Lobbyism and SOPA

The head of the MPAA film industry association, Chris Dodd, claims US-President Barack Obama to support the controversially discussed law SOPA. If not, Obama has to go without any campaign contributions of Hollywood.

 

I recommend you to read my former Blog post about SOPA. 

Wikipedia says: 

Lobbying (also lobby) is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by various people or groups, from private-sector individuals orcorporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or advocacy groups (interest groups). Lobbyists may be among a legislator’s constituents, meaning a voter or bloc of voters within his or her electoral district, or not; they may engage in lobbying as a business, or not. Professional lobbyists are people whose business is trying to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest who hires them.”

 

Chris Dodd

Chris Dodd

What happens if a lobbyist holds a financial gun to a politician’s head is what Chris Dodd, head of the MPAA film industry association, showed last week. Apparently, Obamas commitment against SOPA was a thorn in his eyes so he commented briefly: 

“Candidly, those who count on quote ‘Hollywood‘ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake,” Dodd told Fox News. “Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”

Tech Dirt directly countered: 

“This certainly follows what many people assumed was happening, and fits with the anonymous comments from studio execs that they will stop contributing to Obama, but to be so blatant about this kind of corruption and money-for-laws politics in the face of an extremely angry public is a really, really, really tone deaf response from Dodd. “

 

The successful amalgamation of the internet community shows the enormous potential and political strength. A strength that should have been kept under control with SOPA.

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…initially put on hold: too much resistance to the bill

Even if it is often told that you should regularly read newspaper and watch news, you probably got wind of this matter while surfing through the web. It concerns the controversial US draft law SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), which was submitted some time ago by the Republican Lamar S. Smith.
This law would potentially allow the American legal system to delete or disable websites that fiddles with copyright law content in any way. This sounds positive for the industry in the first case. But you wouldn’t be able to post any video that contains protected music, even if it’s in the background, for example on Youtube. Because of the strong restriction of freedom of the user in the web and because of the unduly claim to judge foreign websites, several online firms, Bloggers and so on make a stand against this bill.

What happened?

On Wednesday, the 18th of January, Wikipedia, Google, Mozilla, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Greenpeace and many more protested against SOPA and “Blacked-Out” their sites as well as they started petitions. Because they fear the American draft law could reach Europe, Germans and other Europeans were participating in the protest.
Many American Internet users were probably highly surprised when they tried to research Wikipedia for some random facts. Instead of millions of articles they could just see the catchy phrase “Imaging a World Without Free Knowledge” on a darkened site.

Freedom in danger?

It was the biggest possible protestation that Wikipedia could have done. The English speaking online encyclopedia was shut down for about 24 hours. To obtain the freedom of information, Wikipedia removed all that content from the web.

Other reactions

According to www.marketingland.com, many prominent founders of huge tech companies, for example Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, PayPal founder Elon Musk and several others, posted an Open Letter To Washington expressing their concerns about the legislation. From the letter:

“These two pieces of legislation threaten to:

  • Require web services, like the ones we helped found, to monitor what users link to, or upload. This would have a chilling effect on innovation;

  • Deny website owners the right to due process of law;

  • Give the U.S. Government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran; and

  • Undermine security online by changing the basic structure of    the Internet.”

What is this all about?

The US House Of Representatives is currently negotiating about a two new draft laws called SOPA and PIPA. These laws would intervene deeply into online events.
The record industry as well as movie industry claimed an implementation of tight measures against websites that allow access to licensed media. Therefore, the US Parliament responded to that request with the release of the draft law “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) submitted by Lamar S. Smith.

Potentially arbitrariness?

To stop the unlicensed and therefore unpaid distribution of digital content, the bill intends to lock websites. Providers should be forced to deny the access of their customers to visit certain pages.
If a website gets classified as as illegal, no one will be able to do business with the company concerned: payment providers, advertising services or even search engines. Whoever comes to close to websites, branded as illegal, could be hold accountable.

More information about SOPA:

The “Bad” Side of Smartphones

In my blog last week I talked about the strategies some companies are following to ensure the security of important data in the devices of their employees.  Now I want to focus more into what possible problems smartphones bring into a business and how a company could prevent or fix this problem.

