that “he premise of extending the media experience to the cloud is a core
necessity for the survival and growth of the media industry.”  I agree.  The media industry needs to “sell access and experiences, not media files.”

So how does an artist or a media company build these experiences?

I’ve been doing some thinking along these lines for a band I’ve followed for many years – Steel Pulse. What’s interesting is that while the band has a huge, global, cross-generational following built over the past 35 years – the media companies that were responsible for promoting them have done absolutely nothing to tap into this enthusiasm.  Not one thing.

The same goes for most of my business thought-leader clients as well.  The publishing houses do nothing to create a conversation with the passionate fans. 

Engagement is the key.  How does a musician or an author engage with their audience, their fan-base?  It starts with the quality of the conversation. And let me tell you, it’s far easier for an individual thought-leader or musician to do this than companies, largely because companies are too formal, too corporate, and don’t usually communicate with a human voice.

What’s needed is a way to go direct. 

Let the celebrity or thought-leader engage with their fans directly to build an attention platform, unique to the celebrity. The company that empowers this attention platform, and builds new services for the fans, will build the next media empire with the “lock-in” that comes with authentic engagement. 

Of course, none of this works without authenticity.  The celebrity must remain true to themselves. In Steel Pulse’s case, this means they need to stick to their core brand dimensions.  So each successive album, each song, each product, each statement, builds on the Steel Pulse Experience.wordle_spbrand.gif

They could even track the core messages of a successful album – in this case “True Democracy” – and extend their meaning in new songs and releases:

wordle_truedemocracy.gif

So now let’s talk engagement, and I’ll break it into two simple phases – push and pull (borrowed from JSB and JH3).

Phase One: PUSH

So what does the celebrity do today?  In Britney Spears‘ case, she’s
tweeting her launch of a new song.  To me that’s not much of anything.
Yes, she’s reaching out through social media -Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace – but these are all still one way marketing pitches – push media.

The artist pushes their songs, their products, their newsletter, their tweets, etc. etc. No discussion, no give and take.  Products are created and sold. One market, one size fits all. Core fans are treated the same as newbies. Nothing special except the show and the products – media files: audio or video. See what I’m getting at?

All of this is still just pushing product.

Phase Two: PULL

What happens if the fans come to you – with their suggestions, requests, and insights? What happens when they want to participate? Is it possible to co-create products and services based on insights from yoru fans?  Of course it is.

Start the conversation. Go 80/20: focus on the 20% of fans that will get you 80% of your profits. Start talking (and listening) to your biggest supporters.

Engage: physically meet the 20%. Create special events for them. In soccer for example, fans pay $30-50 dollars just to watch Cristiano Ronaldo practice. What’s wrong with doing a 30 minute sound check for your fans?  Invite them to the sound check – and have exclusive “sound check products” available only for these fans – available at the event, and online as well.  You could even have a question and answer session that they get to download later that evening.

Then of course you sell the live version of the show – for a “limited time only.” Vary the show slightly with the song set, so every night is a different.

Let your fans download the raw tracks and make their own mixes. Have a contest for the best mixes. Sell the mixes to other fans.  Use them in your album.

And when you create a new album, it’s version-time.  Reggae music has a long history of selling versions. What’s sad is they’ve stopped this traditional practice when really they need to be exploiting it. (See Hal Varian on versioning.)  So every song should have the following versions: album version, extended version, dub version, accapella version, acoustic version, dance version, Nyabinghi version, etc. etc.  

Talk to the fans about the songs through webcasts, band-calls.  Let then know where and what’s next.  Let them vote on what you should do next.

For legacy songs, make sure you sell versions-in-time. The 1983 version of Chant a Psalm a Day is quite different from the 2000 version, which again is totally different from the 2009 version. Real fans want them all.

All of this is do-able today. It’s not about technology, it’s about attitude, and the ability to communicate, to lead.  For a cause-driven band like Steel Pulse, this is their opportunity to shine.

And let your fans share in creating and spreading your experience.

Now let’s take a quick look at the business world. 

VG, as he’s called affectionately, is an author and well known strategist. His latest article in the Harvard Business Review, co-authored with Jeffery Immelt and Chris Trimble, has been a huge success – introducing the world to a concept called reverse innovation.

