What This Blog is About

A long time mentor and friend, Cicely Berry, often says: "all we do comes from our need to survive".

Cis is the Voice Director of The Royal Shakespeare Company. Her profound work and deep appreciation of the human spirit has affected diverse communities all over the world.

Will take you to my current work.

This blog is dedicated to the belief that the overall health of a community or organization is a clear reflection of their ability to communicate.

"Cada cabeza es un mundo" - Cuban proverb

"Every head is a world"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fad Or Future Second Life And Virtual Worlds

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Is Our Sense of Discovery Changing?

Here's a thought starter that has me wondering. I am a great believer in what some people in organizations call "Collective Intelligence".

People who understand this, really do put the belief further than the consultant speak it hints at. It's truly significant when placed in an open environment. And, it is the continuous seed of innovation.

Lately, I have been using a derivative term that I call "Collective Instinct". Collective Intelligence is about knowledge and experience. Collective Instinct is what people believe can help to create knowledge and develop experience.

In some ways, we still think of discovery as science defined it centuries ago. Or, as lawyers view a critical process. And now, we often think of it as a collaborative moment or series of moments that may be defined by people thought of as technically proficient.

Another way we look at discovery is shared or communal experience. We look at product forums before we buy a food processor, car or laptop.

In the early days of the Greek theater. Citizens were funded to attend performances if they could not afford to attend on their own. One could not be a true citizen without the ability to know that theater was a way of the society talking to itself about itself. You had to participate to live fully and contribute.

Today, our collaboration and sense of discovery may reflect in some way, the kinds of silos often found in business organizations. Art, music, theater provide a different kind of sharing. One that business desperately and obviously needs to understand better. Sustainability is a deeper conversation than most organizations feel comfortable with. Our economy proves that.

The ancient Greeks defined economy as the ability to sustain the life of something for as long as possible.

All the best for sustaining during a difficult time.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Sounds Like the Future


Have you seen or heard about this application for the iPhone?

"As an instrument Ocarina has been perfectly executed... This is how an iPhone app should be done." - TechCrunch

With this iPhone app, you can actually see where people around the world are using this musical device at the time you are using it. Your musical offering, reflected in some way, around the globe.

My long time friend and colleague, Rachel Allgood, could not wait to show me this and point out that the iPhone makes you think. For instance, what does this kind of application really mean. Rachel is one of NYC's great designers and business strategists. She created Isocurve to help clients actualize their true ideas. www.isocurve.com

When I experienced the application, several things came to mind. Medical emergencies and health care services are greatly supported by communal understanding. Like the iPhone Ocarina, one can easily imagine the powerful ability to immediately share critical information around the globe for people experiencing similar emergencies. Health care, terrorist threats, and even less traumatic episodes can be affected by immediate community understanding. Certified Diabetes Educators for example, have substantive experience to share. Instant networking can be very helpful to explore what many people are going through, as they are actually living through the events, creating mass solutions and customized help.

Innovations like "the retailing of medicine" and "home medicine" are also related. People will input medical data by remote control in order to have prescriptions, nursing assignments and assisted treatments arranged. Mass customization in the terms that the originator of that phrase intended. What a customer wants, when they want it.

There is also another interesting notion that may lie underneath this ability to see how many people around the world are playing the Ocarina. True, the iPhone is providing a fun and startling visualization. This deeper value however, is something that I have written about before.

In today's world, communication and implementation are often simultaneous. This gives an entirely different understanding of value chains and integrated supply chains. With the creation of E bay, we entered the distribution of goods and services from the buyer's perspective, not the manufacturer's. This was transformation based on continuous development. In this way, collective intelligence enables collective instinct to move into action. The iPhone Ocarina begins to sound like the future to me.

When I was a young boy, I loved going to the World's Fair in Queens NY. One thing I clearly remember, was an electronic game at the AT&T pavilion. I played it over and over. My memory tells me that the participant was pushing buttons on a display to distinguish sounds. The World's Fair was full of technology and talent. At that time, and for a long time, Bell Labs was creating two pattens a day.

Eventually, (and I could be making this up, but I think not), I realized that AT&T may have been collecting data on how people would be able to transform from rotary dial sounds to digital sounds when making phone calls. It was the beginning (1964), of the move to digital phones.

What does the iPhone Smule experience mean for you? It clearly is not just about the fantastic ability to see where people around the world are using the musical tones as you are.

Years ago, I produced several video's for AT&T on subjects like the democratization of technology. Doctors in the future for example, were shown using IM or video conferencing during emergency surgeries to share expertise.

Bell Labs also had other agendas. Good ones.

They wanted legislators to understand that in the future, freedom to share critical information at critical times would be imperative and expected.
Consequently, they really did not want law makers establishing rules affecting future technology without respecting the need to understand more before creating such laws.

Well, Rachel is right as usual. The iPhone makes me think. And it makes me think about things I care about.

My imagination may be based on reality or not. But as one great philosopher said: "Reality, not the real is dependant upon care".


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Interesting Conversation about Brands

I placed this comment a few minutes ago responding to a good conversation on the memetic brand site. www.memeticbrand.com

Good discussion.

If we can assume that brand is about loyalty (traditional thought) and loyalty is about logic, then it is possible to consider collective intelligence as rationale for brand building.

In a networked economy (good and bad), decisions are often a collection of influences. Social Capital is deeply connected to trust. Trust is indeed measurable, but more important are the consequences when a lack of trust exists.

One great philosopher said: "Reality, not the real is dependent upon care".

Through social networking, it is possible to build a sense of trust and reality. One can begin to tell the difference between valuable interaction and hype.

Sometimes, I am reminded while networking, of my old neighborhood in Brooklyn New York where I grew up.

When a family had a trauma, meals would suddenly show up at their door. Somehow, the neighbors instinctively took up caring for the routines that the traumatized family could not pay attention to. It was collective instinct and implementation for the neighbors to react and be supportive.

