Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bleeping Attitude

So if I my bleeping attitude is programmed unconsciously by me, then I can reprogram it. That aligns with the ideas of Norman Vincent Peale and the horde of positive thinking people that followed him. It sounds like “unconscious” mental programming is only unconscious because we are too busy doing other things to notice that it is happening. It does not mean that it is beyond our reach, just currently beyond our attention.

Reprogramming first requires becoming aware of your attitude and then tracing that to the behaviors that are programming it. From there, I suspect that it is best to select replacement behaviors rather than forcing out existing behaviors and leaving a void.

This is where the bleeping movie might come in very handy. The metaphysical or paraphysical world that it describes (true or not) is an alternative to the concrete world we usually deal with. Reprogramming can be assisted by access to nontraditional ideas that force people to stop looking at the world from one point of view. That in itself is valuable in making change. If you cannot release your current ideas, opinions, and mores, then there is little room for change. In fact, your current state is a function of those very ideas. It might be that you have encapsulated a combination of these that can only lead to the kind of behavior you have right now. It might be impossible to change without changing the ingredients that you allow into your mind and body. This is an area where religious conversion is effective. It changes the ideas you allow into your head and it changes you daily practices. Therefore, it almost has to change your attitude and perspective. It is just like changing the ingredients in a soup, it has to taste different. Same for the metaphysical ideas from the bleeping movie.

What the bleep do we know

I watched the movie “What the bleep do we know”. It was interesting and surprising. I work with a woman who is completely into all of these types of ideas and practices. She knew the movie instantly and had read books by many of the contributors. I am more skeptical. Many of the ideas are certainly true, but applied in a new light in the movie. Other ideas will require more verification.

Specific ideas that I caught were:
· The emotions and behaviors that you exhibit strengthen neural pathways in your brain. Therefore, repetition created your mental state. Getting out of a previous state (or rut) requires repeatedly behaving different until the old pathways weaken and new ones are strengthened. This is encouraging because it means that changing personality is possible, though not necessarily easy.
· Humans become dependent on a number of chemicals and practices to deal with stress. Reprogramming can also break those addictions and give you the opportunity to take on new behaviors (and probably new “good” dependencies or addictions).
· The idea of changing the structure of water by taping a word onto the bottom was highly questionable. I do not see any way that the water can be influenced by the pattern of ink on a piece of paper. For this to happen, it would mean that energy would have to be transferred from the person writing the label, stick to the ink, and then be transferred again to the water. I need a lot more convincing to believe this.

Finally, at the end they gave the credentials of the people who were interviewed. Many of these were very credible – notably professors from Stanford and Cornell. Two who were not so credible were the chiropractor from Atlanta and the woman who channeled wisdom from a spirit named Ramatha.

Web site

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Freewriting in Greek - What does the mind do?

When using the computer, does it matter whether the displayed text is in readable English or symbols – like Greek? Lets find out …

In thoeyr our freewrting is different if we hand write than if we type on a computer. Psychologically we process differently when we are hand writing than typing. I think that is true. Handwriting is a specialized form of artwork. It is "drawing characters", not just pecking them off of a keyboard. Wihout some reflection it is possible to elieve that there is no difference. But when you actually practice both you quickly notice a significant difference in what you mind is doing in the two cases.

So I wondered if it would make a difference to change to font to Greek symbols and write an entry. Certainly, I still have the keyboard to look at as I am doing right now. But, MS Word does not do spell chaeck in Greek. So there is no feedback that tells me to fix a speklling or grammar error. The Greek symbols also stop me from looking at the text on the screen and revising what I will say.

Having done just this short section in Greek, I can say that this form is unique from normal typing. Because you cannot read it, the words disappear into the computer and you just feep flowing. Once they are donn, it is very difficult to revise, because you cannot see what to go back and change. I have already noticd a number fo spelling errors that have slipped past too fast for me to corrent.

When writing the mind is doing an interesting combination of thinking, typing, reading, revising, and editing ... all at the same time. I suspect that typing or writing in the ....
Right there someone walked in and interrupted me. I cannot go back and look at what I was writing. If I don;t remember what word I was on, then I cannot continue the flow.

