Have you ever wanted a quick and easy way to post to twitter within your shell scripts, or viva a cronjob? Well for those of you that follow my tweets you’ve experienced this script in action. I give to you tweetr… Continue reading
the use of doodles and hand drawn illustrations give an informal, friendly and accessible value to the website as well as giving a fantastic visual addition to the design. Check out this roundup of 30 stylish examples of doodles in web design for your inspiration, and don’t forget SpoonGraphics’ recent hand drawn doodle icons for use in your own projects.
There’s a lot of town during any downturn about cutting costs in businesses or organizations. Often, the talk is about “cutting heads” — a cruel way of talking about firing people. Or, organizations clamp down on “non-essential” spending, such as travel (a favorite category and one whose “non-essential” status is dubious, especially when focused on travel for training that’s already been paid for).
Lean, to me and many others, isn’t primarily a “cost-cutting” strategy. It certainly isn’t a layoff strategy — Lean requires employee involvement and using Lean to drive layoffs will kill that employee participation. Ergo, you shouldn’t use Lean to drive direct firings. Lean can be used as a growth strategy, through improving products, service, or quality. But I digress.
Back to cost cutting. I’m not saying cost cutting is bad. Not at all. We shouldn’t spend money unnecessarily when it’s company money, regardless of whether we are in a downturn or not. The WSJ had an article last week (linked at the top of this post and here) about companies that are tightening their belts in tough times.
Some examples of cost cutting:
- Asking employees to mow the lawn to avoid using a service
- Switching to black ink instead of color on the company letterhead
- Insisting on double-sided printing and copies
- Clamping down on unnecessary color printing/copies
- Cutting back on food or snacks for office staff
- Sending fewer products and salespeople to large industry conventions
- Reading online news instead of paying for print magazine subscriptions
- Cutting incentive gifts ($10 gift cards) for staff
Some of these cost cutting moves could be debated — what if saving a few bucks on snacks destroys staff morale? Maybe it shouldn’t, but it could. The one company profiled in the article actually backed off on the snack-killing plan after employees complained. Asking employees to mow the lawn might constitute a “waste of talent.” What if staff could generate more sales or cost savings in the real business, given that time? Maybe it’s actually “cheaper” to hire a lawn service?
Some of the cost cutting moves might hurt sales — such as scrimping on sales travel. But maybe there are methods like online meetings that could be used instead and might actually be effective when companies are flush with cash.
Cutting incentives… now that’s a pet issue for me. As a Deming disciple, I question the impact of individual incentives and “employee of the month” competition prizes. Maybe the company should kill those incentives (which often cause dysfunctions) regardless of economic conditions.
Whatever the verdict on any of these costs, the question I’d ask is this:
If it’s “waste” and “unnecessary” now, why not always??
I think some of the answer to that question is how companies “manage” earnings. Wall Street and investors often want consistent profits or consistent growth in earnings. If a business normally has some cycles and “common cause” variation in its sales or profits, profits might naturally fluctuate around some mean (or growth rate). In periods when profits might be “too high” there might be an incentive to actually waste money. This prevents profits from being too high, this preventing disappointment when profits aren’t as high in the next time period.
There’s a lot of “tampering” with costs in the name of keeping profits stable. Deming taught us that tampering with a stable system actually INCREASES variation. I wonder if the same is true with profits?
Companies like Toyota seem to have a pretty consistent aversion to waste. Toyota is often described as a very “frugal” company. Even with HUGE profits, they’re a “cheap” culture, people say. This is often attributed to the rural roots of the Toyoda family (and the company) and the severe lack of resources after World War II. Toyota couldn’t afford to waste money, so it’s embedded in the culture, right?
The WSJ also had an article asking, about individuals, if frugality or miserly behavior is innate or learned — “nature” or “nurture”?
Are we born cheap or made that way? It’s a tough call.
The researchers are mixed:
Scott Rick, a postdoctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who has done research on what makes people cheap, says that childhood plays a big role. If you have two thrifty parents, you’re likely to be thrifty as well.