I see much of this kind of supportive collective instinct and intelligence in collaborative spaces today.

What I don't see, is the acknowledgment to understand that brands are often very personal selections between millions of people.

Just think about the power of connecting that reality to sustainable and continuous improvement. And, to what that could mean to our worlds.

Sal Rasa

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mumbai attack coverage demonstrates (good and bad) maturation point of social media

November 28th, 2008

Posted by Jennifer Leggio @ 11:21 am

http://blogs.zdnet.com/feeds/?p=339 ZDNET

The devastation in Mumbai has been top-of-mind and top-of-the-news over the last few days – with good reason. It’s also been the hottest trending topic on Twitter and covered widely as the latest disaster to be live broadcasted via tweet.

Sadly, the people writing about how cool it is that people are live tweeting the events in Mumbai are missing a huge point. What’s happening now — and what is happening in Mumbai — is bigger than all of us. It’s bigger than communicating via Twitter. It’s bigger than just reading blogs. This is where social media grows up.

Social media is providing the ability to report and take in unfiltered news in a more direct way than ever before possible and we’re doing it on a mass scale. It’s no longer just a toy for early adopters and Internet nerds; it’s taking its place as an influencer far beyond technology. There is, however, a downside: there’s very little way to know what is true and what is rumor. As fellow ZDNet-er Michael Krigsman said to me the night, “we’re trading off potential accuracy for immediacy.”

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Solar Cooking: A Different View of Enviroment & Humanity


If you have not heard about this innovation it's worth checking out.

Jewish World Watch is committed to protecting refugee women and girls from rape and other forms of violence, and helping them to rebuild their lives. Women and girls fleeing the genocide in Darfur, Sudan are placed in extreme jeopardy when undertaking the simple, but vital, task of collecting firewood for cooking fuel. We are reducing the vulnerability of these women by providing the Iridimi and Touloum refugee camps in Chad with solar cookers, and reducing their need to collect firewood. Our project protects these women and provides them with income opportunities that include: manufacturing solar cookers, training others to use the cookers and making carrying bags to increase the life span of the cookers. JWW is also developing other companion projects aimed to keep the women inside the relative safety of the camp.

When I heard about this I was moved and amazed at the simplicity and depth of this intervention/innovation.

It makes me consider how we are so disconnected to the earth and how to live, that we miss the humanism and the simple principles of our environment that can provide answers to our most vile problems.

We complicate even our most urgent needs as a society and we actually believe that basic solutions are too difficult to deal with.

My admiration to Jewish World Watch for this.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

1920 U.S. Election

Eugene Debs ran for President in 1920 as a socialist while serving 10 years in prison for opposing World War I.

Debs receives one million votes. President Harding invites him to dinner.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

IT's biggest project failures -- and what we can learn from them

When you look at the reasons for project failure, "it's like a top 10 list that just repeats itself over and over again," says Holland, who is also a senior business architect and consultant with HP Services. Feature creep? Insufficient training? Overlooking essential stakeholders? They're all on the list -- time and time again.

A popular management concept these days is "failing forward" -- the idea that it's OK to fail so long as you learn from your failures. In the spirit of that motto and of the Ig Nobel awards, Computerworld presents 11 IT projects that may have "failed" -- in some cases, failed spectacularly -- but from which the people involved were able to draw useful lessons.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Conglomerate Posture During Economic Downturn


WPP orders hiring freeze amid client spending cuts

by John Tylee, Campaign 17-Oct-08, 14:40

LONDON - WPP has reacted to the deepening financial crisis by ordering a freeze on all hirings until further notice.

In an e-mail to senior staff and seen by Campaign, the group, whose agency empire includes JWT, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam and Grey, cites clients' decisions to hold back on marketing spend as the reason for its action.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Subject We Cannot Ignore

Rape Victim's words Jolt Congo - NY Times October 17, 2008

This is a difficult story to read. I realize the difficulty lies in me (us), for the way we all have left this level of inhumanity up to others to take care of.

I went to see the movie "W" today. True to his words, Oliver Stone has not created a film that's driven by cheap shots.

I came away with an interesting feeling.

The movie was not about "W", but more about us.
How we work to develop our democracy and how we often times, just let things happen. "Things" that affect the very fabric of our humanity.

We live in a time of "Talk Radio Show Consciousness" and that continues to divide us.

Interesting to me, that radio has always been a tremendous influencer of culture and beliefs. In fact, like the telegraph, radio was an early technology signal for safety when people are in trouble.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Multimillion-Dollar Men

October 7, 2008 NY Times


In the five years from 2003 to 2007, these Wall Street executives collectively took home more than $1 billion in pay

Once again, I am reminded of what the author Tom Wolf said last week:

"Wall Street is like Broadway. They are both anachronisms. Nothing new happens there".


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Whers's the Money?

The author, Tom Wolf said in an interview this week:

"Wall street is like Broadway, it's an anachronism. Nothing new happens there".

He went on to say, that more influence on the money comes from Greenwich Connecticut, implying home of the hedge fund world, I believe.

It's an interesting observation. I know he is right about Broadway. Think about the extraordinarily committed and gifted people working in that community. Skilled performers, producers, stage hands, designers, musicians, maintenance and security experts.

All that incredible human passion and commitment to create unusually expensive and often empty spectacles in a world where theater is today, so profoundly needed.

The theater historically, has always been a place for the society to talk to itself about itself.

What are we saying to one another today?

And, could there be a relationship between what we are not able to share openly, that puts us into a bankrupt sense of value at all levels. Affecting our health fiscally, mentally and ethically?


Friday, October 3, 2008

Internal Communications - The Continuing Myth

Today, I answered a Linked In question about internal communications.

Here's what I said:

To provoke some response to your statement and hear from others, I will suggest a different point of view. And, it's one I believe in.

We should forget "internal" vs. "external" communications in organizations. The world does not work that way anymore. The boundaries are gone.

Content that bores people is the real danger. Content that excludes people because of traditional internal competition depletes ROI and destroys innovation.

