.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

-Through my eyes-

28 September 2006


"Plainly put, it is the experience of having two (or more) things happen coincidentally in a manner that is meaningful to the person or persons experiencing them, where that meaning suggests an underlying pattern."

Another most fascinating term I recently came across.

Adam Smith's invisible hand and synchronicity can both be explained by "emergence".

I personally experience synchronicity in excess, more than anyone else I know. Am I the only one to experience this or am I the only one to notice it?

20 September 2006


Is it possible? Some distributed signs around?

Netflix Job Requirements - nice.

Good write up.

• Judgment. Your judgment calls turn out well (people, technical, business, and creative judgment calls). Your insights are influential and important.
• Productivity. You are very effective in getting work done. What you accomplish amazes people.
• Creativity. You are inventive. You re-conceptualize issues to come up with innovative but practical solutions to hard problems.
• Intelligence. You think broadly and strategically. You make subtle connections others miss. You absorb large amounts of information rapidly. You learn fast. You can change directions rapidly when appropriate.
• Honesty. You are known for your candor. You avoid partial truth and tinted truth. You are non-political and straightforward when you disagree with others. You only say things about people you will say to their face.
• Communication. You are effective communicating both in meetings and 1 to 1.
• Selflessness. You are perceived to be guided by what you think is best for the company, rather than best for yourself. You are ego-less when it comes to finding the best ideas and interacting with others.
• Reliability. Colleagues perceive they can depend upon you. You are not prone to flakiness, anger, or impulsiveness.
• Passion. You care deeply about the company’s success and your colleagues know it. Your thirst for excellence is infectious and inspiring. "

07 September 2006

Google Patent Application Mindmap

22 August 2006

Fascinating write up


gotto explore

17 August 2006

Market saturation by marketing

This is a fragile thought. I'm commiting it so I don't forget it.
Some markets are saturated by the amount, level and variety of marketing activities performed on those markets. More later.

16 August 2006

Sayam's Law of Data Gathering Dilemma

Law: Once you have the data in front of you, you will figure out what to do with it.

Corollary: In the event you can't foresee the use of a data you wish to acquire, just acquire the data. Because, see above law.

14 August 2006


Gotto check out.


07 August 2006

Google's Recent Viral Marketing Dilemma

Seth Godin, the viral marketing dude, gave a presentation at Google’s offices on viral marketing. You can see the video here.

At the end, one Googler asks why Google Mini (their office search appliance) has not been successful. Godin suggested giving out the appliance to some famous blogger and let that blogger spread the word around.

The video got popular and came up in Google Video’s top 100 and of course, many people have now seen it.

So now Google is stuck at a dilemma…They want to do what Godin suggested but if they just give the mini out, people are going to recognize the motivation and call on Google.

So what did they do? How did they solve the problem?

They gave the mini to an influential tech blogger, Joel on Software.

And at the same time, pre-empted the finger pointing by mentioning Godin’s video upfront!

Matt Cutts on Joel and Google Mini.

Meanwhile Joel starts his blog entry: “It seems Seth Godin persuaded Google to donate one of their new Google Mini appliances to power Joel on Software.”

Now the user doesn’t feel manipulated. And Joel of course, continues with his review of the gadget, exposing Mini to maybe thousands of IT people. And the finger-pointers cannot point the finger. (Like I was about to leave this very message on Matt Cutt’s blog, but when I read the “up front” deal, I cancelled since someone could say “yeah, he already mentioned that”.)

The Vague Dots of Viral

Micro-level tactics: Seth Godin. "The Purple Cow".
Big-picture view: Malcolm Gladwell. "The Tipping Point".
Meta-Big-picture view: Steven Johnson. "Emergence".

Someone or I need to connect the above three dots into a unified whole. And that's where we tame the beast of viral marketing.

Identify and create a "purple cow" such that a lot of agents propagate or use the cow, thereby causing the "tipping point" and somehow the whole aggregate shows an "emergent" behavior.


Feels good to be right!

01 August 2006

Note to self UI design

If you create a list or paths like "1, 2, 3" etc, make sure that they are clickable.

31 July 2006

Note self and others.

Don't believe the first thing that comes to your mind.

New marketing phase

So now I'm going through a marketing framework change phase where I need unthink older ways.

Older ways: broadcast, deterministic, planned, robust, military-style marketing activities.

New ways: viral, fluid, adaptable, organic, learn-as-you-do marketing activities.

19 July 2006

Anthropic Principle

30 June 2006

SEO what if

Suppose you are optimizing for a keyword in a page. And you use one of the pages of SERPs in your page. Would that be good for your page?

SEO is "irreducible"

Meaning, you cannot break and control each site ranking variable and expect to see the same result as the analysis may indicate.

New MSN Bullshit

So MSN introduces a new robots.txt tag that allows a webmaster to opt out of dmoz listings because dmoz listings can be "biased".

If they are biased, why doesn't MSN not show them? It's not like MSN asked us when choosing the listing to begin with?

I smell the usual MS strategy here...EEE. Embrace, Extend, Eliminate. While the EEE seem to harsh at the moment, MSN is certainly taking a shot at Google- who prefers to use dmoz listing and holds the listing as a starting point.

Fuckers can't innovate so they try to pull these tricks.

19 June 2006

Good to Great companies

Jim Collins' Good to Great companies. Would be an interesting follow-up to see what happened to them ever since.

Abbott Laboratories,
Circuit City,
Fannie Mae,
Philip Morris,
Pitney Bowes,
Wells Fargo

15 June 2006

First Video Entry - MJ

07 June 2006

Google Desktop Search+JAVA

Downloaded an update to Jave yesterday. It asked me if I also wanted Google Desktop Search.

Eric worked for SUN.

06 June 2006

Esquire:Drinking Database


05 June 2006

Concept Density in SEO

Introducing a new notion in SEO:

Concept Density means the number of concepts/sub-topics surrounding the money phrase. The SEO professional chooses to incorporate or expand upon a concept given the concept's preference in Google.

30 May 2006

Marketing Suspense Thriller

You have Grisham on Law. Cook on Medicine. A few folks writing about Computing.
Would be cool to write a suspense thriller on "marketing", high-end marketing. The public relations type of marketing. Explaining how the branding originates from one end and continues to another on various media, how the whole activity is well-coordinated.

Who am I kidding?

Ok fine. I hate failure :-P

24 May 2006

Should I?

"It's not that you wanted to win, it's that you absolutely refuse to fail."

Line from a movie. Interesting way of looking at it.

.....thinking......No thanks. I don't want to accept it as a value system.

12 May 2006

Edward DeBono's New Message.


Create a Story

Take five random words in a sequence and then construct a story using the words in the same sequence. You are not permitted to say, for example, that you looked at a mail ordedr catalogue and ordered five objects (the random words) from the catalogue. Each word must be fully used in its own right. The final story should not be more than 250 words long.

Edward de Bono-20th April 2006

07 May 2006

Fav Line

Bowl Cleanment.
Never forget, Sayam.

02 May 2006


I think I'm going through a transformation. Last such transformation occurred somewhere in 2002. Since recently I have been a logical, a-emotional (not unemotional), deterministic, rigid, set-in-the-ways individual looking at reality like it's a robust computational machine powered by a set of interwoven algorithms. This set of schemas was set by Conway's Game of Life (I think).

I viewed reality under the same perspective.

Now, while the inner crust is still spinning around impeccable logic, reason and rational, on the outer level I have become more fluid, more adaptive, deeply penetrative and more understanding of human behavior. The desire to dig in deeper to quench some unknown thirst has blossomed. This set of schemas originated out of a Malcolm Gladwell session.

I'm learning to view large scale phenomena such as marketing more as "chaos theory" and less as "algorithmic".

I have always fancied the idea of being an artist-like creative and a logician-like analytical person at the same time.

I think the transformation has begun. I cannot and must not lose my current, internal core.

Antony Flew

Recently converted to deism from atheism. Gotto explore it.

01 May 2006

Marketing to younger segment

When is it good?
When your product or service can become a hard to break habit. Like using technology.

28 April 2006

Google Music Thought.

Google has the option of selling music directly from its SERPs. They already show band related info with links to other vendors. If they get enough traffic there (something they can measure) and enough people clicking other sites to buy music (something they can measure, but not sure if they are), then they have data to make a good decision.

21 April 2006

Note to self..

Stop thinking about marketing from the rational, logical, algorithmic midset/framework. Think from the "Chaos Theory" midset/framework. Think, rather "feel" about one unit, and then figure out if a lot of units will think or feel the same way.

More on this later as I explore Gladwell's Tipping Point.

14 April 2006

Website Design Simulator

The idea is to create a software that simulates different user experiences, views of the site she's making. In 800x600 with bad color depth, with no java, with no flash, with low bandwidth and so on. In a snapshot see what's going on.

10 April 2006

Yet another on..

Simplicity takes effort-- genius, even. The average programmer seems to produce UI designs that are almost willfully bad. I was trying to use the stove at my mother's house a couple weeks ago. It was a new one, and instead of physical knobs it had buttons and an LED display. I tried pressing some buttons I thought would cause it to get hot, and you know what it said? "Err." Not even "Error." "Err." You can't just say "Err" to the user of a stove. You should design the UI so that errors are impossible. And the boneheads who designed this stove even had an example of such a UI to work from: the old one. You turn one knob to set the temperature and another to set the timer. What was wrong with that? It just worked.

