Saturday, October 27, 2012

A "Flower of Service" Model, appllied as a compensatory decision rule

This is a little cryptic, but I did it with my students in a Services Marketing III lecture. We enjoyed it, I think:

Sorry Apple, your bundle of benefits failed to hold me

Apple, I I'm sorry that we had to do this. You converted me to the world of smartphones. I had a Blackberry in 2006 but couldn't make sense of its operating system and RIMs cumbersome data charging arrangements.

I was buying shitty second hand phones to just do voice and text through to about 2009, then a feud with Telstra caused me to pull the pin and take a Virgin contact. I love Virgin these days, for everything. And I loved your iPhone 3.

Your iPhone changed my life. Once you managed to get your iTunes to work through my employer's proxy server (whatever that means) you put the world at my fingertips. I had it all, then. Mail, web, calendar (although it was clumsy) music and video. I thought we'd never part. And your iPhone 4 was even better.

I promise, I didn't want to change. Sure, the fact that only half the videos on the web would play through you - a bit of a drag. Keeping the decrepit iTunes as you "do-stuff" gatekeeper reminds me of a second generation business guy whose dad still comes into work every day.

But you made me wait for so long for an iPhone 5. You gave me a false start with the 4s which my brother in law got, and loves. But I wanted to pass my iPhone 4 on and move to the next great thing. For 18 months! My buddy Ervin just one day turned up with a new (non Apple) phone. Just got sick of the small screen.

And then this! So you moved YouTube out and replaced Google maps with your buggy Apple maps (it's pretty "Purty" I hear, but drives you to dead ends). You are actually getting more bloody minded, not less. Your screen change (longer but not really bigger) seemed wacky and as far as new features (yawn) - panoramic photos - wtf?! Who cares?

But I was still hot for it. Like the people standing in line here

I was prepared to pay cash, and did. I ordered on the first day I could. And the web retailer took my money. I was told to wait three weeks - fine. Two days later I was told the three weeks would probably be seven or more, due to "unprecedented demand". Yet people who took it on contract were already pressing buttons on your newest product.

I thank goodness for the way Google knew they had to crack the operating system monopoly. iTunes and iOS might be a pig but for a while it was the only one.

I like the cheeky little green man.

I had enough time to order an HTC one X. I'm still learning. Flying outside of the Apple cage is scary, but worth it. Sure, my postpurchase dissonance is playing games with me. I'm complaining about everything that's not exactly the same as the iPhone but there is surprisingly little, and those things are little things.

The people who would endure this abuse as customers are sitting at the right hand side of the curve below:

Whilst I'm not an innovator I'm certainly not late majority. The grandparents waiting in line at the ad above possibly are.

Apple, you lost me with the iPhone 5. "Bungled" is the only real word. So when my ex honours student David urged me via twitter to free myself from the Apple mind control I reluctantly did. Still, my separation anxiety is alleviated with the three iPads we have.

We'll see how my tablet upgrade experience works.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

"Top Business School" a big call, but highlights branding challenges

I was browsing about a film I'd seen recently and got smacked by this:

As with flexographic printing, I think the essence of good web display advertising is simplicity. Simple design, simple message. The strong UniSA colour and glaring copy certainly got a clickthrough from me. Then I landed on this:


But I think the banner ad was a chance to have a dig at one of The University of Adelaide who have liked to just call theirs "Business School"

And I think that the AACSB (US Business School) accreditation makes a better argument for 'top' business school than UniSA's page.

But then, it's advertising. Not strictly auditable. Given the fact that the term "business school" is so easily co-opted, at least the other Uni in the state can occupy a defined, uncopyable position. Minor as it may be.

So, perhaps "Adelaide Business School" could be the brand, if you don't want it stolen. They appear to have opted for "The University of Adelaide Business School" in some ways, but that's almost a sentence, more than a brand. But then I don't know who already owns the "Adelaide Business School" trademark. There is - of course - an "Adelaide Law School" within that particular University.

A vexed question. But I know one thing - the ad at the top is cheeky. Almost as if it was meant to offend their competition. Surely not?

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

All barriers down: Singapore here we come!