Freewriting in the dark (whether typing or handwriting) would be yet another modified mind/body process.

This was an intersting experiment. Must go now.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Freewriting Topics

This assignment is supposed to do two things – (1) get us to realize and practice how freewriting can break a writers block and actually reveal buried and valuable thoughts in our own heads, and (2) allow us to explore ideas in research methods. For me, it has done #1 very well. I had not realized what a great cauldron of ideas was sitting on top of my neck. I thought it was just a good place to display a UM hat. However, it is has not been so successful at #2. During the first week of class we identified the 3 major methods of research – qualitative, quantitative, and mixed. Since then we have spent the semester circling these topics and adding more layers to them. However, I soon ran out of new topics to explore in this journal. I could have rewritten on the same topic after learning more. Also, many of the textbooks we are using are dead boring. They go on, and on, and on about simple ideas. I am now sold on the value of qualitative methods, but in spite of my experience with the texts. Those books (esp. Northcutt and Patton) make me think they have an inferior method and they have to write long and boringly about it to try to justify it. Thank heavens for Creswell and Punch. They really rescue qualitative methods from its own proponents. Reading papers that use a qualitative method has been must more valuable than reading books on the topic. It is clear that some questions have to be created first qualitatively before they can be proven quantitatively.

As I read the chapters in the textbooks, I am seldom struck by a really interesting or new idea. Too often I am lulled into boredom and just keep swimming until the end of the chapter. I must admit that when I get to my dissertation, I may find these books invaluable references – I that might just be a polite way of saying they stink … which they really do.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving Weekend - More Homework

Most people look forward to the long Thanksgiving weekend so they can relax, overeat, watch football, and be with family. We did all of that too. But now that it is Friday, I am looking forward to 3 days with no work responsibilities … free time ... that I can use to finish the last 4 homework assignments for the Fall Semester.

1) Drake Case. I have a nice outline of ideas for this case. I plan to get a first draft of the text written today.
2) Statistics Project. I have been doing statistical analysis on my data set for a month. I can see the patterns that I want to pull out and the model that I want to make. But, I need some big block of time to organize and write that material down.
3) Statistics Assignment. There is one last assignment that is due in a week or so. Time to get the reading done for that and start on the problems. I think Denise has already done this one.
4) Freewriting Journal. While I was working in Canada, I fell behind in my journal by 3 days. I need to do those entries this weekend.
5) Drake Case Presentation. After I have the Drake Case written, I have to prepare a presentation for the class. This has to be done before I fly up there on Thursday night.
6) Statistics Project Presentation. I have to create a summary presentation on the statistics project for next Saturday. First I have to make it with Powerpoint, then convert to Impatica, then post on the 725 WebTycho site.

That’s all between now and the end of the semester. Oh, of course, that does not count the reading and posting to WebTycho sessions.

I think I will go back to bed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Homework - Middle School vs. Doctoral Studies

Over the holiday weekend there are two people in our house that have homework. My 12 year-old daughter has to create a science project. Hers requires a stand-up tri-fold project board, pictures, text, and a model of the water cycle. She has to search the Internet for pictures, write text about the water cycle, and build a clay model of the cycle. I am the other one. I have 5 or 6 assignments to start or finish this weekend. I have to research questions in management using books and papers from a digital library. However, I do not have to make anything from clay. So my hands will remain clear, but I won’t have anything to demonstrate in class on Dec 2nd.

Remember show and tell? You always had bring something to hold up – I have since learned that those are “tactiles”. Well, now that we are doctoral students it seems that we spend little time on tactiles. We don’t have time to mess with anything but documents and words. There is little time to apply what we have learned. Between semesters I often find an outlet for my new knowledge. My new understanding of Innovation and Change have become the topics for a number of conference presentations. I can hardly wait for the end of this semester when I can organize some of this into a series of presentations.

My daughter often throws a fit if her assignments are not going well or if they interfere with the rest of her life. Because she has parents there seems to be some reason that she can project that frustration onto us – it is own fault. But as an adult learner, it is difficult to direct my frustration outwardly. Whose fault is it that I have too much homework? Apparently my own, because I decided to sign up for these two classes. So I can only get sad or tired when the work gets heavy.

