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Archive for March 7th, 2013

Marissa Mayer no more work from home: misdiagnosing the problem

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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer spent her first few months on the job making her employees feel better about where they worked. Then, recently, she took a big step backward, rescinding the treasured right to work from home.

Now she’s in damage control mode. So we get an opaquely sourced New York Times story explaining that Mayer had an excellent reason for the morale-killing new policy: boosting morale.

Still following?

People unhappy with the change are being quietly told that there is no change, really — at least not one that applies to them. Instead, it’s aimed at the roughly 200 workers who have arrangements that let them work from home full time.

“Although they collected Yahoo paychecks, some did little work for the company and a few even had begun their own start-ups on the side,” reports the Times

I read a few articles on this new policy by Marissa Mayer at Yahoo.  She is definitely bucking the trend of work from home.

From the limited number of articles I’ve read so far there is no mention of exactly what sort of work these people do.  None of the articles have dug into this deeper question.  Who are these people and how strategic are they to the business?

Who’s minding the store?

To make people who…  “collected Yahoo paychecks, [and] did little work for the company” show up is not going to solve the root cause of the problem.

This is a management problem and executive leadership problem.  By making the “offenders” (so called) show up at work is misdiagnosing the problem.

At the bottom of an organization a good project management disciple would make deliverables clear, identify who is working on what, and when the deliverables are due.  If no task assigned to an employee is longer then 40 hrs then any missed task deliverables will be noticed in about a week.

So, if any employee collected a paycheck and did little work for the company then some things seem obvious

  1. There is a problem of accountability.  This works two ways.  Employee committment to the company to do a good/excellent job.  A committment from the company to hold everyone accountable.
  2. There is a project management problem.  Doesn’t the management know what their employees are supposed to be doing?  Are there no milestones on projects, or schedules, or any way of tracking missed milestones and deadlines?  If employees can get paid and do nothing then Yahoo has little financial management at the project level. 
  3. There is a financial management problem at executive levels.  If there is no scrutiny on financial performance at the project level then this shows there are problems at the executive level as well.
  4. The operating model seems broken.  If projects can squander money then strategic initiatives, operating model, projects, and individual financial incentives and performance measures are not aligned.
  5. You hired (and retained) the wrong people all across the organization.  Employees that get paid and deliver little or no value to the company, Project Managers that don’t manage projects or people, executives that don’t watch financial performance of projects, and an operating model that shows signs of wear certainly suggest that Yahoo has hired and retained the wrong people at all levels.

The Take

If the above five points are near on the mark then Marissa Mayer making people “show up” is not going to solve the problem.  By misdiagnosing the problem she will be on a treadmill of revisiting the problem until the root cause is properly diagnosed and addressed.

She is there for a turnaround, right?  Here’s her chance.  “Show up for work”… I call this one “a clean miss”.

Written by frrl

March 7, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Why our digital life will be the end of history

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High School

My high school reunion is next week – but I won’t be going.

It’s not that I didn’t have a good time in high school… I had a great time in high school.  And it’s not that I never went to my reunions over the years.  I went to all of them over the years – too many to mention.

A high school reunion doesn’t make sense any more.  Only someone who understands what it means to dial a phone and can recognize the sound of a turntable needle skating across a vinyl record understands reunions.

A high school reunion used to mean getting back together with friends from high school that you haven’t seen in a few years.  My high school has a reunion every five years.

But a high school reunion doesn’t make sense when you see your high school friends frequently – perhaps every day or maybe once a week.  How can this be when high school is long past and your friends are scattered to the four corners of the globe?

I see my high school friends nearly every day.  I get their Facebook updates.  I look at their pictures on Instagram.  We listen to music from the good old days by exchanging playlists on Spotify.  There’s Facetime and Skype.  And I have some long-term games on Zynga going with a few of them – Words with Friends and Draw Something.  The impediment of geographic distance and separation in time and space is nearly erased.

So a reunion doesn’t make sense anymore.  There is no need to “get back together” since, in a sense, we are all still together.  It’s just that we don’t all travel to a physical location on a daily basis to engage each other.  And, like the difference between the medium and the message its the physical location that’s different but the content as engagement is the same.  Perhaps the engagement in social media, anytime anyplace, exceeds what was available to us in high school.

Time has been flattened; geography erased

In a general sense, time has been flattened.  What is disappearing is the sense of past and present.  In a very real sense, the past is present and evolving.  Our digital life and technology has put us on the trajectory of giving us access to every book ever written, every movie ever made, every track of music ever recorded, every picture ever taken,  every personal video clip ever recorded,  every status update ever made on social media, and every word anyone has ever posted to the internet.

So, what is there to remember that is not immediately available?  Do I need to remember, with a sense of loss, the music I used to listen to in high school? No, it’s readily available on Spotify.  Do I need to remember, with a sense of loss, the movies we watched?  No, they are readily available on Netflix.  Those favorite clips from TV?  Maybe its on YouTube.  Do I need to wonder where my high school friends are?  They are all immediately present wherever I go.

History has traditionally been a fading memory of the past recovered with great effort and difficulty.  But what becomes of History when all the past is readily available in the present?  In fact, we have so much history that is available with in-your-face immediacy, perhaps abundance creates a new set of problems.  How do we forget?  Are there some things that we must forget to make the future livable?


If people are looking for immortality perhaps we have it.  As the cost of digital storage approaches zero it may be possible to archive everything ever posted to the Internet.

Imagine a time, perhaps 50 years from now, where Facebook or social media in general  is now the “ancestral record” of the digital generation.  The millennial generation, posting to Facebook and other social media would have a timeline of 50 years.  In 50 years, the children of the millennial generation would know more than they ever wanted to know about their parents and grandparents.  It’s all there in the cloud.

Right now, in 2013, we go to to discover (in the hard sense) our family tree.  We search through old boxes of film photographs in the attic or basement to find picture of grandparents and relatives.  We ask our older family members, perhaps with fading memory, to tell us stories of how life used to be.  We recover stories through oral history with difficulty.

The whole idea of past history being a difficult work of discovery is undergoing radical change.  In the future, the past may be as immediate as the present.

The Take

Thousands of years ago, folks imagined  the akashic records…  a sort of giant library that is ever-present and all around us…

The akashic records, – akasha is a Sanskrit word meaning “sky”, “space” or “aether” and is described as containing all knowledge of human experience and all experiences as well as the history of the cosmos encoded or written in the very aether or fabric of all existence…

The akashic record is like an immense photographic film, registering all the desires and earth experiences of our planet. Those who perceive it will see pictured thereon: The life experiences of every human being since time began, the reactions to experience of the entire animal kingdom, the aggregation of the thought-forms of a karmic nature (based on desire) of every human unit throughout time…

People who describe the records assert that they are constantly updated automatically and that they can be accessed through astral projection or under deep hypnosis.

There will be no need of astral projection or hypnosis to access these records.  Access will be granted to anyone with a wearable or embedded device that can access whatever it is in the future that will have the Internet as its progenitor.   How much of your digital life is already part of the “akasha” record?

Read More

After the Interview is Over: Managing Digital Oral History Collections


Written by frrl

March 7, 2013 at 4:44 am

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