Some of the possible problem are:

  • Mobile phones could represent a high cost for the business
  • It could generate a problem for the IT department because of the different operating system the smartphones have.
  • Not all the applications that could be useful for the company are for every type of smartphones.
  • The company could lose very important data.
  • They are expensive devices.
  • There aren´t really for everyone.  The can be difficult to understand.
  • Smartphones could also be a very big distraction for the workers.

From the list above I would like to focus more into the high cost these devices could bring to a company.

1. Background

First of all I would like start saying a little bit more about an smartphone, what are they? How do they work? Since when exists in the market an smartphone?

Smartphones have been growing in popularity for the past ten years.  But the first was launched in 1993.  The difference between then and now is that by that time the smartphones were primarly used by business professionals and were mostly very expensive.

The Simon was the first attempt by the tech industry of a smartphone.  This phone had incorporated voice and data services into one package, the device worked also as a mobile phone, a PDA and even a fax machine, it had even a touch screen that could be used to dial phone numbers.  The price of The Simon was around $899, it was a real luxury to have one.

Beginning 2002 the RIM company entered the mobile phone market with its BlackBerry 5810, a phone with the ability to get an e-mail and surf the Web.  The downside of this device is that you needed to plug in a headset in order to talk on the phone until 2004, that the BlacBerry 6210 came out.

By 2007 Apple releases its new revolutionary device “the iPhone”.   This device has a integrated touchscreen display with a really good web-browser, that is still consider as one of the best offered on a mobile device.  In the Fall of that same year Google unveils the Android, a device with a different operating system but practically with the same features than another smartphone.

2. Current Conditions

Nowadays the smartphones´prices fluctuate between €100 and €1000 depending on the year of the smartphone.  If you buy now one that was launched in 2008, it would be much, but much cheaper than one that was launched in the past last year.

The new smartphones have improved operating system, completely new features, and they work faster than the old ones.

3. Goals/Targets

The goal is trying to get useful smartphones that increases the productivity of your business at a low cost.

4. Analysis

To be able to achieve their goals, the company needs to consider if it’s better to let their employees to use their own smartphones, if they have one, or to give them one because is necessary for them to do a better work.

5. Proposed Countermeasures

The company needs to keep in mind all the pros and cons of using a personal phone or one provided by the company.  What will result cheaper?  Remember if it treats about a private device, notice all the possible risk that it might bring and what will the company cover from their monthly bill, or if it is a business one, which smartphone then should you provide to your employee.

Another thing companies should have in considerations are:

  • Where should I buy the phone? Directly from the manufacturer or with a long term contract at the wireless service provider such as O2, Vodafone, T-Mobile, etc.
  • Which kind of mobile phone package should I purchase?
  • What is going to be the specific function of this cell phone?  Is it just to call, is it to receive emails, is it to get calls, etc.
  • Is it really the adequate one for my workers?

6. Plan

To be able to choose the best mobile phone package, it is crucial to consider what your needs are.  A package that is perfect for one business may be completely wrong for another.  The two most important factor in choosing a mobile phone package are:

  • Who you call?
  • How much you call?
  • Pre-payment

6.1. Who you call?

The calls of mobile phones calls vary considerably depending on the type of phone called.  Phone calls to landlines and to the same network are cheaper than calling other mobile phone networks.

For these reason buy better then the same network for all your employees, this will not only reduce call charges significantly, it may also give your employees enough spending power to be able to negotiate a small discount.  If the majority of people you or your employees would be contacting are landlines, then it would be better to look for a package which offers cheap landline rates or a number of landline/same network minutes included.   If your contacts are based across a number of mobile networks, then it would make sense to look for a package that offers a good cross network rate or includes a number of inclusive minutes to all networks.  If the calls are all national or international, look for a plan that suits you better, like a number of inclusive minutes to all networks for a specific country, or for a whole region, or a continent, or to include some oversees countries.  These are most expensive, but will work out cheaper compared to the actual call costs.

6.2. How much you call?

The monthly rental cost of packages vary considerably along with the call charges.  The more you pay in monthly charges, the more inclusive minutes you get, and the more you save on call costs.  However there is no point paying for 10,000 inclusive minutes a month, when you only expect to use 500.  Many packages allows you to split the inclusive minutes over several phones, which works out more efficiently for businesses with several mobile phone users.   Mostly for businesses you are able to change the package you are on every month or two.  So if you choose a package is too expensive, you can move to a different one.

