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Ducks in a Row: Anything—As Long As It Pays…

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pimkie_fotos/2673197411/Edward Snowden’s revelations made people hyper-conscious of government snooping, while the proliferation of mobile and connected devices has made snooping easier, not to mention very profitable.

And profit is what’s behind the rise of global cyber-arms dealers that sell human suffering and death as surely as their real-world counterparts sell weapons.

Last summer, Bill Marczak stumbled across a program that could spy on your iPhone’s contact list and messages—and even record your calls. Illuminating shadowy firms that sell spyware to corrupt governments across the globe, Marczak’s story reveals the new arena of cyber-warfare.

Marczak’s stumble revealed three zero-day exploits (“Zero days” refers to the amount of time—i.e., none—a target has to fix an entirely new kind of hack before damage can be done.).

It’s called a jailbreak and the ability to do it remotely is every hacker’s dream.

… the ability to hack remotely into the digital brains of the world’s most popular hardware—the desktops, laptops, tablets, and especially the mobile phones made by Apple. And not just break into Apple devices but actually take control of them. It was a hacker’s dream: the ability to monitor a user’s communications in real time and also to turn on his microphone and record his conversations.

In a superhuman effort, Apple patched all three exploits in just 10 days.

It’s an uplifting story, but the fact is Apple and other computer-makers are fighting a losing battle. As long as there are hackers, they will continue to find ways to hack any device that interfaces with them. These dangers were highlighted this fall when a New England company found itself the target of a mass denial-of-service attack from millions of non-computer “zombie devices” connected to the Internet—most notably baby monitors.

“What these cyber-arms dealers have done is democratize digital surveillance,” says the A.C.L.U.’s Chris Soghoian. “The surveillance tools once only used by big governments are now available to anyone with a couple hundred grand to spend.” In fact, they may be coming to your iPhone sometime soon.

Hat tip to KG for sharing the Vanity Fair article about Marczak.

Flickr image credit: Pimkie

Ducks in a Row: Amazon Finally Kills Its Forced Ranking.

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/44412176@N05/4197328040/

Yesterday’s Golden Oldie referenced Jack Welch’s responsibility for the atrocious forced ranking system followed by so many large, and even not-so-large, companies.

… a review process known as “stack ranking” or “rank and yank” in which employees are rated against each other as opposed to how well they meet their job requirements. (…) Using it long-term tends to create a dog-eat-dog kind of culture.

That changed drastically under Jeff Immelt, GE’s current CEO, as described last year.

According to Raghu Krishnamoorthy, the head of GE’s in-house management school,

“Command and control is what Jack was famous for. Now it’s about connection and inspiration.

But not at Amazon, because Jeff Bezos walked in Welch’s shoes on many levels, including reviews.

… the review process was described like “choosing sacrificial lambs to protect more essential players.” (…) Bezos believed managers needed to raise the performance bar with every new hire so that the only employees that rise through the company would be the ones considered exceptional.

Until last year.

There is nothing like public embarrassment (humiliation?) via the New York Times to encourage rethinking one’s actions.

It took a more than a year, but Amazon is finally changing its review process.

Bezos is slow; Microsoft ditched it in 2015 and Marissa Mayer never managed to implement it, although she did try.

Amazing how it’s only taken 30+ years for management to figure out that setting employee against employee does not foster teamwork.

All I can say is, “Duh.”

Image credit: gorfor

Ducks in a Row: Hard Work and Initiative

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ralpe/3147996201/

I read an interesting article about hard work vs talent by Ed Latimore.

For those of you (like me) who never heard of Ed Latimore, he is a boxer (12-0 w/7 KOs), who also writes books and is a motivational speaker.

Take a minute to read the whole thing, but here is the most important take-away.

If you have nothing particularly special about your mind or body, you always have hard work. The ability to work your ass off is underrated as a talent because we consider talent something special, unique, and largely unteachable. (…) working your ass off is a talent you can learn.

Along with hard work, you need to develop your initiative.

Initiative is a muscle and you have dozens of opportunities to exercise it every day.

It’s simple.

Anything you notice, large or small, that needs to be done, do it.

That’s all.

Do it and initiative becomes a habit, just like hard work.

And I can pretty much guarantee that those two habits will take you almost anywhere you want to go.

Image credit: Ralf Peter Reimann

Ducks in a Row: Are Your Employees Owners or Renters?

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gusilu/2888338293/

“Ownership” is the difference between having employees who care and those who are just along for the ride.

Jim Haskett, Harvard business School professor emeritus, hosts lively conversations around current research he and his colleagues have done. The comment period is roughly two weeks and the ideas/comments are as interesting as Haskett’s original post.

Are Employees Becoming Job ‘Renters’ Instead of ‘Owners’? is the most recent and is critical to any manager looking to foster an engaged workforce.