What we’re doing now is building his engagement strategy – through his innovation newsletter.  The idea is to start a conversation about innovation with the people most interested in this topic.

A small step to start, but I know from experience that a “simple” newsletter can drive over 50% of monthly sales online.

The great news is anyone can build an attention platform like this. And if you have something important to say, your platform will bring you the attention you deserve. 

It may even elect you President!

As I was finishing up on this, I just saw a tweet from John Hagel on author platforms (read here). Again, if Apple can help an author or musician build that platform, then Apple will “lock-in” that artist for life.  Same goes for Amazon.com. The distribution model for media is changed forever, period.

Interview with Hal Varian: The Economics of Information

This is a digital reprint of an interview I did about ten years ago with UC Berkeley’s Hal Varian. At the time Varian was co-author of a bestseller: Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy; it’s still worth reading today. Today he’s the Chief Economist at Google. There are still a number of good things in this interview that the media companies could learn from…  (I’m a bit embarrassed by the silliness of my questions, but hey.)

I suppose we should begin by asking you for your definition of “information” and what you call “information goods”.

When we talk about information goods, we mean anything that can be digitized. Text, pictures, moving images, sound, all the media that can be delivered over a digital connection. Some people call them digital goods.

Information goods have some interesting properties. On the supply side there’s normally a big fixed cost to create the first copy, of say a movie, and then a negligible cost to create additional copies. On the demand side, the interesting feature is that you don’t really know what information is until after you’ve consumed it. So you have to experience it to know what it is.

When you’re selling information, you’re dealing with how do you give free samples, how do you give part of it away, how do you establish a reputation so people will purchase the information you’re providing, etc. etc.

I read about a travel publishing company that put its contents on-line, and their book sales went up, because people wanted the books with them when they traveled…

Yes. Another example is the National Academy of Sciences. They found when they put all their content on line and people could actually look at what the content was, they were more likely to buy.

What are some of the techniques you find companies use to create and sell information products? How do you sell an information product to different customers at different prices? How do you find out what the different customers will pay? Can you do this on a website?

The trick is to “version” your information product: construct a product line of your information goods that will appeal to different market segments. A common way to do this is to use delay: issue a book first in hardback, then, a few months later issue a cheaper edition in paperback. The people who are really interested will get the hardback, whereas people who are only casually interested will wait.

We see financial sites on the Web that sell real-time stock quotes, but give away quotes that are 20-minutes delayed. A movie first comes out first in the theater then six months later in video.

Then there are other things, user-interface, for example. If you look at Dialog, which is a search company, they have two types of search engines- one is a professional search engine, with Boolean searches and all sorts of options, and then they have an “ordinary-person” search engine, with a stripped down interface. It’s nice because the ordinary person wants to use the simpler interface, while the paying professional uses the professional interface. So there isn’t any cross-market cannibalization.

Other dimensions on which to version your product are user convenience, image resolution, capability, features, tech support, etc.

You mention Gresham’s Law of Information in your book. What is it?

Gresham’s law said “bad money crowds out good”. We coined “Gresham’s Law of Information” which says “bad information crowds out good”. Low-quality, cheap information can displace high-quality, authoritative information: look what happened with Encarta and Britannica. However, Britannica is now fighting back and has come out with products that are much better suited to computer use. Smart consumers will look for quality information.

Your example of the struggle between Encarta and Britannica, how Britannica lost out to the upstart $49 Encarta…

Right, although they’re coming back. They’re doing some clever things now. What happens there is the incumbent in the industry has a very low marginal cost, so they should be able to beat the entrant but they can’t quite change their business model. It’s hard. Telephone companies are having this problem, the print/publishing media is having this problem, TV networks have this problem vis-a-vis cable.

(This was before Wikipedia!)

Since there’s a high cost of innovation and a low cost of imitation on the web, isn’t it harder to keep “first-mover” advantages?

You’re right, we talk about this — the competition is only a click away. But the clever company, which has that first-mover advantage, will try its best to create “lock-in” for their customer base. For example, look at what Amazon has done- one click ordering, keeping information on what you purchase so they can recommend books to you. If Amazon is recommending good books to me and I want to switch to say Barnes & Noble, I have to start all over.

