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Archive by topic: Trends

SFMOMA — Aaron Marcus

April 20th, 2016

When SFMOMA, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, now the largest museum of its kind in the U.S., reopens on May 14th after three years of renovations, one of the exhibits, Typeface to Interface, will be anchored by a major gift from graphic designer and collector Aaron Marcus, my lifelong friend and the boy with whom I had my first date. In addition to 28 pieces from his personal collection, 21 of his own works of graphic design, computer art, and visible language art will be part of the exhibit. (May 14th – October 23rd)

I never miss a visit to MOMA when I visit New York. Sounds like SFMOMA will now be on my “must see” list whenever I visit San Francisco!

If you visit the museum, I would love to know what you think! From the news reports and photos, it sounds like the building, itself, will be worth seeing!

Below, a piece from Aaron’s series Cybernetic Landscapes and a photo of Aaron, himself.

from Cybernetic Landscapes, A. MarcusAaron Marcus



An interesting statistic

April 17th, 2016

As of December 31, 2015, the international Turnaround Management Association (TMA) reported that there were 487 Certified Turnaround Professionals (CTP) worldwide.  Of those, only 24 of us are women.



Fellman’s Candidate Selection Matrix™

February 17th, 2016

At a time when the election cycle is too long, and the media spends too much of its time providing poll results, rumors, tweets and commentary rather than facts, it is vitally important that voters take time to cut through the fog and evaluate objectively which candidate(s) are, in their view, best qualified to be president of the United States.

Because voters across the nation represent different backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, core values, etc., individuals may draw vastly different conclusions about qualifications, but an objective approach helps to ensure that each person’s conclusions are based on objective criteria.

Below is a link to a matrix I designed to help voters evaluate those candidates that are of interest to them.  Even if you think you have already made a decision, try completing the spreadsheet. The results may surprise you!

Fellman’s Candidate Selection Matrix  (Note: Depending on which program you use, you may have to select “enable editing.”)

After you complete the matrix, I would love to know

  1. Did you have enough information about the candidates to rate them?
  2. Were you surprised by your results?
  3. Can you tell who my personal choice is from the matrix?  (I tried really hard to be objective and asked friends from both parties to test it!)

© Renee C. Fellman, January 25, 2016, all rights reserved



Proud and grateful to live in Portland

January 23rd, 2015

This week, I am particularly proud and grateful to live in Portland. Why?

Wednesday night, I attended an event co-sponsored by the Portland Development Commission and leading technology companies in the area that have joined together to promote and enhance Portland’s tech environment.

One highlight of the evening was a video, produced by John Waller’s fabulously talented Uncage the Soul Video Productions, that featured people who moved to Portland from other cities to work in the tech industry here.  Aside from the fact that the work from Uncage the Soul is always superb, what set this one apart was that the techies featured in the video were not predominantly white-and-male!  You can see the video here and learn more about TechTown Portland here.

After the video, representatives of several of the key sponsor companies made brief remarks.  The best comments came from Sam Blackman, CEO of Elemental Technologies, who said, much more eloquently than I, that Portland is the best place in the world to live and that Portland truly welcomes and values diversity!

John Waller and Sam Blackman are two examples of exceptionally bright, talented, thoughtful people who value the most important things in life.  It is a privilege to know them and to live in Portland with them!



The merger of biology and technology: Intelligence, Mondays, on CBS

March 5th, 2014

It was stunning to see that the 2/17/14 episode of the TV show, Intelligence, actually included the topic of “the singularity.” The TV series, itself, is not an “A,” but this particular episode and the main character, himself, illustrate the accelerating pace of the merger of biology (in this case, the human body) and technology.

I first learned about “transhumanism” and “the singularity” during a seminar led by Jose Cordeiro at a conference of the World Future Society, and I was fascinated!  In brief, as Wikipedia describes,

  • Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as study the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. They predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label “posthuman“.
  • “The technological singularity, or simply the singularity, is a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature.  Since the capabilities of such an intelligence may be difficult for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is often seen as an occurrence (akin to a gravitational singularity) beyond which the future course of human history is unpredictable or even unfathomable.”

Ray Kurzweil (You may have seen a television ad in which he appears and says, “I invented Siri.”) has been a thought leader in this realm, has lectured and written widely about it.  If you would like to know more, you may want to read one of his books.  You could also watch Intelligence.  Today, it is science fiction.  Tomorrow?

The concepts are exhilarating and frightening and will, undoubtedly, be cause for heated (and important) debate as the future unfolds!

 



Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger: Good for public?

February 17th, 2014

In this article, Joel Maxcy, Associate Professor, Temple University, makes a strong case for the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger being bad for the public.

