Thank You to those that Inspired Me in 2007

I want to reflect in my last post of 2007. I want to thank the writers that inspired me to opine and post. I made a list of my posts that have a contribution from other writers. Please check out their writings (my post is the top one and then the article and the author is underneath).

Cherished
Times

Cloud
Computing or Chip Advancements?

Challenge
the US Middle Class

Too
Much Emphasis on Tests?

Bonuses,
Wall St, and Main St

Accepting
Unconventional Risk

Dyslexia
and Entrepreneurs

Economic
Pessimism

It’s
Not a Recession, But It Sure Feels Like It – Stats

It’s
Not a Recession, But It Sure Feels Like It

Organizational
Leadership – Empowering Your Experts

Happiness
is Relative?

Business
Ethics Extremes

 Cloud
Computing and IBM

Next
Generation CEO

Age and
Risk

What
is Business Success?

Big Prizes

Peanut
Butter and Pasta

Does
College have a Future?

Baseball
is Duped by Warning Track Power

Qualities
of High Earners

Are
Indian Companies Expanding Too Quickly? Part 2

9/11
and its Real Impact on the Economy

Task
Accomplished: Efficiency and Productivity

Business
Talk

Are
Indian Companies Expanding Too Quickly?

The
Next Management Stars: Divergence Generation

Paul
Krugman: The Conscience of a Liberal

Metrics
Equal Accountability?

Type of
Genius

Reaching
People Creatively

Business
2.0 Loses to Business 1.0

Productivity
Pays – The CEO

Migrant
Workers and the State Department

At
What Point Does It Stop Being Education?

Tipping
Point Leadership

  • Tipping
    Point Leadership” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. Much of the Harvard
    Business Review article can be found in the book Blue Ocean Strategy

A
New Effort to Crack Down on Illegal Immigrants

PowerPoint
Manipulation

Using
Fables

US
Government Hiring?

  • Anne
    Fisher

Top
Earning Towns

Self-Determination
Theory

When
Discipline gets in the way

Just-In-Time
Employees?

A
Matter that Caught My Attention

  • Megatrends 2010: The
    Rise of Conscious Capitalism
    by
    Patricia
    Aburdene

Cherished Times

I hope everyone is spending time with cherished individuals
at this time. As a macro HR blog, I feel like that is the reason for much of
what I write. I want to see a balanced HR – quality time with family/friends
and value time at work. It is really those connections that sustain both ends
of the scale.

To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.

Jim Valvano —>  delivered 4 March 1993


Consumer Spending Rises

Good News – Bad News – that seems to be the cycle over the past six months. Jobs are up but the numbers are suspect, Inflation is in check, but milk is $4 and gas is over $3, and now spending is up, but it is on borrowed money.

Income rose by 0.4% in November. That is a healthy clip. Spending also rose in November – 1.1%. So either consumers saved in September and October to buy in November or they are using credit. The former isn’t a bad deal, but the latter is terrible, especially considering the overall economy being teetering on a recession.

Consumer spending does make up a large chunk of the GDP, causing analysts have revised their predictions, but I think it is just delaying the inevitable. Until something dislodges the log jam that is the US economy (jobs, housing, markets, or whatever) we will see no real economic growth for the middle class.

A Green Revolution?

I’ve stated in other posts that I think the next great area for productivity increase and innovation is in the field of green energy. That means conservation as well as renewables.

It surprises me that I don’t hear more about the people on the world’s wealthiest list talking about it. There are venture capital firms hooked in and the wealthy are part of those, but I really think someone with brand experience would really be able get some true progress.

Maybe the US, or the world. isn’t ready to hear the message yet? Maybe the citizens are too caught up with the environmental side of it. The side that is confused about what global warming is. The name is too logical, but not completely true. It should be global weather extreming or something like that. The warming really leads to cooling, but we’ll discuss that some other time.

Where the US population needs to get is the financial side of this situation. There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of money to be made in green solutions. So far no one wealthy enough wants to tackle the economies of scale while other energy sources are still viable. But that is an old way to think about economies of scale. With the right brand, a green solution will take off in utilization even if it isn’t the “best” solution. Lets apply the 80/20 rule to it. Adoption is more important than complete efficiency.

If someone can be the face of green solutions (I don’t mean Al Gore either) and bring together some sort of consortium then that person will get very rich. Well, he or she is probably already rich… because they get it.

Cloud Computing or Chip Advancements?

I’m sure others noticed that the NY Times ran very similar,
except polar opposite stories on Sunday and Monday. The two articles are Google Gets Ready to Rumble with Microsoft by Steve Lohr and Miguel Helft and Faster Chips are Leaving Programmers in Their Dust by John Markoff.

