John Akerson's Thoughts

Business, technology and life


I was reading Kyle Lacy’s guest post in Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog this morning.  In it, Kyle talks about reading Seth Godin’s blog post: “Sing It”.  That feels like a horribly derivative place to begin.  But neither Kyle nor Seth focuses on the right kind of Passion. 

Passion is essential and it is elemental. Passion comes through crystal clear in writing and in life. Passion pushes words out like the Old Faithful geyser – prolifically, frequently and most of the time it pushes them in the sameOld Faithful direction, with great forceful power. Passion is fire below the geyser. Without passion, writing becomes a slow dripping faucet, simply irritating listeners, creating nothing but distraction. That provides zero appeal for the writer, and translates to zero appeal for readers. Without passion, ANYTHING you do will work in sort of the same way. Think about that. Without passion, you are just going through motions that you don’t even care about.

Passion is essential, necessary and sufficient.  It cannot be simulated or faked and like Tom Cruise said about Porsche in “Risky Business”, there is no substitute.  Kyle writes in his blog post, “Devote time and energy to the process and you will experience return.”  That is wrong because it misses the point.   I think it is important to:

Find a process that inspires you so that time and energy flow out with passion.  Find a subject that stokes the creative fires under your personal geyser until the pressure forces your ideas out – repeatedly, powerfully and prolifically.


February 18, 2010 Posted by | Business, Competitive Advantage, Continuous Improvement, Life | Leave a comment

Horrible Flower Customer Service. Really.

I ordered 2 dozen flowers and a vase on February 4th. I ordered it from for February 11th delivery.   I ordered it for delivery on the 11th because I wanted to make REALLY sure that it would be delivered by the 12th. I wanted to make REALLY sure that it was delivered in time for me to give to my wife on the 14th. Valentine’s day is not really a big holiday, but I didn’t want to forget it.  I knew that there was bad weather, so I assumed that by ordering it 10 days before Valentine’s day and specifyingGrocery-store  delivery 3 days before Valentine’s day – I would get it in time to deliver, yes, on Valentine’s day.

So – WHY did I order from  There are two reasons. The first is that I usually order from Teleflora, but last time I ordered through Teleflora for a delivery in Caribou, Maine, they delivered it to Danvers Massachusetts.  Really?  Yes. Seriously. They missed it by an entire state. Teleflora doesn’t really do flowers every time. In the case of the flowers that I ordered for my Mother’s Birthday, Telaflora sent the order to a local florist in Danvers, Mass. Those flowers weren’t delivered on time. I put time and effort into getting flowers, and after getting some serious run-around from Teleflora, I decided to never order from them again. So I decided to either use Proflowers, or 1-800-flowers.   Here’s where the second reason comes in.  I saw an episode of “Millionaire Matchmaker” on TV and Patti Stanger was pushing 1-800-flowers.   That was the tipping point for me. If these flowers were good enough for MILLIONAIRES, they were absolutely good enough for my wife.

Really?  Yes.  I am not a  millionaire, but I want my wife to get some nice flowers for Valentine’s day. She deserves it. I have never really understood jewelry or flowers, but I understand that they are special to her, and that is important to me. 

On the 10th, I got an email from 1800 Flowers. Things were starting to go downhill in my flower experience.  The email said, “due to the extreme weather conditions, your order(s) may be delivered later than your requested date. “  That wasn’t any newsflash. I knew that weather was bad. That is why I ordered on the 4th.   The 4th !!!  Really.  They also said that I could “get the most updated information by tracking your package on the carriers’ web site using the tracking number that we provided to you in the Shipping Confirmation email.”  That was a problem because I did not get any shipping confirmation email.   I was able to take my ORDER number, from my original order, and get a tracking number from the 800-flowers website. What it told me, on the 10th was that UPS had been given information, but had not picked up the package yet. This was on the 10th, but I had ordered it on the 4th. Valentine’s day is, like, a BIG day for flowers, right?  

To clarify – On February 10th, my order for the 11th had not yet been picked up, and yet the flower company was blaming a late delivery on the shipping company.

Really.  (*sigh*)

I thought – there was really NO excuse for this, so I called to cancel the order. They wouldn’t cancel it. I asked for a supervisor. They wouldn’t cancel it. It had not been shipped yet, but they could not cancel it because it had been ordered. Not shipped… ORDERED. Really!

