Book – Billion Dollar Lessons

lessonsOh – it is a wonderful and rather humbling read 🙂  As the authors emphasize, people do make mistakes and we need to learn from these mistakes (particularly those that seem to be part of our nature 😉 ).  These mistakes were made by people…  by very smart people.  Many of these mistakes can be avoided – 46% .  Other mistakes can be mitigated.

A very good point for people who may not be at the level of the organization that allow make any actions about the mistake – recognizing the mistake may help us to associate ourselves with the projects that are more likely to succeed and invest our energy there.  It would be more beneficial for the company and for the person.

Business failures have a repeated pattern.  These are usually not the execution mistakes (as many people believe), but rather strategy mistakes, when flawless execution can not help the situation.

7 categories of business mistakes

  1. Synergy – M&A.  M&A have only 1 in 3 chances to increase value.  All or us probably drill it through the years of the business school…  but it is still one of humanity’s favorite errors.
  1. Financial engineering (legitimate, not fraud).  This point was new to me!  The example: 30 year mortgage for a manufacturing homes that do not last more then about half of this term.  As a result, the initial success was overshadowed by default of owners who owe more than their manufacturing home worth, what can be expected by design.
  1. Rollups  – buying hundreds of local businesses – often to attempt to realize “economies of scale,” which may not be possible
  1. “Staying the course” – Kodak
  1. Adjacency – moving into a closely related industry.  Avon added health care product to be available to its sales force (what was very successful), but entering unknown health care business was not the best move.
  1. Riding technology – concentration on a wrong technology (Iridium, Zapmail, etc.)
  1. Consolidation – buying competing companies.  Possible issues is over-paying and buying competing companies at the point when it is more beneficial to sell (paging companies consolidation just before pages disappeared as a product)

The solution recommended by the authors is to establish a method that will assure that “a devil’s advocate” position is formed and considered at the stage of strategy formulation.

persianAncient Persians’s approach to discussing the issues:  deliberate twice; once drunk and then sober.  If the result is the same, the decision must be good 😉


Book – Rocket Surgery Made Easy

rocket-surgeryThe book is an excellent guide for people trying to do usability testing in-house and without a dedicated group or person.

The target audience is probably developers rather than marketers as the book does not address questions of conversion optimization and keeps the guide reasonably short and immediately useful.

Interesting points from the book:

  • Recommendation – testing other companies’ sites on the same topic to understand problems before creating your own site (or even testing your own site).  “Someone has gone to the trouble of building a full-scale working prototype of a design approach to the same problems you are trying to solve, and they they have left it lying around for you to use. ”  🙂

Plus, watching the test first time can be a shock for people who are new to the process – starting from the competitor site can help them to put the process into perspective

  • usabilityExact target audience is not always needed for testing (at least initial testing). Many problems has nothing to do with domain knowledge and related to basic components such as navigation, layout, etc.
  • Testing once a month with three users is enough – most significant problems will be found.  More tests can create more notes than will be later considered
  • Tricking executives for coming just to “drop by” to boost morale and show importance of the task, can result in a very interested executive
  • serious problems should be corrected before “next redesign” – but the correction should be as minimal as possible.  Waiting for the “next redesign” does not always lead to any change for a long time.
  • Some problems may not be possible to correct quickly as they might be symptoms of a larger unresolved conflict – site purpose or company’s mission
  • Remote testing gives 80% of the benefits of a live test with about 70% of the effort

Video example of a typical usability session described in details in the book (below)

Main points from the book from the perspective of the author 🙂


Coursera – Organizational Analysis

org-analysisThe course describes 10 theories attempting to describe an organization.  All of the theories is “incomplete” as they do not describe the organization fully.  However, several theories in a combination can give a good understanding of the analyzed entity and help manage the organization.

One of the new terms from the course:

Bounded rationality is the idea that in decision-making, rationality of individuals is limited by the information they have, the cognitive limitations of their minds, and the finite amount of time they have to make a decision.

Though understanding that humans do not act as rationally as previously believed is prevalent in economics (and definitely used by marketing 😉 ), it is a good prism through which we can view organizations.

theoriesSome of the theories seem to me particularly insightful.



Organizational anarchy or garbage can theory explains a decision making process in an organization as a “garbage can” where problems and possibly independent solutions are thrown to be considered by different parties.  Though it may not be the ideal way of describing a business and more likely to apply to a government entity or an association, the theory explains some processes within large corporations 😉




Organizational learning theory describes two interesting elements – communities of practice and network of practice.





Very insightful class – many things to ponder 😉  

Book – Rise of the Revenue Marketer

marketerAbsolutely love the book!!  This is a much needed guide for the companies that are still on the beginning stages of the Revenue Marketing journey.  The book can be the guide with a wonderful description of the steps and possible pitfalls, and inspiration from marketers who reached the destination.  We are all lost – as an author was lost a few years ago.  Hopefully, our journey will be easier – we have the guide.

Definition of the revenue marketing:

The combined set of strategies, processes, people, technologies, content, and results across marketing and sales that does four things:

  • Drops sales-ready leads into the top of the funnel
  • Accelerates sales opportunities through the sales pipeline
  • Measures marketing based on repeatable, predictable, and scalable (RPS) contribution to pipeline, revenue, and ROI
  • Transforms marketing from a cost center to a revenue center.

A very important point highlighted through the book – the journey might take several years – particularly for large established organizations.

