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Archive for October, 2012

CEO: Does Your Team Have Control of the Ball?

The team watching the ball slip away…

“The only players who survive in the pros are the ones able to manage all their responsibilities.” – Tom Brady, Quarterback of the New England Patriots

Football, rugby, or any other sport organized around a finely-tuned playbook, requires players to understand roles and execute plays in both familiar or unplanned situations. Each player has defined roles and responsibilities based on his skills; that player is fully aware of his role, the roles of others and has studied the plays. A solid playbook enables a cohesive team to maintain control of the ball and win.

Does your company’s playbook have:

This all too common, weak people/process combination creates lots of broken plays. Basic things like roles, skills, processes really should be a given in any organization.

But if that’s what’s ‘supposed to be’, then why have I regularly seen many corporate fumbles, pigpiles, tangled situations and outright conflict over ‘who does what and how’?

Thinking Horizontally

Many organizations are driven (dominated?) by a particular function such as engineering, sales, production, or in the case of professional service firms, project delivery. In my consulting and coaching work, I’ve worked with strong CEOs that are able to push the business forward by being grounded in one of these personal skill sets. This functional strength can be a real asset, and in many cases, it was the driving force that launched the company and enabled it to grow.

In initial group meetings with company teams, to break the ice I often ask a variation of the question: “Who runs the company, sales, manufacturing or engineering.” After I ask the question, I wait to hear the noise from the pin dropping…:)

As a company’s overall operations increase in complexity, great execution only happens if all the business functions work together seamlessly. However, some of the same CEOs that are grounded in one strong functional skill set don’t make needed changes to their process/operational playbook as the company evolves. The CEO may ignore or trivialize the importance of looking at the overall business ‘horizontally’.

The Line of Scrimmage

Most of the confusion I’ve experienced related to process playbooks has been in organizations that have a complex sales process that involves:

  • custom or semi-custom products
  • customer orders with product/service specifications that could change from order to order
  • contracts/proposals that have unique conditions
  • high customer expectations related to quality, testing, product acceptance

Examples of a some of types of organizations that fit these order profiles are:

  • specialty boxmakers
  • magazine printers
  • specialty window, door manufacturers
  • precision machining
  • chemical formulations
  • custom industrial equipment
  • IT consulting
  • various professional service firms
  • lots of others you could name

Piling On –> Breakdowns in Key Processes = Trouble

What happens when the process playbook doesn’t exist, is getting dusty on the shelf, or needs a complete overhaul?

Piling on happens when: a) sales doesn’t get the order specs correct…there are flaws in design, scope, terms; b) estimating creates an inaccurately costed order with incorrect pricing; c) engineering designs what sales specified but not what the customer ordered; d) manufacturing builds what engineering designed; e) the product fails customer tests; f) rework is needed; g) you get the idea…

What are some of the negative impacts on the business performance when a company doesn’t have a clear playbook or deviates from the process playbook? Here’s a sample:

Solutions: How to prevent pigpiles, fumbled balls, and losing the game

Fixing process problems like those noted above is not a complicated task. It’s actually pretty simple to implement the necesssary changes, but the basics often get lost in the the day-to-day shuffle.

1) Establish process flows for unique as well as routine projects and stick to them

Breaking down the process into well-defined pieces facilitates successful execution – once processes are clearly articulated, people need to study their playook, understand their particular functions and own them.

2) Based on the particular process, define clear roles and responsibilities

I do this. You do that. (Why does this have to be hard?)
People need to do their job and be accountable for performance.
“That which is owned by all is cared for by no one”. (Unknown)

3) Establish a clear communication system horizontally across the process chain and vertically through management so that glitches are caught early

For example, if a key person in the chain will be on vacation or is ill during production, who needs to step up and carry the ball?

4) Management, through training, repetition, and even incentives, needs to reinforce the use of the process playbook

In organizations that tend to operate in a seat-of-the-pants mode, this may be the most difficult problem to solve. This is particularly true if there are employees who have difficulty sticking to their own functions. Commit to a cultural change program.

For incentives, why not reward the excellent winning ways of using the playbook? When the team(s) deliver excellent products, on time, don’t forget to recognize it.

5) Revisit processes on a regular basis

What’s working? What needs tweaking? Do we have the resources we need to keep our customers satisfied? What about the team? Changes in personnel, especially when the products involve technical expertise, might invite revisions to the playbook.

Does your company have control of the ball? If not, are you ready to ‘think horizontally’ and get your playbook in order?

Illustration by Drew Litton

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Article from NYTimes.

Apple fired the executives in charge of the company’s mobile software efforts and retail stores, in a management shake-up aimed at making the company’s divisions work more harmoniously together.

