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Frank Patrick's Focused Performance Business Blog
This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Chart of the Day: Turning a Corner? -- Check out this well done interactive graphic - Turning a Corner? - from the New York Times. Good depiction of data over time.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Applying "Science" to Investment -- From the NY Times: They Tried to Outsmart Wall Street, about the rise and fall of "quants" in the world of investment.

Gotta love this quote:
"In physics there may one day be a Theory of Everything; in finance and the social sciences, you’re lucky if there is a usable theory of anything."
(with apologies to my old TOC friends)

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Dirty Dozen -- From Rolling Stone (still relevant after all these years):
"Meet the bankers and brokers responsible for the financial crisis - and the officials who let them get away with it"
The Enabler, The Pioneer, The Ideologue, and nine more.

Get the whole list at The Dirty Dozen : Rolling Stone

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Small is the New Big -- Continuing the theme started the other day with How Big is Too Big?, Peter Bregman, in Why Small Companies Will Win in This Economy, writes...
"...The gap of confidence between small companies and big ones is growing. We used to rely on the security of big companies. That's why we worked for them. And hired them. And put our money in them.

"But with the virtual collapse of AIG, Lehman, Citibank, GM, Chrysler, and many more — now even GE is in trouble — all that's changed. Now it's a risk to do business with the big ones.

"We simply don't trust companies anymore. We trust people. And in big companies, it's hard to even find a person to trust as we scream "operator" into our telephones only to get transferred to another menu whose options have changed.

"That gives small companies a huge advantage...

"Small is the new big. Sustainable is the new growth. Trust is the new competitive advantage..."
Read the whole thing.

Hmmmm..."Sustainable is the new growth."

Reminds me of my old TOC training, in which Goldratt's premise was that the goal of a for-profit company was "to make money now and in the future". The word "more" was not included in that goal, suggesting that staying in business - sustaining the ability to continually satisfy customers and provide employees with security - took precedence over growth for growth's sake. Growth (and "more" money) would come organically if you took care of customers and employees and managed the market and operations according to a constraint-based Process Of On-Going Improvement (POOGI).

Just rambling here, but maybe the point is that the risks of growth and size include the eventual lack of ability to shift with economic changes, which then threatens employee security and satisfaction, which, as Bregman suggests, threatens customer satisfaction and confidence, which threatens the ability to make money which threatens employee security and so on. Personally, in my career, with only one exception, my own satisfaction seems to have been inversely proportional to the size of the organization within which I've found myself.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Strategic Thinking. Not! - From a new blog by a China hand - Behind the Curtain:
"China is hosting the next World Expo (what used to be called a World’s Fair) in Shanghai. It starts in May of 2010 and runs for six months. Seventy million people are likely to visit, the vast majority of them up and coming middle class people and (current and) future leaders from China, with many others from around the world. Each of the major countries of the world will be present with an impressive physical presence in the form of a significant pavilion and with an array of cultural and commercial programs."
That last statement is inaccurate.

There's a major country that is not planning on a pavilion.

Guess which one.

Hint: It's initial are USA.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Big Bucks, Wasted Bucks -- From Seth's Blog: The myth of big salaries (it's all marketing):
The failed bankers on Wall Street have been whining that if they have to cut bonuses and salaries dramatically, they'll be unable to recruit great talent, and they need great talent to fix the situation.

And for years, boards have been claiming that they need to pay CEOs $50,000,000 salaries in order to recruit the very best for their companies.

Jamie Dimon at Chase said, "It's possible someone's going to walk in my office and say, Jamie, I have a family. I can't afford to live that way."

This, of course, is nonsense....

...There's no real effort made to market the jobs, just to race to the top (or the bottom, depending on your point of view) with the easiest marketing signal of all. Price. Yes, it's exactly the same as a retailer trying to improve business by being the cheapest....

