Category Archives: communication

Rise of the Warrior Poets..i mean cops..i mean…

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article in August of last year that caught my attention. It focused on the militarization of the US police force. “Rise of the Warrior Cop“, which showcased the exponential increase in SWOT teams across the US.

Book image below with same title/name.

rise of warrior cop

From the article in WSJ …”the country’s first official SWAT team started in the late 1960s in Los Angeles. By 1975, there were approximately 500 such units. Today, there are thousands. According to surveys conducted by the criminologist Peter Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University, just 13% of towns between 25,000 and 50,000 people had a SWAT team in 1983. By 2005, the figure was up to 80%.”

In today’s NYT, they show a very captivating photo on the home page of NYT.com of three armed SWOT type commandos rushing a protestor in Ferguson, MO. The article suggests this man was protesting a shooting. If so, why all the use of force? Curious to learn more.

military style domestic peace keeping

The question that starts to form could be…how many police officers do we need carrying sub machine guns, bayonets, or transporting in armored personnel carriers? This question can be viewed through the prism of (a) number of violent crimes committed over the last 30+ years and (b) number of crimes committed by assault rifles (and their ilk) vs smaller handguns and less powerful “force multipliers”.  Thus, maybe SWOT style responses are warranted in some cases, others possibly not (see Deterrence Theory as a possible organizing principle).

Anecdotal evidence suggests there is love affair with all things commando in the US, from navy seal books such as The Trident to modern day films such as Act of Valor or Hollywood blockbusters like Lone Survivor.

Presumably this love affair has a direct implication on how we staff our domestic policing forces and/or is a direct outcome of the much talked about “military industrial complex” in the US.

Leadership at Google, talent and education

Interesting article on how Google’s HR team uses “data” to uncover leadership qualities in its employees. Their findings may surprise a bit…”successful managers”, or however they define such qualities, are not necessarily correlated to their undergrad/bschool, SAT boards or pedigree.

Its probably some combination of autonomy, gumption, grit and innate talent?

google

 

 

On this topic, i recently finished a wonderful book by Amanda Ripley titled “Smartest Kids in the World”. This book outlines teaching methods and approach in disparate countries like Korea, Finland and Poland. The book juxtaposes these approaches to teaching math vis a vis “how its done” in the US. Fascinating if you have children and think about the US education system, if you are interested in US competitiveness and labor, how math influences skill sets for the work population, etc…smartest kids

Location Based Advertising on the Web

Question for the crowds: Is anyone figuring out how to sell ads online at the location level? Similar to a cell phone, what if my physical laptop provided x/y/z coordinates for GPS positioning and ads could be sold on a geo basis, down to the street level?

Take targeting to a whole new level.

I presume each computer would need a GPS chip implanted in its deck, similar to a cell phone? What if my IP address (which I know is often an unreliable proxy for location) could somehow triangulate with CDNs or other fixed locations to provide an approximate “location” of my laptop? Reverse IP address lookup?

Furthermore…when and how do cell phones and fixed stations (laptops) start “talking to each other”.  I believe the statistic I read suggested 80% of people have their cell phone on their person at all times (or most of the time).  If this is the case, do those GPS coordinates become a proxy for a person’s laptop location? Does interaction during a working day (ie make the assumption that if someone is stationary, they could be at a terminal) then become a highly correlated factor to model? Somehow use the two devices to deliver online ads based on those coordinates?

…..ah the future!

Bring me a starbucks coupon for the store around the corner on 20th and 6th! I would enjoy that …lemme tell ya!

New tracking service based on location: Is Omniture out the door?

Came across this article on Techcrunch today on the app “maps.amung.us”.

A mapping service that graphically illustrates where a web site’s user are physically located. Not sure what to make of this data?picture5.gif

Makes me think of the spinning globe at Google’s HQ with vertical bars (similar to solar flares) shooting from all points of the globe, to denote usage from a geo-spatial P.O.V. This could be interesting on the mobile front? Create sentiment for a given story or subject based on relevancy of location? Predictive models?

Another social network to join…

Although you would probably use a local golf club membership with a bit more frequency…here is a club that may be of interest if you have $45k in pocket change and hop around the globe more than the average person.

Quintessentially, as written up in Outside’s Go magazine, offers concierge serice on a world class scale.  Need tickets to La Scala or you lost your keys to the Aston Martin?  This “london based global lifestyle management team located in London, but serving 25 cities around the world” can fulfill nearly any request.

What caught my eye is the online social network called Qube.  With a weekly newsletter of “what’s happening”, a quarterly magazine  covering fashion and travel lifestyle and member’s only events, I would be curious to see if users actually logged on and “socialized” online with other Quintessentially members? 