The biggest of the changes involved the departure of Scott Forstall, an Apple veteran who for several years ran software development for Apple’s iPad and iPhone products. Mr. Forstall was an important executive at the company and the one who, in many respects, seemed to most closely embody the technology vision of Steven P. Jobs, the former chief executive of Apple who died a year ago.

But Mr. Forstall was also known as ambitious and divisive, qualities that generated more friction within Apple after the death of Mr. Jobs, who had kept the dueling egos of his senior executives largely in check. Mr. Forstall’s responsibilities will be divided among a few other Apple executives.

While tensions between Mr. Forstall and other executives had been mounting for some time, a recent incident appeared to play a major role in his dismissal. After an outcry among iPhone customers about bugs in the company’s new mobile maps service, Mr. Forstall refused to sign a public apology over the matter, dismissing the problems as exaggerated, according to people with knowledge of the situation who declined to be named discussing confidential matters.

Instead, Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, in September signed the apology letter to Apple customers over maps.

Apple said in a news release on Monday that the management changes would “encourage even more collaboration” at the company. But people briefed on Apple’s moves, who declined to be identified talking about confidential decisions at the company, said Mr. Forstall and John Browett were fired.

Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman, said neither executive was available for an interview. Mr. Forstall did not respond to interview requests over e-mail and Facebook.

Mr. Browett, who took over as head of the company’s retail operations in April, will also leave the company after a number of missteps. Apple said that a search for a new head of retail was under way and that the retail team would report directly to Mr. Cook in the meantime.

Mr. Forstall will leave Apple next year and serve as an adviser to Mr. Cook until then.

Eddy Cue, who oversees Apple’s Internet services, will take over development of Apple maps and Siri, the voice-activated virtual assistant in the iPhone. Both technologies have been widely criticized by some who say they fall short of the usual polish of Apple products.

Jonathan Ive, the influential head of industrial design at Apple, will take on more software responsibilities at the company by providing more “leadership and direction for Human Interface,” Apple said. Craig Federighi, who was previously in charge of Apple’s Mac software development, will also lead development of iOS, the software for iPads and iPhones.

Apple said Bob Mansfield, an executive who previously ran hardware engineering and was planning to retire from Apple, will lead a new group, Technologies. That group will combine Apple’s wireless and semiconductor teams. Apple in a statement said the semiconductor teams had “ambitious plans for the future.”

Recently, Mr. Mansfield had been working on his own projects at the company, operating without anyone reporting to him directly. One of the areas of interest Mr. Mansfield had been exploring is health-related accessories and applications for Apple’s mobile products, said an Apple partner who declined to be named discussing unannounced products.

Mr. Forstall was a staunch believer in a type of user interface, skeuomorphic design, which tries to imitate artifacts and textures in real life. Most of Apple’s built-in applications for iOS use skeuomorphic design, including imitating thread of a leather binder in the Game Center application and a wooden bookshelf feel in the newsstand application.

Mr. Jobs was also a proponent of skeuomorphic design; he had a leather texture added to apps that mimicked the seats on his private jet. Yet most other executives, specifically Mr. Ive, have always believed that these artifacts looked outdated and that user interface design on the computer had reached a point where skeuomorph was no longer necessary.

Mr. Forstall, who trained as an actor at a young age, also shared with Mr. Jobs a commanding stage presence at events introducing Apple products, often delivering his speeches with a pensive style that echoed that of Mr. Jobs.

According to two people who have worked with Apple to develop new third-party products for the iPhone, the relationship between Mr. Forstall and Mr. Ive had soured to a point that the two executives would not sit in the same meeting room together.

A senior Apple employee who asked not to be named said Mr. Forstall had also incurred the ire of other executives after inserting himself into product development that went beyond his role at the company. One person in touch with Apple executives said the mood of people at the company was largely positive about Mr. Forstall’s departure.

“This was better than the Giants winning the World Series,” he said. “People are really excited.”

The departure of Mr. Browett was less surprising to outsiders. In August, the company took the unusual step of publicly apologizing for a plan by Mr. Browett to cut back on staffing at its stores. Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Company, said he was never convinced that Mr. Browett was a good choice to join Apple because he had previously run Dixons, a British retailer that is viewed as being more downmarket than Apple’s retail operations.

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Spotflux ile Yasaklı Sitelere Giriş

İnternetteki içeriği engelleme konusunda azimle çalışan Türkiye’de, eğer sizler de erişime engellenmiş sitelere girmek istiyor ama giremiyorsanız yazımıza bir göz atın.

