March 24, 2010
October 8, 2009
October 2, 2009
September 3, 2009
March 10, 2009
January 28, 2009
I was reflecting the other day on the near infinite number of ways in which companies annoy their customers. A few that make me go “grrrrrr:”
In my last post I talked about the widening fault lines that run between individuals and institutions. Crack open the head of the average manager, and you’ll find a way of thinking that puts the institution in front of, or on top of, the individual. Represented graphically, the thinking looks like this . . .
I live a half mile from the San Andreas fault—a fact that bubbles up into my consciousness every time some other part of the world experiences an earthquake. I sometimes wonder whether this subterranean sense of impending disaster is at least partly responsible for Silicon Valley’s feverish, get-it-done-yesterday work norms. Build your company quick ’cause tomorrow we might get flattened.
I scored a couple of iPads this weekend.
Don’t even think about getting one for yourself without buying one for your significant other—unless you have some perverse reason for stoking the flames of resentment.
As a management researcher, I’ve had the opportunity to peer inside a lot of organizations. In doing so, I’ve learned that most big companies are pretty much the same, at least when it comes to the way they’re managed. The rituals of goal-setting, planning, budgeting and performance appraisal differ only slightly from firm to firm. There’s even less variety in the architecture of power. Hierarchical authority structures, top-down leadership appointments and order-following employees have come to nearly every organization I’ve studied—nearly. One amazing exception is W.L. Gore & Associates. Known mostly for its Gore-Tex range of high-performance fabrics, the company makes more than 1,000 products and employs 9,000 in 50 locations around the world. Wherever it operates, Gore is frequently ranked as one of the best possible places to work.
In 1997, or about three centuries ago in tech years, I bought an e-tablet from A.T. Cross, the pen company. Co-developed with IBM, the CrossPad was heralded as a game changer that would open up a whole new product category—Portable Digital Notepads. I’m a copious note-taker, so the idea of turning my scribblings into digital files was too seductive to ignore. Yet within a month, the CrossPad was sharing shelf space with all the other paradigm-busting products that had promised, and failed, to change my life.
17.00 – 19.30
London Business School
How companies can pilot new ways of working in a low-risk and rigorous way
To make fundamental improvements in your management model, you need to be prepared to experiment with new and unproven ways of working. But it’s not a trivial matter to change the way you manage: the new approach may or may not work, and most people are comfortable with the status quo.
This MLab seminar focuses on the concept of experimentation in management. Building on the well-known principles of experimentation in research (e.g. before and after measures, treatment and control groups), the speakers will talk about how you can put in place a low-risk experiment to establish the value of your new idea, without disrupting the entire organisation.
I’m a big fan of New Yorker cartoons. There’s usually at least one in every issue that provokes a wry smile or a wince of self-recognition. While I’ve never actually participated in the magazine’s weekly caption competition, I occasionally gin up a prospective entry. Last week, the contest featured a drawing of a couple sitting in a living room. The husband (perhaps?) was perusing a newspaper on the sofa while his wife lounged in a nearby armchair. She was a mermaid—naked from the waist up, her large flipper resting demurely on the floor. With her head angled towards her companion and her mouth open in mid-sentence, I imagined her to be saying: “After ten years, I think you could have learned to scuba dive,” or “Hiking in the Alps again? I thought we could take a beach holiday this year.”