Here is the summary. The former article describes a behavior
change where people trust their high speed internet connection to log into a data
center located somewhere else in the world (probably load balanced to multiple
sites around the world). The latter article describes CPU chips becoming faster
and more efficient in their processing. Every personal computer whether it is a
Mac, a Dell, or a cell phone has one. Microsoft makes a lot of money on the
operating system (OS); the software that organizes and instructs the hardware
(chips) from an end user perspective.

Here is why they are polar opposites. Google can store
specialized OS like software in a data center that is very cheap for the end
user to access. Google, as noted in the article, have reduced the cost of their
data center down beyond what anyone else can. The specialized OS like software
is based on something called FOSS or Free and Open Source Software. This means
it doesn’t cost too much to sell because no one person really owns it. So as
long as you have a high speed connection and acceptable end user hardware, you
can compute really cheaply and easily. Microsoft is banking on ever increasing
power and decreasing cost of CPU chips. If they continue on their paths, it
doesn’t motivate the masses to switch off their current behavior. The result is
that Microsoft writes an OS to utilize the chip power and software programs to
reside on the hardware the end user has. No high speed internet connection is
needed. They can also charge more for their product because the end user wants
to “own” the software and what I mean is that they want it installed on their
local machine.

My prediction is that the average computer user will
continue to purchase Microsoft based products. Microsoft will lower its prices
to ensure this. But niches will move to cloud computing. And it won’t come just
from Google. Amazon, Yahoo, EDS, and others will offer services to the niches
i.e. small businesses, schools, and foundations. I also see cell phones and
cloud computing partnering in a major way to offer addictive services such as proximity
network gaming. The upshot of all this is the end user will benefit
tremendously – both in cost and usability.

Feel free to visit my two older posts on this subject:
Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing and IBM

Challenge the US Middle Class

“It is meaningless to middle- and low-income
families to say we have a great economy because their economy looks so much
different than folks at the top of the scale because this is an economy that is
working, but not working for everyone.” Says Jared Bernstein of the Economic
Policy Institute in Washington. Mr. Bernstein is quoted in an article in the NY Times called Report Says That the Rich Are Getting Richer Faster, Much Faster
by David Cay Johnston.

The author of the article points out that the
growth of the top 1% is growing at a faster pace than everybody else. He finds
that tax cuts and the stock market are two main reasons for the increase. But I
think it is more than that. I think that the top 1% has the ability to tap into
global wealth much easier than the rest of the US.

I can see a world where the US middle class
is no longer the heart and soul of this economic powerhouse. The reason is that
I don’t think the middle class is being challenged anymore; many of their jobs
have turned into routines. Engineering marvels are scarce these days. What
replaced them is the maintenance, or lack of maintenance, of bridges, roadways,
drainage, and utilities. Our systems are old, they are meant for another time,
but the US isn’t challenging the middle class to create a new empire. We are
half asleep in our current one.

Too Much Emphasis on Tests?

The educational system in the US uses several standard tests
to measure the needs of the kids in the system. One of which is the IQ test. IQ
stands for Intelligence Quotient (Really a German version of that), but it isn’t
a quotient any longer. That part is now normalized over a bell curve with an
average score being 100.

The IQ test tries to gauge short-term memory, verbal
knowledge, spatial visualization, and perceptual speed. To do so, most
administrator use something called WAIS – III to test seven verbal
(Information, Comprehension, Arithmetic, Similarities, Vocabulary, Digit Span,
and Letter-Number Sequencing) and seven performance (Digit Symbol-Coding,
Picture Completion, Block Design, Matrix Reasoning, Picture Arrangement, Symbol
Search, and Object Assembly) subsets of the previous list.

I am not a proponent of a one size fits all testing measure.
As I’ve written in other posts, I am much more interested in accomplishments.
You don’t need to be smart to succeed. And smart people don’t always achieve anything
either.

But this brings me to a New Yorker article written by one of
my favorite writers – Malcolm Gladwell. It is titled None of the Above: What I.Q. doesn’t tell you about race. I don’t want to key in on the race angle of
the article since it does a nice job of that.

What interests me is that IQ score are going up very
quickly. If you’ve listened to the media, you’d never hypothesize that. But
Gladwell does a great job explaining that isn’t necessarily the population
getting more intelligent, but rather the population is getting more conceptual
in its problem solving. What is great about that revelation is that it
indicates the population is getting more capable of looking beyond the now. Perception
is becoming more holistic. Books like Flatland by Edwin Abbott are easier to accept by the general population today than they were when they written. As Gladwell points out, it doesn’t mean that the
people of the 1920s were intelligently inferior, but rather they were more
focused on thinking tactically.