Finally, I started emailing, chatting, and calling trying to get the order cancelled.  I got the order cancelled. I thought my ordeal with the flower company was done. They promised a refund.  I realized that there was a flower delivery service that could provide worse service than Teleflora – and I had picked it.

On the 11th, I drove to the local Lowes Foods Grocery Store and bought 2 dozen of their roses, recycled a vase from a previous rose gift/purchase, and put together an acceptable floral gift for my wife.  Not great, but much better than nothing.  She was thrilled.  Really. Those are the roses above.  They were very nice.

On the 12th I got an email saying that Your Order number W00652302*****, detailed below, has been picked up by UPS and is on its way”   Really? Yes.  They cancelled the order, but they shipped the order.

So – I’m writing this because of two things.   At 12:08pm today, I got an email from 1800 “thanking me for shopping with them.” Did they miss the part where I cancelled the order? Really?  At about 3pm, I got a knock on my door, and there were roses.  Not the beautiful roses I expected – but a set of wannabe-roses that were NOT NEARLY as nice as the grocery store roses.   Here’s a photo.1-800-flowers Inferior Roses

What’s the frosting on the cake?  After I got that pathetic excuse for flowers, I went back to the email from 1-800-flowers.   Sure enough, there it was “We’d love to hear about your experience. Click here and tell us what you liked about it or what we can improve–we welcome and appreciate feedback from all our customers.”

So – I thought, bad delivery, bad customer service, bad communication, bad flowers, bad timing – I will let them know what I thought. I clicked on the “click here” and guess what – the link goes to a survey that is “closed!” ARGH. I would like to say, there might be another way that they could have done worse, but I just can NOT imagine what it might be. In the same way that “Websites that Suck” taught good web design by showing the worst, I’ve learned so MUCH about good customer service… but experiencing the opposite. Really.


 As a post script: I got an email about these, here’s the photo of both of them. The Grocery store roses, from Lowes foods, were about 36.00 for 2 dozen. The 1-800 flowers roses were about $64.

 Both Sets of Roses

February 15, 2010 Posted by | Business, Life, Other Stuff | Leave a comment

The Internet Wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Internet Wins the Nobel Peace Prize!

Well, this is a bit preemptive, but it is still serious.

 The Internet has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Wired Magazine nominated the Internet, and it has been endorsed, and is being seriously considered. The Nobel Peace Prize is extremely prestigious and I’m sure that the Internet is delighted to win. But what about the monetary award that goes with the Nobel Prize?Nobel Prize

During WWI and WWII, there were several years when the prize money was added back to the prize fund. I am curious though – When the Internet wins, who gets the prize?  4 people come to mind: Vinton Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Bob Kahn and Al Gore.  Any of them might be deserving, and all of them might have good uses for the money.

I propose that when the Internet wins, the Nobel Foundation should donate the Nobel Prize money to the International Red Cross, to help Haiti.  I ask that each of these deserving recipients, and also Wired Magazine individually and collectively support that, as well.

This is fitting for a number of reasons. The Internet, as a Prize Winner is strong and valuable in times of political unrest; but it is most powerful in situations of strife and tragedy. The International Red Cross has won the Nobel Peace Prize 3 times – in 1917, 1944, and 1963, and the human suffering and human toll in Haiti is current, tragic, and perhaps the best place for those funds to go, today. Donating that prize to the International Red Cross for Haiti Relief efforts would do the most good, now.

What do you think?

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

The Safe in My Basement

 There’s an old Meilink Safe in my basement. It is a fire-resistant, high-security safe. It hasn’t been opened since sometime before 1992. I have no idea what is in it. It could have anything in it…  I’vemy safe tilted it from side to side, and heard something inside it that could be coins. I suspect there may be something of value in it, but I really don’t know.  My curiousity is lit.

There are two ways to get in a safe, destructive and non-destructive. The destructive method would probably involve contacting a local locksmith or safe technician to come by and drill a hole in it, insert a scope, and manually align the combination, and pop the safe open.  If I were to choose to do that, the safe might be repairable, but would no longer be very fire resistant. It would lose some of its value as a safe. I like the safe and I like the idea of having a safe in the basement. I would like to use the safe, as a safe.  I think it would be a shame to open it using destructive methods.  I’m not going to do it this way.

