CyberStalking– Tracking Your Every Movement Online: Apply Art of Re-Marketing to Convert Visits– Its Privacy Stupid

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We’ve all been there– you send an email or leave a voice mail for a customer and never hear back. So you try again, again… and again. You don’t want to be a pest, but why aren’t they responding? Did they receive the message or are they deliberately ignoring you?  Where do you draw the line to avoid becoming a ‘stalker’ or that crazy person who keeps calling and emailing? We have become a data driven world, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, but many times we focus on just ‘data’ to manage the percentages without any regard for the customer. We apply psychology and focus on how quickly we can get people (customers) through the maze. And how we can convince them to go for the bigger piece of cheese (your higher priced ‘thing’)…

According to Heath Shackleford; I went online several weeks ago to make a simple purchase. I knew what I needed and I found it: Great! I tried to buy it and several minutes later I was still fighting off– up-sell offers, special discounts, free subscriptions… I had to remove unwanted ‘extras’ from my shopping cart, 3 times; I had to click ‘no thanks’ at least 10 times… Clearly, there was no thought for customer experience, only the psychology of how to get someone to buy more of ‘anything’, when they are just buying ‘something’… It’s ok to be smart, but just don’t get crazy; It’s fine to engage, suggest, personalize… but don’t be reckless and relentlessly harass and stalk your customers…

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In a study by Consumer Action: Internet users overwhelmingly disagree with the premise that online tracking is harmless if it just results in their being shown more relevant ads. With the vast majority of people feeling that they’ve lost control of their privacy, online; the right to control the information collected about them, online shows-up as very important to the survey respondents… the survey asks consumers if they– ‘see no harm’ in being tracked online. With most disagreeing, however, it’s possible that they see harm in it but are willing to accept it. In fact, more than half of respondents ‘strongly’ (28%) or ‘somewhat’ (27%) agreed with the statement: ‘You believe that being tracked online is the price of using Internet’… The weight of research tends to favor the attitude that consumers are concerned about privacy and may not be willing to trade it for more relevant advertising…. In sum, the results indicate that while consumers are pessimistic about online tracking, they highly value the right to be able to exercise control over data collection… The study results suggests a certain amount of pessimism on the part of consumers:

  • Only 26% ‘strongly’ (11%) or ‘somewhat’ (15%) agreed with the statement: ‘Online marketers consider your privacy when you are online’.
  • Less than half ‘strongly’ (15%) or ‘somewhat’ (27%) agreed with the statement: ‘Online marketers are trying to save you time by using tracking to only send you ads about what you need or desire’.
  • Just 1 in 5 ‘strongly’ (11%) or ‘somewhat’ (10%) agreed that: ‘Companies that track you online make it clear what they are doing’.

In the article Stalking Your Every Move Via Smartphone by Jordyn Taylor writes: An article in the Wall Street Journal examined a slightly alarming new marketing trend: Businesses that use sensors placed discreetly around a city to track their customers’ daily habits and interests… For example; a Toronto-based company placed 200 playing card-sized sensors in different locations around the city’s downtown area. The sensors can track movements of any passers-by carrying WiFi-enabled smartphones… That means the company’s clients knows when their customers are hitting-up various retail shops… The clients can then use that data to tailor marketing ploys aimed specifically at engaging that customer at that location… It sounds pretty crazy and intrusive, but apparently using sensors to analyze foot-traffic patterns and customer behavior is a trend that’s becoming popular in the world of marketing…

It’s outrageous to think that your trusty smartphones could give away your secrets to businesses without permission… According to Erika Morphy; some shopping centers are tracking visitors’ movements via their cell phone signals. The data they collect will be anonymous, they say; and its for the purposes of improving the shopper experience. Also, they say that will alert shoppers that this tracking is happening, before hand; and thus give shoppers the option of turning-off their smartphones while in the mall… But, most people will not turn-off their phone, and they will be tracked, and their privacy compromised, and the result is that consumer resentment will continue to rise… It’s one thing to track someone’s behavior online, taking note of what they buy and over which products they linger and don’t buy; but to track in a shopping jaunt is downright creepy…

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In the article How Hundreds of Companies Are Tracking Me by Alexis C. Madrigal writes: A voyage into the invisible business that funds the web is surreal: Who are these companies and what do they want from me?  When I opened my browser, in my daily routine, and go to a popular ‘news’ website for the daily news; amazing things happens– in those milliseconds between the click to the news site, all hell breaks loss; my personal web information is quickly sent to a gaggle of traffic-logging sites, ad companies, search firms… Then nearly instantaneously, companies can log my visit, place ads tailored for my eyes, and add this data to ever-growing online file about me… This personal encroachment happens to everyone, everywhere, on every device that uses the Internet… There’s nothing necessarily illegal about this subterranean data exchange; after all that’s how the system works– the advertising ecosystem is what supports the free online content…

Every move you make on the Internet is worth some tiny amount of money to someone, and a panoply of companies want to make sure that no step along your Internet journey goes unmonetized… Even if you are familiar with using data collection for targeted advertising, the number and variety of data collectors will astonish you… For example; in one recent 36-hour period of standard web surfing, the companies that tracked my movements on the Internet included, 105 companies… And, while the big names, like; Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.– show-up on my list, bulk of these companies are smaller data and advertising businesses that form a shadow web of companies that are looking to engage you with all sorts of target advertising selected just for you. Presumably, these companies gather data without attaching it to your name; they use that data to show you ads that you’re statistically more likely to click… That’s the game and there is substantial money in it…

In the article What is Remarketing? by Angel Morales writes: It’s a word used frequently but it can mean different things to different people: So what is remarketing? As remarketing programs have been designed, built, and executed over the last 15 years, it’s been interesting to watch the term ‘remarketing’ morph into a myriad of different meanings; as vendors, consultants and analysts adapted definitions to fit their needs. Some believe it’s synonymous with shopping cart abandonment, while others use terms remarketing and retargeting interchangeably. The clearest definition goes back to when it first became a commonly used online marketing term in late ’90s… And, according to that definition; remarketing is process of reengaging a visitor/customer based on a recent interaction with your brand, often in an automated fashion… It’s a simple definition with elements of several marketing approaches, e.g.; classic direct marketing, conversation marketing, behavioral marketing, and a dash of experiential optimization thrown in for good measure. The spirit of remarketing is simple as well. At its most basic, remarketing is about listening and reacting to what your customers/visitors are telling you through their actions with your brand…

Generally only 2% of web traffic converts to a sale on the first visit to a website, which means that only about 2% of people actually buy something the first time they go on a website… So, remarketing is designed to help companies reach the other 98% of users who don’t convert right away… This process is effective because it focuses on people who already know something about you, who visited your website, and who might have been very close to buying something from you… So, the basic idea behind remarketing is that it– won’t, can’t, doesn’t drive people to your site, but it can bring them back…

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However having said this– it’s the ‘what’ that makes remarketing different: Remarketing is different from traditional marketing efforts, whereas, traditional marketing is a process of identifying which visitors or customers may respond to a marketing effort– it tries to answers the question of ‘who’? Who needs your product, service? In remarketing, whether the communication has been positive or negative, customers have already responded in one way or another by having visited your website… By selectively targeting users who have previously demonstrated an interest, the focus shifts from the target audience of ‘who’, to ‘what’… Thus, remarketing begins with path to reengage the ‘who'; by focusing on an existing opportunity, or the ‘what’. These opportunities are inherently temporal and event-driven, which makes it important to first listen then act, otherwise the chance to turn these prospects into customers is lost… For it to work, it’s important to remember that even though customers are leaving your website without buying anything, it’s that information that is most important. Remarketing is process of finding relevant visitor information and providing an incentive for them to return to your website, and revisit your brand… But what is remarketing; Is it smart marketing or cyberstalking? The answer depends, and only the customer can judge!

