Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cisco Believes in CDN federations

A blog post by Marc Latouche (pictured), Manager, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) Service Provider discusses how ISPs can expand their CDN solutions - "In addition to supporting their own operations, these CDNs provide a viable commercial alternative — or complement — to pure-play CDNs (such as Level 3 and Limelight), and enable SPs to earn extra income from the content flowing

Saturday, November 24, 2012

[Analysys Mason]: How to Calculate the Cost of Data?

A paper by Amrish Kacker (pictured), partner, Analysys Mason, discusses the costing of data: "Costing of data is not an end in itself, but is the basis to understanding the key drivers that affect data costs and the cost boundaries within which the business can operate".

"A structured approach to costing can provide the information required for sound decision making, and needs to address

How to Build DPI Products? (Part XX - Progressive Download Video Rate Traffic Shaping)

Research by Ran Dubin (pictured), Ofer Hadar from Communication Systems Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel; Rony Ohayon School of Engineering, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel; Noam Amram LiveU.


Progressive download (PD) is a video streaming method over HTTP. Although PD is the most common streaming method over the internet it is highly

Friday, November 23, 2012

[Yankee Group]: "Aito Technologies and Neuralitic will play key roles in CEM"

A new research by Declan Lonrrgan (pictured), VP, Yankee Group, concludes that "While today’s U.S.$1 trillion mobile broadband marketplace presents many challenges to operators, it also provides many opportunities. Operators that embrace OTT, adopt new business models for network data, cloud and video, and leverage their unique subscriber relationships to deliver optimal customer experiences

CDN Deployments [204]: Orange Selects Akamai as its CDN Solution

Orange and Akamai Technologies announced that ".. Orange has agreed to use technology from Akamai's Aura Network Solutions to provide CDN services to business customers .. The partnership between the two companies is intended to provide enterprises with access to Akamai's optimization and acceleration technologies through Orange Business Services. By combining Akamai's expertise in improving

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ericsson: Online Video 25-40% of Mobile Traffic Volume; Tethering - 2-4%

Ericsson published its Mobility Report for Q3, 2012 with lots on interesting data on mobile traffic, devices, coverage speed and penetration. See "Ericsson Mobility Report Shows Rapid Smartphone Uptake and Doubling of Mobile Data Traffic" - here and here and the report itself (here).

Among the more surprising finding is the relatively low percentage of on-line video - 25-40%, even for

DPI Deployments [203]: Millicom (9 affiliates) Deployed Allot

Allot Communications announced ".. the completion of a deployment project at 9 affiliates of Millicom International Cellular S.A (Tigo) .. Allot was selected by Millicom due to its integrated Allot Service Gateway solution, enabling a multitude of value-added services, deliverable in flexible packages within a single chassis".

Millicom provides "affordable, widely accessible and readily

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NI Deployments [202]: Algar Telecom [Brazil] Uses RADCOM to Improve QoE

RADCOM announced it has been selected to "..monitor the complete mobile network of Brazilian operator, Algar Telecom (previously CTBC). RADCOM’s Omni-Q Service Assurance Solution will monitor voice and data services of Algar’s traffic to improve network Quality of Service & Experience. In the initial implementation of RADCOM’s system, Algar Telecom determined that RADCOM could help provide



Sandvine Expands Analytics with Routing Efficiency Dashboard

Sandvine announced the ".. launch of its Routing Efficiency Dashboard, the latest dashboard in its Network Analytics library. Sandvine’s Routing Efficiency Dashboard provides a detailed look into the costly routing and transit links and interconnect relationships that affect operational expenses on fixed and mobile networks".

"The Routing Efficiency Dashboard highlights high-demand traffic

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

[Volubill]: Poll on On-Demand Mobile Services

A recent poll conducted by Volubill finds that ".. approximately 80 percent of mobile industry professionals consider on-demand mobile services as an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ advancement in sophisticated mobile policy. Driving this industry trend are advancements in policy control, real-time charging and efficient bandwidth management abilities"

See "Volubill Survey Results Indicate

Saguna's Investor: ADVA Optical Networking ($1M, 10%)

Earlier this month I reported on Saguna Networks' $3M funding round (here), led by a "German communications equipment supplier". The mystery is solved now as ADVA Optical Networking announced ".. it has made a strategic investment inSaguna Networks and its Content Optimization Delivery Systems (CODS) technology .. With this investment, on a fully diluted basis, ADVA Optical Networking acquired a

Cisco: Meraki Offers Land Acceleration, Security and Application Visibility and control

During Cisco's conference call on the recent Meraki acquisition [$1.2B, here], the following answer was given by Robert Soderbery (pictured), SVP and GM, Enterprise Networking Group, Cisco:

[question is ".. about the kinds of the outside of security.. other things that they’re doing in layer 4-7 that are interesting and innovated for that midmarket sort of customers"].