...If you are a relentless free market believer, more power to you. If your company is private, pay yourself a trillion dollars a year, fine with me. In fact, we need more private companies that innovate and pay their staff a ton. But if you're owned by shareholders or bailed out by taxpayers, wasting trillions of dollars because you don't have the guts to market your jobs properly is silly.
Lazy marketing is as ineffective and wasteful on the recruiting side as it is on the revenue side.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Best Comment Yet on Economic Crisis -- From Thought Gadgets' Clear view on the world economy. Read the whole thing. It's short.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Charles Handy on Slowing Down -- On last night's Marketplace radio show, business philosopher Charles Handy got into the economic situation, and ended the interview with a very appealing scenario for the future...
Ryssdal: So now what then? I mean, if Adam Smith -- who wrote "The Wealth of Nations" that we all know about -- if he's right, and we got it wrong 250 years later, now what do we do?

Handy: Well, I think governments are faced with a difficult problem. They are trying to get people to spend. But it does seem a rather un-Adam Smith idea to get people to go out shopping in order to get the economy going again. More "useless things," in other words. But in order to get that happening, they have reduced the base rate from the Federal Reserve or the Bank of England, in order to get people finding it easier to borrow. But actually there are more savers than borrowers in society. And so, of course, now the savers are not going to save because there's no incentive to it. So, I'm not sure that the solution is going to be easy to get by, and I think it'll take about three years for things to bottom out. But there may be some good news in all of that. I mean we may get back to a saner kind of world -- what Adam Smith called "cultivation" or "civilization" -- where we don't all sort of spend our life trying to make money, to buy things we don't really need to impress the neighbors, and so on. Where we actually do work -- not 60 hours a week, but 40 hours a week. Where we actually do take holidays. Where we actually get to know our kids again. Where it actually becomes smart to have a tiny car, to walk and bicycle and these sorts of things. And we may find we enjoy it actually just as much as the hectic pace that we've seen in recent years. I've often said that capitalism, particularly in America, is a very exhausting business. It tires people out.
Along the same lines, David Armano also talks about slowing down.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

It's Their Own Fault, Right? -- Good point from Planet Money...
"One thing is clear: whenever this episode ends, there will have to be a serious and real effort to prevent the growth of so many Too Big Too Fail institutions. We cannot have a functioning system if some don't pay the costs of their bad decisions. Not to be too grand, but our very way of life depends on that."
Gotta think that if the banks are worth almost a trillion, the auto industry (including the network of suppliers tied to the big 3) deserves a quarter-to-half billion 25-50 billion (whoops - dropped a couple decimal points).

(Of course, that "if" related to the banks is a big "if.")

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Everyone Left, Go Faster - From my favorite new blog and podcast, some thoughts on productivity and unemployment:
"...the workforce looks more productive because it included fewer people. Workers just turned it up a notch. (Feel like you're doing a job and a half? That's the feeling.)"
This Planet Money site is great for keeping in touch and understanding the current economic crisis.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Planet Money -- A few months ago, I was extremely impressed with an episode of This American Life, called The Giant Pool of Money. It was a joint venture between TAL and NPR News, and was and remains the best description of how we got into our current "worst financial crisis of generations." Another recent TAL episode - The Enforcers - included a segment put together by the same folks. It's subject is the partial root of the crisis in the SEC's failure to sufficiently regulate the markets - a failure rooted in the last 30 years of Reagan-Bush laissez-faire policies, compounded by the ubiquitous incompetence of the last 8 years (that last bit is my interpretation, not part of the radio piece).

At the end of that episode, there was an announcement of a new podcast from NPR - Planet Money - as well as a related blog, to both of which I've subscribed this week. If you have any interest in global finance, and these days you should, I strogly suggest you check it out.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Gas Price Math -- The usual rational analysis from Glen Alleman at Herding Cats.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Best Explanation of Credit Crisis -- The Giant Pool of Money (mp3), from "This American Life" and NPR.

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