If you’ve never been targeted by an online ad, then you’re probably just not paying much attention. According to an informal survey by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB); more than 80% of advertising campaigns involved tracking of some sort. The advertising business loves online tracking just about as much as privacy advocates hate it… According to Sarah Kessler; privacy advocates argue that online tracking undermines citizen rights and feels a little too big-brotherish for comfort… The industry’s response has been to improve self-regulation– largely by adding opt-out buttons to online behavioral advertising… Meanwhile, the rest of us are left wondering what the big deal is: We might be slightly creeped-out when a particular ad follows us around Internet, but is that really a debate worth getting worked up about? According to Christopher Soghoian; consumers treat Internet ‘search engine box’ like their– psychiatrist, rabbi, priest, doctor… people type the most intimate things into– search engines, websites… primarily because they think they’re anonymous.  But, the fact is that you are not anonymous and most sites are tracking you, so be aware and be careful…

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‘Emoji’ Gone Wild; Fad, or Digital Language of the Future: Telling Stories with String of Symbols– 21st Century Hieroglyphs

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Emoji: Sometimes when you are at loss for words, a facial expression says it all. The digital counterpart of humanistic self-expression is emoji… Emoji is a Japanese based coding program, which literally means; ‘picture’ + ‘letter’, has successfully integrated onto billions of smart phones worldwide, features colorful, animated pictures that can be inserted into texts and emails…You’re probably familiar with the bright yellow smiling, winking and frowning faces that seem to follow every text message these days. But, you might not be aware there are more than 1,500 to choose from. Designed to symbolize everyday objects, expressions and ideas, they’re expressive enough to act as stand-ins for words or entire phrases. Their colorful, eye-catching designs have propelled them to pop-culture fame…

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According to Alaina Raftis; Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted as saying; ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’… If true, what is the purpose of the written word, especially as technology like Emoji sweep across the cyber-sphere? Are these colorful, animated pictures adding more meaning to their accompanied text, or are they altogether replacing the written word? In era when younger generations are increasingly being brought up using Internet, social media… where they post no more than 144 characters in a tweet, and use photo sharing applications that more than often don’t incorporate text; hence, a serious question needs to be asked: Will pictures such as,  emoji, replace written words as people grow more in favor of the art of non-definitive icons, or are the use of these images just a fad? According to Fred Benenson; four years ago he used Crowdsourcing to hire people to translate the first chapter of Moby-Dick into emoji… at which time he became convinced that it was only a matter of time before everyone would start to use emoji, and sure enough by 2013, emoji is everywhere. The first sentence of Melville’s classic: ‘Call me Ishmael’ became:    

emoji11Emoji, for all its detractors, is really about embellishment and added context; it’s about in-jokes, playfulness, emphasizing ones praise and  cushioning impact of criticism, of provoking thought and exercising the imagination. According to Rhodri Marsden; telling stories, movie recaps, expressing complex emotion – it’s partially about the frivolity, but it’s also about engaging a part of your brain which uses symbolic and visual thinking, something that I love to do. I also think it has the potential to bridge language barriers… According to Michael Andor Brodeur; whether your incessant texting is pulling language apart or pushing it forward (or a little of both) is a debate unlikely to be settled soon… Language is always changing, even as the needs and desires it expresses stay the same… According to Motoko Tamamuro; we tend to imply things instead of explicitly expressing them, so sensing people’s moods is very important. We take extra care to consider other people’s feelings when writing correspondence, and that’s why emoji became so useful in email and text – to introduce more feeling into a brevities form of communication…

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In the article Appeal Of Emoji: They Don’t Say Anything by Bianca Bosker writes: The growing popularity of this cutesy communication is usually attributed to difficulty people have conveying emotion and nuance via quickly typed text. But emoji, and their ilk, are more than elaborate punctuation marks and part of the appeal is precisely their indefinite meaning. They’re a way to say something when you really don’t have anything to say, it’s a digital alter ego that establishes a virtual presence with another person, without any specific purpose besides– just ‘Hi’… Using emoji, in a sense, is like hanging out online… In the past year, funny faces, clinking beer mugs, adorable chicken legs and other illustrations have become virtually omnipresent online… My Instagram feed frequently has more emoji than photos: Snapshots are captioned with a sprinkling of emoji that range from mundane to the poetic…

As we continue communicating more consistently with more people, in more places, we’ve turned to images as a way to transpose some offline customs, like comfortable silences between friends, into the online realm. According to Mimi Ito; explains that while email and desktop correspondence tends to be focused on completing a set task, a great deal of mobile communication — given how frequently we have our hands on our phones — is about sharing a ‘ambient state of being… Emoji are like a smile from colleague across the room, or small talk you make walking to get coffee: It’s pointless communication that nonetheless puts you in a good mood… Part of the reason the volume of text messaging is so high because lot of exchange is just small talk, e.g.; this is what I’m doing, this is what I’m feeling,’ which is transmitting, ‘I’m here with you, I’m connected to you, people often like to feel like they’re inhabiting the same space as each other… Emoji and emoticons are really good for conveying that kind of thing…

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In the article Is Future of Language Emoji? by Hayley writes: There is no arguing the Internet has made the world a smaller place, but it is also shaping the language we speak. In fact, the future of languages may have far more in common with the writing styles of the past than how we write today… According to Lauren Hockenson; with all different languages, writing scripts and dialects being used, emoji is the one common form of communication everyone can understand. In fact, this may also explain the rising popularity of photo sharing sites… Thanks to emoji, even if a Tweet or status is written in an unfamiliar language or even an unfamiliar script, any reader can understand the basic tone… However, with the rise in popularity of emoji, is written language regressing? After all, the oldest forms of writing were based around pictographs. The earliest marks left by mankind – pictures etched on cave walls – used images to represent what we would now use written words to describe, such as a group of men hunting. Much later, ancient Egyptians created hieroglyphs; a writing system built around picture-style images… When it comes to knocking down language barriers, pictographs are arguably the easiest way to do it. It doesn’t matter what a person’s mother tongue is, everyone understands what the symbol for men’s or women’s toilets means. In the same way, emoji is a truly international language…

