Friday, July 6, 2007
They ran a full story on “Gamimg and Simulations”, which highlights some of
BrandGames’ recent accomplishments.
Read and enjoy!
July 20, 2005 Volume 3, Issue 29
Kellye Whitney, Associate Editor Gaming in Simulations Not Child’s Play
If you've been thinking seriously about investing in simulations to round out your learning and development offerings, you're not alone. More and more companies are enjoying the benefits of this realistic learning tool, and are taking advantage of the gaming quality in many new products to appeal to younger employees.
Please visit www.brandgames.com/learning for client case studies.
The ability to collaborate is the key attraction to General Electric's award-winning "Imagination Cubed" online program, which allows users to create virtual line drawings.
Unveiled last week on GE.com, the program allows up to three people to doodle illustrations on the same Web page at the same time and communicate during the process through a customized chat interface.
The program experienced viral success -- participants from 140 countries e-mailed 6 million sketches to 1.5 million different recipients, GE reported.
"It's about being able to harness the creativity of several people in a single space and build on that idea" said Tim McCleary, GE global director, brand and online advertising.
Like to watch?
Talk about on-line shopping! A new GAP campaign delivers an indelible impression, with a 3-D avatar dress-up doll and virtual dressing room . You pick your body size/person/style . She takes over from there.
LucasFilms leaves the ranch…
George Lucas has a gleaming new $350 million headquarters in the middle of the Presidio, a former Army post on the edge of
For decades LucasFilms, the director’s privately held company, and its two main divisions – LucasArts, the video game producer, and Industrial Light and Magic, a leading designer of special effects – were tucked away in barely marked structures in northern
“We spent a lot of years hidden away,” says Micheline Chau, president of Lucasfilm, “and I’m not sure if it was good for the company as a whole. To be the epicenter of the digital revolution, we have to be out here, evangelizing the cause".
Now, for the first time the two divisions will be at the same location, sharing the same computer system - said to be the largest in the industry - with simultaneous access to a single digital library. "We're not just talking about convergence," said Cliff Plumer, Lucasfilm's chief technology officer, "We're doing it."
The often fog-shrouded Presidio of San Francisco has a long and extensive cultural history spanning back thousands of years, to when it was the home to native people known as the Ohlone. The Spanish arrived in 1776 to establish the northernmost outpost of their empire in western North America. Over 148 years, the army transformed the Presidio grounds from mostly empty windswept dunes and scrub to a verdant, preeminent military post. Not quite a Death Star, but close.
The new 865,000-square-foot
As for George… He’s staying at the ranch… with his figurines.
“The Most Serene Republic of Anstar is a tiny, socially progressive nation, renowned for its absence of drug laws. Its hard-nosed, hard-working, intelligent population of 5 million enjoy extensive civil freedoms, particularly in social issues, while business tends to be more regulated. The medium-sized, liberal government is mainly concerned with Social Welfare, although Healthcare and Education are secondary priorities.”
What? You never heard of the Republic of Anstar?
Don’t worry – you’re not lacking on your knowledge of world nations, but you probably are missing out on one of the web’s hottest sites: www.nationstates.net.
NationStates is a world political simulation that allows you to easily create your own country and decide how it will be run. During registration, you pick your country's name, flag, national animal, political style, and other basic features. NationStates then asks you to address one political issue each day – new laws take effect over night – and you can see how you rank as a political leader.
Laid-back liberal democracy or oppressive dictatorship? The choices are all yours.
On a sunny Saturday in Bangalore, India, a group of engineers and mathematicians, all in their 20's, sit hunched over computers, frantically writing code. Sounds like a ton of fun, right?
It's the Google India Code Jam, a contest to find the most brilliant computer coder in South and Southeast Asia. The fastest programmer wins $7,000 and a chance at a coveted job at one of Google's research and development centers.
14,000 students registered from all over the region and 50 were selected for the finals in Bangalore. The finalists are given the task of creating and testing software for unique web searches and of getting from point A to point B in a city with a minimum number of turns.
The final challenge is to program a war-based board game, a task so complex that only the winner, Ardian Poernomo, a student from Singapore, is able to complete it.
"It's a dog-eat-dog world," says Robert Hughes, president of TopCoder Inc, the testing company that runs the Code Jams. "Wherever the best talent is, Google wants them."
Check out info about the Code Jam and even try a sample problem!
Companies such as Adolph Coors, American Express, and General Electric have found that reservists who return from Iraq reach exceptional performance levels, with far more seasoned management, people, and communication skills. These big companies are going out of their way to recruit and retain employees from the pool of nearly 180,000 reservists on active duty.
Federal law requires that employers give reservists returning from military service their jobs back with same level of responsibility and pay. Some companies are going much further, offering perks such as continued pay and health-care benefits when they are called into active duty, setting up transitional programs for military members, and making additional contributions to soldiers' retirement plans.
Home Depot pays the difference in salary for the entire length of duty for reservists called into action, and helps employees transfer to other Home Depot stores if the military moves their spouse to a new base. "These are people who have to deliver results," says Dennis Donovan, executive vice president for human resources. "They have to think not just tactically, but strategically. And they have to inspire people."
For a full story, please see BusinessWeek, 12/13/04
Ever dream of a career in medicine? Now you can live the dream... on your Nintendo.
Trauma Center: Under the Knife is a hospital simulation game in which you are a young upstart doctor who must prove his mettle at a high tech hospital. From simple surgeries like sewing up a motorcyclist’s arm, to more advanced tumor removal, Trauma Center offers wannabe doctors a wide array of surgical applications.
In this high-tech occupational simulation, if you don't follow the procedures fast enough, you lose the patient. You must quickly follow a set of steps involving selecting the right tool in the right order and then using it. For the first couple of surgeries, your nurse will guide you through, but after that, you are mostly on your own. You are timed during every operation and graded afterward.