I love it when I get asked to teach in Singapore. It's a privilege. The students are great and I go for 2x1 weeks (a month apart) to teach the 12 weeks of content in intensive mode. The students are good for it, and so am I. It's intense, but it works.

And sometimes I get to add an extra dimension. When I was doing it 2002-2006 I racked up so many points that I took my two older kids to HK or Singapore a few times.

It's been a little leaner since then, but no entirely. So I flipped some cash to the travel agent and got a ticket for 8yo Jonah. There have been plenty of things to work through since then - passports, school, marking, other employers - but it seems all barriers are out of the way. Jonah and myself will get on the plane on Tuesday. Cool.

And it related, very important, news - my students in Singapore have collected really nice data for their Market Research projects. They have a good number of responses and their online questionnaire looked really good when I ticked them through a few weeks ago.

This will be a great trip.

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San Remo Risoni: What a cool meal!

I used some expensive pearl couscous the other night and it was fine. But this was divine.

I chopped some leeks, fried them in some butter, olive oil with garlic, chopped about a half a cup of dried tomatoes and stirred through. Added the risoni, cooked to Brown and poured the chicken stock over it.

Reduced and served. A $3 bag of pasta and some leftover fresh stuff created a gourmet meal. How cool?

I first saw this pasta about five years ago when Michael Neale (who still works at San Remo) showed it to me with gusto.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Life: More than simply a procedural police drama

It ran for two seasons a few years ago. Damian Lewis plays a cop who spent 12 years in jail. It plays a whole heap of twists and turns, and finishes completely, with an amazing 'bang'.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Stop bitching about unfair dismissal laws and manage your people"?

I had the chance share a great meal and (quite a few) glasses of wine with a great old friend of mine the other day. This guy is mild mannered with a steel core, worked as a chef for 30 years and now sells consumables back into the hospitality industry.

I was alluding to the old saw "if your not a lefty under thirty you have no heart, if you're not conservative after 40 you have no brain" but I thankfully hadn't fired that shot.

But I had said "I don't know, I'm drifting. I hate - for instance - hearing stories of businesses who can't manage their staff because they're hamstrung by unfair dismissal laws"

My buddy barely batted an eyelid but floored me with insight.

"I just think anyone complaining about unfair dismissal are using it as an excuse for bad management. They haven't hired, trained, developed, motivated or (if necessary) managed out their people."

In thirty year of employing people I have never had trouble getting rid of a person who wasn't right. Sure it took a little longer, sometimes they turned around and were good and sometimes they left because they wanted to"

From your lips to God's ears.

Now perhaps this buddy of mine is talking from a skewed perspective. A single industry where people move around quite freely. But I can't help feeling this guy has it right. We didn't talk much more about my sympathy for conservatives after that. A few more sensible chats with Will might draw back the curtain a little more.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ethics: Before using that cabcharge...

As I try to make sense of the world, I ponder the nature of right and wrong. For years I have used the sunlight test as a guide to whether or not to do something - would I be prepared for the whole world to know of my act?

But there are others; What if everyone did it? What if it was done to me? Plenty more.

But I always consider another one:

"Is the value I receive from an act worth the value of trust I'd lose by taking it?"

So if an employer gives you cabcharge tickets in the idea that you use them on work related activities, is it really worth the $30 you might save by using it to come home from the footy? Why not pay your $8 for a ream of printer paper at home, your $3 for a sharpie?

Aside from simply right and wrong, it's a simple economic decision. Given that nothing is as valuable as being trusted by the people around you, the decision is always easy.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

On God and doing God's work.

Some things are complicated, some are simple.

I think it's simple that there exists a force of life, a force for good that tends to sweep the world along and make things work. The sun comes up, warms the soil, causes the seeds to sprout, photosynthesis. We eat, live and interact. The force of life sweeps this all along and some people call this force God.

It's also simple that there were many great people who made the world better. They assisted this force of life. The prophet Mohammed believed he transcribed the word of this force of nature and set a rule book that can be used for great good. Four guys told their stories of a radical called Jesus two thousand years ago and there are teachings in the bible that can be used to sweep the work along a good path. Buddha got his stuff together and achieved a plane of self awareness and tranquility that assists this force of life. And then thousands of Mother Theresas, Ghandis, Mary MacKillops and unsung heroes.