If your schedule permits, please take a few minutes to read it and tell me whether you agree.

 



Bullet-point journalism

December 20th, 2013

My key point:  News publications  should start using a bullet-point format so that readers can quickly learn the main points of news stories of interest to them.

One of the things I LOVE about the internet is that I can get huge amounts of news in a very short time.   That also means, of course, that there is more news available than I can possibly read and absorb.   Too often, from my perspective, it takes too long to read the stories, themselves, or watch the on-line video.

Publications, whether on-line or in print, should have 3 levels of story

  1. Headline:  People can know topic and decide whether they want to know more
  2. Bullet-point summary of key points: For those who are interested but rushed
  3. Story:  For those who are interested in more detail

When the headline leads to a video

  1. Headline
  2. Bullet-point summary: For those who read faster than they can listen or don’t want to take time to watch the video
  3. Video

What do you think?

 



Healthgrades.com: What’s missing

December 14th, 2013

First, because healthcare is a hot topic, let me be PERFECTLY clear:  I am not an expert on “Obamacare” and do not know whether it will prove, overall, to be a good or a bad thing.  My comments here focus solely on a missing piece at healthgrades.com and NOT any legislation.

If you have followed my blog, you know that I am a strong advocate for results-based hiring and results-based management.  Many bad hiring decisions have been made because decisions were based on “industry experience” rather than results.  Many companies have failed because management was not evaluated or rewarded based on results.

Physicians, too, should be evaluated based on results, and healthgrades.com has an opportunity to help with that.  Currently, their review criteria (somewhat edited) are:

  • Ease of scheduling urgent appointments
  • Office environment
  • Staff friendliness
  • Total wait time
  • Level of trust in doctor’s decisions
  • How well doctor explains
  • How well provider listens
  • Spends an appropriate amount of time

What’s missing?  Level of satisfaction with results.

To illustrate my point:  Although I do care about how long I have to wait, how good a listener my physician is, etc., my main concern is results.  Almost 10 years ago I had a problem with my foot.  I saw a well-known orthopedic surgeon/foot specialist.  His office was exceptionally well-organized; he did not keep me waiting;  he was VERY nice, a VERY good listener, took time to answer my questions, but his recommended solution was a surgery that would have kept me off my feet for 3-6 months.  For a second opinion, I saw a different orthopedic surgeon/foot specialist. His office was not as well-organized, and he was gruff, to say the least.  Bottom line:  He recommended a change in orthotics instead of surgery.  Ten years later, I am doing well and have not had to have surgery, thank you very much!  As you might imagine, I prefer Dr. Gruff-who-got-results-without-surgery to Dr. Nice!  (Of course, the dream doctor is the one who is both nice, etc. AND gets the best results.)

Sometimes, people make decisions–selecting doctors, treatments, etc.,  based on how they feel rather than on results achieved.  If healthgrades.com added “Satisfaction with results” to the list of criteria, it would likely help both physicians and prospective patients focus more on outcomes.

Renee’s Rule™: Results matter.



Sky Motion: more accurate weather forecasting?

November 7th, 2013

My son Jason lives approximately 15 minutes east of me.  Some time ago, when we were talking on the phone, I said, “It’s hailing here.”  A few minutes later, he said, “Now, it’s hailing here.”  We decided that if we could set up observation stations starting at the Oregon Coast on the west, we could likely get very accurate short-term weather forecasts.

Sky Motion, just acquired by AccuWeather, uses that concept and makes it even more reliable on the hyper-local level.  The Sky Motion app on my iPhone combines analyses of radar images with ground observations from users.

So far, I’ve found it to be incredibly reliable!



How does my library decide which books to buy?

September 22nd, 2013

I often borrow ebooks from the Multnomah County Library (my library) and, as I would do if I were visiting the physical library branch, spend time skimming the “shelves.”  As a result of a recent search, I cannot help wondering who decided to acquire 60 ecopies of 50 Shades of Grey (15 copies currently available) but only 16 copies of Lean In (57 users currently on waiting list) and what criteria that person used.



Gun violence

March 7th, 2013

I have a theory about what is causing the increase in gun violence.  My theory is overly simplistic and certainly only a part of the explanation, but I am betting you will agree with me:  Life has become increasingly complicated and frustrating, and that undoubtedly means shorter fuses.

I’ve been thinking about writing this entry for some time, and finally wrote down the annoyances of just the last 26 hours:  (As you will soon conclude, I am taking some “personal time” to get some personal business done.)

