Clutter Equals Creativity; Clutter Equals Chaos; Manage Clutter in Work Space: Clutter Adds Value to Business…

It’s a world where ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’– being neat equates to being moral, while disorder equals sloth… Whereas, clutter or being messy is about– disorder, chaos, disarray… it’s a sign of– unorganized, irresponsible, untrustworthy, incompetence… But clutter is also a sign of– creativity, high-achievement, productivity, genius… According to Katherine Trezise; a little clutter is OK, but when it gets debilitating or affects other people then its a  problem… However, others say clutter is important for creativity, e.g.; Albert Einstein was a slob– just look at his hair; Abraham Lincoln worked among piles of papers– he even reportedly kept a note on one stack that read; when you can’t find it in one pile then look in another; Alexander Fleming’s work-space was so cluttered that one day he discovered penicillin on a forgotten petri-dish under all the clutter…

Clutter is deemed as a hallmark of laziness, it’s a serious character flaw… According to Richard A. Friedman; contrary to popular belief, clutter is not necessarily a sign of disorganization, nor does it preclude productivity… Some of the most creative and prolific people are inveterate slobs… Clutter, whether physical or digital, is a human behavioral characteristic, whether it’s a reflection of genius or laziness… It’s important to understand that clutter is not about things, it’s about people’s interactions with things… According to Albert Einstein; if a cluttered work-space is sign of a cluttered mind, then what is an empty work-space a sign of?

In the article Dangers Of Cluttered Work-Space by Jenna Goudreau writes: Is your laptop or computer framed with layers of post-it notes reminders? Is your desktop hidden under stacks of papers? According to Adecco survey; majority of workers (57%) admit  they judge coworkers by how clean or dirty they keep their work-spaces… Nearly half say; they have been ‘appalled’ by how cluttered colleagues work-spaces are, and chalk it up to pure laziness... Most people’s work space is consistently floating in sea of– reports, reference materials, multiple laptops, lots of stuff… and probably several half-used cups of coffee, at any given hour… they justify it because it helps them to think better…

A cluttered work-space seems to inspire creative people with new ideas, fresh insights… According to a Massachusetts Institution of Technology (MIT) study; there seems to be correlation between smart and messiness– messiness is often associated with– artistic, creative scientific. mathematical genius… But also associated with the opposite– careless, eccentricity, unreliability… According to a Princeton study; cluttered work-space can have a negative influence on the perception of one’s professionalism… Other researchers suggest– an orderly work-space promotes better decision-making, which improves worker and business productivity… But they also say; disorderly work-space stimulate creativity, which has widespread importance for worker and business productivity…

In the article Cluttered People Are Smarter by Jillian Knox Finley writes: A string of studies suggests creative geniuses favor a chaotic work-space… Embracing a cluttered approach to business isn’t about nay-saying; it’s about empathy and open-minded… According to Kathleen Vohs; study found that disorderly work-spaces is a sign of creativity and innovation… whereas, keeping the space neat and tidy appears to embrace– convention and playing it safe… Then there are  authors such as, J.K. Rowling, Mark Twain, Roald Dahl… all thrived in creative work-spaces littered with notes, stacks of clutter, random points of inspiration…

In a sense, clutter or messiness is a physical manifestation of defying conventional thinking patterns… According to John Haltiwanger; disorganized or unkempt people are frequently maligned… but, it takes courage or possibly little madness to embrace disorder... In other words, messy people aren’t wrapped up in the status quo; they tend to  buck tradition… A theory as to why creative people thrive in cluttered spaces may lie in an ability to tune out distractions, i.e.; clutter does not disrupt workflow because their brain systematically filter it out…

Many creative people are unconcerned or unaware of the chaos of their local environment, very much like people who have a high pain thresholds, messy people may not feel their cluttered work-space as keenly as neat-niks… According to Eric Abrahamson; clutter has the ability to highlight priorities, e.g.; in a cluttered work space, the more important work tends to stay on top of the clutter pile, while the less important stuff tends to get buried on the bottom of the pile… which makes perfect sense…

The hard truth is that the universe is dead-set against the long-term efforts to bring order to chaos… According to Adam Frank; disorder is the natural law of the universe– the universe loves chaos… Cluttered people are undeniably adaptable, they have spontaneous ability to focus on the task at hand without getting mired in minutia of the surrounding environment– it’s skill-set that denotes a bird’s-eye approach to problem-solving… Making order out of chaos, thriving among a disordered cosmos, is in effect survival of the fittest at its best. Change is constant, but without clutter it lack– creativity, innovation…

Damaging, Incalculable Business Cost of Sexual Harassment: Workplace is Haven for Predators…

Sexual harassment in the workplace isn’t an industry issue, nor is it a toxic workplace issue; it’s a societal issue– affects literally everyone… Sexual harassment law was first enacted as part of U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, which led to formation of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)… EEOC defines sexual harassment as; ‘unwelcome’ sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. ‘Unwelcome’ behavior is critical word. Sexual conduct is ‘unwelcome’ whenever the person subjected to it considers it ‘unwelcome’…

If an employee, or manager, or customer, or vendor… is sexually harassed, the law can hold company liable… According to Rachel Gillett; sexual harassment settlements and legal fees costs companies tens of millions of dollars, yearly– in fact, businesses are purchasing liability insurance to protect them against the financial risk of sexual harassment… These insurance policies have become a multi-billion dollar industry, with companies collectively paying over $2 billion in premiums last year…

