Thursday, August 21, 2003
Don't Come Around Here No More...
MY WEBLOG IS NOW ON TYPEPAD...
New TypePad RSS Feed is here
Thursday, August 07, 2003
This Blog Is Moving
Moving to TypePad.
New URL: http://johnporcaro.typepad.com/blog/
New RSS: http://johnporcaro.typepad.com/blog/index.rdf
Stressed Out By Information Overload, Constant Interruption, and Increasing Personal Isolation?
See you all at 7AM tomorrow morning in Bellevue (I'll be the sleepy one in the back row).
“Conquering ‘New Economy Depression Syndrome’”
August 8, 2003, 7:00 a.m. at the Bellevue Hyatt
Imagine feeling totally exhilarated to be at work. You love what you do, the people you work with, the responsibilities you face, and the simple fact that you—on a daily basis— make a difference. Each Sunday evening, you find yourself anticipating the coming week with a mixture of eagerness and satisfaction.
Not the case for you? According to Tim Sanders, the Chief Solutions Officer of Yahoo!, you (and many of the rest of us) could be suffering from “New Economy Depression Syndrome (NEDS),” a form of work-related stress that is caused by information overload, constant interruption, and increasing personal isolation. NEDS is best understood, in a workplace scenario, as carpel tunnel syndrome of the mind. Think about it: today’s business world is armed with technological tools designed to make communication effortless and enhance productivity, yet we all seem to be suffering from a downward spiral of information overload, no-nonsense rationality, and social shyness.
There is an antidote. Join us on August 8, 2003, when Tim Sanders, the chief solutions officer of Yahoo! and author of “Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends,” reveals his secret system for defeating NEDS and increasing our levels of effectiveness and personal satisfaction. Nice, smart people succeed, Sanders maintains, by sharing three critical elements of themselves: their knowledge, their networks, and their compassion. “The most powerful force in business isn’t greed, fear, or even the raw energy of unbridled competition,” he explains. “The most powerful force in business is love [the promotion of growth in another]. It’s what will help your company grow and become stronger. It’s what will propel your career forward. It’s what will give you a sense of meaning and satisfaction in your work— which will help you do your best work.”
Sanders, a former musician and early hire at broadcast.com, is a senior vice president and chief solutions officer at Yahoo!, where he drives some of the company’s largest partnerships and delivers next-generation marketing programs for world-class brands. Prior to his current position, Sanders created and led the Yahoo! Value Lab, an in-house think-tank for top clients and partners.
The Venture Breakfast is scheduled for Friday, August 8, 2003, at the Bellevue Hyatt, located at 900 Bellevue Way NE in Bellevue. Doors open at 6:30 a.m. for Early-Bird Networking, and the breakfast begins at 7:30. The cost of the breakfast is $25 for preregistered Northwest Entrepreneur Network members and $40 for preregistered nonmembers. An additional $5 fee will be charged for on-site registration. You may register on-line at www.nwen.org or by calling 425 746-1973.
About the Northwest Entrepreneur Network
The Northwest Entrepreneur Network, with more than 700 members, is a nonprofit, professional association dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed. The Network provides unique networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers. In addition to its Venture Breakfasts, the group provides monthly seminars and workshops designed to help businesses grow and prosper. For more information about the Northwest Entrepreneur Network, call (425) 564-4074 or visit www.nwen.org.
After this breakfast, Sanders will be hosting a book signing of his newly released paperback, “Love is the Killer App.” Members of the Northwest Entrepreneur Network will receive a 10% discount off the book’s purchase price.
Do THEY Know What You've Done for Them Lately?
Today, I found a great article on self-promotion, from Harvard Management Communication Letter. Self-promotion is a fundamental expectation here, and virtually nobody is promoted unless his or her boss's boss knows all about what they do, and sees value in it. There's a fine line between being a pest, and doing what's best for your career.
Tom Krattenmaker is director of news and information at Swarthmore College, near Philadelphia, and shares his insight (lots more worth reading in the newsletter):
"Mastering the delicate art of selling yourself is critical to career success, but it isn't easy. Overdo the self-promotion, and you can get a reputation as a grandstander. But duck the limelight, and miss out on well-deserved plaudits.