  1. I had to contact AVG support because PC Tune-up had stopped opening.  I was “connected” to the PC Tune-up department.  After waiting on-hold for more than 20 minutes, I went to the user interface which invited me to enter my info, call in, and gave me a code to enter.  I called. No option to enter the code. Got another rep who was going to connect me to the PC Tune-up department.  I asked, “are you sure I will be able to get through without holding for another 25 minutes?”–The customer service rep checked with his supervisor.  The answer?  No one would be in PC Tune up tech support for 30 minutes.  I do not mean that the lines were busy.  There was no one in the department, period.
  2. I need to buy a new mattress, so decided to get a one-month membership with Consumer Reports.  After I filled out all the info and paid my $$, I tried searching for “mattress.”  (There were 3 places to click–I tried all 3)  Received the following error message:  “Not found: the requested URL…was not found on this server.”  (I have the screen shots!)
  3. I then went to the Sealy site–Do you have any idea how many mattresses there are?  (I didn’t count–but too many)  I gave up–perhaps that is the idea…I called the company to see what mattresses they had that had the key features I was seeking.  The person didn’t know anything more than what was on the site–she told me I would have to look through all the items on the website.
  4. I recently got an iPad mini, in part, so that I could read e-books and check them out from the library.  As it turns out, to do this, I have to log into my library then log into Library2Go, which requires me to enter my library card number and pin every time.  The good news?  I have now memorized my 14-digit library card number.
  5. I had purchased a high-end oven which turned out to be a lemon.  When the company came to exchange it today, they were unable to check the bios to be sure they were correct.  The good news:  At least the tech was smart enough to know that needed to be done and to request the information in advance from the company.  The bad news?  The info hadn’t made it to dropbox.  That means the tech, the reps at the vendor, and I will all have to follow up to be sure I have the right version.

Clearly, none of the above is a life-threatening or significantly life-altering experience, but I am betting that virtually everyone is experiencing these kinds of occurrences increasingly often.  My theory is that some of those who turn to gun violence have simply “had it.”  They have other issues in their lives AND these kinds of issues as well.

Life would be less stressful if these aggravations didn’t occur so frequently.  I have lots of solutions but lack the power to implement them.

 



Windows 8/Surface–my analysis and prediction

November 25th, 2012

The tech pundits have cited multiple reasons for slower-than-anticipated sales of Windows 8 and related phones and tablets:

  1. Availability and pricing
  2. Poor connectivity, hardware problems
  3. Mixed early reactions
  4. Clumsy interface
  5. Misc. + the “current economic crisis”

Although all of the above reasons may, in fact, be contributing to slower sales, my gut feel (If “gut feel” is good enough for other pundits, it’s good enough for me!) is that the biggest issue is that everyone knows that it’s a mistake to be the first to get a new Microsoft program, let alone, a new piece of Microsoft hardware.  There will be the inevitable “updates” and “fixes.”

Personally, I’m going to wait a few months and then update my PC to Windows 8 and switch to a Windows 8 phone and tablet.    Am betting I’ll have lots of company.

So much for punditry.  Calling Nate Silver!  Any input on this burning issue?

 

 



Debates

October 21st, 2012

I wish that, instead of reporters and other “observers” providing  media reactions to the political debates, the media would engage “real” debate coaches and judges to evaluate the performances based upon pre-established criteria.

That method would add a degree of objectivity, and the results might prove surprising.

 

 



Personal political information: Opt-in or Opt-out?

June 9th, 2012

Some people may have been thrilled to learn about Votizen.com, which, according to their website, “is a web service that allows you to discover how your friends on social networks are registered to vote, and campaign with them to elect candidates that share your values.

The heart of Votizen is the over 200MM–strong voter database which is social media ready. Voters can connect to their own records to see their voting registration and history, as well as use it to prove their power to those that hold and seek office. Voters can then scan their social networks and reveal the voters they can work with to campaign for candidates they believe in, whether it’s nationwide for a Presidential election, or in a local city council race.”

If you are like me and were dismayed to discover that your personal political information might be available to your “connections” on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, Votizen says that there is a way to protect your information.  Send an email to help@votizen.com and ask them to send you an opt-out link.

Don’t misunderstand:  I appreciate Votizen’s stated intention to “create a new political currency based on voter-to-voter connections, reducing the influence of money and increasing the importance of relationships in civic engagement.”  At the same time, I prefer to keep my political affiliations private and think that revealing this kind of information should be “opt-in” rather than “opt-out.”

On a separate note, Votizen’s claims make me worry about our educational system because, unless I am missing something, it appears that the people at Votizen failed to pass or did not take the Common Sense Math course and did not learn the Double Check Your Work rule.