In the article Insidious Economic Impact of Sexual Harassment by Nilofer Merchant writes: Sexual harassment is more rampant than you want to think… According to polls; about one-in-three people (31%) admit to having been sexually harassed at work… and 45% of women said they have been sexually harassed at work… But the real issues is what happens next to those being harassed; most often– it’s  the pain and embarrassment that is not captured.. it’s the– ‘I quit’, or ‘I hate this place’, or ‘maybe I shouldn’t be in [this industry]’…

More seriously, some women scaled back on ambitions, while others leave companies or their chosen industry altogether..While each harassment story is different when combined together the vignettes add up. According to Heather McLaughlin; about 80% of women who are harassed leave their jobs within two years… Researchers have tried to quantify the ‘costs’– economic, emotional pain, lost opportunities… of those being harassed, but the life-long impact are beyond calculation, both for the– harassed, companies, society overall…

In the article Sexual Harassment in Workplace by Alexis Christforous  writes: Sexual harassment in workplaces comes with both emotional and financial cost.. For sure there is incalculable cost of emotional and mental stress: But how do you put a price tag on lost job opportunities for people who dare to speak out? And what about the mounting legal bills victims face if they bring their perpetrators to court? For many companies paying thousands and millions of dollars to settle sexual harassment claims are treated as cost of doing business… According to the EEOC; in the past seven years, companies paid out more than $295 million in public penalties over sexual harassment claims. That doesn’t account for untold amounts more in cases settled privately…

An EEOC study estimates that 75% of all workplace harassment incidents go unreported, mostly because victims feel shame or fear… and ever worse the study found that 75% of employees who spoke out against sexual harassment experiences retaliation when they spoke-up… With the recent wave of high-profile sexual harassment scandals, a growing number of companies are running for cover and buying– Employment Practices Liability Insurance… The policy insures them against sexual harassment claims, and most of that growth is coming from small and mid-size businesses…

In the article Sexual Harassment in the Workplace by Caron Beesley writes: The most common forms of sexual harassment occur when people are most vulnerable– promotions, benefits, employee reviews… And tied to a form of sexual innuendo that makes them uncomfortable, e.g. sexually charged remarks, unwelcome advances, display of sexually explicit images… Due to the high-profile of sexual harassment in the workplace companies are beginning to mandate sexual harassment training as a key part of company policy…

In fact, 62% of companies now offer some form of sexual harassment prevention training programs for managers, employees… And while these programs are not mandated by law, they represent a positive step forward towards prevention, as well as, protection in the event that a sexual harassment lawsuit is filed… However, companies can best protect themselves through– education and prevention and a few basic steps, including; understanding meaning of sexual harassment; establishing company policy, enforcing company policy

In the article Price of Sexual Harassment by Karl Pau, Maria LaMagna write: Companies sometimes decide it’s worth settling with alleged sexual harassment victims rather than getting rid of key performers who are also the perpetrator… According to Jennifer Drobac; some perpetrators are perceived to be so valuable that companies decides it’s worth paying– a few hundred thousand dollars in settlements to make the problem go away… These decision often comes with one major problem– in many cases the perpetrator just continue their sexual harassment activities…

The total costs– economic and non economic– paid by companies in sexual harassment cases is difficult to calculate, partly because most companies often prefer to settle out of court under a non-disclosure agreement. According to David Yamada; sexual harassment is human thing, and for some people ‘no’ amount of training will fix their behavior. However, prevention is the best policy and companies must do more to create safe and secure work environment… The stakes are high and the cost of sexual harassment can threaten a company’s very existence– Remember, a company’s– reputation and image is priceless..

Ripple Effects Of Business Taxes Reform– Impact on Business Decisions: Who Wins, Who Loses…

Taxes are complicated. The U.S. federal tax code contains over three million words– about 6,000 pages. A casual browsing of the tax code’s table of contents offers a glimpse into the vast complexity of federal tax system... Annual changes to tax codes imply that taxes will continue to become more complex even as politicians tout tax simplification… Also, taxes levied by other jurisdictions, such as states and cities, add further complexity to the overall tax system… However, taxation is as much a political issue as an economic issue, and political leaders use tax policy to promote their agendas by initiating various tax reforms, e.g.; decreasing (or increasing) tax rates, changing a definition of taxable income, creating taxes on specific products…  

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of a sensible system of business taxes to stimulate economic growth… However, predicting impact of business taxes reform on growth is notoriously difficult, because the economy simply has too many moving parts. A surge in growth could be due to tax cuts or something else entirely… Even though common wisdom might suggest– reduction in business taxes frees-up capital that can be used in other ways,e.g.; investment in products, increase hiring, improve productivity… According to Kimberly Clausing; the logic makes a lot of sense, i.e.; when business increase investment, that investment increases productivity of workers… and as a result workers get paid more… but in reality it’s more complicated…  plus, there is very little real evidence that reducing business taxes unleashes big wave of economic growth or wage increases…

In the article Business Taxes Reform by Joe Harpaz writes: Tax reform has ripple-effects throughout a business… If for example, corporate tax rate is reduced to 20%, most people would expect a switch to flip overnight and suddenly the new tax rates take effect… But it doesn’t always work that way; historically, a major change is implemented over a period of time. Hence, no one really knows exactly how and when that phase-in will occur… And even once that a schedule comes out, the guidance on how to apply those changes within a business could come quite a ways behind it…

The announcement of a reform is really just the first step. The lag-time between passing of the law and the publication of the guidance from the IRS can be painful for tax professionals. It leaves them in a sort of limbo where they know they will have to make changes, but don’t know exactly what those changes are. It’s anyone’s guess how long it could take… State and local governments also need to accommodate the changes… And at the end of all of this, business bears the burden of sorting through all of the federal and state provisions that need to be incorporated into their workflows…