In the article Emoji May Be The Language of the Future in Business by dearestleader writes: Go into most warehouse or assembly lines staffed increasingly by workers diversity, and you will find less than perfect written and spoken English… A well-known SciFi writer has created a world, in the future, where English and Mandarin are the official languages of the human race. What if that isn’t the case? What if a new abbreviated language such as the one teenagers use for texting is the unified language of the world? What if we become like Ancient Egyptians and move to a hieroglyphic language to be all-inclusive? This is where emoji may fit in. The old view of business is dying out as the ‘baby boomers’ retire from the workforce… There are also many people in GenX and GenY who will hire subject matter experts, no matter their fluency in English… If we can communicate in the made-up language of Chinglish, why not communicate using other ways? The only thing holding you back is an outdated mentality of thinking about something that’s done a certain way, rather than just something that has to be done…

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The emoji has come a long way from its origins as a cute footnote to text messages. According to Alex Clark; emoji is growing in complexity all the time… A single emoji just doesn’t cut mustard any more, no matter how vigorous its expression, for example; not when you can get cats with hearts for eyes, Roswell aliens, flamenco dancers, lavatories and cable cars… These more highly developed version of early emoticons, e.g.; the :-) and :-(  built from ASCII characters and used in texts, emails… and have opened-up serious new possibilities: Savvy, inventive people are now sending entire communications in emoji, and artfully stringing together expressive little ‘things’… and, all in 144 pixels per symbol… However, emoji raises some interesting questions, e.g.: What habits of daily life do emoji promote? What behavior do they normalize?

The historical line connecting the smiley face to emoji is crooked but revealing, featuring as it does this same sentiment repeated again and again: the road to bottom-line runs through commodification of emotion… According to Murray Spain; I was one of the entrepreneurs who, in the early 1970s, placed a copyright on the ‘smiley face’ with the phrase; ‘Have a nice day’… and the intent was capitalistic, i.e., our only desire was to make a buck… Emoji offer a means of communicating that we did have before: they humanize the platforms we inhabit. As such, they are a rear-guard action to enable sociality in digital networks, yet are also agents in turning emotions into economic value. As a blip in the continuing evolution of platform languages, emoji may be remembered as a fading digital companion, or as the true international language of the future…

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Most Organizations– Know ‘How’, Know ‘What’, But Very Few Know ‘Why': Lacking Is Clear, Concise, Definitive ‘Purpose’…

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Why does your organization exist?  This may sound a bit existential, but it’s a powerful and important exercise… What would happen if your organization just went away; simply did not exist? What would the world be missing? So, ‘why’ does your organization exist; can you answer that question in one concise sentence, say; 10 words or less? According to Jeanne Coughlin; there’s power in breaking something down to its core, to its essence and very heart of why it exists– getting a clear definition on the ‘purpose’ of an organization and being able to communicate its ‘purpose’ and ‘reason for existence’ succinctly lays the foundation for all strategies, planning, decision-making… According to Ronald Coase; the job of clever people is to ask difficult questions, and the job of very clever people is to ask deceptively simple ones, such as: Why do companies exist?

According to Ron Goerz; employees in every company and at every level need to know that at the heart of what they do lies something grand and aspirational… most company executives give little thought to the ‘why’ question and so operate in short-sighted, reactive mode, and often lose their way by getting involved in variety of random pursuits… According to Jim Collins and Jerry Porras; executives in strong and enduring companies have a clear understanding of ‘why’ they started the company and remained true to that reason… Getting clarity is hard work, but it starts with asking, a simple question: Why does the company exist? According to Jeph Maystruck; all stakeholders in an organization must continually ask the question; What is the absolute core ‘purpose’ of the organization; the reason that it exists. Once you fully understand ‘why’ your company exists it’s much easier to understand ‘how’ you’re going to sell, ‘what’ you’re going to sell… Almost everything in the world is now a commodity– it’s at core of every business, so in order to succeed you must; first know ‘why’, then know ‘how’, then know ‘what’– in that order…

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In the article Why Does Your Company Exist? by Simon Sinek writes: The mistake so many business people make is that they tell us what the company does and how they think they are better, but there is not a single mention of; Why the company exists in the first place. And, it’s the ‘why’ that matters most in a purchase decision. People are not attracted to ‘what’ you do, they are drawn to ‘why’ you do it.  And ‘why’ is what truly differentiates one company from another… Before consumers can know your ‘why’, you must know it first… And, if you don’t know ‘why’ you do what you do, how can expect others to know? For many, the ‘why’ starts as a feeling: Call it drive or passion or inspiration or something in your gut, it doesn’t matter. Only when that feeling is translated in words can it become actionable, scalable… Only when others can repeat your ‘why’ as clearly as you can, only then can you become a leader. And when you lead, you never have to sell on price…

People don’t buy ‘what’ you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it… That means that the ‘why’ is extremely important to most everyone’s buying decision. Their choice to buy from you says as much about them and their beliefs as it does about you… The most successful companies start their marketing with ‘why’ they exist, their purpose. Then they move to ‘how’ they do what they do. Lastly they talk about ‘what’ it is they are selling… According to Mr. Sinek; the relationship between why, how, what…  is known as ‘the golden circle’... However, many companies do exact opposite and start with ‘what’, then ‘how’ and never talk about ‘why’. The most obvious example of this is when someone talks about features and not benefits… People don’t buy ‘what’ you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it…

In the article Why Does Your Company Exist? by Dick Barnett writes: A company’s ‘mission’ is the single most important reason for its exists… and, every organization should best expressed it as clearly and concisely as possible in the fewest words as possible, e.g., in least than 10 words… Your ‘mission’ is the specific purpose of your company: It’s the reason to be’… And, the ‘mission’ is not something an organization is going ‘toward’ or going ‘to do'; that’s a goal or objective: Mission is what the organization is’ The very ‘being’ of the company. Mission is the ‘core’ of the organization. If this distinction is not made absolutely clear to everyone concerned, then nothing else will really hold the organization together…

A clear ‘mission’ statement is the single key ingredient missing in 95% of most companies… that oversight prevents them from being as successful as they could be! When the mission is absolutely clear, you’ll actually reduce the amount of energy you spend, resources you need, and get even more accomplished… When everyone is involved; you, your employees, your suppliers, your customers, your competitors… and, all-knowing exactly ‘why’ your company exists, you’ll eliminate unproductive conflict and resistance, and lead with greater ease, confidence, certainty. So, What’s the secret here? Simply; Successful organizations have clear, easily remembered ‘mission’ statements that express core, underlying reason the organization exists– no fluff, no platitudes. Unless the mission is clear, people will naturally be going in different (albeit sometimes subtly different) directions… and no organization will be very successful when that happens!