The difference between right and wrong
Arch Lustberg, the author of How to Sell Yourself: Winning Techniques for Selling Yourself ... Your Ideas ... Your Message , sums up the difference between effective self-promotion and obnoxious boasting in one word: likability. ... "No one is going to buy your message or your idea," Lustberg says, "until first they buy you."
Skip the "aw, shucks" routine.
When the team leader compliments you on the job you did organizing the client meeting, Klaus says, don't brush it off with an "Oh, it was really nothing." Say how much the recognition means to you. Acknowledge the good effort you gave. And add something worthwhile that underscores the importance of the contribution you made.
Make your accomplishments known to others besides your boss.
Your boss's boss might be in a better position than your direct supervisor to give you a promotion or plum assignment. And a manager who shares rank with you today might be in a position of greater decision-making power tomorrow."
Six-Sigma-ize Your Marketing
Bryan Eisenberg of Future Now has an article in ClickZ called 'Six Sigma' Web Marketing.
I personally think Six Sigma is highly under-rated among marketing folks, and is a lot more applicable than most think. Once you've discovered the customer's pain, finding the things to “six-sigma-ize” are pretty easy.
Six Sigma (3.4 defects in 1 million opportunities) isn't an impossible goal. It doesn't mean that you have no defects. Our goal, for example, is that a customer (or internal employee, etc.) can find what they’re looking for in our website in 30 seconds or less, 90% of the time (because what’s most painful is NOT finding what they want). It’s not that there are zero defects on our web site.
I was surprised by how relevant this is to marketing planning. I initially signed up to see if I could learn how to better manage improvements in our processes (for example, reducing the number of “errors” in data feeds to [our B2B partner site)). I learned that this will be valuable to almost any discipline that requires improving an existing program, process, or product. I’d recommend this to other marketers because:
· Six Sigma offers a framework for determining what’s critical to a project, and prioritizing to what has the most impact.
· The entire mindset was entirely focused on addressing things critical to customers
· Underlying this is a disciplined structure of using measurements before, during and after.
· Most Six Sigma projects can be started and completed within four months.
· The approach works for any area where there are problems that impact a customer’s perception of quality (even if our customers are channel partners, sales associates, other employees, etc. For example, Canada is running a Six Sigma project to improve forecasting for licensing.).
What is Microsoft’s Six Sigma Vision?
Drive sustained improvements in productivity, customer satisfaction and loyalty in order to reduce cost and increase revenue and profit.
What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is a problem solving methodology that helps drive improvement to the bottom line by designing and monitoring business activities in a way that minimizes waste and resources while increasing customer satisfaction. It focuses on driving defects out of the product and/or services provided to our customers as well as the processes used to create these product and services.
Six Sigma originated at Motorola in approximately 1979 and has since been adopted by a number of companies including: General Electric ($2 billion annual savings attributed to Six Sigma), Texas Instruments ($600 million), Johnson and Johnson ($500 million), Honeywell ($1.2 billion) and Sun Microsystems.
The term Six Sigma comes from statistics, and (using standard deviations), measuring defects per million opportunities. By definition, Six Sigma is less than 3.4 defects per million (99.9997% success). Most companies perform at a 2 (69.10%) to 3 (93.5%) sigma level. 4 Sigma is a pretty good goal for most companies, with only 6,210 defects per million (99.38% success).
Where can I find out more?
A good external site: http://isixsigma.com
What is the Six Sigma Philosophy/Mindset
· Identify what is “Critical” to your Customer
· Understand how well you are performing “today”
· Leverage facts and data to drive process improvement
· Sustain improvement
What are the major steps in Six Sigma
· Define (D): Zero in on specific problem with defined return on effort
· Measure (M): Determine current performance of process
· Analyze (A): Validate key drivers of performance (root cause of problem)
· Improve (I): Improved performance and validated realized results
· Control (C): Implement controls to ensure continued performance
How could Six Sigma help with Marketing and Sales?