I think doctoral work would be much more rewarding if we had tactiles. We could build little office buildings with clay, popsicle sticks, and matches. Maybe we could collect bottle caps and make a mural of Jack Welch or Lee Iacocca. If that is too silly, then maybe we could create exercises in which we apply our new concepts to our own companies or to those in the news. Maybe we could attempt to solve GM’s current problem with sales, unions, and retiree benefits.

I am going to play with clay for awhile – the blue looks really nice.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Canadian vs. European Insecurity

Though the Canadians I was working with wanted to be unique from Americans, they did not exhibit the national insecurity that comes from many Europeans. When workign with Europeans I often find that they are eager to point out that their country has invested something or has some social feature that is superior to the U.S. It is not sufficient that that feature be good, in their eyes there is some reason that it must be better than the U.S.

The strangest of these came from a Dutchman. He went into a little speech about why The Netherland’s money was superior to U.S. money. Their bills were printed in different colors and multiple sizes. Working will bills that were all green and all the same size was just inferior in his mind. Though this is certainly an area in which anyone could have a personal opinion, it is no basis upon which to measure the value of an entire country.

In Canada, an interview on television mentioned the color of their money being a distinguisher between the two countries.

In a recent conversation with a professor form Finland, he wanted me to see his Nokia telephone which was produced in Norway and emphasize that it was very advanced, but not yet available in the U.S. He also felt that he was doing research that was leading the world, especially the U.S.

Personally, I do not believe that I engage Europeans with a superior attitude. However, it would be very easy for me not to notice this bias in my speech. I assume that they are reacting to an image of the U.S. that they have built up over many years. Perhaps their media is projecting an arrogant image of the U.S. Certainly in International affairs the US behaves with a great deal of arrogance and disregard or the opinions of the rest of the world.

An American comedian performing in Canada may have said it best. He thanked them for their kindness because it was so rare to find anyone outside of the US that liked America right now.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Canadian Parliament

I flew up to Canada early on Sunday so I could look about Ottawa, Canada’s capital. I spent most of my time in the Parliament area taking pictures of the buildings and the river area. Then I took the tour f Parliament and learned a little about their history. They were a British holding until 1867 when they negotiated a peaceful separation from the crown. However, they still feel a strong bond back to England. In their struggle to create an identity that is unique from that of American’s they have mixed British and American practices. In business, it feels almost identical to the U.S. However, they do only work 37.5 hours /week (7.5 hours/day) in order to avoid the very strict overtime laws that kick in when a person works over 40 hours/week.

Canadian money looks like European money, different colors and including social scenes and contemporary figures. The $5 has a picture of children playing hockey on the back. Their coins also have the Queen of England on them – something you would never see in America.

The food also has a British flavor – meaning little flavor. Most of the places I ate served food that was less flavorful than American. There were also no Mexican restaurants – which I think is a big opportunity. But, they are very big on donuts and coffee. The Tim Horton donut and coffee shops are everywhere, as dense as McDonald’s in America. There appeared to be a Tim Horton’s about every 5 miles.

I found that within one day I had picked up the Canadian language inflection. That means ending each sentence on a rising note and pausing for just a few seconds before starting the next sentence. This pattern almost naturally calls for an “eh” at the end of the sentence.

I am invited back in February when the temperature is 20 degrees below zero. They say it is the best time of the year with Winter Festivals running, ice sculpture, snow sculpture, and skating on the frozen canal. But you have to wear clothes that cover everything but your eyes.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Drake V

This is a short case, but I wonder what the VC’s are up to? What do they expect from the company? How much oversight do they have over the way money is spent? How closely are they breathing down the necks of these new entrepreneurs?

VC’s can be a bloodthirsty band of vampires. They want the first blood of the new company when it starts flowing. They want their blood before even the founders get a deep drink. I would expect these investors to place their man in the company and on the governing board of the company. Bob, Dan, Chet, and David will find that they do not have all of the freedom they had hoped for. When they took the VC’s money they became accountable … controllable. They are going to find that to some degree they cannot call the shots around the office. Good or bad, right or wrong, they are going to have to dance to the tune of the investors. They are going to be forced into decisions and actions that they may not agree with and that they curse themselves for having to make. They will look in the mirror in the mirror some mornings and know deep in their hearts that they are good guys that want to do the right things for the employees … but they can’t … the VC’s won’t let them run free.