In the article Business Taxes Affect Decisions by Andrew Chamberlain writes: Most everyone agrees that taxes affect economic behavior. But when the economic behavior in question is where companies locate and invest, conventional wisdom holds that taxes are far down on the list of factors that affect those economic decisions– common argument is that factors like proximity to– roads, ports, educated workforce, natural resources… are far more important than differences in tax policy…

If true, that would imply that lawmakers can safely ignore flaws in their tax systems, because those flaws are almost never important enough to affect their long-run economic performance. So goes the conventional wisdom… According to Mihir Desai; research shows that corporate taxes impacts all kinds of business decisions, including; uses of debt, repatriating profits, businesses structure… and other issues that are highly sensitive to tax factors…

 In the article Business Taxes Reform Grow The Economy? by Danielle Kurtzleben writes: A Big Question: Does reducing taxes grow the economy? A Long Answer: Tax cuts can boost economic growth but the operative word is ‘can’. It’s by no means an automatic or perfect relationship… There’s a simple logic behind the idea that cutting taxes boosts growth: Cutting taxes gives businesses and people more money to spend as they like, which can boost economic growth… Many, but by no means all, economists believe there’s a relationship between cuts and growth…

In a survey of top economists; found that 35% thought cutting taxes would boost economic growth. A roughly equal share, 35%, were uncertain. Only 8% disagreed or strongly disagreed. But in practice, it’s not always clear that tax cuts themselves automatically boost the economy… According to William Gale, Andrew Samwick; it’s by no means obvious that tax rate cuts ultimately lead to larger economy… Yes, a well-designed tax policy can increase growth, but to do so– tax cuts must also be aligned with spending cuts…

And even then, it can’t just be ‘any’ spending cuts– it must be cuts to ‘unproductive’ spending… One can create financial models where taxes generate big effects, but models are not the real world– the empirical evidence is quite different from the modeling results and the empirical evidence is much weaker… The overarching concept is rather simple; fiddling with business tax rates and predicting an ultimate economic outcomes is more complicated than many are willing to admit… Politicians tend to over-simplify the relationship between tax reform and economic growth…

Business of Cannabis, Pot, Marijuana– An Industry Moving at Speed of Light: High Demand, Uncertain Future…

The business of cannabis (or, if you wish marijuana or pot) is moving at speed of light… Some  entrepreneurs are building the next generation of companies that may one day rival the nation’s top corporations in size and scope, while others are pioneering new business models, products and services… However, cannabis is still classified as Schedule I drug under Controlled Substances Act, (CSA). But despite classification, medical marijuana is permitted under state law in 25 states. Use for  recreation is allowed under state law in five states plus Washington, D.C.  One in six people in U.S. live in a state where adults are permitted  under state law to use cannabis… 

The IRS has taken the position that Section 280E will continue to apply as long as marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Even if cannabis were moved down the controlled substances list to least-restrictive category, the industry would still likely face business and regulatory hurdles. A survey released by Marijuana Business Daily found that more than 6% of cannabis companies report being audited [by the IRS]– well above the 1.4% average rate for all U.S. businesses. Based on this observation, companies that engage in the marijuana business should carefully structure their business model to reduce legal risks and mitigate adverse tax consequences…

In the article Business of Cannabis by Rosalie Murphy writes: The marijuana business is already as big as coffee or Indian gaming, with analysts estimating $30 billion in annual spending… According to Eli McVey; sales of legal recreation and medical marijuana in 2016 topped those of Viagra and Cialis, paid music streaming services, tequila and Girl Scout Cookies… According to GQ; it was the second largest cash crop in the U.S., after corn, and worth over $40 billion…

However only one in every five of those dollars are spent on legal products;  some $24 billion annually ends-up in unregulated pockets.  But more and more of that money will come out of the shadows in next two years. According to ArcView Market Research; the nation’s legal market will grow nine-fold over next decade, with spending on recreation and medical marijuana hitting $50 billion by 2026…

In the article Business of Cannabis by Chase Dittmer writes: When it comes to starting a legal cannabis business, you have a lot of choices to make. The biggest of the choices may be the most important as they will ultimately define the business model and much of the future of the business… There are three major types of cannabis businesses:

  • B2B (Business-to-Business)– refers to the model where a business sells to another business. The ‘pros’ of selling to other businesses are that order sizes and repeat orders are typically larger and more frequent… however, sales cycles are typically longer with price being a heavy contributor to purchase decisions…
  • B2C (Business-to-Consumer)– refers to the model where business sells directly to the end consumer and user of the product. This is the most common type of business model and what most people think about when discussing building new businesses…
  • B2G (Business-to-Government)– refers to the model where a business sells directly to the government… similar, in many ways, to B2B…

In the article Business of Cannabis by Serge Chistov writes: The cannabis business, like liquor business, is relatively recession proof. However, it’s still an industry in infancy, relatively speaking, which means that there are tremendous opportunity for those who want to take risks in a new industry… The social acceptability of marijuana, particularly relative to other drugs and substances, has created unique situation– the demand is very high but the future of the industry is yet still uncertain…

While the growth and sale of a ‘substance’ is not a new business model (e.g., tobacco), cannabis through use in medical intervention, is on a different level from pure pleasure and recreational values. This creates different market opportunities for the entrepreneur who is looking for future growth… Even though the future of the political climate is uncertain, cannabis will continue to gain acceptance… It’s difficult to deny the plants medical benefits, as well as, financial tax benefits to cities and states…