6.3. Pre-payment

Some businesses use a system of pre-payment for their mobile phones, this consists on “paying as you go”.  All this calls are paid for in advance.   You buy credit and added to the phone, and calls are made until this credit runs out.   This kind of service is advertise more for consumer service, not a business service.  But if you are just a small business and any package really suits you, because at the end the will result much more expensive, this in an alternative you should consider.

The main advantage of pre-payment is that you only pay for what you use.  There are not monthly charges, and there is no need for any contract.  The main disadvantage is that call charges are more expensive than contract phones, and there are no inclusive minutes.  The is also the risk that calling credit will run out in the middle of an important conversation.

If however, your business needs a phone for incoming calls only, or makes only a small number of short calls, then pre-pay services will more than likely work out cheaper.

7. Followup

To have a better result and to be able to minimize your cost, check each month for a period of time if the package that you got for your employees and for yourself are really the adequate for you.  Maybe you need a package with more inclusive minutes, or maybe one with less, and remember always think, who you call and how often do you call?  These two questions will help you reduce your bills considerably.  Also keep in mind the different kinds of providers, look up for promotions, special offers, compare them and find out which one suits better to your business.

In this post I informed you about the evolution of the smartphone through the time and I gave some tips on how companies could reduce their monthly costs with the right mobile package depending the type of business they run.

 

Heavy advertising pages will be punished

Image taken from bloggeri.esInternet giant Google improves its search engine algorithm. For the first time the design of a website takes part in the search results. Homepages that show a lot of ads will be rated worse in the future.

According to Matt Cutts, Distinguished Engineer of Google, the newly implemented change to the algorithm shouldn’t affect more than one percent of all searches. Still, this modification is probably not as important as the previous Freshness– and Panda-Update. The Panda-Change had an impact of six to nine percent while the Freshness-Update even affected up to 35 percent of all searches.

The change is primary directed at domains that are heavily advertising in the upper area. Sites using Pop-Ups or overlay ads are not affected this.

“As we’ve mentioned previously, we’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away. So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change.” – Cutts

With the implementation of the layout of websites to the algorithm Google has made a huge step forward.

Cutts recommends to hide the ads or to edit the design in an appropriate way. The new algorithm would detect the changes in the next run of the crawler and change the ranking immediately.

“On a typical website, it can take several weeks for Googlebot to crawl and process enough pages to reflect layout changes on the site.” –  Cutts

All that glitters is not gold

In my Opinion Google’s approach is completely right. “Ad-banner-garbage-dumps” which are ranked on top of the search results annoy me very often.

Critics will probably accuse Google to have double standards. Google sins against its own requirement quite obvious. Depending on the browser resolution there is a large part of visible advertisements on Google’s search result page.

The example above is pretty extreme since we can see the maximum of three ads that Google will ever show “above-the-fold”.

(low resolution netbook)

Solar Ovens in Africa – A Shining Business

Africa, a Continent of Superlatives

With an increasing population of about 1 billion which equals 15% of the world population and an area of 30.3 million km², Africa is a highly important and big part of our earth. The “poor continent” copes with huge difficulties and is basically depending on our help. More than 10% of its population suffer from malnutrition and only 0,8% receive food aid.

Money Can’t Solve all Problems

Facts like these, urged countries/organizations/companies and citizens to donate money for Africa. Who doesn’t know the signs and advertisments that call on us to grasp the nettle and donate money for Africa, money that often does everything but help. Money, that is abused by certain groups and people, that supports corruption and that is used desultorily. And even if the donations are used appropriately, there is still one thing they bring in their wake: NOTHING!

Because most donations are unsustainable, they might help a regional group of people to have something to eat, but it’s all temporary. They don’t decrease government expenses and in fact lead to a dependency and a decline in autonomy. Africa needs Sustainability, Tyler Suiters believed and went on a trip to South Africa where a new, sustainable form of help has been introduced : Solar Ovens

A Lack of Alternatives

Solar Ovens…to inhabitants of a developed country, it sounds like another green, hippie-like project that some might buy in order to ease their conscience. To the people in Africa, the meaning is totally different because their lacking in alternatives. In a place without any accessability to electricity but 320 days of sun per year, people, mostly farmers in rural areas, need to find another way to cook their daily meals. Sibbuseso Mkhize, a local farmer in Umbumbulu, South Africa, explains :”I use too much the wood, I cut it from all my area.

What’s the goal?

