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Archive for November, 2009

I recently was given an article to read entitled “Why is my Gender Suddenly in Retreat?”, authored by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.  Brown contends that while most believe the female population is growing in industry, in fact, we are fleeting.  Caring for babies, and baking has come to be the ambition for many women, she argues. I have to agree and disagree with some of the comments made in this article, as I feel it was authored by an extreme feminist (self professed), and was written with a bias.

First, I find it appalling that so many men, and women alike, speak out against a woman yearning to stay at home with children and take care of a family.  Being a stay-at-home mother is, without question, one of the most difficult, under appreciated, and important jobs that exists.  It takes a very strong woman to be able to stay at home with children all day and then still greet her husband with anything but complete exhaustion.  I come from a very long line of stay-at-home moms, but its important to note – their career choice did not define them.  My mother graduated from a top university, did scientific research at the University of Rochester before she had children, and is one of the most intelligent, independent women I know.  If a woman decides she wants to stay at home, and live a “50’s” lifestyle…good for her!

I do want to make note that, there is something wrong with men OR women telling the young generation of girls that there place is in the home.  I feel that in the US and most European countries, women have the opportunity to do anything that they want.  If the influence they are receiving is encouraging them to choose a “womanly” profession, then, of course, I feel as though we have a problem.  However, I’ve never been in a situation where I was told I couldn’t choose a career because it was only for men, and feel this is a situation that doesn’t arise as much as the author points out (extremist often have the magnificent talent of taking statements out of context to support their convictions).

I wholly agree that there are many women who behave certain ways because they are female in the hopes that this alone will get them somewhere.  Unfortunately there are many young women who feel as though they need to be “flirty” to get places in their career and that being a woman entitles them to certain exceptions to rules.  However, I disagree with the author when she says that women are always trying to be “pert and pretty, feeling they have to be flirty, pleasing to men”.  I choose to dress nicely, and act pleasant not to please men, but because I take pride in the way I look and enjoy wearing pretty clothes.

Its not often that I disagree with a woman speaking on gender issues, but I feel as though Brown had a very extremist view and made points that could be considered a bit offensive.  Instead of recognizing the bad, we should recignize how much we achieve, because I think that doing so will empower the younger generations.  And lastly, Ms. Brown, I find this statement to be disgustingly untrue:

“As usual, here come lady cheerleaders, hand maidens to men who have never accepted that half of God’s people are truly human and entitled to all that the world has to offer.”

Perhaps the men you surround yourself with, or the men you choose to focus on, think this way…but most men don’t think this way.  In fact, I know a lot of people and have been to the middle east and back, and have never found a man who thinks that women aren’t human.  Perhaps in places where women are oppressed do men have these beliefs, but, in the US…this just isn’t the norm.  I truly feel sorry for you if this is what you truly think…it must be a very dark world for you.

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My trusty Tesco club card

In an interesting session by Don Schultz today at the HCCM workshop, the idea of behavioral data is discussed as a means to understand the twentieth-century consumer.  There are many companies doing many different things to monitor behavioral data, but amongst the best (and most amusing) is the method that Tesco uses.  Tesco, like my grocery heaven (Wegmans), entices customers to sign up for a club card by offering them reward points redeemable for merchandise.  Obviously, Tesco collects data about their customers through their monitored shopping habits.  However, what I found to be rather amusing was that Tesco calculates the weekly recommended calorie count for each person in a family, so that they can determine what share of market they have, and what share of wallet they have.  The algorithm used simply subtracts the calorie count of the food actually purchased at Tesco from the total amount of calories the family should be consuming.  This provides them data on what products families are not purchasing at Tesco and what percentage of a family’s grocery shopping is done elsewhere.

So, in all fairness, I thought you should know Tesco…I’m on a diet…the calorie count of my food is going to be less this month…I’m not being disloyal and shopping anywhere else, I’m simply trying to fit into my jeans without looking like a stuffed sausage.  On that note,  please stop sending me coupons for cookies and other such satanic sweets…I got the hint…this is why I’m dieting.

 

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Chester-1

Professor Michael R. Chester

Professor Mark Chester, Director of the NRAC, speaks on “Delivering the optimal compromise:  NRAC’s experience of bringing consumerism to the NHS”.

Who is “king” in health care?  Someone answers – “the patient”.  Not in the NHS my friend!  We spend the next 45 minutes discussing how to bring truth to this answer.  We all know, in business, the consumer is “king”, so why in health care isn’t the patient “king”?  Consumer is to a business, as patient is to health operators…right?!

This all seems so obvious to me, and to everyone in the audience, and to the world…yet the truth remains that patients often leave the hospital feeling incompetent and defeated.  Consumerism is a theory that has reached almost every industry…and its about time it reaches the health care sector.

A serious and emotional topic lightened up by Professor Mike Chester, who truly provided an entertaining end to a successful day!

