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Technology Rewriting the Rules of Business 200

Posted by Zonk
from the smaller-is-better dept.
theStorminMormon writes "Fortune magazine is running a story describing the overthrow of Jack Welch's old rules of business. (Welch responds here.) Although the article lists Google and Apple as two paragons of the new rules of business, it fails to note that the old rules of business originated from straight manufacturing firms while the new rules of business are coming from the (more service-oriented) tech sector." From the article: "Steve Jobs has emphasized that Apple hires only people who are passionate about what they do (something that, to be fair, Welch also talked about). At Genentech, CEO Art Levinson says he actually screens out job applicants who ask too many questions about titles and options, because he wants only people who are driven to make drugs that help patients fight cancer."
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Technology Rewriting the Rules of Business

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  • It's about passion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thewiz (24994) * on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:35PM (#15699401)
    If you are passionate about what you do, you'll get out of bed in the morning and actually look forward to going to work. Passion also drives you to do your best, not to just get by so you can collect a paycheck.
    • by badfish99 (826052) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:52PM (#15699553)
      Passion also ensures that you will work long hours for little reward, while the CEO takes home all the company profits.
      • Passion also ensures that you will work long hours for little reward, while the CEO takes home all the company profits.

        Ask not what your employer can do for you; ask what you can do for your employer.
      • ...but it also means that if the CEOs (and other board members of such companies) are passionate (which is the part of the company that TFA focuses on), he'll (she'll?) take on the larger number of hours --and more importantly-- the larger risk and liability than the average employee (there's a reason that most of them take in a lot of profit, no? After all, the majority of beancounters in Enron didn't go to jail... the CFO did, in spite of the suspicion that many of the mid- to higher-level beancounters ha
        • Depends on what they are passionate *about*.

          Most seem to be passionate about making lots of money,
          not the companies mission or destiny.

          On the "larger risk and liability" two things.

          The CEO and executives dont usually suffer the consequences
          of their decisionmaking, the rank and file do, in layoffs.
          Rarely does the board remove the CEO. And usually then,
          the golden parachute that is part of their contract leaves
          them well set up.

          Second, they make the decisions, why shouldnt they be the
          ones that the consequences
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:35PM (#15699402)
    "Steve Jobs has emphasized that Apple hires only people who are passionate about what they do (something that, to be fair, Welch also talked about)...

    I work to live not live to work. I will do my job to the fullest, but I want a life. I don't want to wake up when I'm old and find that I'm alone and regretting that I didn't live my life instead of wasting it in the office.

    • That's a good work-life balance, and I don't think you're wrong for drawing that line. But, it sounds like you don't meet the criteria that Jobs et. al. are looking for. What they want are employees who love their jobs so much that they don't separate working and living - they love their job more than what they might otherwise do in their time off.

      • If that's what they're looking for, I hope they like re-hiring their entire workforce every 5 years. People who love their job to the exclusion of other free-time activities tend to burn out quite rapidly. Single-minded devotion to a task isn't usually a sign of bright individuals, either. The ones who are really good at what they do understand that they need downtime to stay an enriched individual, and to perform better at their jobs during the time they do spend on it.
        • I will second that.

          In fact five years is an absolute maximum. More likely two years or so and the inevitable depression and disillusion set in in everyone but people who are clinically insane. Once this has happened the productivity goes down the drain.

          In addition to that hiring mechanisms like this set a social immaturity requirement for most new recruits, because most socially mature people do not "burn in the job", read the "small print" and ask questions. The percentage of available workforce who ar

    • by erice (13380) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:48PM (#15699522) Homepage
      I work to live not live to work. I will do my job to the fullest, but I want a life. I don't want to wake up when I'm old and find that I'm alone and regretting that I didn't live my life instead of wasting it in the office.

      If your mission in life is best accomplished at the office, then how can spending your time there be a waste? If you are genuinely afraid that, when you are old, you will regret the time you spent at work, then maybe you chose your career poorly.