Finally, the part I really like about the article is the
ultimate point of the disproval of the genetic prescribed results of IQ – that
even though Asian Americans scored what was originally thought to be higher
than their European American counterparts their success wasn’t questioned. But
once data showed that their scores were really lower than their European
American counterparts their success becomes more remarkable. But as Gladwell
points out, it isn’t IQ that makes you successful, but rather being successful
gives you the capability to have a high IQ.

So what is more important: scoring high on a test or
achieving something?

Bonuses, Wall St, and Main St

Sometimes you can’t say it better than someone else. These are posts from an article in the NY Times Dealbook blog called On Bonuses, Banks face a Balancing Act. Please read the rest of them since they are a great cross section of how to view compensation awards.

  • The
    modus operandi of the Wall St. bonus system makes me want to puke. Off
    Wall St., most bonus level employees accept the fact that there will be
    bad years and definitely aren’t prone “bolting”. So many spoiled brats
    on Wall St.

    — Posted by Ellis Smythe

  • 2.

    Ellis,

    Until you have missed your son’s birthday party, canceled a family
    vacation, worked back-to-back-to-back consecutive weekends or been so
    preoccupied with work at dinner you can’t listen to what anyone is
    saying, shut your mouth.

    — Posted by Brendan

  • 3.

    The
    difference between Off Wall St. bonus employees and On Wall St., is
    that Wall Streeters have greener pastures to “bolt” to across the
    street. Thus, companies are willing to bend more to keep people from
    jumping ship or a shop a subway ride or two floors below.

    — Posted by John Galt

  • 4.

    Brendan, a bit too harsh if you consider many entrepreneurs can say the same things (both in the good times and the bad . . .).

    Although I think your sentiment is dead on, and too often missed by
    some posters on this board, that the bonus-level employees on Wall
    Street have a work ethic and a work culture that is more demanding than
    90% of the jobs in existence. Most people do not understand this, and
    in many instances are overcome with the “why do they get paid so much
    if [insert generic argument here]”

    The balance between keeping employees from bolting and a
    salary/bonus structure that rewards/punishes good/bad performance on
    Wall Street is one that hasn’t necessarily been perfected as of yet . .
    .

    — Posted by Derek

November 2007 Job Report Statistics

Here are the job market and
compensation numbers for November of 2007:


94,000 job gain in November 2007

  • 24,000 more than expected by Economists
  • In light of the revisions of September and October, the
    job market really has lost 24,000 jobs compared to original readings over
    the last 3 months

October has a revised 170,000
increase in jobs

  • Originally reported as 166,000 job increase

September has a revised 52,000
increase in jobs

  • Originally reported as 110,000 job increase

Unemployment rate stayed at 4.7%

  • Forecasters thought it would raise to 4.8%

Wages were up 0.2%

  • Wage is up 0.5% for the month
  • Fastest pace since April of 2006
  • Ahead of the 0.3% forecasted
  • October was revised to 0.1% increase
  • Over the last 12 months, wages are up 3.8%
  • Better than the 3.5% increase in retail prices

$17.63 is the average hourly wage


Specific Segment Job numbers:

Construction lost 24,000 workers

  • Most in residential construction jobs (20,000 loss)

Manufacturers lost 11,000 jobs in November

 Banks, lenders, and real estate
trimmed 25,000 jobs

Retailers showed a 24,000 job increase


Other information:

The four week moving average of new unemployment filings is the highest is 2
years

The birth-death model (starting new businesses and closing businesses), which
is included in the estimates for the government numbers, over the last 12
months shows 1,128,000 jobs added. The number of jobs created according to the
government report is 1,216,000 total. That is 88,000 or 7,000 a month gain from
employers not considered part of the birth-death model. That is not the story
the White House wants to tell (thank you to Floyd Norris for this tidbit)

Accepting Unconventional Risk

Very successful businessmen preach that
the difference for them is that they select the path that no one else is
taking. They zig when others zag. The mindset is that if
everyone else is doing it then what advantage do I have?

This is also true when the goal is to
make something remarkable. If it is remarkable then it challenges conventions
and no one has ever seen it before. It is unimaginable to them.

To get to that end state though you
have to balance skepticism with creativity. Skepticism is needed so that the
project stays on track and levels a certain amount of reality to the
proceedings. Creativity is needed to test new theories, try new methods, and
unlock assumptions. The creativity aspect needs to go right up to that line of
chaos.

A good example of
this is in today’s NY Times. The article is called The Team That Put the Net in Orbit by John Markoff. Markoff describes the environment that was needed to
install the TCP/ IP computer network language. There were renegades – Milo
Medin, there was business – IBM, and there were legislators – Al Gore who all
accepted that this was a new and untested way to accomplish something that they
couldn’t even dream. But they knew that the idea was too good to leave alone.
Think of it this way – who is the president of the internet? Sounds funny,
doesn’t it? But that was and still remains an unconventional concept – having
no recognized person in charge.

Some zig while most others zag.