The good part about all of this is that the VC’s often have their own contacts that can help with PR, advertising, and manufacturing partnerships. They can bring the company into the limelight in ways that the company founders cannot. The VC’s may take a pint of blood, but they also use some of that for the good of the company. The Dallas VC’s sound benevolent. In the beginning when hopes are high and losses are low, it is easy to coast along and trust the founders. But when problems start to emerge and money disappears, suddenly performance becomes much more important than faith in the founders.

The company may be growing beneath the founders’ feet, but with VC’s it is also growing above their heads. They are back in the middle again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Drake IV

As the company opens it is completely unbalanced. There are 4 founders sharing control – Bob, CEO; Dan, VP of R&D; Chet, VP of Manufacturing; and David, VP of Marketing. Bob has 3 staff admin employees (Finance, Administration, and Personnel), Dan has the 15 employees from their other companies, and Chet and David are working alone. This is a purely R&D company right now. Everyone is slaving away to create a product with the VC funding they have received.

What is Chet doing in Mfg? He had better be working with fabricators in China, Taiwan, and Eastern Europe to get the parts for their computers made. He had better NOT be working to establish manufacturing here in the U.S. The rates will kill him. To make these relationships, he needs some help.

What is David doing in marketing? He has been visiting customers and university professors. That is great. But he had better also be working with advertising and PR firms to create a campaign that will introduce the new product to the world. Once the R&D guys have something, it will be time to turn on the machine that builds demand. The advertising and PR are mostly image and power based. They do not need to provide technical specs. They just need to make customers feel that the company has something that they need. The more they can generate this feeling of need, the better the product launch will be.

I wonder how much expertise these guys have at creating a new company. Introducing it to customers and making a presence in the market? Did they come from IBM where the name is known? Or did they have experience with a where they had to fight for attention?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Drake III

I am shocked that Bob, the new CEO at Drake has so quickly turned to simplistic solutions and staff abuse. He seems to think that hiring his old coworkers and driving them 70 hours/week is the path to a new kind of culture. He is also disregarding the advice of his Personnel Director, a woman he hired specifically because she had experience creating a culture that he wanted. Bob has no experience building a culture. But he is certain that his off-the-cuff ideas will work. If people just work all the time and eat pizza and beer at the office, then the good culture will emerge. It is like growing yogurt or yeast. Bob thinks that work, pizza, and beer are the major ingredients. Those will create magic and something new and different will emerge.

Culture is a fascinating topic that we have explored in Schein and Katz. When studying it from the perspective of groups you begin to see that it comes from the many, not the one person. It takes and entire village to make a culture, but just one village idiot at the top to destroy it. Bob is the idiot at the top. He is doing to create a financially successful company. He is going to talk about how their culture is different. He is going to believe that his experience at the top is typical of the workers’ experiences at the bottom. Founders are always pleased with the companies they sit atop. They think that their creations are unique and different. But, in most cases, from the inside, the company is exactly like a thousand others. This is not because the founder does not want them to be different. I don’t think it is even because the founder has intentionally sacrificed culture for profits. Usually, the company is the same because it grew in the same business, government, and social environment that a thousand others grew in. The company absorbs its culture from that of the city and the employees. But also from the requirements for government reporting and meeting the needs of stakeholders like VC’s or stockholders. There are not an infinite number of ways to accomplish many of these tasks. So, the founders have to add a few small ingredients that can make a difference. They also have to withhold some ingredients that can ruin the recipe. Perhaps withholding ingredients is more important than what you put in.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Drake II

So if it is true the a few people cannot change an entire culture alone, then how have people like Steve Jobs been able to create a significantly different kind of company? Jobs was lucky to enter an industry when it was new and emerging. So he had an opportunity to start from scratch. But, his own actions are just one part of a big machine. I think most of Apple’s differences come from what he encourages or allows or demands that people in the company do. It is their actions that make the culture. Jobs is just a public icon or mascot of that culture. What Jobs shows to the media and public may not be an accurate reflection of what exists inside the company. It is the image that sells Apple products.