· In Defining our charter, it forces us to be very clear on exactly what we want to improve. For example, with our intranet site, we can think about not just “improving efficiency” or even measuring “number of page hits” to focus on what’s critical to quality for the customer. We may choose to improve the amount of time it takes to find a relevant document, contact, or piece of information from 2.3 minutes to less than one minute, in 90% of cases.
· In Measuring, we can then focus on gathering information that leads to better controls and improvements. In asking “5 Why’s” using a measurable goal, we can find variables that might not have been obvious. The goal of Six Sigma is to improve quality by eliminating opportunities for failure along the way. Instead of reducing the cost per head of a given online training module, we focus on improving the % of instances of an sales associate recommending a Microsoft product to a customer. We then find all the “opportunities for failure” of that happening, and fix those.
· In Analyzing, we focus on the clear customer outcome, and avoid fixing problems that don’t impact the outcome. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of things. Since we don’t have any relevant data yet, we shouldn’t make guesses at what to improve (unless opportunities are obvious, which often they are).
How long does it take to implement a Six Sigma project?
The goal of the group is to implement projects in 4 months or less. In fact, the team has created a “Rapid DMAIC” process to drive measurable results (with a benchmark of at least $250,000) in a matter of weeks. By involving the right people (and only the right people), a clear charter, strong sponsorship (at a VP level), and following a structured process, key projects can be identified and implemented in a few weeks.
What Resources can the company provide?
We have [deleted] “Black Belts” whose job it is to implement Six Sigma projects. Part of their charter is driving projects, and mentoring “Green Belts” (part-time project leads). If we have a project, we can involve them early on. In addition, our internal Green Belt training takes place regularly for any interested employee.
How does someone get certified as a “Green Belt?”
To be eligible to receive your Green Belt certificate you must have completed at least one Six Sigma project, where you were the project manager, that has a value of $250k or greater. The process for applying for your Green Belt certification is as follows;
· Six Sigma GreenBelt workshop completed
· Six Sigma Project completed, documented and approved by sponsor
· Project template completed
· Document tools used
· Submit the completed project template or other project documentation as appropriate to your course instructor.
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Seven Deadly Sins of Web Writing
David Jung at B2Blog points to a very interesting post called The Seven Deadly Sins of Web Writing, by Gerry McGovern. My favorites are 5 and 6. Luckily, the guys I have doing our web content (Ed, Cesar, Frank, Lori, and James) are pretty good. But even for us (see sin number one), we have lots to learn.
Not a Bad Job if You Can Get It
Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine points to The Worst Job in Journalism. Tim Porter was just named Ombudsman for the New York Times. Maybe we should add that to Scoble's title? According to Tim, there is one thing that will make him successful. Really listening to readers (are you sensing a theme to my posts yet?).
"There was comment aplenty the other day about the New York Times' decision to name an ombudsman, but precious little advice for the person who's going to inaugurate what Jeff Jarvis called the "worst job in journalism." (I'm not sure about that Jeff. Here's three words for you: Carson City, Nevada.) [note from John: I used to live in Incline Village, NV, and took some college classes at WNCC in Carson City!]
So, I emailed 27 members of the Organization of News Ombudsmen's and got 10 responses - not bad for mid-summer. Here's what they had to say.
Listen. Listen. Listen. Nearly every one stressed that a willingness to be a sounding board - for the staff and for readers - is key to an ombudsman's success.
Be honest. Be fair. Be candid.
Be professional, not personal.
Be humble, but be strong.
Be ready to laugh.
An ombudsman, or public editor or readers representative, certainly cannot cure the aching, arthritic readership trend that afflict newspapers. That requires leadership, commitment to quality and relentless pursuit of innovation. But an ombudsman can be a salving voice amid a cacophony of complaints or confusion."
Wow. All great advice. In any industry.
I signed up for TypePad. I'm liking what I see. This blog may find a new home soon.
Something Worth Saying
Joi Ito blogs about the conversation about Shure earphones that took place on his site. I was so impressed with the way the Product Manager jumped right in, and the response he got, I ended up forwarding the post to several co-workers, and one of the senior directors of our recent "Customer Partner Experience" push (that sounds pretty corporate-ish, doesn't it?).