People working in the food industry to develop new products forget their "secrets" once at home, where they face contemporary issues like child diabetes. They are customers as well as workers in a world where information sharing and learning are routine ventures on the Internet and within their social networks. Formal and Informal Networks.

Living and working in a networked society and economy has made the internal vs. external separatism archaic.

Wherever organizations still live to provide paternalistic communication structures, you will find an underachieving culture. Sometimes, that shows up in dollars and more often in not supporting human potential.

This is not to say that internal work and information sharing should not be organized. However, understanding what kind of organizational structure is dependent upon the kind of WEB 2.0 world we live in. And, the way these formal and informal networks can provide value.

People are far less tolerant of their E bay world not functioning than they are of the corporate communications methodologies that limit creativity and inclusion.

Understanding that phenomenon is a transformation worth investing in for companies.

Best of luck with your exploration.

Sal Rasa
im21 (innovation/measurement 21st. century)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Helping New Technologies Grow Into Businesses

Published: September 17, 2008 New York Times


Connect was created 23 years ago to bring together people knowledgeable about business and investment capital with researchers at the universities and research institutes in San Diego.

“Bill Otterson created the culture here, telling scientists and research people to share ideas and then compete in the marketplace”

Great story about putting together people who might not easily share ideas.

"A community effort to ally scientists and financiers".

Building community is not a new idea. It's the communities that provide the ongoing innovation.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

I've Seen a Real Picture of Change and Almost Missed Something Important

I have not created a post for a while. A project has really taken my attention.

Yesterday, I completed the first edit of a video portrait of health care workers documenting their experience of learning to use Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Asking them questions about the last 18 months at their family practice centers and what's different. The entire project has been an intense team collaboration.

The conversations, responses and stories represent a transformation from thousands of paper charts to a shared information approach that creates a higher level patient experience. It is astounding.

To some organizations who have already adopted these practices, it may seem odd how long it is taking for others to do so.

However, even the most advanced users of EMR understand the need for further connectivity and knowledge sharing across boundaries and practice. It's a continuous improvement commitment. It is also a struggle for funding, board approvals and confronting many of the usual inhibitors to innovation.

I thought I understood why I was so captivated by this project. It's health care, the participants are highly dedicated and I keep learning about their realities and our expectations as patients.

But there was something I missed until I just relaxed and watched the tape this morning.

This is a compelling story of how doctors, nurses, admins and other providers deepened their everyday exchange. The video is a critical visualization of working differently and achieving different results.

The use of EMR (electronic medical records) demands that people work differently to get different results. It gives the patient a way of accessing consistent information across platforms, boundaries and institutions. And, it accelerates the practitioner's professional development.

EMR gives back the ability to highly skilled physicians and practitioners, the time they need to effectively use their skills instead of wasted time in routine or repetitive questioning.

In our current health care environment, we seldom realize how the system inhibits the best abilities of motivated and highly skilled professionals.

Technology to organize and move people from paper to the screen simply accelerates wide cultural change in a way that traditional consulting can never approach.

How many years have we heard about the paperless environment? These workers take it to a new level of commitment. One patient, one chart. Anywhere, anytime. That is their goal.

Health care workers are always driven by complexity, urgency and humanity.

Understanding the value of EMR is a revelation when you see and hear it from the communities of practice and need. The example should inform all of our business perspectives.

All the issues of privacy (which are most manageable) or concerns about less personal do not come close to seeing patients understanding their own situation more clearly than ever before.

And, the truth about medicine moving to a collaboration becomes exciting within the context of information when you and your health care providers need it. We all have more than one doctor and we seldom connect them to solve our issues quickly and safely.

I cannot do justice here of what I learned from creating this video. Please understand, I use video as data collection. Not typical corporate support material.

But I can say, much of the theory and experience that frameworks large scale business transformation and organization design goes out the window when a doctor describes how a patient who cannot read, now understands their current health state for the first time. The graphic display on the screen with the patient's test results etc. is viewed and discussed with the doctor.

Such an encounter maps a network of change from the doctor's activity to everyone who contributes to this technology that unites them.

I realized this morning, that this example is a poignant metaphor for much of what I have encountered with large organizations. Years of discussing change without the ability to clearly read and act.

For the health care professionals who have given me this incredible experience, I can only say thank you. And, I can continue to learn what their transformation means for all our work place transformations.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Measuring Culture?

It is commonly believed in organizations that measuring culture is difficult or actually impossible.

Yet, experts press on. I just heard a pod cast discussing this concept.

There are new measurements like Density of Communication and others, that have developed from learning about social networks. They are useful and relevant.

I have thought about these cultural issues for years. But truthfully, I heard a VP of Creative tell me today, that "my clients are not interested in anything meaningful", as he sighed to let me know that he meant it.

Wow. This statement came from one of the smartest and most committed professionals I have ever met.

I thought about the culture he works in and what could be measured? His interactions or his sigh?

So here's a thought:

Should culture be thought of as something to measure?

In fact, culture is a living entity that actually exists as an ongoing reflection/measurement of our collective experience. What are organizations looking for?

What is it about organizational behavior that makes us think we need to abstract our life experience to align with non-real business concepts?

You know, the current business "buzz" that inevitably moves into the Bermuda Triangle. It's amazing how we rush to rally and conform to "acceptable" concepts while working for companies that are allegedly committed to Innovation. Is that a cultural trait? Is it measurable?

Here's another notion:

When we think of atoms, why do we almost believe that atoms exist as red and white plastic spheres that connect to one another? It's as if "the real" and "the reality" we have created are the same thing.

One great philosopher said: "Reality, not the real, is dependent upon care"

In some ways, I find business explanations sometimes confuse the real from the abstraction and few organizations take care to distinguish between the two.

In cultures that truly "take care" to be inclusive and recognize the human dignity of effort and contribution, there is little need to measure the culture. Rather, the effort is to support its life.