About the gory graphics... if you can't stand the heat stay out of the (virtual) OR.
For screen-shots and videos from the game, check out: http://ds.ign.com/objects/695/695152.html
Thursday, July 5, 2007
The Slovak army has launched an advertising campaign on condom packaging in a bid to boost recruitment levels. The packaging features a picture of a muscular soldier and the words "Show Yourself " appears on 27,000 packs of condoms to be distributed at recruitment centers across Slovakia, a defense ministry spokesman said. He said the army was inspired a similar campaign in the neighboring Czech Republic last year.In a war for talent, the Slovak Army is battling the private sector for candidates. They are tapping young Slovak soldiers to distribute the condoms at outdoor swimming pools .
Of course, the strategy could backfire-- recruitment rates may actually drop if the campaign inspires recruits make love, not war.
The challenge in developing a successful incentive program is in the psychological nuances of selecting awards.
Consider this: employees usually don’t talk to their peers about their latest cash bonus – it’s self-inflating and inappropriate. But award a successful salesman with a trip to Hawaii or a flat screen television and you bet you’ll hear about it around the office. In this sense, tangible rewards create long-lasting emotional responses that cash just can’t match.
Please click here for the full article.
In a crowded field of 90,000 drug representatives, former cheerleaders are applying their skills to detail doctors, and top pharmaceutical companies are competing on campus to recruit from the nation's ranks of cheerleaders.
The trend of hiring cheerleaders as sales reps has recruiters tapping cheering coaches for recommendations of potential candidates and has even led to the formation of an employment firm, Spirited Sales Leaders, in Memphis, which maintains a database of thousands of former and current cheerleaders.
Pharmaceutical sales leaders say it's not just the women’s visual appeal that earns them a spot on the Rep Squad. Their skills in delivering exaggerated motions, smiles and enthusiasm help them get people to do what they want.
In the ever-increasing competition of getting face-time with physicians...these reps say BRING IT ON!Please visit The New York Times for the full article.
Recent studies reveal that a flexible work-life balance is more important for Gen-X employees between the ages of 25 and 40 than generations before them, yet employers are not yet recognizing its importance in retaining talent .
In a survey of 17,000 jobholders ranking important job characteristics, all workers under 41 listed flexibility as a top-ten factor in their decision to stay with a job. Yet only 35% of employers feel it is very important.
Affording employees some flexibility to balance their own priorities often leads to better performance as well as higher retention rates. These Gen-X employees "want work to be only one component of a balanced portfolio of meaningful life experiences that include family, friends, fitness, and fun".
Gen X-ers are far more inclined to leave a job if their needs aren't met. With turnover so costly -- 1.5 times salary to recruit, relocate and train a replacement -- employers aiming to hold on to their emerging talent might give alternative scheduling some serious thought.
What Gen X Women Want
On Retention: "Love'Em or Lose 'Em
The 2005 Spherion Workforce StudyFull Article from CareerJournal.com
As many as 70% of your colleagues are out on vacation. Still, some look at this time of year as good for organizing your work area, figuring out priorities for the coming year, and -- not least -- reflecting.
Michael Fox of Fox Architects in St. Louis will read from his stack of newspapers, clean his office, and enjoy not hearing phones ringing. "It's almost like a vacation week that's not charged as a vacation," he says of the time between Christmas and New Years.
Sure, many will complain about how dreary it is to work during the deadest week of the year, particularly when talking to returning vacationers. But this lowly, unproductive, quiet-as-a-mouse week is a terrible week to miss at work.
Why wait in long ski-lift lines, get stranded at airports or pay peak-hotel rates when you can have a perfectly relaxing vacation this week at your very own desk?
The body doesn't have to travel a thousand miles away for the mind to take a vacation. The phones are dead. Meetings are minimal. Best of all, there's the workplace equivalent of a full body massage: blissfully low expectations. There's also a pity bonus: even a 10-to-4 day makes you a hero .
In fact, everyone isn't really gone for the week. It just seems that way. A survey conducted last year by Harris Interactive found that more than two-thirds of those surveyed who worked outside their homes were back at work the first Monday after Christmas. Working wasn't always the first thing on their minds, though. Personal phone calls, shopping and holiday thank-you notes sometimes took precedence. But another poll found that 51% of workers rated their productivity level just as high for the holiday week as the rest of the year, and 25% said it was higher.
Click for the Full Story
Still, some employers find that productivity tapers off drastically in the last two weeks of December. Many people seem to disappear, and everyone has come to expect that, which raises a serious management question:Why not simply close the doors for the week between Christmas and New Year's and let everyone go? Employees' minds already are elsewhere, so why not make it official? Monsanto took the plunge about 10 years ago. Like Boeing, Monsanto considers the down time an extended holiday. Instead of giving employees time off for lesser holidays such as Presidents Day, Monsanto gives them the week between Christmas and New Year's.Boeing started the practice 25 years ago. Boeing uses the down time to recalibrate and clean equipment used to make commercial and fighter aircraft and other defense-related products. However, in our increasingly global economy, shutting down may not be an option.
A recent survey by Accountemps found that 44% of executives feel employees are less productive the week before a major holiday. While this may be true, there are ways to counteract all of the distractions and stress and help people to be as productive now as at any time of the year.
As you assess how productive (or unproductive) your team has been this December, here are some suggestions to ESCAPE the problems:
Expect good results - Set high expectations and you will typically get great results... Give people a sense of where they are on their annual goals, and encourage them to finish the year strong.
Share spirit - Most people find their spirits lifted and thoughtfulness is at an annual high during the Holidays. Encourage people to show their spirit and sense of goodwill when communicating with others inside the organization.
Celebrate! You probably had a holiday party at a restaurant or hotel. Did you consider doing an on-site workday event to? A little time spent here can help build relationships, bring people closer together and focus them on their work.
Acknowledge the challenges and distractions - Let people know that you realize the holidays are a tough time of year to stay focused. When people know you understand their situation, you gain credibility when talking about expectations and year end goals.