Wow. If only our PMs felt comfortable enough to have real conversations with real customers using a real voice. And more to the point, I wonder what we'd learn if our PMs heard real conversations by listening to real customers in an unfiltered, real conversation.
"I first heard about the Shure earphones from Barak and bought the e2c's. I blogged about it. With the help of Google, people interested in e2c's including Matt, who was the product manager for the e2c's found my blog entry. When the e5c's came out, I blogged about them too. Hundreds of comments later, both of these entries have become discussions including testimonials and lots and lots of answers from Matt replying to questions about the products and distribution. This human voice dialog is why I think blogging is so great for companies with great products.
Last week, I talked to Matt and Susan from Shure on the phone about experimenting with blogs. Matt's started a blog. Hopefully we can set up some combination of a wiki and a blog to help Shure reach out to us and for us to give them feedback."
Don’t Get Buried in Customer Data—Use It
A good deal of what my team does is develop customer- (or partner-) facing web sites. We collect a bunch of data, and we run several different reports. We're still discovering ways of doing "data mining" to spot trends, analyze usage, stuff like that.
One of the handful of newsletters I get is Harvard Business Review's "Working Knowledge". If you're not one of those that's popped the $118 for a subscription to HBR--well worth the investment in your career in my opinion (or have access to it on Factiva), you can get some good summaries of some of the best articles from this free newsletter. Always something thought-provoking.
Don’t Get Buried in Customer Data—Use It
"By the end of the decade, many marketers had come to believe that the combination of mass customization techniques, sophisticated database software, and the Internet would enable them to actually deliver on the promise of customized offerings to each individual customer.
But that hasn't happened to the extent it should have, says Cleveland-based consultant James H. Gilmore, coauthor with B. Joseph Pine II of The Experience Economy (Harvard Business School Press, 1999), because "most practitioners have taken the concept of one-to-one marketing and bastardized it into CRM. They're using CRM tools to design better processes for a nonexistent 'average' customer, instead of customizing for individual customers."
He cites the example of a major hotel chain that asks guests to complete a multiple-question satisfaction survey via their room's TV set during their stay. When one guest answered "extremely dissatisfied" to all the questions, he was not treated any differently when he checked out. Why? Because his answers went straight to a central repository where they were aggregated with other customers' responses and used to measure overall market—not customer—satisfaction. A more effective approach would be to feed his answers directly to someone at the front desk who could respond immediately to his needs and create a better experience for him.
"A company's goal should be to learn more about what each customer needs so that it can close the customer sacrifice gap, which is the difference between what individual customers settle for and what each wants exactly," says Gilmore. Steve Cunningham, director of customer listening at Cisco, agrees that it's vital to listen and respond to individual customer needs and preferences. But he believes you must also pay attention to the aggregate data—customer averages based on individual surveys."
There's definitely more we can do, and I'm really looking forward to the flexibility some upcoming web services and tools are going to provide our team.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Installing Windows XP in 147 Easy Steps...
By now, many of you have seen Mark Pilgrim's post about his experience re-installing Windows XP. Mark, we've all been there! Good news is that there are more than just Scoble and me hearing about it here at Microsoft. Posts like this (thanks to News Gator) are easily forwarded to others that are taking feedback like this seriously. So keep it up!
Now, I need to do the same to our kids computer... (I'll go ahead and skip some of the Linux stuff for now, if you don't mind...)
More on Job Sharing (In Your Client's Shoes Part II)
My brother replied to my question about what kind of response he got, and if someone actually did his management job. Here's his reply:
"Actually, I did have an hourly employee do my job for the other half of the day. I set it up with some realistic, yet not real situations without telling her (employee lost his check, employee hates her supervisor and wants him fired, employee got into an altercation with another employee, employee wanted to put in for a shift change, one of my direct reports is stuck on a difficult case and needs some advice, etc). I told her that she was the labor relations manager and that I was simply there to observe. She did the best job she could...actually held her own on some of the more emotional cases where tempers are close to the edge (pretend in these situations, of course). After about an hour and a half, she decided that "management doesn't have it so easy, either" and that she wanted to "go back on the line where she didn't have to put up with all of this stuff."
