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Neutrinos clocked moving at faster-than-light speed

Neutrinos clocked moving at faster-than-light speed.

Stunning news if it turnes out to be true (still under peer review). Would be an exciting time to be a mathmatition and theorist!

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Georgia jobless rate hits highest level in 6 months

Georgia jobless rate hits highest level in 6 months.

The actual rate is closer to 17%. We are currently stuck in a vicious cycle. Consumers need to consume more to create demand that will lead employers to hire more employees. Unfortunately, due to high unemployment and the uncertainty surrounding the debt crisis both here and abroad, consumers are spending less (according to a CNN poll 70% of the respondents have cut back) leading to continued reduction in demand which is leading to continued cutbacks by producers.



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Georgia companies plan to weather economy | ajc.com


Georgia companies plan to weather economy  | ajc.com.

The continued high national unemployment rates and uncertainty over the deficit problem and government regulation are  making companys revise their short term goals and strategies to include holding off on investing in new hires and looking for sustained profitability through increased sales in emerging global markets.



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Have you checked your water temperature lately?

It is easy for businesses to become complacent when things seem to be going smoothly. Sales are chugging along; new products are in the pipeline, management is focused on developing new markets. Then you wake up one day to find that your flagship product has dropped a notch in its rankings against you competitors. Does this kind of change happen overnight? Not usually. It is more likely that what happened was a slow change over time that went unnoticed or was misinterpreted. The company fell victim to Creeping Normalcy.

Creeping Normalcy is the concept of how a major change can happen largely unnoticed if the change happens over a long period of time as opposed to a change that comes on rapidly. This concept is best described in the parable of the boiled frog.

The parable of the boiled frog has been around for a long time, and goes something like this:

If you have a frog, and you try and put your frog in some rapidly heating water, the frog will immediately realize that here is a problem and will try hard to get out of the pot. But if you place your frog in a pot of room temperature water he will stay put. Now, while the frog is enjoying sitting there in the water, you begin to slowly heat the water. As the temperature slowly rises the frog will probably do nothing. The warming water will eventually make the frog gets groggy. Even if our groggy little frog realizes that the water it is sitting in is now getting too hot, it may be too late for it to climb out the pot.

A Frog’s internal apparatus for sensing threats for survival is geared towards sudden change, not slow gradual changes. This is same survival apparatus is often found in the business world as well, as we can see when we take a look at PepsiCo and the recent slide to the number three slot for their flagship product, Pepsi Cola.

You have probably noticed the new Pepsi Cola commercials targeted directly at Coca Cola and some of their advertising icons like the polar bears and Santa Clause, having them sneaking a Pepsi instead of a Coke. It is a clever advertising campaign almost on par with the Pepsi Generation ads that I remember when I was growing up. What you may not realize is that this is the first time PepsiCo has done this type of media blitz for Pepsi in over three years, and it is in direct response to this shift in Pepsi’s product ranking.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article the uptick in the advertising budget is in the neighborhood of 30% and PepsiCo is also signing on to be a sponsor of the new Simon Cowall show, The X Factor.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyl is under fire from investors and industry insiders for her strategy that, up to this point, has focused more on healthier alterative products in the PepsiCo lineup. She had set an ambitious goal of doubling the revenue on the more nutritious products to $30 billion by 2020.

While both Coke and PepsiCo’s product sales have fallen off, Pepsi has seen a much sharper decline in their flagship products even though PepsiCo revenues have been rising.

Pepsi Revenue Chart 2011

Mrs. Nooyl defends her strategy as a long term effort to diversify the PepsiCo portfolio, and to address the increasing number of health concerns voiced by critics. “I look at our numbers and I feel very good about the trajectory of the company” She said, according to the WSJ article.

While the path she has put the company on does make sense and does seem to be working, she seems to have inadvertently allowed creeping normalcy to blind her to the increasing necessity to continue to spent money on the flagship brand, even if it meant spending a little less on other parts of the overall corporate strategy.