Another good example of that is e-toys. You put in the birthday of your nephew, your neice, and your cousins, whatever, and they send you a reminder that your nephew’s birthday is coming up and here’s a nice stuffed rabbit that’s very popular with children in his age group.

Can you tell us a little more about your lock-in strategies?

Since the competition is just a click away on the Web, it pays companies to invest in building customer loyalty. The best way to do this is to produce a product that is so much better than the competition that they don’t want to switch! But there are other ways too, such as loyalty programs, like frequent flyer programs that reward frequent purchasers.

What about lock-in strategies for suppliers and partners?

What we were thinking about there was that if you have a group of loyal customers that are purchasing your products, and there may be other complementary products that they would also purchase, but you may not be the best firm to supply that. So then what you do is sell access to your customers.

The portal companies are doing this. For example, I go to Yahoo, and Yahoo charges other companies to have access to me. Let’s say e-toys wants to move into baby or children’s clothes. They might not do that themselves, but they could partner with other companies that do that.

So once you have a loyal customer base, then you can sell access to that customer base for other products that complement what you are selling.

What about the dangers in this, with privacy issues?

It’s certainly convenient for me to be reminded when my anniversary is or my nephew’s birthday or something. That’s a service, a good thing. Of course they can use the information about me in ways that could be detrimental- they could sell it to mailing lists and I get deluged by email. So the trick is to make sure that consumers give their consent; you want to know exactly how the information is going to be used by the company in question. There are companies like e-trust which meet a very important need.

I was looking at ANX, the auto-industry supplier network, and I found out that Chrysler, despite its enthusiasm during the pilot, isn’t part of the production version of ANX. And if you go to the Chrysler supplier website, you find they’ve created tons of business applications. So when does it make sense to join a standards organization and when does it make sense to go it alone?

There’s this fundamental equation that says that the value to you is your share of the market value times the size of the total market. So some of your actions, like standardization, can increase the total size of the market, but it can decrease your market share because it creates more competition. So you have to trade-off these two effects.

So you’re saying if the total size of the market gets bigger, and you make a bigger profit despite a lower market share, then you are on to something… How do you protect intellectual property on the web? Will the current move of providing patent protection to internet business models help or hurt the future of e-commerce?

The point is to maximize the value of your intellectual property, not maximize its protection. You can charge a lot lower price for content on the Web because you can reach a much larger audience.

I’m quite unenthusiastic about patent protection for Internet business models and feel that it will retard progress in this area.

(Like I said, my questions are quite stupid, but the versioning of information goods – that’s still something the media companies can learn about! This cartoon was also done about the same time…)

http://www.onewwworld.com/noodleman/noodle98.gif

Finally, to get you up to speed, here’s a decent interview with Prof. Varian with the [global-warming deniers](http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/winston/2009/10/superfreakonomics-misses-the-b.html) at Superfreakonomics >>

The Lying Cheneys and the Republic of Lies

The lies are simply who the Cheneys and the Republicans are. 

Why is anyone surprised at this any more? 

The entire structure of corporatism is built on these lies and astroturfing:

energycitizens.gif

And now we have Liz “Liar 2.0” Cheney and that lying Fox – Rupert Murdoch – continuing in this tradition of lies:

Here are some more lies:

Hunger and Republican Values
Healthcare Reform: Shameless Lies
When Lies Become the Truth
GOP Gone Wild
How Much Does that Senator Cost?

Apparently you can fool 30% of the people all of the time.  Coincidentally, that would be the same number of people watching Rupert Murdoch’s FOX News.

Of course, you have to listen to a comedian to learn about how FOX operates:

BTW, those “energy teabaggers citizens” at EnergyCitizens.org, you know, the ones that got their “grass-roots” organizational act together and raised enough money to advertise in the NY Times, they’re brought to you by your concerned lobbyists from the Oil & Gas industry and chambers of commerce everywhere. They really want you to know that carbon-dioxide is a good thing!

How can companies and businesses keep doing this? Funding these lies? 

Is it time for a shareholder revolt yet?  This isn’t going away.

Happy Halloween, everybody.

Business Service Management: Aligning Business & IT

When Rick Berzle and Bill Keyworth asked me to join them to build a site on the topic of Business Service Management, I immediately said yes.

