Consulting Company Spoof

Curt Rosengren of Worthwhilemag.com:
Huhcorp.com Welcome to the world's most dynamic e-business marketing, design and consulting agency. We provide distinct clients with groundbreaking business strategies and cutting-edge designs to aggressively and creatively compete in a changing economy.

Our consulting ideas will entice and excite you. Our professional design solutions will give you the confidence to succeed. And our web site will make you think we know what we're doing.
It's quite hilarious, so check it out.

There is no ending without a beginning, attempts to improve are no different.

"If you can't measure it, you can't improve it"-- Lord Kelvin
To improve can be roughly defined as making it better. Something can only be better in relation to something else, something it can compare itself to. Better is a relative/comparative word. It has to be better in relative/comparatively to something, it's not possible to be better in relation to nothing. So in the case of improving your service/product or your processes, that something else, can be your current status, your status quo; how is your service/product or your processes doing now? By answering that question, by knowing how you're doing now, you will clearly know if you need to improve it and if you do, it gives you a sense of direction of what and where needs improvement and how much you have improved after your improvement initiative. Not knowing where you were when you started your improvement initiative is like asking for directions through the phone without telling them where you are now, wherever you turn to, they can't tell you if you are any closer or farther from where you want to be because there is nowhere to compare to. Sort of the blind leading the blind, they have no idea where you are because they have no idea where you were. If they know where you were and all the lefts and rights you made, they should have a pretty good idea where you are now or how far you've gone and where you need to turn to get to where you want to be.

Knowing where you were (your starting point) and how far you've gone, is the key to understanding how much you have improved(positively or negatively). By measuring and comparing from where you are now (after the improvement initiative) to where you were at the beginning(before the improvement initiative), you will know whether you have gotten better or worse.

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When Cash Cows Jump the Shark, Shoot It!

Recently, I learned of an interesting expression called "Jumping the Shark" from Jory Des Jardins in her really cool blog, Pause. According to her brother, a program has jumped the shark when the...
"...program hits a point of dwindling energy, and nothing will revive it. There are no more original plot lines, characters have lost their coolness, or the show starts to rely on gimmicks to keep the audience engaged. Yet the show remains on the air and becomes a pop-cultural joke."
One of the things that I've learned is to be prepared to kill the cash cow when its time has come. When is it time to kill the cash cow? When it has jumped the shark. When nothing you do can make it better; no form of tweaking, upgrades or marketing can make it more attractive to consumers or bring in more sales. The cow no longer excites or delights people, dozens of competitors offer the same thing and more, the cow is placed at the far corners of shelves, even free gifts no longer attract and the only buzz near it is from a fly. Just like people still watch X-files after it jumped the shark when Fox Mulder is no longer in the show [by the way, many still voted that it has not make the leap yet. Honest. You can check it out here], the cow still brings in some dough, but the number no longer brings in the goods and margins are getting thinner. Guy Kawasaki says it best here:
Kill the cash cows. This is the only acceptable perspective for both intrapreneurs and their upper management. Cash cows are wonderful?but they should be milked and killed, not sustained until?no pun intended?the cows come home. Truly brave companies understand that if they don?t kill their cash cows, two guys/gals in a garage will do it for them. Macintosh killed the Apple II: Do you think Apple would be around today if it tried to ?protect? the Apple II cash cow ad infinitum? The true purpose of cash cows is to fund new calves.
In conclusion, before your cash cow jumps the shark, shoot it. Even if it is sacred cow, coz not even sacred cows last forever. Shoot it and fund new calves.

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Putting Wanted Ads in the Hands of Consumers

This advice from 5 Blogs Before Lunch got me thinking:
For all of the theories, and all of the advice, the best I can say is "follow the consumer. He'll tell you what he wants, and how he wants to learn about your product."
I remember a short while back, there was this device that you can use to record a short snippet of an unknown (to you) song on the radio, plug it in into your pc and their web service will tell you what's the song, singer and so on. From what I remember, it didn't do so well, that it did not really catch on (if anybody knows otherwise, please correct me on it).