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In the article Why Does Your Business Exist, Why Does That Matter? by Sitima Fowler write: Do you know the– what, how, why of your company? Every company knows ‘what’ they do: They know the product or service they deliver. Most companies know ‘how’ they do it: This is the process and workflow they follow. However, if you ask most management or employees of a company; if they know ‘why’ they do what they do, you may get a blank stare. The companies that really get the ‘why’ of their business (their purpose and their reason for exiting), are the ones that win. They push and operate from the inside out, pushing their ‘why’ out through their ‘how’ and what’. This way, everything they do from their products to processes, is centered on the very core, the heart of their ‘mission’…

In the article Does Your Business Have a Reason To Exist? by John Morgan writes: When you have a reason to exist in a marketplace, you become worthy of people’s attention and patronage… Doing something different from everyone else is the difference between your product being on the front page of a magazine or buried several pages inside. The reason many business fail to have differentiating factor is because being different is very hard… It’s not everyday you come up with an idea that changes an entire industry. But don’t be misguided… You don’t have to flip an industry on it’s head to stand out… But, you must offer something others don’t. Bring something new to the table. Do something that’s worth people’s attention… Find a void, fill it: Have a reason to exist, otherwise you’re just taking up space…

According to Allan Dib; many businesses don’t have a reason to exist: Harsh but true… The problem is that these businesses are just another ‘me too’ business… Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong in modeling something that’s already working. In fact that’s a very smart thing to do… However, it’s highly likely that competitors that they are modeling after, are in the same situation as they are, i.e., struggling to win business with no compelling reason ‘why’ you should buy from them… They based their most important business decisions on guesses and on what their mediocre competitors are doing… It’s the blind leading the blind… Hey, I’m not trying be downer or discourage you. I’m just trying to make you think: If you haven’t clarified, first in your mind; ‘why’ your business exists and ‘why’ people should buy from you, rather than your nearest competitor, then your business is in deep trouble…

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In the article Why Does Your Organization Exist? by Susan Radojevic writes: I am  fascinated by the ‘why’ questions. I believe some of the most powerful outcomes are a result of asking questions that start with– Why? or Why not? or What if? When you ask CEOs why their organizations exist; many times an answer is not always forthcoming and often times it’s– ‘to make a profit’. According to Simon Sinek; profit is a result not a purpose… So, why does your organization exist? By the ‘why’ I mean– What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning and why should anyone care? The answers that many people give to these questions suggests– that more creative thinking is needed; that is, in order to have a sustainable business in today’s market, corporate leaders must ‘think’ deeper… They must find or remind themselves of their organization’s ‘purpose’ so they can– empower, grow, inspire action from all stakeholders… Many organizations in the past used a linear business approach, which placed achieving profits above all else, at all costs… However in today’s ‘digital and knowledge economy’ this linear approach is like putting the cart before the horse…

In all organization there’s ‘know-how’ and then there’s ‘know why’… According to Ralph Waldo Emerson; the man who knows ‘how’ will always have a job, the man who also knows ‘why’ will always be the boss– there must be a balance of– ‘know why’, ‘know how’ in order to generate positive results According to Wisdom Chitedze; problem is we get so caught up in the nitty-gritty of implementation that we forget ‘why’ we are here in the first place… ‘why’ is just as important as ‘how'; they are not mutually exclusive. According to Usman Sheikh; answer to the ‘why’ question involves two fundamental factors; clarity of purpose and passion… Without these two factors, one usually ends up listening to convoluted stories without the vital ‘x-factor’. The answer to the ‘why’ question is what some people call the elevator pitch– a concise snippet about one’s business. It’s essential to spend time perfecting the pitch, making sure that it’s– concise, clear, full of energy According to Jim Heskett; purpose is a powerful motivator on many levels, but can you aspire to a strong sense of ‘know why’ even if your organization is not out to change the world? Most management work very hard to make their organizations succeed without clarity of purpose… However, without knowing the ‘purpose’, without knowing the ‘why’ of an organization it’s a pursuit of an existence that doesn’t matter

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Strategic Assets– Rethink Your Competitive Edge in Shifting Global Markets: Strategic Muscle Ain’t What It Used To Be

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Strategic Assets are specific core resources, capabilities… that an organization possesses, which provides it with a significant and unique competitive edge that sustains it as a growing, prosperous organization… In financial accounting, an asset is an economic resource; anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value. Simply stated, assets represent value of ownership that can be converted into cash (although cash itself is also considered an asset)… Under this definition, such things as; employees, customers, brands, supply chain… are not considered assets, even though they may be the critical factors in the economic success of an organization– This is because an organization does not have sufficient control over these entities to satisfy the accepted definition of an asset…

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But according to Paul O’Malley; strategic assets are key capabilities, resources, relationships… which are the basic ingredients for value creation and key driving factors in the success of a business… Examples of strategic assets might include; employees, customers, intellectual property, brands, distribution channels… According to John Kay; strategic assets are certain competitive advantages based not only on the distinctive capabilities of a business but on also on their dominance or market position… However, in today’s highly competitive business environment many so-called strategic assets may not be sustainable and eventually they become competitive liabilities rather than assets… So, have you reviewed the basic assumptions behind your strategic assets, lately… are they still valid, or are your strategic assets more of a liability?

Strategy- Strategic Fundamentals: The use of the term strategy or strategic has literally changed the map of the world and caused the rise and fall of many businesses, organizations, nations… The unique combination of wisdom, science and craft have made strategic value creation a universally sought after skill… The basic premise of a strategy is that its development requires the courage to accept uncertainty… According to a French general; strategy is the art of conducting war not by means of coup d’oeil (glance or look) from behind a horse’s ears, but in an office on a map… Strategists must accept that they will not have all of the information and not see the spectrum of events, yet they must be committed to creating and implementing a strategy…

The uncertainty that may exist is not only a result of not having complete information and not being able to predict future events, it also is a result of the events generated by a dynamic and thinking competitor. The design of strategy with competitors in mind and their undetermined actions is what requires a strategist’s embrace of uncertainty… Strategy deals with competitive situation in an uncontrolled environment… Strategy is the greatest ‘winning tool’ that man ever invented! It enables the practitioners to see clearly the future of any encounter before it’s undertaken,,, Strategy is ‘the thinking of the General’ and has been the secret art of success for thousands of years… According to Sun Tzu; all men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved... Business history is littered with examples of leaders who could not accept the uncertainty of strategy, and defining unsustainable ‘strategic assets’ and wounding-up settling for failure at the hands of competitive tactics…

In the article Competing on Resources by David J. Collis and Cynthia A. Montgomery writes: Competitive edge are the things that enable an enterprise to perform activities better or more cheaply than their rivals, e.g.; physical assets, prime locations, intangible assets, strong brand, technology capabilities, brilliant supply chain, outstanding employees… As recently as 10 years ago, we thought we knew most of what we needed to know about competitive strategies, but the pace of global competition and technological change has left many businesses struggling to keep up… One business framework that is grounded in economics is ‘resource-based view’ or strategic asset view of a business… This approach derives its strength from its ability to explain in clear managerial terms why some competitors are more profitable than others, how to put the idea of core competence into practice, and how to develop diversification strategies that make sense… it sees companies as having a very different collection of tangible and intangible assets and capabilities…