Likewise, people who lived through the Great Depression were often thrifty their entire lives. Since the 1930s, each successive generation has gotten to be more free-spending.
The current financial crisis could change that. “Right now, there are probably a lot of children who are going to be tightwads,” says Mr. Rick.
But our childhood isn’t the only factor. George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, says people have innate tendencies. “It’s almost like people are born tightwads or cheapskates,” says Dr. Loewenstein, who published a paper on the subject with Mr. Rick and another author
Are some companies innately frugal? If so, why? The founders? The current CEO?
Is your company “cutting costs” in ways that are really hurting your business? Are they “saving money, no matter what it costs us?” Does Lean enter into any of that discussion in your organization?
Tell us what you think of this, give your shout out in the comments below.
GoDaddy “screwed over” another major site today ping.fm is down. This kind of stuff has been documented before, even Wired got wind of this last year when they did this with insecure.org owner Fyodor with a one minute notice and many other
No worries though, the service is still around. A quote from the guys at Ping.fm states, “If you’re seeing “GoDaddy” pages, we’re in the midst of some transferring and they’ve seemingly “screwed us.” Should fix momentarily.” and in response to thier earlier quote; “Apparently we are waiting on a “paperwork correction” that has to be “escalated” in order to be resolved. Hang in there, pingers!”
In my honest option, this is why I’ve advocate a boycott on GoDaddy for years now by not supporting thier adds on my blogs, and posts and using alternitive regerstries, and join the folks at nodaddy.com in their fight against poor customer service and corporate anti-trust. While in the mean time, it looks like we’re back to using our desktop clients and visiting the various web 2.0 service sites themselves.
There has been tons of buzz on the web about micro blogging, in particular about twitter. If you haven’t heard about twitter by now then where have you been for at lease the past 6 months? At macworld the service went down do to all the flood of tweets. Then along came SXSW and in anticipation they quickly upgraded and was well prepared for the influx of tweets on the service. Then there was Monday April 7th, 2008(Twittergate), the live stream of the internet marketing gurus Ed Dale and Dan Raine‘s Thirty Day Challenge vodcast. Their goal was to get as many people to sign up for twitter as possible. A part of me thinks that they’re only half right on this as there are several other services for micro blogging with a social network out there, just not with the same community of geeks and application writers whom seemingly can’t get enough of being bombarded with information overload. But I digress, in the course of minutes the web server hosting twitter died, so much for lighttpd ehh??, and for a good hour and a half at the very lease, didn’t bother to count the mintues being too busy with ustream.tv at that moment, twitter was dead. Though in the misted of the slience and how rare it is with the web these days. Your digital sensi and master cyberlord found the one thing that just about every blogger from CenterNetworks’ YouTube Adds Full Video Metrics; Where Are Twitter’s Metrics? to big name blogger Robert Scoble himself complaining about not being there.
Its called TweetStats, and its a great way to keep track of your stats and usage metrics or anyone on twitter for that matter of fact. I’ve tested out the service and its great. Its got a nice clean interface, quick and ease usage. Plus, you don’t have to sign up for anything, there’s not even an advert or click tracking on any page. You just simply enter in the twitter user name and with in a few moments, depending now much the service has to gather, you’ll have a nice graph of all the tweets that have been done. Though, I will say this since it hasn’t even broken the Alexa top 100,000 barrier and its clear tnat Damon aka dacort has put a lot of effort into the site. Before, bookmarking or graphing any tweets, please do click on the donate button. Then rush off to enjoy all the new graphs and metrics that where previously hidden away on someone’s web server access log.
While I found that little gem, I also found another web service that puts my article on using google hacks to find twitters to shame. its Tweet Scan. This gem is a real-time Twitter search engine. Its free to use, there is a free member subscription for keeping track of your favorite searches in much the same way as Google Alerts or any top meta-search engine does. Plus, a wiki area for users and a blog from the behind it. The also do offer up a clickthru advertisment to its members to help generate traffic from the site’s sidebar. Which is a single link, at 140 charactures for $10 USD a week. I don’t know about you, but that does sound like a very tempting way of generating traffic to any given site.