Showing posts from March, 2016

Freedom vs Control - case study of 2 Nike factories in Mexico

MIT's Richard Locke researched 2 Nike tshirt factories in Mexico.

These two factories have many similarities - both are in Mexico, both are in the apparel industry, both produce more or less the same products for Nike (and other brands) and both are subject to the same code of conduct.

Plant 1 gave workers complete freedom to decide production targets, team organization and managing production plants and schedule. Employees work in teams and are also responsible for routine maintenance of equipment. Jobs are rotated and they value knowing how to perform a variety of operations and claimed that this opportunity to work on several operations plus in teams significantly improved working conditions. Every morning, the supervisors communicate to each team the style and quantity of products they need to produce. The workers would get together and discuss amongst themselves how much they can actually produce and then meet with the supervisor and agree on the production target for the d…

Google rejected Instagram founder Kevin Systrom from its APM programme

Kevin Systrom worked in Google for 3 years before quitting and eventually co-founding Instagram which was acquired by Facebook for a billion dollars.

In his book "How Google Works", Eric Schmidt writes about this incident. Salar Kamangar was very impressed with young Kevin who was a marketing associate and wanted to transfer him to the Elite APM program (Associate Product Manager).

He was however rejected because the programme only accepted candidates with a computer science degree. Even though Kevin was a self-taught programmer and had a history of working with engineers he wasn't allowed into the programme.

Read the book

Race and Gender diversity is good for Business

In this study by Sociologist Cedric Herring, he found an association between Diverse workforce and increased corporate profits and earnings. This is in contrast to other accounts that view diversity as either nonconsequential to business success or actually detrimental by creating conflict, undermining cohesion, and thus decreasing productivity.

This research tests eight hypotheses derived from the value-in-diversity thesis. The results support seven of these hypotheses: Racial diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, greater market share, and greater relative profits. Gender diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, and greater relative profits.

 The value-in-diversity perspective makes the business case for diversity, arguing that a diverse workforce, relative to a homogeneous one, produces better business results. Diversity is thus good for business because it offers a direct return on investment, promising greater corporat…

Facebook rejected Whatsapp cofounders job application in 2009

WhatsApp co founder Brian Acton had applied for a job at Facebook in 2009 but was rejected. He had posted this sad tweet "Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life's next adventure."

Here's the link to the tweet
He eventually sold his company WhatsApp to Facebook for a whopping $19 billion

Listening to Problems followed by a Solution results in a Positive ruboff

In this research, the team found that just 3 minutes of Negative news in the morning can lead to a 27% higher likelihood of you having a bad day. The negative news in the morning can set the trend for the day.

One group was exposed to Negative News and another was exposed to Negative News with a solution focus. Individuals who watched just three minutes of negative news in the morning had a whopping 27% greater likelihood of reporting their day as unhappy six to eight hours later compared to the positive condition.

The article however also proposed another theory. When exposed to a Problem followed by a solution, the mood significantly changed. Participants were found to be less hostile than those only exposed to the problems.

Also read Consuming Negative News can make you less Effective at Work

Using Round figures in Negotiations may be disadvantageous

In this Harvard Research paper on "Initial Offer Precision and M&A Outcomes", the researchers put forward evidence to show that the maker of the first offer may be able to further tilt the bargaining game to her advantage by expressing the offer price in precise terms. For example, a list price of $1,020,000 is more informative and likely to lead to a smaller price adjustment than a list price of $1,000,000.

In another example, he states that a bid for $10.20 per share leaves the impression that the bidder is less likely to revise the bid significantly upward than a bid for $10.00 per share.

Some of the reasons are
1. Competing bidders may view precise offers as more informed, and, perhaps because of the winner’s curse, may not wish to enter a bidding contest against an ostensibly more informed bidder
2. Targets may interpret precise offers as evidence that the acquirer is informed and knows what it is doing.
3.  Targets may be more willing to close the deal with a p…

Managing Disagreements - If you don't like my idea you don't like me

Anthony Schuman, a health services researcher, has published a paper on Human relationships. Through his teaching and writing (more than 90 articles and book chapters and the book “Partnerships in Healthcare: Transforming Relational Process”) he has become a leading proponent of a partnership-based clinical approach known as Relationship-Centered Care. His work focuses on organizational change and how people can work together more effectively across all levels of healthcare.

When people disagree at work, it is often misinterpreted as a personal attack. The standard reaction is that " If you like my idea, you like me, if not, you don't like me"  src HBR

Suchman recommends using a series of Relationship building statements represented in the Acronym  PEARLS. src

            We’ll see this through together
            I really want to work on this with you 
            It sounds like that was frightening for you
            I can sense your sadnes…

How a Toll strike revealed that the Toll collectors were stealing money

This NYTimes story cites a very interesting case of a Toll collector strike in England. During the strike drivers were just asked to put the toll money into a collection box. Surprisingly the government collected more told money during the strike. This indicates that the drivers were fairly honest but also indicated that the Toll collectors had been stealing a lot of money.