The result is BSMReview.com, a site which seeks to analyze the best and next practices in business service management from a third-party point of view. The experts that Bill has brought to the site are literally a who’s who of the best and most trusted people in the field: Peter Armstrong, Tom Bishop, Malcolm Fry, Israel Gat, Peter McGarahan, Richard Ptak, and Ken Turbitt. And that’s just for the launch. Bill is recruiting more experts even as I write this. I’d like to get David Williams from Gartner and Jean-Pierre Garbani from Forrester involved as well, but they’re behind the iron walls of the analyst-dom.

bsm

Bill’s thinking is that business service management covers a series of related topics. See his introduction – The Why & What of Business Service Management for more.

Here’s to the long term success of the site! I’m excited because we are going to be discussing new areas like the future of IT service management as it relates to cloud computing, for example. So this is going to be a learning experience for all involved. Speaking of the cloud, here’s a set of cloud-computing working papers from JSB >>

Innovation in Turbulent Times: Two Heads are Better than One

In their article Innovation in Turbulent Times, Darrell Rigby, Kara Gruver, and James Allen make the case that the key to growth is pairing an analytic left-brain thinker with an imaginative right-brain partner:

lbrb.gif

Fine, but the problem is that in most “rational” industries – dominated by “maximize shareholder value” thinking, there no room at the top for the creative thinker.  In fact, I would argue that most companies are too sharply skewed to the left brain. The CEO, CFO and the heads of all the business units are too focused on P&L to think outside the proverbial box.

They need to improve their “intuitive intelligence” by chatting with Francis Cholle >>

It’s Time to Quit the US Chamber of Commerce

Simply put, it’s a values issue.
The irrational position of the US Chamber of Commerce should cause member companies to rethink their position within the organization. PG&E, PNM Energy, Apple, and Exelon Energy have already quit the Chamber, rather than continuing to support an organization which is so out of touch with reality.
Ultimately, companies must ask themselves – is it worth my company’s reputation and brand to stand on the wrong side of science and history?
The following companies are still part of the US Chamber of Commerce:
AT&T
State Farm Insurance Companies
United Parcel Service
The Charles Schwab Corporation
Edward Jones
FedEx Express
Pfizer Inc.
Xerox Corporation
ConocoPhillips
Massey Energy Company
Spencer Stuart
American Water Works Company, Inc.
Landstar System, Inc
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Deloitte LLP
Kimberly-Clark Corporation
DonahueFavret Contractors Holding Company
Ryder System, Inc.
Cargill, Inc.
Leading Authorities, Inc.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Emerson
My Chef Catering
AEGON N.V.
VAST Solutions, LLC
Walker Information
Allied Capital Corporation
Telcom Ventures, L.L.C.
The Coaching Group, LLC
Deere & Company
The Robertson Foundation
Nortex Holdings, Inc.
CAIVIS Acquisition Corp.
CVK Personnel Management & Training Specialists
Sunrise Senior Living, Inc.
The Dow Chemical Company
US Airways
Eastman Kodak Company
Alcoa, Inc.
Buffalo Supply, Inc.
HARM GROUP LLC
Quam-Nichols Company, Inc.
FACES Day Spa
PERMAC Industries
Hawk Corporation
Southern Company
Vulcan Materials Company
A.O. Smith Corporation
Alpha Technologies, Inc.
Fluor Corporation
Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLC
Paper and Chemical Supply Company
Incorporated AGL Resources Inc.
Arnel & Affiliates
J.R.’s Stockyards Inn
Entergy Services, Inc.
Oldcastle, Inc.
Siemens Corporation
PEPCO Holdings Inc.
Anheuser-Busch Companies
Fox Entertainment Group
Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc.
IBM Corporation
Accenture
3M
Amway
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.
New York Life Insurance Company
American Medical Association
CVS Caremark Corporation
Stanwich Group LLC
Kirby Financial, LLC
The Carlyle Group
Rolls-Royce North America, Inc.
AGCO Corporation
Caterpillar Inc.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Tandy Leather Factory, Inc.
High Companies
Norfolk Southern Corporation
CUNA Mutual Group
KCI Technologies, Inc.
International Bancshares Corporation
Hutchison Advisors
Ingram Industries Inc.
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
Memphis Chemical & Janitorial Supply Company
Awkard & Associates
UniGroup, Inc.
Nana Development Corporation
Pool Corporation
48hourprint.com
Duke Energy Corp.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation
Ruan Transportation Management Systems
CNL Financial Group, Inc.
Navistar, Inc.
HPA Strategies
Ford Motor company
Trailmobile Corporation
Human Genome Sciences, Inc.
Con-way Inc.
Peabody Energy
Mountain Plains Equity Group, Inc.
RPM International, Inc.
Tramco, Inc.
Melaleuca, Inc.
COMSYS Information Technology Services, Inc.
MI Industries
Mindover Corp.
Authentix, Inc.
You can help urge them to quit – here >>