Witness the iPod product. Did Jobs conceive this on his own? Did he design the controls? Did he select the white case and the marketing campaign? Did he pick the hard drive? No, he did none of these. Jobs probably demanded of his team that they come up with a new product that could dominate a market. He may have suggested that the MP3 market was totally fragments among vendors. From there, he just demanded that people come up with a better product that was different.

Where does the culture come from? It comes from the people inside. Jobs can point in a direction with a very behaviors. But, as important, is that he not take other actions that negate or make impossible the behavior that he is hoping for. Remember Fortress Insurance. They wanted new growth as long as they did not have to change anything they were doing.

Apple is now selling the video iPod. Was this a radical new invention? No, for several years there has been an emerging media player market. But, customers do not know what to do with such a device once they have one. Apple has a great product design in the iPod, now they have to give the customers video content so they know what to do with the new Video iPod. Music customers received help with content via iTunes. But they also had access to all of the legal and illegal music sharing services that had exploded in the years prior to the iPod’s release. Apple will create iVideo to provide content for the player. Notice that they have not created the Game iPod or iGames services. I think these do not fit with their user interface for iPod. Neither is their a huge repository of accessible content properties to tap into. This may come when all of the old console games are available as digital files for download.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Drake Case

The Drake Case is so typical of new company start-ups. It begins with people who are not satisfied with their current jobs. They all get together and find solace with others who feel the same way and are sure that they can do better. So they set out to create the kind of company that “should” exist. They don’t want any of the bad characteristics of their current employer and are sure that a few simplistic principles will help them solve their problems.

However, once they start the company they discover several important lessons. First, they themselves have tutored in the ways of their former employers. Many of the situations they face are new to them and they have no experience except the last company. So they begin doing things the way their old employer did. Second, they underestimate the degree to which a company is former by the dynamics between the people. The company culture is not something that one person can force on a group. It is something that the group adopts in order to function. That adopted behavior is designed to allow people to function and deal with problems from their perspective. Third, the external business and social environment dictates many behaviors. Government regulations, financial reporting, work routines, and hundreds of other norms that are outside of the control of the founders come to play on the culture of the company.

The four founders of Drake may be able to avoid one or two mistakes at their former employers. They had better select the really important ones that have significant leverage. From these they are hoping to stimulate an organization in which the other employees will adapt other different behaviors. The CEO has already begun disrespecting and distrusting the person he hired to build the culture.

I suspect that the four founders do not really want a company that has a new culture for everyone, but just a new culture for themselves. Now they are the bosses, they set the rules, they get the attention, and they get the profits. The culture probably looks pretty good for them now, but everyone else may not be able to tell any difference.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Research Subjects

Researchers are eager to get to the heart of a question. They need data to do this, often data collected from other humans that are not interested in the same subject. How does a researcher get these subjects to cooperate? What is their motivation? How do you insure that their responses are not contrived?

When the subjects are animals it is necessary to control them or to extend yourself. You must capture and control the range of the animals so that they will fall under observation or experimentation. Or you can become Diane Fossey or Jane Goodall and go out to the jungles and follow them about.

With humans this is more difficult. For one, each human often has a different daily path than his or her family or peers. We tend to have clusters of location and association that are specific to family, work, school, sports, service organizations, and hobbies. Therefore, a researcher is most likely to limit the study to one of these clusters. It simplifies the location of data collection and the set of people to be collected on. However, it also omits the external factors that impact the behavior when in those clusters. For example, my performance in this class is often impacted by the work travel schedule or the arrival of a hurricane. However, the professor cannot see these effects and in many cases, I do not think to mention them until after they have impacted my performance. If research were being conducted, then the data would have already been collected and adjustments would have to be made retroactively.

When your population of study comes from a social class that has little interest in or connection to research, what is their motivation for talking to you, or telling you the truth? Do you explain the grand contribution you will make to the world? Do you explain how important it is for you to finish the long path to a doctoral degree? Do you tell them you are a government rep who will make life easier if they take your survey? Do you agree to watch the children or bring sandwiches while they take the survey?

I accept that many people cooperate just because it is in their nature to cooperate or because they find it flattering to be listened to. I think these are the most powerful motivators. But, beyond these people, it can get very difficult to get research subjects who will give you good accurate information.