The Bagel story and Dishonesty

Paul Feldman, an Economist, was a Director research at a firm. He used to love Bagels and carried a few extra for his colleagues at work. Soon employees from the neighboring floors heard about it and they would want some too. So, he started bringing more bagels to work and would leave out a cash basket to recover his costs. His collection rate was about 95%.

After a point of time people would refer to him as the Bagel man instead of his fancy Director Research position.

Soon he quit his job and decided to get into the Bagel business. He drove around offices delivering Bagels early in the morning and would leave a cash basket in the company's snack room. He would return around Lunch and pick up the money and leftovers. It was an honor system. Within a few years he was delivering around 10,000 bagels a week to 140 offices.

He also inadvertently designed a beautiful economic experiment. By measuring the amount of money collected he could tell how honest his customers were. On the …

What do you want in a Logo? - The pleasure of recognition and promise of meaning

Paul Rand defined the Logo as "The pleasure of recognition and the promise of meaning." What everyone gets confused about is the difference between meaning and the promise of it; like the "pursuit of happiness," what you're guaranteed is not success but its potential. src Design Observer article

Paul Rand was an American art director and graphic designer, best known for his corporate logo designs, including the logos for IBM, UPS, Enron, Morningstar, Inc., Westinghouse, ABC, and NeXT

Twitter has proven to be a nightmare for Logo Designers. Any new Logo design is subjected to an intense Twitter Firestorm with the inevitable "Even my 5 year old could have come up with something better"

In this article "Not Diving but Swimming", the author talks about a few secrets

People are reluctant to admit how Logos actually work. People tend to prefer old logos to new onesNike founder Phil Knight had the vision to admit about the Nike Swoosh, "I don&…

Great Leadership - Allow yourself to be Persuaded

In his book "Persuadable",  Al Pittampalli talks about how great Leaders are those who are open to listening to others' opinion and allow themselves to be Persuaded.

Alan Mulally, the vaunted CEO who saved Ford Motor Company, is, for example, exceptionally skeptical of his own opinions. Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful hedge fund managers, insists that his team ruthlessly second-guess his thinking. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, seeks out information that might disprove her beliefs about the world and herself. One Nobel Prize-winning scientist discovered the cause of ulcers by bravely doubting his own entrenched beliefs.

In 1971, Phil Knight the founder of Nike favored "Dimension Six," as the name of his company but his 45 employees thankfully laughed that one down. Then Jeff Johnson, '63, a fellow running geek, proposed a name that came to him in a dream: Nike, for the Greek winged goddess of victory. The company paid $35 to…

Vice follows Virtue - Rewarding healthy food consumption with Unhealthy food

In an experiment where items being loaded into grocery carts were tracked, it was observed that for every healthy food that was added to the cart the shopper was more likely to then go over to ice cream or beer section.

After purchasing Virtue categories, consumers are more likely to shop at locations that carry vice categories.

This balancing act is very similar to how people reward themselves with beer or cake after a killer workout.

This is also known as a Tit for Tat effect.

In one experiment, one group was given placebo pills which they believed to be dietary supplements. This group expressed less desire to engage in exercise and more desire to engage in hedonistic activities like smoking and excessive eating. Another group was given the same pill and were told that it was a placebo and this group did not exhibit any of the hedonistic behavior of the first group.

In another experiment a group of smokers who thought they were given a Vitamin C pill smoked nearly twice as many cig…

Optimising Healthy eating - A Google case study

Google is known for providing great food for free to its employees. In this HBR article, How Google Optimized Healthy Office Snacks, it talks about how subtle changes can promote Healthy eating. A few examples cited in the story are

Distance from Beverage station to snack bar makes a difference. It was observed that people tend to pick up a snack along with a beverage. The closer the snack station, the more likely people were to pick up a snack along with a beverage. Increasing the distance between the beverage station and snack station resulted in reduced consumption of snacks thus resulting in lower calorie consumptionPromoting unpopular healthy food next to the food helps. It was perceived that advertising healthy foods like Beetroot, cauliflower etc wouldn't get people to eat more. However, it was found that putting up posters right next to the dish with pictures and trivia increased the consumption of these foods.Size of the bowl matters. M&M is very popular in Google and…

Meaning of Short/Long range planning - Peter Drucker

According to Drucker - The Idea of Short - Long range planning is very often misunderstood. They are not determined by any given Time span.

A decision is not short range because it takes only a few months to implement or long range because it takes a year to do so.

What matters is the time span over which it is Effective