Another nugget..

One of the most useful mental habits I know I learned from Michael Rabin: that the best way to solve a problem is often to redefine it. A lot of people use this technique without being consciously aware of it, but Rabin was spectacularly explicit. You need a big prime number? Those are pretty expensive. How about if I give you a big number that only has a 10 to the minus 100 chance of not being prime? Would that do? Well, probably; I mean, that's probably smaller than the chance that I'm imagining all this anyway.

Nailed it.

Can't you just think of new ideas yourself? The empirical answer is: no. Even Einstein needed people to bounce ideas off. Ideas get developed in the process of explaining them to the right kind of person. You need that resistance, just as a carver needs the resistance of the wood.


Text is most legible with at most 60-70 characters per line.

Are Software Patents Evil?

Are Software Patents Evil?

04 April 2006

Towards a Theory of Emergent Functionality


Important paper on emergence. Gotto print and read.

Irreducible (philosophy) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Irreducible (philosophy) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Very interesting.

Irreducibility, in philosophy, has the sense that a complete account of an entity will not be possible at lower levels of explanation. Another way to state this is that Ockham's razor requires the elimination of only those entities that are unnecessary, not as many entities as could conceivably be eliminated. Lev Vygotsky provides the following illustration of the idea, in his Thought and Language:

"Two essentially different modes of analysis are possible in the study of psychological structures. It seems to us that one of them is responsible for all the failures that have beset former investigators of the old problem, which we are about to tackle in our turn, and that the other is the only correct way to approach it.

The first method analyzes complex psychological wholes into "elements". It may be compared to the chemical analysis of water into hydrogen and oxygen, neither of which possesses the properties of the whole and each of which possesses properties not present in the whole. The student applying this method in looking for an explanation of some property of water — why it extinguishes fire, for example — will find to his surprise that hydrogen burns and oxygen sustains fire ....

In our opinion the right course to follow is to use the other type of analysis, which may be called "analysis into units". By "unit", we mean a product of analysis which, unlike elements, retains all the basic properties of the whole, and which cannot be further divided without losing them. Not the chemical composition of water, but its molecules and their behaviour, are the key to the understanding of the properties of water ..."

In other words: to conserve the properties under investigation, it is necessary to remain within a certain level of complexity. Irreducibility is most often deployed in defence of the reality of human subjectivity and/or free will, against those who treat such things as folk psychology, overdue for elimination from science, such as Paul and Patricia Churchland.

Funny comment on /.

Perhaps the eternally elusive missing link has been found...

Step 1. Anything
Step 2. Google
Step 3. Profit!

27 March 2006

Seed: Prime Numbers Get Hitched

Seed: Prime Numbers Get Hitched

Engines of Democracy

The factory is not just quiet -- it seems almost deserted. The driveway, lined with thick pine forest, is a mile long and gives the place a muffled quality. The two main buildings are large enough to be airplane hangars -- tall-shouldered, with blank metal walls so high that the doorways look puny. The inside of the far building is almost as still as the outside. There is plenty of equipment -- tool carts, platforms for working around large items, racks of parts. But there is an air of work interrupted. Only a handful of people are visible.

It is, however, instantly clear what kind of work gets done here. Hanging from yellow overhead cranes are two of the largest jet engines in the world. It takes no great aeronautical expertise to appreciate these engines: Even unfinished, they look muscular. They're also huge: Each one is bigger than a Lincoln Navigator.

Although engines go out the door of this plant at a rate of more than one per day, the air of calm is hardly its most unusual aspect. The plant is General Electric's aircraft-engine assembly facility in Durham, North Carolina. Even within Jack Welch's widely admired empire, the Durham facility is in its own league -- a quiet corner of a global giant, a place where the radical has become routine. GE/Durham has more than 170 employees but just one boss: the plant manager. Everyone in the place reports to her. Which means that on a day-to-day basis, the people who work here have no boss. They essentially run themselves.
The jet engines are produced by nine teams of people -- teams that are given just one basic directive: the day that their next engine must be loaded onto a truck. All other decisions -- who does what work; how to balance training, vacations, overtime against work flow; how to make the manufacturing process more efficient; how to handle teammates who slack off -- all of that stays within the team.

Everyone knows how much money everyone else makes, because employees are paid according to his or her skill. There are three grades of jet-assembly technician at this plant -- tech-1, tech-2, and tech-3 -- and there is one wage rate for each grade. There is no conventional assembly line. One team "owns" an engine from beginning to end -- from the point when parts are uncrated and staged to the moment a team member climbs on a forklift to place the finished engine on a truck for shipment. The members of the team do the jobs that interest them. No one ever does the same job, shift after shift, day after day. There is usually choice -- and there is always variety.
This plant has no time clock. Workers leave to go to their kids' band concerts and Little League games. Every technician has an email address and Internet access, voice mail, business cards, and a desk shared with one teammate. The plant manager -- the boss -- sits in an open cubicle that's located right on the factory floor: Engines float by, just 20 feet away.

And one more thing: Jet-engine assembly is rocket science -- or, rather, something no less difficult than rocket science. In an engine that weighs 8.5 tons and has 10,000 parts, even a nut that weighs less than an ounce must be installed to a very specific tightness. Every part is put together with a torque wrench. Some parts are so vital, and so sensitive, that a computer is used to tighten the nuts that attach them to the engine. And after each step, a technician takes responsibility by entering his or her initials on a computer terminal.

The 170-plus people who work at this plant try to make perfect jet engines. And they come close. On average, one-quarter of the engines that GE/Durham sends to Boeing have just a single defect -- something cosmetic, such as a cable not lined up right, or a scratch on a fan case. The other three-quarters are, in fact, perfect. That is one big reason why Boeing, in an eloquent vote of confidence, recently chose a new version of the GE90 as the exclusive engine for its new, long-range 777 airplane. For early versions of the breakthrough 777, Boeing had used engines from GE and its two competitors, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney. For the new 777s, which will be able to fly 10,000 miles without stopping, the GE90 will be the only engine -- and only GE/Durham makes the GE90.

At GE/Durham, there is no cynicism about the drive for perfection. "It matters," says Bill Lane, a 35-year-old tech-2. "I've got a 3-year-old daughter, and I figure that every plane we build engines for has someone with a 3-year-old daughter riding on it."

Before Lane started putting together jet engines, he worked for Frito-Lay. "I ran the machinery that packaged Doritos," he says. A bad Dorito, of course, only spoils someone's lunch. A bad jet engine could destroy hundreds of lives -- or alter the course of history. The engines that keep Air Force One aloft came from this plant.
So how can something so complicated, so demanding, so fraught with risk, be trusted to people who answer only to themselves? Trust is a funny thing. It is the mystery -- and the genius -- of what goes on at GE/Durham. And it is the reason why the plant offers so many lessons about why people work, how teams succeed, and what workplace democracy really means.

Simplicity, by Design

The jet engine, like the telephone and antibiotics, is one of those wonders of modern technology that works so well that it has rendered itself mundane. That someone who lives in Topeka can decide on a whim to go to Tokyo, and be there in less than a day, is truly miraculous.
Unlike the computer chip or the MRI scanner, whose underlying technology is impenetrable to the ordinary person, jet engines work so simply, so elegantly, that they can be understood by a precocious fifth-grader. The principles of jet-engine design and operation are these: Suck. Squeeze. Bang. And blow. A jet engine moves itself along by sucking in air; compressing that air; mixing the compressed air with fuel and a spark to get a dramatic, controlled expansion of the air (that is, an explosion); and aiming that explosion out the back end of the jet.

It's just that simple.

The simplicity of the modern jet engine makes its power all the more impressive. GE's big jet engine -- the GE90, one of the most powerful commercial-jet engines in production -- generates 92,000 pounds of thrust. The Boeing 777 airplane, which is powered by the GE90, weighs 300,000 pounds when it's empty. Loaded with fuel, 350 people, their luggage, and food, the plane doubles in weight. It requires only two GE90s to fire a fully loaded 777 through the air at 600 mph. And the plane can fly safely on just one engine.

Although the engines made in Durham operate on principles that are easy to grasp, the specifics of engine design, assembly, and operation are anything but elementary. Walk
up to a group of three people working at GE/Durham and ask, "So what are you working on?" and, likely as not, the answer will require a 20-minute explanation, along with the aid of a hastily sketched diagram.

John "Hoss" Swain, 54, Paul Bryan, 32, and Pat Miller, 31, are hunched over a stand that holds a metal ring about three feet across. While it looks like a ring, it's actually a seal, designed to keep exhaust gases inside the GE90 engine at a critical point. It works in much the same way that a washer in a garden hose does. Swain, Bryan, and Miller are measuring the seal to see if it is perfectly round.

How round? "It can't be more than four 1,000ths of an inch out of round," says Miller. That's about half as thick as a human hair. In other words, this three-foot-wide ring must be round within the tolerance of a single hair. If it isn't exactly that round, gaps will develop between sealing surfaces. With the parts turning at 10,400 RPMs, even a small gap can cause a decrease in performance. So these guys measure every single seal on every single engine. "This has never been four 1,000ths of an inch out of true in the four years I've been measuring these," says Miller. "Never."