Present positive anticipation for the New Year - Give people something to look forward to. Giving people this forward focus will help the focus now, but will really help people past the doldrums that can come after January 1.
Engage outside your organization. - take the lead by organizing a group to do something as a team in the community.
Full ESCAPE Story
According to consulting firm McKinsey & Co., India's information-technology industry could face a deficit of 500,000 workers as soon as 2010. Wages are rising 15% a year in the technology industry as call centers and software firms throw money at the increasingly shallow pool of youngsters who can hit the ground running.
India produces a huge number of engineers, but most are graduates of mediocre private engineering colleges. "I spend more time on human resources than actually doing work," complains A.M.Naik, chairman of the IT-solutions division at Larsen & Toubro Ltd. "The talent issue is going to decide who will win and who will lose" the race for profitability.
The emerging talent deficit is giving rivals such as Russia space to compete with India for high-end outsourced work such as software design and solutions, and allow aspirants such as the Philippines - where English is widely spoken - to better compete for call-center business.
India isn't alone in suffering a skills shortage. The US is sliding into one, due chiefly to early retirements by baby boomers and a lack of replacements. A skills drought in China is due partly to the fact that many of its graduates live long distances from cities where jobs are being created and are unwilling to relocate.
Genpact, formerly General Electric Co.'s outsourcing arm, has opened store-front recruiting outposts in five cities. Software firm Sierra Atlantic, of Hyderabad, tries to discourage defections by taking midlevel managers to screenings of team-oriented war movies such as "The Dirty Dozen".
India's long-term challenge is to improve its higher-education system, say executives and educators. Fewer than 10% of high-school graduates opt for further education in India, compared with 64% in the US.
(From The Wall Street Journal - 1/4/06)
More on India's war for talent
The Japanese government recognizes the contributions of industrial workers with a title: supaa ginosha, or "super technician." Each of the laureates - 3,800 so far with hundreds of more added every year - receive a certificate and flower-shaped silver lapel pin stamped with a character meaning "technique."
Super technician’s hold jobs in industries ranging from semiconductors to shipbuilding. One 56-year-old Toshiba worker makes semi-conductor molds just one-10,000th of an inch thick. An employee at (Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co.) works as an expert at the craft of metal-coating, able to discern surface variations most people can neither see nor feel.
With a large demographic of employees set to retire by 2015, Japanese companies need to get more productivity and skills out of a shrinking labor force – but robotics technology won’t offer any quick fix. “Robots can assemble products or do the heavy lifting, but the work has to be repetitive, simple, and precise,” says Yasushi Tomita, an executive of Yaskawa Electric Corp., a major robot maker. “It will be years before they will be able to do the work of most skilled technicians.”Read the full article from Business WeekFor more info on industrial robots For more info on Japan’s labor force
Virtual Soldier Research at the University of Iowa has used algorithms combined with motion-capture data to create Santos, a digital human being. Programmed with extensive modeling data, the result of research on the human body, Santos can be programmed to do anything a flesh-based human would do. As he moves in response to commands, he sends back information on his comfort level and joint angles. Caterpillar has hired Santos to help them make sure heavy equipment is ergonomic and easy to service. "They have an interest in serviceability and mental ability," said Karim Abdel-Malek, professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Virtual Soldier Research program. "We can ask Santos to change an oil filter on a dump truck or some similar task. As he goes about doing the job, we can query any part of his body functions, such as heart rate, temperature, muscle load and others."The US Army has also turned to digital human technology. Santos can model body armor and other protective gear and advise if they are too restrictive. The Army can place Santos in combat situation to determine how appropriate the gear is and whether to move forward with product development.
The military has used video games as a training tool since the 1980s and now the practice is catching on with companies, too, ranging from Cold Stone to Cisco to Canon. Corporate trainers are betting that games’ interactivity and fun will hook young, media-savvy employees and help them grasp and retain sales, technical, and management skills.
The market for corporate training games is small but growing fast. Industry leaders estimate that such games make up 15% of the “serious” or nonentertainment market, which also includes educational and medical training products. Five-year estimates show the market for serious games more than doubling, to $100 million, with trainers accounting for nearly a third of that.
Companies like video games because they are cost effective. Instead of paying for someone to fly to a central training campus you can just put them in front of a computer. Plus, employees often play the games at home on their own time.
Games are especially well-suited to training technicians. In one used by Canon, repairmen must drag and drop parts into the right spot on a copier. Workers who played the game showed a 5% to 8% improvement in their training scores compared with older training techniques such as manuals.Please see the current Business Week for the full story.
It is important to note differences in this generation's expectations, skills and attitudes about work. The Wall Street Journal lists the following charactistics:
-- Millennials grew up with play dates and other organized activities, and prefers well-defined policies and responsibilities.
-- Millennials like structure and will want schools and companies to give them clear rules to follow. They may not like dealing with the ambiguity they will inevitably face as managers.
-- Doted on by their parents since birth, millennials will likely expect more than the usual attention from admission officials, career counselors, professors, and alumni mentors.
-- Millennials also need to clearly see the value of their jobs. "They want their work to be relevant, have impact and offer them a diversity of experiences," says Richard Baird, global managing partner for human capital at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
"Some career-service centers may have to expand their staffs to give the millennials more individual counseling," predicts Allyson Moore, director of full-time MBA career services at NYU.
Recruiters say achievement-oriented millennials want detailed descriptions of their work duties upfront, as well as a timetable for promotions. "The recruiting experience with this generation is going to be more intensive," says Kermit King, a recruiting executive at Boston Consulting Group.
Schools are starting to become more technology savvy to attract this digital generation. Some b-school web sites feature blogs and online chats and allow applicants to check their acceptance status online 24/7. But MBA programs may have to go further, creating promotional podcasts for prospective students to download, for example, and making admission officials available for instant messaging.