03/10/2012 12:00

Pek çok ülke internet erişimini kısıtlıyor. Özellikle bu kısıtlamalar ülkemizde gün geçtikçe artıyor. Yurtiçi ya da yurtdışı pek çok internet sitesine şu anda erişim engellenmiş durumda. Bazı sitelere DNS değiştirerek bile erişim sağlayamayabiliyoruz.

Bizim bu yazımızdaki konumuzda inadına açılmayan sitelere girmek. Anlatacağımız yöntem ile yasaklı tüm sitelere, bilgisayarınızın tarayıcısından normal bir siteye giriyormuş gibi girebileceksiniz.

İncelediğimiz Spotflux adlı yazılım sayesinde, engellenmiş tüm içeriklere rahatça erişim hakkını bizlere sunuyor.

Yaklaşık 5 MB’lık dosya boyutuna sahip uygulama hem Mac OS hem de Windows desteğiyle dikkat çekiyor. Uygulamayı indirmek için buraya tıklamanız yeterli.

Programı Nasıl Kullanıyoruz?

Uygulamanın kullanımı ve çalışma mantığı oldukça basit. Bilgisayarınıza sanal olarak yeni bir ağ kartı ekleniyor. Bağlantınız buradan Spotflux’ın kendi sunucuları üzerinden gerçekleştiriliyor ve bu sayede ülkenizdeki yasaklara takılmıyorsunuz. Fakat önemli işleriniz sırasında bu uygulamayı kapatmanızı öneriyoruz. Çünkü internet hizmetiniz ile aranıza bir aracı koymuş oluyorsunuz. Sadece engelli sitelere giriş yapacağınız zaman uygulamayı kullanmanızı tavsiye ediyoruz.

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Article from PEHub.

If there is good news to be had in private equity these days, it is that limited partners seem to want to put new money to work.

Several recent studies have pointed in this direction, including one from Preqin, which found that a large number of endowments, public pensions, family offices, sovereign wealth funds and foundations want to invest in the coming year.

The top area of interest is buyouts. Second on the list is venture capital. Almost half of potential investors name venture as an asset class they will consider, Preqin says in a report issued this month.

This is welcome news to the industry. That’s because there is no shortage of funds out looking for cash. Preqin, in its study, finds 372 venture capital funds on the road, or nearly a fifth of all private equity funds on the fundraising trail. Together they seek $47.2 billion in commitments.

Many GPs will argue that consistency is their forte. But only some can truly make that claim, the study finds. Preqin assembled a list of the most consistent performers in venture based on IRR, fund year, strategy and geography. Only active managers that have three or more funds with a similar strategy are included and still formative 2010, 2011 and 2012 funds are not included.

Tied at the top of the list are Benchmark Capital, GGV Capital, Pittsford Ventures Management and Sequoia Capital, with the strongest record of top quartile funds. The list from the report is reprinted below.

(Editors note: The average quartile rank in the table is determined by scoring each fund. A top quartile fund gets a “1” and a second quartile fund gets a “2,” etc. The ranking is an average. Photo above courtesy of Shutterstock.)

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Cómo acceder a una discoteca digital casi infinita desde la Argentina

Servicios como Spotify o Pandora sólo están disponibles en Estados Unidos o Europa, pero un truco informático permite saltar la barrera geográfica

Por Guillermo Tomoyose  | LA NACION

 
Foto: Archivo 

Durante la cobertura del Google I/O en San Francisco pude descubrir que, a pesar de su naturaleza, Internet no es tan libre ni se comporta de la misma forma en todo el mundo. Cuando accedía a la Red desde el Wi-Fi del hotel, sitios como Facebook detectaban mi ubicación geográfica y me obligaban (por razones de seguridad) a verificar el nombre de mis amigos mediante fotos para comprobar si efectivamente era yo, en Estados Unidos, quien accedía a mi perfil argentino en esa red social. No soy el único: todos hemos sufrido, alguna situación similar, desde la comprobación de la cuenta de correo hasta la imposibilidad de acceder a un videoclip, canción o película on line por limitaciones de licencias regionales.

¿Cómo puede ser posible esto? Con un mayor o menor grado de sofisticación, nuestra localización queda delatada por el número IP , el identificador único que cada usuario recibe cuando se conecta a Internet que, asociado a la ubicación geográfica, permite que determinados servicios detecten nuestra ubicación y limiten su servicio en función de las licencias que tienen en cada país.