The goals and targets are clearly defined. Provide poor people in remoted, electrically isolated  villages, with a way to cook food tapping an abundant source of energy. By introducing solar ovens to the population you can not only reduce emissions but also give people a sustainable and reliable solution, which is easy to operate and does not take any deeper technological knowledge.

On the first day, the womean walk to the nearest place where wood can be gathered. On the second das, they search for firewood. The third day is spent carrying the wood on their backs home to the village – from Chad, Africa


Solar Cookers International East Africa Office - Number of Ovens per Organization in East Africa 2005-2010

Helping is not easy

It all started out of problems. It’s no wonder that every human needs food to survive. In order to cook you need energy. If you have no accessability to electricity or whatsoever, you use chopped wood to inflame a fire. The demand for wood in areas with a high population density is enormously high, which leads to a continuously progressing deforestation that results in a desertification. Another problem is the financing. In order to supply the regions with ovens, it takes money. We’re not talking about a few thousand affected people but many millions, some might be able to pay a small price but the majority is too poor.

How to Solve these Problems

To encounter the deforestation as well as the desertification and to create a more efficient way of cooking(which does not only include the actual cooking but also the acquisition of needed resources, such as wood and stones), scientists tried to find a sustainable solution and eventually ended up with the solar oven. The ovens only need sun which will safe time and resources, that can now be spent on equally essential activities/work. The non-profit organizations undoubtably depend on donations, government support or fundraising in order to finance the ovens.

Ways to Finance Sustainability

Hope reposes on the manufacturing costs which are comparatively low. “The solar cooker can be made for a cost of about $17“, David Chandler writes and reveals that it surely doesn’t take much to achieve something big. In addition, the Solar Cookers International organization has established a so called marketplace where people can purchase a solar oven and by that help financing projects. Emily Heskey adds that everyone is welcome to help financing solar oven projects. He also mentiones something that truly helps non-profit organizations. It’s the fact that it’s nowadays inevitable to implement environmental activities and sustainable thinking in a company’s corporate culture. Emile writes:

Many companies are keen to show their environmental credentials, which will mean that financing a project such as yours will be an attractive option.

Success or Failure?

So far the distribution of the solar ovens has been quite successful. According to Radha Muthiah, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, there has been between 2.5 and 3 million households, all over the world, that have adopted solar cookers. She discloses the desirable numbers for the future “We’ve set a goal of a hundred million households adopting clean cooking solutions by the year 2020.” Mrs. Muthiah knows that it’s still a long way to go but it’s a start.

What a great Invention!

I mean, seriously, it’s such a plain idea, you just take a little bit of metal, have it face the sun and guess what, there is fire to cook. Though I think the distribution and expansion of solar cookers could have already been started way earlier, it’s great to see that it finally picks up pace. I think the more these approaches succeed, the more publicity and attention they’ll get. A lot of aspects currently fit in the concept as “thinking green” is more important than ever before and these cheap tools unquestionably prove themselves. Especially since Africa is probably the sunniest continent on earth, it’s highly effective and sustainable. What we should keep in mind though is that invention such as these cookers don’t solve the actual problem of getting food aid. It’s absolutely senseless to have an oven but nothing to cook.

At this point I would like to again reference donations. Obviously, as I’ve mentioned before, there is no way around donations. Now that I’ve dug deeper into the topic I would like to correct my statement. Donations are important and effective but donators should always question the flow of money. Supporting organizations that use the donated money to establish sustainable tools and machines, is a great way to help creating a brighter future for other people.

To end my post I would like to quote the Audubon Magazine that once wrote:

“The world can choose sunlight or further deforestation,
solar cooking or widespread starvation.” 

Security Strategies to Protect Important Information

In my last post I wrote about companies letting their employees to use their own devices, this time I want to show you which measures some companies are taking to secure their business information.

We need to be aware that when we less expected something might happen to our personal devices, and our information might get loss or might fall into the wrong hands.

So what are companies doing to ensure nothing happens?

Here are some strategies the smartest companies are using to maintain the balance that I read in the Wall Street Journal online.

1. Locking and Deleting

Most companies insists to their workers to use the password feature found in every smartphone.  This password prevents other to get access to the device.  And even though is not the best security measure it helps to prevent unwanted access to corporate data or information about future projects.

If a phone is lost or stolen, or an employee leaves, Kimberly-Clark Corp. has a hard-line solution, they will erase the device remotely.