Even a cartoon spokesbull might not alleviate post-boom skepticism for the business model. “These guys have a tough row to hoe,” says Forrester research analyst Bill Doyle, citing struggles at other paid investing sites such as TheStreet.com.
Nevertheless, the site has drawn a following of unusually loyal readers. They recently presented Minyanville with an electric guitar signed by Warren Buffett, George Soros, Bill Gross and other investing legends. It will be auctioned off for charity.
From Business Week
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
More and more companies are beginning to use personality tests in the hiring process. Personality tests go beyond traditional recruitment screens to examine a candidate's ability to fit with a team or corporate culture psychologically. If you are looking for a candidate with good administrative skills, who fits into a highly competitive team environment, personality screening may be the answer.
Companies are using psychometric assessments, personality profiling, and intelligence tests to hire staff, coach employees and create teams. When used well, the tests, which are relatively inexpensive - about $300 per candidate, including consultancy fees - can cut costs and improve performance.
First Harbor Group LLC, a Houston financial advisory firm uses DiSC, a behavioral model, as a stress management tool. DiSC helps people understand why they do what they do, by measuring the interaction of four behavioral factors: dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. Using this information, DiSC can be used to describe a person's general approach, including his or her motivations, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and some of the basic assumptions the person makes about others. It can also predict how a person will react to a specific set of circumstances.
Another popular test being used is the Kolbe Test. Unlike IQ tests, which tell you what you can do, and personality tests, which tell you what you want to do, Kolbe tells you what you will or won't do by measuring natural instincts.
Studies show that personality tests are far more reliable predictors of performance than interviews and resumes, but they can be controversial. Using tests not specifically designed for hiring can lead to lawsuits. The US Court of Appeals in Chicago recently ruled that a personality test used to fill management positions at Rent-A-Center Inc., qualifies as a medical exam. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits requiring medical examinations prior to making a job offer. In addition, the court ruled that the test, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, was inappropriate for this purpose as it is used to diagnose mental illness.
Tests also should not have a disparate impact on a protected class of people, such as certain racial or ethnic groups. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's general rule is that protected classes must pass an assessment at a rate that is at least four-fifths the pass rate of unprotected classes. For example, if eight of 10 Caucasians pass a test compared with just five out of ten African-Americans, then employers can be sued under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination in employment in any business on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Please visit The Wall Journal for the full story.
In the increasingly competitive war for fresh talent, companies including Merrill Lynch, L'Oréal and others are changing the rules. Recruiters are bypassing MBA programs and hiring the bulk of their new people straight out of college, spurred by a growing economy and the need to ramp up hiring quickly and cheaply.
At Merrill Lynch, undergraduate recruiting has increased 25% annually in three years, and the company is devising innovative ways to build up the pipeline. Three out of four summer interns will receive full-time offers. By identifying the best undergraduates early, managers can see if they're a good fit and make offers long before rivals do.
It's an increasingly common strategy. In 2004-05, according to BusinessWeek's survey of corporate recruiters, 28% of new entry-level hires were former interns, up from 26% the year before, and one out of four reported that at least half of all new hires came from the intern pool. What sets Merrill apart is its willingness to hire younger interns, including college freshmen.
When making offers, Merrill uses an approach tailored to Generation Y: it mails benefits enrollment packages to new hires and their parents in hopes the materials will prompt a discussion about the company's benefits and ultimately lead to a deal. New hires get up to two years of training. And most go to work as analysts from day one. "They're not making copies and delivering mail," says Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio, Director for U.S. campus recruiting. "They're rolling up their sleeves and making deals."
Please visit BusinessWeek for the full story.
In a case of, reverse offshoring Indian tech companies are hiring Americans and other foreigners to work in India. Currently, more than 10,000 Americans work in India for Indian information technology consulting firms, a number that is expected to grow.
Over the next year, leading Indian software provider Infosys Technologies Ltd. will spend $100 million to hire and train 25,000 workers culled from around the world, including from MIT and Harvard. This summer they will train 300 American college graduates to work at full-time jobs for them -- here in the US. These new employees will receive starting salaries of $55,000 after completing a six-month course at the firm's training facility in Mysore, India.
Conversely, factors that used to tilt jobs toward India and other low-cost countries are now shifting. Nobody expects a major reversal of the offshoring trend, but political pressure in the United States has forced many companies that do government contracting, for instance, to keep jobs here. Defense giant Northrop Grumman plans to set up a homeshore, hiring hundreds of software engineers, in rural Virginia--where costs are higher than in India but lower than in prime U.S. cities. Science Applications International Corp., another defense contractor, recently opened a tech center in Kentucky. Other states, like Nebraska and Indiana, are offering tax and other incentives that make them look like an affordable alternative to Bangalore.
For the full story, please visit The Boston Globe.
A close examination of the 2004 Census Report has verified what many Americans have feared: those who should be prospering in a knowledge economy – the college-educated – are instead losing wages. Real earnings for workers with only a bachelor’s degree have fallen for four straight years, for the first time since the 1970s. And the decline – about 5% since 2000 – shows no signs of abating.
This is a big deal economically. For two decades, from 1980 to 2000, pay for college-educated workers marched relentlessly upwards, leaving workers with a mere high school diploma in the dust. Economists wrangled for years about whether this growing “college wage premium” as it was called, was due to technology or globalization, or something else. But whatever the cause, few questioned that a college education is the best route to a good life.
Since 2000, however, the college wage premium has shrunk, because the pay of high school graduates has eroded less than that of college grads. Why? Outsourcing of skilled jobs to China and India is part of the explanation, as millions of their college-educated workers join the global economy. Wages may also be held down by oversupply in the US, since the number of college-trained workers here has grown by 32% over the past 10 years, compared with only an 8% rise for all other education levels. Technology may be getting simpler and easier, requiring less education to use. Or the drop in grads’ earning may be a temporary hangover from the tech bust.