It is important to realize that your work is just one step forward in human knowledge. If you make mistakes, it can be forgiven as long as you provide some valuable piece of truth. Later researchers will catch your mistakes and use your truths to move forward another step. It is important to be honest and ethical in your research, because it will lay one foundation stone for future researchers.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Data Analysis

Large amounts of data often have buried within them secret relationships, causality, and predictable events. We conduct data analysis in order to tease out this information. We search for the connections between variables that are thin, but where multiple relationships accrue toward something that is tangible and useful. In business, there may be relationships between advertising and sales, R&D and long-term profits, executive skills and market share. Academics search this data for one more undiscovered relationship. They need something new to be able to create a publishable journal paper.

But what happens when the data does not contain any relationships? What happens when all of the relationships and secrets have been uncovered? Then what? Does that branch of academia evaporate or redefine itself?

I am studying the Top 100 companies that invest in R&D in the US. I have plotted variable in 18 different pairs. Most of these graphs show no relationship within the data. If anything, it says, “large companies spend more that small companies” or “technology companies spend more than industrial companies”. This is not exactly revolutionary information. I think we could have guessed that. The next step is to divide the companies into different groups – like High Sales, High Capital, High R&D, Computer Technology, Biotech, Pharma, etc. This may allow us to see industry trends rather than country trends. Perhaps there is less commonality regarding R&D spending by country than there is R&D spending by industry.

This has been a good sounding board. I think that is something to pursue.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Data Entry

When did data entry become a profession? In the 21st century, we really should have graduated beyond this lowly task. What data can be written down in a form that is beyond the ability of a computer eye to decode, but still within the abilities of a human eye. Scanners and OCR have come a long way, but not nearly far enough. I have to manually enter data for a 100 X 13 matrix of company financial data for DMGT725. That is crazy. Certainly, the data owners are within their rights to decline to provide the digital version of the data. But, HP should have long since created a scanner that will rip this data off of the paper and slap into a format that I specify. Where is this technology. Please save me from performing yet again a task that the lowest of literate people have been performing for centuries.

I should be able to slap that paper on my scanner, outline the text with a matrix of boxes, and command it to read the numbers and place them in a table or spreadsheet in that form. What is so hard about that? If I were still a programmer, I think I could write a program to do that myself.

1-800-Hewlett-Packard – “Hello this is me your customer base. Please invest a little money in saving me from this task. Thank you.”

So why am I entering this data manually? The S&P COMPUSTAT data is for sale if you want to buy it. The Industrial Research Institute buys the data and published a list of the Top 100 companies that invest in R&D. However, S&P will not allow them to release the digital version of the data. Of course, that makes perfect sense. I don’t expect anything different. But, I do expect HP to hear about this and create scanner software to serve me. I am their customer not S&P.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


There must be a hierarchy of need for knowledge. It must start at knowledge that you need to be able to do something that is important to you – like how to hunt for food or how to woo women. This is knowledge that has an immediate practical application.

Second, there must be preparatory knowledge. This is collecting knowledge that you have some good reason to believe that you will need in the future. This may be mastering a skill that is required to be promoted or learning something that can lead to certification.

Third, might be curious knowledge. This is knowledge that is interesting to collect. It provides pleasure to you for learning it, but there is not necessarily anything important to do with it. Knowledge gained from watching any random show in the History Channel might fall into this category. Seeing how the Boston Tunnel was built may never be useful, but it is sure interesting to watch the mess they get themselves into.

Fourth might be esteem knowledge. This is knowledge that is collected in an effort to impress your friends. If you are sports fan you may memorize sports statistics in order to impress fellow friends and fans.

Fifth. After collecting all of this knowledge you might start to think about why you collect this, how was it collected, and what knowledge that you possess can really be trusted. This is epistemology.

How many people make it all the way to #5? Very few are interested in going that far.

Quigong’s Hierarchy of Knowledge:
· Epistemology
· Esteem
· Curious
· Preparatory
· Need

Monday, November 07, 2005

Dissertation Inspiration

How inspired am I to create a doctoral dissertation? On the one hand, it seems important to pursue a topic that I am really interested in and that can be used in my professional life. On the other hand, professors encourage us to pick a topic that we can complete, hinting that any finished topic is a good topic.

