Monthly Archives: October 2016

Some Important News You Might Have Missed And Why You Should Care

There was a bit of news that broke last week which you might have missed since it seems that the election drowns most other news out. The FCC told Internet Service Providers to be much more explicit concerning what information it collects and shares with others, and provide (mostly) clear “opt-in” requirements on some of that data collection. Hopefully, you realize that more than any other entity in the digital age your ISP (and that can be your wireless provider as well) know pretty much everything you do on the internet.

Not surprisingly, there were immediate outcries from both the broadband providers as well as from the Association of National Advertisers. “The FCC’s new sweeping privacy rules decision is unprecedented, misguided, counterproductive, and potentially extremely harmful,” the advertisers’ organization said in a statement.

This comes on the heels of Google changing their policy related to how it connects DoubleClick advertising to other data that it has about you, allowing the company to actually link your name and other identifying information to you as you surf the web. The real issue is that Google isn’t being very clear about how this information is going to be used. At leat, however, they do give you the ability to opt-out and to clear your history. Your ISP gives you no such option. Be that as it may, having to opt out is far different from granting permission by having opted in.

Obviously, the ad industry is upset because less useful data means diminished ability to track and target consumers. Having spent a career in the media business I know that this could be bad for content providers as well as marketers. But I can’t understand why explaining clearly and transparently what you’re collecting and why as well as allowing consumers control over how their data is collected and used is a bad idea. Failing to do so leads to ad blocking or worse.

What could be worse? Check out Sudo. As this article explains it, Sudo allows you to create:

nine “virtual identities,” each of which is associated with a phone number, email address, credit card number, and even profile picture. They’re digital nom de guerres, in essence — fictional profiles for services, websites, and apps to which you’d rather not supply your personal information…Sudos live as long as you want. You can delete one after a week, or devote a profile to activities like online shopping, social networking, or calling.

That, in my mind, is worse. Data is collected and associated with a false person who just disappears. So if I decide to label myself as a 35-year-old woman (which is quite different from my much older male self), marketers will waste money promoting products to me I won’t care about. When I get sick of that persona, I’ll disappear her.

Being transparent and honest with your customers isn’t optional anymore. You can fight legislation but fighting consumer desires is much harder. I suspect that the ISP’s will get around these rules by burying the information they’re forced to disclose in some click-wrap agreement. Nobody reads them; they just click “agree” and move on. I think this is a missed opportunity for the ISP’s to change their behavior, their business model, and their relationship with their customers. You?

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Filed under digital media, What's Going On

Respecting The Process

It’s Foodie Friday and that has me excited because the weekend is upon us and I can spend more time cooking. Oh sure – I cook during the week but the weekend is when I get to stretch my culinary legs a bit since I don’t have work distracting me. I can watch my usual plethora of sports while chopping stuff but it’s hard to get any work done while sauteeing.

Not everything I make takes a lot of time. My kids are tired of hearing my tell them that it’s possible to make a number of dishes from scratch in less time than it would take to prepare their frozen counterparts in the oven. The weekend, however, allows me to make dishes that do take more time. One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t rush certain things. You have to respect the process the dish requires. You can’t, for example, smoke a brisket in a couple of hours nor speed up the time it takes to bake a decent loaf of bread. Using higher temperatures to speed up the process will probably ruin either of those. As one of my technical team reminded me on more than one occasion, you can’t get nine women to make a baby in a month.

It’s a good business lesson. While the temptation is always there to go faster and push people to finish, certain things just take time. I’ve found that most mistakes happen when people are rushing or when they’re tired from being pushed and are stressed out. Respect the process. While I believe in Parkinson’s Law that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,” I also believe in setting reasonable deadlines. If the deadline requires adjusting your thinking about what the completed work is, so be it. Sure, there are times when the team has to work overtime to stretch the “available timeframe” but like most cooking cheats (using store-bought pie crust or stock), the results are never quite as good as when we have the time to honor the process.

You know I believe in investing in the best tools in the kitchen and the best people in the workplace. Either of those can help expand your time available by allowing you to be more efficient. We still, however, need to acknowledge that even with the best tools, the best ingredients, or the best people things do take time. Enjoy that – it’s almost meditative – and have a good weekend.

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Filed under food, Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

Not Your Best Behavior

I can’t wait for this damn election to be over. The back to back to back to back political ads in which one candidate demeans the character of another is just horrific. I’m not surprised though and something that’s manifesting itself in our politics has been creeping into our business lives for a while. A survey bears out my thinking and the results are incredibly disturbing. The Zogby Survey on Civility in U.S. Politics was commissioned by Allegheny College and reveals chilling trend lines for civility in America.

This isn’t the first time they’ve conducted this survey and the trends are bad. For example, in 2010, 89% of respondents said commenting on another’s race or ethnicity in a political engagement was not okay. Today that number has dropped to 69%, a full 20 points. Similarly, 81% said commenting on someone’s sexual orientation was not acceptable. Today that number is 65%. And the percentage of voters who believe elected officials should pursue personal friendships with members of other parties plummeted even more precipitously, from 85 percent to 56 percent. In other words, civil discourse and reasonable people disagreeing reasonably are dying. 80 percent of 2016 respondents said they believe civility in politics is important for a healthy democracy, compared to 95% in 2010. And 77% of 2016 respondents said it is possible for people to disagree respectfully, compared to 87% of 2010 respondents.

I think it’s impossible for people to exhibit a deviant behavioral pattern when it comes to political issues and not have that pattern carry over into business. In 2010, 77% of respondents thought is was not ok  to interrupt someone you disagree with in a public forum. You know – like a business meeting. Todat that number is just over half – 51%. 86% thought is was rude to shout over someone with whom you disagree during an argument. Today that number is only 65%. One need only turn on any cable news “discussion” to know the 65% might just be too high.

“When examining the state of civility among adults who were surveyed, based on the survey questions that were asked both in 2010 and 2016, there seems to be less emphasis on, and a decrease in, acts of civility among adults nationwide,” said Jonathon Zogby, CEO of Zogby Analytics. I see it in business, as I’m sure you do. People can’t finish stating their thoughts before someone jumps on their sentence. People don’t return phone calls or emails. People are late to appointments and meetings for no particular reason. Call it rude or call it dumb; it’s offensive no matter what you call it.

If this election results in nothing else, hopefully, once it’s over and we all take a deep breath, a return to civility in both our politics and our business behavior comes about. I have many friends with whom I disagree vehemently on political issues but we always hear one another out. I have been in meetings where I know that a speaker was dead wrong in their facts or their approach but I listen with an open, respectful mind in case I’ve missed something before I state my case. The trends found by this research are both sad and dangerous. Let’s change them. You in?

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Filed under Huh?, Reality checks, Thinking Aloud