DK\’s Blog

November 30, 2006

DK’s Blog Has Moved!

Filed under: Uncategorized — darrenkelly @ 12:44 am

WordPress sucks.   I’ve moved my blog to Blogger.  

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July 13, 2006

Corporate Bloggers – Evil or The Next Generation Loyalty Tool?

Filed under: Business — darrenkelly @ 3:36 am

So Dell launched a blog today, joining the ranks of Earthlink and other leading-edge companies who have decided to interact with their customers in a new way.  After a few harsh words from a couple of bloggers, it seems the vast majority of the blogging community is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and see how they do.   The bigger question is whether “corporate blogs” are merely another marketing channel for companies, or is there something more here?  I’d argue there is MUCH more here.   In fact, this is a glimpse of the future of customer loyalty management.

Marketing 101:  1975 – 2005

I recently sat in a lecture at Harvard Business School by one of the “old school” marketing strategy pundits of the last 30 years – Ben Shapiro.  Shapiro dutifully put up slides showing how companies should understand their customer base by slicing & dicing data about how much profit potential each group of customers represents today, and their growth prospects in the future.   As usual, he is the king of the one-liner –  “The problem with older customers is that they tend to die more often.”   The presentation reminded me of Bain’s Fred “Customer Loyalty” Reicheld approach – use lots of data to make decisions about which customers are the good ones.    This has been a powerful way for a generation of marketing strategy MBA’s to analyze what makes their customer’s tick.  However, it is an approach that was built in the pre-wired world.    Even the emergence of the Internet only prompted companies to create smaller segments of customers (direct marketing to a “segment of one”) and improve customer service. 

Marketing 101: 2006 – ???

The blogosphere changes everything.  Now, as Dell has already proven 24 hours into its launch, companies can create A DIALOG with customers.   Not feedback from surveys.  Not customized marketing campaigns.  Not automated email responses or “press #2 to reach a Spanish-speaking salesperson”.  We are talking about creating respectful relationships – heck even friendships – between employees and customer “mavens”.    Already you can see bloggers willing to provide frank and helpful feedback to Dell’s IR & PR people about site design, product improvements, and they’ve cleared up a hoax about Dell’s keyboard loggers.    These types of feedback are a marketers dream, because not only does the company get good, honest feedback, the feedback is coming from influential customers who themselves are connected to thousands of other customers and potential customers.   The impact of one friendly interaction between Dell and a blogger is amplied exponentially, in near real time, and without advertising expense.   

Just when you thought productivity couldn’t improve any more (after email, the web & Blackberries have driven dramatic gains for the past 10 years), here is a development that will allow companies to quickly react to customer concerns and diseminate their responses instantly to vast interconnected groups of their customers and prospects.   Marketeers rejoice – a world of real-time feedback is here and you no longer have to make product decisions in a vacuum.  

Poor Ben Shapiro.

June 27, 2006

Doggie Piggy Bunny Presentations for Senior Management

Filed under: Business,Career Advice — darrenkelly @ 6:14 am

It never ceases to amaze me how many business peeople don’t know how to present their analysis and data.    Even the best analysis falls down if it can’t be quickly consumed by the people around you, especially senior managers.   In the spirit of public service, I thought I’d send out this helpful primer on how to do it.  Straight from Bain training.  Here goes:

When presenting information to sr. managers, you have to “dumb it down” to child-like simplicity.  Doggie.  Piggy.  Bunny.

1)       If it is more than 5 slides, and a table of contents that re-appears with scrolling square box around the section you are about to begin2)       Each slide should have a heading, a “tagline” and a chart or bullet points.3)       Aim to have many more chart slides than bullet point slides.   CEO’s like charts, and it ensures your analysis is data-driven, not opinion based.4)       Each chart page should have a “so what”.   What is the one (maybe two) takeaway(s) from this chart?   What is the most important point about this data.5)       Have a conclusions slide.  Either put first or last, depending on whether you think you have to prove it to your audience.  If they are skeptical, show the charts first, THEN the conclusion.  Otherwise lead with the conclusions.  If your boss learns to trust you, he/she may not ever look beyond it.6)       Try to use a mostly white background in PowerPoint so it is easy to see.7)       Have consistent font sizes page to page.   Never use more than 3 font sizes, if you can.    Believe it or not, changing font sizes is the biggest reason people don’t take a presentation seriously.   There are studies on this.   No funky fonts either.  Arial, Times New Roman or maybe something that looks like one of those.