Just like our little frog in the hot water, Pepsi is trying to get out now that the peril is more obvious. Pepsi is responding to the concerns of investors, analysts and their distributor network. They have scaled back plans to introduce a now lower calorie version of Pepsi (branded Pepsi Next) nationwide this year, opting to focus on existing brands.

Will Pepsi and its CEO make it out of the hot water in time? I am confident that they will and that Mrs. Nooyl’s strategy really is the best long term course for the company, provided that she learns from this faux pas and takes the time to check the water temperature a little more frequently.

As leaders we cannot let ourselves become complacent, or to be too accepting of the easy explanations for what seem to be just minor changes in both the internal and external environments that we work and live in. Instead we need to always be willing to question everything, being sure to test the water for temperature changes.

Have you had experience working for the frog in the water? In hind sight what could you have done differently to see that a change was creeping up on you? I’d like to hear about your insights.

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Should I Stay, or Should I go?

Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double…

No, this is not a post about the punk rock group The Clash, or their 1981 hit song that shares the same name as this post, though the lyrics are apropos to the topic of whether or not we should ever accept a counter offer from our current employer. While every situation needs to be made on its own merits I believe that, as a rule of thumb, it is not the best idea, or necessarily the safest path to take (the ever present argument of Better the Devil you know.).

From the person at the drive through window at a fast food joint to a Chief Executive at the helm of a multi-billion dollar global company, we all are constantly evaluating whether or not the job we have is the one we really want to be doing. When it does become time for us to say goodbye to our current employer (which according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics is on average every 4.1 years as of 2008) we may be presented with a counter offer in the attempt to keep you from leaving your current position. Now you have to make a choice between the status quo and the unknown.

I have been following a poll by Amy Mayse on LinkedIn that was along the same lines. I thought that it was an interesting topic follow, having been on both sides of that conversation before. As you can see by the image below, at the close of this poll, 71% of the respondents felt that “It is never wise!” while only 29%Of the opted for the “If the Price is Right!” option. Of the 29% that fell into the ”If the Price is Right” group, 60% of the respondents fell into the 18 – 35 age group.

Prior to making the decision to change employers we have already attempted to hold an open and honest discussion with our manager and HRM department on our professional goals and where we feel the company is failing to  supporting you in reaching them. Good companies willingly participate in regular, open and honest dialog in the form of reviews and assessment, as well as creating an environment that is conductive to good communication and shared goals at all times. Smart employers have come to realize that the cost of losing qualified employees can have a significant impact on the bottom line due to loss of productivity, loss of knowledge and the costs associated with recruiting new talent to replace those that leave for whatever reason.

If you have address your concerns with our employer and you still find that your needs have gone unmet it means that some part of the psychological contract that exists between Company and Employee has been breached. Your goals and the company’s goals are not in alignment any longer and this misalignment can have a negative impact on your quality of work and, subsequently, on your employer. Once you realize that your employer is unable or unwilling to meet your needs it is time to move on.

When you approach your current employer with the news that you are moving on to another opportunity, it is quite likely that you will be offered a more attractive counter offer than your potential new employer has offered. Why? Most likely, it is a knee jerk reaction brought on by the news that you are leaving, and their realization that they are now faced with the dilemma of how to fill the production gap that your departure will be creating. Offering a better compensation plan, possibly even including the professional growth components you had been seeking, is really a way to minimize the impact your departure would have.

Should you choose to accept a counter offer, more than likely you will soon find yourself feeling dissatisfied again. Possibly more so because of the knowledge that you had a new opportunity in your hand, and let it slip away. You employer, while happy to have retained your services and not had to deal with the costs of a job search and training up a new staff member, will not soon forget that you were willing to leave. In a way it is like dating someone only to find out that you are not compatible but stay together anyway because you are afraid to move on.  Both of you may make a real and honest attempt to stay happy, but you will both be unhappy with the what you had to give up to make it work.

