Tag Archives: Productivity

News You Can Use: 12/14/2016

  • The Best Music for Productivity? Silence

    When silence and music were put head to head in more cognitively complex tests, people did better in silence. In a study from the 1980s, researchers gave subjects the option to listen to either upbeat or soft music of their preferred genre, or nothing, while counting backward. The people who listened to their favorite, upbeat tunes did worst of all, and those who heard silence did best.


  • How FedEx is shaving millions from its IT costs

    Apptio’s software also uncovered a glaring inefficiency in FedEx’ aircraft maintenance operations. For years, engineers inspected aircraft by climbing up and down the planes and then driving a golf cart to a shack, where they would enter data into an inventory management system, which costed $10 million annually. To streamline the process, the IT team created Workbench, which enables engineers to inspect aircraft and input data via tablets and smartphones. The software costs $2 million a year.

    “We are several hundred million dollars cheaper because we keep finding unique ways to drive value,” Carter says. FedEx is applying some of the savings to emerging technologies such as TRON, a Bluetooth-enabled sensor that offers a lower cost way of tracking packages.


  • An island no more: Inside the business of the podcasting boom

    “The interesting thing is that, in this last six to nine months, I feel like we actually turned the corner,” observes Bryan Moffett, who heads ad sales for NPM, NPR’s sale arm. NPR — the leader in podcast audience — earns more than $10 million in podcast revenue and owns a double-digit share of the market. “We’re getting in business from Wells Fargo and Dell and Target — big Fortune 100 brands.”


  • Apple Grabs Wearables Lead with Holiday Sales
    A follow-up to SourceCast Episode 51

    For all the skepticism about the Apple Watch’s prospects, the new version appears to be selling better than the first one. Apple raked in nearly half of the revenue generated online in the U.S. wearables market in the monthlong lead-up to Cyber Monday, new data shows, a big increase on last year. Meanwhile, Fitbit lost ground—and the data shows that its expected purchase of competitor Pebble won’t help much.


  • What this GE Exec is hiring for in 2017 (and why)

    Not everybody is a software engineer, but every single person at Global Operations understands their part in GE’s transformation into a digital industrial company. Whether you’re in HR, accounting, or operations, being able to analyze and understand data is critical. We produce massive amounts of data every day and need to use it as efficiently as we can.

    So even if you don’t have a degree in engineering or your job description doesn’t include data processing, we want to see how you use data every day. I look for candidates who can explain how they turn their work into actionable insights—or who can tell us how they think data might help them do their jobs better. Data is the most valuable language you can speak today.


Photo: wu yi

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News You Can Use: 2/10/2016


  • Opportunities In The Risk Business Abound As Insurance Is Ready For Disruption

    Timing is everything and the industry is finally on the brink of transformative change, driven by strong secular trends. The world is online and connected — creating new distribution channels but also new risk (e.g., cybersecurity). Additionally, explosion of the shared economy and 1099 workers has created fractional ownership — and with it, uncertainty around who bears the risk.



    For example, in 2007, Wal-Mart used its power as the largest retailer of consumer goods in the United States to require the makers of liquid detergents to compact their formulas. Making detergents more concentrated was valuable to Wal-Mart, because it would save shelf space, but it would also decrease shipping costs across the supply chain. Indeed, they announced this initiative for the first time at the Clinton Global Initiative. They achieved their goal of selling only concentrated detergents by 2008.

    Detergent manufacturers resisted this request at first, because there was a substantial research and development effort required by manufacturers to find a concentrated formula that would work effectively. They only undertook this development work because of the pressure from Wal-Mart, who would no longer carry detergents at their original concentration after a specified date.

    Moral of the story: Walmart got exactly what it wanted… they just made it seem like it was good for everyone

  • Being a Go-Getter Is No Fun
    The counter-point to this is… go ahead an bury your head in the sand and be like everyone else, you will still be in the same position as them 10 years from now.

    “In the workplace, managers should be careful to give the highest quality work and best opportunities to the most capable employees, and give the lower quality but time consuming work to less capable employees,” says Koval. “If someone is doing more than his fair share, compensate him for it. If not, he may ultimately leave and seek recognition elsewhere. Similarly, in our personal relationships, we should recognize that just because our high-ability partners can do something for us, doesn’t mean that we should let them. And if they do help us, we should recognize it and thank them for it. Otherwise, they too may end up feeling burdened by us, and less satisfied—and that should be the last thing we want to do to a good employee or a good partner.”

    While I disagree somewhat with the premise of the article, the following quote hits home for me:

    A separate experiment found that participants not only assigned more tasks to the go-getters—but underestimated how much work it would take to get the job done. “What looks easy from the outside may not feel that easy on the inside,” says Gráinne Fitzsimons, one of the co-authors of the study.