Esto ocurre a menudo en YouTube, y en particular con los contenidos de Vevo. Por ejemplo, el perfil oficial de Jason Aldean , un solista estadounidense de música country, no ofrece lo mismo según la ubicación geográfica. Por supuesto, tal vez no haya un público demasiado interesado en ver el videclip oficial de Amarillo Sky en la Argentina, pero ese no es el punto. (Si se quedaron con la duda, pueden ver el clip por aquí , hasta que Content ID lo remueva)

 

De a poco, en este y otros ejemplos, se advierte la paulatina segmentación que vive Internet en cuanto a los contenidos, en donde no todos pueden ver o acceder a lo mismo. No es algo que nos sorprenda, ni será la primera vez que ocurra.¿Qué hubiera pasado si un ignoto cantante coreano llamado Psy hubiese puesto sus limitaciones geográficas al famoso videoclip del paso del caballo? ¿O si los hijos del Tano Pasman hubiesen restringido la reproducción de los insultos en otras partes del mundo?

Por fortuna, la fuerza de Internet trasciende mucho más allá de estos límites irritantes que imponen los dueños de los contenidos en Internet.

Hombre grande, ¿era necesario? 🙂

Un atajo para evitar las restricciones geográficas

Esto se replica en plataformas online de videojuegos y tiendas de aplicaciones. ¿Acaso mi dinero no vale? Depende de dónde viva , sería la respuesta del cantinero imaginario.

IntoNow , considerada una excelente aplicación para identificar series (algo así como el Shazam de la TV) sólo se encuentra disponible en Estados Unidos.

Lo mismo pasa con Hulu, una plataforma online gratuita de películas sustentada en avisos publicitarios o Pandora, una radio online que configura las estaciones de acuerdo a nuestras preferencias.

Sin embargo, quien se lleva toda la atención es Spotify , que se convirtió en la opción predilecta para los amantes de la música. En su versión gratis, la plataforma sueca que arribó al mercado estadounidense permite establecer un acceso ilimitado en streaming a un amplio catálogo de artistas de todo el mundo, patrocinado con eventuales avisos publicitarios, que se pueden evitar si uno se suscribe a un plan mensual.

No obstante, todo esto es posible si uno se encuentra conectado a Internet desde Estados Unidos. En la Argentina Sonora apunta a ofrecer un servicio similar , lo mismo que Taringa y otras alternativas gratis como Grooveshark , pero todas más limitadas en su catálogo. Por fortuna, existen atajos que permiten estar fuera de Estados Unidos y aún así usar Spotify, apelando a una VPN, un servicio de conexión a redes privadas que permite el acceso a estos servicios.

Si bien hay una gran cantidad de alternativas sin costo que permiten emular en Internet nuestra presencia en otro país, sus limitaciones (otra vez) hacen que pagar por este tipo de prestaciones sea la mejor alternativa.

Por mencionar sólo algunos servicios, StrongVPN y Hide My Ass! (curioso nombre para un servicio de Internet) permiten disfrutar de Spotify, Pandora o Hulu, entre otros, sin mayores problemas. Como ocurre con la mayoría de los casos, lograrlo requiere tener una comprensión básica de inglés y algo de maña al momento de realizar la configuración de la conexión de VPN, que es muy flexible y que se puede aprovechar incluso en tabletas, smartphones y hasta en routers Wi-Fi.

Si esta alternativa es muy compleja, también existe la posibilidad de probar Spotflux , un software muy simple (que por ahora es freeware ya que todavía está en desarrollo), disponible para PC y Mac. Prometen futuras versiones para dispositivos móviles.

 

Por supuesto, las prestaciones de las VPN van más allá del consumo de contenidos. Son servicios muy útiles para establecer una navegación Web segura en entornos como cafés u hoteles con conexiones públicas de Wi-Fi.Incluso en servicios globales que ya se encuentran disponibles en la Argentina, tales como la plataforma de descargas iTunes de Apple o el videoclub online Netflix, ofrecen un catálogo diferente (en algunos casos más actualizado, pero sin subtítulos en español en el caso de las películas) si se accede a allos a través de una VPN.

A pesar de sus prestaciones, la VPN no nos puede resolver la posibilidad de tener un servicio pago mensual de Spotify en la modalidad móvil.

¿Se imaginan llevar un servicio de streaming ilimitado de canciones en el celular? Bueno, por más que quisieran pagar los diez dólares mensuales que insume este excelente plan, las limitaciones de contenidos vuelven a estar presentes: sólo se puede abonar con tarjetas de crédito, débito o cuentas de PayPal radicadas en el país en donde Spotify se encuentra habilitado por las discográficas a ofrecer su catálogo musical.

Al final, y a contramano del espíritu libre que tenía Internet en sus comienzos, el dinero sólo vale según de dónde venga, más allá de la buena predisposición que puedan llegar a tener los consumidores..

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