      Many or even most people choose their career poorly. Sometimes this is avoidable. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes the best occupation is one that pays poorly or not at all. Too many don't even try. They just chase the money instead. But those who do manage to unify their passion with their career are more effective employees.
      • If I didn't care about money I'd be doing exactly what I'm doing now. But since i do, I actively spend my time trying to do something else that pays better. Yes, it's nice to enjoy what you do, but do you get out of bed in the morning to an alarm clock to have fun, or because you need to pay the bills? If I didn't care about money i'd do exactly what I'm doing now, but I'd do it when I wanted, how I wanted.

        It's impossible to blend "fun" and "work" in any consistent/logical decision that necessarily produces
        • by TopShelf (92521) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @01:14PM (#15699750) Homepage Journal
          I think the great majority fall under option C - work is what pays the bills, paving the way for the higher priorities in life, like family, hobbies, etc. There's a lotta days I really don't enjoy my job, but it provides an opportunity for us to have a nice home, and allows my wife to stay at home with our 3 kids. For me to pursue a "dream job" like sports writing or academia, we'd take major hits in other areas that just aren't worth it.

          As regards these management philosophies, this translates to selecting employees for whom their career is the end-all-be-all. As a manager, that makes a lot of sense, as long as the people are somewhat balanced and won't burn out too soon.
          • I think the great majority fall under option C - work is what pays the bills, paving the way for the higher priorities in life, like family, hobbies, etc.

            The way we use the word today, if you enjoy it, it's not really work, is it? It's a hobby that pays.

            I'm definitely trying to work my way to a point where I can make money while doing things that I enjoy. I'm getting closer...

        • Yes, it's nice to enjoy what you do, but do you get out of bed in the morning to an alarm clock to have fun

          Alarm clock? How pleasant is starting the day via an alarm that is designed to keep me from doing what I'm doing? Do people time their shits, and punish themselves when they are late?

          If I didn't care about money i'd do exactly what I'm doing now, but I'd do it when I wanted, how I wanted.

          I'm confused why money keeps coming into the picture.

          It's impossible to blend "fun" and "work" in any consistent/l
        • I find happy at work equates to any of: a) You are so obsessively driven on a subject that you can tune out status/personal needs for gratification of your other desires, b) You want money/status so badly that you'll do anything you're asked to achieve it, c) You are not driven, but have learned to make the best of what you've got.

          Happiness comes from within ultimately. People often think that things like money/status will make them feel happy, only to find out they don't. Really, to have the best sho

        • All the guys on the Discovery channel biker-buildoff look like they're passionate about their work. They made a job out of their hobby (motorcycles) and spend hours a day building a custom bike, and making money off of it. It's no different than joe-sixpack building a bike or hotrod in his garage; time goes by quickly when you're doing something fun.

          I'm willing to bet that even those guys still feel like they're 'working' sometimes and would rather be out riding, especially when the bike they're building

      • If your mission in life is best accomplished at the office, then how can spending your time there be a waste?

        If your mission in life is to sit in an office so some CEO can sit on a yacht and decorate private 767s, then that is a sad thing indeed.

        Sometimes the best occupation is one that pays poorly or not at all.

        If you live in a world where everything is free, yes. It's not a good occupation when the bank repossesses your house and your kid can't go to the dentist when he has toothache.

      • Perhaps, but...

        Excluding things like my wife, daughter and family, I basically have four passions in my life: music, rock climbing, kayaking and flying. About seven years ago, I did a six month stint as a flight instructor. When I was up with a student, I thought flight instructing had to be one of the greatest scams on the face of the earth--I mean, I was actually getting paid to do something that I had previously shelled out $$$$$ to do.

        Unfortunately, at the end of six months, I was burned up and
      • But those who do manage to unify their passion with their career are more effective employees.

        and still treated poorly by management..

        What incentive is there to unify our passion with our career when we can just do enough to get by?