We had several layers in the organization trade jobs with the hourly employees. Some of the other participants in the plant: the plant manager, the controller, the engineering manager, a few business unit managers, a few superintendents, a few engineers, and a few HR professionals.
After going through this, I learned that even though I'm out in the plant every day (with 3,400 hourly employees, I don't get around to all of their jobs) and I interact with the hourly workforce for most of my day, I had no clue what their job was really like until I did it. I didn't realize the monotony and physical labor that those jobs entail. I now have a better understanding of some of the issues that come my way. Truly walking in their shoes gave me a better view. From the comments of the hourly employees, I know that they also had an enlightening experience.
The feedback from both sides was very positive and we (HR) plan to host a job share event every quarter now. With 3,400 hourly employee and 400 salaried/management employees, we have a lot of ground to cover."
Monday, August 04, 2003
In Your Client's Shoes
Just got a note from my brother, who works in Human Resources at an auto manufacturer.
"This past week we had a "job share" event where the UAW workers on the assembly line (assembling rear axles) traded places with the management team. I worked on the line putting axle shafts into the tubes in the axle assembly. It was a lot of work (I was sore the next day) and a real eye-opener and I gained an appreciate for what an auto worker has to do day in and day out."
I think this is just a great, great idea. We've done this on a limited basis here at Microsoft, but I've entertained the idea of doing something more formal. How great would it be if we could work in a retailer, answering customer questions and stocking shelves? Or travel with the sales folks and present the marketing material we produce to our partners? Would we learn more about what our clients, partners and customers go through if we could really live in their shoes for a day or two?
Sunday, August 03, 2003
Ton Zijlstra gets introspecitve in "Networking Stagnation: Fatigue or Growing Pains?" (linked by Dina Mehta). Great points about blogging, and I like the "lessons" he's learned over the past year. Sounds like we're on a similar journey.
"I can name a few things that became increasingly clear to me in the last 14 months of discovery, and have changed and augmented my belief system:
- the paradigmshift behind knowledge management is really fundamental, and is at its core about personal empowerment in a networked environment. It's more about philosophy than about business science.
- having tapped into a community of people with amazingly bright and provoking ideas, the need to be able to tap into (these type of) communities, to keep being provoked to grow shows itself to be vital.
- reinforcement of the belief that if I want to see change, I have to work towards that change myself
- blogging is about people first and people only
- personal relationships are the stuff of our lives
- I want to be self employed to be able to put my (new) beliefs to work
- cybernetworks are reinforced and stabilized by face to face meetings
The Autodidactic Lifestyle
Dana VanDen Heuvel has a great blog on marketing, sales, and sales force automation. He's one of those in the marketing trenches, and I really respect what he has to say. And he helped build an awesome website for his employer, by the way. I think we could use some of his expertise on some of Microsoft's websites.
Dana makes a great point that reinvention is not a buzzword but a way of life for those of us striving to be on the edge. I love that!
"I was at a fairly high level meeting w/ a subsidiary of ours last week, discussing the nuances of Internet Marketing and doing business on the web. They asked 'so, how did you come to know these things?' To which I replied, 'simple, read lots, and fail early and often.' In a word, all of us in the 'Internet Space' are, by default, autodidactics. We did NOT go to school for this stuff, and for many of us in the web space, the web was not available or even on the radar screen in college/grad school. I remember teaching web development to seniors, as a sophomore, because just two years before, they did not have the same access to the web, nor the acumen to grasp the power of HTML. My how fast time flies.
I was at a fairly high level meeting w/ a subsidiary of ours last week, discussing the nuances of Internet Marketing and doing business on the web. They asked 'so, how did you come to know these things?' To which I replied, 'simple, read lots, and fail early and often.' In a word, all of us in the 'Internet Space' are, by default, autodidactics. We did NOT go to school for this stuff, and for many of us in the web space, the web was not available or even on the radar screen in college/grad school. I remember teaching web development to seniors, as a sophomore, because just two years before, they did not have the same access to the web, nor the acumen to grasp the power of HTML. My how fast time flies.