8)       No cartoons.  Ever.

9)    If you are making a logical argument, Remember MECE.   Are the outcomes you’ve evaluated both Mutually Exclusive and Cumulatively Exhaustive?   If so, and you’ve proved which is correct with your great data slides, start looking for a car to match your big promotion!

June 23, 2006

What GMAT’s and LSAT’s Really Test

Filed under: Business,Career Advice — darrenkelly @ 10:20 am

Tonight at the Denver Entrepreneur of the Year Award dinner (actually, 8 “Entrepreneurs of the Year” in 8 categories, with 3 companies in each, proving that the sponsor, Ernst & Young, really knows how to make all potential clients feel loved), I learned something from Brent, an attorney at our law firm Cooley.

He used to work for Princeton Review, the group that sells books and (now) courses on how to do well on the GMAT.   I did pretty well on the GMAT, so I felt comfortably smug sharing my honest belief that the only reason I did well is that as a kid I used to do lots of puzzles from “Games Magazine”, and many of the stupid GMAT questions required the same sort of canned rules & tricks to quickly answer them – much like the video games of today which require players to learn the “secrets” of unlocking the next level.   I thought this was a truly idiotic way of assessing intelligence, and that doing well on the GMAT or LSAT only proved that you knew that there was a system of rules, and if you figured out the secrets, you could win.

Brent pointed out that THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE EXAMS ARE ATTEMPTING TO REWARD – people who figure out “the game” and “the secrets” to winning.  

This is a stunning insight that every college-bound high-school student, and frankly, most participants in the overall corporate Rat-Race should memorize.    GMATs, and much of corporate life, IS A GAME.   Figure out the rules, and you win.   I always felt this way about most college courses (it isn’t what you learn, but the fact you figured out the way to get good grades with each professor) but the larger lesson is smack-down, in-your-face life-changing.  The same rule applies to almost every part of life.  Since I’m mostly familiar with how economic incentives rule behavior (the only other one is sex, which I’m pretty sure is the main reason people want to do well economically, but that is a topic for another posting later), here are my best guesses at the “secrets” of winning the economic game:

 – You have to be lucky to win

 – You have to put yourself in a position that increases your odds of being lucky.

That is it.   Talent, effort, etc. are important, but those are a given.  Lots of people are smart.  Lots of people work hard.  Everyone knows some jerk who made a fortune, despite obvious character flaws that should have prevented he/she from ever being promoted from assistant hamburger flipper.   But if you apply this test, I bet you 10 out of 10 will be people who took a chance to put themselves in a position for the big win.   Whether it be entrepreneurs in a start-up eating cans of corn and sharing a house with their fellow employees, or mega-million atheletes who achieve the pinacle of success in their field, or traders on Wall Street, the big winners hold a ticket in a lottery where the probablity-weighted odds are a lot better than the ol’ powerball draw.

So there you have it.   I passed the GMAT in 1991, and just now figured out how it was truly relevant.

June 11, 2006

Canadians singing the American Anthem

Filed under: hockey — darrenkelly @ 10:05 am

It is interesting watching Canada's great sport – ice hockey – down here in the States.  The perspectives of the Outdoor Life Network (soon to be "Versus" network), and NBC commentators is informative about the state of of Canada-US relations. 

Tonight, NBC did more to repair American/Canadian relations since Ken Taylor during the Iran Hostage Crisis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_hostage_crisis.   They showed, in full, the singing of both national anthems before the game (a tradition that began in 1946 back when hockey had only 6 teams, 2 Canadian, 4 American).

Most folks don't know that Edmonton fans have a long tradition of singing along to the national anthem.  I remember my first non-Edmonton sporting event in Toronto, when I started to proudly belt out "Oh…Canada…Our home and native la…….." when I realized that besides the guy standing on the red carpet on the ice, I was the only other person providing choral support.     

