Category Archives: Fun

The Lazy Unreasonable Man

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
– George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

That quote sprang to mind when I read the great post – In praise of the lazy employee

They want to know why it takes five signatures to get something approved when one should do. They want to know why the forecasting effort should take two weeks each month when a bit of rethinking could cut 50% out of the work and possibly get better answers. They want to know why they’re tied up in bureaucracy when simplifying work would leave them more time to attend to customers’ needs and to come up with creative new ways to make progress for the company. They’re lazy enough not to take “We’ve always done things that way” for an answer; they want to figure out how to do more with less. They want to make more contribution than the 80-hour-a-week employee supposedly does and to do it with far less stress and strain.

As one demonstrably highly effective manager I knew has said (my paraphrase), “The effective people are those who put in a solid six hours a day working on the right things and then spend another couple of hours listening to people and to ideas; they typically are much more effective than those who work late into the evening.”

My view of myself places me in both of these camps (lazy and unreasonable). But, honestly, I have become more reasonable over time and while it makes me less difficult to put up with I think I am less effective (my performance appraisals are more positive so maybe I am wrong or maybe my opinion of performance appraisals is right).

Using Capitalism to Make the World Better

I have mentioned Kiva before: Microfinancing Entrepreneurs (on our Curious Cat Economics and Investing blog). In addition to being a good cause Kiva really shows some great management strategies. The use of Information Technology to connect people directly is a wonderful example of using IT effectively (understanding psychology).

Kiva lets you loan money directly to an entrepreneur of your choice. Kiva provides loans through partners (operating in the countries) to the entrepreneurs. Those partners do charge the entrepreneurs interest (to fund the operations of the lending partner). Kiva pays the principle back to you but does not pay interest. And if the entrepreneur defaults then you do not get your capital paid back (in other words you lose the money you loaned). I plan to just recycle repaid loans to other entrepreneurs.

I have just placed an additional $150 in loans to 6 business entrepreneurs (in Honduras, Indonesia[2 loans], Tajikistan, Uganda and Ukraine), along with a $100 donation to Kiva (adding to my previous Kiva loans of $350). Since our last post the Oprah Winfrey Show, President Clinton’s newly released book Giving and others have sung the praises of Kiva and made it a challenge to find entrepreneurs of Kiva to lend to (Kiva is working on building their capacity – to keep up with the demand. That seems to have been partially fixed (for awhile the supply of the entrepreneurs was completely exhausted) in last few weeks (though still they limit you to no more than $25 per entrepreneur – in order to allow the large numbers of people that want to lend to at least have the chance to loan something).

If you lend through Kiva, add a comment with a link to your Kiva page and I will add you to our list of Curious Cat Kivans.

Related: Kiva: Microfinance Loanshelping people succeed economicallyThinking About the Future

The Joy of Work

Comic by Joe Sayers, Wanna play work?

Wanna play work - comic

A good laugh, but also a reminder of an important idea. We spend much of our life at work: we deserve to have pride in what we do and even enjoy it (shocking I know). Read the respect for people posts for some ideas on how to make your workplace better. If you think a new job might be the answer – find management improvement jobs via Curious Cat Career Connections.

People are entitled to joy in workDr. W. Edwards Deming

Related: What Business Can Learn from Open SourceStop Demotivating Employees

Funding Google Gadget Development

Google Gadgets are small tools and toys that integrate with iGoogle. Google is funding developers to work on creating gadgets through Google Gadget Ventures. Great idea. They offer:

1. Grants of $5,000 to those who’ve built gadgets we’d like to see developed further. You’re eligible to apply for a grant if you’ve developed a gadget that’s in our Google gadgets directory and gets at least 250,000 weekly page views. To apply, you must submit a one-page proposal detailing how you’d use the grant to improve your gadget.
2. Seed investments of $100,000 to developers who’d like to build a business around the Google gadgets platform. Only Google Gadget Venture grant recipients are eligible for this type of funding. Submitting a business plan detailing how you plan to build a viable business around the gadgets platform is a required part of the seed investment application process.

Google continue to make good moves to manage in a new world. With this program they are not investing in creating an infrastructure to develop software, support software, hire staff… Instead they get to tap the drive and capabilities of those developers working on products which increase the value of iGoogle through small cash incentives. Previously they offered Google Gadget Awards. They also fund Google summer code – to support software developers creating open source software and reducing computer waste (where they didn’t stop with improving the servers they use but to making a broader impact on society). They really do a great job of leveraging their efforts well.

Related: Google Innovation and EntrepreneurshipGoogle Custom Management Improvement Search EngineExperiment Quickly and OftenInnovate or Avoid Risk

Awesome CatCam

CatCam - photo of the famous cat photographer CatCam - cat photographer on the run CatCam - cat photographer get picture of another cat

I posted this to our science and engineering blog last week: Awesome Cat Cam. It doesn’t really have anything to do with management: I suppose I could make a case for creativity… but basically it is just really cool (it also illustrates some good product design and testing points). CatCam by Juergen Perthold – this great project involved taking a digital camera and some additional equipment to create a camera that his cat wore around his neck which took pictures every 3 minutes. The pictures are great. The cat got photos of several other cats and seemed to like spending time under cars. You can now order your own CatCam.

Sometimes I have some challenging ideas, or crazy like some other people would say. This time I thought about our cat who is the whole day out, returning sometimes hungry sometimes not, sometimes with traces of fights, sometimes he stay also the night out. When he finally returns, I wonder where he was and what he did during his day. This brought me to the idea to equip the cat with a camera. The plan was to put a little camera around his neck which takes every few minutes a picture. After he is returning, the camera would show his day.

For the second try I used the plastic package of a child toy (Kinderueberraschung), put a stone in it for loading it with some weight and attached it again to the cat collar. This time the part returned – dirty and scratched outside, water inside. What the hell is the cat doing !? This raised the requirements for the camera protective housing a lot

Big moment no. 1: attach the collar with the camera to the cat. The reaction was not very happy but finally accepted. Reality check passed 🙂

Related: The Cat and a Black BearAutomatic Cat FeederThe sub-$1,000 UAV Project

All Models Are Wrong But Some Are Useful

“All Models Are Wrong But Some Are Useful” -George Box

A great quote. Here is the source: George E.P. Box, Robustness in the strategy of scientific model building, page 202 of Robustness in Statistics, R.L. Launer and G.N. Wilkinson, Editors. 1979.

See more quotes by George Box.

Related: Dangers of Forgetting the Proxy Nature of Dataarticles by George BoxQuotes by Dr. W. Edwards Deming

Innovative Marketing Podcast

Lego Mindstorms

This podcast on Lego Mindstorms NXT, Lead Users, and Viral Marketing [the broken link was removed] is interesting. The discussion does a good job of explaining how factors like web 2.0 and “open source” can allow business to operate in a new way and take advantage of new opportunities. Understanding these ideas is much more innovative than most of what I read in the “business press.” And the message is explained clearly, so one does not need to understand these concepts to appreciate the business opportunities. See links below: Lego Mindstorms are also just cool.

via: eContent

Related: Open Source for LEGO MindstormsLego Learningscience and engineering podcast librariesGadgets and GiftsIntellectual Property Rights and InnovationBetter and Different