The ancient Greeks defined "Economy" as the ability to sustain the life of something for as long as possible.

It's no wonder why we believe that Power Point presentations are a reflection of what we conceive to be factual. Mental models are often mistaken for true cultural elements.

Actually, it's funny when I think about our image of what atoms are and how hard we labor for slides 1 through 23 to be reduced to 1 through 5. As if rearranging the plastic atoms will significantly change conditions.

Abstractions of our experience -- measuring culture and finding a way to create a work place that for all of us, is built on what is real. It's been an interesting day.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's Upside Down -- Health Care That Is

This is a serious subject and a perspective worth developing. I believe this to be true.

I intend to further investigate but from initial conversations with people smarter than me, the response is supportive.

I believe that the business of health care is directly related to a misunderstanding of Integrated Supply Chain logic. Consequently, the Value Chain is disturbed.

Simply put, the business models of hospitals, payers and support services are currently based on traditional supply management designs.

It's upside down. Traditional models rely on Demand Creation and Demand Fulfillment. Indeed, many of the hospital Performance Improvement Plans that I have seen, seem to me to actually be re-treads morphed from old world Automotive Sales Incentive structures.

That's anecdotal of course, but a strong impression nonetheless.

The key point is this:

In the world of health care and health care professionals, we do not want to increase Demand Creation. We want the opposite. That is, to literally reduce the need for services so that Demand Fulfillment becomes more focused on well being rather than treatment.

Our entire structure is wrong and demands a fundamental re-focus. Our Integrated Supply logic is out of sync with the realities of the health work place and the patient experience. This misalignment affects every contract that doctors, payers and institutions create to "do business" to provide positive Demand Fulfillment.

Issues like EMR (electronic medical records) become clouded in a supply chain environment that is confused. Rapid adaptation to technology is inhibited by silo behaviors and proprietary attitudes to protect time and money in a highly challenged professional environment.

It's this overarching supply model that institutionalizes certain behaviors. These behaviors actually inhibit businesses like emergency rooms, where connectivity to information and communication are vital to implement quickly and accurately.

This is not a knock at the health care professional. It is in support of their commitment and expertise. However, sharing information is not easy in these places. Ask the workers. Ask the patients (customers), and ask the hospital business developers if they really have a picture of their customers from the conventional surveys that are handed out. It's a value chain nightmare in many cases.

It's that serious and perhaps, that simple an insight to understand, that in health care today, we have an inverted Supply Chain bias that is literally killing us.

I am claiming this discussion and inviting thoughts. However, this is one concept I will not give up on easily.


Sal Rasa

Monday, July 7, 2008

Interesting View from the Nonprofit World

There are a number of critical changes in the nonprofit world that are worth understanding for every work place. This 2007 survey has good information and measurements.

"Nonprofits are stronger than business and government on three
types of peer and top management actions — communicating about
the importance of ethics, setting a good example of ethical behavior, and peer
support for doing the right thing."

National Nonprofit Ethics Survey
Ethics Resource Center’s 2 0 0 7

An Inside View of Nonprofit Sector Ethics

http://www.ethics.org/ will take you to additional information and the survey.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Conversation Today: Culture & Transformation

Met with a good friend and colleague today. He asked for a list of thought starters on culture and transformation at the enterprise level.

Here's my response.

Culture & Transformation -Thought Starters

“I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn't just one aspect of the game – it is the game.” L. Gerstner, former CEO, IBM

What experts and consultants don’t talk about when meeting a CEO.

  • · Today, there is no organization that has the time necessary to achieve the cultural changes they seek
  • · If it is true that “all politics is local”, then it is also true, that all significant business transformation is local and then networked
  • · Transformation on an enterprise level is dependent on identifying inhibitors to knowledge sharing, revealing the communication blocks and making work visible
  • Visibility = Accountability in effective silo busting activities
  • · It is possible to measure trust. Trust in people and trust in systems.
  • · Collaborative behaviors speed transformation across traditional boundaries
  • · The Change Management element is to put the executive into the mix. Not outside the mix, reviewing and providing approval
  • · Culture is a living entity. It is both powerful and fragile. Think of the Petri dish. Culture can be inhibited and even destroyed. Or, it can grow as it is supposed to.
  • · Changing the lens to view culture as continuous development professionally, and personally, is the power to transform the enterprise
  • · Web 2.0 provides us with the ability to organize critical conversations. It also changes fundamental roles and responsibilities. Stories help identify workplace realities.
  • · Alignment of key roles and responsibilities from the communities’ perspective is an imperative in today’s networked environment
  • · Time is on your side when a continuous improvement approach is enabled

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Answering a Question

Someone asked "whether social media/networking helps or hurts business?" on a social networking site a couple of days ago..

Here is my response:

In some ways, even asking the question becomes awkward in today's workplace.

However, you ask a perfect question for us to confront. Living in a Web 2.0 environment changes our perspectives on knowledge sharing and traditional OD frameworks.

"Conversations" become understood as critical. However, with Web 2.0 both meaningful transformation and speculative hype are possible. Tools like ONA (Organizational Network Analysis) and VNA (Value Network Analysis) are tremendously useful to create clearer pictures of a current state for communication patterns and role sharing.

Even when given this kind of scientific imaging, many companies remain the same, as if the information is "interesting".

We are always faced with the fundamental question of any technology advance. What are our intentions? It is a more important question than what is the value of the technology change.

The tools will continue to develop, but it is the intention that is always the best focus to achieve results.

I do not believe that many organizations have really sought to understand the complexity and abilities of Social Networking. The irony is -- that no one can stop it.

We can only learn the need to understand more. My reason for saying that even your question (though perfectly appropriate), may be awkward, is simple.

It's like saying we are at a family reunion but we don't want to admit there are new children in the flock.

Social Networking affects every business and community on earth. Whether we include or exclude critical conversations is directly related to our overall intentions.

Paternalistic communication modes still exist in many organizations but it's getting more difficult not to hear the new kids at play.