Tonight, Edmonton fans took the tradition to a new level – singer Paul Lorieau  http://coveredinoil.blogspot.com/2006/06/liveblogging-pain.htmlactually stopped singing after the first few lines and let the deafening crowd bring "O Canada" home.    It was pretty impressive.  

More subtley, but more importantly after 5 years of Canadians declaring their disdain for George W. at every cocktail party, the Edmonton fans also sang "The Star Spangled Banner" – you could clearly hear it on the NBC broadcast.  Jon Davidson, the color commentator, made a point of it to the American TV audience.    Perhaps it was his way of saying "See, Canadians really are the last people on Earth who don't hate Americans and everything they stand for."  Actually, I think it is Albertans, in particular, who share most of the same values as Americans (and who tend to do pretty well when the price of Oil hits $70 because of the few kagillion barrels of oil up in the northern part of the province and they all owe Georgy a big one for that) and that is why the crowd took the opportunity to show that they still like Americans.

IMHO, the White House should make a call to the NBC brass and quietly order them to sign the NHL to a $200 million television deal next year.  George would help out the Canadians by ensuring the 17 year hockey players from Moose Jaw would continue to enjoy big paychecks in the NHL for years to come.  He'd help out Americans by showing that there ARE other people in the world who don't hate America, and he might pick up a couple of points in the polls.  He'd win fans on both sides of the border and the next time he wanted to build an oil pipeline or large "Star Wars" missle defense shield installation in the Yukon he'd have all the Canadian support he'd need.  Well, at least in Moose Jaw.

June 9, 2006

Crowdsourcing – the Strategy Consultant’s Next Big Thing?

Filed under: Business,Uncategorized — darrenkelly @ 11:20 pm

In olden days, strategy consultants from Bain, McKinsey & BCG would show up at the door of a Fortune 500 company with a small army of Harvard, Yale & Princeton undergrads & MBAs who would sift through mountains of internal data to answer lofty strategic questions such as "Will we make better margins with product A or product B?" and "Should we expand into Uruguay or Ecuador?".    After 4 months and thousands of brilliant man-hours (woman-hours?, person-hours? FTE-hours? what is the politically correct term these days), a hypothesis would emerge, powerpoint slides would be prepared, a senior partner from the partnership would come down from the mountain and present "the answer" to a delighted CEO.

Now, in newer times, perhaps Bain & McKinsey should save their money and forget about hiring all those smart Harvard grads and "Crowdsource" the answer.   Instead of paying a team of big brains with a total of 100 years of business experience, McKinsey can simply post the question to the universe of New Media readers – bloggers, chat-room pundits, web-surfers, etc. – and get their collective opinion.     In this way, McKinsey accesses thousands of years of experience.   An interesting effect we see in natural statistics is that even the dumb-ass opinions collected along the way tend to cancel each other out, leaving a collective 'average' answer which tends to be correct, because it reflects the real information provided by each opinion.   It gets better – if you can weight the opinions (such as people putting $$ bets behind their answers), you start getting a VERY accurate answer – just like the stock market.  

You heard it here first – crowdsouring will be the next big business tool preached by business guru's.  Move over 2×2 SWOT analysis, here comes the crowd.

June 8, 2006

Let the Chilean Farmers Mine for Gold!

Filed under: Business,GeoPolitics — darrenkelly @ 9:33 pm

I received a petition from my Canadian in-laws recently (see below) that calls for the restriction of Barrick Gold Mining Company from building a Gold mine in a "pristine" part of Chili.    I thought it would be important for someone to express the reasonable, libertarian economic argument about why it is in everyone's best interests, even "the Greenies" to let Barrick build the mine.  Here goes.

The farmers will make 10x the money from the jobs they will get pulling Gold out of the mine so Chinese & Indian folks can wear gold jewelry.   This makes a lot of people happy.  (Smiling farmers with money, Smiling people with Jewelry).    In 50 years when the gold is gone, they’ll fill the hole.   In 50 more years, trees will grow on the spot.   You may notice the difference, but it isn’t going to be the end of the world.  I’m also betting that Barrick will go to extraordinary lengths to ensure the rivers flow around the mine, and ensure that run-off of heavy metals is eliminated – in recent years mining technology has advanced to the point that this is no longer a problem.  In fact, in
Africa, they use BACTERIA to separate the gold out.
The people who run Barrick are not evil.   They will do their best to protect the environment for our grandchildren.   Call them and go for coffee with some of them and I bet you have more in common with them than not.It comes down to this – which is worse?  