SO – the non-destructive way to open a safe like this involves manipulating the safe’s combination until it opens. I have three options: I could pay a local locksmith or safe technician to do it. I could contact Meilink provide proof of ownership, the serial number, and for a fee they would give me the original factory combination which may still work.  The third way is – I could do it myself.  I’ve decided to do it myself. I really like the idea of a challenge and I want to learn something new.  It isn’t going to be easy, but in addition to having the safe, and having access, I will get to learn something.

I’ve watched the Mythbusters attempt to pick the combination lock on a Meilink safe.  Within their artificial time limit, they could not open it non-destructively. They resorted to drilling the safe.  Meilink liked that video so much, they linked to it from their website.   In that video, they were working on a time-schedule. I have more time to crack my safe.  I’ve read MANY books and papers on cracking safes – manipulating safes. I’ve read about lock construction – about how turning the dial turns the wheels, how the mechanisms are made, etc. My career, broadly speaking, is computers, and Matt Blaze’s “Safecracking for the computer scientist” could have been written for ME, personally.  Leonard Gallion’s “How Mechanical Safes Work” was useful too.    I’ve probably watched 50 videos on YouTube.  (As an unrelated side note, for someone visual like me, YouTube is a FANTASTIC way to learn almost anything.) And I registered on a lockpicking website. 

So  – what have I learned?  Beyond the secrecy of the locksmith profession – a sort of extra layer of security through obscurity, I have learned that persisting with the “learn how to crack a safe” approach, is going to be EXTREMELY challenging. Why is that?

Ultimately, safes are designed to be … safe.   They are designed to keep people out. With a 100-number dial, there could be either 3 or 4 numbers.  Theoretically – if there are 3 numbers, that combinationmeans there are 1 million possible combinations.  4 numbers means there are something on the order of 100 million combinations.  I say theoretically, because in reality, there will be less, because some numbers cannot be used, and there may be some play, slush, or inexactness requirements of the combination numbers.  (In locksmith terms,  a dialing tolerance.)  Dialing tolerance is my GOOD FRIEND because a larger tolerance means there are fewer possible combinations.  Assuming a “1”  number of dialing tolerence, and a combination of 25-50-25-50, it is entirely possible that 24-49-24-49, 25-50-25-50, 26-51-26-51, or any combination of (24-26)(49-51)(24-26)(49-51) would open the safe.  It may not seem like much, but that sort of slush could reduce 1 million combinations to somewhere between 64,000 and 300,763. Some of the numbers on the wheel cannot be used – there are places that can ONLY be used for setting a new combination, and other places that can ONLY be used for opening the lock. If those places account for 20% of the wheel’s number, that lowers the total combination possibilities to something between 51,200 – 242,406. That’s better than 1 million, but still would be exhaustive to manually dial. It gets better than that because some lock makers don’t want safe owners to set “bad” combinations. They don’t want you to set your combination, for instance, to 2-4-6-8, or 50-49-48-47… To quote from Matt Blaze’s paper,

“A typical example is Sargent and Greenleaf[Cos01], which recommends for its three-number locks the combination as a whole not consist of a monotonically increasing or decreasing series, that adjacent numbers differ by at least ten graduations,and that 25% of the dial be avoided for the final number (although the mechanism itself on S&G locks requires avoiding only 6% of the dial). Acceptable combinations under these recommendations comprise less than 50% of the usable combination keyspace.”

This leaves only 22,330 combinations. That’s quite an improvement from 1 million, but I am not going to map out 22 thousand combinations and try them all. It is more valuable, I think, to understand the premise, than to do a brute-force type of attack.

I’ve learned that almost all Meilink safes of this vintage were made with either a Yale or a Sargent & Greenleaf lock. It would be great to know what TYPE of lock mechanism it has, – because knowing the model or type of lock would help me narrow whether it was a 3 or 4 number combination. Unfortunately, the combination lock mechanism doesn’t seem to be a Yale, and does not seem to be S&G either.

I’ve manipulated the lock  many dozens of times, spinning it slowly, rapidly, listening, feeling, and noting clicks, sticks, clanks, and all sorts of actual and false points at which it seems there may be something happening. There are about 20 of those.  I’ve recorded those numbers in spreadsheets, and developed a mathematical way to extrapolate all possible combinations from the group of numbers that seems to make noise or feeling differences in the turning of the dial.

Assuming I’ve felt and/or heard the right points – I have a list of numbers.  My quest has begun.

What kind of quests do you plan this year? How are you approaching your personal quest? Are you taking a destructive or a non-destructive path? Are you paying for results, or working for results, or some combination?  Do you have a safe in your basement? Do you have a potential treasure waiting to be unlocked and discovered? How are you gaining knowledge?