Whether social media/networking helps or hurts is up to the communities and what they really want. One can enjoy the sound of new kids in the family or be annoyed at having to share the room tone.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Innovation and Measurement - The US Economy

This January 2008 report sent by a colleague, focuses on issues like:

Why is it important to measure innovation?

"While we recognize that the American economy is changing in fundamental ways—and that most of this change relates directly to innovation—our understanding remains incomplete. Indeed, data collection and measurement, while seemingly mundane, loom large in understanding these changes. Policymakers, investors, executives, managers, consumers, and researchers require accurate and complete information in order to make informed decisions. The centrality of the need to advance innovation measurement cannot be understated".

A Report to the Secretary of Commerce by The Advisory Committee on Measuring Innovation in the 21st Century Economy January 2008


Click above or cut and paste to see full PDF report.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sports Analogies?

I usually stay away from sports analogies when discussing the work place. However, professional sport is a work place.

Currently, two New York baseball teams are under great scrutiny for individual and team performance.

Fans are outraged at the lack of consistency and questioning everything from recruitment of new players to actual business models. Both teams, the NY Yankees and the NY Mets are currently building new stadiums.

The new stadiums are clearly geared for the "corporate high end private box" crowd as opposed to the everyday "fan". The business management teams will argue that these new arenas with fewer low cost seats, are really designed to help business in general and provide the average fan with a better view. The fans are not buying it.

What's interesting as well, is the sudden rising success of the Los Angeles Dodgers on the West Coast. It has been noted that Joe Torre, the former NY Yankee manager has helped to solve an in-house problem amongst players.

It seems that Joe, with his well known management style, has been able to bring together the younger athletes and the seasoned veterans. A long-term difficulty in the Dodger club house.

The current NY teams are also going through a difficult transition -- building very young players abilities in the face of a real baseball season in the big leagues. And, it is showing. Some believe it's prep time for the new stadiums. That this season is a "write-off" so that next year, really competitive teams will appear in a new money generating environment.

This is conjecture but good stuff for sports fans to argue. However, think about the players. Baseball represents a grueling travel and work schedule. More relentless than we, as observers, can imagine.

What does it mean when young gifted new comers have to work and align with seasoned vets? And, what does it mean to have to work with younger players who offer different views and experience.

Many people who are working in large organizations today, may not carry any of the baggage from the re-engineering days of their company's "journey".

And, research by organizations like Watson Wyatt articulate the rapid number of people turning fifty every day in the U.S. and how that will affect the productivity of organizations as we dwindle the number of workers with deep knowledge.

Two NY teams are suffering right now from a transition of power and lack of ability to adjust to a new composition.

I think about the "keywords" that professional resume writers place into the credentials of "older workers" just to get the resume passed the first line of software logic that sorts peoples' lives into relevant or not relevant.

How do we help understand the workers with knowledge and the workers with thirst for knowledge?

Actually, I don't see this as a sports analogy. Rather, as a U.S. loved activity like baseball, providing a glimpse into our work ethic and enjoyment. A function that baseball has always provided.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Have a Global Beverage?

Today, Pepsi (second largest beverage company) announced improvement in quarterly earnings in spite of the rise in commodity costs. International sales were sighted as the financial thrust.

The bottling leg of Coca-Cola announced a significant drop due to high commodity costs.

Starbucks announced lower than anticipated quarterly earnings due to the U.S. consumer lack of spending.

I keep thinking about the hot dog vendors in Times Square who now take Euros.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Web 3.0 - Is It The Promise of Re-engineering?

I was looking at some quotes regarding web 2.0 since I have become interested in pursuing what web 3.0 may offer us in the workplace.

Here's one from Auren Hoffman CEO, Rapleaf.

"We (the community) have time to create linux, which is amazing, we have time to create wikipedia, we have time to put reviews on yelp, and read and write blogs. We just have way to much time on our hands, maybe that was all time we were doing passive things watching TV, now all that passive time has become active time and we are creating stuff".

I found this quote interesting having spent several years working on large scale re-engineering efforts. How does this move to 2.0 and now 3.0 allow us to create "stuff" that's valuable?

1. Early Intranet development really enabled a power change. People began to understand that they could make decisions faster than management. Intranet created an ability to shift power and distribution of information while Internet enables a change in the distribution of labor, services and goods.

2. The move to "common process" was not easy and many organizations still have not realized the fulfillment of process/processes changes decades after their re-engineering

3. Knowledge Management thinking is changing as companies like IBM take a new look at "conversations"

Is web 3.0 the fulfillment of what re
-engineering promised?

In a world where communication and implementation are often the same/simultaneous customer experience, what is it that we want from collaborative information sharing capability? What "stuff" are we talking about.

What do you think?


Some other good quotes:

Web 2.0 CEO Quotes From TechCrunch Video


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Report: Low Grad Rates in US Cities

By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press

Posted: 2008-04-01 01:23:56
WASHINGTON (AP) - Seventeen of the nation's 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent, with the lowest graduation rates reported in Detroit, Indianapolis and Cleveland, according to a report released Tuesday.

The report, issued by America's Promise Alliance, found that about half of the students served by public school systems in the nation's largest cities receive diplomas. Students in suburban and rural public high schools were more likely to graduate than their counterparts in urban public high schools, the researchers said.

Nationally, about 70 percent of U.S. students graduate on time with a regular diploma and about 1.2 million students drop out annually.

"When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it's more than a problem, it's a catastrophe," said former Secretary of State Colin Powell, founding chair of the alliance.

His wife, Alma Powell, the chair of the alliance, said students need to graduate with skills that will help them in higher education and beyond. "We must invest in the whole child, and that means finding solutions that involve the family, the school and the community." The Powell's organization was beginning a national campaign to cut high school dropout rates.

The group, joining Education Secretary Margaret Spellings at a Tuesday news conference, was announcing plans to hold summits in every state during the next two years on ways to better prepare students for college and the work force.