In the article Business of Cannabis  by Derek Davis writes: The legal use of recreation marijuana in numerous states has created a market and a great investment opportunity… Once federal law is liberalized to allow use of cannabis, which is the direction current developments are leaning, business of cannabis is going to be a sunrise industry with huge growth potentials… And as always, it’s about money: the States that understand the financial value of making marijuana mainstream– and taxable– revenues will blossom…

Also by taking cannabis out of the hands of criminal element it will eliminate a lot of uncertainty that surrounds the industry, and will save millions of dollars spent in legal prosecutions. The medical benefits are legion and with Baby Boomers getting older, the quality of life issue when dealing with pain is important… It’s an amazing time to enter the business of cannabis as it’s still young and in position to grow in the coming years…

There are many opportunities to build a profitable business… The key is to look beyond basic ‘grower’ model and into other areas of cannabis-related businesses that are relatively untapped, e.g.; legal dispensaries, retail establishments, edible or infused products, services related to security and consulting, hemp products (as an offshoot)… It’s not the same as the ‘gold rush’, where all business had to do was stake a claim and watch green-gold roll-in… The business of cannabis is an evolving  industry which means businesses must think beyond the basics…

Value Creation– Laws of Innovation– Distinguish Between Incremental and Radical: Sustainability Depends On It…

Most forward-thinking organizations don’t just stumble on innovative ideas by chance; they follow certain laws of innovation… they build a framework within the organization that supports consistent creativity and innovation… According to Elizabeth Chung; whether you are a social impact organization or a for-profit company, there are ways you can engrain brilliant thinking into the culture, i.e.; foster a culture that encourages the team to think outside of the box and go beyond day-to-day tasks… create the framework that draws out ingenuity and make creativity an organizational priority…

There are natural laws that promote innovation laws that engage at different levels of an organization and that fit within structure of the organization… According to Phil Mckinney; laws of innovation are critical for innovation success, and when violated the consequences can be disastrous; it means ‘talking-the-talk’ and ‘walking-the-walk’.  It means committing (protecting) resources, e.g.; time, money, people, equipment… for innovation... Innovation requires committed level of resource over extended period of time… validating an organization commitment to innovation…

In the article Innovation: Lessons Learned by Magnus Penker writes: Aligning the elements of– strategy, leadership style, capabilities, competences… is the key to success in building an innovative and sustainable organization in today’s ever changing market context… At the heart of innovation lies the fundamental understanding that it challenges the ‘status quo’ making things– better, different… using resources, capabilities, competences in new ways. Some imperatives for innovation are; stay relevant in existing  markets, stay engaged with ever-changing markets, stay ahead of markets with things that were not possible before…

Innovation can be done in small ‘incremental’ steps or in ‘radical’ leaps… According to Steve Coley; innovation work can be divided into three parallel horizons: First horizon– is about incremental innovation in today’s business, extending the existing S-curve of the company… Second horizon– is about expanding and building new business (the next coming S-curve, a mix of incremental and radical innovation) through innovation… Third horizon– is an exploitative and radical approach to future S-curves…The different horizons require– different– strategies, leadership, capabilities, competences…

In the article Laws of innovation Everyone Should Know by Melvin Kranzberg writes: There are specific laws that explain society’s unease with the power and pervasiveness of innovation. These laws are principles– something like a Hippocratic oath– for all people who build things, e.g.:

  • Innovation is neither good nor bad: The impact of innovation depends on its geographic and cultural context, which means it’s often good and bad, at the same time. There is no absolute good or bad, just how good or bad innovation is in a given context. This points to a problem that organization are too often reluctant to face: Their enormous power means they have an obligation to try to anticipate the potential impact– unintended consequences– of anything they produce…
  • Invention is the mother of necessity: It means that every technical innovation seems to require additional technical advances in order to make it fully effective and functional, e.g.; invention of the smartphone has led to the necessity for countless other innovations– from networks, to apps, to phone accessories…
  • Innovation takes a backseat to non-technical factors: Innovation is often thought of as an abstraction with some sort of intrinsic power… But to be effective it must be motivated by either one or more of– commercial power, political power, social power… More broadly, lawmakers are taking interest in everything from privacy and data transparency, to national security, to antitrust issues… These have more due to with shifts in societal concerns than in innovation…
  • Innovation is a human activity: Innovation is non-deterministic, it’s up to organizations to determine its used. But management must be vigilant, and think about the potential consequences of their innovations… Much of innovation-related problems arise because of the unforeseen consequences…

Innovation is eternal– from the earliest innovation of the ‘wheel’, to iPhone, to beyond… According to Matthew O’Rourke; the laws of innovation have remained constant over time. Some believe that it comes from a single moment of clarity but the best innovations most often are the ‘obvious’, in retrospect… Furthermore, innovation cannot be the goal, e. g,; If you say, I’m really going to make something innovative, it doesn’t work that way and it won’t happen… plus the best innovations are not always good, and what’s good is not always innovative…

Laws of innovation are not about generating novel ideas but about generating the right novel ideas that create value… It has been said that the heart and soul of an organization is innovation… and history is littered with high-performing companies that lost their innovative edge, only to fade into irrelevance… Thankfully, history is also full of innovators that you can learn from and apply lessons to your own organization… According to Arthur C. Clarke; only way to discover the limits of ‘possibilities’ is to venture a little way past them into the impossible… The effective implementation of the laws of innovation are indistinguishable from magic…

Tyranny of Choice– Consumers Perplexed by Too Much Choice: Too Many Options Leads to Decision Paralysis…