I absolutely love the progression stages – they make so much sense and placing your own organization at a specific stage is easy.  And thought-provoking…  to realize where your organization currently reside 😉


Though most marketers understand very well that sales involvement is critical, it was a pleasure to read the arguments and reasoning to use at the office 😉


A very interesting point – to find a disruption (around sales) which can be used  to introduce the start of the initiative.  In one case a company found that majority of the sales were done by the elite group of reps, and the rest of the field could not reach quotas and suffered from high turnover.  The revenue marketing initiative was positioned as an attempt to bring more reps to the quota and help new reps to adjust faster.

The metrics chart explains the progression of marketing metrics through the journey – and show the “goal” set of metrics (what is typically difficult to explain to management before the system is functioning).


Another interesting point is highlighting the role of Marketing Technologist and the fact that IT should report to Marketing for the best business results…  The author (and many of us) was very impressed by the Motorola’s move to CIO reporting to CMO.

MN Search – The Art & Science of Building a Great Community

moz-logoMoz community – community of marketers.  🙂  Person who manages the community needs to be a part of the community.  If it is a marketing community, the person needs to be a marketer, if it is a fantasy football community, the person needs to understand and love the subject.

Interesting: the activity of the specific community can differ and community manager needs to monitor his/her audience to find this unique pattern.  Marketers are on G+ (maybe not others…  but marketers are there 🙂  ), marketers are also active on the social media during work hours but take weekends off.

Many people come to work and start their day from a blog post.

Engaged community can support the business during a difficult time.  Moz had issues with their site at one point; fans made a poster and send pictures.



  1. What do you want to achieve?what
  2. Make it someone’s job (how to hire a community manager)
  3. Find the people for your community (and what they care about)followerwonk
  4. Engage (do all the things)
  5. Measure all the thingsKPIs
  6. Test all the things

MIMA – Journalism, Ethics and Content in the Digital Age

atlanticThe conversation concentrated on the content marketing and its role in the the field of journalism…  or journalism and it possible role in the area of content marketing.  As we all know, the attention to marketing messages is higher if they look closer to editorial content, but making an ad look like an editorial can backfire.

As marketing (and journalism) is going through the industry disruption, new questions of effectiveness and ethics become more important.  Anything can be technically done…  what should be done?

One of the lessons’ of latest experiments is a need to differentiate between editorial content and advertisement.  From another side, the advertisement still need to have a utility for the reader.  Ads and links related to the content are the most beneficial.

bmtnInteresting: Bring Me The News is a distribution operation; the journalists on staff on average have 18 years experience in the field.  Audience: highly educated, affluent, very engaged in social media.

Star Tribune ads not only ads, but additional advertisement content to the site (utility).

Content marketing is more and more important and advertising and PR are loosing their former power.  Marketers can create “context” for the message.

Examples of content created by companies:

  • Red Bull content – entertainment
  • Optum Health health content – utility
  • Star Tribune buss add on traffic page – utility


UXPA – World Usability Day – Healthcare

World-Usability-DayExcellent event, very nice location and surprisingly tasty food 😉   I must admit that conversations before the event were almost as insightful as the event itself.

I was talking with a person who worked in a usability group of a large organization.  The organization has an independent usability group over 25 people, which includes UX specialists, information architects, UX designers, and front-end developers.  I asked how this person manages designers not designing “the next step” of any process as understandable.  This is not a problem in the organization – designers understand UI design principles.  Oh…  I was so jealous 😉

The most insightful discovery from the conversations around the food table:

  • zipnosisUsability issues exposed and discovered are not usually “unique” – in many cases it is the same issues repeated many times in many projects
  • A company developed a methodology to insert news in any online location. As a result product managers repeatedly attempt to insert news into every product imaginable in a prominent position.  Repeatedly, the users of the products state that they do not want news – they are trying to do their job.
  • Developers often find usability studies “painful to watch” as they see how the interfaces they code confuse users
  • It is a challenge doe usability experts to dance around the issue that people who develop products and tools do not understand anything in the discipline even if they think they do 🙂
  • The issue of a grey button…  and lack of understanding that these buttons won’t be clicked as much  😉

Optum presentation also showed a nice investment into the team – 6 UI designers and 2 UI front end developers.  The understanding of the important of usability is growing  in the industry.

Optum UX team works very closely to the brand group to keep brand standards.

The approach to the UX is to have common UX standards, but also have flexibility to add unique approaches for unique products.


Remote health care (video visits) was started by NASA to monitor health of astronauts.  This type of a physician visit had poor ROI since 1960.  Currently there are many attempts to find how to make physician visits … not quite in-person. is one of these attempts.



Usability issues….  “It takes an engineer to program the thermostat because the engineer created the interface”  😉


Making pacemaker information available for physicians Geneva Healthcare

Pacemaker data presentation is difficult – there are 4 different companies that produce the device and over 80 different devices produced over the years.  All of the devices manage data differently and do not present it in an understandable form.

genevaThe opportunity: the data exists; the data describes health of the most expensive patients – cardiac patients; the data can be used to predict health events and manage them before emergencies.  However, the data needs to be presented in the understandable form.

Geneva worked with physicians to understand what they needed (as physicians known to be a difficult audience for information technology adoption and an audience that lacks time).  The interfaces used:

  • Aesthetic and minimalist design
  • Pre-attentive processing (unconscious accumulation of information from the environment)
  • Near-instant perception of information

The dashboard created presents information from any device in a uniform fashion, is easy to understand at a glance, and show the most important information (from the physician’s view).  Dashboard allows drilling into details of each piece of information as needed.


Universal Model of an interface (Bob Baxley 2003) – was used as a framework of the interface development – a great fundamental resource.