Viewing Stock Market Changes With Perspective

March 19, 2012

By Barry Ritholtz   Source

The Four Engineers

March 19, 2012


“One day, a Mechanical Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Chemical Engineer and Computer Engineer were driving down the street in the same car.

The car broke down.

The Mechanical Engineer said, “I think a rod broke.”

The Chemical Engineer said, “The way it sputtered at the end, I don’t think it’s getting gas.”

The Electrical Engineer said, “I think there was a spark and something is wrong with the electrical system.”

All three turned to the computer engineer and said, “What do you think?”

The Computer Engineer said, “I think we should all get out and get back in.””

10 Things I’ve Learned

March 19, 2012

By Cindy Alvarez    Article

  1. “Whatever people say they will pay for it is wrong.
  2. If someone says, “I wouldn’t personally use it, but I bet other people would”, no one will use it.
  3. The answer to any question that starts with “do you want” or “are you concerned about” will always be “yes” .
  4. If someone says “maybe it’s just me, but…” — it’s not. Especially if it pertains to your product being hard to use or your marketing being unclear.
  5. If you want to charge money for your product, don’t talk to people who try to get everything for free. (They might eventually be customers, but not until your product goes more mainstream or becomes a defacto standard.)
  6. What features your customers ask for is never as interesting as why they want them.
  7. Almost anyone will do almost anything for you as long as: the request is short, you are enthusiastic, they don’t have to make any decisions that require more than 1 minute of thought.
  8. The two driving forces of purchase and usage behavior are apathy and the desire to avoid looking/feeling stupid.
  9. You can’t build a good product if you don’t genuinely like the people who’ll be using it.  You don’t have to be like them, but you have to like them.
  10. Whenever you start thinking “this is a lot more complicated than I originally thought”, you should immediately stop and find a sounding board. You are probably either wrong or overthinking things, and an external brain will see it much faster than you.”

11 Habits of Highly Ineffective Managers

March 19, 2012

By Goeffrey James   Article

“2. Managing Numbers, Not People

Weak bosses spend more time with their spreadsheets than with their employees. While they give lip service to employee morale, they’re all about the bottom line–even if it means making everybody miserable.

Strong bosses see the numbers not as a reason for for managing employees but as a measure of how well those employees are managed. These bosses consider coaching to be top priority and trust that investing in people will cause the numbers to improve. …

5. Believing the Technology Myth

Weak bosses swallow the malarkey (endlessly promoted in high-tech ads) that computer technology automatically makes employees more productive. They’re thus ready to shell out big bucks … even when the last three IT projects died on the vine.

Strong bosses are well aware that new technology can eat up resources without providing much benefit. They are skeptical about which technologies to embrace, and they encourage their employees to be selective when deciding what to use. …

8. Expecting Employees to Read Your Mind

Weak bosses believe employees will stay on their toes if they never know exactly what the boss is thinking. When such bosses provide feedback, its something like: “Nope, that’s not it!” or “Back to the drawing board!”

Strong bosses are explicit and specific about what they want and what needs to happen. They explain exactly how every project will be measured, and intervene only when those measurements show the project is going awry.”

Preparing for an Entirely New Economy

March 19, 2012

By Jamie Notter   Article

“Stiglitz pointed out that the depression was a result of a huge shift in our economy, from agriculture to manufacturing. We HAD to have that depression to deal with the fact that our large portion of our workforce was focused on doing something (farming) that wasn’t going to make money and be sustainable like it used to be. We needed to shift into a phase where farming was much smaller and manufacturing was much bigger. You don’t do that by retraining people over a two year period. You need a structural adjustment. Stiglitz argues that the banks failing, etc. was a RESULT of this shift, not a CAUSE of the depression.

So today we might be in a similar boat. This is the time where we finally have to shift AWAY from the manufacturing economy. Stiglitz says it will be towards a service economy, but Denning suggests it will actually be a “creative” economy.

