Archive for January, 2009

The Orcs approach

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Four people that I’ve worked within the past 3 months were laid-off this week. All senior employees; two quite competent employees. And large organizations have to act swiftly and cut in large swaths. No time for careful, 1×1 analysis.

For the first time Microsoft announced lay-offs, a target of 5,000. At a cost of $200,000 per year per employee this number will reduce Microsoft’s payroll by $1,000,0000,000. Imagine how they could invest that sum in our globalized, Internet-touchable world. If one is high cost, one had better be highly productive and in an obviously measurable way.

2009 & they’re off: snow, inauguration and publication

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

4 inches yesterday, some remains today, all gone tomorrow. Sounds like one of the major banks. Why is Bank of America 30% more valuable than it was yesterday; although, still only $6.68 per share. Does the market like talk of nationalization? Did it have a chance to re-read President Obama’s address?!

I enjoyed his remarks and did not find them to be on par with Abraham Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural. Really enjoyed the benediction and Aretha Franklin, especially the way that she include Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream’ phrases into her rendition of God Bless America. Much work ahead of us. Much necessary and useful and purposeful work ahead of us. A good start to a new chapter for America.

Returned to my office yesterday from the televised inauguration to learn that an interview for a business magazine was just published. Amazing what a competent editor can do to make a 30 minute phone ramble coherent. I am eager for different & difference: different ways of living, relating, behaving, enjoying. Must admit, so far, so good.

The US Air Hudson River landing & what I love about America

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Common sacrifice. Not bailout; not forgiveness for foolishness and especially not for greed. No need to save us from ourselves. Tell us what is needed and why. Persuade us that we are in this together. Maybe inspire us that we can now be part of something larger than ourselves (after all, is this not the genuine promise of America and being Americans?!). Most importantly, ensure that everyone is expected to contribute and to sacrifice and to benefit in the same way. Most important.

As we are a country of pioneers and willing to do things that no one else has tried, we don’t really like group-think and the comfort of crowds. We will calmly land a plane in a river and rapidly organize a successful rescue (I still feel that Flight 93 on 9/11 tells you all that you want to need to know about America where civilians provided the only timely and significant coordinated response on that dreadful day). There will be no survivors of US Air flight 1549 conventions; these people will just go about their businesses of being Americans.

Let’s get a head-start on the promise and expectations of Mr. Obama’s inauguration by reminding ourselves and insisting of our leadership that we are in this together.

Bravo to the United States Air Force Academy and its graduate, the captain of flight 1549, Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III. His history of contingency planning, calmness under duress, insurance of the safety of his passengers and crew and the last one to exit the aircraft (naturally) offers example and sets a tone for us all in this prevailing crash-landing of a financial crisis.

Change to enable wealth creation

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

I agree with the Chairman of IBM. Circulating one trillion dollars, even in the form of infrastructure projects, will not create long-term wealth. Let’s invest the money in helping Americans to be creative.

There is no short term fix, is there? We have to think, to behave and to act differently. And I feel that we all want longer term, sustainable change. Not more of the same enabled by enormous debt.

At any rate, here is a portion of Mr. Palmisano’s remarks. Complete transcript.

We shouldn’t undertake projects simply for the sake of creating economic activity. Rather than just stimulate, we should transform.

Let’s seize this opportunity to create more and better jobs, cultivate valuable skills, and not simply repair but prepare our economy for the 21st century. The best news of all is that investing in innovation will cost less and yield faster results than investing in renovation.

This view is grounded not in the headlines of the moment, but in the facts of what is now possible technologically for businesses of all sizes. American businesses have the capacity to transform the systems through which the world literally works. The planet isn’t just getting smaller and “flatter,” it’s also becoming smarter. Intelligence now undergirds the way everything operates.

Smarter infrastructure is by far our best path to creating new jobs and stimulating growth. We at IBM were asked to map this out by President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, and our research shows that a $30 billion stimulus investment in just three areas — smart grids, health-care IT and broadband — could yield almost one million new jobs within one year. That’s possible because these kinds of infrastructure have significantly greater economic and societal multiplier effects than traditional infrastructure like bridges and highways.

Welcome to 2009

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Over the holiday I qualified as a dj on WXDU by logging-in nearly 20 hours of on-air time. Most fun was working with Tessa on the New Year’s Eve show, 10 pm to midnight. She prepared a terrific selection of dance music from her days in New York. Techno never goes out of style, does it? We capped-off the year with two days in Washington, DC. We toured Capital Hill – the magnificent Library of Congress, the imposing Supreme Court and observed the swearing-in ceremony of Congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania.

A brief visit to the Folger Shakespeare Library impressed me in two ways: 1) a current exhibit entitled Breaking New: Renaissance Journalism and the Birth of the Newspaper and 2) the use of mobile devices.

How chaotic was the use of the printing press once the common man got hold of it. A January 5th, 2009 Washington Post article by Philip Kennicott suggested that the early journalists are the direct ancestors of today’s bloggers. Uncanny are the similarities in the range of voice, chaotic content and public reception. Equally impressive in this exhibit was the capability to dial a local telephone number (202.595.1844) from my mobile phone and access a description of any one of the twenty elements (78# through 97#) of the Breaking News exhibit. For example, as I stood in front of a London newspaper from 1644, I typed 83# on my cell to receive a 60 second description of this exhibit case. No headsets for the Folger to manage; no need to provide iTunes compatible materials.

Returned home to read that Apple and four of the largest music distributors are doing-away with Digital Rights Management (DRM). When one buys a song, one owns the song. To think that ten years ago Apple didn’t even sell music and now they are in firm control of the industry. What example is this setting for other industries? How soon will the cable companies have to offer channels that we want and not make us buy them all as the music labels did so painfully for so long?!

Here’s me at the control board at WXDU. Comic relief that might even please a Shakespeare.