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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The one thing

I too am a fan of Marcus Buckingham and have the new book on my shelf in queue to be read. After reading this posting by Bronwyn, I may adjust its position in the queue.

I think that many leaders are good (if not great) at creating fear.

Where they fail is creating the security, community, clarity, etc. within which the folks can succeed.

In short, I am an environmentalist.
In the proper environment, created by the team, nurtured by management, the team will succeed. Without the proper environment, it is all a waste of effort.

Try growing grass on solid rock.

Oh, it will grow there eventually. It will take time to build up the detrius and other natural stuff enough to provide room for roots to settle and nourish and grow. But it won't happen tomorrow, or some other foolish leader determined timeline.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


From David Wolfe at Ageless Marketing comes this timely gem:

Trust building begins with a culture of trust.

We all have to start somewhere.

I believe if you do not start with trust, I don't believe you'll find it.

What do you think?

Help for those hit by Katrina

If you want to help those hit by Katrina, FEMA has listed the agencies to contact.

Monday, August 22, 2005

IT's Seven Dirty Words

Steve Fox has a good article over at InfoWorld on the seven dirty words for IT. You may recall the George Carlin routine on the 7 dirty words you can't say on TV. Steve takes this concept to the IT world.

Read what he has to say. Let him know if you have a different choice.

I sent him an email wondering how he could have left "Outsource" off the listing? This is one word that has generated so much heated discussion that much of the content gets lost in the emotion.

What do you think?

What word (or words) would you have on the listing?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Bottle Redemption Hassles

If the process is simple and easy to follow, then there is a greater likelihood of success. Somewhat an adage but not completely understood by those in position to know.

A recent example of a process that does not "get it" is the bottle redemption process. Massachusetts is one of a number of states that charge extra for some containers at the time of purchase (beer, soda, and some other soft drinks... what is included and what is not could be the source of another posting). The surcharge is redeemable with the return of the container to an approved return handler.

Many of you probably deal with this so you know what a hassle it can be. My daughters used to take the returns back to the store for us to feed the machines and "earn" the pin money that the returns brought them. Alas, they are growing older and wiser and this money is not enough for the effort. Smart kids they are!

It is a hassle. You need to feed the container one at a time into the machine in a certain way for the bar code to be read, then the machine whirrs into action, crunching or shredding it, and dropping a coin or token or slip with your reward for this effort.
More than 30 people contacted the Globe last week after the newspaper reported that consumers returned and recovered their nickel deposits on 65.7 percent of the 2.2 billion bottles and cans purchased in the fiscal year ending June 30, the lowest percentage since the bottle deposit law took effect in 1983.

Wayne Campbell, who owns the Liquor Locker in Gloucester, said he would like to see the bottle deposit law abolished. ''It's filthy, unhealthy, and a very expensive way of recycling," he said.

Instead of using a deposit system, Campbell said, he would urge consumers to put their empties in the curbside recycling bin along with other materials that can be recycled.

''I think it would be a much more effective, cost efficient, and a more sanitary way of recycling," he said.

Campbell said he used to process returns at his store by hand, but it was too messy and took up too much space. He now uses reverse vending machines, which he said many of his customers don't like.

Tom Nield of Concord said there's little incentive to fix the bottle deposit system because the state pockets all the unredeemed deposits ($35 million last year) and retailers would just as soon see the law go away.

''The state doesn't want to make it easy for people to return the cans. They would rather keep the 5 percent tax," Nield said. ''The companies don't care how painful it is for the customers as long as it's easy for themselves."

And there in lies the problem with obtaining a real solution to this mess.

  • The state absorbs the unclaimed return funds. (Why should they change, the money clearly is easily obtained and used for "budget purposes" that would only require an increase in some tax somewhere to replace this source of funds?)
  • The stores don't want to be involved in the return side. There is insufficient value in it for them. Providing a community service is not sufficient to the pennies that they get, hence the use of the machines.

The bottlers have little or no say in the matter. It is left to the consumers to organize in some way to gain attention to a resolution to this problem. Unfortunately, it is not very high on the priority listing.

What am I doing about it? (In addition to raising the issue here, that is.)

I am accumulating the returns and instead of waiting for girls to process them, I'll try and remember to bring it to the next bottle/can drive I see an organization hold for a fund raiser. It requires a little extra space in the garage but then allocates some funds to a worthy organization and reduces the money the state gets to keep.

What are you doing with your redemption eligible recycles?

Thanks to Bruce Mohl, Globe Staff writer for the article today!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Tom Asacker @ 800 CEO READ Blog today

Tom Asacker, author most recently of A Cleareye For Branding, and blogger extraordinaire at A Clear Eye, has several postings today at 800 CEO READ Blog.

Check them out!

His intro

Abraham Isaac Cook on Truth

Felix Frankfurter on semantics

Susan Sontag on photographs

Susan Sontag on positioning

Scott Bedbury on wearing spandex

His closing

I think that Tom writes well. I have read A Cleareye for Branding. It is one of a few books queued in my listing of book reviews to write. Yes, you have heard that before, I know. But it is summer and there is a whole lot going on.