In our work, we found that an “owner”—either a loyal employee or customer who takes responsibility for improving relationships, products, and processes as well as referring new employee candidates or customers—can be worth more than a hundred “renters—”those who are only involved with the organization to complete one or more transactions.

Think about it; why would Uber drivers care about the company — to use Haskett’s terms, they rent the job.

It isn’t just the so-called on-demand jobs that hire renters. There are plenty of them in full-time positions and, surprisingly, even in companies such as Google and Facebook.

In a recent Golden Oldie we considered the truism that “you get what you give” when it comes to respect and that’s true about most things.

Another old saying is also very true — people don’t quit companies, they quit managers.

In companies with “real” jobs, it’s the managers who determine whether employees are owners or renters.

Be sure to click over, read the comments and add your own.

Image credit: chispita_666

Ducks in a Row: Facebook — Racist or Just Dumb?

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Considering it’s 2016 the unbelievably racist targeted advertising choices offered by Facebook are hard to swallow.

facebook-screenshotHarder still are their explanations.

First, they claim to prohibit this kind of ugly targeting.

Facebook says its policies prohibit advertisers from using the targeting options for discrimination, harassment, disparagement or predatory advertising practices.

They claim that advertisers won’t misuse these options.

“We take a strong stand against advertisers misusing our platform: Our policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate, and they require compliance with the law,” said Steve Satterfield, privacy and public policy manager at Facebook. “We take prompt enforcement action when we determine that ads violate our policies.”

But their worst excuse is the old A/B test.

Satterfield said it’s important for advertisers to have the ability to both include and exclude groups as they test how their marketing performs.

Hence my question.

Is Facebook really so naïve they actually believe that the so-called “affinity choices” won’t be abused or, in the name of profit, do they just not care?

Image credit: Facebook via Pro Publica

Ducks in a Row: Walmart — King of Spin

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/64738468@N00/2212721973/

More proof that what What Walmart really excels at is PR and spin.

After years of angry customer complaints about dirty stores, unstocked shelves, uncaring employees and an exodus of customers to the competition Walmart had an epiphany.

Maybe, just maybe, they had cut worker pay too far.

What if paying workers more, training them better and offering better opportunities for advancement can actually make a company more profitable, rather than less? “Efficiency wages” is the term that economists — who excel at giving complex names to obvious ideas — use for the notion that employers who pay workers more than the going rate will get more loyal, harder-working, more productive employees in return.

Of course, Henry Ford figured that out in 1914 and companies such as Costco have followed suit.

Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage ($110 today), which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers. (…) The move proved extremely profitable; instead of constant turnover of employees, the best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing their human capital and expertise, raising productivity, and lowering training costs.

However, these days, money isn’t everything. People want more challenges, more ways to grow and better career opportunities.

“We realized quickly that wages are only one part of it, that what also matters are the schedules we give people, the hours that they work, the training we give them, the opportunities you provide them,” said Judith McKenna, who became chief operating officer in late 2014, in a recent interview. “What you’ve got to do is not just fix one part, but get all of these things moving together.”

“Quickly?” Considering the years of complaints, falling sales and stock price I’m not sure “quickly” is particularly accurate.

Just think. People who earn more money have more discretionary money to spend.

Rocket science? No, just logic.

But making your company look like a hero for paying people $18K a year definitely is rocket science.

Flickr image credit: mario

Ducks in a Row: John Legere and T-Mobile

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016
T-Mobile un-carrier movement

*click image to read

John Legere is not your typical big company CEO. Legere is an ancient 58 year-old leading a company filled with Millennials in a market driven by them.

Perhaps he should be termed the “un-CEO,” just as he is branding T-Mobile as the “un-carrier.”

… his mission to turn T-Mobile into an Un-carrier — essentially the opposite of any other mobile company.

The interview with him is worth reading, especially if you want to learn how to compete against brands (AT&T and Verizon) that are better known and far richer and successfully lead people who are not like you.

In just four short years he has taken Deutsche Telekom owned T-Mobile from a joke to the third-largest and fastest-growing carrier in the US.

Not too shabby.

He radically changed the culture, and, as he says, “set out to solving customer pain points in an attempt to fix a stupid, broken, arrogant industry.”

And not just with talk; but with an additional million square miles of LTE and new services, such as Binge On (unlimited streaming at 480p quality from services like Netflix), forcing competitors to follow suit.

His advice to business school students is something that anybody at the helm of any company, from the the corner dry cleaner to the Fortune 5, should embrace.