        Most employers can't tell the difference between someone who is passionate about their work and someone who is punctual but merely claims to be passionate about their work.
      • If your mission in life is best accomplished at the office, then how can spending your time there be a waste? If you are genuinely afraid that, when you are old, you will regret the time you spent at work, then maybe you chose your career poorly.

        That's a little oversimplistic for me. Some passions can't easily be turned into a paying career. Some passions can be a paying career, but there may be other problems with that career. It simply isn't always as simple as "doing what you're passionate about."

        Be

    • But why do you have to feel that your time at work is wasted? Many people find their time at work to be interesting and fulfilling. Obviously there's a balance. You probably wouldn't enjoy doing anything 16 hours a day. But if you enjoy your job, there's no reason why that 8 hours a day you spend there should feel like a waste.
      • Comparing 8 hours spend even in a career one enjoys to 8 hours spent with family, friends, reading, playing video games, etc- it is a waste. Even though I enjoy programming, I'd rather do any of the above. Unfortunately you have to do it in order to afford food, shelter, etc. Now there's better and worse ways to make the money you need to survive and enjoy the rest of your life, and you can pick one that you at least somewhat enjoy. But I'd still rather not do it at all. And I'm not going to take on m
  • Crazy Ideas (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrxak (727974) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:38PM (#15699427)
    It's always the crazy ideas that change the world. Of course not every crazy idea is a good one, and there are thousands of business that have gone under for thinking a little too outside the box. If you look around, there's really only one Amazon, only one Google, only one Apple. Companies that operate in more traditional ways seem to last longer on average, but nowadays they're often not leading things.
    • Re:Crazy Ideas (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Chode2235 (866375)
      It really doesn't matter what the 'new rules of business are' as there is not a significant shift what really makes the world go round. We can talk all high and mighty about technology, and it is pretty good and cool; but the fact of the matter is that we are still dependent upon natural resource aquisition and control. Granted technology allows us to exploit economies of scale and use resources more efficiently, but we are still slaves to land and natural resources much like our ancestors of the industri
  • by TechDogg (802999) <techdogg@NOsPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:39PM (#15699438) Homepage
    I surely hope they have other methods of screening applicants, because I think that some people are easily able to fool interviewers and sound passionate.

    They are are just waiting to get hired and once they are, they lay back and start making all kinds of demands.
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:41PM (#15699463)
    Jack Welch started at GE in 1960 as a junior engineer, worked his way up to CEO by 1981, and grew the business by $400 billion during his tenure from 1981-2001.

    From his rebuttal:

    > When has there ever been a divergence between shareholders and customers? No one is out saying, "Let's screw this customer today, and if we do, our share price might go up 20 cents." They're just not doing it.

    25 years later, the secret of his success slips out: he has never owned a wireless phone.

    • by hotdiggitydawg (881316) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @01:05PM (#15699665)
      When I read his rebuttal:

      When has there ever been a divergence between shareholders and customers? No one is out saying, "Let's screw this customer today, and if we do, our share price might go up 20 cents." They're just not doing it.

      I thought "Well he's obviously never bought a Sony product"...
    • When has there ever been a divergence between shareholders and customers? No one is out saying, "Let's screw this customer today, and if we do, our share price might go up 20 cents." They're just not doing it.
      Um, I was once told that "Customer's rate companies better on customer service if they have a few small inconviences that are quickly resolved, than if they have no problems, so we are going to start delaying mail server maintenance."
      Where does that fall in the 'just not doing it' scheme?
      Companies
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:43PM (#15699478) Homepage
    "Hire passionate people." Well, if that isn't touchy-feely management at its best.

    Welch's rule was to grade your players and go with the A's. Some of us might call that a meritocracy. To the B or C graded employee, of course, it looks like an unbalanced, unfair gold-key system driven by self interest on the part of senior managers.

    What's the alternative? "Hire passionate people."