The report found troubling data on the prospects of urban public high school students getting to college. In Detroit's public schools, 24.9 percent of the students graduated from high school, while 30.5 percent graduated in Indianapolis Public Schools and 34.1 percent received diplomas in the Cleveland Municipal City School District.

Researchers analyzed school district data from 2003-2004 collected by the U.S. Department of Education. To calculate graduation rates, the report estimated the likelihood that a 9th grader would complete high school on time with a regular diploma. Researchers used school enrollment and diploma data, but did not use data on dropouts as part of its calculation.

Many metropolitan areas also showed a considerable gap in the graduation rates between their inner-city schools and the surrounding suburbs. Researchers found, for example, that 81.5 percent of the public school students in Baltimore's suburbs graduate, compared with 34.6 percent in the city schools.

In Ohio, nearly 83 percent of public high school students in suburban Columbus graduate while 78.1 percent in suburban Cleveland earn their diplomas, well above their local city schools.

Ohio Department of Education spokesman Scott Blake said the state delays its estimates by a few months so it can include summer graduates in its calculations. Based on the state's methodology, he said Columbus graduated 60.6 percent of its students in 2003-2004, rather than the 40.9 percent the study calculated.

By Ohio's reckoning, Columbus has improved each year since the 2001-2002 school year, with 72.9 percent of students graduating in 2005-2006, Columbus Public Schools spokesman Jeff Warner said.

Warner said the gains were partly because of after-school and weekend tutoring, coordinated literacy programs in the district's elementary schools and bolstered English-as-a-second-language programs.

Cleveland's current graduation rates are also higher than the statistics cited in the new report, school district spokesman Ben Holbert said.

Spellings has called for requiring states to provide graduation data in a more uniform way under the renewal of the No Child Left Behind education law pending in Congress.

Under the 2002 law, schools that miss progress goals face increasing sanctions, including forced use of federal money for private tutoring, easing student transfers, and restructuring of school staff.

States calculate their graduation rates using all sorts of methods, many of which critics say are based on unreliable information about school dropouts. Under No Child Left Behind, states may use their own methods of calculating graduation rates and set their own goals for improving them.

The research was conducted by Editorial Projects in Education, a Bethesda, Md., nonprofit organization, with support from America's Promise Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The alliance is based on a joint effort of nonprofit groups, corporations, community leaders, charities, faith-based organizations and individuals to improve children's lives.

On the Net:

America's Promise Alliance: http://www.americaspromise.org/

Saturday, March 15, 2008

World-Wide Traffic Jam

I was in a NY taxi yesterday afternoon when all traffic was halted by the police. We were on the West Side Highway, next to a heliport and a short distance from the former World Trade Center.

It took a minute to register and then I realized that George Bush was leaving NYC following his economic address to NY Business people and a visit to private fund raising event.

While waiting, the taxi driver began to talk about politics. This rather distinguished man explained that he is fluent in five languages. He recently returned from Afghanistan, employed as a translator by a division of one of the largest corporations working in the that part of the world. His contracted salary was $140,000 for a year. He stayed two months and left saying "it was not worth what I would experience

When talking about people and violence he said:

"It's very simple, so simple that I don't understand why people do not get it. There is an entire generation of people who have never known life without war. They don't even know what it means to sleep".

The police opened up the West Side Highway once the huge motorcade passed. We moved on and continued to talk as we drove past Ground Zero.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

You Never Know What's in Ice Cream

I happened upon a film about the history of ice cream this evening on the Sundance channel.

It was fascinating to listen to:

1. Ben & Jerry, the well known American entrepreneurs who began their empire at a gas station.
Jerry described how after all the years of effort, struggle and success, the eventual public company board of directors decided they had no choice but to sell the company. Unilever now makes the ice cream. Jerry said that he had no say in the decision.

2. The daughter of the Russian immigrant who invented Hagen Daz ice cream. Her father's vision was to create a higher end better product that people would pay for. His creative name for the product was intended to sound Danish. There is no logical construction in the Danish language for the Hagen Daz trademarked logo with the two dots above the name. Many people already know about this story and that Hagen Daz was born in the Bronx, NY.

His daughter said she never could have imagined the size that her company has become. However, Hagen Daz is now distributed by Nestle. The sad thing she said, was that these organizations "own the ice cream market in the U.S." It is unlikely that today, innovative or independent efforts can compete at that level or do what her father was able to do and grow such a business.

And a curious bit of information that only makes my imagination wonder.

According to this documentary, Margaret Thatcher, prior to taking the U K's highest office was a chemist. Her work focused on ice cream and what is called "over run" in the industry. Over run is code for adding air to the recipe in order to reduce cost and quality but sell more. Apparently, Ms. Thatcher was good at adding more air and worked hard at it.

I can't testify to the facts of the documentary and I may research, but I sense some interesting connections in this mix of a social confection.

Just enjoyable to think about and save the calories. Maybe.


IBM Opens New 3D Virtual Healthcare Island on Second Life

Maybe, we all will benefit the more we consider health care to be a business? Certainly, companies like IBM understand their role (and growth potential) in an industry marked by a need for re-engineering in the deepest sense.

I am once again reminded of the interview with a Genome researcher who believes the first people to benefit from her research will be the Software community.

This announcement from IBM is an interesting use of social networking and scenario testing among other things. Smart people using an innovative marketing device that can radiate value.


Here's the IBM press announcement.

ORLANDO, FL - 24 Feb 2008: IBM (NYSE: IBM) debuted at HIMSS®08 its newest island in Second Life: IBM Virtual Healthcare Island.

The island is a unique, three-dimensional representation of the challenges facing today’s healthcare industry and the role information technology will play in transforming global healthcare-delivery to meet patient needs.