Money alone can't motivate people to perform this well. At GE/Durham, people strive for perfection, expecting no reward other than their own satisfaction. This place has no performance incentives. And so, as impressive as the technology of the jet engine is, as demanding and precise as the assembly process must be, as unforgiving as the engines and the airlines are of even the slightest flaw, the human technology by which GE/Durham organizes its work is no less impressive. In some ways, in fact, the management of the Durham plant is more impressive than its products. High-performance turbo-fan jet engines can be found at every major airport. But a place where workers are given real responsibility is about as common in the world of work as an out-of-round aft-shaft seal is at this plant.

Pat Miller knows that as vividly as anyone. His last job was as technically advanced as any in the aviation-mechanics world. "I came from Northrop Grumman, in Palmdale, California, where I was working on the B-2 bomber," says Miller. "That plane, which used Stealth technology, was as high-tech as you can get. But someone else wrote the assembly process. Here, I write the process -- at the mechanic level. There, I was on a 'team,' but I also had a supervisor. He had a boss. And there were other bosses above him. In two years of working there, I never saw the plant manager. Every day, my boss would just hand me my job. I had no input at all -- none. I'm much happier here. I can change what goes on."

From Shipyard Laborer to Jet Mechanic
In a plant that has been open only since 1993, Duane Williams is a veteran. Williams, 33, started at GE/Durham in February 1994. He's a tech-3, certified to do any task that's necessary to make a GE90 engine for Team Raven.
He's standing at a big table, starting work on the "stage 5" disk of an engine's low-pressure turbine. This is the back end of the engine, where power is generated not to fly the airplane but to run the engine itself. This back-end turbine creates the spin that turns the big fan up front. When it's done, the stage-5 disk -- made of polished metal, lying flat on the table -- will look like a very large version of a child's pinwheel. "It's just 20 minutes out of the box," says Williams. This is not the glamour work of turbo-jet assembly. It's one of those parts of the job that is reminiscent of long and lazy childhood Saturday afternoons spent gluing together plastic model airplanes and ships.
The stage-5 disk has 120 identical curved blades around its perimeter. Each blade needs to be checked, by hand, for nicks or roughness. It is then greased with something like Vaseline, and its dove-tailed ends are slotted into place. Although the technicians do the same routines over and over, every stage of an engine's assembly is laid out in detail in an encyclopedia of three-ring binders. Each task is broken down into steps, and every step is illustrated with a color photo of that part of the engine being assembled correctly.
Like every other technician at GE/Durham, Duane Williams has his FAA ticket as a power-plant and airframe mechanic, and he went through two years of school and a certification test to get it. That's an unusual prerequisite for building engines: No other GE jet plant requires job candidates to be FAA-certified mechanics. But the need for an FAA license is one of the founding principles of GE/Durham.

Back in the early 1990s, that license wasn't doing Williams much good. After getting it, he couldn't find an aviation job in Norfolk, Virginia, so he took a job doing maintenance for a McDonald's franchiser who owned 16 restaurants. Eventually, he got a job at a navy facility, beefing up F-14 fighter jets to handle more powerful engines. When he was laid off about two years later, Williams returned to what he calls "my old faithful: working as a laborer at a shipyard." When he heard about the possibility of jet-engine - assembly jobs in North Carolina, Williams hustled down to GE/Durham for an information session. "They mentioned the team concept," says Williams, "but I never even gave it any thought. I didn't know if I was up for it. But a job -- I was up for that."

Williams is a cheerful man who conveys an innate optimism. Starting with his interview, the hiring process at GE/Durham introduced him to a work culture that he had never imagined -- one that would change his life. "The interview, now that was one heck of an experience," he says. "It lasted eight hours. I talked to five different people. I participated in three group activities with other job candidates. I even had to do a presentation: I had 15 minutes to prepare a 5-minute presentation."

For Williams, the respectful, demanding interviewing process turned out to be the beginning of an eye-opening experience. "My first six months at the plant were something I wasn't prepared for," he says. He was part of Delta team -- the startup team charged with building the CF6 engine. The CF6 is the Honda Accord of GE jet engines. It is in its 28th year of service and in its fifth evolution of jet-engine technology. It's a super-reliable workhorse, flying everything from ups cargo jets to Philippine Airlines A320s to Air Force One. Back in 1994, GE/Durham started making the CF6 engine, in addition to the GE90.

"We had to come up with a schedule. We had the chance to order tools, tool carts, and so on. We had to figure out how the assembly line to make the engine should flow. We were put on councils for every part of the business," says Williams. It was his first taste of an environment in which there really are no bosses: The technicians not only build the engines; they also take responsibility for the work that middle management would normally do. "I was never valued that much as an employee in my life," says Williams. "I had never been at the point where I couldn't wait to get to work. But here, I couldn't wait to get to work every day. That's no BS!"

The visible joy that Williams gets from his work, and from his participation in his work, remains as palpable as his recollection of those early days, when he was helping to start up the first CF6 team. Part of his education at GE/Durham has involved something that many teams stumble over: how to get around the truism that committees don't make decisions, people do. At GE/Durham, virtually every decision is made by a team, by consensus. Consensus is another of the founding principles of GE/Durham. It is so ingrained that technicians have turned consensus into a verb: The people at the plant routinely talk about "consensing" on something.

The average group of 15 or 16 people can't reach consensus on where to go for lunch -- let alone how to run a factory. How to organize a production line, whether to hire someone, how to assess someone's skills for promotion, even how to pick who will work over the weekend -- those kinds of issues inspire strong disagreement. "Everybody doesn't see things in the same way," says Williams. "But we've had training on how to reach consensus. We've had training on how to live with ideas that we might not necessarily agree with." And the team members always have the power to change things that don't work out. Says Williams: "All the things you normally fuss and moan about to yourself and your buddies -- well, we have a chance to do something about them. I can't say, 'They' don't know what's going on, or, 'They' made a bad decision. I am 'they.' "

From Teams to Tribes
"Teams," "teamwork," "teaming" -- these are such overused words, such overworked concepts, that they have been all but drained of meaning. GE/Durham isn't so much a team environment as it is a tribal community. There are rules, rituals, and folklore; there is tribal loyalty and tribal accountability. There is a connection to a wider world, beyond the tribe.

Some of these routines are big things. Everyone at the plant belongs to a team, and every team meets every day at 2:30 pm. The team meeting is the pivot of GE/Durham. There are two shifts, and they overlap to allow everyone either to start or to end the day at the team meeting. More than a simple update of the day's progress and problems, this meeting is a place to hip-check morale, conflict, overtime, hiring, technical snags, and planning for the future.
Also, everyone learns to assemble different parts of the engine.

"Multiskilling is how the place is kept together," says Derrick McCoy, 32, a tech-3 and a buddy of Duane Williams's on Team Raven. "You don't hoard your skills. That way, when I'm on vacation, the low-pressure turbine can still be built without me."

In addition to building engines, everyone serves at one time or another on one of several work councils that cut across team lines. The councils handle hr issues, supplier problems, engineering challenges, computer systems, discipline, and rewards. And everyone participates in training -- from sessions in how to give and receive feedback to advanced classes on cost accounting.

Some of the routines seem smaller, but they are no less essential. Everyone cleans up. Despite the plant's almost operating-room cleanliness, there is no cleaning crew. The plant's tools are not locked up. People trusted to make important decisions have to be trusted not to take home a socket set. No one smokes in the plant. And every day, everyone at GE/Durham wears the same outfit: blue jeans or blue slacks, and a gray pullover that has the GE/Durham logo on the left breast. The uniform sends a quiet message. Says Dave Hyde, 41, a program-improvement leader who has been at the plant almost since it opened: "There should be no reason for barriers between people here."

Paula Sims, 38, was plant manager at GE/Durham for four of its first six years of existence. (She left GE last June to pursue other opportunities in the Raleigh-Durham area.) Ask her what the basic principles are, and she doesn't hesitate. "There are four," she says. "One, we have a layerless organization: There is just one classification of worker. Two, people are paid according to their skills. Three, everyone is an FAA power-plant mechanic -- meaning that he or she comes highly skilled. And four, this is a team environment that requires a highly involved workforce."

Clearly, not everyone has the temperament, skills, or intellect needed to work in an environment like that of GE/Durham. So who, in particular, doesn't fit in? "People who expect to take orders," offers Dave Hyde wryly. The first encounter employees have with the GE/Durham principles occurs during the hiring process. At most jet-engine facilities, an FAA mechanic's rating and a bit of experience would be enough to get a job. At GE/Durham, candidates are rated in 11 areas. "Only one of those involves technical competence or experience," says Keith McKee, 27, a tech-3 on Team Raven. "You have to be above the bar in all 11 of the areas: helping skills, team skills, communication skills, diversity, flexibility, coaching ability, work ethic, and so forth. Even if just one thing out of the 11 knocks you down, you don't come to work here."
To see how candidates cooperate, they are interviewed in groups and given group tasks. Each team includes technicians who have been trained as "assessors," and they do the interviewing. Both the team and the plant manager have to agree -- to "consense" -- on the hiring of a new team member. "We ask, for instance, 'If there were something in your past that you could change, what would it be?' " says Derrick McCoy. "If you say, 'Well, I wish I could play "Stairway to Heaven" on the guitar,' well, I'm not sure you're going to get hired. You are on a team, a group, and you have to voice your opinion, but you also have to know when to hold back your opinion -- when to offer an idea, and when to consent to an idea. You've got to be able to give a little and to take a little. You've got to be able to listen. You've got to be able to change. That process is how we get the best people to work here."