So in the middle of what you have going on, take sometime and read Tom!

If you have not found him already, you will be glad you did.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Design's Impact

Roger Martin is quoted in FastCompany:
Design's powerful impact on business strategy will require a whole new way
of thinking. Martin asserts that traditional companies "reward two types of
logic: inductive (proving that something actually operates) and deductive
(proving that something must be)." Designers combine inductive and deductive
reasoning to create a fresh approach -- abductive thinking -- which Martin
defines as "suggesting that something may be and reaching out to explore it."
Instead of acting on what's certain, designers bet on what's probable. Companies
such as Apple act like design shops by saying, "If everything must be proven,
we'll never make the likes of an iPod."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The first experience

Wendell Berry wrote:
"You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is an experience of essential loneliness; for nobody can discover the world for anybody else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes a common ground and bond, and we cease to be alone."

From Runner's World Editor's Letter in July 2005 issue.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Falmouth Road Race Weekend

Heading to the Cape for the road race... maybe I'll catch some WiFi somewhere but otherwise, I'll provide updates on the other side of the weekend!

Have a good run!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blog Business Summit - Link Experiment

For insight into this experiment, follow the link here to read about it.

Then you too can link and join the experiment!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Imitation is a sincere form of flattery

Via W2KNews I find this awesome parody of the next extension for the iPod product line; the iPod Flea.

Great humor!

Put your thinking caps on. What other products could you parody?
If the product is that good, there's got to be something you could do with it!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

It depends!

It depends!
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

Tom Chi, at OK/Cancel has a great posting on activity centered design. As per their usual process at OK/Cancel, they summarize the point with a comic of great quality. So good, and to the point that in this case, I have "borrowed it" to share with you here.

Click through to read his full posting. It is worth it!

Public Reading - Revisited

Halley Suitt points to Mary Hodder who writes about needing to devise a new scheme of ranking blogs as the current methods (Google pagerank, Technorati, et al) are all flawed in some way.

I commented on Mary's posting and brought up my public reading proposal that I posted back in May. I have still been thinking about it and am actually in a mental preparation mode prior to posting it to ChangeThis. I will use Mary's excellent summary to help fine tune elements of my proposal.

If you have thoughts on this problem and possible resolution, I am interested in hearing them.

Together we can come up with a solution.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Who determines the placement for the toilet roll?

It's Friday and one must finally deal with the tough question. Who determines the placement of the toilet roll in the rest rooms? (Do you really go there for rest? or for relief?)

The rest rooms at my various work places (I go to several sites regularly) all have different placements.

1) Toilet roll on the left or right elbow, depending upon whether the stall has a divider wall or a hard wall? Is it mean to rest your elbow on while sitting? (Maybe this is where they get rest room from?)

2) Toilet roll is a stretch away. I (with long arms) can reach but I image some shorter folks would need to almost stand to reach the roll.

3) Toilet roll is behind you, requiring a twist and turn, watch your back now, to grab the paper and finish your duty.

And then we get into the number of rolls available in these stalls.

1) Sometimes, there is a single box, with a roll visible and another stacked on top of it inside and ready for when the first finishes to drop down to the need at hand.

2) Sometimes, there is just a single roll. You expect that these are places where the cleaning folks come frequently. In the more public places, like along highway rest stops, there tends to be the one GIANT roll that when loaded seems like it would never run out but when you get there is wound down to the end so you wonder if there will be enough for the next guy. Because after that, the next guy is without until the cleaning folks get there whenever.

3) Sometime, you get the double stack with rolls side by side. This is one of the more common arrangements in my work places. Until one site doubled the double stack. Yes, added another double so there are four that stretch out.

This arrangement does provide multiple opportunities. One, the closest serves as the elbow rest. The further serves for the stretch exercise. The two in the middle seem to be the most used. Does someone track the usage? Should I spread my needs amongst the four rolls to provide equal opportunity to all? or simply vote by using the right or left extremes?

So to summarize for this Friday, next time you have an opportunity to sit and rest. When you need to use the paper to finish your duty, think about this.

Where is the toilet roll located?
How easy is it to reach and use?
How many are there?

Let me know. We'll start a survey and see what the results are.

Make it a good Friday!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Solas @ the Lowell Folk Festival 2005

Solas @ the Lowell Folk Festival 2005
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

The Lowell Folk Festival was held this weekend. I only managed to get there on Sunday to catch Solas, a great Irish group. Seamus Egan put together a group of musicians to play at the Festival in 1994, with a few changes they have been together since.

Their performance was well attended even in the light rain that persisted. The rain managed to break for a time to allow some of the dancers to get up in the crowd and do their thing to the good music.

They played some tunes from their new album and some of their older favorites. They were in good form. The Lowell audience appreciated their good work.

Lowell is the largest "free" folk festival in the US. It is a super festival. I have not had the opportunity to attend many of the ticket required festivals but with Lowell around, why?

How does that commercial go?

Parking; $10. Food at one of the ethnic booths; $7. Great music from Solas in the rain; free. The Lowell Folk Festival; priceless!