    Am I the only one who imagines the following conversation: "Look, Bob, I know you're working hard. Your code is better than everyone else's on the team, and that's great! You did a good job getting everybody working together on that one project, too, and you were right about cutting out those side jobs -- if we were still eating those expenditures this project would have crashed and burned months ago. But Dave's the right guy to get this promotion, even though we only brought him in from that middle-manager position at Nabisco three weeks ago, and I'll tell you why. Frankly Bob, you just don't have Dave's passion."
    • by ericspinder (146776) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:59PM (#15699611) Journal
      ...But Dave's the right guy to get this promotion, even though we only brought him in from that middle-manager position at Nabisco three weeks ago, and I'll tell you why. Frankly Bob, you just don't have Dave's passion."
      That's the great fear of being a long-term employee unjustly passed by a new guy who interviews well. I believe that the 'passion' which the author refers to cannot be captured in a cover letter, interview, or golf outing, but in one's day-to-day commitment to the work. If that passion is the one which his managers look for then I am certain that your 'Bob' would find himself well rewarded.
      • by PCM2 (4486)

        I believe that the 'passion' which the author refers to cannot be captured in a cover letter, interview, or golf outing, but in one's day-to-day commitment to the work. If that passion is the one which his managers look for then I am certain that your 'Bob' would find himself well rewarded.

        Sure, you believe ... it's easy to believe.

        Where's the benchmark for "passion"? How do I prove I have it? How does a manager evaluate me for it? If Dave was hired because of his passion, and Bob was hired because of

        • I'd much rather work for Jack Welch than the people who wrote this list of tips.

          Well that should be a no-brain-er, because I don't think that that people who wrote that list are hiring, as they are writers just trying to capture a perceived trend.

          God forbid we should be competitive, or aggressive, or challenge ourselves and our coworkers to do better work even if we're working on something that we're maybe not all that passionate about.

          In his rebuttal, Jack mentioned that he was quite proud of reducin

          • Jack and his team picked, promoted, and nurtured some pretty good people, but others who have superficially implemented 'his style' have not been so successful.

            Articles like this are good for self-examination, and should not be used as a manifesto. Of course someone will use it as such, and will likely miss the meaning altogether, surely even resulting in yet another example of your complaint.

            I disagree - it should be a manifesto - hire good people, cut out the crap, do great things. Jack's strategy

          • I think, that this internal struggle for dominance is not the real point of most businesses.

            One might argue that it ought not be the real point of most businesses. But as a matter of empirical fact, it is. By my own observation, business hierarchies have far more to do with monkey psychology than they do with efficiency or effectiveness.

            The business world is full of charismatic underachievers who understand that "passion" really means "kissing up to the boss" and "manipulating the poltics and emotional we
      • cannot be captured in a cover letter, interview, or golf outing, but in one's day-to-day commitment to the work. If that passion is the one which his managers look for then I am certain that your 'Bob' would find himself well rewarded.

        And that is where the problem lies -- where lesser companies take, say, Apple as an example but completely misinterpret the idea and begin hiring the least qualified people based upon such subjective intangibles as passion. I can see 'Bob' easily getting sidelined -- Showi

      • If that passion is the one which his managers look for then I am certain that your 'Bob' would find himself well rewarded.

        For a lot of companies that would really depend on Bob's ass kissing skills. If Bob sit's in his cube & makes magical code flow across the screen like water over Niagra Falls, but tells the manager he's wrong, why he's wrong, and offers proof of why he's wrong, chances are he's going to sit in his cube until they take his caffeene pickled corpse out. But Dave, who grovels, says yes

    • you miss the point (Score:3, Insightful)

      by enjahova (812395)
      In your example Bob IS the passionate person. From the factors the manager listed there is no way he hates his job and can write top code and work well with everybody. Being passionate about what you do isn't about saying how much you love it, its about waking up in the morning and WANTING to go to work and get stuff accomplished.

