Friday, March 30, 2012

Frictionless Solutions

A really neat idea from a Scientific American article.  The author suggests that people want frictionless solutions.  After all, who wants to sign the credit card receipt at the store? 

Mark Cuban wrote an article about newspapers that owned their customer's credit card numbers a few years ago, that is worth a look too.  I notice that magazine companies have all switch to this model over the last few years.  I buy from Amazon for exactly this reason, and the free shipping.

I guess what I'm saying is that it might be time to make your company easier to do business with.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Drive - a little history lesson

I have listened to Drive, by Daniel Pink, on CD lately.  There are lots of things in the book, that reminded me what I used to believe about work and management.  In "Drive," we are reminded that humans do better when they are properly motivated.  Pink writes that the Industrial Revolution created a management method he calls Motivation 2.0.  Further, he says that great companies need to be run on Motivation 3.0.  I like to think of Motivation 2.0 as management and Motivation 3.0 as leadership.  Once, I built a company, believing in what Pink writes about in Drive.  It was fun to remember that.

A little history about me.  I graduated with a CS degree from SIU and moved to Silicon Valley.  I would have happily stayed in Carbondale, but there were no jobs and I wanted to try the big time.  Often, I think of this, like an actor moving to NYC, but for geeks.  For 10 years, I worked for other people and the management was clueless.  I carefully watched what my managers did and cataloged their mistakes and few successes.  When I started to manage people, I believed in lots of stuff, so much that I would be better off write a book than trying to tell you it all here.  In overview, I believed that everyone should have a career path and the best people should get the best opportunities for new work.  I also believed in telling the truth and pushing the decision making down into the organization as far a possible.  After all, why hire smart people, if you aren't going to let them decide?  That leadership method worked for me.

No matter what you do, when you are managing 100 or more people, you will be consumed by work.  As I was being consumed by work, I was also having to deal with partners, who given the choice, preferred to manage in a strict top down management structure.  AKA, they failed as managers, because they couldn't lead.  You know the types, they are everywhere.  I was burned out on partners for a long time and could afford to fail because of it.  But, everyone in a company should feel like a partner, so it is time for me to take a deep breath and find partners again.  The number one failure of start ups in Carbondale is a lack of partners, board members and advisers.

I tried to start in Carbondale and failed.  Most of the failure is my fault and I have spent a lot of time thinking about that.  I will not repeat those mistakes again.  From now on, back to open books, shared ownership, or at least profit sharing, leadership, and very little management. 

Motivation 3.0 works.  Don't be fooled by anyone claiming that Motivation 2.0 works as well, it doesn't.  

"Drive" by Pink, it is recommended on book or CD.

The NSA is ignoring the Constitution?

This month's Wired Magazine has an article that might scare a sane person.  Looks like the NSA is recording all internet and phone traffic in the USA.  We know that a warrant-less search is specifically prohibited by the Fourth amendment in the Bill of Rights.  According to the article, there are no checks on the NSA's power to monitor all communications and they are working hard to beat modern encryption.

Keep your eyes open, this isn't good news.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mushrooms, now that is innovation

Don't know if you caught the article about the little company that is replacing plastic packing materials with mushrooms?  This is the kind of manufacturing that will work in Southern Illinois.  Innovation, matched with available talent is our best bet.

Art - sometimes a new way to look at the world

Wired Magazine online had this cute article about photos of dogs underwater.  This guy is doing nothing special with equipment, just taking shots that are different than everyone else.  He is innovating.  You don't have to reinvent everything, just one small part, to make something new.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Big Surprise - Car Deaths Fall After Cell Phone Ban

Looks like the results are in, car deaths fell 22%, in total, after cell phones were banned while driving, in California.  Now, if we could just break the thumbs of anyone texting while driving, the world would be an even better place.

One interesting difference between using cell phones and drunk driving. is that drunk drivers aren't killing people in the middle of the day.  Your kids are tucked safely in their beds, when most drunks are out killing people.

I like this quote later in the article -

Instead of looking for illegal cellphone use, LaMalfa said police should be on watch for erratic drivers no matter if they are distracted by cellphones, putting on makeup, shaving, or changing compact discs in a stereo system.

Wouldn't it be great if everything that made this much sense was made into law?  Maybe someday Illinois will reduce their car crash fatalities too?  Only took 10 extra years to outlaw cigarets in restaurants, maybe Illinois law makers will beat their record for cell phones and driving?