Misplaced Priorities: Six Strategies for CEO Failure?

American style management has been under some considerable stress these last few years. Now the nerds at Bain have some advice for the CEO. Apparently there are six dilemmas CEOs must face and – surprise! Bain has uncovered six strategies to help the CEO manage these dilemmas. Check out the cool diagram below:

ceosdilemma.gif

I personally think the CEOs would be better off following VG’s 3 box strategy and executing on it.  This other stuff is fine, but it doesn’t seem to be the stuff of great leadership. Nowhere do we see anything about creating great products or obsessing over your customers or sustainability.  I bet Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos do not manage their companies this way.

The Rise of Employee Unhappiness

From the Economist:
A survey by the Centre for Work-Life Policy, an American consultancy, found that between June 2007 and December 2008 the proportion of employees who professed loyalty to their employers slumped from 95% to 39%; the number voicing trust in them fell from 79% to 22%.
At France Telecom, 24 of the firm’s employees have taken their own lives since early 2008.
What’s up with this craziness? Of course, the recession is partly to blame, and industries like the automobile industry and the telecoms are under real stress. But to decide that you can’t live without your sorry job?
Everyone needs to get some perspective.
Sure, the Great Cycle of Failure is spinning away as fast as it can go at your company, but don’t let it mess you over.
Ask yourself, if I was starting today, would I join this company? If the answer is no, then you need to rewind and reassess. What do you really love doing and are good at? Are you better at it than just about everyone? Then go do it.
Sure it sounds simple, but it’s a lot of work. Back in 2004, I ended up quitting my steady corporate job to start a new company with no prospects and no customers in hand. I wasn’t even a good salesman. And yet, I survived. Not because I was so clever, but because I did what I thought was best for each customer. Sometimes I even told them that what they wanted wasn’t the right thing. And now I have a handful or two of loyal customers who work with me through rain and shine. I really do see their successes as mine. And that’s my job description: help my customers succeed.

Is the US Chamber of Commerce irrelevant?

We know they’re just another Republican puppet organization, and now it’s so obvious it’s hurting them.
But don’t expect them to back off.
Global warming is a hoax to these people, and nothing short of a memo from Exxon-Mobil will make them change their views.
Yes, the US Chamber of Commerce is irrelevant.

“How GE is Disrupting Itself” by Immelt, VG, and Chris Trimble

VG has touched a chord with this article in Harvard Business Review

HBR

How GE is Disrupting Itself describes the concept of reverse innovation – how products developed in and for low-cost countries (like India and China) by multinationals (like GE) lead to growth – not only in the low-cost market, but at home as well.

VG says the article has touched an “emotional” chord with readers who are saying that this approach is just what “western” multinationals should be doing – designing products for the local market at a price-point which is within reach.

Check out the advertisement for one such product:

To me, this is just the first step to being truly global (as they say at Thunderbird). With business commitments at a local level, social commitments will surely follow. 

Now let’s see some “ecomagination” in action and build portable solar/wind electrical generators for off-grid villages at an affordable price-point. Right, Bob?

Michael Moore Meets Peter Drucker

I wonder what the late Peter Drucker would have said about Michael Moore‘s Capitalism: A Love Story?

I think he’d be very sympathetic. Drucker’s disillusionment with the level of executive greed he saw and we see today makes it very likely that he’d be a supportive fan.

And here’s an interesting quote from the man himself:

The leader cannot act in his own interests.It must be the in the interests of the customer and the worker. This is the great weakness of American management today.

[from A Class with Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World’s Greatest Management Teacher, William A. Cohen, AMACOM 2008]

When results are poor, executives don’t deserve bonuses, right Peter?