Tom Mitchell, 29, a program-improvement leader, is listening to McCoy. "It's a fit issue," Mitchell offers. "We wouldn't hire Donald Trump here. But that doesn't mean he isn't good at what he does." Keith McKee knows firsthand how stringent the screening is. One of the people who applied for a job at the same time he did, in April 1995, was a GE technician who had built CF6 engines at another facility. "I thought he was a shoo-in," says McKee. "But he didn't get the job."

The Durham plant is not a setting that tolerates muttering, resentment, or unresolved disputes. "When I got here," says Derrick McCoy, "I was skeptical. I hadn't been on a team yet. What happens if someone is not performing? If you've got an issue -- a problem with someone's work ethic, for instance -- you've got to bring it up. Like, why is the day shift not getting its work done? Maybe the computer is down, or the parts are not in. Either way, we have to discuss it. Recently, Keith [McKee] was expecting me to get further along on building the BEA-92 (that's the system of cooling tubes near the fan hub) than I did. And I said to Keith, 'Well, I'm working with a guy who has been here only eight months.'

"They expected me to get to a certain point," McCoy adds, "but when you put someone with the new guy, you can't expect that person to get as far as he would if you put him with an experienced guy. As the materials-council rep, Keith did the right thing by confronting me. And I did the right thing by confronting him back -- by explaining. It was friendly."

GE/Durham's continuous-feedback culture -- "We call this the feedback capital of the world," says Paula Sims -- means that while in one sense it's true that no one here has a boss, the opposite is also true: "I have 15 bosses," says Keith McKee. "All of my teammates are my bosses." No one is exempt. "Not long after I started here," says Sims, "an employee came to me and said, 'Paula, you realize that you don't need to follow up with us to make sure we're doing what we agreed to do. If we say we'll do something, we'll do it. You don't need to micromanage us.' I sat back and thought, 'Wow. That's so simple. I'm sending the message that I don't trust people, because I always follow up.' I took that to heart. This was a technician, and I had been at the plant less than 30 days. I appreciated that he felt comfortable enough to tell me this. And I thought, 'This really is a different place.'"

The ABCs of Decisions
When it all comes together, GE/Durham can accomplish things that are almost unheard of -- even in the world of sophisticated manufacturing. Early this year, for example, GE offered the Durham facility the chance to start building another kind of engine: the CFM56, for which demand is rising. The CFM56 is one of the most widely used commercial engines in the world. GE says that 40% of all passenger planes carrying more than 100 passengers use CFM56s -- including the most common commercial jet, the 737. GE/Durham had never built the CFM56, but getting a new engine line, and more work, is good for morale in the plant, for expanding skills, and for job security. "Also, it reinforced the job we were doing," says Paula Sims. The question was simple: "How do we do that engine, which we've never done before, and do it fast? We were going to do it with just one new team -- and with no new hires."

After interviewing some tech-3s, Sims picked the first two members of the CFM56 team, along with a tech-support person. Those three people posted the rest of the jobs for the team, and then started interviewing and building a group. GE's Evendale, Ohio facility -- where the bulk of CFMs get built and where GE Aircraft Engines (the parent division of GE/Durham) is headquartered -- sent engineers to Durham to help design the line and to provide details on how the engine would be put together.
Meanwhile, Sims went to GE/Durham's hr council and asked, "What's the best way to support this new team?" The hr council -- with representatives from every team at the plant -- came up with a rotation plan that involved lending one member of each team to the new CFM56 team, as well as maintaining a list of volunteers who were willing to work overtime on the weekends. Pit-crew time, in other words: Everyone over the wall with a wrench. In the end, GE/Durham got off to what Sims politely calls "a very aggressive" start. "We announced that we would do this work," she says, "and nine weeks later, we shipped our first engine."

Two months later, Sims's boss sat in his Of_ce in Evendale, just outside Cincinnati, and offered a slightly different perspective on GE/Durham's performance. "They have been producing the CFM engine for eight weeks," said Bob McEwan, 46, general manager of Evendale assembly operations. "In Evendale, we have been producing it for years and years. And in Durham, they are already producing it for 12% to 13% less cost than we are here."

In the case of the new engine, Paula Sims did one thing that was potentially controversial: She made a decision. She made the decision to take on the work -- without consulting people in the plant, or reaching consensus, or forming a council to consider the options. "That was a no-brainer," says Sims. But not quite.

"I made that decision," she says, "and we call it an 'A decision.' It was a unilateral decision. I don't make very many of those, and when I do make one, everyone at the plant knows it." When she says she doesn't make that many A decisions -- the kind that managers of her rank at other workplaces probably make several times a week, dozens of times a year -- she isn't kidding. "I make maybe 10 or 12 of those a year." Sims has spent several hours over three days explaining the way that GE/Durham does its work and what her role is. It is a measure of how acclimated people at GE/Durham have become to their unusual environment that it has taken this long for any of them to mention one of the fundamental rules of the place.

At GE/Durham, every decision is either an A decision, or a B decision, or a C decision. An A decision is one that the plant manager makes herself, without consulting anyone. B decisions are also made by the plant manager, but with input from the people affected. C decisions -- which make up the most common type -- are made by consensus, by the people directly involved, with plenty of discussion. With C decisions, the view of the plant manager doesn't necessarily carry more weight than the views of those affected.
That decision-making taxonomy perfectly captures one of the most nagging questions about a place like GE/Durham: What is the role of a plant manager in a place that manages itself? If the plant needs a manager like Sims to make just 10 decisions a year, what does she do with the bulk of her time?

She does the kinds of things that most managers talk about a lot but that they actually spend very little time on. At the operational level, her job is to keep everyone's attention focused on the goals of the plant: Make perfect engines, quickly, cheaply, safely. "The marketplace for jet engines is very, very competitive," says Sims. "They sell for less this year than last year, and that has been true for the past five years in a row. To sustain our business, we have to reduce our costs every year. The nice thing is that here, instead of one person saying, 'Mush harder,' everyone has 15 people looking at them -- 15 peers to whom they are accountable."

Strategically, the plant manager's job is to make sure that the plant as a whole is making smart decisions about talent, about time, and about opportunities for growth. Says
Sims: "Each team, or group of teams, may be optimizing itself, but what's the right way to optimize the plant? If we've optimized each engine program, how do I free up resources for growth and for process improvement?"

Because there are no financial incentives for technicians to improve either their productivity or the quality of their work (Sims says simply, "They [financial incentives] are not part of the culture at GE Aircraft Engines"), job security is something that people at the plant think about a lot. So it's the plant manager's job to make GE/Durham the assembly facility of choice -- the place where senior GE executives, and GE customers, turn first whenever they need a new jet engine built. "Then, as new work becomes available, we have the potential to bid on it internally -- and to get it," says Sims. That approach should help cushion GE/Durham during an economic downturn, when senior management will want to make engines at the most efficient plant available. The plant manager, in other words, has to manage up -- to make sure that her bosses understand how well the plant does its work.

Sims would be easy to underestimate. She's a small woman, and she's watchful. She doesn't need to be the first person to express an opinion. She has braces on her teeth and wears wire-rim glasses, and her bearing is no different from that of anyone else at the plant. Although she has two engineering degrees, along with an MBA from UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School, she has the approachable air of a junior-high soccer coach. Every day, she wears the same outfit (blue slacks, gray pullover) that everyone else wears. "The idea of being 'The Boss' -- having a big office or whatever -- doesn't turn me on," says Sims. "It never really has. I've had a nice, big office, and I felt uncomfortable -- removed from what was going on. But I know I'm the boss here. It comes out in funny ways. I hadn't been here long before I started hearing the phrase, 'Paula says . . .' After awhile, it became a joke."

During her tenure at the plant, Sims was almost never at rest over the course of a day. Any person wearing a gray GE/Durham pullover had a potential claim on her attention. "I had never worked in this kind of environment before," she says. "The workforce is highly skilled and highly motivated -- and highly demanding as well. It is demanding of information, time, resources, results. I consider that a good thing -- because a lot of managers I've talked to are lulled to sleep by the layers of insulation around them. But with 170 people reporting to you, you really have to balance face time with getting your work done."

The job, says Sims, "has been the most challenging four years of my life -- and also the most rewarding. To do it well requires a different level of listening skills. Significantly different." In a place with no layer of middle managers to muffle the noise from below, a manager like Sims is exposed to the daily twang of worry, conflict, and tension that filters through a plant that produces roughly 400 high-performance jet engines a year. "More and more of what I do involves listening to people, to teams, to councils, to ideas, trying to find common themes."

The goals for GE/Durham this year that didn't have to do with productivity or quality included things like reviewing compensation; working to make more satisfying the jobs of the people who maintain each teams' workstations and parts kits; and revising how technical skills are assessed for purposes of promotion. All three of those were areas of dissatisfaction that Sims heard about during 1998. "The beauty of this job is that there are very few limits that you'd associate with its structure or its responsibilities. The difficulty is that there is a lot of stress. I'm always wondering, 'What do I do next? How can I simplify things and make everybody's job easier?' "

Training and information are key to making the plant manager's job manageable -- not for her, but for the rest of the plant. "I hadn't been here more than six months," says Sims, "when there were some big budget challenges. We wanted to reduce costs at this facility by $1.2 million. And we wanted a plan to do it in a few days. I'd been through this kind of thing many times in many different places, but I'd never been through it here before."