  • GE’s Relocation: Great for GE, Not as Great for Boston’s Taxpayers
    This was a savvy move by Boston, regardless of the incentives.

    Unfortunately, that future comes with a stiff price tag. Together, the city and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts offered up an estimated $145 million in business incentives ($120 million in grants and other programs from the state, and another $25 million in property-tax relief from the city) to secure the deal. By my calculations, that means that the city and state are doling out a whopping $181,250 in public subsidies per job, given GE’s own statement that its new headquarters will employ 800 people (200 corporate staff members and another 600 so-called digital industrial product managers, designers, and developers). And that doesn’t even include additional incentives such as grants for workforce training (another $1 million or so), a new “innovation center” designed to better tie GE to local universities and research institutes ($5 million more), assistance for employees to relocate to Boston, and transportation improvements in the Seaport District.


  • Does PayStream Report on Coupa Really Matter . . . To Anyone?

    For far too long in this industry, procurement professionals have sought advice from sources who are the least qualified to answer questions. Or let me put it this way . . . the sources can answer them, but the information that is provided does not often reflect what is truly happening in the real world. The reason has nothing to do with IQ – I had to write this in case anyone protested that I was calling analysts and bloggers dumb – which I am not not.

    The reason has more to do with the disconnect between cause and effect. Cause being the advice, and effect being actual client outcomes.


  • It’s Time to Quit the ‘Motivation Porn’ and Get Serious About Success
    Since this article almost exactly describes my work mentality and how I get thing done, I will share…

    1. Stop watching so much television. Seriously.
    Even if you’re only watching 90 minutes a day before/after work, that’s over 500 hours per year of energy spent on something with literally no return.

    Yes, there are some great shows. I love House of Cards, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. But if we’re being honest, 99 percent of TV sucks. We just watch it because we need to “relax” and we feel like there’s nothing else to do.

    This philosophy applies to movies, too. Most of the time, we just watch movies because we feel like there’s nothing better to do. I’ve watched hundreds of movies that, after two hours, simply made me go “meh.” What a waste.

    This is empty time when you should be working on your idea. This is the time you have to start plotting your escape.

    If there’s a particular show that you really love, block out time for that particular show every week and when it’s over, turn the TV off. When you want it, make it count. If it’s not a “hell yes!” then forget it.


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News You Can Use: 12/2/2015


  • Would 50% of all procurement professionals really choose a different career?

    Once again, a certain level of job dissatisfaction within any sector is nothing new. However, the 50% number should be of concern to those occupying the executive suite both within, and external to the procurement industry. After all, it is hard to operate at maximum capacity when half your team is disenchanted and/or disengaged.


  • Your Company Was Acquired. Now What?

    In my transition out of my company and my move into that of a board member, their team was pleased to see how well I had adapted from being the sole decision-maker into a role that was a bit more low-key, yet still highly influential. My philosophy is the same as when I ran my business. I listen more, speak less and let the team fail or succeed on their own merits. I have trust that they have the company’s best interests in mind and will succeed.


  • Nestle admits to supply chain problems

    The investigation began at the tail end of 2014, according to the source. Around the same time, reports from the AP “tied brutal and largely unregulated working conditions to their shrimp, prawn and Purina-brand pet foods.”

    Apparently, many of the laborers come from poorer areas such as Myanmar and Cambodia, upon arrival they are charged a fee to work and then are trapped into working off unreasonable payments, explained the AP.


  • 7 Traits That Define Work Productivity Superstars

    5. Builds a reservoir of goodwill without asking for anything in return
    Good business and good working relationships must always be seen as unconditional, meaning not motivated by an expectation of future payback. The result will be people and organizations wanting to help you, rather than feeling an obligation to contribute.


  • Do You Know the Rules for Ethical Supplier Interaction?

    Donations for charitable organizations are less obvious because everyone just wants to help a good cause, and what does it hurt if a supplier makes a decision to support your favourite charity? Well, it depends. How much? Does the supplier expect favouritism for the donation? Will the donation unconsciously bias you toward the supplier? Will there be a perception of bias? It’s tough.


  • Big Data: The Latest Rage in Supply Chain Management

    We’ve found with our clients, again and again, that big data can have a measurable impact on driving greater accuracy in planning, ensuring that companies make the right amount of the right product. Advanced algorithms and machine learning can facilitate increased forecast accuracy across a company’s SKUs, which drives greater turns, less waste, less inventory, and fewer stock-outs, which leads to higher EBITDA, lower working capital, and greater competitiveness.