The latter is certainly true if the DM is just a credential to help you do something else. However, the former is important if the DM program is a structured learning process upon which to build a new step in a career. In this case the dissertation is the opportunity to establish expertise and credibility that can form the basis of a business. That is what many consultants emerging from Harvard and MIT have done. They pick a dissertation topic that can become a book, a new management fad, and a constant source of speaking and consulting engagements.

I am inspired to do something in the area of innovation and R&D management. I began wanting to understand the CTO position, which I held at a previous company. After much study, I understood the way the position was being used and how it contributed to the company. But, I also discovered that it was not a very significant position. The CTO has great thoughts and strategies. But for the most part he is a salesman. His job is to sell the company an investing in technology and to sell the customer base on the fact that the company is the best in this field. There is nothing wrong with that. It is an important part of the company. But, what he really contributes to strategy, market share, market valuation, and corporate direction seems to be minimal.

Take the example of Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Motorola. She really came up with the company’s vision statement “seamless mobility.” But those words had to be placed in the mouth of Ed Zander because he is the one getting the exposure in the media. He is the face of the company. In the first story on this new strategy, the magazine reported that Warrior had worked with Zander to create the mission during an airplane flight together. However, in subsequent reporting the idea was placed firmly in the mind and mouth of Zander and Warrior was forgotten.

The CTO position is still interesting. It requires interviews and analysis – qualitative analysis to do a current dissertation. This may reveal connections to financial positions or stock price that can be investigated later. But, currently we just do not know enough about the position to do a quantitative study that is meaningful.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Homework Vine

Dear Santa,
It is getting near Christmas. The thermometer has dropped to 70 degrees, the wind is blowing 5 mph, and people are wearing long-sleeve shirts. It is Fall in Florida. I am beginning think about what I want most for Christmas. Could it be a new BMW 6 series, an Alienware computer, or Xbox 360? No, I think I would just like a little rest from homework. It creeps through my life like a choking vine. It finds all of my free happy time and twists statistics problems and essays on methodology into those spaces. The relaxed novel reading and game playing is all gone.

The homework vine has small stems so that it can penetrate event the smallest cracks of free time. Once inside, it expands and splits open the schedule so that it can occupy at least 30 minutes, but sometimes up to 10 hours. I have sprayed the vine with apathy, but it always comes back. I have ripped it up and planted flowers of novels and the latest movie releases, but it springs back from the root within hours. That homework vine is tough.

I am looking forward to the cold weather of Christmas break when the vine will retreat and let the flowers bloom. I want to pick-up a book that at least one other normal person is reading as well.

Santa, this vine is tough. But, I hear that it blossoms into the most beautiful flowers and within 3-4 years produces a delicious fruit. Like a pineapple that takes 3 years to bear fruit, the homework vine has to work a long time to achieve its goal. I am sure the flowers and the fruit will be wonderful. But right now, I just want to homework vine to get out of all the cracks in my daily schedule.

Can you arrange that Santa?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Real World Model Building

I have recently won a contract to build a cost and schedule prediction model for a government office. We are basing our work on the well-established COCOMO model that has been evolving for 25 years for estimating the cost and schedule of software development projects.

Data collection to drive our study is one of the biggest problems. Based on COCOMO and some other similar models we know that the typical number of variables that are included in these models is in the area of 20. Our research indicates that over the span of 20 years, the COCOMO researchers at USC have only collected 180-ish data points to build and validate their model.

Last night we had dinner with an MIT researcher who is building a variation called COSYSMO. So far, he has collected 42 data sets to drive his model with 18 variables.

If our own model has 18-20 variables, then we believe we would need about 80-100 data points to arrive at some decent confidence level.

At the outset we are expecting to work with about 5 data points.

How can we possibly build a model with 18 variables from only 5 data sets? We must rely heavily on the work that has been done before. As we change or add variables, we must keep our eye on the fact that any changes are exchanging a value that has move validity than the one we are adding.

Luckily, this class has helped me appreciate the situation we are in. It is too soon to say much about how hard this is going to be.