Change in Real Earnings 2000-04
High School Diploma
Some college, no degree
Unless the trend of the past four years reverses, the clear benefit of attending college will become tarnished. That could make it a lot harder to persuade students and parents to ante up big bucks for tuition and room and board. Moreover, if the college premium continues to shrink, fewer young people will want to sacrifice to get a degree.
For the full story, including a report on this trend's political implications, please visit Business Week.
Innovation champions tend to be one-of-a-kind in their organization. It’s therefore critical for these folks to look outside their companies for advice and mentorship. Dev Patnaik, Founder of Jump Associates, an innovation strategy firm based in San Mateo, California, offers some key lessons for managing corporate change:
- Avoid the Innovation Title -- Calling a new team the “innovation department” is a good way to get everyone else in your company to hate you. After all, if you’re all about innovation, what does that make the rest of us? Some of the most successful innovation groups flew under the radar by using innocuous-sounding names like Ancillary Services or Platform Development. Pick a name for your group that doesn’t induce hostility among your co-workers; you’ll need them on your side.
- Use the Buddy System -- The most successful innovation leaders often have a partner in crime to help get the job done. Sometimes it’s a subordinate; other times she’ll actually share the same title. These duos compensate for each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For instance, one might be a relative newcomer to the organization with outside know-how, while the other is a trusted insider.
- Set the Metrics in Advance -- Innovation teams often find themselves producing new business ideas that can’t possibly survive the hurdles of corporate scrutiny. That can be because companies measure success by focusing on incremental ideas. Successful innovators have been able to establish different sets of funding, testing, and performance criteria for incremental, experimental, and potentially disruptive innovations. Set these metrics up as soon as possible to ensure fair judgment of your new ideas.
- Aim for Quick Hits First -- Too many leaders set off to create the platform that is going to save their company, only to discover that the organization’s patience runs out long before that new venture can come to fruition. That’s because game-changing initiatives can take a few years to develop, while most new leaders have only a short window of time to prove themselves. Spend your honeymoon period on quick hits, easy ideas that demonstrate to your CEO that you know how to get things done. Then switch to bigger initiatives before those base hits start to box you in.
- Get Data to Back Up Your Gut -- How do you know if you have a good idea? The overwhelming majority of successful innovation leaders sum it up two words: your gut. They often rely on years of experience to be able to recognize when they’re on to the big idea. They then use quantitative measures as a way to justify their intuition to the rest of the organization. That doesn’t mean that testing isn’t an important way to get feedback and improve an idea. It’s just rarely the final go or no go.
Originally published in Business Week.
A survey conducted by America Online and Salary.com says the average worker in the US is a slacker. Results from about 10,000 respondents to the survey found the typical employee spends more than two hours a day on the job not working, and that does not include lunch.
The two most popular ways of not working on the job include using the Internet and socializing with fellow employees. These activities, when channeled correctly, can generate new ideas for doing business.
"To some bosses, that's a startling figure," says Salary.com's Senior Vice President Bill Coleman. "Others, though, will view this extra wasted time as so-called 'creative waste' - wasted time that may well have a positive impact on the company's culture, work environment, and even business results."
Still, the two hours not spent in pursuit of assigned tasks is twice what employers expect from their workers, said Mr. Coleman.
According to Websense Inc.'s May survey on employee computing trends, listening to or watching streaming media is the most popular computer-based activity at work. Research firm Harris Interactive, which conducted the survey for Websense by interviewing 500 full-time employees at companies of varying size, found that 18% of employees use the Internet to listen to the radio or watch live newscasts. There are, however, legal and ethical ways that managers can effectively limit use of streaming media in the workplace.
Productivity is also being impacted by growth of blogs and the advent of blogaholics, with help and hope available for those affected.
In addition to Internet usage and socializing with fellow employees, the study lists conducting personal business, including running errands and making personal phone calls, as well as the ever-popular spacing out/daydreaming, as the reasons most give for doing something other than working on the job.
As for why workers are not working on the job, roughly one-third say they don't have enough work to do. Nearly one in four says they are intentionally less productive than they could be because they feel they are being underpaid.For the full story please visit Aol.Salary.com.
Monday, July 2, 2007
Wall St. Journal Career Journal reports that M.B.A. Recruiters are using games in a variety of ways to differentiate themselves with top MBA talent:
Getting a good job often requires a bit of gamesmanship. But for some M.B.A.students, landing a new position is all about playing games. As the battle for top talent intensifies, the games help companies stand out in the crowded campus-recruiting field and spot promising candidates. Through the business-simulation games, they can see students in action, demonstrating creativity, tactical thinking, teamwork and persuasion skills.
L'Oréal, Booz Allen Hamilton, Procter & Gamble, and other companies are encouraging more students to play strategy competitions that just might lead to a job offer.
Some are using videogames and digital business simulations to engage next generation prospects. Others rely on live events to attract candidates. The games, which are typically played at least partly online, change from year to year.
-- Procter & Gamble's Just-in-Case competition, for instance, has focused on its Olay and Swiffer brands and challenged players to identify the next company P&G should acquire.
"Students see these games as more fun and engaging than the usual company information sessions and receptions," says Steve Pollock, president of WetFeet Inc., a recruiting consulting firm in San Francisco.
The games enable companies to reach out to many more campuses than recruiters could ever visit. For example, L'Oréal's e-Strat Challenge marketing game attracted almost 40,000 students from 1,000 schools in 125 countries this year.