I would contend that it is better to make a clean break and continue to move ahead with your goals. Your former employer should have had ample opportunity to make adjustments to your employment agreement during the course of your employment as you had that continuous dialog with them. If you were as valued an employee as you probably hoped you were, the company would have developed a professional growth plan with you during the review process, made sure tha t your compensation package remained in line with internal and external averages and continued to express to you how well you were meeting their expectations.

You are really doing them and yourself a service by moving on. Your old employer will invariably find someone to replace you (because no one is really irreplaceable) whose goals are in better alignment with the corporate vision, and you get to take another step along your path to meeting your professional goals without wondering if your brief flirtation with another has in some way held you back.

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Giving it Another Go

I have not done any blogging in over a year now, but lately I have been getting the itch again. The thing that I think has pushed me back over the virtual edge was an article that I ran across by the Content Marketing Group, while surfing some business and technology feeds. It is a marketing article on blogging that proscribes a twelve step approach to getting your blog noticed. The article is informative and provides good advice for bloggers to get their message out and to keep up the buzz. The twelve steps are:

SEO / Keyword integration

You would think that this was a “no brainer” one, but I am continually astounded by the number of organizations that ado not have a clue about how important this is. My most recent encounter with this was with the University that I am attending for my MBA. I did some research on their site as part of a project I was working on, and was surprised to see that their site did not land in the top 100. Of course, me and my group that was working on the project made sure that they were informed about the lack of results and the poor SEO on the site, along with suggestions on how to correct it. Hopefully they are taking it to heart.


This was another area I was already familiar with, and I am glad that they included this in their 12 Steps. RSS Feed services like Feedburner  can give increased exposure and analytics that will help you to track teh success of your blogging campaign. Adding your blog to a Facebook Page, Twitter and to your LinkedIn account will all so help with getting your message out (as my Facebook friends, Twitter Followers and LinkedIn connections are seeing now!).

Shorten your post’s URL

This is a good suggestion if you are using Twitter. WordPress offers a shortened URL on their WordPress.com blogs, but you can also go to a service like Bitly to manage any URL, such as your corporate website, and Bitly offers analytics, which is always a good thing.

Status updates

The article give some great tips on tailoring status updates for the different environments and talks about some tools for setting posting times in the future.

Content teasers on other sites

This section yielded some interesting ideas with how you can use forums on sites like LinkedIn or industry specific to drive traffic to your blog. This is one to be careful with, though, as posting links to your own content, even if you are providing relevant and helpful information can be viewed as spam by some members.

Social bookmarking

Having the social bookmarking links like the Twitter LinkedIn or the Facebook “Like” are always a good idea, and this content gets viewed as already being vetted by the person suggesting it.

Seek out and comment on other blogs with similar topics

If you are passionate about what you do this is probably something that you are already engaged in, so it would be easy to start adding a link back to your own blog in your signature, or pointing people your site for helpful information.

Seek and assist on Twitter

This one seemed a bit odd to me, as I do not see a lot of folks asking for help over my twitter account, but I am just getting back into Twitter as well, so I will be giving this a try.

Share your blog post with target customers

Always a good idea, provide the post topic is relevant to them.

Add your blog post to your next e-newsletter

Now, this is one that I did have a little trouble buying into. From my perspective, your blog (if you are a company) should really be taking the place of an e-newsletter. What would you put into a newsletter that you would not post on your blog? I think that a well constructed blog should take the place of a newsletter.

Ask other bloggers to mention your post

Just like getting links to your website and linking to other peoples websites are an important component of SEO, getting your blog mentioned on other peoples blogs will help drive traffic. Be sure to give them the same courtesy, after all, they too are looking to up their visibility!

So, here I am, at my new virtual home Leveraging Chaos, for another go at blogging about the things that I have a passion for, such as Change Management, Business Process Management, Innovation, Technology, Project Management, Leadership, Marketing, Etc. I hope that you liked my breif synopsys of the CMI article 12 Things to Do After You’ve Written a New Blog Post. If you did, come visit my Leveraging Chaos blog, and pass the URL on to anyone else you may know that might have an interest!

Thanks for you time,

Brian Conway

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