 

The Chief Executive of the NHS recently described Mike as “truly leading the way in customer excellence.”

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Since my Junior year at RIT, when I started taking upper-level business classes, I have harbored an EXTREME hatred for buzzwords…my nonacademic definition of “buzzword” is:  words people use when they have no idea what they’re talking about but still want to be perceived as intelligent, often times, these people are the exact opposite of the perception they are hoping to achieve.  Generally, buzzwords are used and do nothing but confuse the listener because, well, the words are not being used in context and have lost all true meaning.  Business students who don’t do their readings, don’t pay attention in class, or who just don’t get it…LOVE buzzwords – and this is why I have been turned off by these words since 2006.

Now, to be clear, words that can be classified as “buzzwords” are actually quite useful if used in the right way, in fact, there are often times when there are NO other words that can take their place.  However, I still always cringe when I am faced with one of these situations and need to use a “buzzword” because I know I’m not the only one who hates to hear them.  I found myself embarrassingly giggling during Mark Graham Brown’s session because he brought this concept to light when he was talking about the development of mission statements, and how often, they are just a bunch of words that really hold no meaning – therefore, NO ONE GETS IT!

Just a handful of words I despise, not including my most hated word…”No” 😉

  • synergy
  • leverage
  • engage
  • dynamic

If you use these words in daily communication and find that you really have no idea what you’re talking about, I suggest you have a read of “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell, a fantastic read.

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Mesh Collaboration

 

Mesh Collaboration

Mesh Collaboration

Nick Earle, VP is Cisco, just finished up giving a session on delivering personalization of products through collaboration and Web 2.0 technologies.  Having already skimmed through Earle’s book, Mesh Collaboration, I had an idea of what he would touch on, but I was happy to hear him bring some very helpful and relevant examples of the concepts and ideas that are touched on in his book.  Although I truly love doing research, I’ve always felt that research for research’s sake, or for publication sake, is not very realistic; i mention this because Earle’s session was a fantastic example of the synergy between research and industry.

 

Beyond feeling better that my research truly is applicable and relevant, from this session, I took away how important it is to leverage customer relationships in a collaborative way that moves product development towards innovation and personalization.  Cisco exhibits how one of their most recent “billion dollar ideas” comes from a group of consumers who took part in a $250,000 challenge to give Cisco their “next big idea”.  There is no sense spending time and money developing relationships with your consumers if you aren’t going to turn around and leverage them.

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Mark Graham Brown

Mark Graham Brown

I have the pleasure to be attending the 4th Annual Henley Conference on Customer Management today (I’m actually blogging live from the event).  This lovely and entertaining (many laughs were had during Moira’s session as well as the keynote session with Mark Graham Brown) event is the brainchild of Professor Moira Clark, and through her efforts and the efforts of her planning team – its been a great success so far!

I want to preface by saying that, I am sitting amongst many influential VP’s and Directors of some of the world’s top companies.  Being at an event like this is such a nice break from the academic environment that I have been surrounded by in the past month.  Not that I dislike the academic environment (I mean, I would assume that would mean getting a PhD is a bad idea), but I thoroughly enjoy listening to practical examples of the concepts I’ve been researching.

Some highlights thus far:

Mark Graham Brown, a highly amusing and entertaining speaker, author of “Beyond the Balanced Scorecard” (2007) gave everyone in the audience an epiphany experience – whatever your company does in regards to metrics…is probably highly flawed…and probably killing your bottom line.  In his session, Metrics that Matter, he outlined the top 10 metrics probably missing from your Scorecard:

  1. Customer aggravation – how much we aggravate or frustrate our customers
  2. External Factors – what is going on in the world that has major impact on us
  3. Corporate Culture/Values – do we really live by the values we espouse
  4. Employee Satisfaction/Engagement – annual surveys not a scorecard metric
  5. Sustainability – new metric of a responsible enterprise
  6. Customer relationships – changes frequently and needs precise measurement
  7. Communication – how effective is our internal and external communication
  8. Employee health and safety – typically only metric is accidents
  9. Ethics – too late when problems are detected
  10. Talent/Intellectual capital – most important metric for many organizations

While I have never had any practical experience with balancing scorecards, I can tell you, Moira made a brilliant decision bringing this fellow in to speak.  Not only was he enjoyable to listen to, but I’m pretty sure everyone is going back to the office tomorrow and getting a salary raise when they share his ideas on how to more efficiently obtain and manage metrics.

The very best example I thought that he gave was a company who had every employee drop a marble (red, yellow, or green) in a black-opaque jar on the way out of the office that corresponded with how they were feeling towards their job that day.  The marbles were then tallied and brought to the attention of each department where the management would address the issues on a daily basis.  Eureka – the only thing your getting from gather employee satisfaction metrics once a year…is a very big bill from a consulting firm, and definitely NOT anything that is going to be useful to your performance.

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