Category Archives: Business

Three Cheers for Financial Repression

By Tom Streithorst – “Financial repression.” It sounds terrifying, right? It smacks of authoritarian bureaucrats sucking the life-blood out of hard-working, innovative makers and doers.

Umm, no. That’s not even close. It’s about bondholders. Economists started using the term in the 1970s when bondholders were losing money because inflation exceeded the interest rate.

These days, it’s market forces more than government policy that push real interest rates below zero. Whether you call it a savings glut or secular stagnation, our collective desire to save far exceeds our collective desire to invest. Savers want safe assets more than borrowers want to invest in productive capacity.

Don’t cry for the rentier class. For the past forty years (ever since Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker manufactured a brutal recession in order to eliminate 1970s inflation) economic policymakers have concentrated on ensuring the profitability of the bond market more than just about anything else. They focused their attention on financial stability and low inflation rather than the traditional goal of promoting full employment.

Consequently, the financial sector has quadrupled in size relative to the rest of the economy, the rich absorb most of the benefits of growth, and workers’ real wages have stagnated or even declined. Financialization has made wealthholders richer than ever, but it hasn’t done much for the rest of us.

What is good for the bankers has not been good for the economy as a whole. more>


How to Win When You’re Under Attack in a Meeting


Just Listen, Author: Mark Goulston.

By Art Petty – For high-stakes topics involving strategy and investments, you’re in competition with others for attention and resources, and not everyone wants you to win. When faced with a direct or passive-aggressive attack on your ideas and character, your response speaks volumes about your maturity and leadership to everyone involved.

Learn to navigate meeting room confrontations with diplomacy, grace, and a good bit of psychology, and you will go far.

For all sorts of good reasons, we’re wired as humans to quickly recognize dangerous situations and respond accordingly. Our brains shift precious resources away from the slower, smaller processing center and trigger a flood of chemicals preparing us for fight or flight. Drunk with adrenaline, we’re apt to either lash out or look for the first exit, including shrinking and withdrawing.

Dr. Goulston suggests we run through a simple mantra that allows us to derail the amygdala hijack and maintain our presence of mind.

Your goal is to gain a few precious seconds and work your reboot process. more>


How To Improve Results With The Right Frequency Of Monitoring

By George Bradt – Most understand the need to follow up and monitor progress on a theoretical level. Yet there are few guidelines to how frequently you should do that. Let me suggest that varies by the nature of what you’re monitoring, ranging from daily or even more frequently for tasks to annually for strategic plans.

Ben Harkin discussed the value of monitoring and reporting in the Psychological Journal. His headline is “Frequently Monitoring Progress Toward Goals Increases Chance of Success” – especially if you make the results public. While he was more focused on personal habits and goals, the findings are applicable to organizational behavior as well.

Here’s my current best thinking on the right frequency of monitoring. The main discriminant is the nature of the work and level of people doing the work with tighter, more frequent monitoring of tactical efforts and looser, less frequent monitoring of more strategic efforts.

  • Daily or more frequently – Tasks
  • Weekly – Projects
  • Monthly – Programs
  • Quarterly – Business Reviews, adjustments
  • Annually – Strategic/Organizational/Operational processes



America has a broken political system our leaders need to fix

By Former Rep. Tom Ridge (R-Pa.) and Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) – According to a recent poll by the American Psychological Association, the future of the country is a significant source of anxiety for nearly two-thirds of Americans.

We elect leaders to place country above party, address the most critical issues plaguing the nation and prevent future crisis from taking root. But Washington needs to face the facts: The political system itself is broken, wearing down too many leaders with endless fundraising demands and turning the job of elected representative into a never-ending campaign whose purpose is to vilify the other party. We used to have to arrange schedules around fundraisers for senators. It was considered the exception, and now it is the rule.

Leadership in Congress focuses more on the capacity of lawmakers to raise money, rather than their policy expertise and merit on legislative issues. The political parties and system supporting them have come to care more about majorities in the legislative branch than governing.

Our experience tells us that if America lacks the will and moral strength to elect leaders who will repair the divisions in the country, then dysfunction in government will continue to be the greatest threat facing the nation. Our leadership on the global stage will diminish. Democracy as a way of life, and the freedoms only it can offer, will suffer. We must strengthen our bonds, not deepen our divisions. more>


Four things that matter more than the Paris Agreement

In a new report, “Undiplomatic Action: A practical guide to the new politics and geopolitics of climate change,” David Victor and Bruce Jones write:

“Without confidence in new technologies and the policy and investment support that follows from that confidence, even the most advanced and elaborated global diplomatic agreements can only produce an ever-wider chasm between stated goals and realistically achievable outcomes.”

They contend that “real world” actions on the ground, not global goals, will drive energy transitions at the local level and in the private sector.

In the paper, they outline four key factors they believe matter even more than the global agreement:

  1. Facilitate leadership through small groups
  2. Focus on near-term emissions reductions
  3. Invest in technological innovation
  4. Demonstrate success and enable better governance


Source: Four things that matter more than the Paris Agreement


Updates from Adobe

Head for the Hills with Kopernikk

By Charles Purdy – A love of the outdoors is plainly evident in Kopernikk’s photography, and he comes by it naturally, having grown up on a farm near the Czech city of Pardubice, which he still calls home—that is, when he’s not on the road for a photography expedition. In fact, it was a 2014 trip to the Czech Republic’s Giant Mountains that set Kopernikk firmly on a path to making his living as a photographer.