      The manager you imagined is just an example of a bad manager, and not how I imagine hiring passionate employees at all. I would imagine the manager hiring Bob and hearing Bob talk
    • But Dave's the right guy to get this promotion, even though we only brought him in from that middle-manager position at Nabisco three weeks ago, and I'll tell you why. Frankly Bob, you just don't have Dave's passion."

      Yeah, that would be the first time that objective merit has won over subjective goals and vision.

      Apple has fanatical customers as well as staff. Call up 1-800-SOS-APPLE, and the computer voice is a little more human sounding than most. Its perceived as a male voice over a female one (female v
      • Apple has sayings like "Think different", Microsoft is more goal oriented with "Where do you want to go today?"

        They're both lying. Apple let's me do the things I need and mostly stays out of the way, while MS is taking the slow boat to hell. That's why I will never move past Win2k, and why I have a powerbook.

    • Welch's rule was to grade your players and go with the A's. Some of us might call that a meritocracy. To the B or C graded employee, of course, it looks like an unbalanced, unfair gold-key system driven by self interest on the part of senior managers. What's the alternative? "Hire passionate people."

      AKA, "hire only A players". And good fucking luck with that.

    • Frankly Bob, you just don't have Dave's passion."

      Gee Ted, that's too bad. Can you run a project on passion? I want money Ted, that's why I come here and drive your projects. Give me more money.

    • I utterly agree.

      Passion can't be benchmarked, nor can any measure be made to show how it directly (or indirectly) affects performance. The definition of "passion" is also up for grabs and can be twisted either to hurt or aid the individual being measured against it. For example, most engineers view being passionate as working 100% towards the product's vision, ensuring it is done right, sacraficing through long hours, and ignoring a lot of peripheral, non-core, problems (e.g. insulting behavior by managemme
    • Welch's rule was to grade your players and go with the A's.

      This was absolutely the case. Every year GE would rank their employees and the bottom 10% were out. It didn't matter if you did an acceptable job, if you were in the bottom 10%, you were gone. The same way with management - there was an up or out bias in the managerial rank. If you didn't keep swimming upstream, pretty soon, you'd find yourself in the dead 10%. At a divisional level, this was true also. If there was not a clear, short-term pa

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:45PM (#15699498) Homepage Journal
    just a few people want to play with words to make ideas their own. As he pointed out in his rebuttal a lot of the ideas that are being set out for today are compatible if not part of the ideas he espoused.

    I do agree with one item, weed out your worst. It is true. You will come to find that that passionate ones will not be lost in this. I'm in a company which doesn't do this, its a good old boy club. As such we still make money but never really move forward. We have so much deadwood it stifles innovation. The only time things change is when someone dies or retires.
    • by m-wielgo (858054)
      Want change? Promote the person hindering it to a higher position in a different area. Works in more industries than you would imagine.
    • by Chagatai (524580)
      While weeding out your worst is always a best practice, the way Jack Welsh did it was moronic. Through his "differentiation" he would always slash the bottom 10% of his workers. Here's the catch: what if that 10% was better than the people who will replace them? What if they performed well?

      Suppose your workers' performance is in the 90th, 85th, and 80th percentiles for performance. In grade school, that would be a solid B-average workforce. Now the bottom gets slashed, knocking out all of the 80th per

  • by muntumbomoklik (806936) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:47PM (#15699512)
    Whenever I hear the phrase "passionate about what you do" I get this eery feeling that they're going to offer up far more "passion" in their compensation package than "salary". Passion is all and well, and enjoying work is naturally important, but a large number of employers (especially in tech sectors) love to use the "passion" card as a way of underpaying their staff. If employees ever complain about meagre wages the employer can always counter with "But you LOVE this work! You should be glad to be doing this for a living!"

