Monday, April 29, 2013

Something You Have To Watch

I am justifying this posting in that it is an example of the importance of context but it is just VERY cool and strongly suggest you take a few minutes to view it.

A palindrome reads the same backwards as forward. This video reads the exact opposite backwards as forward.  This video was submitted in a contest by a 20-year old. The contest was titled "u @ 50" by AARP. When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause.

Monday, April 22, 2013

As Web Search Goes Mobile, Competitors Chip at Google’s Lead
Published: April 3, 2013

Even those companies who invent or totally dominate a category are open to real competition from the desire of the consumer for simplicity and customization. Consumers as well as B to B customers want offerings tailored to their specific needs. In your idea sessions, focus on niches that meet the functional and emotive needs of your target customers and add up to something big enough to be meaningful; don’t just go after the big hit where everything is “vanilla”.

Say you need a latté. You might pull out your phone, open the Yelp app and search for a nearby cafe. If instead you want to buy an espresso machine, you will most likely tap
Google remains the undisputed king of search, with about two-thirds of the market. But the nature of search is changing, especially as more people search for what they want to buy, eat or learn on their mobile devices. This has put the $22 billion search industry, perhaps the most lucrative and influential of online businesses, at its most significant crossroad since its invention.
No longer do consumers want to search the Web like the index of a book — finding links at which a particular keyword appears. They expect new kinds of customized search, like that on topical sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor or Amazon, which are chipping away at Google’s hold. Google and its competitors are trying to develop the knowledge and comprehension to answer specific queries, not just point users in the right direction.
“What people want is, ‘You ask a very simple question and you get a very simple answer,’ ” said Oren Etzioni, a professor at the University of Washington who has co-founded companies for shopping and flight search. “We don’t want the 10 blue links on that small screen. We want to know the closest sushi place, make a reservation and be on our way.”
People are overwhelmed at how crowded the Internet has become — Google says there are 30 trillion Web addresses, up from 1 trillion five years ago — and users expect their computers and phones to be smarter and do more for them. Many of the new efforts are services that people do not even think of as search engines…. 
….On smartphones, people skip Google and go directly to apps, like Kayak or Weather Underground. Other apps send people information, like traffic or flight delays, before they even ask for it. 
People use YouTube to search for things like how to tie a bow tie, Siri to search on their iPhones, online maps to find local places and Facebook to find things their friends have liked…..
….“There is a lot of pressure on search engines to deliver more customized, more relevant results,” said Shar VanBoskirk, an analyst at Forrester. “Users don’t need links to Web pages. We need answers, solutions, whatever intel we were searching for.”

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Discipline of Managing Disruption
To Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, coauthor of How Will You Measure Your Life?, a primary task of leadership is asking questions that anticipate great challenges.
by Art Kleiner

An important lesson from an interview with Clayton Christensen:

S+B: You’ve said that metrics like the internal rate of return (IRR) and return on net assets (RONA) lead to shortsighted decisions. What would be better measures? 
CHRISTENSEN: The answer probably depends on where you are in the cycle of a business. What you measure has a huge impact on what people prioritize—in fact, whatever you measure will put into place a way for people to game the system. Therefore, you’d better pick a measurement that causes people to do good things when they try to game the system. 
For instance, integrated steel companies used net profit per ton to measure their performance in the 1980s. This led them to want to get out of the low, commodity-based end of steel production, because volume at the low end makes it harder to get dollars per ton up. That decision made them vulnerable to the mini-mills. It turns out that most managers don’t even think about where their measurements come from. You can ask executives, “Who decided to measure net profit per ton?” They’ll scratch their heads and say they don’t know. It’s as if somehow the measure came from the sky. And it causes them to do crazy things.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Embracing the Twists and Turns in Project Management
Surprises can be frustrating, but they often come with big opportunities.
Title: Challenging Classic Project Management: Turning Project Uncertainties into Business Opportunities (Fee or subscription required)
Authors: Thomas G. Lechler (Stevens Institute of Technology), Barbara H. Edington (St. Francis College), and Ting Gao (Stevens Institute of Technology)

Interesting article on managing uncertainty:

When companies take on major projects, unexpected hitches are inevitable. But this paper finds there’s often a silver lining to surprises, even those that first appear to be setbacks. The trick is for managers to recognize their potential for opportunity. In fact, when firms exploit uncertainties during a project development cycle, they typically boost the end value of the initiative far beyond initial expectations.
Researchers and managers alike have long lumped together uncertainties and risks as pernicious threats to a project’s likelihood of success. But this traditional view of project management ignores the positive potential inherent in uncertainties—the “unknown unknowns” that aren’t anticipated prior to a project’s launch, as opposed to the known risks that can and should be gauged beforehand and factored in.
To better untangle the effects of the unknown from known risks, and to explore how companies can take advantage of the curveballs that come their way, the authors of this paper conducted in-depth interviews with the project managers responsible for 20 major initiatives...
....... Uncertainties, the authors found, can be grouped into six primary types.
• Contextual turbulence: external changes set off by shifts in the markets, for example, or new legal or regulatory rules
• Stakeholder fluctuations: shifts in the fortunes of customers, vendors, investors, and others
• Technological uncertainty: factors that can affect the functionality of products in different markets, among other challenges
 Project uncertainty: unrecognized complexities that crop up after a project has started
 Organizational uncertainty: ripple effects from unexpected corporate mergers or spin-offs, for example
• Malpractice: significant deviations from accepted project management standards