"So from L[ayer] four

Monday, November 19, 2012

UK: Usability Limits Wi-Fi Offloading, Although Operators have 3,516,000 Hot Spots

The recent Ofcom infrastructure report (here) provides some interesting information on Wi-Fi usage by fixed and mobile operators:

"Another way to manage the growing demand for mobile data is to offload the data onto a fixed network. Many mobile devices are also Wi-Fi enabled and can connect to fixed networks using Wi-Fi hotspots. Mobile data use in these devices can be offloaded onto a

Argon Blaster - Flow Simulation at 10 Gbps

Argon Design announced the launch of ".. Argon Blaster, the industry’s first flow simulation solution for generating realistic, Internet scale traffic loads and applications to test networking and security equipment. Blaster delivers a line-rate, timing-accurate, flow-simulation application on an affordable PCIe acceleration card for use in standard x86 platforms ..Blaster pricing starts at

Sunday, November 18, 2012

[Ofcom] UK Traffic Management; P2P Might be Reduced by 99%

In its 2012 update, Ofcom, the UK regulator reports also on the status of traffic management in the UK. Ofcom says  [see also "UK: Broadband ISPs (except Sky) Still Limit P2P; Some Prioritize VoIP!" - here]:

We looked at the traffic management polices used by fixed and mobile operators and found that there is often significant variation in fixed ISPs’ and mobile operators’ traffic management

[TorrentFreak]: How will AT&T, Verizon and TWC Handle Piracy?

Ernesto, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, TorrentFreak reports how US ISPs will handle copyright infringements, following the voluntary MOU to stop piracy (see "US Anti-Piracy Delayed; ISPs will not Terminate Accounts" - here):

AT&T - "From leaked AT&T training documents we learned that the company will block users’ access to popular websites until they complete a copyright education course.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Parental Control Deployments [201]: China Telecom to Deploy LiveMobile

John Kennedy reports to siliconrepublic that "Mobile software company Live Mobile – previously known as Mobile Minder, has struck a lucrative deal with one of the world’s biggest mobile operators, China Telecom, that will see the company create 70 new jobs in Ireland and China. The deal will see its cloud service deployed in China to protect millions of children by turning their smartphones in

F5 Adds RFC 6733 Support to the Diameter Router; Better Security

F5 Networks announced that its "Traffix Signaling Delivery Controller is the market’s first Diameter solution to support the new Diameter specifications per the latest release of RFC 6733.. Some of the highlights of RFC 6733 [written by reps from Telcordia/Ericsson, Nokia and Network Zen] are as follows: 

Tighter security with better connections between peers by requiring the use of TLS/TCP and

Friday, November 16, 2012

Stoke: New Application-aware, PCEF Capable, Offload Gateway

Stoke announced the immediate availability of its ".. wireless offload gateway, the Wi-Fi eXchange .. the solution opens the door for operators to offset the escalating costs of capacity increases through revenues from advertising and other premium services. The Wi-Fi eXchange also reduces traffic carrying costs by giving operators granular control over subscriber sessions, enabling them to

Friday, October 26, 2012

Post-Season Palaver: Plutes' Pundits Pontificate Pathetically

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.

 In practice there is.-- Yogi Berra

The Wall Street Journal this month wrote an interesting baseball-centered

article that shows off some work by Bill James. To a greater degree the work

shows off what happens in the news business when you have a deadline and a story

idea but no time to develop it properly and the journal ends up with a steaming

train-wreck of trivial trash-thinking.

Aside: I don't regularly point at the Wall Street Journal,

but not because they don't have many great writers, nor because they don't

produce interesting grist -- they do. They have been edging into sports since

they decided to be the advertising host-of-choice by competing with USA Today

to be the national read, but specifically for the tiny minority of people who

(a) make lots of money by brokering OPM (other people's money), or, more

commonly people who (b) fiercely aspire to be part of (a). It's a pitiful

readership, but they either have access to money or want to look like they do

so they'll spend it even if they don't have it, and that excites advertisers.

But the WSJ's baseball editorial, which started out very interesting, is now

done pro-forma, without the kind of editorial skepticism that makes for great


In Managers

Under the Microscope: The Perils of Postseason Play
, writer Matthew

Futterman's lede kicks us off with

One thing is certain this October: There

are going to be moments when managers will have to decide whether they should

make the move that has brought their team to the postseason, or go with their

gut and take a flyer.

Here's some hard-earned advice from folks

who have been there: Don't take the flyer.

¿Don't manage a five- or seven-game series differently than the

162-game marathon?

Is that true in Baseball, or for other managers Beyond Baseball? Interesting;


For example, Earl Weaver in his book Weaver on Strategy, has an entire chapter dedicated to things you do differently in September and after to take advantage of a different starting pitching rotation to taking advantage of specialists when every game is such a difference-maker. One of the classic blunders I've written about is Phillies manager Jim Fregosi using his closer, Mitch Williams, repeatedly in the World Series; during the regular season, Wild Thing had dug himself many a hole against  variety of (mostly weak) teams

and crawled out with few consequences, but Toronto's line-up made him pay

terribly and cost

the Phils a Series they probably could have won
if the manager had been

analyzing the situation instead of adhering to his standard operating procedure

from the 162-game marathon (What I call "Pulling

a Fregosi

Pulling a Fregosi (maybe I'll call this

Defoliating a Gardenhire in the future) is when you find yourself at a decision

juncture and are more focused on looking in the rear-view mirror (the past) than

on looking forward through the windshield (the future). Doing so guarantees a

higher level of emotional response, and a lack of attention to the possibilities

of the future.