Ramon Baez, chief information officer for the company, is working on a “self destruct” option that would automatically erase a phone in case it´s lost and disconnected for an extended period of time.   But this practice doesn´t applied everywhere.  In countries like China and South Korea, employers by law are not allow to erase personal data on their worker´s pones, and for this reason he doesn´t allow workers there the usage of personal devices at work.

A remote erasing also deletes any personal information on the phone, such as contact numbers and family photos.  Since these are small devices and are easily misplaced or stolen, it is vital for a company to have the ability to wipe company-sensitive information.  The company will wipe a device as soon as it is reported lost, or if the user reaches the maximum number of attempts with an incorrect password. The threat of losing all that may helps make people more vigilant about keeping track of the phone.

2. Walling Off Data

Companies that are in the industry area –such as medicine or finance- have to do a lot more to protect sensitive data while employees are still using the devices.

Medical companies have to follow rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that protect customer data.

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. uses software from Good Technology Inc. to carve out a part of an employee´s devices strictly for corporate use.  All the corporate data will go into this secure part and can´t be moved or downloaded into the phone itself.  If the phone is lost or if the person leaves the company, Nationwide can wipe that portion of the device, leaving the personal information intact.

Mr. Vasudeva, chief technology officer of Nationwide says that beyond the typical password found on a cellphone, the container has its own password, and the data inside are encrypted.

3. Dealing with Variety

Not all the Smartphones counts with the same operating system, so compatibility is one of the technical problems the IT department of a company has to deal with, it takes lots of time and resources to build and test a different version of the same application for every single one.

Most companies because of this reason are trying to keep things “simple”.  The employees who use their own phones can get access only to the company email network and not any other work software.

Kimberly-Clark is looking to partners such as AT&T Inc. to help it create a mobile-enterprise-application plattform.  This new technology allows a company to create one app and have it run on all devices.

By using the technology, the company “gains the ability to effectively manage the cost of supporting many different devices”. Mr. Baez says.

4. A virtual solution

With the technique called virtualization, from providers such as Citrix Systems Inc., mentioned in my last post, some companies give workers access to more than just company email.  The employees can then use that software to access their entire desktop on the device and use the same programs on the road that they use in the office.

For example Royal Dutch Shell PLC is testing these kinds of systems with tablets such as the iPad.  Jay Crotts, the company´s vice president of IT services, remarks that placing virtualization software on employee´s personal tablets is less expensive than outfitting them with company-purchased laptops.

He says that virtualization answer the following question: “How can you increase productivity and allow more ubiquitous access?”

4. Cost

Not all the smartphones´problems are technical, there is also a matter of cost.  Smartphone bills can be steep for some users and most of them want the company to kick in if they´re using the phone for work too.

Some companies have found ways to reimburse employees for their phone use.  Another use a Telecom expense-management program (in the USA), which allocates some expenses to the company and some to the worker.

In some cases companies pays for the whole data portion of the bill, other go further and cover the whole bill.  It may vary depending on the type of employee and the type of organization involved.

Nationwide gives employees a stipend for those workers who are using their own devices, equal to what their BlackBerry bills woud have been if it would be a company phone, which ranges from $70 to $100 a month, and the difference the worker has to cover it.

Wait for my next blog post about the possible problems smartphones could develop in a business.

United States of Piracy – Part III

In this part I will state my own opinion and thought of this whole debate.

At my search for information’s and opinions I found Rob Holmes blog. As you know I found something “good” but his whole blog gave me also some good laughs. One of my favorite was as he refers to himself and the other supports of the SOPA as “We were regular working joes“.

Excuse me? Regular working joes?

The bill is supported by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America). And no one can tell me that these kind of organizations and the other supporters are “regular working joes”. These are global players, not average small companies or organizations.

For Tony Bradley from PC World
These organizations are like crotchety old men yelling at the neighbor kids to get off their lawn. But, in this case their “lawn” is the Internet, and instead of “yelling” they’re threatening to fill it with landmines that effectively make it useless.”

And there is the thread of losing jobs….. Again

The general-purpose tool for all situations.
You want to ban something? Jobs are in DANGER!
There could be a possible law against your business? Jobs are in DANGER!
There is something forbidden? Jobs are in DANGER!

Dawn it, come up with a new punch line, this is getting old.