Sims quickly and silently developed her own plan and sent it to her boss. "At the time, this plant wasn't very cost-conscious. So I formed an expense council to educate people at the facility about why keeping track of expenses is important and how expenses fit into the total scheme of things."

The council moved fast. Although the full "cost education" process took six months, the expense council took less than three weeks to grasp the basics and to develop a plan to trim costs by $1.2 million. "It was a real rudder change--to get the plant to focus on expenses," sasy Sims. "That was the year when everyone decided that I was a cheap skate. But in a place like this, you have to trust people to a degree that you never would have before.

"When I had a new plan, I called my boss back and said, 'Take that first plan I sent you and throw it in the trash. We've got a new plan, a better plan.' And I explained the process that we'd gone through. This job requires realizing that the rest of GE doesn't work the way we work. You can't say to GE, 'Let me geat a council together, and we'll get back to you in a couple weeks.' But the plan we came up with in that case was better than what I had come up woith on my own. My boss chuckled and said, 'I guess you're learning the process down there.'"

Working to Get Better
The snazziest thing about GE's Durham facility is the look of the jet engines themselves. Hanging from an overhead hoist, a CF6 engine has the allure of a big toy. You can't help wondering where the "on" switch is. The nose cone in front has a white spiral on it that looks very familiar: Riding on an airplane, you've twisted your head around, looked out the window, and seen the black nose cone with its white hieroglyph. (The white design functions as a safety mechanism, revealing to the ground crew whether or not the engine is spinning.) The sides of the engine look like a schematic of vessels, cables, and pipes. All of the parts and textures beckon the touch--yet the care required to build these engines makes it seem like even touching them in the wrong place could cause disaster.

At GE/Durham, the jets are not just the main stage show--they are the only act. And the stage set is nothing special. The building is a former steam-generator plant, with corrugated metal walls and concrete floors that are 18 inches thick. Each of the two main assembly buildigns has 3.5 acres of floor space. Building 1 is open 6 stories high; Building 2 is open 11 stories high. They are cavernous enough to have their own weather. The pinkish mercury-vapor lighting gives the factory floor an odd, underwater feel.
There is no well-equipped gym. Thre are no offices--corner, nice, or otherwise. There are no windows. There are no well-stocked break rooms, Ping-Pong tables, or video games to provide relief from stress. The cafeteria is a small room where a couple of sweet ladies prepare food that's reminiscent of the kind you would get in an elementary-school lunchroom. The service is outsourced, the meals are cheap, and the food is served in Styrofoam containers. There are no stock options for technicians. The only way to get a promotion is to do the studying and training necessary to score well enough on an exam to become a tech-2 or a tech-3.

And yet, the external turnover rate at GE/Durham is less than 5% per year. (The plant loses between 10% and 15% of its staff each year to other GE facilities.) At a place where the morale is high and the performance is extraordinary, something is going on that is often overlooked in an economy obsessed with fringe benefits, gratuitious flattery, and today's closing stock price. At GE/Durham, the work itself is the thing.

The techs at GE/Durham have challenging jobs that matter, they have a degree of control over their work that is almost unprecedented, they adhere to demanding performance standards, they receive the training and support that they need to do the best work they can--and, as a result, they do just that. There is somethng so extraordinary about this place that you wish you could walk through it with Karl Marx and Max Weber--just to hear them explain how its revolutionary culture squares with their theories about the dehumanization of work in modern society.

How good is GE/Durham? Since Paula Sims arrived in 1995, when the plant was two years old, GE/Durham has reduced the number of defects per engine delivered to Boeing by 75%. The defect rate used to be about one defect per engine (and remember, such defects are mostly cosmetic). Today, defects occur at the rate of one for every fourth engine. And GE/Durham considers even that rate to be too high. The plant still holds a weekly conference call with Beoing to discuss defects on the latest delivery--as well as techniques for eliminating future defects.

The plant has not missed a delivery date on the CF6 engine in 38 straight months. Or, to put it another way, GE/Durham has consecutively delivered more than 500 CF6 engines on schedule. (The GE90, a brand-new engine, doesn't have such a fine record. Th GE90 teams are only in their fifth straight month of one-time deliveries.) The cost of producing jet engines dropped by 10% or more every single year of Paula Sim's tenure at GE/Durham. Today, manufacturing a GE90 costs less than half of what it did in 1995. Given that the GE90 is a never-before-made engine, initial savings were to be expected still, the degree of savings was remarkably high. What is even more revealing, GE/Durham has reduced the cost of producing the CF6--an engine in production for two decadwes--by 30% since 1995. "We are very close to producing twice the output of CF6s from this plant with the same number of employees as when I came here," says Sims.

Although comparisons between GE plants are difficult--no two plants do exactly the same kind of work, with exactly the same kind of overhead to support it--Bob McEwan, who has authority over GE/Durham says simply, "They are the best in the GE Aircraft Engines division."

The most interesting measure may be one that the people at GE/Durham talk about themselves. They don't really think that their main job it so make jet engines. They think that their main job is to make jet engines better.

Now, for instance, when the GE90 is in final assembly, the huge engine sits in a scaffold that consists fo two-story-high yellow metal platforms. The platforms form a kind of pier, giving easy acces to the flanks and top of an engine that is as big around as a passenger liner. "They used to go up on ladders to work on those engines," says Sims. "The GE90 teams said, 'Could we build some platforms?' I said, 'That's a great idea.' Once we decided on a design, it took a month to build the first one, and now we have two. Not having to climb up and down the ladder, or to move it each time you need to reach something new, has reduced the assembly time of the engine by eight hours."
GE/Durham's culture of constant improvement offers a completely different way of looking at work. "Here in Evendale," says Bob McEwan, "we have method engineers and process engineers, and you give them a job, and they hem and haw for a year, and then they come up with something. Then you have to get the techs on the floor to buy into it. It's all very structured, and it takes a while to get done. Every once in a while, you get a 'Wow!'

"Now, down in Durham, you don't hear about process improvement. They are constantly swinging away at it. Every time I go down there, I'm amazed. They have their washers all sorted into holders, like poker chips sorted into trays. You can easily get the washer you want. It's things like that. They don't ask anybody--they just go and do it. Down there, you can get more going in a week's time than you can here in a year."

McEwan's office is in the basement of the Evendale factory, a sprawling facility that was used to make bombers during the second World War. Today, the giant facility employs about 8,000 people. Directly above McEwan's office is a shop floor where GE technicians assemble jet engines.

"I think what they've discovered in Durham is the value of the human being," says McEwan. He points to the ceiling.

"Upstairs, you've got wrench turners. In Durham, you've got people who think."

24 March 2006

Game creating proc

Might be fun to brainstorm a list of psychological experiences that gamers go through in fun games. And then create a game around those experiences.

Conversely, is there any cognitive research on the psychology of a gaming and gamers?

How about a consulting company that deals with the above subject. It could have a lot of gaming houses paying to get the data.

23 March 2006

Life form simulated

So begins a new era.

Interesting statement

Markets are won with strategy, not tactics.

21 March 2006

Task End Trigger New Task

A lot of times you are working with tasks such that when one task is completed you want another task to be started. In MS Outlook, what if those guys created a system where a task is 'alive' only when another task is completed. So I complete task A, and now I must begin task B, and task B is autocreated in the task list.

It's kindda like a Gantt Chart but in outlook or Kontact or Lightening.

20 March 2006

Boyd's Military Strategy Page


OODA - John Boyd


John Boyd's Last Briefing


Integrated Marketing Article.

Striking at the Achilles Heel of Integrated Marketing
by Matthew Syrett
May 18, 2004

Integration is a marketing catchphrase of the moment. Its value propositions seems unquestionably strong—the whole of a marketing initiative can be greater than the sum of its multidisciplinary parts if those parts work tightly together to assist one another.

While certainly capable of delivering on this promise, integrated marketing is not without its inherent vulnerabilities. One area of definite risk with integration lies in its rigidity—its inability to handle change and dynamic competitive forces.

The need to coordinate a host of disparate marketing disciplines in a united cause tends to slow integration's ability to make on-the-fly decisions and act upon them. One can readily foresee situations where more maneuverable competitors could take fierce advantage of the difficulties of an integrated initiative to turn on a dime.

I would therefore argue that as integration continues to mature, the importance of marketing agility and maneuverability will grow in importance—both as a defense for and offence against integrated efforts.

An Integrated Background

The idea of integrated marketing is hardly new. Walt Disney was using what he called “synergy” in the 1950s and 1960s to drive the Disney company forward using coordinated marketing efforts in print, television, movies, merchandizing and his Anaheim theme park. Each part of the Disney marketing mix promoted other aspects of the mix that together built the Disney brand and revenue stream.

In the last 20 years, a wide range of marketers have begun to embrace integration as a mantra for their efforts in large part due to the increasing problems that exist with our mass mediums, which are presently fracturing and becoming growingly inefficient. This crisis in mass marketing has an ironic origin in the success of these mass mediums as advertising venues, which has in turn fed the growth of greater media complexity. This complexity has led to increasing difficulties reaching truly mass audiences as consumer media options become more diverse and segmented in an ever-growing sea of choices.

Integration has offered a partial fix to this problem by facilitating marketing efficiencies through a smart management of a total marketing mix. These efficiencies first took the form of the various media coming together to support a primary medium's effort (usually television) using consistent messaging across the secondary and tertiary communication channels.