In e-Strat, student teams run a virtual cosmetics company and must make dozens of decisions as they manage new brands, Web sites, distribution channels, advertising budgets, and research and development. In the end, finalists travel to L'Oréal's Paris headquarters to defend their business plans before a panel of judges. In addition to a possible job offer, winners receive a trip to the destination of their choice.While companies insist that performing well in their games isn't a prerequisite for employment, students certainly could spoil their chances if they bomb out. Some students and school officials are concerned that the games require too much time and might interfere with class assignments. "But if you're really serious about working for a company," Mr. Pollock says, "there's a feeling that you'd better participate."-- In Merrill Lynch's business simulation videogame, college students participate in virtual client engagements that let them experience what it is like to work in investment banking at Merrill Lynch before meeting with the firm. Merrill recruiting execs want applicants to have an understanding of how the investment banking business works. --Booz Allen's CEO Challenge invites prospects to an event. The consulting firm stages the three-day competition about six times each year, picking just 30 M.B.A. students to play. During the CEO Challenge, student teams slip into the executive roles at an electronics company and react to news that a competitor is rolling out a hot new portable music device six months ahead of schedule.
"It's not a recruiting event per se, but people from the CEO Challenge usually do very well in job interviews," says Daniel Oriesek, head of Booz Allen's European campus recruiting. He estimates the firm hires about 10% of the players.
As more recruiters get into gaming, it will become less distinctive. But for now, companies believe their contests enhance their reputations.
These scores are a wake-up call to anyone concerned about America's economic future. The shift over the last generation has been startling. In 1975, the United States ranked among the top three industrialized nations for the percentage of 24-year-olds holding bachelor's degrees in sciences and engineering. Since then, 12 countries ranging from Ireland to South Korea have leapfrogged the United States on this score.Some experts blame an entertainment-driven culture in which science delivers no inspirational voice. To counter this, companies like defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. have established "pipeline" programs with U.S. universities, high schools and even junior high and grade schools to encourage more American students to study engineering. Northrop has also put more resources in apprenticeship and internship programs.Others explore Videogames as a catalyst to making science and engineering relevant (see http://www.utc.com/press/highlights/2004-03-18_cassidy.htm)
Raytheon invests in entertainment-laden school-based programs like MathMovesU.
Thus far, the efforts haven't been very effective. In 2003, there were 91,000 engineering students in programs in master's programs, but by 2005 that number had dropped to 83,000, according to the American Society for Engineering Education. U.S. needs 135,000 new computer professionals a year, but our universities are producing only 49,000 computer-science graduates annually. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the need for science and engineering graduates will grow 26% to 1.25 million by 2012, but the number of graduates in those fields has remained relatively flat for two decades.
The hiring trend is hardly limited to that area. Sales managers across the city are scrambling to fill their rosters in time for the holiday season.
With a record number of retail jobs in the city, the demand for good help is rising. Chains are expanding, new stores are opening and bank branches continue to lure entry-level workers away from the retail sector. To compete, retailers are spicing up their hiring packages with better wages juicier perks and the promise of career opportunities.
The city counted more than 286,600 retail jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in August, up from the December 2000 record of 284,000, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. The trend contrasts with the national scene, where retail is losing jobs.
To attract salespeople and supervisors some New York retailers are simply increasing wages. Fishs Eddy, a dishware chain offers “above-average” pay to land experienced employees, reports owner Julie Gaines. Her floor managers earn as much as $18 an hour.
The median hourly wage for retail workers in the city hit $10.59 in June, up 2.7% from June 2005. Even so, the figure falls short of the $14.91 median hourly pay for all workers.
The fiscal realities of these jobs make them best suited to young people who need extra cash while they pursue a college degree or acting career. To entice this fickle workforce, employers are sweetening the position with steep employee discounts, flexible schedules and even health benefits for part-timers – a rare offer until now.
Original story published in Crain's New York Business
Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) emit the same light as classic incandescent bulbs but use 80% less electricity. If everyone bought just one and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. The typical U.S. house has between 50 and 100 "sockets" (astonish yourself: go count the bulbs in your house). So what if we all bought and installed two bulbs? Five? Fifteen?
As a way to cut energy use, it could not be simpler. While it sounds like a promising idea, it turns out that the long-lasting, swirl-shaped light bulbs known as compact fluorescent lamps are to the nation's energy problem what vegetables are to its obesity epidemic: a near perfect answer, if only Americans could be persuaded to swallow them.
Now, Wal-Mart stores, the giant discount retailer, are determined to push them into at least 100 million homes. Can America’s biggest company, legendary for its salesmanship and influence with suppliers, also be eco-accountable encouraging 200 million shoppers to save energy? What effect will it have on employee relations?
Wal-Mart has been embattled over its workplace policies for sometime, and has had its share of criticism from environmental groups for it business practices. Now the retailer is funding programs like 'Acres for America' which spokeswoman Tara Stewart characterizes as the company's gift to future generations, although skeptics say that the campaign is nothing more than a public-relations ploy . "Wal-Mart thinks it can paint over its record with a nice shade of green, but that won't hide its true colors," says sierra club anti-sprawl-campaign manager Eric Olson.
These moves and its foray into organic foods are part of its strategy to improve Wal-Mart's appeal to the more affluent consumers the chain must win over to keep growing in the united states, all the while promoting and improved employer brand image to employees.
To inspire employees to embrace our corporate mission, we need to have a mission they can believe in and contribute to. Imagine the negative impact on productivity that a negative employer brand image has. Tell people where you work – or be ashamed to – and then try to get inspired to go there every day, much less make a contribution. Corporations are rediscovering the value of positive and visible corporate citizenship. Improving the world we live in while.
A new videogame, created in part for the Government Accountability Office and due out next year, uses online "cards" to help players balance the U.S. budget - like Pokemon for bureaucrats. The hope is that players will learn more about big government and vice versa.
"We're really interested in what happens when you throw a lot of brain-power at complex issues like this," says David Rejeski, director of the Serious Games Initiative.
The largest online games are home to millions of joystick-toting problem solvers. What if you asked them to take on problems bigger than, say, killing orks? At a 2004 conference, Sony's Raphael Koster challenged programmers to leverage players' knowledge to find intelligent life in space. Stanford's Byron Reeves, using video clips of medical samples, had players of Star Wars Galaxies diagnose cancer to advance their standings as "doctors." After 20 hours of training, players got it right 60% as often as a pathologist; 35 of the best players, on average, actually beat the pro.
