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How do you like to be managed? How do you manage others?

April 13, 2010 1 comment

The best management doesn’t ‘feel’ or ‘look’ or ‘act’ or even ‘sound’ like management. No one really wants to be ‘managed’, that is, no one who is expected to provide real value to an organization. The best workers have transcended the need to be ‘managed.’ This transcendence is achieved by creating an environment that is focused on the highest goal of most companies and that is to be centered on a deep understanding of the customer and their needs.

The role of management is to continue to focus on goals that have to do with the customer and mission statement of the organization. However, even the mission statement, like a democratic contract, needs to be constantly re-written with the help and counsel of the most valuable employees. This can only happen by creating an environment that stimulates the employee to want to manage his or her own contribution to that goal.

To offer value in a company with such extreme customer (goal) focus requires the development of successful channels of communication and trust; channels and an environment that reinforce group interdependence. Employees manage themselves because their value is determined by their individual efforts to continue making their own work environment conducive to making friends and allies. The best management has everything to do with preserving cooperation and learning and fairness and virtually nothing to do with hierarchy and secrecy and making enemies. Even the competition should never be positioned as the ‘enemy.’

The most productive environments are full of cooperation and it would be the task of management to constantly monitor the levels of such win-win altruism. As soon as any employee who has demonstrated their value senses that there is a loss of focus or trust or effort on the part of another employee or, more importantly, on the part of a customer, that employee should feel free to voice such concerns without fear of reprisal.

The fact that Google has succeeded with their ‘don’t be evil’ mantra has a whole lot to do with the effects of applying the very human algorithms of communication and trust and fairness. They not only trade on the success of ranking search, they also trade on being nice, never defecting from their focus and never being envious. The management message should be: ‘Let others be envious if that’s all they can do and let them lose focus on being out to get us. Instead we’ll focus on our ability to continue to learn how to be best friends and allies of not only our customers and employees but also our competitors.’ It may be a world of survival of the fittest but to be ‘fit’ means to be the best at building social capital, to be ‘stronger’ at communication and trust, the engines of cooperation.

All we need to do is follow the trail of the most successful organizations, the highest rated places to work, and note their governing rules promoting social contracts and we will find win-win corporate cultures that succeeded because they capitalized on the conditions that favored the evolution of cooperative behavior.

Categories: COM566, COM580

COM566- ONLINE AUCTIONS

February 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Because of the Internet, consumers and companies have totally changed how they sell and buy goods.  The emergence of online auctions in the marketplace can take full advantage of high-speed information technology to create more efficient markets. We are now able to bring together buyers and sellers with greater effectiveness on a massive scale.

Sellers and buyers from all over the world can now participate in trading relationships without time or space constraints. The most successful online marketplace, eBay, a popular online auction flea market, offers over 3 million items for sale at any given time for anyone, from anywhere.

The ability to bring together buyers and sellers at such a worldwide scale may be both a blessing and curse for the effectiveness of electronic marketplaces. On the one hand, it is a tremendous advantage since buyers can reap the benefits of greater product diversity with potentially lower prices and sellers are able to reach a greater pool of potential buyers.

However, one of the difficulties for buyers is that they have to put in extensive effort in searching through an enormous amount of products. In addition, sellers have to compete with a great number of sellers in order to effectively reach the potential buyers.

Despite the growing interest in and importance of such marketplaces, our understanding of how the web design of the marketplace affects its use is still quite limited.

One of the difficulties with online auction sites is the poor navigation within the site. Scanning the most popular sites it is easy to see this as a major problem for which a creative solution seems yet to be discovered.

Basically, an online marketplace is a Web application that acts as an intermediary between market sellers and buyers. Each site has to establish and clearly define the rules and procedures for trading between sellers and buyers.  What determines a good interaction on the site is how effectively buyers can browse and search for items that sellers have offered for sale.

An online auction is a special type of marketplace where resource allocation and prices are determined with an explicit set of rules based on bids from market participants.

Site navigation design is important because it affects the amount and effort of search required to find products from the part of the buyers, and to find potential buyers from the part of the sellers. This usually consists of some kind of searchable categorization.

One can easily observe at eBay, for instance, product categories with over 2,000 items for sale at any given time. Some of the more popular product categories list over 8,000 items. This translates to 40 web pages of 50 item lists for categories with 2,000 items (and over 160 pages for those with over 8,000 items). Therefore a buyers’ process of searching for items is hardly automatic or instantaneous.

It’s easy to see how the problem of information overload may greatly impact the market efficiency of online auctions.

Categories: COM566

There’s a book for that!

February 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Since I am always recommending books to my friends and colleagues, my digital-native friends have decided that instead of the popular phrase “there’s an app for that,” I need to act my age and say “there’s a book for that!” And so, I naturally considered the Amazon Kindle™ as my favorite, interactive ‘big idea.’ Until I realized that there is a much bigger, more practical, ‘reading-inspired’ and interactive product that I use every day.

In fact, every month 65 million people acquire at least one of the 3,186,664 different ‘stock numbers’ of this product. In my entire life, I am not likely to find a product that represents such a price-value relationship because this product is free and is not for sale. None of the company’s products ever wears out and each is constantly added to and improved.

The company has grown into the top ten in its field and yet never advertises. It uses 85,000 product developers who are adding new products every day. The management and the workers care deeply about the quality of their work but they do not expect anyone to fully trust them. What is it?

Wikipedia™ turned a mere nine years old in January of 2010 and continues to write one of the most interesting and record-setting success stories. What has to impress is that more than 10 million users contributed to that milestone. This kind of growth is not bad for a service originally conceived as an afterthought to Nupedia, a failed first attempt by Internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales and philosopher Lawrence Sanger at creating a free online encyclopedia.

Starting out as Nupedia in 2000, the plan was for it to feature expert-written, peer-reviewed content, not unlike Microsoft’s Encarta. But Nupedia suffered from a major problem: a lack of speed. In its first six months, only two articles made it through the process. To spur better production, Sanger suggested creating a counterpart that anyone could contribute to without editorial review. Wikipedia.com went live on Jan. 15, 2001, and the new model quickly eclipsed its older sibling. It’s now the largest encyclopedia on the planet and it’s still free to anyone with access to the web.

Microsoft, on the other hand, finally closed down its Encarta project last March. It was to be the greatest encyclopedia of all time written by paid experts in every field. Heavily financed, advertised and finally launched in 1993, 8 years ahead of free Wikipedia, fee-based Encarta should have succeeded with its traditional business model. It should have been recognized as a superior value, accurate product offering fast computer and web-access to information. Wikipedia, on the other hand, applied the ‘long tail’ principles of enticing ‘free’ content providers who have a self-motivated purpose to offer their mastery of a topic in autonomous conditions. The stick and carrot motivators of the information age are replaced with the self-motivated, right-brained thinking of the conceptual age. Not only is the new, open source world faster, most of it is free.

Wikipedia.org is such a big idea that there ought to be a book for that!

Categories: COM566 Tags: ,