The Creative Economy is one in which both manufacturing and services play a role. It is an economy in which the driving force is innovation. It is an economy in which organizations are nimble and agile and continually offering new value to customers and delivering it sooner. The Creative Economy is an economy in which firms focus not on short-term financial returns but rather on creating long-term customer value based on trust.

Innovation, nimble, continually offering new value, trust…sound familiar? This is what we talk about in Humanize. We hadn’t thought about it in terms of preparing companies for an entirely new economy, but hey, if that what it takes, we’re game! Denning talks about that:

Most large firms of today are ill-equipped to compete in the emerging Creative Economy, in which globalization and the shift in power in the marketplace from seller to buyer have put the customer in charge.   Most big firms still have a factory mindset oriented to economies of scale. They are focused principally on maximizing short-term shareholder value. They are not organized for continuous innovation. This way of managing is unable to mobilize the full creative talents of their employees.”

The Soft Stuff Is the Hard Stuff

March 12, 2012

By Douglas R. Conant  Article

“If you’re a 3rd Alternative supervisor, you’ll neither flee nor fight. You’ll look for something better [when conflict arises], a solution that will provide your employee with a huge emotional payoff and create for the firm new and significant value. …

Consider how this woman led her team to a 3rd Alternative:

  • First, she took time to listen empathetically. She wanted to understand her young employee’s issue and his feelings about it. On the face of it, she wanted to know why his salary bothered him. But more deeply, she wanted to grasp what he was all about and what he could bring to the company that would pay off for everyone, not just for him.
  • Then she sought him out. She brought him back again and again, explored his thinking and involved other thinkers. She valued his distinctive gifts and insights.
  • Finally, the group arrived at synergy: new services, new products, new ways of meeting the needs of an important client, and beyond that the needs of a new segment of clients.

… Most thinkers about conflict resolution treat a conflict as a transaction. It’s about dividing up the pie. You can either accommodate or confront your opponent. You can give away the pie or you can fight over it, and there are techniques and tricks to gain an advantage. But divide it as you will — in the end, it’s the same pie.

By contrast, the 3rd Alternative is to transform the situation. It’s about making a new pie that’s bigger and better — perhaps exponentially bigger and better. Where most conflict resolution is transactional, the 3rd Alternative is transformational.”

How The Kindle Stomped Sony, Or, Why Good Solutions Beat Great Products

March 12, 2012

By    Article

“Launched in 2006, Sony’s Reader was a Lamborghini to the Model Ts of earlier attempts at electronic book readers. Slim and lightweight, with a highly praised “electronic ink” technology that was as easy on the eyes as was paper, it was touted as the iPod of the book industry. It achieved what no other reader had managed: a reading experience that approximated traditional print, with all the advantages (storage, search, and portability) inherent to digital media. The launch met with much fanfare from the press, where the Reader was hailed as “the electronic gadget that could change the way we read.” …

As the publishing industry haggled over how to make e-books a winning proposition, Amazon entered the fray in 2007. Described by one analyst as “downright industrially ugly,” it was larger than the Reader, weighed more, and had an inferior screen. Moreover, it was a very closed platform that was able to load content only from Amazon, and which precluded users from transferring the books they purchased to or from any other device, sharing with friends, or even connecting to a printer.

How could Amazon engineer a triumph with a weaker product? The company did it by engineering a superior solution. Presenting the Kindle, CEO Jeff Bezos announced, “This isn’t a device, it’s a service.” Unlike Sony’s Reader, the Kindle offered a complete experience for the customer: an expansive library of books and the ability to download the book instantly using Amazon’s wireless network….

Amazon’s and Sony’s efforts to conquer e-books were the inverse of one another: Sony enjoyed competence in its hardware but was a stranger to the ecosystem; Amazon was well positioned in the ecosystem but was less competent with its hardware. The e-book ecosystem–like so many of today’s innovative efforts–is ultimately a system of interdependencies. Success is not determined on the basis of a winning effort at any single point; it requires moving the entire cohort of partners in the same direction.”