The island supports the strategic healthcare vision that IBM released in October 2006, entitled, Healthcare 2015: Win-Win or Lose-Lose, A Portrait and a Path to Successful Transformation. The paper paints a picture of a Healthcare Industry in crisis – of health systems in the United States and many other countries that will become unsustainable by the year 2015. To avoid “lose-lose” scenarios in which global healthcare systems “hit the wall” and require immediate and forced restructuring, IBM calls for what it defines as a “win-win” option: new levels of accountability, tough decisions, hard work and focus on the consumer.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Interesting Post on a Health Care Blog

A Creative Way to Engage Physicians

Kenneth H. Cohn, M.D., MBA, FACS

In response to a frequently asked question, "How can you engage physicians who do not want to have anything to do with the hospital?" a physician colleague responded:
"If they do not want to have anything to do with you, ask them why not!!.....that is a definable set of reasons and (mis)perceptions you might have to dig out of them, realizing that you might not like and may not want to hear what they say, but once understood gives you something to work with."
This approach is a variation on taking the first step: admitting that we do not have all the answers and seeking feedback that may hurt because we take personal pride in our efforts to care for patients.
Some times, it takes unconventional approaches to obtain breakthrough results, as the following story illustrates:
Leon Bender, President of the Medical Staff at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, was frustrated with physician hand-washing compliance. So, infection-control staff who caught physicians washing their hands gave physicians $10 Starbucks cards, which increased compliance from 65% to 80%. A breakthrough came at a meeting of physician leaders, when the epidemiologist at Cedars Sinai cultured physicians' hands, photographed the bacteria on the Petri dishes, and turned the photograph into a screen saver on every computer in the hospital that physicians used to obtain clinical information. That graphic depiction of bacteria increased physician hand-washing compliance from 80% to nearly 100%, where it has remained for several years.
Dr. Bender noted, "With people who have been in practice 25 or 30 or 40 years, it's hard to change their behavior. But when you present them with good data, they change their behavior very rapidly." (Dubner and Leavitt 2006).
The distinction between what physicians and nurses principally do (care for patients) and what administrators principally do (finance, operations, marketing) is blurring. Recent decisions, at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) not to reimburse hospitals for complications, such as catheter acquired urinary tract infections, decubiti, and falls that occur in the hospital, compel us to put aside significant differences in background, training, and outlook and place patients and families at the center of our joint universe.

Dubner SJ, Leavitt SD. 2006. "Selling Soap." [Online publication, accessed 12/8/07]. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/24/magazine/24wwln_freak.html?_r=1&ex=1160020800&en=0c4817f1e4d7f211&ei=5070&oref=slogin#

Friday, February 29, 2008

EMR Pushback

Here's another perspective on this important health care topic.


"Bruce Landes, MD, is a confirmed skeptic when it comes to electronic medical records. But he insists he is no technophobe. “I am not a Luddite,” Landes says, working up some steam on a topic he knows well. “Physicians are people who have been through the development of CT, MRI and robotic surgery. We are not afraid of technology, but we are afraid of bad technology.”

By that he means EMR technology. Landes is the president and chief executive officer of Southwest Physician Associates, a Dallas-based independent physician association that encompasses some 1,300 physicians, most of them in small practices with fewer than five members. Like their peers across the country, these physicians primarily use computers for their practice management functions—the scheduling, registration and billing functions that are the lifeblood of their small businesses. But they have resisted adding clinical documentation to the technology mix, relying instead on paper charts".

Published by Health Leaders Media


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

(Just About) All Innovation is Local

"At an innovation conference in Mexico in November of 2006, the Colombian journalist Alejandro Santos reminded us, in his eloquent summary, of the advice that the great Leo Tolstoy gave to prospective writers: "Describe your village, and you will be universal." Santos illustrated Tolstoy's maxim with the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature, whose world-renowned novel One Hundred Years of Solitude takes place in Arataca, the small river village of his childhood.

In other words, to come up with a successful innovation, capable of being appreciated by people around the world, you need something very compelling to offer those global markets. And where do you find such innovative, compelling ideas? Sometimes the answer is in world-class research labs. But often, the best new ideas are found in those areas that you know best—right around you".

AlwaysOn Daily [enewsletters@alwayson-network.com] February 27, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

Change Comes From Unexpected Places - Maybe

I recently heard an interview regarding genetic medicine where an expert researcher posed a provocative notion regarding the initial benefactors of her work.

She said, the investigations would be very helpful to our health. However, we need to understand, that much of our well-being still remains within our ability to control and provide good decision making based on solid information.

This researcher went on to suggest that the people who will benefit first from genetic data and inquiry, will be software developers and providers. It's about business as much as it is about health.

No surprise, that in a health care system that seems to inhibit EMR (electronic medical records), there are many reasons that may be driving such lack of integration. Unlike the automotive parts world, sharing of information is difficult. Automotive information connectivity is excellent.

We all know it's not only about privacy and that statement is not meant to be cynical. However, wellness involves a complicated set of continuous agreements between patients, medical experts and payer communities. And, the creation of new and different roles and responsibilities for health care workers.

We don't have the tolerance for a two week replacement of a front bumper. However, we easily agree to wait for appointments and medical records that take too much time to be helpful.

Here's an announcement that demonstrates where representative change is being accelerated.

Google To Store Patient Medical Records
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 21, 2008 AP

Pilot Project Could Involve Up To 10,000 People; Concerns Surround Security Of Information

"Google Inc. will begin storing the medical records of a few thousand people as it tests a long-awaited health service that's likely to raise more concerns about the volume of sensitive information entrusted to the Internet search leader.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Boundaries: Fixed & Not Quite Fixed

Yesterday was an interesting day in America.

In one day, we experienced:

1. A Lunar Eclipse

2. Firing a missile to destroy an orbiting satellite so it would not plunge upon the earth

3. The Georgia State government pushing ahead to re-define the borders of Tennessee and Georgia to augment water availability during a time of environmental crisis

4. The New York Times reporting a current presidential candidate may have had a questionable relationship with a lobbyist


Monday, February 18, 2008

Innovation and Survival

We often think of innovation as an "initiative". What company does not pursue/embrace it from a corporate policy point of view?