1)       Chileans have to put up with noise, and the ugliness of a mine for 3 generation

2)       Chilean farmers remain poor, uneducated, have poor healthcare, and 3 generations of their children don’t have the opportunity to see this incredible world because they don’t have the wealth.    

You can argue about which is worse, but in case after case after case around the world for 1000’s of years, people want a better life, and more opportunity for their children, and have decided #1 is the lesser evil.   THIS WILL NOT STOP.  EVER.  HUMANS ARE HUMANS.

This is a big planet, and yes, we are changing it.  Yes we are probably wrecking parts of it.   But the ONLY way for us to prevent ourselves from ruining it is MAKING EVERYONE ON THE PLANET AS RICH AS POSSIBLE SO WE CAN AFFORD “GREEN” TECHNOLOGIES TO SUPPORT OURSELVES IN A LOW-IMPACT WAY.    A capitalist, free-trade, open market approach will ensure this happens for developing nations and their farmers.

Let’s start mining!


Appeal!

"…….Dear friends who care about our earth. Judge for
yourself if you want to take action.
In the Valle de San Felix, the purest water in

Chile
runs from 2 rivers, fed by 2 glaciers.
Water is a most precious resource, and wars will be
fought for it.
Indigenous farmers use the water, there is no
unemployment, and they provide the second largest
source of income for the area.
Under the glaciers has been found a huge deposit of
gold, silver and other minerals. To get at these, it
would be necessary to break, to destroy
the glaciers – something never conceived of in the
history of the world and to make 2 huge holes, each
as big as a whole mountain, one for extraction
and one for the mine's rubbish tip.
The project is called PASCUA LAMA. The company is
called Barrick Gold.
The operation is planned by a multi-national company,
one of whose members is George Bush Senior.
The Chilean Government has approved the project to
start this year, 2006.
The only reason it hasn't started yet is because the
farmers have got a temporary stay of execution.
If they destroy the glaciers, they will not just
destroy the source of specially pure water, but they
will permanently contaminate the 2 rivers so
they will never again be fit for human or animal
consumption because of the use of cyanide and
sulphuric acid in the extraction process.
Every last gramme of gold will go abroad to the
multinational company and not one will be left with
the people whose land it is. They will only
be left with the poisoned water and the resulting
illnesses.
The farmers have been fighting a long time for their
land, but have been forbidden to make a TV appeal by a
ban from the Ministry of the Interior.
Their only hope now of putting brakes on this project
is to get help from international justice.
The world must know what is happening in
Chile . The
only place to start changing the world is from here.
We ask you to circulate this message amongst your
friends in the following way. Please copy this text,
paste it into a new email adding your
signature and send it to everyone in your address
book. Please will the 100th person to receive and sign
the petition send it to noapascualama@yahoo.ca to
be forwarded to the Chilean government.

May 26, 2006

Why the Oilers will Win the Cup

Filed under: hockey — darrenkelly @ 4:35 am

I am actually one of those people south of the Canadian border who has watched pretty much every NHL playoff game this year, both East & West.    I said in about January that a Western conference team will win, because hockey in the West resembles old school hockey.   The players are bigger, tougher, and the coaches are smarter.   In the East a fast, free-styling game plan was all you needed to let your top 4 or 5 play-makers get loose and put the puck in the net.    In the West, coaches actually had to discipline their players to play their roles within a system.    Teams with discipline could adapt at any time by playing a system that cramped the style of whateever opposing team they faced that night.   The Oilers' ability to beat Detroit by changing the way they played on a dime is an example.