Choice is the basis on which markets work, driving competition and generating economic growth; it’s the cornerstone of the free market… But some experts say the notion of choice has gone too far, to the extreme, where it’s become a consumer nightmare– its tyranny of choice… According to Daniel McFadden; many consumers find too many choice as– troubling, confusing, information overload, difficult to decide… Indeed the expectation of indecision can prompt panic and a failure to choose at all…

We live in a time of unprecedented affluence, in the context of an array of advances in technology has resulted in an expansion of choice selection… Companies spend heavily on marketing their brands and exploiting customers’ aversion for choice… The more choice companies can offer, more important their brands becomes… But consumers are paralyzed by bewildering choice, so often they will turn to a brand that is cleverly marketed to appear to be the best choice… According to  Dr Cameron K. Murray; decision paralysis is seen widely in everyday business, and many companies are pruning  their offerings back to avoid confusing shoppers…

In the article Tyranny of Choice by Nirmalya Kumar writes: Studies suggest that despite an expressed preference for greater choice, consumers are less likely to make a purchase when faced with a high number of options… There is the presumption that increasing choice for consumers, from an economics perspective– that more choice leads  better preference matching… Yet there is research that demonstrates that more choice is not always positive… And while consumers may express preference for greater choice, several experiments reveal that when complexity of choice is high, or when decisions must be made under time pressure, too much choice can be paralyzing…

Repeated experiments show that despite an expressed preference for more choice, consumers are less likely to make a choice when faced with a high number of options. And when they do choose, they have less confidence that they have made the right decision. Although when given more options, consumers are also less satisfied with their choice… Some of the reasons that effect consumers’ negativity to excess choices include; information overload, lack of well-developed preferences, struggle with decisiveness…

In the article Tyranny of Choice by Barry Schwartz writes: Although some choice is undoubtedly better than none, more is not always better than less… There are several factors that explain why more choice is not always better than less, one being what economists call ‘opportunity costs’, which is to say that any choice can’t be accessed in isolation from the alternatives… So for example; cost of choosing ‘A’ is the loss of opportunity that would have come if you had chosen ‘B’…

If you assume that opportunity costs reduce the overall desirability of the most preferred choice, then the more alternatives there are, the deeper your sense of loss will be and the less satisfaction you will derive from your ultimate decision… Then there’s the notion of ‘adaptation’, which is simply the human propensity to get accustom to the same things– as a result, most things that customer’s choice don’t turn out to be quite as good as expected. Add to that the effort many consumers ‘invest’ in making these decisions, and you’ve got recipe for unhappiness… It appears Mom was right– too much of anything isn’t good — even choice…

In the article Tyranny of Choice by David Bollier writes: Obviously there is much to be said for consumer choice. But it’s also true that a life marked by boundless choice becomes a life of hyper-calculation in pursuit of a perfection that always seems just a little bit out of reach… No one wants to make the ‘wrong’ choice, so they really bear down and do comparative research– it’s the fantasy takes shape that if you make the right choice, a kind of worldly beatitude will prevail…

Researchers have found that too much choice is ‘de-motivating’, as a result many consumer won’t buy anything… Hence for some items, a limited number of choices is better way to stimulate consumers to buy, than by offering more choices… There is a point where the effort required to obtain enough information to be able to distinguish sensibly between alternatives outweighs benefit to consumers of extra choices… According to Barry Schwartzat some point choice no longer liberates but debilitates. In other words, the fact that some choice is good doesn’t necessarily mean that more choice is better…

In the article Tyranny of Choice by James Delingpole writes: Choice means competition and competition is good for consumers; Right? Well, maybe! As scientific studies have shown, humankind cannot bear too much variety… Humans are a bit like magpies: They are entranced by a myriad of– bright, new, shiny things… But when the time actually comes to having to choice from all this variety, the brain suffer ‘option paralysis’ and cannot deal with it…

However, many companies continue to press on and offering many choices saying– it’s all about the customer and therefore give them everything they want… But in reality this can make it difficult to identify which products the customer really wants and can create problems for managing business. According to Bain study; reducing choice complexity and narrowing the selection can boost revenues by 5-40%, cut costs by 10-35%…

As a result businesses are beginning to prune their selections to avoid confusing consumers… However, in the end, it doesn’t matter what consumer choose only that they choose… According to one advocate; stick to the choices that matter and eliminate the rest… In other words, simplify the decision-making… but sometimes the answer is not that easy: trouble with simplifying is that it involves too many choices…

Customers are Life-Blood of Business: But Customer Acquisition Cost, Life-Time Value, Retention Cost… Determine Business Fate…

All customers are created equal, customers are customers– they have same value, they create same wealth– WRONG! Some cost more, some delivery more revenue, some are more loyal… But the ‘right’ customers are the life-blood of any business.The key for a ‘right’ customer is very simple ratio– revenues Vs. cost to acquire or cost to retain– and the life-time value of each customer…

Hence by simply; knowing how much it costs to acquire each new customers (customer acquisition cost, CAC), knowing how much it costs to retain each existing customers (customer retention cost, CRC), knowing the life-time value of each customers (customer life-time value, CLV)— is the difference between a business that falters and one that lasts for decades…

In the article Calculate Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) by Edward Gotham writes: The customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the cost that  a business pays to acquire a new customer. In its simplest form, it’s calculated by: dividing total costs associated with customer acquisition by total number of new customers, within a specific time period… The ‘customer acquisition cost’ is one of the ‘most’ important metrics in e-commerce along with ‘customer lifetime value’ (CLV)…

This metric is important because it tells business exactly how much  value they are making from each customers in relation to how much it cost to acquire them. The goal is to find the marketing channels that have the lowest– CAC, CRC, and the highest– CLV. A business will fail when the CAC is higher than CLV, e.g.; when the CLV: CAC ratio is:

  • Less than 1:1– Road to oblivion, and fast…
  • 1:1– Losing money from every acquisition…
  • 3:1– Perfect level; thriving business and solid business model…
  • 4:1– Great news, but under investing and could be growing faster. Start more aggressive campaigns to acquire customers and bring ratio closer to 3:1..