No two companies are alike because no two companies have the same set of experiences, or acquired the same assets and skills, or built the same organizational cultures… These assets-capabilities determine how efficiently and effectively a company performs its functional activities: Following this logic, a company is positioned to succeed if it has the best and most appropriate stocks of competitive relevant resources for its business… These capabilities, built up over time, transform otherwise pedestrian or commodity inputs into superior products and make the companies that develop them more competitive in global markets… Competitive advantage, whatever its source, ultimately is attributed to the ownership of valuable resources (both tangible and intangible) that enables the business to perform activities better, more cheaply, different from competitors… Superior business performance is, therefore, based on competitively distinct set of resources (i.e., strategic assets), which are deployed within a well-conceived strategy…

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In the article Most Important Assets are Not on the Balance Sheet by Leslie Back  writes: In context of accounting, assets are defined as items of economic value, especially those that can be converted to cash, such as; property, equipment, inventory, and the like… Also, intangibles, such as; patents, trademarks, goodwill… are quantified for balance sheets… These assets, as well as liabilities and retained earnings on the other side of the sheet, dominate corporate thought and action. In so doing, however, companies overlook their most important assets, its ‘employees’. The employee is the secret in the sauce and glue that holds organizations together– without ‘right’ employees, other assets are valueless… and, followed by a good business ‘reputation’ as the next most important asset…

Fortune Magazine has estimated that a company’s reputation represents 75% of the total value of an average business… Which brings us to the last non-financial asset; ‘corporate mission’… This asset, when appropriately applied, will protect all other assets. The ‘mission’ provides guidance: It gives employees a sense of purpose, it guides all decision-making, it the moral and ethical compass and written articulation of the organization’s soul… When a ‘mission’ is clearly defined it gives direction on what assets should be acquired and where to divest… Hence, when an organization has a ‘mission’ beyond the mere of money-making, and when it considers its ‘employees’ as its greatest investment, and when it secures its ‘reputation’ by doing what is right… then these, by definition, are strategic assets…

According to Cliff Bowman; companies are continually under pressure to make the most of their assets… In today’s highly competitive world, it’s essential to understand what ‘thing’ is giving your organization a competitive advantage or edge in the market place: What is it about your product or service that is valued by your customers, such that they buy it? What is your competitive edge– your strategic asset– your differentiator that separates you from the competition… You must identify those dimensions that are critical to your customers, and why they choose you over a rival… Pinpointing the best way to deliver value to the customers is a strategic asset… Understanding your special qualities requires you to delve deep inside your organization to uncover the sources of advantage, many of which may not be obvious, but they are your organization’s competitive muscle and the key to your business success…

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However, in today’s global business landscape strategic assets can quickly become obsolete assets– basic assumptions about your competitive position and presumed strategic assets might not be valid… According to nine out of 10 executives; their companies developed annual strategic plans where they define their mission, competitive edge–strategic assets… Moreover, they develop these plans without consideration for the pace of change in their business environment… As market pressures drive organizations to become more– flexible, responsive, able to change on a moment’s notice, the ability to rethink the execution of strategy based on new competitive assumptions is rapidly becoming more important than the strategy itself… According to Denise Lee Yohn; the amount of disruption in today’s markets (and the speed at which it happens) requires a very different planning approach. Instead of setting a definite strategy and following through at all costs, companies must focus on– strategically adapting to and excelling at whatever path they find themselves on…

Organizations must focus more on having the right people and less on the right plan, replace strategic planning with strategic decision-making, and nourish a culture of discipline, action, and results… Developing strategic agility starts with changing many of your ‘thought bubbles’ (i.e., beliefs, assumptions, rules) about your competitive edge–strategic assets and strategic planning process.. Accept the idea that many– ideas, beliefs, assumptions on which you based your plans may well be obsolete… Shift your thinking about competitive edge and focus on market realities, which means that you must automatically assume that markets are constantly changing… focus on what needs to shift in the organization, and how you can adapt to get to where you want to go. Once you determine the necessary course corrections, take action immediately… It’s hard making-decisions without certainty about what the future holds, but the world moves so fast that hesitation can be fatal… And, once you fall behind, it can be very difficult to catch up… Make the development of strategic agility a strategic asset and priority for the organization…

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Theory of Constraints– Eliminate Bottlenecks– Focus, Leverage, Manage: Structure Organization Around It…

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Theory of Constraints (TOC) is a management paradigm that views any manageable system as being limited in achieving its goals due to the effects of a few, one or two, key constraints-bottlenecks in the system… ‘Constraints’ are defined as restriction(s) that inhibit the desired outcome. Theory of Constraints (TOC) is the philosophy of ‘how to think’, which was originated by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt… According to Goldratt; if people know ‘how to think’, they can greatly influence the outcome of a situation where constraints exist. In any situation, process, system… there is always at least one constraint-bottleneck that adversely effect overall performance and outcome of a process… hence, TOC uses a focusing methodology to identify and eliminate the key restrictions, and then restructures the rest of the organization around it…

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TOC is big-picture approach that encompasses issues, which occur both within and between processes… and its aims is to identify and resolve the few key constraints–bottlenecks that have the most significant impact on the outcome… There are many ways that constraints-bottlenecks can show up, but a core principle within TOC is that there is at least one, but at most only a few, in any given system… and an internal constraint is in evidence when the demand is more than the system can deliver… and an external constraint exists when the system can produce more than the market will bear… The typical constraints are; equipment, people, policy, process… A constraint-bottleneck is broken when it’s no longer the limiting factor in the system… However, if the system still under-performs the limiting factor is now in another part of the system, or may even be external to the system…  

Theory of Constraints– Five Focusing Steps: Where do you intervene? What steps do you take? When you first start; you can see so much that can be improved… Where do you start? What will have biggest effect? Then, what do you do next? The Theory of Constraints gives a simple, powerful framework to guide the process improvement: The Five Focusing Steps are:

  • Step 0: What is the goal? The first and most difficult step is to determine (and agree on) the goal of a system, and to determine the goal you must ask: Who uses the results, the output of the system and what do they value? Try to find the metrics that measure the amount of valuable output produced. The Theory of Constraints calls this the ‘throughput‘ of the system…
  • Step 1: Where is the bottleneck? The fundamental insight of the Theory of Constraints is; the output of any system is determined by one bottleneckA chain is as strong as its weakest link. If we want to make the chain stronger, then work on weakest link…
  • Step 2: Exploit the bottleneck: If the output of the system is constrained by the output of the bottleneck, you must first try to increase the output of the bottleneck. Any idle time of bottleneck reduces output of the system. What can you do? First, remove all non-value-adding work. Remove or limit interruptions. Remove impediments. Carefully prioritize the bottleneck’s work so that you always work on the most important tasks…
  • Step 3: Subordinate every other decision to the bottleneck: When you have fully exploited the bottleneck, you must subordinate every other decision to exploit the bottleneck. All the resources that aren’t bottlenecks have, by definition, some slack, then use these slacks to support the bottleneck…
  • Step 4: Elevate the bottleneck: This is the step most people will intuitively apply first, for example; add more people, more machines, more training, more tools, more of everything… But, only take this step when all the ‘free’ improvements have been performed. Than elevate by; adding more people, machines, training and mentoring, better tools, faster machines, switching to a different technology…
  • Step 5: And again! When you’ve applied one improvement and have seen a positive effect, you go back to the beginning, and ask: Is the goal still valid? Is measurement of ‘throughput’ still correct? Where’s the bottleneck? After some improvements you may have solved the worst problem… But in most systems there’s always a bottleneck, and so now the second-worst problem needs focus, as the new bottleneck…