It's complicated, the exact relationship between these "doers of God's work" and the force of life itself. Jesus the son of God, Mohammed His chosen voice. The people who live the religions believe that those things, too, are simple. I respect and envy their belief, their faith. But I think that is complicated.

But doing God's work can be simple. Assisting the force of life to sweep the world along a path of goodness and growth. Working with people's children - whether they're eight years old or 23 - whether it's Kanga cricket or a tutorial in marketing seems to be how I am best able to do God's work. It's not always easy, but it mostly works.

One good example, one moment of realisation at a time.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Last word narrow minded - precisely the opposite

I was recently told that I liked to have the last word. In some cases, yes, when I'm arguing about matters of personal perception. But mostly I just realise that we won't agree and ask to be left alone. Perhaps that is trying to have the last word but then who's the one trying to change the other's mind?

But in so much else - in matters of fact - my "smart assed" behaviour is actually a sign of a willingness to learn. It's just that I've done the research, got the answer and moved on.

A lady on the radio saying "why don't we cease live exports? Just get Muslims to kill the animals here, according to the correct rites, Cryovac the meat into packs the size they want, and send it over there. It doesn't even need tobe refrigerated"

Wrong in so many ways. And not wrong on matters of opinion, but matters of fact:

Halal export has been de rigeur for at last 20 years. In fact, ever major abattoir in Australia has blessed and bled the animals before processing. Her suggestion is what is already happening. Cryovac meat needs to be refrigerated, you fool. Silliest thing I've ever heard. Only one method, retorting, makes the product shelf stable, like a steel can. It's what Dover Fisheries do with Abalone. Almost nobody else retorts their flexible packaging in Australia for things like meat, chicken or fish.

Now, if that's me needing to have the last word, then it's not the sign of a closed mind. In fact I know all this stuff because I've had a very open mind, been willing to learn, and already have the answer. That is possible when it comes to matters of fact.

It's worse when the newcomer thinks they've found some wrinkle in the fabric of reality, yet they are faced with another fact. Unfortunately it's often me who has to make the disconfirming fact apparent to them, and it makes me look like I want to have the last word.

And I am delighted when somebody uncovers something I had missed.

Live export was exactly one of those things. I was vocal against live export, once. I believed they should just buy the meat in Cryovac. A clever guy, Nathan Gray, pointed out that buying beef on the hoof is the only way many Indonesians can keep beef at all. Correct, they have no refrigeration so need to hold the animals, breathing, for a number of months.

I didn't get the last word on that one. New facts. The last word was Nathan's.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nothing's permanent: that's mostly a good thing

I once sat on a plane next to a guy who was infuriating in his dogma that impermanence was the only permanence. I still remember the discussion with displeasure, because I can assure you that there are some things that - I feel - can't just be meditated away.

But perhaps I'm just not at an adequate level of spiritual maturity.

Because when I find irritations - a next door neighbour's dog barking, a student in a class who hates me, a rival that makes my skin crawl - I can console myself that "this will pass". So mostly the impermanence is a good thing, and I have evidence for it.

Sometimes the impemanence is bad. Yesterday I got from a student "oh, you're Cullen? Man, we were supposed to be in your course and had changed stuff to make it so we got you, but then didn't." I have many regrets in life and moments like that are most among them. I can only teach the students when I'm asked to.

But impermanence has always been a part of it for me. I simply went from skydiving ten jumps on a weekend to nothing. My last words (face to face) to my skydiving buddies were "see you next week". My CDs are still at the drop zone. From 2006.

I haven't played golf since August 20, but had played at least twice a week all year, hitting a "five days in one week" record around July.

I thank god for my family, because they persevere. Everything else - impermanent.

And that's - mostly - a good thing.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Dare I say hypocrisy?

Alan Jones made horrid comments about Julia Gillard regarding her father. But then I suppose the Chaser's "standby obituaries" for Rupert Murdoch and Gina Rinehart are all just a but of fun?

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

America's disillusion is palpable

Even Obama's great supporters have trouble countering the "empty chair" metaphor. He's had a tough job, he replaced a guy I didn't like and I don't know enough about the challenger. Other than he's loathed by moderates and the left. And yet the disappointment in Obama crosses many divides.

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