Tag Archives: Cities

News You Can Use: 4/19/2017

  • Want to be Successful? Learn to Like Other People

    One of the biggest opportunities for growth at work comes from the way you solicit feedback and what you do with it afterward. Research demonstrates that while employees who speak up tend to improve how well teams function, many tend to be afraid to do so, worrying that their input won’t be well-received. Simply assuming the best in others can lay the foundation for managers and their team members alike to learn and improve without wounding egos.


  • Why So Many Americans Are Saying Goodbye to Cities

    America’s largest cities have so much going for them. They are rich, productive, and pulsating with culture and life. So what happened to the great urban revival? “America’s cities have domestic net out-migration because they’re not affordable,” said E. J. McMahon, the founder of the Empire Center for Public Policy. “For many, New York City is a temporary portal. The Baby Boomers retire to Florida. The middle-class Millennials move to Long Island for a house. The woman from Slovakia comes to Queens, lives in her second-cousin’s basement, gets her feet on the ground, and gets a better apartment in West Orange, New Jersey.”


  • With robots on the job, it won’t be IT as usual

    “It’s very much a different mindset than traditional IT,” said Mike Gennert, a professor and director of the Robotics Engineering Program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Worcester, Mass. “IT managers worry about how they manage information, how it’s used, how it’s stored and secured. But none of that has the ability to directly affect the physical world. Robots affect the real world. That brings issues IT managers have not had to confront.”

    For instance, It’s bad enough if a company computer is hacked and it becomes part of a zombie botnet. But what if someone hijacks a company robot and makes it do things, harmful things, in the real world?


  • Does Silicon Valley Have a Contract-Worker Problem?

    But increasingly, critics argue that the freelance model is being abused, with workers being treated as if they were on payroll without getting any of the benefits afforded to payrolled employees. Some Silicon Valley insiders are beginning to worry that start-ups’ overreliance on contract workers could come back to haunt them if they run afoul of longstanding labor rules. If that happens, these high-flying disruptors could be facing serious disruption themselves.


    Then, there is the problem of massive labor oversupply. Unlike for Uber or TaskRabbit, which operate in a given city with a constrained supply of workers, the pool of labor for such digital work is for all intents and purposes infinite. One contingent-work platform reported having nine times as many workers as necessary. A Filipino virtual assistant described the inevitable result: “I first set [my hourly rate] at $8, because that’s what my previous client was paying me,” the assistant told the researchers. “But I found it quite difficult to find jobs. So I set it at $4. And I think I even set it at $3.50 currently. So, I mean, if you don’t get a lot of invitations, you don’t have any other choice but to lower down your expectations, I guess.”


  • What “Personal Space” Means to the Rest of World

    Countries that greatly value their personal space include Romania, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Uganda. Participants from all five of those places would prefer it if you stood more than 120 cm away, or roughly four feet. But participants from Argentina, Peru, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Austria don’t mind if you chill about 90 cm away, or less than three feet. The U.S. isn’t too far off from that, expecting strangers to keep a cool 95 cm distance between them.

    That said, nobody likes any stranger standing two and half feet or less away. So stop it. Unless you’re on a cramped metro train or something and can’t help it. It’s also important to note that women and elderly participants of all cultures required more space.

    Certainly not the first time a reporter has addressed this topic, but always good to have a refresher.

Photo: Nina Strehl

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Video: How Growing Cities Can Motivate Us to Solve Major Problems

Since the Detroit post from last week was such a downer, here is a more optimist video about growing cities…

Executive VP of Corporate Responsibility at JP Morgan Chase, Peter Scher focuses on public-private partnerships and private initiatives that can make our cities and world a better place.

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Book Report: Detroit – An American Autopsy


I have been debating if I should cover Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff on this site. At the surface, a book about the failure of a major American city doesn’t have much to do with IT supplier management or the other topics I cover on here (it could be a better fit at one of my other sites). But if you try hard enough, you can make some connections and come up with a few generalized life lessons.

So why did Detroit fail?  Why does any organization fail?

They didn’t diversify and innovate.  

Detroit lived and died by the auto industry.  When times were good and the factories were pumping out cars, the population of Detroit soared to over 1.4 million people.  Migrant workers from all over the country and especially the south moved to Detroit for a better life, and they found it.

America enjoyed a wonderful and unnatural lack of automotive competition post WW2 (this part isn’t in the book).  Germany was in ruins.  So was Japan.  American pride was at a high, so our grandfathers and fathers bought those Cadillacs.  By the 1970’s fuel prices spiked for a time and those little Civics and VW Bugs were starting to make a whole lot of sense.  The American car makers still tend to fumble with long lasting, fuel efficient cars (not all the time).

So the factories made less cars, tried to get the unions to adjust policy (good or bad), they pushed back, then the car companies moved jobs to factories in other countries.

Detroit had a slew of symbiotic businesses that flourished during the heyday.  People opened their own factories that made car parts and chemicals and even catering services for the plants.  Then the factories started buying cheaper parts and products from China.

By the time those small factories even thought to service international brands, it was already too late.

The jobs dried up.  Working class families left.  The city fell into disrepair without a tax base.

Now the people left don’t have the tools to protect or rebuild the city.  Abandoned house are left to burn because fire fighters don’t have the right gear or enough men to keep up with the amount of arson. Children are asked to bring their own toilet paper to school.

How does this compare to an organization or company?

You have to reinvest.  In infrastructure, in people, in education.  Things can fall into such a state of disrepair that an organization can never pull out (are we seeing that with HP?).

You have to have tight controls on where the money is going.  Corruption is a considerably smaller problem in most corporations compared to government, but good companies still have money leaking out of places it shouldn’t. Money that can be reinvested.

You have to give people the tools they need to be successful and thus make the company successful.

People also need to have faith… that with hard work and a good plan, things will improve and ultimately flourish.  The people of Detroit don’t seem to have faith that things will get better, so they are leaving.  Detroit’s population is less than 700,000 people.


We have seen this happen to Camden, NJ on a smaller scale and I often wonder can this happen to Philadelphia?  It almost happened in the 70’s.  Factory jobs disappeared, the city’s blue collar workers struggled.  But Philly turned it around by having an educational base (U. Penn, Drexel, Temple, La Salle), became a medical hub starting with CHOP, and some core financial and insurance companies made Philadelphia home (this is long before Comcast).

Here is a Ted X talk with author Charlie LeDuff (he uses colorful language so NSFWish):

Sometimes you can’t kick the can down road, you have to pick it up and deal with it now.

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