In the article Systems Thinker Blog by Michael Gerber writes: Every real system, such as a business; must have at least one real constraint [limitation or restriction]. If this were not the case then the system could produce unlimited amounts of whatever it was striving for, e.g.; profit in the case of a business… In other words, every business or system has something preventing it from reaching its full potential– a weakness that limits its performance and output, and the weakest point or constraint determines the maximum capacity of the entire system… Bottlenecks in business systems and processes are among the most damaging constraints and a barrier to achieving maximum results…

A bottleneck is any step whose capacity is equal to or less than the demand placed upon it; it can’t keep up with the inputs. A non-bottleneck is any step whose capacity is greater than the demand placed upon it… You can only improve the results or ‘throughput’ of a process by elevating the performance of the weakest step– the bottleneck… Improving other steps will not increase the system output... Bear in mind that the objective is not just to eliminate the bottleneck of a particular process, but to elevate the entire system that constrains the ‘throughput’ of the whole business… The core of the business systems must work in synchronization to achieve highest efficiency and throughput. The more you reduce the constraints, the closer it come to realize full potential… Represented as formula it’s: Theory of Constraints: Performance = Full Potential – Constraints…

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In the article Theory of Constraints– New Way to Manage by Eric Ronney writes: The key to understanding Theory of Constraints is to think about complexity in organizations. How complex is yours? How many people? How many functions and processes? How many products and services? How many suppliers and customers? It’s no surprise that even small companies are complex. And it doesn’t take a genius to know that complex companies are difficult to manage… So, how do you manage a complex company? You dissect it into– smaller parts, business units, functions, departments… And because each ‘division’ is smaller than the whole company then by definition, it’s easier to manage… But complexity is about more than number of divisions… The real problem in an organizations is that things that happen in one part of an organization have impact on one or more places elsewhere… It’s many ’cause/effect relationships’ that criss-cross an organization that makes it complex…

In most complex company, there are very few ‘things’ that must be managed in order to improve performance of the entire company. These few things are the leverage points for performance or the ‘constraints’ of the business… In other words, the more complex a company is– the fewer degrees of freedom there are– and thus the fewer constraints that must be managed… The great thing is– once you identify the constraints of the business, you know what to focus on. You know exactly what has to be done in order to optimize the performance of the company; thus, management attention can be directed to the few things that make a ‘real’ difference…

According to Larry Webber and Michael Wallace; people are funny creatures: If they have jobs like printing paychecks, counting nails, or whatever… and they can work very fast as to pile up work ahead of a constraint, they quickly learn to slow down and soak up the time. The maxim that– work expands to fill the time allotted is true. What this means for an organization is that a constraint may not always be obvious if the behavior of other links in the operating chain disguises it… Look at the entire process from end-to-end to identify areas that may be walking slowly– adding non-value-added steps– to soak up the excess time…

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According to neadmin; there are numerous factors that play a role in the ultimate success or failure of the business. Understanding and being cognizant of the biggest elements that decide success for a given business is one of the most important actions for management to take; often times an analysis of constraints will reveal issues that a business did not even realize they were facing, and thereby allow them to develop workarounds to handle some of these road blocks… The management of constraints often involve the process of trading constraints: If the opportunity cost presented by one constraint is higher than that of another, then the trade is a good one to make… But understand that with TOC, the ‘cost world’ is replaced by the ‘throughput world’… A major difference between the ‘cost world’ and ‘throughput world’ is– the ‘cost world’ focus is on ‘reducing cost’, whereas the ‘throughput world’ the focus is on increasing ‘throughput’ or ‘outcome’ as the primary means for improvement…

According to Kamran Khan; implications of this theory are far-reaching in terms of understanding bottlenecks in a process, and better managing the bottlenecks to create an efficient process flow: Simply put the theory states; the throughput of any system is determined by one constraint (bottleneck)… Thus to increase the throughput, one must focus on identifying and improving the few bottlenecks-constraints that have a major impact on the system… and by simply shifting work without any additional cost, the efficiency of the system can be significantly improved… It’s obvious that the Theory of Constraints can also be applied to enhance other vital business systems and management skills, such as; conflict resolution, communications, team building, delegation of authority, workers empowerment… in all of these endeavors to improve performance; it’s critical to focus on the few but key bottlenecks-constraints that are responsible for making a ‘real’ difference in improving performance outcome…

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Credit Hour– Debatable Currency of Learning, Degrees, Credentials: Re-Examine Role of Credit Hours In Education

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Credit hour (or course credit, or credit, or credit unit, or student hour, or Carnegie unit) is the currency for academic degrees and credentials used in most colleges, universities, other educational institutions… Sometimes simplest concepts are most problematic, for example; the notion of the ‘credit hour’, which seems like a self-evident term: One earns a college ‘credit’ for an ‘hour’ of academic work. But quantifying work is a very complicated affair and one ‘hour’ of work is often a misnomer… According to Michael Arnzen; the ‘credit hour’ could be an anachronism, given various asynchronous methods of learning (as in online courses), and other changes that electronic media and new approaches to teaching have on the notion of ‘time’ spent learning…

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The ‘credit hour’ is a cornerstone to the administration of student learning-education; it’s the basis for evaluating student entry into college, determining student completion of course work, degrees… faculty workload, efficiency, and evaluation are rooted in this unit… However, many are critical of the ‘credit unit’ due to the arbitrary use of ‘time’ as basis for measuring education attainment. Generally, the criticism is that student learning varies greatly even among individuals who are taught the same material. Variations are even greater among the various faculty members, departments, topics, schools, colleges, universities… This has become an even greater concern in this era of distance learning and telecommunication. Frustration is particularly high among those involved with transfer of credit among institutions… Unfortunately, the credit hour has become a proxy for student learning…

Credit Hour vs. Competency: According to Celia R. Baker; the credit hour’s clout is weakening, however, with a dawning realization that four years spent in college does not guarantee success at a job. A 2006 study by National Center for Education Statistics show; 69% of college graduates could not perform basic tasks, such as; comparing opposing newspaper editorials or comparing cost per ounce of different foods. According to Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa in their book; Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses: When 2,300 students at many four-year colleges took the ‘Collegiate Learning Assessment’ to measure higher-level skills taught at college, 45% didn’t demonstrate significant improvement in learning during the first two years of college and 36% did not demonstrate significant learning over four years of college…

A survey by the Association of American College and Universities show; one-third of employers said ‘no’ when asked if college graduates are well-prepared to succeed in entry-level positions in their companies. And when employers drill down to grades on transcripts when screening job applicants, it’s hard to tell what graduates know… Grade inflation can be blamed for that.. According to the Teachers College Record, in 2008, 43% of all college grades were A’s and in 1961, the number stood at 15%… According to Judith Easton; the idea of increasing competency measures at universities is highly desirable, because ‘seat’ time doesn’t tell everything– it’s not an ‘outcome’ measure... decisions about restructuring outcome measures should rest with colleges and universities, not government… even though credit hours are the basis for the government’s Pell grants to students, which amounts to billions of dollars…