There are already good alternatives, to save jobs, like I stated in > An additional view on Piracy <.

Silence in the news

Also fascinating is the silence in the news media about SOPA.


And seriously this bill is big thread against the freedom of speech and the freedom itself. It would be way to easy to ban websites. If somebody wants your website down and finds nothings illegal, he can just place piracy stuff on our side and now he can put you out of business. There is a reason for the separation of powers in the democratic system.

Of course the United States Chamber of Commerce saidThat sort of draconian measure is not where the bills are aimed.”
That might be true, but the Law would give the opportunity, the possibility to do so.
And son or later somebody will use it. For sure!

United States of Piracy – Part II

The Stop Online Piracy Act is good?

For Tony Bradley it is exactly the opposite, for him this Law “…threatens the Constitutional rights of law abiding citizens

And he is not alone.

The guy´s from “The Tom’s Hardware Team” wrote in their blog a briefly summary of the effects that the law would have and gave an example how it would affect their work.

  • Assign liability to site owners for everything users post, without consideration for whether or not the user posted without permission. Site owners could face jail time or heavy fines, and DNS blacklisting.
  • It would require web services like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to monitor and aggressively filter everything all users upload.
  •  It would deny site owners due process of law, by initiating a DNS blacklisting based solely on a good faith assertion by an individual copyright or intellectual property owner.

As an example, imagine a user posts a video clip to the Tom’s Community of a step-by-step guide on how to set up water cooling on an overclocked i7 CPU. Playing in the background behind the voiceover is “Derezzed” by Daft Punk. The studio representing Daft Punk could issue a complaint, without being required to notify us or request a take-down. Tom’s Hardware would be liable and prosecuted solely on a good faith assertion of the copyright owner, without notification, with the site operators subject to possible jail time for not preventing the video from being posted. In short order, the http://www.tomshardware.com/ domain in the United States would no longer resolve to our servers and visitors attempting to come to Tom’s Hardware would be redirected to a “This site under review for piracy/copyright violations” page.

To prevent that the Team would have to review and approve every single new post (every new thread, every new response etc.), before it can get published. And even then, there is the possibility of not caught violations of copyright, like a paragraph of a book for example.

For them the SOPA, with this massive restrictions on user-generated contend, is a fundamentally change the way information is presented online. They also say that “would give the U.S. government the power to selectively censor the web using techniques similar to those used in China, Malaysia and Iran.

And people like Sergey Brin, Google co-founder agrees to such kind of statement.
Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone, Twitter co-founders, and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman even take the extra step and say that law would give improper “power to censor the Web.”

These companies are already taking steps against the Stop Online Piracy Act.

Nuclear option

And there are thinking about what Declan McCullagh called a “political equivalent of a nuclear option.”
A total blackout of their pages for one day.

Stay tuned for Part III

Becoming an Effective Project Manager – Natural Talent or Hard Work?

About two weeks ago, a friend and I talked about my blog topic Project Management. I remember I told him what I write about and how it really starts intriguing me the deeper I dig into it. The enthusiasm for PM did not seem to be mutual and it in fact didn’t take too long until he made a comment to the effect that he wouldn’t believe it took a lot to become a Project Manager, someone who organizes a little bit here and there. His comment has actually incentivized me to write this post about the required qualities of Project Managers to successfully manage a project.

What is a Project Manager?

It doesn’t take a lot to set up create a plain definition of a Project Manager: A Project Manager is supposed to manage projects. Sounds simple doesn’t it? It, indeed, requires a more sophisticated definition to eventually address and include all needed features, but it’s undoubtably a good platform to build up on. David Litten, accredited Project Management Trainer, encapsulates the important distinction to be made between a PM and others.

“Project managers need general management skills, along with a knack for problem solving. Project managers are there to plan and manage the work – NOT to do it! “

He mentiones the first, vitally important characteristic that indubitably distinguishes a PM from , for instance a specialist. Project Managers’ task is to plan, manage and organize the work, while a specialist creates the deliverables. PMs therefore need what David calls “management skills“, skills that are to some extend inherent or can be acquired in school/seminars etc.

Am I the Chosen One?

Especially a lot of young people that start dealing with the question “What will I be when I grow up?“, wonder if they have what it takes to be in a responsible, high position, in charge of many people, simply able to run a company. It’s a question you can’t answer unless you know what it DOES take to be in that position. Do you? When you ask this question to people they most likely nod their head but then come up with little, doubtful answers. I’ve therefore collected answers from PM experts that absolutely know what they’re talking about when they answer such a question.