Fact check:  Votizen claims to have a database of more than 200 million registered voters which would mean that approximately 2/3 of all citizens are registered voters.  That felt wrong to me, so I did some checking and discovered that it really is wrong.  The current population of the United States is approximately 314 million, and the US Commerce Department reported only approximately 137 million registered voters in 2010.  (To see specifics, click on this link, the select Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2010, Detailed tables, Table 1.)

As a voter, a former elected public official and a former teacher, I believe that Votizen is wrong on its voter registration stats and wrong to make political affiliations public without permission.

 



Call centers off shore

November 26th, 2011

The New York Times today has a story, “A New Capital of Call Centers,” which focuses on the fact that many  companies with US customers are moving their call centers to the Phillipines or back to the U.S. because personnel in the new locations speak better English than, say, their counterparts in India.

Evidently, these companies believe that customers’ primary concern is the quality of the language used by the call center agents.  My primary concern, however, is whether or not the call center agent is actually able to answer my questions, solve my problem, and/or take my order accurately.  Overall,  I’ve had much better luck with the hard-to-understand foreign agents who seem to know what they are talking about than with US-based agents who are poorly trained and/or work in call centers in which no system is in place to help callers actually get their questions answered.

In brief, I wish companies would pay more attention to this Renee’s Rule™: Make my life easy.

What do you wish?

 

 



Awards dilution….

November 7th, 2011

When I won a Turnaround of the Year Award from the Turnaround Management Association (TMA)  in 1997, I was thrilled.  In addition to the thrill of being recognized for my achievements, during the award ceremony, I had the opportunity and the pleasure to deliver a thank you and give credit to Ron Torland, the CEO who brought me into the company, gave me full operating authority, worked with me side-by-side, and supported my decisions, some of which were extremely unpopular.  The turnaround would not have been possible without his participation.

When I attended the TMA awards presentation at the conference this year, it struck me that things have really changed.  There were so many awards given to so many people that there were no speeches–just lots of people marching across the stage.

Think about it:  How many announcements about awards events or awards being bestowed do you receive every week?  Clearly, these awards bring people into each organization and its events, and they are are certainly great marketing tools for both the organizations and the winners, but I can’t help feeling that the significance of these awards has been diminished.



Foundary.com update

April 26th, 2011

In my last post, I questioned the wisdom of  Foundary.com’s lack of a search function.  In fact, I had actually sent an email to  them about this topic.

Here is a part of their reply: “Because we have a very limited, specialized, selection and each sale only lasts a few days there is no search feature.”

There is hope, however.  When  I visited their site today, there was a “Search” field…It doesn’t work for items on their site–it takes visitors to other websites–but I am hoping this means they listened and will develop an effective search function in the not-to-distant future.  If they do, I may shop there.



What are they thinking?

April 25th, 2011

Zulily.com and Foundary.com are websites that offer products of interest to me, HOWEVER, I don’t shop at either one because those sites have no effective search function.  There is no field that says, “Search.”

What are they thinking?  I assume they think people will buy a larger number of items if they have to navigate through lots of different pages to find something of interest because they’ll see multiple items they’d like to buy.

This may be a great strategy for shoppers who either live to shop or have plenty of time on their hands, but it may prevent busy people from doing any shopping at all on those sites.

Here is the question:  Are the total  sales to people with time to shop likely to be larger than total sales WOULD be if it were easy to search for specific items on these websites?  My gut feel is that if these websites had first-rate search functionality, they would land sales not only from people who have time to shop but also from those who are pressed for time.

Perhaps I live in a warped reality–but most of the people I know (all age groups) would prefer EASY and TIME-SAVING to CUMBERSOME and TIME-CONSUMING.



A retail trend I don’t like

April 22nd, 2011

Retailers are always trying something new to boost sales, but this latest trick, having NO price tag, looks like a mistake to me.

For people who live to shop and have plenty of time to do so, being able to see the price may not matter, but for busy people, having to take time to find a clerk in order to learn the price of an item of interest  is not only annoying but may also prevent them from making a purchase.

Take me, for example:  I definitely do not live to shop and, when I need something,  generally shop en route to some other activity.  A few weeks ago, I spotted the perfect purse at Nordstrom–exactly what I’d been seeking for almost a year: leather, waterproof, big enough to hold an iPad and to serve as a tote for carrying shoes, etc.  Perfect for trips to New York City.  It was not a necessity but would definitely have been  nice to have.

No price tag.  No price tag on the outside; no price tag on the inside.  The clerk was helping other customers but told me that not having price tags on purses was their new policy.   I was on my way to a meeting and couldn’t wait.     Nordstrom lost a sale.