What Global Warming?

Corporate fascism? What’s that?

Listen to this Henry Wallace quote from 1944:

“The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power…

Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion…

The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism… They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

Hard to believe? Not.

Here’s an example of the latest garbage: CO2isgreen.org. What global warming? 

Go Michael Moore!

Breaking The Cycle of Failure

Why do companies behave like Hyatt Hotels and Circuit City?

By treating employees as costs they minimize their investments in employee training. The result is poor employee morale, substandard performance, and customer dissatisfaction. [Once again, here’s Drucker >>] 

I first met this idea in an article I read in the Bechtel library in Houston. I was new to the corporate world, and I was trying to figure out what companies should be doing to be the “employer of choice” in their particular industry.

cycleoffailure.gif

Of course, now I know this as an example of a vicious circle.  The opposite of this approach, a virtuous circle – seems far more rare – in business, non-profits, and learning institutions as well.

I now see this as Management 101. In fact, it seems so obvious, you wonder why anyone would choose to destroy their company this way. 

My guess: the culprit is executive pay. And in government? It’s the lobbyists.

Healthcare for All: Obama Explains his Plan

The President outlines his plan to fix healthcare:

What’s wrong with this? Nothing.

The insurance companies have spent over 375 million dollars blocking this with their Republican friends and their blue lap-dogs. At 300 million Americans, they could have given us each over one million dollars!

Here’s Matt Taibbi via Dr. Andrew Weil:

Heading into the health care debate, there was only ever one genuinely dangerous idea out there, and that was a single-payer system. Used by every single developed country outside the United States (with the partial exceptions of Holland and Switzerland, which offer limited and highly regulated private-insurance options), single-payer allows doctors and hospitals to bill and be reimbursed by a single government entity. In America, the system would eliminate private insurance, while allowing doctors to continue operating privately.

In the real world, nothing except a single-payer system makes any sense. There are currently more than 1,300 private insurers in this country, forcing doctors to fill out different forms and follow different reimbursement procedures for each and every one. This drowns medical facilities in idiotic paperwork and jacks up prices: Nearly a third of all health care costs in America are associated with wasteful administration. Fully $350 billion a year could be saved on paperwork alone if the U.S. went to a single-payer system – more than enough to pay for the whole goddamned thing, if anyone had the balls to stand up and say so.

The time is now, America: Healthcare for all.

The kids launch Planet Green

After talking about it for several years, my daughters have finally launched Planet Green. I wonder how long they’ll demonstrate “constancy of purpose”?
Thanks to their activism, we have now been vegetarians for several years, we worry about water, and try to stop wasting natural resources. In many ways they have helped shape my green thinking, by opening my eyes to the news and to our stunning inaction as the planet dies around us. The Silk Milk boycott was their idea, as was their insistence that we should minimize the use of paper towels, etc. etc.
It will be a fun experiment, I believe.

Communicating Change

It’s not enough to work hard and do your best when the Becks and Limbaughs of the world are doing their best to destroy your arguments with rage, hatred and lies.
What’s needed is a simple framework to communicate what it is you are doing and why.
Vijay Govindarajan‘s post – Obama’s Challenge: Communicating a Framework for Change – shows us what Obama should be doing to communicate more clearly.
And he’s got to find some of that campaign passion as well.

Here Comes The Big Oil Lobby

It’s nice to see how democracy works, or not.
First the insurance lobby, now Big Oil.
Let’s allow the insurance companies to deny people health care in order to maximize profits.
Let’s look the other way while Oil companies stop alternative energy strategies from taking off…
Is this a last gasp for Capitalism 1.0?
Why is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation silent?
Where’s the Pope? Again, the silence of “the church” is deafening.

Boycott Whole Foods: John Mackey’s Branding Problem

A few weeks ago I gave up on Silk Soy.
Now, I’m done with Whole Foods.
How does the CEO of a company justify his “politics” when it goes against the brand of his company?
The short answer is: he’s not the right person for the job. I mean, you won’t see the NRA electing Howard Dean as CEO. So how does Whole Foods have a CEO so out of touch with his customers values? Or his company’s values? On Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ no less. What’s next, FOX?
Bye-bye, Whole Foods.
Additional Reading: On Value and Values by Douglas K. Smith