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Life, Security | 3 Comments

My 6 Targets in 2010

How do you succeed?  How do you define your success?  How do you measure it, track it, and control it?

I have a formula. At the beginning of each new year, I look at what I did during the past year. I look at the things that I was successful at, and what I have failed at. I try to learn from the failures and successes, so that I continually improve – shrink failures, and expand successes. I am targeting 6 things to succeed at, during this wonderful new year. I have 6 targets in 2010.  Those items target a variety of my needs and wants. They fall into these 6 categories:

  • Personal
  • Financial
  • Professional
  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Emotional

For me – when I find something I want to succeed at, it is essential that I make a list. I need to attach times, dates, and metrics that I can measure to the list.  I won’t explain all of my goals for this year, but here is a sample of my first 4:


1. Be a better husband.
2. Be a better father.
3. Be a better son.
4. Be a better brother.
5. Be a better friend.
6. Be a better time-manager.


1. Set and make targeted retirement contributions to 401k, Roth and IRA.
2. Update Will, Power of Atty, Estate and Medical legal papers.
3. Monitor and manage existing retirement and investment accounts.
4. Perfect and market the Personal Professional Competitive Advantage system.


1. Be published again.
2. Add another 500 followers on Twitter.
3. Write 36 high-quality blog entries during 2010.
4. Develop my business – adding at least 12 customers during 2010.
5. Develop my website – adding at least $1000/mo in revenue by December 2010.
6. Develop successful partnerships with other industry professionals.
7. Complete at least 4 ivy-league college courses.
8. Perfect and market the Personal Professional Competitive Advantage system.
9. Be a better time-manager.


1. Participate in more charity events.
2. Lower my weight by 25 lbs by the end of 2010. (12 lbs by June 30)
3. Lower my cholesterol – targeting sub-195 for total cholesterol.
For nearly all of these listed items, I have developed some targeted dates, goals, and in many cases, some sub-goals also.  This is what works for me.  In some of those cases, it is very difficult to quantify. How do I decide what it means to be a better husband? How do I measure that? Those things are incredibly complex and maybe nobody really understands them.  Yet, for me, putting them on the list, ordering them and thinking about them is sure to help me to address them. For other goals – they are not really within my control. How can I FORCE a company to publish what I write? How can I force readers to read it?  I really can’t. All I can do is to continue writing. I have to look on writing as a bit of a field of dreams. “If I build it, they will come.” (Perhaps another way of looking at it is like this: “If I build it really well, and advertise it, and market it, and have unique and high-quality content, and ask them to visit, I really hope they will come”) So – I will build it – and ADD IT TO MY LIST OF GOALS. I don’t think that adding it to my list will ensure it, but I think it makes a HUGE difference.

So – my personal questions for you are: How do you map out and plan your success? How do you break it down, monitor it, and manage your successes?
In 2010, how will you reach your goals?

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Business, Competitive Advantage, Continuous Improvement, Life | Leave a comment

Learning – Ivy Style

I recently wrote extensively about developing a Personal Professional Competitive Advantage. I highlighted the value – the benefits of having a competitive advantage that was unique, personal and professional.  How do you get that? How do you do it? Learning is essential.

Learning is personal, and somewhat permanent. If you have a degree, that is something that nobody can ever take away from you… And it is YOURS.  If you learn something useful, that knowledge is YOURS.  It goes beyond that – beyond the thought where the knowledge belongs to YOU – it is something unique and powerful. 

Ivy League Learning How about Free Ivy League Classes?  How about a few classes from a really great school?  If you could add a few classes from MIT, a few classes to Stanford, a few classes from Notre Dame… Put those on your resume, on your LinkedIn, mention them in interviews – do you think that would that provide you a compelling competitive advantage?  The first thought is that taking classes like that would be an incredible investment of time and money… but what if you could do that, free?

I don’t want to discount the value of  the contacts that you would make by attending a really great university in person… but you can take classes like that now and you can take them for free. Let me say it again.  Those classes are available, free. 

I’ve taken one from Notre Dame and one from Stanford University. In 2010, I plan to take 6 more courses.  I am working on a new project to make it easy to find free classes like that – so – if YOU would like to take a free ivy league college class, and you are willing to write a short review, please CONTACT me.