How about a device that can have you aim and click on any item(clothes, furniture, cars, etc) in a sitcom or a movie, and have it either directly (sponsored by the product sponsor) tell you what it is and where you can get it (highlighting those closses to you) or do a search for all that offer that product, it could be an internet search through the likes of Google, Yahoo or Amazon for example.

The advantages of it:
  • It does not interupt the consumer, in fact they choose when to interrupt or to be interrupted
  • The consumer themselves are telling us what they are interested in/interested to learn more about
  • With the permission of the consumer and through their directive, we provide them with relevant ads
What do you think?

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I Give Up Too

What was Tom Peters giving up on? This...
The New York Times [registration required]reports that Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon, collected $19.6 million in compensation last year, up 48 percent. The stock, meanwhile, fell 26 percent. Earnings dropped 5.5 percent. The firm's credit rating was downgraded. And 50,000 managers had their pensions frozen. The Board justified the pay packet, claiming that Seidenberg exceeded "challenging" performance benchmarks.
Something must be seriously flawed in the performance benchmarks that they set. The fact that someone can "exceeded challenging performance benchmarks" and have stock and earnings drop dramatically is questionable. Were they measuring the right things? As an outsider peaking in, I'll probably not know for sure, but honestly, I doubt it.

What's worse? Granted that good decisions might still produce unfavorable results, meaning that he may have made all the right decisions, but due to unforeseeable events, it did not turn out so well and therefore warrant some form of compensation. Regardless, there is absolutely no grounds, absolutely none, for someone to be compensated as such while 50,000 of their managers had their pension frozen. From my point of view, there is just no justification for such reckless decision.

I give up too

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Reversal of the Division of Labor

Reading Dan Pink's recent post (4/12) got me thinking about the future and the future of the division of labor. Michael Hammer, in his book "Reengineering the Corporation," may have announced the need to reduce the division of labor or specialized labor in corporations to better serve customers, to be able to adapt better to change and competition. But in terms of a society, the division of labor is as important (or necessary) as ever, if not more. Most of us play an active role in it. Some people grow the food we all eat, some people dig for oil we all drive with, some people build the roofs above us, some people manufacture the automobiles we use to get from A to B to Z, some people keep the broadband lines alive (thank goodness), some people put together web services for us to express ourselves or to publish(thanks Blogger.com) and so on. Even if we only use some of those stuff, we can't produce, create or manufacture all of it by ourselves. We all in some way or another depend on others to produce all the other things we use that we don't or can't produce ourselves by ourselves. In some ways, we are 'outsourcing' some of our work.

In his post, Dan posted articles from USA Today and one by him in Wired.com about some folks abandoning the utility companies and generating their own electricity from the wind and the sun. Reading it got me thinking a bit about the future. Here's one of the things I was playing around in my head.

As of now with more technologically advance and innovative technology and stuff, we are more able to produce more of the stuff that we use by ourselves. For example, reported in the USA Today article, some folks are bypassing the utilities company and generation their own electricity. What's more, they can sell the extra electricity they generate but don't use to others who need it. It is true that we still need people to create and produce these innovations that can "sustainously" produce our needs and wants, but it would seem that we could reduce more and more of the labor to produce our needs and wants that we used to divide to or depend on others to produce for us; sort of a reversal of the division of labor. In some ways, we are 'insourcing' (not exactly in the way Thomas Friedman uses it) back our work.

Is it possible, that in the future we will be able to self-sustain ourselves, our needs and our wants (most of them at least, I can think of a few unattainable ones due to limitations of ours or of resources), all by ourselves?

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Helpful Critical Guy Syndrome

How many times has this ever cross your mind?
"...if I could just sit down with this-or-that famous person for about 20 minutes I could ?straighten everything out."
It doesn't have to be a famous person. It could some CEO of some company or the company you are working in, management, your boss and so on.

If you do, then you are suffering from what Scott Adam calls Helpful Critical Guy Syndrome. I do, and chances are, you do as well. I believe that we all had symptoms of it at some point.

Read more about it in my comments here

Being Accountable...