In the article How To (Actually) Calculate CAC by Brian Balfour writes: A common myth: ‘customer acquisition cost’ (CAC) and ‘cost per acquisition’ (CPA) are commonly conflated, but in reality they are very different metrics. CAC measures cost to acquire a new customer, and CPA (cost per acquisition) measures cost to acquire a non-customer, e.g.; registration, download, activated user, trial… The two metrics are related because CPA is usually used to measure the cost of things that are leading indicators to CAC…

A customer is a customer, right? Not necessarily. When it comes to calculating CAC, you need to distinguish between new and returning customers (CRC). In most organizations the primary focus of marketing and sales efforts is to acquire new customers; where as, most often very little attention is focused on retaining existing customers. When In fact, studies show that even a small 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by up to 75%. Hence, a balanced strategy that engages both new customers and retains existing customers is fundamental for business sustainability…

In the article Unsustainable Customer Acquisition Costs by Steve Dennis writes: Businesses are lured (some might say ‘suckered’) into supporting ‘digitally native’ brands because of what they believed to be the lower-cost, easily scaled, nature of e-commerce… Many online brands attract their first customers relatively inexpensively, through word of mouth or other low-cost strategies… Where things start to get ugly is when these brands have to get more aggressive about finding new and somewhat different customers… So it’s easy to see how an online only brand can look good at the outset, only then to have the economic picture deteriorate as it grows…

The marginal cost of customer acquisition starts to creep up and the average life-time value, of the newly acquired customer, starts to go down, often precipitously… Accordingly it’s not uncommon for some of the fastest growing brands to have many customers that are not only unprofitable, but also becoming a drain on the business, overall… Here are three important factors that come into play:

  • Higher Customer Acquisition Cost: For many businesses to grow they typically pay-to-play to multiple social media platforms to engage more new customers… Initially the cost to acquire new customers is relatively low, but as business expands acquisition costs escalate disproportionately to revenues…
  • Higher Promotion and Incentive Cost: More growth often requires more customer incentive, so gross margin on incremental sales usually come at a lower rate… Typically new customers are less profitable than the initial core returning customers…
  • Lower (or Lousy) Life-Time Value: Many new customers have lower incremental life-time value because, on average, they spend less and they are inherently more difficult to retain. It’s increasingly common for fast growing online brands to have large numbers of customers that are projected to have negative life-time value…

Simply put, if a business does not calculate and manage customer costs, both for new and retained, the business is on very shaky ground… Yet many businesses neglect to measure just how much their customer acquisition strategy is costing them…. Failure to evaluate and manage customer acquisition and retention costs will adversely impact business revenues, profitability, sustainability, growth…

It doesn’t matter how many new customers are added if the cost to acquire is greater than revenues added by those customers, then it’s a losing proposition, it’s a negative return on investment… whether a business has– ten or thousands of customers, when the cost to acquire or retain customers is higher than revenues– the ultimate outcome is a failed business…

The Perfection Trap– Trying Too Hard to Be Perfect: It Can Ruin a Business– It Smacks of Desperation…

Perfection is the ideal! Are you ‘trying too hard’ to be perfect? Often you simply assume that achieving perfection is what you should be aiming for and don’t even stop to examine whether attempting to be perfect is actually helping you or not… Perfectionism is the belief that you must be ‘perfect’ at all times and in every way, and you must try hard to attain it… Striving for perfectionism is completely unreasonable and impossible to achieve. According to Atalanta Beaumont; when trying too hard it smacks of desperation– it means that things are never good enough– it may also mean that you perceive yourself as undervalued, unappreciated…

Most people work really hard and probably bought into statements, such as; nothing in business comes easy… or, you have to fight to make it in the world… or, if it was easy everyone would do it… or, push to be the best you can be… But ‘perfection’ is a facade; it’s one dimensional, it’s not the whole story… Instead start to think about who you are; what you want… Follow a different path, a different strategy… and a natural strengths will emerge, which means that you don’t need to try as hard… 

In the article Stop Trying So Hard by Aj Agrawal writes: Many business leaders think that to have the best results, they and their employees must work really hard…  But in reality, much more is accomplished by working really smart… Also the best leaders know that to get the best results they need not overwork employees, or ask them to try harder, e.g.; consider the following:

  • Employees feel uncomfortable: Sometimes management find it hard to see that employees just don’t have the same kind of motivation as them… This leads employees to work when they don’t want to, and can lead to them being unproductive. When in reality, employees that have a balance in work and play it leads to greater productivity…
  • You lose focus on what’s essential: When you try to do everything at once, you lose focus. You start spending time on things that don’t matter… The idea that hours dedicated are synonymous with success starts rotting your brain. And when you don’t see the results from long hours, you get frustrated and begin working harder. The cycle repeats itself, until you finally either give up or change your ways…
  • You lose human element of leadership: When judging employees simply on hours put-in, you lose touch with employees as people… Making employees smile and having them enjoy work is hard to gauge… But to build a great organization, employees that enjoy their work and loyal are crucial for success…

In the article Stop Trying So Hard by Curt Skene. writes: The ‘Law of Reversed Effect’ is very simple, it states– the harder you try to force something the more difficult it becomes to do: Simply put– you can’t force natural progression just because you want to. Some advice; First, get very clear of what you want, why you want it, and lock that vision deep in your subconscious. Second, take a deep breath. Third, step back, examine, rethink your current work strategy…