“I can summarize everything you need to know to lead a major corporation. Are you prepared to write this down?” And then they get all ready. I tell them I can summarize how I succeed as a leader: Listen to your employees, listen to your customers, shut the f— up, and do what they tell you. Then I say that the genius of the marketing strategy that we’ve had in every company that I’ve ever been in, is that if you ask your customers what they want and you give it to them, you shouldn’t be shocked if they love it.

Ask your customers. Listen to your customers. Give your customers what they want.

Definitely rocket science.

Image credit: T-Mobile via BI

Ducks in a Row: To Get It, First Give It

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/southpaw2305/3311925355/

A response on Quora offers a key good insight for human interaction. It’s especially applicable when leading/managing a team, whether you’re a CEO or just-promoted supervisor.

A knight on his weary horse pulling up to house of a peasant. “Peasant, water for my horse and food and ale for me.”
Whilst eating and drinking, he says to the peasant “I am heading for the next town, what are the people like there?”
The peasant inquires “What we the people like in the last town you visited?”
The knight thinks and says, “The towns’ people were dishonest, unfriendly thieves, I was glad to leave the place.”
The peasant replied “Sadly, I think you will find the people in the next town the same.”

One week later another knight pulls up to the same peasant on his weary horse and says, “Excuse my look, but my horse and I have travelled far. If you have some food and water for my horse and also for myself, I would be grateful.”
The peasant feeds them both, with ale for the knight also, when the knight asks, “We are heading for the next town, what are the people like there?”
“What were they like in the last town you left?”
asks the peasant.
“They were the most wonderful, generous people I have ever met. I was sad to leave them,” answered the knight.
“Do not worry,” said the peasant, “they are are the same in the next town.”

In other words, people rise to your level of expectations.

Not only do they rise, but they also sink when expectations are low. This is most obvious when considering the difference between schools and teachers.

Although more subtle, it applies just as accurately to the workplace.

If you want your people to trust you — trust them first.

If you want respect — offer it first.

While the list of wants is endless, the recipe for achieving them remains the same.

To get what you want, give it first.

Flickr image credit: Chuck Black

Ducks in a Row: 4 Absolute Management Truths

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wilsonb/4555559156/

  • I believe that people would rather have a lousy job working for a great person than a great job working for a bad manager.
  • And I believe very strongly that the single largest component of a business that adds to shareholder value is great management, and the single largest destroyer of shareholder value is bad management.
  • Now, being a good manager is really, really difficult. And the sooner people who are managers recognize that, the sooner they’ll start being a good manager.
  • It takes unbelievable courage to be a good manager. It is hard to have difficult conversations with people when they’re not doing well. Who likes to do that? That takes courage. You can’t slide out of the way and hope it’s going to take care of itself.Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos (a global vendor of workforce management enterprise software)

Not a lot for me to add, considering I’ve been saying the same thing for over a decade, but maybe hearing it from Ain will carry more weight.

High employee retention pays off; Kronos is a billion dollar company based on revenue, not investment rounds.

“Kronites who feel valued stay longer and develop a deeper understanding of and stronger relationships with our customers. It is their experience and knowledge that allows Kronos to deliver incredibly innovative products and a superior customer experience.”

Image credit: Wilson Bilkovich

Ducks in a Row: Time to Be Grateful

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/purdman1/23520599596/

How grateful are you? Not just for the big things, like not being hit by the guy who ran the light, but for the everyday stuff?

Who do you take time to be grateful to? Your spouse/partner, kids, colleagues, boss?

How do you show your gratitude? A quick verbal thanks, email, text, hand-written note?

As CEO of Campbell Soup, Doug Conant sent more than 30,000 handwritten thank-you notes to staffers and clients driving the creation of a “culture of gratitude across the company.

…when Conant took the reins at Campbell Soup, the stock price was falling and it was the worst performer of all the major food companies in the world, according to Fast Company. By 2009, the company was ahead of the S&P Food Group and the S&P 500….

Journalist Janice Kaplan spent a year documenting the effects of gratitude and shares the info in “The Gratitude Diaries” and uses Conant’s behavior as an example of a leader who harnessed the power of recognition to boost his team’s performance.

Such a little thing for such a giant effect. People do notice.

When Kaplan visited the Business Insider office in August, she said that a survey she conducted with the John Templeton Foundation found that about 90% of people said a grateful boss was more likely to be successful.

Bosses frequently poo-poo the idea of saying ‘thanks’; their reason being that people should be grateful to have a job. This is especially true in a down economy — which is shortsighted and stupid.

But, as the man said, the times they are a’changing.

In the last few years, more and more leaders have started to adopt this practice, including Mark Zuckerberg, who in 2014 challenged himself to write one thank-you note every day, according to The Washington Post.

Gratitude — taking that bit of time to say ‘thanks’ — costs nothing and offers some of the highest ROI of any action you may take.

Image credit: purdman1

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