Innovation was not born in the boardroom
or invented by analysts. It is the foundation of our need and ability to survive. And that, is not a negative concept.

Yesterday, I was watching a report on the Current television channel regarding the deadly cyclone Sidr, that affected people in Bangladesh and other areas, in 2007.

It is not unusual to have cyclones occur in this area. Sidr was unusual in size however, and this time, the consequences are different for a number of reasons.

A young architect in Bangladesh, has innovated to deal with the sudden crowding issues of "climate refugees" and accelerated warming tendencies in the Himalayas that are causing flooding. All of this complicates the terrible results of the cyclone.

"Climate refugees"
is a new term for many of us.

In response, the architect has helped to build schoolrooms on boats in selected waterways.

His point is: "To live with the water".
He is going forward to say that an entire educational system can exist on water and so can farms and other services.

Children are now effectively working in these water schools in a place that remains devastated in many ways.

Like a scene out of the 1995 post-apocalyptic movie “Water world,” in which the continents are submerged after the polar ice caps melt and the survivors live out at sea, the boat schools and libraries are a creative response to flooding that scientists largely agree has been worsened by global warming.

Melting glaciers in the Himalayas are already causing sea levels to rise here, and scientists say Bangladesh may lose up to 20 percent of its land by 2030 as a result of flooding. That Bangladesh is among the most vulnerable countries on the planet to climate change is a tragedy for its 150 million people, most of whom are destitute.

The need for a Bangladeshi Water world, experts say, has never been more urgent.

“For Bangladesh, boats are the future,” said Abul Hasanat Mohammed Rezwan, an architect who started the boats project here and who now oversees it as executive director of the nonprofit Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, a name that means self-reliance. “As Bangladeshi citizens, it’s our responsibility to find solutions because the potential for human disaster is so huge. We have to be bold. Everyone loves land. But the question is: Will there be enough? Millions of people will have nowhere to go.”

http://current.com/items/77475961_real_life_waterworld will give you an overall picture of the devastation.

What does innovation seem to mean in your work environment?



Friday, February 15, 2008

A Note Aboute Music and Health Care

Recently, I have been able to speak with some experienced doctors about innovation in their workplace and what they see as critical to improving health care. Some of these doctor talks occurred during December and January, in busy hospitals, when my wife was in need of their skills and compassion.

The doctors seem to focus on breaking silos that inhibit communication. It's a cultural issue they say, that starts in medical school, while targeting specialization and hopefully, being recognized for expertise with documented work.

This "cultural issue" seems to permeate the way hospitals and other health care environments actually work. Teams of great expertise that cannot easily connect. And, it seems some are conditioned not to share information from early on in their careers. Don't get me wrong. I am on the side of these doctors. In our current system, I don't believe anyone enjoys the full benefits of their tremendous abilities. Including the doctors.

This perspective also joins the issues of technology. Lack of shared platforms and the somewhat partitioned software development that has inhibited talking across working boundaries.

More than one person referred to Michael Porter's book, Redefining Health Care: Creating Value-based Competition on Results.

When talking about innovation, several doctors suggested that medical staffs have a fundamental confrontation. "They must remember why they exist". And that's not easy in today's overworked and insurance directed workplace. Innovation is layered with payer requirements, certain incentives and the need to constantly deal with an overwhelming volume of information, work, and not enough people to help. Recognizing what's innovative is a risk.

However, innovation is critical to improvement, as this recent NY Sun interview points out.

"First of all, what we're doing is we're trying to maximize our innovative ability. We don't only give care, we try to develop better care tomorrow".

How Dr. Pardes Learned, the Hard Way, To Run a Hospital

Dr. Herbert Pardes now oversees a hospital system that includes 11,673 beds and employs about 82,000 doctors, nurses, and other employees.

By ELIZABETH SOLOMONT, April 20, 2007 http://www.nysun.com/article/52864?page_no=2

Like Dr. Pardes, the doctors I spoke with connected this need for a cultural change (which will take time),with overall performance improvement, and getting in better tune with the patient. They were talking about deep re-engineering on a social and bureaucratic level. And, the ability for people to share knowledge.

Today, medical staffs have to constantly meet new co-workers and achieve over and over again. They are not really conventional teams with time to hear theories about motivation and organization. They are more jazz than that. And I use the term with respect for the art form.

When thinking about how complicated it is for health care workers to participate as teams today, these conversations make me think about music.

Musicians have the abiltity to share experience and offer it to others spontaneously. Timing and discovery. Jazz, is an important collaboration of moments where preparation and instinct meet. Jazz musicians, like health care professionals, work very hard to reach a level of dexterity that allows them to listen and respond. They practice all the time.

Here's a thought.

When a classical orchestra begins their performance, the audience is first engaged in the tradition of witnessing the musicians “tuning up”. The oboist plays a concert A and each section of the orchestra sounds a note to join in sync and prepare to play. It is expected and necessary. It is a part of the preparation that the audience expects.

When a jazz “Big Band” begins a performance, the tuning ritual is quite different. The musicians actually tune with one another during the first song.

The tuning for a jazz band is the discovery of one another’s sound. This collaboration leads to continuous innovation that results in the virtuoso soloist moments, that are also discoveries. These moments are not random. Just the opposite. Journeymen musicians regularly collaborate with the staff players of renowned band leaders like Basie and Ellington. These musicians understand their responsibility to preserve the integrity of the leader’s vision (the compositions and arrangements).

The innovations during Big Band performances arise because the players have a fundamental understanding of why they exist and what their collaboration is to accomplish.

What’s underneath these conversations with doctors is interesting.

In the complicated set of relationships that hospitals have with doctors of different specialties and self interests (as well as payer demands), the medical staff does not have time for ritualistic “tuning”. Why they exist as a medical staff and how they might collaborate to produce continuous innovation may be lost, as the doctors suggest.

We can all influence this for the better.