Stop trying to make the wrong things happen. That doesn’t mean you stop doing the ‘right’ things, it means you stop doing things that are against the natural flow of things… If you are trying to land a new job or big contract… continue to plant seeds but at the same time have the confidence to step back and open-up to other opportunities that you may not have considered yet…

In the article Trying Too Hard Can Hurt Performance by Srini Pillay writes: There is such a thing as– trying too hard or having too much focus… which can actually get in the way of producing your best work… Some common signs that you might not be striking the right balance include:

  • You’re exhausted all the time: Mental exertion takes just as much energy as physical exertion, according to researchers. If you’re feeling drained, it could be that you’ve been focusing too hard, for too long, on the wrong thing…
  • You’re not fully engaged: You can only do best work when you’re fully engaged… The best leaders know to achieve lofty goal they must prioritize…
  • You aren’t making progress: Worrying too much about things can get in the way of achieving goals… it’s important to relax and recharge the circuits in your brain…
  • You’re tensing up: You may feel overwhelmed when engaged in multiple task because your brain is switching constantly from one thing to another, really quickly. Trying too hard when multitasking is counter productive…

‘Trying too hard’ sound like a negative thing because it suggests that there’s some acceptable level of trying… But there’s no such thing as trying too hard… Instead this phrase is often used by well-meaning people to whom a lot of things just come very natural… But just because something requires a lot of effort, or the appearance of trying too hard… doesn’t mean that it’s not worth the effort…

There are many tasks in business that require a lot of hard work to achieve… So you should not give-up on some things that don’t come super ease to you… Often you can be more productive if you try just a little harder, or try a different approach… But as Yoda says; there is no such thing as trying, there is only doing… 

Internet Deceit– Online Manipulation, Distortion, Fabrication: The Reality of Digital Deception…

The Online World is a lie: Virtually every aspect of online presence can be manufactured, and people are none the wiser. According to Tommy Walker; online manipulation is virtually untraceable… there is almost no limit to what can be done to– text, images, photos… So what then, do you do about it? A common answer might very well be: ‘Caveat Emptor’– Let the Buyer Beware… That, however, places a lot of responsibility on the irrational side of the consumer’s mind. That’s where knowledge comes in handy; if you can detect deception then you’re more likely to avoid it…

Technology makes it easier than ever to play fast and loose with the truth, but also easier than ever to get caught… Most people lie with astounding regularity… According to survey; people lie, on average, 1.65 times a day… According to Jeff Hancock; one in 10 text messages involves a lie of some kind… In a Consumer Reports survey; one in four people admitted to falsifying information on social media… According to a study of online daters; a full 81% exaggerated their attributes on their dating profiles…

In the article Online Manipulation by Alex Birkett writes: Digital marketing builds on theory that humans are ‘predictably irrational’… It focuses on the dramatic capabilities of digitization of commerce to increase the ability of businesses to influence consumers at a personal level… According to M. Ryan Calo; emerging technologies and techniques increasingly enable companies to exploit consumers’ irrationality or vulnerability… Essentially, the internet makes it much easier to exploit emotions on a personal level and manipulate their actions…

All of this is to say that companies can manipulate consumers in a variety of ways, and these are often referred to as ‘dark patterns’… Dark patterns are carefully prepared presentations that are crafted with a solid understanding of human psychology… and do not have the consumer’s best interests in mind… The holy grail of dark patterns include; bait and switch, disguised Ads, friend spam, hidden costs, misdirection, price comparison prevention, road block, sneak in the basket…

Online liars tended to avoid the topics about which they lie, e,g,; if they lie about weight, they avoided using food-related words. If a photos lies about appearance, they write more about achievements to deflect attention away from the lie they produced about their looks… Liars tended to use few words in general; the less said, the less likely they are to be caught in a lie…

Liars stay away from expressing negative emotions. They want to exude a positive image and that means leaving out anything that could be interpreted as a downer… The online world has plenty of  traps set by people who do not have your best interests at heart… Learn to let your head rule your heart, and your online experiences can be far more fulfilling. These relatively simple steps can help you learn to decipher people’s online persona:

  • Longer is better: An internet profile rich in self-description is likely to be more truthful. Liars may be afraid of getting caught in their own traps. The more detailed a person’s story, the more likely it contains accurate self-depictions…
  • Look for consistency: Don’t just read an online self-description from top to bottom. Go back and double-check within the profile to make sure it all fits together…
  • Watch out for the ‘we’: Avoid being drawn into the liar’s web of deception that puts you and a stranger on a par. An unusually high number of first-person plural pronouns, like ‘we’, may signify a profile that is intended to make you feel emotionally close to the writer but not one that is particularly honest…

In the article Catch a Liar on the Internet by Megan Garber writes: Then there’s the question of the difference between manipulation and marketing: Most viewers should know visual– images, photos– representation can be easily manipulated, but lesser known is most images can be manipulated on a sub-conscious level without customers actually realizing it. Most can be redesigned, altered, manipulated… So beware; all visuals may not be truthful visuals…

These findings, however, come with caveats, e.g.; it can be difficult to quantify ‘lies’ with precision, given the challenge of coaxing people into honesty about their deceptions… And more significant, ‘lies’ are generally not the fibs of ‘flaming-pants’ variety; the daily allotment of dishonesty instead tends to involve lubricating lies (i.e., I’m doing just fine…), or logistical lies (i.e., I’ll be there soon…), or charitable lies (i.e., Of course that doesn’t make you look fat…)…

A study of online daters found that many stretch the truth in small ways slightly exaggerating or minimizing things such as; age, height, weight… According to Dan Ariely; everybody has the capacity to be dishonest and almost everybody cheats, but– ‘just by a little bit’… But here’s good news; research suggests that opportunities that are created by dishonesty are balanced by increased potential for getting caught... A truism attributed to the most famous of truth-tellers– Abraham Lincoln said; no man has good enough memory to be a successful liar.