    There's a fine line between passion and simple exploitation of that passion to get stuff done for cheap. And I don't trust most businessmen to look out for my best interests when cutting a deal.
  • by darthnoodles (831210) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:51PM (#15699540)
    At Genentech, CEO Art Levinson says he actually screens out job applicants who ask too many questions about titles and options, because he wants only people who are driven to make drugs that help patients fight cancer.
    What he means is: "I don't want people who are interested in whay THEY'LL get from the job. I want people who are interested in nothing more than the good of the COMPANY!"

    How dare someone be interested in their own benefits!?!?!

    • I know. It's the companies I have interviews with that constantly talk of how "passionate" and "dedicated" their staff is that expect you to work 70-80 hours per week for a tiny salary. The ones who actually have a good work-life balance tend also to be the ones that pay a sane rate.
    • The lions share of Genentech's fortunes rise and fall with getting a single big product to market after passing FDA approval. It really is individuals who make the difference there, and Genentech's success really is their success. The same goes for many tech firms.

      A manufacturing firm really has to plug away and build up reputation while keeping quality consistent year after year (mind you Genentech had better keep up quality too -- look what happened to Chiron). What you really want there are well-manufa
    • I'm sure that Art practices what he preaches. Indeed, I'm sure he's so "driven to make drugs that help patients fight cancer" that any day he'll announce that he's cutting his own $40,000,000 in compensation [sfgate.com] so that the company has more money to do that research. ($1.6M in 1999 [63.192.157.117]. $21M in 2004 [72.14.203.104].)
    • I don't know... I think what's being said is pretty fair. It seems kind of like a crazy thing to say if you think of it as "people who are focused on their own good vs. people who sacrifice their life for the good of the company". On the other hand, it makes a lot of sense if you're trying to contrast "self-serving back-stabbing little pricks who are only interested in moving up" with "people who, even if they might like promotions and such, are a little more interesting indoing a good job where they are"

    • What he means is: "I don't want people who are interested in whay THEY'LL get from the job. I want people who are interested in nothing more than the good of the COMPANY!"

      How dare someone be interested in their own benefits!?!?!

      Should you ever have a daughter, I'm sure you'll respond the same way. Yeah right. If someone wanted to date your daughter you'd be very interested in whether or not he is interested in "his own benefit" or that of your daughter. There is no difference between that and looking for s
  • by spykemail (983593) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:56PM (#15699586) Homepage
    Some of you are confusing passion with obsession. A passionate employee loves his or her job and strives to do a good job - they don't necessarily devote their entire life to it. I know plenty of passionate people who have lives outside of the office. You can really love your job and try really hard without even taking it out of the office.

    In my experience some of the people who are obsessed with their job (spending nights / weekends) actually hate it.

    Does anyone else see a creepy Apple vs. Microsoft comparison here? I know a couple of managers at Microsoft, and the "old" rules sound exactly like what they do.
    • by radtea (464814)
      Some of you are confusing passion with obsession.

      Trust me, when a boss talks about wanting passionate employees, they don't mean someone who has a healthy work-life balance. They mean someone whose emotional attachment to what they do can be exploited for the good of the company--and the CEO.

      The cure for passion is professionalism, which is amongst other things is the attitude that high quality work deserves high quality compensation.
  • I'm Not Convinced (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amelith (920455) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:59PM (#15699609) Homepage
    Well they can say what they want but, in my experience, the corporate sector thrives on mediocrity. Most companies want to hire average people and pay them an average amount of money, or a bit less if they can get away with it. I don't claim that this is necessarily wrong, just hypocritical.

    They can go on about "passion" and wanting "the best people" but they know that passionate people can be difficult to deal with and the best people not only want the best money and benefits but they want some say in how things get done.

    And would they hire someone "passionate" in their late forties or is this merely another codeword for "naive new graduate"?

    Ame
    • The value of passion is in starting new companies and turning around troubled companies. That's why Jobs was a success building Apple, a failure when it was on top, and a success again upon his return in the darkest days of the company. That is also why I fully expect he will shoot himself, Apple and Disney in the foot eventually with some disastrous and passionate endeavor.