Stay Tuned – Coming soon…  🙂

December 22, 2009 Posted by | Business, Competitive Advantage, Life | Leave a comment

Personal Professional Competitive Advantage

Personal Professional Competitive Advantage

Dan Schawbel  is eloquent and persuasive when he advocates personal branding. He evangelizes personal branding like it is the be-all, end-all. He is perhaps the foremost expert, a syndicated columnist, and he is intelligent and extremely professional. I think that he is right about the importance of personal  branding… to a point.

His dream is to “To become the bridge, where qualified applicants can cross to land the positions theybridge deserve.  To create a personal branding class in every school internationally, helping students follow their passions”  That is a good star to shoot at, but he is slightly misguided.

The important thing in finding a job and building a career is not to build a brand. There are dozens of examples. There are hundreds of examples out there – Jeff Bullas, Ashton Kutcher, Mark Cuban, Matt CuttsGuy Kawasaki, and Danny Sullivan each have a fantastic personal brand. Collectively they have billionsashton of dollars and millions of followers. They have people who are evangelists of their personal brands. They have originality, intelligence, and each is unique.  Building those personal brands, to be sure, were important. I’d argue that the brand wasn’t the absolute essential component of their success, but rather that it was only one important component.

The most important thing in finding a job and extending a career is building a Personal Professional Competitive Advantage.  Think about that for just a minute:

  • Personal. It is about you. It is unique. It is synonymous with you. It is elementary to you. It was Michael Jackson’s moonwalk and infectious beats. It is Beyonce’s … uh, voice. It is Obama’s ears. It is Tiger’s Wood. (sorry, couldn’t resist)  It is something about you makes you who you are. It could be as simple as where you are from, or as complex as where you are going. It could be as static as where you are, or as whirling as what you are about.  Danica Patrick is a driver. Sean Connery is an Actor. Morgan patrickFreeman has Gravitas. Mark Cuban is that eccentric personal billionairre who is willing to dance with stars, and wrestle. What does that mean to YOU? Think about yourself, from other people’s perspectives. Is there ANYTHING that is that personal?  There should be. Think about it. Make it happen. Decide what the unique personal qualities are, within yourself, that make you a rock star, every day. Accentuate those qualities, Refine them.
  • Professional. It is about your job. It is about your profession. It is about your career. It is about your path. It is about the passion that pays you, in whatever way you want. There must be something
  • Competitive.  It is about a burning torch inside you, flaring up at the sight of the next torch. It isbolt about Usain Bolt’s speed. It is about you. You must seize a job search like a competition. Someone else is going to spend 10 hours researching a company before a job interview. Someone else is going to figure out who the people are. Someone else is going to remember the names, make eye contact, dress to impress, perfectly craft a resume. Somebody else is going to write thank you letters, is going to send follow-up emails, is going to be sincere, thoughtful, and is going to fight with every ounce.  Fight harder. Spend 20 hours. Figure out who the people are, what schools they went to, who their families are, what their hobbies are, what charities they lead. Know everything there is to know, and know it as well as it can be known.   As for your job – your career, profession, your gig… be the best. Simply be the best. Work the hardest, the longest, the strongest and be the most devoted – and to tip my hat to Dan Schwabel – ensure everyone knows that you are.
  • Advantage. Be first. Be the best. Don’t just do enough to get by. Do enough so that nobody can get by you. Don’t just keep your place, keep your status quo, and keep your own rut. Be better, faster, bigger, stronger, smarter, and be far, far ahead of your competition.

So – this seems like lots of flowery language and motivational clichés – what is a Personal Professional Competitive Advantage?

Here’s an example.  In the last 3 years, I’ve completed about 60 classes across a broad range of professional, technical, management and leadership topics. I’ve completed an ITIL V.3 certification, and taken courses at Stanford and Notre Dame. I have a strong belief that technical and business changes are moving so fast that if I don’t take a huge number of classes in those areas, my baseline of knowledge will become obsolete in about 18 months.  I have developed a presence on Twitter, written a blog, attended chamber of commerce meetings, built a business, consulted with some local companies, and I have done essential things at work.

But that isn’t enough. It is not enough to develop a Personal Professional Competitive Advantage. What I’ve done is more than most people in my career field do, but to me, what I have done is really just enough to keep up to speed. It is not enough to be right at the bleeding-cutting edge. To do that, I probably need to complete a minimum of 4 Ivy League courses annually. I probably should edit or write a book or two.   