The more interesting question is why the West should be more disciplined than the East?  Simple – Geography.   The Western teams are much farther apart and have tougher travel schedules than the East.   This means they are more tired and have less practice time.  As a result, they can't rely on speed and freshness to carry them throughout the long regular season, so they HAD to learn disciplined, system-based hockey.   Thus, they are better equipped.  

Bet the farm, the Oilers will win in 5 games.

May 25, 2006

Enron – Shoot the CEOs!

Filed under: Business,Enron,Uncategorized — darrenkelly @ 9:33 pm

So Jeffrey & Ken are going to jail, joining Andrew, Bernie and few others.   While I have no doubt these guys either pushed the envelope a bit, or were down-right crooked, it still smells bad that they will sit and rot while the really outrageous corporate crook – Richard Scrushy of Healthsouth continues to preach on his "made-to-influence-the-jury" tevelanglist show. 

Scrushy "got religion" just in time to use his community program to ensure his jury of peers was full of brainwashed Birmingham automotants sympathetic to his cause.  

I believe in the rule of law, but America has a long way to go when dealing with corporate malfeasance in a consistent way.   The rules are too loosy-goosy and hard to understand, resulting in prosecutorial "Hail Mary's" that depend entirely on getting a jury with enough personal anger to vote in favor of a conviction – regardless of the law.

Until the rules are understandable and consistently applied, I suggest we just randomly shoot 2 or 3 of the Fortune 1000 CEO's each year on Labor Day.   We'd accomplish the same thing we achieve today and save taxpayers the bundle in court room costs.   Plus, we could sell tickets and donate the proceeds to the former Enron 401K stockholders.

Immigrant US Citizens – Fair for All?

Filed under: Immigration — darrenkelly @ 9:13 pm

If the US Congress is smart, they'll realize that the more immigrants we can get into the US, the better.   These people actually WANT to come to a country where everybody works hard and believes they can make a better life for themselves and their kids.   They also have enough motivation to overcome the fear/sadness/lonliness that comes from abandoning your family and friends to move to new place. 90% of the world can't bring themselves to make such a leap.     I applaud the Senate for having the hutzpah to actually recognize the reality that we need to get these 10 million immigrants into the country in a legal way ASAP – you can't send them back and you can't build a wall.   The economic realities that made 10 million risk their lives to get here are not going away and it doesn't matter what the law is – these people will come.  Period. 

The BIG thing being missed in this debate is that if it is a good idea to grant under-educated fruit pickers, labourers and restaurant workers citizenship, it is and even BETTER idea to do it for univesity-educated business people, economists & scientists.    Currently the visa programs (TN-1, H1-B, etc.) that let these types of folks come into the US do not have a path to citizenship, so the US misses out on the opportunity to have the post productive, value-creating, job-creating, risk-taking people on the planet stay in the country.    Forget the 700 mile wall on the Mexican border, there is already a bigger wall wrapped around the country.    

Here is the real answer – the US should let anyone who shows up into the country.  The more the merrier.  Think about the economic opportunities created by accepting 25 million refugees.  Heck, make it 100 million people.   We have the space.  Sure, there will be a bit of social change associated with such a policy, but change is not good or bad, and people get used to new realities.   We are already eating Burritos and listening to excellent Latin music.   Americans will get to used to it.

Now for a bigger thought –  It is morally repugnant to sit in America on our lawn chairs in our big back yards with our big houses and preach the values of freedom and opportunity and yet, at the same time, not offer other people around the world who share those values the chance to come here and embrace them.   I think this is the ultimate test of America's resolve to bring the ideals of democracy and freedom to the world – which we have a moral responsibility to do so another few billion young people aren't born into a life of raw poverty, mind-numbing religious zealotry or both.  If you think it is tough to send troops around the world and try to plant the seeds of freedom (think Germany, think Japan, think Vietnam, now think Iraq), then think again.  The only reason that America has to do this is that the other option – open our doors to all these people – is that Americans actually prefer killing a few troops and a few people in far off places than actually have the Aballah's, the Singhs, and the Ongeri's move into the neighborhood.   So the next time you see someone who is against the War in Iraq, ask them if they want 100 million immigrants next year.  If they say no, you can tell them to sit back down in their lawn chair and enjoy the nightly bloodshed – the blood is on their hands also.

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