      In prominent successful and stable firms, like GE, there are many valid arguments for AVOIDING the most passionate people.

      Passion als
  • by fermion (181285) * on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:59PM (#15699610) Homepage Journal
    I think this is like the perpetual motion machine. Everyone hopes they can circumvent the laws of the universe and create profit from nothing. The dot com philosophy was the unoriginal "we make up for in sales what we don't make in profit." Enron was an outshoot of this, and eventually though it had "sales", it ran out of money. The jury is still out on Amazon. It is scary to think that each order steals a few cents from investors.

    Apple on the other hand is so clearly old line. Make quality and useful products targeted to an audience willing to pay for the products. Charge enough for the product to create a good profit. Give good service before, during, and after the sale. Charge enough so that at the end one has enough to pay for fixed costs, manufactureing, service, overhead, and research and development. Do not be afraid to change the product to meet demands, and throw in a bit of flash. This probably had not changed since Ford innovated the car in on color Black, with evolved into the mustang of many colors. I think the old Ford put some big dogs out of bussiness as well.

    I understand what the article is saying, but the article is talking about established firm. Apple, as an established firm, did exactly what it was supposed to do. That is fixed itself. Apple has been, and is, a major manufacturer of consumer and proffesional intergrated computer solution. So is Dell. MS only supplies software. Apple is and will continue to be, at least in the near future, a to manufacuturer of high tech solutions. The have proven that they will adjust to meet new needs, just as old bussiness says they should. The article cites IBM, which also did what it needed to do. Refocus on the customer, develop customer oriented products that provided real value. They talk about how the iPod is unique, but how many new catagories of product did IBM help create? The selectric, the PC, SQL, GML, etc.

    It is ludicrous to think that anything other than good products or services matter, or that creating new products is something new. IBM exists because it started creating products and focused on customers.

    As far as google, that is a story yet to be wrote. They have an Enron like grasp on the ad market, unregulated, not transparent, unpredicatable. The success may be last remant of the dot com boom, or they may be able to leverage advertisers in the same way that TV did. If they are succesful, it will be nothing but bussiness as usual. Create a product, namely adwords, charge enough for it to generate a profit, and use some of the cash to innovate.

    I think what happened, especially in the 70's and 80's, was the sense of entitlement of the big corporations. That somehow Americans were obligated to purchase the products no matter how horrible they were. In a perverse way, they were applying the soviet model to capitalism, where the people had to buy what they state supplied, except in out case capatilism provided such an oversupply that we had the illusion of choice. This was illustated with the government bailout of chrysler. In fact, some of the few comapnies that haven't leared thier lesson are in the auto industry. Chrsyler has so given up and is running ads featuring it German owner. In the end what we may be seeing is not new rules of bussiness, but the return to the basics. Make a product, sell a product at a fair price, and realize the consumer is the boss.

    • The jury came back on Amazon a long time ago. They've pulled a profit each of the last three years.
    • Apple on the other hand is so clearly old line. Make quality and useful products targeted to an audience willing to pay for the products. Charge enough for the product to create a good profit. Give good service before, during, and after the sale. Charge enough so that at the end one has enough to pay for fixed costs, manufactureing, service, overhead, and research and development. Do not be afraid to change the product to meet demands, and throw in a bit of flash. This probably had not changed since Ford in

  • by daskrabs (976610) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @01:09PM (#15699695)
    "At Genentech, CEO Art Levinson says he actually screens out job applicants who ask too many questions about titles and options..." Mr. Levinson went on to say that he also screens anyone asking about salary, vacation, internal advancement, the company's business model, stock performance, or any other matters pertaining to the position. "I ask them, 'Do you want to cure cancer?' It's a simple 'yes or no' question. Any information about us is irrelavant."
  • The Gravy Train (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zobeid (314469) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @01:25PM (#15699867)
    With regard to hiring. . . After a company reaches a certain level of success and public recognition, large numbers of people start applying for jobs just because they want to work for a successful company -- not because they want to help make the company successful. In other words, they want to ride the gravy train. Those are the ones you have to weed out.