What Qualities Do I Need?

Timothy R. Barry, president of InnerChange Learning Systems LLC thinks that an effective PM has a vision of where to go and the ability to articulate it.

“Visionaries thrive on change and being able to draw new boundaries. It was once said that a leader is someone who “lifts us up, gives us a reason for being and gives the vision and spirit to change.”

In order to properly articulate convey his vision, he needs to be a good commuicator and enthusiastically fulfil tasks. Leadership competence plays another big role in Timothy’s assumptions of a good PM. Being qualified and having experience are inevitable factors that not only contribute to a well structured and faster process but also arouse trust among employees. Timothy also mentiones, that a good PM has to be able to draw quick decisions and solve problems. He adds :

“In a perfect world, projects would be delivered on time, under budget and with no major problems or obstacles to overcome. But we don’t live in a perfect world – projects have problems.”

What kind of problems are likely to occur?

David Litten calls a spade a spade, as he distinguishes between 7 major sources that possibly result in problems/obstacles and whatsoever.

  • Interpersonal problems
  • Internal sources
  • External sources
  • Technical sources
  • Management sources
  • Communication
  • Opinions or perceptions

Managers need to get down to the root of the trouble and find ways to identify, solve and prevent problems from happening.

How Can I Prepare Myself for the Real Life?

If you are new to PM, a great way to preparedly become a manager is to follow Josh Nankivel’s advices which he presents on his webpage. Josh suggests to go with real-life experience if you have to choose between a formal PM education or real-world experience.

“The optimal in my humble opinion is if you can be in a position where your projects are small enough that you have the flexibility to try out new concepts you are learning in real time.”

His advices remind me of the learning-by-doing concept because he proposes a PM-mentor to future Project Managers and encourages them to exactly pay attention when working with a PM expert. To not neglet the educational aspect, Josh motivates all those interested in PM to listen to podcasts, read books and blogs as well as to know the tools on market and to try to join a PM organization.

Wanna Get in Touch with a Star?

If there are any particular questions that aren’t answered explicitly, you can easily contact almost every PM expert via email or his/her website!

Notice, wheter the called qualities go for you or not, there is always a way to train and/or adopt any of them. You’ll find lots of seminars, books, training courses, and individual help online. Good luck and know that nothing is impossible!

Should your company Twitter?

Regarding to my last post Developing Business with Social Media Marketing, in this context means with Twitter, as I got a feedback from Mr.Spear to look out the link Twitter for Business on Pistachio by Laura Fitton and I think its a good research to continue my last post.

Pistachio Consulting helps companies, brands, agencies and high profile individuals make smart business use of microsharing tools like Twitter. They provide briefings, consulting, strategy, training and full microsharing programs that create value, engage customers, learn more about their customers and better engage with their market. They also offer professional services and research to support microsharing inside the enterprise. They add an article Twitter for Business blog post, Chris Brogan which really good to look out, and here’s the article.

Twitter for Business blog post

Chris Brogan wrote a very concise and useful post on how to use Twitter for business. In it, you will find ideas on creating an account, topics to consider for the medium, a check on Twittetiquette, and an assessment of both the minuses and the pluses of having a Twitter presence.

The conversation at Chris’ blog got into a lot of different tactics, with many useful comments. As for business value on the strategic side, and these are some of tips :

  • When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next, instead of just dumping a link.
  • Commenting on others’ tweets, and retweeting what others have posted is a great way to build community
  • Ask questions. Twitter is GREAT for getting opinions.

Twitter Problem

There is also problem on Twitter at least until I found the article that has been wrote by Brandon De Hoyos as I was looking for my research about Twitter on Google, there is problem that interesting to discuss with.
While many corporations and even mom and pop companies have rushed to join the flood of businesses on Twitter, many are figuring out the hard way that their Twitter-based marketing just doesn’t pay out.

The problem, according to Twitter users, is a flood of one-dimensional tweets marketing wares without any real connection between a business and its followers.

“People aren’t on Twitter to be advertised to,” said Nathan Mathews, social networking consultant for Kuru Footwear, an active footwear company in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“They joined Twitter to become part of a bigger conversation that crosses borders, ethnicity, cultures, and religions.”

by Rusdi, Rusdi