Today, while hiking through a mall on my way to purchase a necessity,   I spotted the perfect gift for my granddaughter at a kiosk.  No price tag.  For that matter, no clerk.  Therefore, that kiosk lost a sale.

I suppose that the theory behind this no price tag strategy is that when customers have to ask the price, it gives the sales person a chance either to make the sale and/or sell different or additional items.

It would be interesting to know (but tough to measure) whether the benefits of this strategy outweigh the costs of lost sales.  I’m sure it is NOT a good plan for customers like me.



Best Buy takes my advice

April 18th, 2011

If you follow my blog, you know I see a strong need for smaller stores with limited products.  Bitten by the economy, retailers are buying into this approach.

Best Buy is reducing its footprint.  Also mentioned in the story?  Jo-Ann Fabric and PetSmart.

Still, it sounds like these size reductions are cost-cutting moves rather than a realization that many consumers seek and prefer a faster, easier, less stressful shopping experience.



Where are we going?

April 18th, 2011

On April 18, 2006–just five years ago–the Canadian dollar was worth .88 U.S. dollars.  Today, April 18, 2011, the Canadian dollar is worth 1.04 U.S.

What does that say about where we have been and where we are going?



Fact or fiction?

April 15th, 2011

The greatest danger to the future of our democracy is that too many people are unable to differentiate between what is fact and what is fiction and too few care.

Although I certainly agree that academic achievement needs to be improved in our country, no job in our educational system  is more important than ensuring that our citizens can  evaluate critically the information they receive.

Perhaps you have followed the Kyl/Colbert saga which prompted this post. Senator Jon Kyl declared in a speech in the US Senate that 90% of Planned Parenthood’s budget goes to abortions. He was more than slightly off the mark:  the percentage is only 3%, and his office said that  his comment was “not intended to be a factual statement.”   The comedian Stephen Colbert responded with a twitter campaign that mocked Kyl’s behavior and drew attention to the lack of fact-based discussion which has become all too common.

Regardless of how we may feel about the abortion issue, it is scary to see that our elected officials (and too many others) simply don’t care about basing their arguments on facts.  We will never all agree on all topics, but let’s base our disagreements on FACT rather than on FICTION.  If we do not, we risk domination by demagoguery.



Retail: Walmart takes my advice

March 11th, 2011

If you read my January post  “Size DOES matter: The Pop-up Principle,” you know I’ve been saying that smaller stores that offer a narrower selection may prove more profitable for retailers because smaller stores accomplish two important things:  Done effectively, they both reduce  retailers’ costs AND provide a faster, less stressful shopping experience for customers.

Now, Walmart appears to be taking my advice.  See article in the Huffington Post today.

In the case of Walmart, smaller stores will not only offer the advantages I’ve listed above but will also make Walmart’s merchandise  and low-prices accessible to new customers who currently don’t want to or can’t travel to their super-sized stores.



Trends 2011- #2

March 6th, 2011

I promised to provide a series of posts regarding my predictions for 10-year trends.  So..here is the first:  Over the next 10 years, at least one appliance maker will figure out how to produce reliable, long-lasting appliances at a moderate cost.   (I am thinking particularly about ovens and refrigerators.)  These appliances will sell like the proverbial hot cakes.

Their success will be driven by three things:

  1. Consumer demand for appliances that work and require few repairs
  2. Improved production technology that will produce such appliances more cheaply than is now possible
  3. Viral “advertising” via the internet as consumers discover that such appliances exist

I hope this is not wishful thinking…….



Trends 2011- #1

February 26th, 2011

As a child, growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, I became a science fiction nut, and my interest in the future and what technology can achieve has endured.

In 1985, when I was in my MBA program, I took a course about “The Future.”  It was taught by Harold Linstone.   As a part of that course, each student wrote a scenario of what he/she thought the world would be like in 2000.  I have saved my copy (It was composed on my Apple IIe.   My sons were quite enthralled with it at the time, so it is preserved for all posterity in my safe deposit box.)

Among other things, I predicted that  by the year 2000, there would be “terrorist attacks on our shores.”  Am I prescient?  Not really–To prepare for the assignment, I  simply did a great deal of reading about trends at the time.

Some of my predictions were right; some were wrong.  Some were right, but I had NO  idea what they meant.  (e.g., I predicted that we would be communicating via electronic mail, but I had NO idea that we would call it “email” and that it would dramatically change our lives.)

So..for what it’s worth, I am going to start a series of blog posts containing my predictions about what will occur over the next ten years.  Some will be right; some will be wrong.. In any event I’ll be on-the-record, and it will be interesting to see the extent to which my predictions are accurate.