In the article Future of Truth and Misinformation Online by Janna Anderson, Lee Rainie write: A panel of 50 experts suggested that the breakdown of trusted information sources is the grand challenge for the 21stcentury’… According to Kevin Kelly; the major challenge in the ‘news’ is ‘new shape of truth’. Apparently truth is no longer dictated by legitimate authorities, but by the network of peers: For every fact there is a counter-fact, and all counter-facts and all facts look-alike online…  According to one dictionary; to deceive means– to cause, to accept as true or valid, what is false or invalid… and implies that it causes– ignorance, false expectations…

Avoiding all online manipulation tactics could turn into a full-time job. The number of ways online businesses or people who are trying to trick you into spending money, or time, or worse… are so big and so discreet that it makes avoiding them almost impossible… However when online, the key is to be vigilant and assume that things may not be as they are represented, and that nothing is really free. Mostly be aware of common online manipulations, fabrications… Keep up your guard all the time, and remember; if it seems too good to be true, it probably is…

Business Crime Forensics– Art of Follow the Money: Untangling Mysteries of Financial Shenanigans, Frauds…

Catch Me if You Can! Exposing business financial crime thru forensics: Business forensics is general term used to describe any kind of business fraud, financial or criminal non-violent offense, e.g.; embezzlement, tax evasion, , money laundering, fraud, cyber intrusion. Business forensics, typically; gather documents, review financial information, interview people… and then draw conclusions… While this approach will detect the simplest of frauds, it won’t detect the complex financial frauds that are increasingly making headline news… In most cases it’s not what you see on the page or document that matters; it’s what is not on the page or document that really matters…  

Business forensics stems from need to mitigate, manage… the rising numbers of business financial crimes… More than ever, companies are operating in a complex global business environment… They are drowning in a sea of digital financial data, adapting to perils of doing business in new markets, struggling to comply with more regulation, trying to avoid costly enforcement actions, litigation… According to amymatt; ‘cooking the books’ is an accounting phrase to describe a rewriting of financial information to justify fraudulent transactions or use of funds. The acts of ‘cooking’ are a disease which ultimately leads to the company’s demise…

In the article Business Forensics by Tom Lutzenberger writes: The processes of business forensics frequently follows the principles of financial auditing to uncover evidence, and it often uses the tried-and-true principle of; follow the money… Auditing traces back the paper trail of transactions to the original starting point to– verify funds, amounts, movement, purpose… However, unlike auditing, business forensics involves much more intensive review, e.g.; business forensic teams examines all documents available rather than just using spot samples on large amounts of data…

Business forensics teams are often an assemblage of financial business experts, including; auditors, accountants, computer experts… and even lawyers… These teams engage in cases ranging from pursuing financing of terrorism, money laundering… and as mundane as; tax evasion, charity scams… All of these fraudulent activities generally have the same type of business crime occurring, e.g., misrepresenting, or misappropriating funds… including; their sources, amounts, locations…

In the article How does Business Forensics Work? by Terry Robinson writes: Financial forensics combines criminal investigation skills with financial auditing skills to identify financial criminal activity coming from within or outside of an organization. It may be used in prevention, detection and recovery activities to investigate terrorism and other criminal activity, provide oversight to private-sector and government organizations, and assess organizations’ vulnerability to fraudulent activities… Business forensics is like forensic accounting, which utilizes accounting, auditing and investigative skills to analyze a company’s financial statements for possible fraud in conjunction with anticipated or ongoing legal action…

Business forensic accountants may also work with government agencies, including; tax authorities, to recover illegally obtained funds or help prosecute money laundering… These accountants can also help companies design financial and auditing systems to manage and reduce risk… Business forensic accountants, also known as forensic auditors or investigative auditors, often have to give expert evidence at an eventual trial… In increasingly complex business landscape where complicated questions always arise; finding the truth quickly is an imperative– gathering business forensic evidence that withstands scrutiny is essential…

In the article How to Protect Your Business Against Fraud by Elizabeth Wasserman writes: Corporate financial scandals have given rise to outcries for improved transparency, accountability, honesty… and a need for better financial reporting, and an untangling of complicated financial maneuvers that obfuscate ‘transparent’ financial reporting. According to Tom Kopchak; business forensics is tedious, detail-work, requiring sifting through huge amounts of data and looking for obscure details… However, ultimately the survival of a business depends on management and employees being honest…

Managing risk of financial fraud and misconduct has never been more challenging… The effects of fraudulent activities through financial manipulations can seriously impact the financial welfare of the business, as well as; investors, employees, suppliers, partners… Companies must make integrity a core imperative, and not only need to adopt risk controls and standards of ethical conduct, but also work at creating a culture of integrity… There must be a mutual trust among employees and management to raise issues and to do the right thing in the right way…

According to Richard H. Girgenti; when there is pressure to perform and weak controls, there is almost always someone who will commit fraud or engage in other misconduct… An organization’s first line of defense is its employees… It’s imperative that employees understand that their affirmative obligation to report wrong doing and believe that management will respond appropriately and protect whistle-blowers from retaliation. The result is a more sustainable organizational culture where doing the right thing is top of mind