The Wisdom of Crowds author James Surowiecki perks up at the notion of getting gamers to solve complex problems. "Games are an entertaining way to get people to do labor for you," he says. And gamers, coming from diverse backgrounds, can spark unconventional solutions. "There are certain fundamental assumptions that experts agree upon," Surowiecki says. "Amateurs or outsiders don't have those assumptions."
Of course, tapping this talent requires motivating them to participate. "You've got to have something that connects to people's lives in an imaginative way," says Henry Jenkins, director of MIT's Comparative Media Studies program. While best-selling games such as SimCity and Railroad Tycoon simulate real-world environments, a game about drilling for oil or predicting the weather would have to be far more sophisticated, perhaps integrating real-world data in real time. "It's an exciting idea," says Jenkins. "Technically, it's doable, but no one has done it yet."
From Fast Company
Most participants are likely to be in their early-to-mid 50s, when many retire from IBM and are interested in launching a second career. They'll take a pay cut to teach, although an IBM pension and other retirement savings will help ease the financial burden for some participants.
100 IBM employees, mostly from New York and North Carolina, will take part in the program.
If it works well, "our intention is to expand," says Stanley Litow, Vice-President for IBM Corporate Community Relations. That could mean hundreds of teachers from IBM's 160,000 U.S. workers.
IBM can't plug the shortage of 250,000 math and science teachers by itself but education officials, such as Joel Klein, Chancellor of New York City Public Schools, are ready to welcome these teachers with “open arms”.
Behind all the dilly-dallying is lack of confidence about finishing the job, boredom with the task, and a human tendency to go for immediate reward over long-term gain. There is a point where the unconcious mind can actually prevent a person from completing work in an attempt to protect the person from the fear and discomfort associated with completing the task. Steel even came up with an equation:
Utility = E x V/A x D
Utility stands for attraction to the task, which depends on a combination of one’s expectation of finishing it (E), the value in completing it (V), the task’s immediacy (A), and one’s distractability (D).
“Anything that offers a distant reward for immediate effort, especially if we find the effort boring, we will put off,” Steel says
82% cited failing to provide appropriate feedback, praise or redirection as a personal shortcoming
81% percent weren’t satisfied with their ability to listen or involve others
76% percent said they fail to use a leadership style that is appropriate to the person, task and situation, which then leads to over- or under-supervision
76% percent cited failure to set clear goals and objectives as a problem
And, well over half of the participating leaders acknowledged what many employees already know - that leaders too often fail to train and develop their people.
How did he know? He had raced an exact model of the track on a video game. But for Smith, it was not merely a game. The rookie Nextel Cup driver is one of several young competitors who are turning to simulated racing for practice and preparation for real races.
"Everybody's doing everything we can to be better," Smith said at his office before the season. "It's so competitive now that those extra laps might be the difference in qualifying 35th or qualifying 10th."
Denny Hamlin, the 2006 Nextel Cup rookie of the year, credited Sim racing at least partly for his first victory, at Pocono Raceway last June.
"Obviously, it helped him and he put a lot of weight on it," said Mike Ford, Hamlin's crew chief. "I like videogames as well. I think the biggest thing in the videogames, you learn patience. Because the videogames - you can get in trouble a lot quicker than you can on the racetrack." Of course, crashing in a sim is not nearly as costly as in a real race.
Many drivers own sophisticated Sim racing units that cost thousands of dollars and are designed to mimic the feel of real racecars. The setup in Smith's office is surrounded by a metal frame. It contains a racecar seat that faces a 42-inch flat-screen computer monitor. The steering wheel pops in and out, as it does in a real racecar. The unit also has a stick shift and gas, clutch and brake pedals that can be adjusted to match the tension of those in Smith's racecar.
Other Sim racing units feature three-panel displays that offer a three-dimensional 90-degree view.
No matter how sophisticated the unit, all agree that there is only one computer program that is accurate and realistic enough to use for real race practice. The Nascar Racing 2003 computer game by Papyrus has every Cup racetrack from that season and allows players to make detailed adjustments in tire pressure, camber, shocks, and springs. The program simulates such realistic concerns as tire wear and the loose and tight handling of a racecar.
For the full story, please see The New York Times.
What implications might this type of organizational activity have for business?Since its launch on February 1, the novel at amillionpenguins.com has grown from a single, Penguin-supplied sentence ("There was no possibility of taking a walk that day," the opening line from Jane Eyre) to 36,000 words and 11 different versions with 59 characters, including a dancer who tangos people to death. The content changed just about every minute as the wiki's 1,300 registered users world-wide rewrote the story, with some 8,500 individual edits.According to Business Week: About 75,000 people have visited the wiki, which Penguin locked for two hours each day to give volunteer monitors time to absorb changes and to delete pornography and obscenities.
Jeremy Ettinghausen, head of digital publishing for Penguin UK, praises the "astonishingly creative" work he has seen.
Elsewhere in the publishing world, The New York Times reports that a new experiment seeks to include newspaper readers in the journalism process. Assignment Zero (zero.newassignment.net), a collaboration between Wired magazine and NewAssignment.Net, the experimental site established by NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, asks the public for their combined reporting efforts.Assignment Zero will use custom software to create a virtual newsroom that allows collaboration on a discrete, but open-ended, topic right from the start. The topic will be crowdsourcing - the term used to describe the open-source phenomenon itself.
The "people formerly known as the audience," Professor Rosen says, will produce work to be edited by experienced journalists.This rise in the use of crowdsourcing leaves some in the corporate world wondering what applications the open source reference model could have for employee communications. With blogging already popular as a vehicle for disseminating executive briefings and anonymously reporting employee gripes, it seems natural that the crowdsourcing technology would be put to use in the workplace. Consider an open-source employee manual where workers could post step-by-step processes with editable tips for the effective completion of tasks, or an open-source living history of the company, complete with up-to-date client and project information. By integrating the wiki model into the employee communications mix, companies could maximize on the collaborative nature of their most valuable asset - human resources.
