Thursday, December 26, 2013

Recapping 2013, Resolving 2014

2013 was my sixth year of blogging, and it's still nigh impossible for me to predict which of my posts will do well and which will land with a thud.  Even writing about X-rated topics, which I tried back in 2008 (with Camouflage Marketing), didn't seem to have the je ne sais quoi to go viral.  Meanwhile, other posts, some of which were written just because the blog was looking lonely--a particularly poor reason for writing--took off.

The three best-read new posts in 2013 were The Cult of the Entrepreneur The Founding Fathers as Innovators and Surviving Little Entrepreneurism.  All three made me feel like a curmudgeon when I wrote them, but apparently there's room for a little ballast in the top-heavy hysteria of American entrepreneurism.

In the next tier down, Purchasing Worker Loyalty was very popular, and that was also one of my favorite posts to write because it dovetailed nicely with the book I'm researching.  It also got me back to my old hometown of North Dighton.  Likewise, Want Innovation?: Think Shovels!, about the Ames shovel collection at Stonehill College, was fun to research, and in a roundabout way (thanks to Greg Galer) got me to the Yankee Steam-Upwhere I got to see my first Corliss steam engine.  Very cool.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Answer YOUR Email? Ha!

One new form of digital power is
having your head explode.
When I was a CEO I could send an email to anyone in the organization and have it answered quickly, sometimes instantaneously.
I mistakenly came to believe that’s how email worked.  Worse yet, that everyone liked me.

When we were acquired and I suddenly found myself dealing with a huge organization, most of it above me, the pace of response to my emails slowed.  Substantially.  From the "speed of text" to the "speed of snail mail."  From minutes to days.  Later, when I became a consultant, my email slowed further still.  In fact, some of my consulting emails have never been answered.

It turns out that the “speed of email response” is a phenomenon so consistent and predictable that we can draw accurate organizational charts simply by measuring it.  

Where the email chart is at odds with the org chart, we have found someone whose real status (good or bad) differs from his or her title.  In other words, that’s the way the organization really works.

Sadly, instead of being liked, the arc of my email trajectory simply demonstrated a modern fact of business life:  If I have Power, you’re answering my email, and pronto.  But I'll answer yours more slowly and curtly, cut the email string whenever I choose, and will occasionally ignore you completely.

Such is the language of digital power.  I still know how important you are by your corner office, and your black turtleneck and jeans--but now I can smell you coming a hundred servers away.  Or not, as the case may be.