Perhaps I should write something on Personal Professional Competitive Advantage as a an essential component of career development.

What do you think?

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Business, Competitive Advantage, Continuous Improvement, Life | 2 Comments

Metrics and Life

We track what we care about – We track metrics that matter in our lives. If we care about something, it is important to HAVE metrics that we can track – metrics that measure improvement or not.

I had a doctors appointment yesterday. For the most part I just wanted to get some renewed RX’s, but as part of every visit, my doctor’s office checks weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and temp. My BP was a bit high, probably because I worked past 3am the night before, and started at 7am yesterday – probably because I’ve got 3 dozen projects simultaneously in need of care and feeding – probably because I was stressed about trying to get to the doctor’s office on time.  For the slightly elevated BP, I have rationalizations.

But I was also up 11 lbs since my last doctor’s visit, and that was only 3 months ago. scale I was shocked. For many years, I’ve made it a practice to check my weight daily. I’ve checked it in the morning, checked it in the evening, checked it randomly almost every day.
When I look at the results – the bare measurement – and the factors involved in reaching those results, I am left with 2 emprical findings:

1) I stopped measuring my weight
2) My weight went where I didn’t want it to go

These two things are connected. As a whole, in life and in technology, people measure what they care about.  Everyone watches their 401k, their annual salary… Everyone watches metrics about things in their life that are important to them.  The first big company website I managed increased its traffic over 500% in the first year that I managed it. I know that particular statistic because that metric was one that I cared about.

Over the last two months, I’ve sold a house, bought a house, moved from one house to another… I’ve painted 4 ceilings, 3 rooms, and climbed on the roof to blow leaves out of gutters 3 times. I’ve also started a new gig, gained several hundred twitter followers and gotten my latest business almost ready to launch.  The weight metric has escaped my monitoring because everything in my life has overwhelmed my time-limited and adhd-rattled attention-span.

I treated my weight as if it was less important.

We track what we care about – We track metrics that matter in our lives. If we care about something, it is important to HAVE metrics that we can track – metrics that measure improvement or not.
My point is – when you care about something, when something is important to you, make sure you have some measure of it. Make sure you have some metric that you can measure and monitor to ensure the thing that you care about is going in the direction you want it to go.   Monitoring that sort of measurement, that sort of metric is the best way to correct course when things aren’t going your way.

This morning, before I started work, I stepped on the scale.

What do you think? Do you have metrics for things that matter to you? Do you monitor and manage them?

December 9, 2009 Posted by | Business, Continuous Improvement, Life, Other Stuff, People | Leave a comment

The Biggest Offshoring Myth

Eweek has an interesting article – “Outsourcing Myths have no Grounds, Says Deloitte CIO”

Deloitte’s CIO does his best to debunk various offshoring myths.  The first myth that he debunks is that “Offshoring… has not been successful.”  his response is:

“That’s absolutely not true,” Quinlan said. “We’re seeing significant upticking in global offshoring activity.” With the maturation of the offshoring market, there has been an accompanying decrease in the hype and media attention devoted to the process; but nonetheless offshore continues to grow in scale and complexity.

So – what does “success” mean?  If defining “success” means that there has been growth in terms of increased usage – then Offshoring has absolutely been successful. Mr. Quinlan doesn’t say that it produces results, improvements, increased efficiencies. He doesnt say that offshoring lowers costs for equivalent results, or increases results for a like cost…  If success is to be defined as using offshoring to accomplish something at a lower cost, then there’s not any evidence that offshoring has ever been a success.

Another myth that Deloitte’s CIO debunks is that: Titanic Offshoring Myth

“Outsourcing is Bad for the U.S. Economy”

“There are different points of view on this,” Quinlan conceded about the outsourcing debate’s traditional third rail. “Like many religious arguments, perhaps, the issue is really about what’s going to happen; and we see the trend of regional centers and global centers really continue.” By citing the opening of outsourcing centers in the U.S. as well as places such as India and China, Quinlan seemed to suggest that companies would avoid any political fallout from their outsourcing policies by distributing the work within the U.S. in addition to overseas.”

