Archive for September, 2010

A New Twist on Google Analytics’ Story

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Google’s search engine analytics are well known and relied upon to track data on website activity, and a new twist on the use of their analytical culture is reported in the October issue of Harvard Business Review. Many companies traditionally have relied on performance reviews, exit interviews, and surveys to learn what motivates employees and Google has taken the process a step further.

Described in the article as a “highly analytical” company, Google has created a “people analytics” function composed of a director and a staff of 30 who study and quantify such information as how many recruiting interviews are optimal and what traits and backgrounds indicate the highest chance of success at Google.

The people analytics group’s findings have changed the way the company recruits and manages people; all their work is centered on the three main reasons they have discovered that employees stay: the mission, the quality of co-workers, and the opportunity to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

What’s the Story on Multitasking?

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

One of the reasons storytelling has caught on as a valuable skill for business leaders is that the deluge of information in our world continues to grow exponentially–and stories stand out in the clutter. Because humans are “wired” for story, our ears and brains perk up when we hear the beginning of a tale.

But what about multitasking? Does the ability to multitask help people handle more information–or just clutter their minds with more data they can’t access later? Researchers haven’t conclusively answered that question, but it appears that attempting to do more than one task at a time reduces a person’s effectiveness and also increases stress. And stress impairs short-term memory.

So when you’re reviewing e-mails while listening to your co-worker’s report, a lot of the information doesn’t stick. According to a study at the University of Utah, less than 3% of the population can juggle multiple streams of information successfully. For most of us, it seems, focusing on one thing at a time is a better choice.

Multi-media Storytelling: New Form of "Book"

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Is “disruptive technology” making you yearn for the way things were? Or bringing excitment to business as usual and generating creative thoughts for you and your work team?

Technology can certainly be disruptive, such as when people either forget to turn off their cell phones when they go into a meeting or intentionally leave them on in case they get a call they’d rather pay attention to. But while the speedy rate of change in today’s world can throw us off balance, it also presents opportunities we never could have imagined just a few years ago.

One change I’m excited about is the emergence of the multimedia e-book. With links to the Web as well as audio and video files and formats designed for e-readers and cell phones, it opens up an entirely new way to “read” a “book”. As L. Gordon Crovitz wrote in The Wall Street Journal recently, “It’s the ideas that count, not how they’re transmitted. Independent bookstores gave way to chains, which are fast giving way to Web-based retailers…. These are new pages in the history of the book, whose final chapters are yet to be written.”

What do you think? Will print books co-exist with multimedia formats–or become obsolete?

Stephen Fry Redefines the Book

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

If you wonder where the publishing industry is headed–and especially if you have an iPhone or iPad–you’ll want to check out Twitter guru Stephen Fry’s new “book.” It’s a totally new format for organizing book content, and it’s so different that some will argue it isn’t really a book.

But with so many e-readers already on the market, the perspective on what a 21st-Century book is, or should be or will be, is rapidly changing. Check out the video demo featured in yesterday’s Fast Company online and tell us what you think: http://tinyurl.com/34dqmy9

Great Leaders Communicate Commitment

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Many business sages predict that there will be a huge wave of job hopping when the economy improves. This prediction is based on the assumption that even the go-getters are hanging onto whatever position they have until it feels safe to take a leap and look for better opportunities.

With the pressures of declining revenues and uncertainty in the marketplace, I wonder how many organizational leaders are taking steps to learn what their best, brightest and most productive employees want and need–and doing their best to keep them happy so they will remain committed to the company. And I wonder how many leaders are clearly communicating their commitment to employees.

I love the story about Thomas J. Watson, the late president and chairman of the board of IBM, who was asked if he was going to fire an employee who had made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. Watson replied, “No, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?”

Online Media: Dizzying Speed of Growth

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

It’s obvious that Internet-based communications has expanded at a rapid pace, but the rate of growth for social media is still likely to astound you. According to Eric Qualman, the author of Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, here’s how long it took for traditional and Web-based media to gain millions of followers:

* Radio audiences grew to 50 million over a period of 38 years

* TV viewership grew to the same number in 13 years

* The Internet acquired 50 million users in just 4 years

* Facebook added four times as many users–200 million–in just one year!

Social media clearly has an important role in your communications plan. The key is to get your story out in ways that your target audience prefer to receive it.