This simple integration has given way to a more intense “synchronized” or “360-degree marketing” style of integration, which uses a total media mix to message consumer in a coordinated way with no one medium dominating. Synchronization is to marketing what surround sound is to an audio system.

A good example of how contemporary integration can work is to be found in the M&Ms Global Color Vote in 2002. The vote for the newest M&M candy color involved the coordination of not only a countless number of international marketing teams but also a series of marketing teams in the United States.

Porter Novelli kicked off the initiative in the US by building buzz for the vote using public relations pushes; BBDO then worked to drive further awareness using television and print advertisements; and Grey created a Web site infrastructure to facilitate the voting call-to-action and then collected new direct marketing leads as consumers interacted with the promotion.

The end result of the Global Color Vote was nearly 10 million consumers voting on the new color, a jump in product sales, and a dramatic harvest of relationship marketing leads for re-contact. The success of the effort was not easy, but this case shows well how the coordination of a series of marketing partners can yield dramatic results that any one of those partners alone could not achieve in today's difficult media environment.

The Risks of Integration

Success in integration requires much planning and management to orchestrate the varied mix of marketing disciplines. This need for strong coordination forms an Achilles heel for integration, since it often prevents rapid responses to unexpected situations and emergent opportunities.

To make matters worse, a failure of any one component within an integrated initiative, especially a synchronized one, can have dire results for the other marketing components that are dependant upon its success, which can cause a cascade of subsequent failures.

I can recall one cascading crisis where integration broke down when the public relations group working on a project responded to its own timing concerns by launched its PR push weeks early. The other partners were unable to change their schedules in time to take full advantage of the earlier-than-expected PR effort, which caused a significant loss in the effectiveness by the various disciplines at transforming public interest into program involvement.

The potential causes of integrated failure are many and commonplace, include these:

Incorrect strategic assumptions

Inferior tactical execution

Unanticipated marketplace changes

Delays bringing products to market

Poor communication

Conflicts between integration partners

Rogue partner behavior
The tactical rigidity of integration often prevents recognition of the above problems as they are unfolding, which hampers damage control and response. There usually is an uncomfortable delay between the origin of a problem and its identification within an integrated framework.

Much potential mitigation time is lost as the integrated team slowly identifies the problem at hand and then figures out how to get the various parts of the effort to respond to the problem, if they can. The individual partners tend to labor along to complete their assigned tasks independent of the larger picture until directed to do otherwise, which often gives integration for good or bad a feeling of unalterable momentum.

Despite the clear risk of change, most integrated marketing plans rely on a passive and dangerous assumption that there will be little need to respond to change once the implementation begins. Many integrated marketers seem to live by the optimistic belief that their plans will flawlessly execute, so there is little need to spend money to mitigate potential risks.

Accordingly, most integrated marketing plans have few built-in contingencies to accommodate change. They also tend to have ineffective feedback systems to know in the midst of the initiative what is working and what is not. It is as if an understanding of success or failure of the integrated initiative is largely left to the very end of the project—way beyond the point of redemption from problems that might arise.

The inflexibility of integrated marketing takes on a darker shadow when one considers that almost all marketing takes place in a competitive environment. Therefore, exploitable weakness in your marketing practices can lead to gains by a shrewd opponent.

A nimble marketer would do well to survey his or her opponent's integrated strategy as it tactically unfolds, and respond against those components expected to be the most rigid and therefore the most venerable. If successful, a marketer can send a competitor's integrated initiative into a crisis mode from which it may not easily recover.

The risks of inflexibility in a competitive environment have been nicely defined within the military strategy work of Col. John Boyd. Boyd spent the later part of his life creating Pentagon presentations that advocated against rigid command and control structures for the US Military. The most well known of these presentation is his powerful “Pattern of Conflict,” which formed a blueprint for combat successes first in Grenada and then the Gulf War.

Boyd argued that competitiveness in military conflict is dependent on the rate at which decisions can be made and applied. The faster one can make sound decisions and put them to use, the better one could compete with one's opponents. He further noted that faster maneuvering can destabilize opponents by continually short-circuiting their normal decision-making structures, thus providing even more tactical opportunity as the opponent struggles continually to reorient itself.

How Does This Relate to Integrated Marketing?

Boyd recognized that military competitiveness is best achieved not through creating stronger centralized command and control structures but by relaxing these structures, thus allowing team members to react fluidly to a changing competitive landscape that they can observe firsthand. In Boyd's vision, central leadership should exist to provide clear high-level direction and facilitate the efforts of the opportunistic practitioners under its command.

The teams on the battlefield should be able to improvise within the high-level direction provided by command in much the same way that a good Jazz band will play spontaneously with a music score. All the musicians are playing the same piece of music, but each is free to opportunistically modify his own part to delight an audience. Practice and mutual trust assures that no one band member deviates too far from the music score and opportunities are exploited in a coordinated manner by the whole band. A Boydian-style agile team needs to work in this same manner to be competitive.

Boyd describes the optimal competitive situation as having “harmony,” where all teams and team members are improvising in tandem toward a set of mutual goals while not requiring explicit orders to do so. When I played soccer, we call this same trait “touch,” which allowed me to know in the heat of game how best to set up a team member to score a goal without having to rationalize explicitly about how they were going to break toward the goal or what foot they preferred to use.

The typical integrated project does not fit the profile of competitiveness as defined by Boyd. Integrated programs usually have centralized and slow-moving control structures with teams that have low trust working with one another. Most often, integrated teams are a series of groups thrown quickly together for a project and have little incentive and experience to work together in anything that approaches harmony. The critical ability of coordinated improvisation just does not naturally exist in most integrated programs.

There are two direct implications coming from the above insights about integrated marketing's weaknesses:

More agility and harmony need to be built into our integrated programs to defend them better against dynamism.

Agility should be explored further as a David-versus-Goliath response against integrated competitors.
Harmonizing Integration

The harmonizing of integrated marketing will not be an easy task, but it is not impossible. The first place to start is with the planning process, by allowing adequate feedback and flexibility to achieve increased organizational fluidity.

The integrated marketer would do well to stop making the troublesome assumption that nothing will go wrong, and start investing prudently up front to have backup plans ready if potential risks become reality. An integrated plan should include both an exploration of available mitigation measures and hedges against loss.

Unlike the financial industry, where hedging is commonplace, marketers do not often use hedging strategies to limit their risks. This is a mistake. Hedges are powerful tools to contain loss and keep flexible in a tough market. For those unfamiliar with the term, a hedge is a tactic that acts like insurance against potential loss, thus limiting damage should an initiative go awry.

A good example of an integrated hedge would be compensating your partners using incentives where the extent of compensation for these partners is variable and based on hitting or exceeding project targets. This hedge works by binding the cost of a project to how well it performs, so that any losses can be limited if an initiative flounders. These incentives work best if there is a strong profit motive in doing better than expected, so your partners have a stake in doing the strongest work possible as a team. If the incentives go un-won by the partners, they can be reapplied to fund any needed mitigation efforts to further offset losses.

One mitigation that all integrated marketers should undertake is the prevention of an integrated initiative's tactics from taking on a life of their own and becoming divorced from the ultimate strategic goals of the program. Diligence needs to be fostered within all partners of an integrated team to ensure that goals and tactics remain aligned. Each integration partner should be tasked with monitoring and understanding the effectiveness of its part of initiative within the context of the program's larger goals. Further, the teams should be enabled to be entrepreneurial in their efforts to improve these measures.

The leadership of the program should further push the partners to act spontaneously together to exploit new opportunities and defend against nascent liabilities as they emerge. In a promotional effort, for instance, the interactive partner could routinely mine the Web logs of the promotion site for links to that site from other sites, which are a wonderful source of organic opportunities for public relations.

As part of the earlier-mentioned M&Ms Global Color Vote, the Web logs for the promotion led the interactive marketing team to a previously unknown grassroots campaign by Apple computer enthusiasts to vote for the color Aqua, which happened to be the code name of part of the new Macintosh OS X operating system. In a harmonized model, this information could have been put to use to intensify the promotion through public relations highlighting this strange connection, while guerilla-marketing tactics could have been applied to assure that it continued in a healthy manner.

This type of coordinated fluidity requires trust to work. Harmony will only grow when the various partners learn to trust one another and become comfortable with each other's tactics and habits. Therefore, marketers need to make a better effort to create a total-team feel on an integrated project.

Too often, only an uncomfortable bond exists between integrated partners, held loosely together by weekly conference calls to discuss milestones and deliverables. The lead marketers of an integrated initiative should encourage more and deeper contact between the partners under their leadership, including regular brainstorming about how to gang together to keep a project better on track and seek emerging opportunities. The different partners can even be provided financial incentives in this effort so that the needed levels of cooperation are not left up to chance or personality.

Confronting Integration

When confronting an integrated marketing effort by a competitor, the same tactics of increased maneuverability discussed above to defend integration can be turned against it. The strategy is simple—get inside your opponent's integrated decision cycle and destabilized it by creating unanticipated marketplace changes through your own communication efforts. With luck, your targeted counterpunches will result in the confusion of your opponents, a cascade of troubles for them, and a loss of positive efficacy for their efforts.

Given that integration typically works to serve the needs of brand marketing, the elements that most intimately support this endeavor should become the prime targets for any agile counterpunch. By striking at these elements, one is assured to be affecting the very success of the initiative, while often setting up your own brand for strengthening in the minds of consumers.