Another social networking site I joined awhile ago is “A Small World”.  While a bit less exclusive (!), it’s “invite only” and connects people on the go (ie people who travel to different parts of the world).  Seems like American Express should jump into the fray here and create a network for people who use their “black” card.  Are businesses missing out by not creating exclusive environs for their high end customers?

Article on Toyota and Quality

Interesting article in Business Week (July 2, 2007) edition. 

Focused on Toyota and flight to quality.  The piece that caught my eye was the mention of specific lessons from management guru Ranjay Gulati.  A professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, he discusses how to avoid complacency:

– “Avoid the Post Pellet Pause” – after achieving success, organizations want to take it easy and enjoy the proverbial fruits of the labor.

– “Look outside the industry” – dont be so myopic that you only look at your competitive set.  Creates a “false sense of security”.  Look at metrics and goals with companies that are best of breed, not just direct threats.

– “Use Internal Metrics” – Set internal goals for growth and quality, vs relying on external factors only (market share).

– “Give Customers More to Love” – its the customer stupid.  With every business article I read, the key to success has always been, and will always be, the customer.  Dont lose site and make the product even better …the best in the market!

Turnaround Specialists “rules of engagement”

Read an article in Booz Allen Hamilton’s Strategy and Business titled “Why Wait for Trouble”? 

Cant say I enjoyed the magazine too much…it was no HBR.  The articles were dense without a clear “take away” or application and the subject matter across the magazine was wide without a knife’s edge focus within each article to surface a salient point of view. 

That being said…one article titled “Why Wait for Trouble?” by Kenneth W. Freeman talked about vital questions a turnaround specialist can ask when dropping into a new company.  The use of a “turn around” specialist seems a bit too precise for my interests….as I believe the article and its discussion can apply to (a) execs moving to a new job(s), (b) an employee moving into a new role within his/her company or (c) taking on a new responsibilities within one’s current job.

The article talked about crises and diagnostic management.   I will lay out the underlying questions poised in the article:

(1) “Is there evidence of imbalance or excess, either in the company or in the industry”?

Take Away:  I thought about this question and wondered if this is applicable in understanding a company or department (or other granular application) vis-à-vis a department or company’s competition.  A manager will have a tough time if he/she doesn’t understand if his/her company’s product is a commodity, what the level of demand from consumers is for a product or service, deep understanding of consumption patterns and whether they have changed, whether the industry is evolving and a company’s product offering vs the competition and if there are new parameter’s to review. 

Application: conducting some basic SWOT analyses, comparing the competitors product offerings vis a vis one’s own or even something mundane such as summarizing the 5-10 competitors with 10-K info, public/private data (non financial), and position in the market (ie an X – Y graph with two salient variables on the axis), is an easy way to start. It sounds trivial, but often times the time invested in documenting the competitive set teases out findings or learnings that may not have been overt or explicit prior to such exercise?

 

(2) “Are the perceptions held by senior executives of the company aligned or contrary”?

Take Away: This raises the basic issue of communication within a company?  Employees are busy, communication on the ground is “sweetened” as it goes up the chain to make it more digestible to the senior team.  Engaging senior management and creating a situation where they can provide valuable feedback to strategic problems is much more valuable in the long term then reporting on the minutae of the ground level efforts and having a rubber stamp from above.

Application: Create a weekly or monthly summary of the business.  Avoid the laundry list of “projects worked on” or “delivered” and instead take a step back and offer up three opportunities, three challenges to the franchise and three recommendations and solicit timely feedback.  Make the communication more of a thought exercise vs a report card and summarization.   Another area that can align interests is having senior execs review and interact with customer service.  Without hearing the voice of the customer and understanding on a weekly basis what the end user is saying abou the product, its hard to think any meaningful change will take place if the product/org is not aligned or delivering what the customer “wants/needs”.

(3) “What is the level of accountability among the employees?” 

Take Away: Are employees motivated? Is there a healthy appreciation of risk and opportunity to fail (without career limiting move type repercussions)?  Accountability and having a voice go hand in hand.  Creating a strong feedback mechanism is important to engage employees and make sure they take pride in their work and are on the hook for delivering.

Application:  Accountability is difficult to monitor and even more difficult to instill.  Senior managers need to be accessible…taking walks from the executive floor and interacting with the ground troops across the org.  One of the CEO’s who presided over a company I worked at earlier in my career had a brown bag lunch once a month, in addition to popping by people’s offices/cubes every week.  Each employee whose start date anniversary on that month was invited to the brown bag lunch (granted our company was 100…so probably not scalable…but certainly at the division level or dept head level).  The lunch served as an opportunity for the rank and file to discuss issues with the CEO, ask questions, provide feedback etc.  Win win from both sides of the table.

 

These three questions poised by the article are helpful in order to frame a problem or set of problems at an organization.  Probably interesting exerices quarterly to review such questions from an organizational behavior standpoint and see if the answers or responses change throughout the year.  A report card of sorts?