He remembers, “In November 2014, my friend Jirka invited me to Špindlerův Mlýn in our Giant Mountains. The weather was so magical—I was like Alice in Wonderland, and I made hundreds and hundreds of photos on my mobile phone…. This day changed everything, and I knew then what I wanted to do with my life. It’s also the reason I have Sitka, my Czechoslovakian Wolfdog—I’ve always loved wolves, and when I started traveling I decided I wanted to have my own ‘wolf’ as a travel buddy.” more>



Think Like a Gambler: Innovation Is About Making Bets


Thinking in Bets, Author: Annie Duke.

By Alan Pentz – As humans we are often overconfident in our decision-making and even if we are unsure, we become more confident after a decision has been made. Studies of confirmation bias show that we seek information confirming our views and filter out evidence to the contrary. That’s a great strategy to feel good in the short term but isn’t going to lead to the best outcomes for your organization in the long term.

Thinking in bets (or thinking probabilistically) forces us out of that framework. Duke points out that people who are asked probabilistic questions are less sure and tend to hedge. It’s easy to say, “I’m 100 percent sure about this,” when nothing is really on the line, but if I ask you how much would you bet that you are right, suddenly the calculus changes.

So how does this impact government innovation? more>


Updates from Siemens

PLM ALM Integration using Teamcenter Linked Data Framework

By Jatish Mathew – Reports from the field indicate that the power window system in a particular car model has a defect. The anti-pinch feature does not work all the time. Customer service files a high priority incident report.

Representatives from different engineering teams meet and try to find the root cause of the problem.

The problem may be due to hardware failure such as a stuck button, it can be in the embedded software, or it can be a combination of hardware-software. Each team analyzes the problem using their tools and processes but when these teams need to coordinate what do they do?

The biggest worry for engineers, when they work with different teams, is that the practices, processes, and tools they use are diverse. How do they ensure that teams effectively collaborate without losing the processes and systems that work well for them?

In this post, we will explore how hardware (PLM domain) and software (ALM domain) teams work together to solve the power window problem. The automotive company in our example uses Linked Data Framework (Customer Only Access) to integrate and collaborate across domains. It is an integration framework to integrate different enterprise information systems such as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems and Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) systems.

PLM ALM integration using Linked Data Framework helps with the following business problems:

  • How do you implement a process such as change management across different domains such as PLM and ALM?
  • How do you avoid creating new applications, and avoid user training?
  • How do you enable ALM users to access PLM data without learning PLM concepts or new tools?




How Bitcoin Ends

By Douglas Rushkoff – Bitcoin was a clever idea. Idealistic, even. But it isn’t working out quite as its developers imagined. In fact, once all the coin has been mined, bitcoin will simply reinforce the very banking system it was invented to disrupt.

Watching the bitcoin phenomenon is a bit like watching the three-decade decline of the internet from a playspace for the counterculture to one for venture capitalists. We thought the net would break the monopoly of top-down, corporate media. But as business interests took over it has become primarily a delivery system for streaming television to consumers, and consumer data to advertisers.

Likewise, bitcoin was intended to break the monopoly of the banking system over central currency and credit. But, in the end, it will turn into just another platform for the big banks to do the same old extraction they always have. Here’s how.

Central currency is not the only kind of money that ever existed. For many centuries, gold and other precious metals served as money.

In essence, bitcoin is money built and maintained by nerds, based on the premise that good nerds will outnumber the bad nerds. Sure, bad actors can dedicate all of their processing power to fake transactions, but they will be outnumbered by those who want the token to work properly.

What is the incentive for people to spend millions of dollars on computers and power once there’s no more kickback of coin? more>


More Democracy At Work? Do We Need That?

By Peter Scherrer – It is, in my view, more necessary now than ever before to put the fight for more democracy at work on the political agenda. But at the same time, it is an issue to which neither the general public nor the EU political élite pays much, if any, attention, even though it is of great importance for millions of working people. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), at its Executive Committee meeting this week, went ahead in that spirit and adopted the strategy.

ETUC members are deeply convinced that a European approach to democracy at work can directly improve working life, collective labor rights and the concrete participation of workers in society and the economy.

The performance of EU Member States like Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Austria demonstrates that extending workers’ participation rights in companies and in administration is not an obstacle to a productive and profitable economy.

Many EU member countries have developed fair rights to information and consultation and a significant number have workers’ representation on company boards. The active involvement of trade unionists and workers’ representatives contributes to economic success and employment stability.

A glance at the current situation shows that democracy at work is being eroded by e.g. increasing centralization of company decision-making in all areas and increased concealment of real ownership etc. This widening gap could be partly closed by European legislation on workers’ participation.

But a huge danger to the options for more democratic labor/industrial relations comes from the rapid growth in the proportion of ‘digital’ workers and employees in the so-called sharing economy. more>