Showing posts from December, 2009

Turn the Cell Phone Industry Upside Down

This a rare, off-topic non-workplace post but I'm on vacation this week and thinking about other things. While shopping for Christmas presents I briefly considered and then dismissed buying an iPhone or Blackberry for my wife. Our daughter has an iPhone and loves it; I have a company-issued Blackberry and find it handy at times. The purchase price of these devices is $450 - $500 unless you renew your cell phone contract, and then they are anywhere from $49 - $99. But that's where they lost me. I went to my local AT&T store and found out that we don't have a line on our family share plan that is up for renewal until February. I pushed back some with the nice young man behind the counter; after all, I send enough money each month to AT&T for my home phone, Internet access and three cell phones to supply a third world city with food for a year. What's eight weeks if you're making a long-time and very good customer happy. Nothin' doin'! I'm

Things to Blow Up I: Performance Reviews

In an industrial era where supervisors were "bosses" rather than coaches, where jobs were relatively unskilled manipulating things vs. information, and where the talent needed for these jobs was in ample supply was born the performance appraisal. The purpose was two-fold: force the occasion at least annually for the boss to speak to the worker about their performance and how they could do their jobs better, and provide a documented history of the worker's performance. That history, housed usually in the Personnel department, was primarily used for (1) review of the worker's history for purposes of promotion or reassignment, and in later years after the development of discrimination laws (2) documentation for the company to support its termination decision and defend against lawsuits. W. Edwards Demming, the most progressive-minded and talented of all management gurus, advised American industry to end this practice in the 1950's. As is well-documented, his ideas

It's a New Year: Let's Blow Some Stuff Up

Okay so we've worked our way through the worst part of the worst recession in our lifetime. We've practiced a relentless focus on our business, watched our expenses, kept the company profitable through a variety of challenges from weak retail to financial backers who think a bible translation means English, Spanish or French. Everybody on the team deserves credit. While focus is a great thing that keeps us on-task and taking care of immediate business it should not be the enemy of innovation. God gave us two eyes, and I believe that gives us the ability to keep one on the task at hand while the other one looks to the future. Without taking our "eye" off our immediate needs, we need use the other one to take a fresh look at some worn-out assumptions, blow up some old programs, and continue to simplify our business. This is a well-run profitable company, but I believe there are places where we're expending energy for little return. Since we're all doing