As I was reading Hillbilly PhD's post on being accountable, I reflected on a mistake that I made recently. It was like any other six sigma project that I have been involved in, except that this one was taking a little longer than expected; so there was some sense of urgency to get it moving a little more briskly. Maybe it was due to the quicken pace of things that made it less obvious (at least at the time) that I made the mistake, of guiding the project and the team towards a different path. Different not as in flat out wrong, but certainly not where we should be. Anyway, at that time, I was confident and happy about the progress that we made. It was one morning a short while later that, while I was reflecting on the project, I realised my mistake. It was at that moment that a number of things were going through my mind.

It may not be my project, I was just helping out, but it is still my mistake. It may be because I was asked to get the project moving and I went in at a time when it seriously had to get moving, hence the sense of urgency, but it is still a mistake; an honest mistake of mine. It was clear as crystal what I had to do. Admit my mistake, take responsibility of it and sort it out, get the project back on track, to where it should be. But as Hillbilly PhD says, being accountable is not easy. Why? Well... for me at least, it's because I felt that I was the person people relied on to get things done, to make the right decisions, to sort things out back to its 'right'-ful place wherever that may be, that I've always delivered, and seemingly will continue to do so; but not this time. Did it made me question my abilities, what I felt I was good at? Did it strike my confidence? Did it make me think of what people thought now of my abilities, of their belief in me? To a certain degree, yes. It may have been just one bad decision, but time and resources were wasted, we have to move two steps back just to get back on track. Serious results of a bad decision. My decision, My mistake. But...

But I believe in being honest. Something which I take a certain pride in. But I always say that honesty is both my gift and my curse. At times there is a price to pay for our honesty. It's no different this time. But the opposite is far worse, which makes it rarely an option (I would rather say never, but I guess there are situations that warrant it). Furthermore, as someone famous once said that we wouldn't need such great memory if we only told the truth. And I don't exactly have the best of memories.

But I've always believe that everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. And we will do so many more times in our lifetime. It is inevitable. It's only human. I'm only human. Even machines produce defective products. I made a mistake, but I will not let it become a failure. A mistake becomes a failure if we fail to acknowledge that it was a mistake and especially if we fail to take the time to understand and to learn from it. And the best way to acknowledge it is to be accountable for it; to admit and to take responsibility for it.

And that's exactly what I did.
It is not always easy to do the right things, but, we can save ourselves a whole lot of time and trouble if we invest a lttle more time to do things right the first time. It is much more difficult to clean up a mess than it is to avoid it. Believe me, I have done my share of cleaning up the messes I have created. Most of those messes were created by trying to avoid something I should have faced in the beginning. Things I did not want to admit to or work through. I am learning that personal strength is based on your character. character is a by product of your integrity and your sense of personal accountability.--Hillbilly PhD
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From Water to Land. Here We Come!

Speaking of evolution, a cool website on evolution I stumbled upon and introduced in my last post, in the news today are reports of a discovery of a new fossil that will fill the gap between aquatic and land animals. The new fossil is of an animal with fish-like fins and scales, crocodile-like head, and neck and ribs of a land animal. They name it Tiktaalik Roseae. More details in The Times Online and Reuters UK.

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Stumbling upon StumbleUpon

Today I stumbled upon an interesting webtool, introduced by Seth, called StumbleUpon. It's a browser tool that helps you share websites, that you 'stumbled upon' by accident or intentionally, with like-minded people or absolute strangers, and vice versa. Was playing around with it for awhile and Seth's right, it gets a little addictive. But it's certainly fun and cool in its own way. You may stumble upon websites that you may have never came across on your own. Warning: May be a little too addictive for those with a curious mind, like me.

Here are some pretty cool websites that I (ok, I promise it's the last time I'll say these two words in this post) stumbled upon:

Neave Imagination - It's pretty cool. And creative. The author certainly had a lot of time in their hands. And I'm glad they did. It's addictively fun, so try it out, click and twirl your mouse here, there and everywhere.

Paper Plane Designs - I was never much of paper plane maker, so it makes this seem so much cooler.

Evolution - this you have to see for yourself, evolution evolving at your own pace.

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