    Start-ups and small companies rarely have this problem. It's after your company turns out to be Google, then everybody wants to climb on board.
  • The problem is that his passion vs results never goes both ways. Can a manager at Genetech who misses his numbers tell Art Levinson, "It's not about the money, it's about helping cancer paitients so you should just forget about those numbers I missed"? I seriously doubt it.
  • In his response to this article, Welch says, "No one is out saying, 'Let's screw this customer today, and if we do, our share price might go up 20 cents.' They're just not doing it."

    Clearly, Mr. Welch does not have a cell phone or cable TV.
  • Genentech screens out people who show an interest in politics? Sure, because those folks will be harder to steamroll.

    Passionate people who don't give a shit about corporate politics are much more maleable.

    Of course, after they get their passion crushed, they're even easier to work with, particularly since they're also clueless about politics.

    Hmmm. Maybe I'm in the wrong place. :)
  • I automaticly screen out companies that don't answer questions about salaries and options. I only want to work for companies that are passionate about compensating me.

  • Although genentech is riding high on huge waves of publicity from its anticancer drugs, it is hard to say if many of them are actually doing anything.
    For instance, Genentech got a huge amount of publicity when one of its anticancer mabs worked in colon cancer - but in this case "works" meant extends median survivial from 14 to 16 months.
    I suppose if you are a cancer patient or a family member, two months is a lot.
    But if you are passionate about curing cancer, looks more like a super, super $$ drug that does
  • It's nice to see that the old BS executives used to spout off about is being replaced by new fresh, think outside-the-box BS. The purpose, however, is the same: to convince people how smart they are and to convince the more lemming-like investors that they are doing something new worth investing in.

    It reminds me a bit of a scene in the Hudsucker Proxy:

    REPORTER #4
    How do you respond to the charges
    that you're out of ideas? Has
    Norville Barnes run dry?

    NORVILLE
    Not at all. Why, just this week
    I came up with several
  • by Gallowglass (22346) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @11:35AM (#15706185)

    The main rule is to remember what a business exists for. And that is not "to make money." Within three weeks of starting b-school we were being told that that was the route to disaster, because although that may be why people invest money or labour in the company, that is their reason, not the company.

    The real purpose of a company is satisfy the wants and/or needs of a market segment at a price that the market segment is willing to pay. If you can do this and turn a profit, the company will continue. The market (And here, I mean the customer base, not the stock market.) does not care if you are making a profit. It does not care that your shareholders want ever-increasing profitability.

    One of the thing about the "old rules" in the article is its emphasis on the stock price. This is to take your eye off of your market, and I contend that this is the major cause of most of the septic corporate behaviour in the world today.

    In fairness to the CEOs, the market and thus the boards of directors insist on this devotion to share price. From the article: "Never before has a CEO more needed to take risks, but rarely has Wall Street been less receptive. A recent Booz Allen study found that a CEO is vulnerable to ouster if his stock price has lagged behind the S&P 500 by an average of 2 percent since he took the top job." (God forbid we should take a momentary hit is stock price because we are developing a new market.) "Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers says he knows a number of colleagues who are planning to step down because of the difficulty of balancing the shortterm pressures of the Street with what's in the longterm best interest of the company."

    Despite what many people think about the "intelligence" of the stock market, the function of investment funds is only to make money. There is no incentive in the stock market to take the long view.

    In the book "Up the Organization", the author, Robert Townsend, relates that when he was hired to be the CEO of Avis, he insisted on one condition: "Don't talk to me about the stock price for two years!" He didn't want to be distracted from the long term goals by worrying about the vagaries of the stock market. I have alwys thought Mr Townsend to be a very smart man.

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