Quinlan presented a list of “lessons learned” about the steps needed to successfully outsource a company’s operations:

    *      Focus on gaining leadership support
    *      Create a blueprint
    *      Make off-shoring someone’s full-time responsibility
    *      Combat the change management challenge and communicate
    *      Create an employer-of-choice destination
    *      Don’t underestimate the complexities
    *      Learn from others
    *      Invest in process excellence
    *      Focus on quality
    *      Have fun

Interestingly – these things are missing from his list:

    *      Create a baseline of processes & services
    *      Ensure offshored/outsourced processes & services are measured
    *      Document and evaluate any improvements
    *      Document and evaulate any declines

Companies that care about things, measure them. Companies that don’t care, don’t measure. My point is that without an objective, base-lined measurement of offshoring in terms of successes and failures, there can be no way to determine if offshoring is ever really successful. If Mr. Quinlan says that any increase in offshoring equates to success – well, he has sort of defined success as almost ANYTHING.

Is that success? Really? Does that merit any leadership, management, executive or boardroom buy-in? Is it success that merits any reproduction? Is it anything beyond an organized drain on resources and talent?

 I’d submit that the biggest Offshoring Myth is the one that wasn’t debunked.

The biggest Offshoring Myth is that Offshoring “Works.”

  Considering Mr. Quinlan’s approach – perhaps that is a myth that other people will need to debunk.  

So – how can that be debunked? Is it a myth? I would be amazed if any company could

People measure things that are important...

People measure things that are important...

really debunk that. I don’t think it is a myth. I think Offshoring fails because offshored processes, deliverables and costs are almost never measured objectively. I think Offshoring fails because offshoring projects define success as “the expansion of offshoring” rather than as the “delivery of improved services, products, projects, or results for the same or less cost.”  I think offshoring fails because the jobs lost to offshoring result in incredible losses for our country, our future, our tax base, and for things that are much harder to quantify. 

Many current CIOs’ careers started with work on help-desks, as developers, engineers, architects, project managers, administrators, and ground-level technologists. Offshoring success is a myth because offshoring positions like the one’s that current CIOs they once filled will mean that the pipeline of future leadership will evaporate, replaced by a pipeline of leaders who define success without regard to results and deliverables.

Could you debunk the biggest Offshoring Myth? What do you think?

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Business, Competitive Advantage, Continuous Improvement, Life, Technology | 1 Comment

Be The Tree That Everyone Wants.

I was reading a great post on Jeff Bullas’s blog this morning.  His blog is HIGHLY recommended, he provides thoughtful, interesting, useful ideas and writing and is focused on a space that overlaps relationship marketing – permission marketing.  Jeff has an article titled 9 Questions To Ask Your Customers When Creating Content that lists some very relevant questions. I think it is important for any writer to consider these questions because considering the audience is a good way to ensure your writing has value for your audience.

When you write – consider your audience.

I agree completely, and I think that he is absolutely correct on one hand. Consider this paragraph, quoted from his blog:

  • When you are writing , sourcing and creating content for your blog, website and social media channels you need to ”walk a mile in your customers shoes” and provide solutions in your content for their problems that they face every day in their business. You need to talk their language and you need to have their segmentation in fine enough detail that when they encounter your web content they will then say…”they understand what my problems are and they can help me solve them”.  Be the tree

ON THE OTHER HAND – I think it is absolutely essential to maintain your voice as a writer.  Every writer needs some unique quality, style and VOICE. It is what makes the writing unique.  It is a necessary component for any sound to rise above the background noise.  Here’s an easy way to consider the importance of being unique. A good writer might say “87 years ago…” but Lincoln chose to start his Gettysburg Address with “Four Score and Seven years ago.”  That’s memorable and unique. Call it voice, or call it personal branding, or call it style, but if there’s nothing unique beyond “they understand my problems and have solutions” then there is much less to be memorable. 

Anyone can be up a creek without a paddle, but Sheldon Cooper can mention “the appropriate metaphor here involves a river of excrement and a Native American water vessel without any means of propulsion” – and it is HIS voice, and it is memorable. I am not even going to go into “rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock.” (I am a huge fan of that show, and of DailyWav!)

So – why be memorable? Why ensure that your writing features your own unique voice? If you are memorable, you aren’t merely seen as a solution to solve ONE problem – you are seen as a go-to resource, perhaps a preferred source to solve the next problem too…

Think about it this way: In a crowded room with loud conversation, it is good to be the person that everyone wants to hear.  The Internet is a forest.   Your success will come when you address your customers, of course, I think it is also important to strive to retain your own voice, your own unique creative approach.  In short: Be the tree that everyone wants.

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Business, Competitive Advantage, Continuous Improvement, Life | Leave a comment