Brand marketing works by binding a concept of a product's differentiation into the minds of a consumer, and then using price and promotion to drive that consumer toward purchase of the product. One can readily derail brand-marketing efforts by affecting the successful execution of any of these steps toward consumer purchase. The agile marketers would do well to point its attacks toward counteracting an integrated initiative's effort to develop competitive differentiation, drive promotion, and make compelling offers in the minds of consumers.

For instance, Burger King recently launched a buzz-worthy interactive promotion called the Subservient Chicken, which allows consumers to visit a Web site and give a man in a kinky chicken suit orders. It was the hope of Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, the creators of the site, to start moving the image of Burger King away from just being centered on beef burgers by transforming the buzz about an oddball chicken Web site into momentum for a full integrated push to sell more chicken sandwiches at a fast food restaurant mostly well-known for selling hamburgers.

While successful at creating buzz, the new promotion does leave the Burger King brand in a venerable place somewhere between its traditional image and the new one they are hoping to mint.

If I were one of Burger King's competitors, I would be working double-time to make sure the handoff between promotion buzz building and image transformation does not occur seamlessly. One can sabotage this handoff by changing the discourse of consumers away from an interest in Burger King to questioning the meaning of this move by the company and its brand.

Why is Burger King abandoning its burger foundation? Can a fast food restaurant with “burger” right in its name really pull off a good chicken sandwich? And do I want to give business to a fast food joint that has a sadomasochistic bird as one of its mascots?

A good mix of tactical public relations and guerilla marketing could quickly get Burger King on the defensive with a damaged image somewhere between where it started and where they want to be. This could be quickly followed by a run of brand advertising by Burger King's competitors reinforcing the strength of their own brand image in contrast to the half-executed image transformation attempted by Burger King.

With luck, Burger King's strategy would proceed unaltered until such time that adequate damage has been done to fully derail the present initiative. It would then be up to our hypothetical competitor to wait and react with the same speed and purpose to what might come next from Burger King in hopes of continuing the disruption of its integrated marketing long-term.

This contrived example shows how an integrated effort can be taken on by a competitor and defeated largely by exploiting opportunities as they emerge and letting momentum take its course. Success in these matters does not rely so much on the scale of resources that can be brought to bear against the integrated target, but upon the speed and smartness of the tactics.

When that's done right, the integrated marketer becomes his or her own worst enemy while in the throes of tying to get an unwieldy marketing infrastructure to react to change.

09 March 2006

Woot's adword

Woot's adword ad when searched for "Goog".

08 March 2006

Sayam's Theorem of Primality

Ok. This is not really a theorem yet, more of a hypothesis. And someone else might have shown this before but I thought about it last night.

Every prime number contains atleast one digit that is itself, a prime number.

E.g. 2 is a prime number. And 2 happens to be a prime.
E.g. 29 is a prime number. And 2 in 29 is a prime.
E.g. 79 is a prime number. And 7 is a prime.

How can I prove it?

07 March 2006

Google get hit on disclosure snafu - Mar. 7, 2006

This is how Google solves a problem. It has publically talked about being quiet to Wall Street. But talk they must while being true to their rule. So how do you solve the problem?

"Accidentally" leak the information. Good job!

Mergers in the air..

Recent telecom mergers together with the blackmailing of web portals by cable providers like SBC would be a classical example, in the future, of how industry monopolies hurt consumers.

26 February 2006

Basic request for Google

When I google "diference Muay Thai and Kickboxing" I want Google to list for me as many differences as possible, and not just a list of websites that rank high up there because of some SEO followed Bratt's 26 Step Plan.

Basic request for Google

When I google "diference Muay Thai and Kickboxing" I want Google to list for me as many differences as possible, and not just a list of websites that rank high up there because of some SEO followed Bratt's 26 Step Plan.

24 February 2006

Motto for Life

The Endless Pursuit for Perfection.

22 February 2006

MG2 - a FREE and easy to use PHP image gallery script (Minigal v2)

MG2 - a FREE and easy to use PHP image gallery script (Minigal v2)

21 February 2006

Peter Drucker Dead!

Little did I know.

Management Visionary Peter Drucker Dies

20 February 2006

Mental fallacies

salience effects - the one strongest reason or most familiar item etc will have disproportionate impact on our thinking about something. From a list of ten options, we will find it easy to choose the best and worst, and will do so for one "salient" consideration rather than deliberating toward an on-balance conclusion.

- first answer rationalization - whatever you come up with first (for reasons of salience above, say) you will then start gathering evidence to support, so everything will look like it points toward your first answer

- early narrowing - when brainstorming is required and you should be generating many options, you'll often briefly consider than dismiss 2ndary choices without giving them a multi-aspect analysis

- connecting dots - if you get lots of details confirming a hair-brained proposition, you start believing it -- even when it is ruled out decisively by a negative fact or not confirmed at all. For example, people who hear that Melissa is a lawyer rule this sentence, "Melissa is a feminist", more likely to be true than this one: "Either Melissa is a feminist or she eats meat". The latter is more likely, since it's a disjunction. But people like connecting the woman + lawyer = feminist dots. You do too, I bet.

My suggestions..

..in various affairs originate because either:

1- I'm thinking about a hypothetical perfect world scenario
2- Or because I'm looking at the reality of the situation
3- Or I'm looking at the reality of the situation and want to "take" it to the perfect level
4- Or I'm just kidding myself.

I gotto be able to understand what I'm looking at when thinking about suggestions. Clearly if I'm looking at a perfect world far far away from from reality, I'm bound to be off chart.

Learn to dance website

A website that uses flash, stick figures and basic tricks to teach how to dance. Step by step.

17 February 2006


wow! The 40 Principles:

1. Segmentation
a. Divide an object into independent parts
b. Make an object sectional
c. Increase the degree of an object's segmentation
Sectional furniture, modular computer components, folding wooden ruler
Garden hoses can be joined together to form any length needed
2. Extraction
a. Extract (remove or separate) a "disturbing" part or property from an object, or
b. Extract only the necessary part or property
To frighten birds away from the airport, use a tape recorder to reproduce the sound known to excite birds. (The sound is thus separated from the birds.)
3. Local Quality
a. Transition from a homogeneous structure of an object or outside environment/action to a heterogeneous structure
b. Have different parts of the object carry out different functions
c. Place each part of the object under conditions most favorable for its operation
To combat dust in coal mines, a fine mist of water in a conical form is applied to working parts of the drilling and loading machinery. The smaller the droplets, the greater the effect in combating dust, but fine mist hinders the work. The solution is to develop a layer of coarse mist around the cone of fine mist.
A pencil and eraser in one unit.
4. Asymmetry
a. Replace a symmetrical form with an asymmetrical form.
b. If an object is already asymmetrical, increase the degree of asymmetry
Make one side of a tire stronger than the other to withstand impact with the curb
While discharging wet sand through a symmetrical funnel, the sand forms an arch above the opening, causing irregular flow. A funnel of asymmetrical shape eliminates the arching effect. [add picture here]
5. Combining
a. Combine in space homogeneous objects or objects destined for contiguous operations
b. Combine in time homogeneous or contiguous operations
The working element of a rotary excavator has special steam nozzles to defrost and soften the frozen ground
6. Universality
Have the object perform multiple functions, thereby eliminating the need for some other object(s)
Sofa which converts into a bed
Minivan seat which adjusts to accommodate seating, sleeping or carrying cargo
7. Nesting
a. Contain the object inside another which, in turn, is placed inside a third object
b. Pass an object through a cavity of another object
Telescoping antenna
Chairs which stack on top of each other for storage
Mechanical pencil with lead stored inside
8. Counterweight
a. Compensate for the object's weight by joining with another object that has a lifting force
b. Compensate for the weight of an object by interaction with an environment providing aerodynamic or hydrodynamic forces
Boat with hydrofoils
A rear wing in racing cars which increases pressure from the car to the ground
9. Prior counter-action
a. Perform a counter-action in advance
b. If the object is (or will be) under tension, provide anti-tension in advance
Reinforced concrete column or floor
Reinforced shaft made from several pipes which have been previously twisted to some specified angle
10. Prior action
a. Carry out all or part of the required action in advance
b. Arrange objects so they can go into action in a timely matter and from a convenient position
Utility knife blade made with a groove allowing the dull part of the blade to be broken off, restoring sharpness
Rubber cement in a bottle is difficult to apply neatly and uniformly. Instead, it is formed into a tape so that the proper amount can be more easily applied.
11. Cushion in advance
Compensate for the relatively low reliability of an object by countermeasures taken in advance
Merchandise is magnetized to deter shoplifting.
12. Equipotentiality
Change the working conditions so that an object need not be raised or lowered.
Automobile engine oil is changed by workers in a pit to avoid using expensive lifting equipment
13. Inversion
a. Instead of an action dictated by the specifications of the problem, implement an opposite action
b. Make a moving part of the object or the outside environment immovable and the non-moving part movable
c. Turn the object upside-down
Abrasively cleaning parts by vibrating the parts instead of the abrasive
14. Spheroidality
a. Replace linear parts or flat surfaces with curved ones; replace cubical shapes with spherical shapes
b. Use rollers, balls spirals
c. Replace a linear motion with rotating movement; utilize a centrifugal force
Computer mouse utilized ball construction to transfer linear two-axis motion into vector motion
15. Dynamicity
a. Make an object or its environment automatically adjust for optimal performance at each stage of operation
b. Divide an object into elements which can change position relative to each other
c. If an object is immovable, make it movable or interchangeable
A flashlight with a flexible gooseneck between the body and the lamp head
A transport vessel with a cylindrical-shaped body. To reduce the draft or a vessel under full load, the body is comprised of two hinged, half-cylindrical parts which can be opened.
16. Partial or overdone action
If it is difficult to obtain 100% of a desired effect, achieve somewhat more or less to greatly simplify the problem
A cylinder is painted by dipping into paint, but contains more paint than desired. Excess paint is then removed by rapidly rotating the cylinder.
To obtain uniform discharge of a metallic powder from a bin, the hopper has a special internal funnel which is continually overfilled to provide nearly constant pressure.
17. Moving to a new dimension
a. Remove problems with moving an object in a line by two-dimensional movement (i.e. along a plane)
b. Use a multi-layered assembly of objects instead of a single layer
c. Incline the object or turn it on its side
A greenhouse which has a concave reflector on the northern part of the house to improve illumination of that part of the house by reflecting sunlight during the day.
18. Mechanical vibration
a. Set an object into oscillation
b. If oscillation exists, increase its frequency, even as far as ultrasonic
c. Use the resonant frequency
d. Instead of mechanical vibrations, use piezovibrators
e. Use ultrasonic vibrations in conjunction with an electromagnetic field
To remove a cast from the body without injuring the skin, a conventional hand saw was replaced with a vibrating knife
Vibrate a casting mold while it is being filled to improve flow and structural properties
19. Periodic action
a. Replace a continuous action with a periodic (pulsed) one
b. If an action is already periodic, change its frequency
c. Use pulsed between impulses to provide additional action
An impact wrench loosens corroded nuts using impulses rather than continuous force
A warning lamp flashes so that it is even more noticeable than when continuously lit
20. Continuity of a useful action
a. Carry out an action continuously (i.e. without pauses), where all parts of an object operate at full capacity
b. Remove idle and intermediate motions
A drill with cutting edges which permit cutting in forward and reverse directions
21. Rushing through
Perform harmful or hazardous operations at very high speed
A cutter for thin-walled plastic tubes prevents tube deformation during cutting by running at a very high speed (i.e. cuts before the tube has a chance to deform)
22. Convert harm into benefit
a. Utilize harmful factors or environmental effects to obtain a positive effect
b. Remove a harmful factor by combining it with another harmful factor
c. Increase the amount of harmful action until it ceases to be harmful
Sand or gravel freezes solid when transported through cold climates. Over-freezing (using liquid nitrogen) makes the ice brittle, permitting pouring.
When using high frequency current to heat metal, only the outer layer became hot. This negative effect was later used for surface heat-treating.
23. Feedback
a. Introduce feedback
b. If feedback already exists, reverse it
Water pressure from a well is maintained by sensing output pressure and turning on a pump if pressure is too low
Ice and water are measured separately but must combine to total a specific weight. Because ice is difficult to dispense precisely, it is measured first. The weight is then fed to the water control device, which precisely dispenses the needed amount.
24. Mediator
a. Use an intermediary object to transfer or carry out an action
b. Temporarily connect an object to another one that is easy to remove
To reduce energy loss when applying current to a liquid metal, cooled electrodes and intermediate liquid metal with a lower melting temperature are used.
25. Self-service
a. Make the object service itself and carry out supplementary and repair operations
b. Make use of wasted material and energy
To prevent wear in a feeder which distributes an abrasive material, its surface is made from the abrasive material
In an electric welding gun, the rod is advanced by a special device. To simplify the system, the rod is advanced by a solenoid controlled by the welding current.
26. Copying
a. Use a simple and inexpensive copy instead of an object which is complex, expensive, fragile or inconvenient to operate.
b. Replace an object by its optical copy or image. A scale can be used to reduce or enlarge the image.
c. If visible optical copies are used, replace them with infrared or ultraviolet copies
The height of tall objects can be determined by measuring their shadows.
27. Inexpensive, short-lived object for expensive, durable one
Replace an expensive object by a collection of inexpensive ones, forgoing properties (e.g. longevity)
Disposable diapers
28. Replacement of a mechanical system
a. Replace a mechanical system by an optical, acoustical or olfactory (odor) system
b. Use an electrical, magnetic or electromagnetic field for interaction with the object
c. Replace fields
1. Stationary fields with moving fields
2. Fixed fields with those which change in time
3. Random fields with structured fields
d. Use a field in conjunction with ferromagnetic particles
To increase the bond between metal coating and a thermoplastic material, the process is carried out inside an electromagnetic field which applies force to the metal
29. Pneumatic or hydraulic construction
Replace solid parts of an object by gas or liquid. These parts can use air or water for inflation, or use air or hydrostatic cushions
To increase the draft of an industrial chimney, a spiral pipe with nozzles was installed. When air flows through the nozzles, it creates an air-like wall, reducing drag.
For shipping fragile products, air bubble envelopes or foam-like materials are used.
30. Flexible membranes or thin film
a. Replace traditional constructions with those made from flexible membranes or thin film
b. Isolate an object from its environment using flexible membranes or thin film
To prevent water evaporation from plant leaves, polyethylene spray was applied. After a while, the polyethylene hardened and plant growth improved, because polyethylene film passes oxygen better than water vapor.
31. Use of porous material
a. Make an object porous or add porous elements (inserts, covers, etc.)
b. If an object is already porous, fill the pores in advance with some substance
To avoid pumping coolant to a machine, some of its parts are filled with a porous material soaked in coolant liquid. The coolant evaporates when the machine is working, providing short-term uniform cooling.
32. Changing the color
a. Change the color of an object or its surroundings
b. Change the degree of translucency of an object or processes which are difficult to see
c. Use colored additives to observe objects or processes which are difficult to see
d. If such additives are already used, employ luminescent traces or tracer elements
A transparent bandage enabling a wound to be inspected without removing the dressing
A water curtain used to protect steel mill workers from overheating blocked infrared rays but not the bright light from the melted steel. A coloring was added to the water to create a filter effect while preserving the transparency of the water.
33. Homogeneity
Make those objects which interact with a primary object out of the same material or material that is close to it in behavior.
The surface of a feeder for abrasive grain is made of the same material that runs through the feeder, allowing a continuous restoration of the surface.
34. Rejecting and regenerating parts
a. After it has completed its function or become useless, reject or modify (e.g. discard, dissolve, evaporate) an element of an object
b. Immediately restore any part of an object which is exhausted or depleted
Bullet casings are ejected after the gun fires
Rocket boosters separate after serving their function
35. Transformation of the physical and chemical states of an object
Change an object's aggregate state, density distribution, degree of flexibility, temperature
In a system for brittle friable materials, the surface of the spiral feedscrew was made from an elastic material with two spiral springs. To control the process, the pitch of the screw could be changed remotely.
36. Phase transformation
Implement an effect developed during the phase transition of a substance. For instance, during the change of volume, liberation or absorption of heat.
To control the expansion of ribbed pipes, they are filled with water and cooled to a freezing temperature
37. Thermal expansion
a. Use a material which expands or contracts with heat
b. Use various materials with different coefficients of heat expansion
To control the opening of roof windows in a greenhouse, bimetallic plates are connected to the windows. A change in temperature bends the plates, causing the window to open or close.
38. Use strong oxidizers
a. Replace normal air with enriched air
b. Replace enriched air with oxygen
c. Treat an object in air or in oxygen with ionizing radiation
d. Use ionized oxygen
To obtain more heat from a torch, oxygen is fed to the torch instead of atmospheric air
39. Inert environment
a. Replace the normal environment with an inert one
b. Carry out the process in a vacuum
To prevent cotton from catching fire in a warehouse, it is treated with inert gas while being transported to the storage area.
40. Composite materials
Replace a homogeneous material with a composite one
Military aircraft wings are made of composites of plastics and carbon fibers for high strength and low weight

aitriz.org: Altshuller Institute for TRIZ Studies

Triz. A problem solving technique. Gotto check it out.


Getting Creative-

Note to self:

If I want to get creative for a day, I should think about creativity half an hour before the activity. Like while driving. Think about lateral think, the behaviour of a self-organizing system and how it reaches a local equilibria and how to get out of that equilibria.

Let's see how long this lasts.

Suggestion: If I want to get creative in a group environment I should think about 6 thinking hats?

14 February 2006

TV News and an Ad

So local Fox 5 a few days ago did story on the frustrating nature of listening to menus when calling a company.
Some days later I see an ad on the same channel by a major CC provider. The ad is built on the ease of talking to a person.

I'm tempted to conclude that there's a correlation between the two.

On another note, the History Channel is doing product placement these days. The advertisements come in the name of a show. Brothers in Arms had it's share. Now something with Apple is in effect.

IDE Thoughts

When you open a bracket "{" in C++, you have to close it. For programming style purposes it's better to close it right away, go two steps up, then to the end of the opening bracket, hit enter and code.

Make a mod in some IDE where as soon as you open the {, it's autoclosed and cursor placed in between the two lines at the proper indentation.

The purpose of leadership

To enable a person be the best at what s/he is supposed to be doing.
The framework is logically consistent. You can apply the above statement on a leader herself.
More on this subject later.

So apparently

our Vice President took one for the bird.

Random Google Thought

If Google provides a hosting service, Google can enforce SEO practices on it's servers.
FYI- Gmail is being prepped for hosting your domain's email.