Photo: Adrianna Calvo

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News You Can Use: 10/7/2015

sn_moon_Angelina Litvin

  • Why Sweden Is Shifting To A 6-Hour Workday

    Everyone who works at the company suddenly has more energy. “The biggest response that I couldn’t foresee was the energy level I felt with my colleagues,” he says. “They were happy leaving the office and happy coming back the next day. They didn’t feel drained or fatigued. That has also helped the work groups to work better together now, when we see less conflicts and arguments. People are happier.”


  • Where’s the Beef in the Information Supply Chain?

    Insert contract clauses into new agreements that allow monitoring and enforcement while creating incentives and penalties for non-compliance regarding CSR areas. Consider having suppliers pay for monitoring and enforcement if necessary as part of requirements if you are a large enough buyer.



    “In my first meeting with the executive director, he was asking me about what classes I had taken, and he asked if I had taken a database class in college, and I did, and he said, ‘Okay, good, then you can oversee this project of designing and implementing a new communication database for us,” he says. “That was the first time I was ever brought into a project I had little or no knowledge about, and was expected to deliver results.”


  • IoT will be key technology to optimize inventory management, says IDC

    Firms are taking charge of their inventory management and supply chain, and IoT – along with mobile, big data and cloud computing – will help them do that. These technologies are enabling inventory visibility across the network and driving enhanced collaboration throughout the supply chain.


  • Zuckerberg, Musk and Gates Have a Not-So-Secret Productivity Hack – Work Constantly

    Musk, who divides his week between SpaceX and Tesla Motors, has also perfected the art of multitasking: he sends emails while scanning invoices, holds meetings and takes care of business on his phone at the same time, and even texts with his children on his lap (an admission that gathered no small amount of criticism from the public). While he officially clocks in no more than 15 hours at the office, he has said that he doesn’t ever stop working. With these round-the-clock responsibilities, it seems understandable that the most effective way to save time is by doing everything at once.


Photo: Angelina Litvin

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News You Can Use: 7/1/2015


  • 6 Life Hacks Learned in Prison That Will Maximize Your Productivity

    I’ve learned to think diligently about my thoughts, and use them to communicate more effectively. Writing can help you organize your thoughts better and actually helps you to be a better verbal communicator. Start with communicating to your team via email, send emails to partners about discussions and/or send emails to your spouse when working through tough decisions.


  • The Rise Of Trust (And Speed) In Supplier Enablement (Coupa’s Adam Alphin to look at the future of supplier enablement.)

    Simply put, it’s injected trust into a conversation that previously felt like buyers were cornering or holding hostage their supply base. This trust has resulted in higher engagement, much higher participation in e-invoicing, and get this…suppliers becoming change agents within our customers organizations! We believe the conversation must change from “Here is a web portal that you’ll be charged to use, you’re now required to use it to be our supplier” to “Here are our business objectives we think are in both of our best interest, here are a series of tools we’re providing (for free!) so we can help each other achieve those objectives.”


  • ‘The Irrigation Effect’: Why Your Employees Aren’t Getting the Message

    Many leaders are surprised to learn that they are the barriers.  We assume that we’ve communicated effectively when, in reality, the information we share is sparse, insufficient, infrequent, or simply inaccurate. Keep in mind that between the source of the water and the end of the row, the water may have to pass through multiple channels before it arrives.  If managers don’t make a conscious effort to facilitate the flow of information, rather than obstruct it, vital communication is likely to dissipate before reaching those parts of the field where it is needed most.


  • Supply Chain Talent Crisis Looms

    Years of headcount reduction, training budget cuts, and the retirement of highly skilled individuals have all contributed to the shortage of supply chain talent. At the same time, a combination of accelerating technology development and widespread experimentation with new operating models are expanding the scope of supply chain operations, creating a demand for new types of supply chain employees—a trend that is only expected to accelerate in the future. “Margins are so thin in many industries that any technology or operational change that can provide a competitive advantage—whether its 3D printing or advanced analytics—is critical. And those capabilities are inherently dependent on talent,” explains Kelly Marchese, a principal and supply chain leader with Deloitte Consulting LLP.


  • Are the days of global supply chains numbered?

    In Global Supply Chains: New Directions, the Standard Chartered Bank acknowledges that several macroeconomic trends, such as increasing urbanization, more sophisticated communications technology, and lower oil prices, continue to support the growth of global supply chains. Yet at the same time, other trends are creating a sort of headwind that is slowing the pace of growth. For example, automation and robotics are improving, making it easier for companies to stop chasing low-cost labor abroad and bring their manufacturing operations back to local markets. Increasing concerns about sustainability and the high carbon footprint of global supply chains may also be dampening global supply chain growth. Some companies are interested in shortening their supply chains to avoid the risk of disruptions due to a natural disaster or civil unrest half a world away.


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