In the article  Curious Birth and Harmful Legacy of the Credit Hour by Amy Laitinen writes: Time-based units were never intended to be a measure of student learning. In the early 1900s, Andrew Carnegie was troubled that most professors made too little money to save for retirement created a free pension system administered by Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. In order for colleges to participate in the program, they had to adopt a standard unit for admissions, which was based on a system used at the high-school level that measured time spent on a subject…

But colleges didn’t stop there. Carnegie’s pension system spurred them to convert their course offerings into time-based units to determine faculty workload thresholds to qualify for free pensions. And so credit hour became the fundamental building block of courses and degree programs in higher education… Unfortunately, it has also become the primary proxy for learning… The Carnegie Foundation did not intend for this to happen and now it believes it’s time to consider how a revised unit, based on ‘competency’ rather than ‘time’, could improve teaching and learning in high schools, colleges, universities. Theoretically, colleges supplement the credit-hour count with an objective measure of how much students learned: Grades... But it’s hard to reconcile that measure with the research suggesting that nearly two-thirds of provosts and chief academic officers think grade inflation is a serious problem: In 1961, 15% of undergraduate course grades were A’s; today more than 40% are A’s.

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While the stated mission of higher education may be about learning, the research findings on poor learning outcomes and rampant grade inflation, along with the difficulty of credit transfer, tell a different story… Without broader agreement about learning outcomes, credits and the value of degrees will remain opaque. Measuring ‘time’ is easy, but measuring ‘learning’ is hard. However, that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done… Federal policy can help catalyze such efforts by leveraging the government’s authority to use financial aid– a huge incentive for institutions to pay for learning. Today the multibillion-dollar federal financial-aid system runs on the credit hour. And it gets only what it pays for: Time… As higher education becomes increasingly necessary and expensive, measuring ‘time’ rather than ‘learning’ is a luxury that students, taxpayers, and the nation can no longer afford. While Carnegie’s free money for pensions dried up long ago, the federal government is spending hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to pay for time-based credits and degrees of dubious value… Paying for what students learn and can do, rather than how or where they spend their time, would go a long way toward providing students and the nation with desperately needed, high-quality degrees and credentials.

In the article Hour by Hour by Paul Fain  writes: An over-reliance on the credit hour, which links the awarding of academic credit to hours of contact between professors and students, has led to many of higher education’s problems… There is very compelling evidence that what we have right now isn’t working… The standard of one credit hour for each hour of faculty-student contact time per week falls short, because the credit hour does not measure learning… Grades are supposed to do that, but plenty of research has identified problems with grade inflation. And even if grades did work, the credit hour still wouldn’t allow flexibility for students to learn at different speeds…

As a result, the credit hour is at the intersection of three of higher education’s thorniest issues: Cost, Time, Quality. However, blowing up the credit hour won’t be easy, in part because it’s so convenient, and reforms need to be both thoughtful and deliberate: Define the credit hour too tightly and innovation would be stifled. Define it too loosely and taxpayers would get taken for a ride… Several colleges have experimented with decoupling college credit from ‘seat’ time using ‘competency-based education’ to challenge status quo, and tie credits to ‘direct assessment’ of student competencies, rather than a traditional credit-hour calculation…

In the article Defense of the Credit Hour by Richard Schur writes: I like the credit hour and I know that I should embrace an educational structure that measures ‘learning’ and not ‘time’. A standard that embraces self-paced learning, experiential learning, competency-based tools, many people argue, is better than one that marks the time students have endured in a class. Furthermore, the credit-hour standard is expensive to deliver, and inefficient in linking ‘seat’ time to actual ‘learning'; making it impossible for institutions to realize the productivity gains associated with technological advances… But I find myself being quite conservative and traditional on the subject. I want to save the image, if not the reality, of a teacher and class meeting together over a semester, quarter, or trimester to explore a set of questions…

Education takes time and must happen in a particular space, either physical or virtual… I believe, perhaps foolishly, that education is a process, not a destination. Education is not reducible to a set of facts or skills. Rather, it’s about a way of being in the world, a set of habits, which help develop curiosity and wonder… An education is beginning, not an end… My paradigm for teaching comes from Socrates… If we read Socrates carefully, we understand that it’s not learning that he valued, but wisdom and virtue– knowing when to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. Having the time to think and reflect is not the luxury that many of the critics of the ‘credit hour’ claim it is. From the perspective of the classic liberal-arts tradition, taking the time for deep thought and reflection is what makes a human. To deny our students that experience is to diminish their humanity…

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The higher education model hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years: Academic years are divvied up into semesters, which are made up of courses, for which students earn credits. When students have slogged through enough semesters to earn plenty of credits, they are granted a degree or some sort of credential… According to Daniel Greenstein; many of today’s students aren’t interested in a classic college experience of dorms and all-nighters. Rather, they need college to be ‘unbundled’, and to be able to integrate it selectively, sometimes a course at a time, into their busy and full lives… Hence, new academic models are emerging that offer the flexibility needed by students whose education occurs in fits and starts. We need to do a better job preparing students for post-secondary programs, so that they can make informed decisions about which education path is right for them. And, need to more fully explore how to deliver a personalized learning experience to all students– one that is both productive and affordable…

According to Robert W. Mendenhall; credit hour is the coin of the realm, but it’s badly in need of an update… it’s time we measured learning rather than time… we don’t need the credit hour as a pricing measure, financing measure, or even faculty-workload measure… According to Carol A. Twigg; the concept of a credit hour based on ‘seat’ time is a relic… but you must have some kind of a currency that can be traded.. The challenge is to find a way to measure the course content– whether it’s delivered at a distance or in an accelerated format… According to Mitchell L. Stevens; The credit hour by itself ‘isn’t a measure of quality, it’s about quantity’… At a time when the general public is questioning the cost and value of higher education, this could force the sector to measure quality in addition to quantity… But the question of what a credit hour means today, and in future, isn’t going away anytime soon…

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Labor Day Has Lost Meaning– Forgotten are the Achievements of the Union Movement: Labor Day is an Anachronism…

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Labor Day has lost much of its meaning: Most countries in the world celebrate some kind of Labor Day: In the U. S., Labor Day marks a significant event and is celebrated on first Monday of September, each year. The roots, results of the Labor Movement in America are vitally important to the way everyone lives today… In fact, the holiday was born from the ‘revolutionary’ idea that workers should be limited to laboring for only 8 hours a day; 8 hours of work + 8 hours of recreation + 8 hours of rest = the perfect formula for a happy and healthy life: At least that’s what labor leaders believed in the late 1800s… Prior to that workers (include child labor) had very few rights, protections and, in general, were supposed to be happy just to have employment no matter– the conditions, hours, demands or dangers involved… Now for most people, Labor Day is something different and it means two things: day off, end of summer… rather than, a special day that been set aside to pay tribute to working men and women…

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The first Labor Day celebration was on Sept. 5, 1882, New York City. The workers’ unions chose the first Monday in September since it was halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving… The idea spread across the country and some states designated Labor Day as a holiday before the federal holiday was created… President Grover Cleveland signed law that designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day nationwide… In European countries, China and other parts of the world; May Day, first day in May is a holiday to celebrate workers and labor unions. Membership in labor unions in the U. S. reached an all-time high in the 1950s when about 40% of the work force belonged to unions.