Fast forward. I had a 'consulting call' this week with Emery Kertesz on web marketing and his website redesign, when he posed the question 'so, how did you come to know these things?' Fortunately, I've started on a document which lists all of the e-newsletters and websites that I get, which may be of some help to all of you. There is SO MUCH to read on this subject (Internet Marketing & Sales Technology) that you really need to network and use your time wisely. And... READ LOTS!!!
So what converged, you ask. A few things:
1. Self-learning/teaching/continuous education is an imperative in this economy
2. Meeting with people, ESPECIALLY CONSULTANTS, who do not ascribe to the above, underscores why I spend so much time researching, learning, and re-learning the craft.
3. Reinvention is not a buzzword but a way of life for those of us striving to be on the edge."
The Importance of PR
Scoble points to an article written by VentureBlog, about the Importance of PR, especially in a down market. From Abigail Johnson:
"Early in my career I learned the adage "He who wins in a down market wins." This is true today on many levels, not the least of which is strategic communications. Let me explain: if a company is trying to define and lead a market, a down, quiet market is a great opportunity to take the time for the market education process that will inevitably be needed. Regardless of the state of the market, education will be needed. But in today's market, an interesting, new idea can get an unfair mindshare compared to the way it was a few years ago. And, if a special, potential leader doesn't do this, there is a good chance that they will go through their life as an also-ran."
Interesting thoughts! Read the post!
Disposable Digital Camera
From a press release from Ritz Camera:
"The Ritz camera chain is rolling out one of the industry’s first OTU digital cameras. For $10.99, Ritz will offer an OTU digital camera, 25 4 by 6-inch prints and a CD with the images and software. The OTU digital model will be nearly identical to its film counterpart. Consumers who purchase the camera can take up to 25 pictures, which are stored on the camera’s internal memory. They have the option to delete only the last picture they took since the camera doesn’t feature a color LCD. The company 'targets 3-megapixel quality in a 4 by 6-inch print)." Cool!
Microsoft Event at Seafair
Got to meetup with Beth Goza and her husband, and Jed Rose, new MLR starting tomorrow! Welcome! Jed is going to work with Beth on some community-enhancing efforts for Windows and Longhorn. I'm super anxious to find out more about their plans.
The weather was just perfect (70F/20C), and the kids were (relatively) well behaved. We saw the Blue Angels perform, watched the hydroplanes race, and saw an acrobatic airshow. Thanks to all those that put it on for our group!
Oh, and just for fun, I threw in a picture of one of our windows Steven broke yesterday. He'll be cleaning bathrooms and foregoing allowance for a while... :)
Saturday, August 02, 2003
The Blogging Process
Dewayne Mikkelson points to an article by Dave Pollard, called "The Blogging Process." Now, I'm just tired...
Friday, August 01, 2003
Sometimes, It Takes Us Until Version Three...
...and others, Version NINE. I've used Microsoft photo editing software for a long time, but I agree that Microsoft Digital Image Suite 9 is very cool.
ZD Anchor Desk: My new favorite way to organize digital photos (David Coursey)
OVERALL, I like Digital Image Suite 9 a good bit more than previous Microsoft products, which I never really warmed up to. This new release is significantly more attractive to me, perhaps because of the easy organization with Image Library and the easier image manipulation now possible in Image Pro.
Action Items Due Dec. 14
Rebecca Schwoch reminds me that sometimes you need to remember the little things (or make the little things the big things). I subscribed to her blog because she tends to find the stuff I find interesting, uh, interesting. I love the serendipity of finding kindred spirits that span distance and time--it's probably the main reason I continue to blog (when asked, my most common response is that it's about community).
"I decided to make some goals for the rest of the year (renewed/new resolutions) to be completed by December 14
Let me give it some thought. I'd say 1. Get my kids to Disneyland; 2. Finalize the adoption of our 14-month-old; 3. At least finish the outline of a book. But there's probably a lot more there. I like Rebecca's #3 above. But by the way, Bec, we like the "journal-ly" stuff. It's what makes you human to us.
1. Write a children's book (see yay above. heh)
2. Paint more
3. Blog more original ideas (not this journaly stuff or just posting others comments).