For decades, professional sports coaches have dedicated a great deal of time to watching films, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of their players as well as their competitors’. Teams used to staff full crews of video coordinators and editors who would cut together reels specifically designed to focus on very granular aspects of individuals’ performances in the certain situations.
Garrick Barr, who was video coordinator for the Phoenix Suns for 11 years, founded a company in 1998 that logged every NBA game, closely tracking every offensive play and then generating an “offensive tendency report” for every player. Several years later, Mr. Barr and Nils B. Lahr, a former Microsoft engineer, started Synergy Sports Technology in Phoenix, to bring together statistics matched with associated video clips. Synergy can capture how successful a particular player is at driving right or left and then display it by season or multiple seasons, differentiating between home and away games and further slice those statistics and videos into sub-sub-sub-categories. Click on any stat and coaches can get video clips from the last three seasons of every time a player executed a particular move.
Four teams signed up for Synergy’s beta service in the 2004-05 season... two of them wound up facing each other in the finals that season. Synergy’s client list has now expanded to 14 teams. The NBA has extended use of similar video archive technology to benefit press relations, auditing officials, and scouting, where Synergy’s archives of college games has opened the door to a whole new level of analyzing prospects.
If coverage can expand from the professional to the college level, maybe high school and junior high will eventually follow. Similar tools will be adopted by other sports too, and maybe even other professions.
Professional basketball provides a working example of the unblinking eye that someday may hover above all workplaces. Until now, we have enjoyed protection from continuous scrutiny simply because subsequent watching of raw, unedited video was too time-consuming to be worth the trouble to supervisors. The breakthrough in professional sports video strips away the inessential and dispenses with the time-consuming editing of linear narrative. By fusing statistics with visuals, a well-indexed digital archive provides answers to an infinite universe of questions quickly, painlessly, and compactly.
In the past, without digital technology, no large company could make use of a multimedia archive documenting employee performance, unless, that is, the company could afford to hire a full-time video coordinator for every employee. In the future, however, the employer will be able, with just a click, to watch specified videos starring… just you.
Please visit The New York Times for the full story.
Usually promoting an employee is cause for celebration and pride. But for some, it’s a source of deep anxiety. What can you do if a promotion leaves your employee plagued with anxiety?
There are several ways to understand why a promotion may paradoxically be undermining your employees’ confidence. For one thing, they may feel, correctly, that no one has prepared them for the new role. That’s fairly common. Someone in the organization has judged them as qualified and ready – and pretty much left it at that. To get the support they need, the staffers are going to have to set pride aside and ask for it directly. In a face-to-face conversation with the person who made the promotion decision (not in e-mail, which can get passed around), they should express that they are excited about the new opportunity and that in the interest of living up to expectations, they’ll be asking for help.
It’s also helpful for to understand the complex emotions that can be stirred up by success. The more these anxieties are acknowledged and normalized, the less they will interfere with the transition to a new position. For instance, it’s important to admit that along with the gain, promotions involve losses. Employees lose the comfort of a familiar role and the relationships that went with that. They may also harbor fears of being exposed as an imposter. It’s not unusual for the newly promoted to worry that their inadequacies were just hidden before and that they will now be suddenly revealed. Another common reaction: guilt. A promotion means becoming boss to former peers, or defeating other contenders, after all.
These strange, uncomfortable feelings will pass with time. That’s another thing to remember. Meanwhile, since some of the old buddies might now be your direct reports – or because they might not want to reveal vulnerability to anyone at the office – they should be advised to share their feelings safely, with an external confidant: a professional or a trusted former colleague. One of the worst mistakes executives make on being promoted is to compensate for the stress by denying their feelings and believing they know everything they need to know. Such denial is a good way to undo their one step forward with a step backward.
For more tips, Click here for a site that provides six helpful steps to easing the promotion transition.
For the full story, please visit Business Week
For companies doing a lot of college hiring or who are looking for entry-level people, the video resume may be a good way to differentiate candidates and a way to get more qualified people to apply.
Be clear on your corporate website about your position on video resumes. If you think video resumes may be a way to improve your understanding of candidates' abilities, let them know. Give them some guidelines of length and what kind of content would be useful. Perhaps show a generic example. As this is new to lots of candidates, they will appreciate tips on what is helpful to you.
Provide a list of two or three questions that you ask candidates to respond to via a video. This way you get them to show their verbal skills and creativity without the need to bring them in for an interview. By providing a consistent list of questions, you ensure that you will be comparing apples to apples as you evaluate applicants.
There are caveats to this approach, however. Cheryl Behymer, a partner at national labor and employment law firm Fisher & Phillips, says she advises her clients to proceed with caution to be sure they're not making themselves more vulnerable to charges of discrimination. "You're seeing a physical representation of the candidate, what their race is, their national origin, their age," she says. "That potential applicant might say: The reason you didn't [interview] me is because you can tell I'm a minority.'"
The idea of first looking just at a candidate's qualifications, Behymer says, is to help prevent the filing of a failure-to-hire claim, which can arise if an employer is suspected of discriminating against an applicant who belongs to a "protected class"-a minority individual or an older person, for instance. It helps at this early stage of the hiring process, she says, to keep information about race and age, for example, separate from a candidate's skills and qualifications.
One process Behymer recommends: Have initial résumé screeners omit the video when they send along a candidate's other materials to the manager actually doing the interviewing or hiring.
Video resumes can also be detrimental for the applicants themselves. Aleksey Vayner’s video application to UBS quickly became a viral sensation passed around the internet, solidifying Vayner’s position as the laughing stock of the investment banking community.