Today, union membership is about 10% of the working population… Now, Labor Day carries less significance as a celebration of working people– government offices and businesses are closed so that all the people can enjoy the day, but very little attention, if any, is giving to many accomplishments of the Labor Movement, and especially the many courageous labor leaders that fought tough battles for the rights of the worker… According to Samuel Gompers; Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays– All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation…

In the article Forgotten Meaning of Labor Day by Jack Marshall writes: Labor Day commemorates great ethical victory of American society, and not one in a hundred Americans know it– few people think about the real meaning of the word ‘labor’ in the name, and how it’s meant to honor brave, dedicated men and women who fought to ensure a measure of safety, consideration, fairness and justice for the hardest working among us… Today labor unions are controversial– many have been run as criminal enterprises, with deep connections to organized crime; many operate in a blatantly coercive, undemocratic fashion. Union demands and strong-arm tactics, while providing security, good wages to members, have crippled some U.S. industries and limited jobs, as well. Today the unions get publicity when one of them tries to protect a member who should be punished, as when the baseball players’ union fights suspensions for player insubordination or even drug use, or when school districts don’t fire incompetent teachers because of union power, or when members of public unions protest cutbacks in benefits that their private sector counterparts would be grateful for…

Many people feel that today’s unions often embodies an observation made by Eric Hoffer, a longshoremen philosopher, that: Every great cause begins as a movement, degenerates into a business and ends up as a racket… But the message of Labor Day has gotten lost: Labor Day is about the original labor movement that began at the end of the 19th century and rescued American workers from an industrial manufacturing system that was cruel, exploitative, deadly, often feudal… Over the century the labor movement has produced many heroes who personify what Labor Day commemorates, and the many battles they won– against child labor, for fair wages and reasonable work hours, for employee benefits and concern for employee safety… These are achievements and epic story that all Americans should know and take pride on this day…

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In the article True Meaning of Labor Day by Eric Zorn writes: Unions have been far from saintly. I’d never argue that every demand they’ve ever made has been reasonable nor every concession they’ve won good for the general public but, we owe them. Even though only about 10% of the private work force in the U.S. now belongs to a union, most of the other 90% are beneficiaries of the organization of labor... Maybe our parents raised us on union-level compensation– 38% higher than non-union in a 1995 study. Maybe we grew up in communities made more stable by the solid incomes and job security of neighbors with union jobs. Certainly we have enjoyed benefits of comparative domestic peace attributable to the large, union-bolstered middle class– bulwark of democracy...

According to Thomas Geoghegan; when it comes to many benefits, conditions and pay elevated by union standards and the threat of union formation, many non-union workers are, even now, taking a free ride… According to Sam Rosenberg; as union membership has declined over last two decades, so has share of income earned by working class...The idea that technology or human moral evolution has rendered unions and laws that support them obsolete is as quaint as it’s apparently popular... According to Alberto Pupo; union membership is at an all time low and most states are adopting the ‘Right to Work Laws’, and Monday’s holiday smacks of insincerity and flat-out hypocrisy… Labor Day needs to be celebrated as a day that truly honors the worker…  

In the article How Labor Day Was Hijacked by David Sirota writes: Quite obviously, there been a transformation of Labor Day from an occasion to specifically honor worker solidarity into an apolitical vacation day… Los Angeles Times noted; the holiday is the creation of the labor movement, which wanted a holiday to honor workers– and highlight the need for labor reform laws… But, there are ways to take back true spirit of this holiday, if more people are simply reminded of what Labor Day is really all about, there’s a decent chance that we can restore its real significance. Here are just a few reminders:

  • Legislation creating Labor Day did not pass the Congress in response to Americans’ demand for yet one more reason to– sleep in, fire up the grill, drink beer, watch football…
  • Labor Day was not designed to give a day off to commemorate the end of summer nor to give parents a special day to hit the chain stores for back-to-school sales. It was designed to give us all a chance to honor, commemorate the American labor movement and all of its achievements for millions of workers – union and non-union alike…
  • Labor Day was not created to give you one last day to work on your tan or to get drunk in the park at an annual picnic. Labor Day was created to give you a day to attend or participate in some sort of public event showing solidarity with the American labor movement…
  • Labor Day was not designed to be cast as an apolitical holiday that everyone should pretend they honor because they simply support the apolitical notion of work. The ‘labor’ in Labor Day refers not to generic ‘work’ but to organized labor, as in unions…
  • Labor Day is not designed to be a day for anti-union politicians and corporations to say ‘Happy Labor Day’, and momentarily pretend they support the rights of American workers. It’s a day for Americans to speak out against union-busting activity and vitriolic anti-union rhetoric…

Societies face a dilemma that cannot be solved by more debt or more technology: How to distribute not just the output of the economy, but the work and responsibility so that everyone has an opportunity to contribute and earn their keep… According to Charles Hugh Smith; paying people to stay home and rot is not a solution, but neither is paying people more than they produce in competitive markets… Of the three elements of civil society, the Market and the State have crowded out the Community. We either re-discover the labor-value of community or we devolve further into potentially ‘death spiral’ social, financial instability… According to Claudette Millette; to most people Labor Day symbolizes that summer is fading away and we are staring down face of autumn…

But, what is this holiday actually about? The observance of Labor Day began over 100 years ago, and born out of America’s labor unions… According to Samuel Gompers; the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed… that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it… A century after Samuel Gompers spoke these words this holiday has taken on different meanings to different people: It’s the end of summer, beginning of school, return of football…

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According to Phillip Wilson; many unions, for most part, have outlived their usefulness and are mainly able to thrive in non-competitive niches of the economy. Spending a bunch of money on trying to get people to join current unions is just a waste of time – there is just not enough lipstick for this pig. Instead unions need to re-think the supply demand curve for their offerings and re-make the bundle of services they offer to fit with the demands of modern employees and employers. If they insist on living in the past and maintaining their old model then it may be time to pull the plug… According to Fernando Rendon; most Americans don’t realize that it is a day to honor the common worker; craftsmen, laborers, trades workers… who built this great nation… The first few Labor Days were not officially recognized and workers who participated did so without pay and risked retaliation, losing their jobs and physical violence. At that time there was no such thing as an 8 hour day, overtime pay or a 40 hour work week. Workers were little more than indentured servants… So on Monday as you are enjoying a day off with pay, think about the many job benefits that most people take for granted, e.g.: Overtime pay, vacations, bonuses, sick leave, weekends, pensions… Think of these things and realize that none of them were available until organized labor– fought, bargained… for them. Think of these things and try to understand the ‘true’ meaning of– Labor Day…

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