As the article unrolls, it becomes clear Futterman is going to argue both

sides of the issue. He quotes Tony LaRussa

"It's 190 degrees different from the

regular season," said Tony La Russa, who won six league pennants and three

World Series during his 33-year managerial career. "The immediacy of it is

so much more. It's not just this game—it's this inning and this out. You don't

want to give anything away. Everything is so short-term, so focused. You're not

balancing the long-term anymore, and for that reason it's a lot more fun."

But then he uses Grady Little's 2003 one-batter-too-many application of Pedro

Martínez as a CLM (Career-Limiting Move) -- more on that for the moment, a

Futterman insight that tells more about the World View of Plutes than it does

about high-performance management. Discussing Little's October CLM Crisis


Unless, that is, you go off script—the

classic mistake Grady Little made. Little, the former Boston Red Sox manager,

infamously let a tiring Pedro Martinez continue pitching with his team fivd outs

from making it to the World Series in 2003. Martinez, who had lasted eight

innings only five times all year, coughed up the lead, and the Red Sox lost in

11 innings. The team declined to renew Little's contract despite winning 95

games. He later managed the Los Angeles Dodgers for two seasons, making the

playoffs in 2006, but hasn't held a Major League managing job since.

The reality was that Little generally protected his recently injured

starter during the season, and in this October game did not. Sportswriters

generally assumed Little overrode his in-season protocol for using Pedro, but

Baseball managers and management are a lot more subtle than reporters,

especially those who swim in the corporate universe, realize. The reality was,

Little was going back to the season and pulling out Martínez' most analogous

start...Little had a precedent for a gassed Pedro to kick it out a few more

batters, as described here.

Futterman argues both sides, contrary to his lede, but then returns to the

lede's argument.


...Baseball, as a zero-sum endeavor with much higher competition and

transparency than corporate business, where a manager will virtually every day

make a call that doesn't work out. Most often than not, the greater context of

the immediate October moment SHOULD outweigh the marathon of the 162-game


Further, the guys who build a successful overarching strategy suffer,

relatively, in the short October series (Billy Beane's quote about his crap not

working in the playoffs, the impression that Weaver's October record

underperforming relative to April-September).

In Baseball, you have to contextualize your management choice to succeed in

the moment.

But Futterman has a strong point that reinforces and describes the Plute world-view...


Because Futterman is absolutely correct in understanding that the sudden,

season-defying innovation IS a CLM. Whichever decision you make, precedent or

innovation, it may or may not work out when you are playing percentages, BUT if

you maintain the season protocol, it's harder for your own management to second

guess you. You just did what you always did. Whereas if you innovate and crash,

you will be second-guessed to death.

In the Plute world, you get to hold on to your money whether you were right

in your decisions or wrong, as long as you can argue you were just working

inside the protocol
. It's not about results/outcome. In the Plute

world, it's about accountability-sloughing. So Futterman's lesson for WSJ

readers is pretty apt (equal to the inappropriateness for managers outside the

finance world).

In your own management, it's easy to ride the best people, the best

processes, the best methods, the best technology, the best ideas, to death. In

any given situation, what is "the best" (overall) might or might not

be the best. It's tempting and pretty immune to second-guessing to stick with

"the best" when things are looking rocky. But nothing is "the

best" in every situation, every context, every moment. Skilled management

is all about knowing, or guessing well, what is, and having the courage to use

all your resources, not even your best ones, to get you to the organization's


If you're just a Plute, you can get away with making all your decisions with

your own paycheck and not

your employer's or your customers
in mind. If you're earning your pay as a

manager, you need to be willing to adapt to the context of the moment, make

decisions that work to your employer's benefit.

And remember, as LaRussa says, "It's a lot more fun".

Friday, July 6, 2012

41: Disturbing Wisdom

People who do not see how things happen are sceptical about the wise project manager’s behaviour. It is not easy to understand a person whose foundation is invisible. But this is the way things happen.

The Tao
Lao Tsu tells us:

The wise student hears of the Tao and practices it diligently.
The average student hears of the Tao and gives it thought now and again.
The foolish student hears of the Tao and laughs aloud.
If there were no laughter, the Tao would not be what it is.

Hence it is said:
The bright path seems dim;
Going forward seems like retreat;
The easy way seems hard;
The highest virtue seems empty;
Great purity seems sullied;
A wealth of virtue seems inadequate;
The strength of virtue seems frail;
Real virtue seems unreal;
The perfect square has no corners;
Great talents ripen later;
The highest notes are hard to hear;
The greatest form has no shape.
The Tao is hidden and without a name.
The Tao alone nourishes and brings everything to fulfilment.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bobby Valentine Bulldozes Corporate America's Sacred (Mad) Cow

When a subject becomes

totally obsolete we make it a required course. -- Peter Drucker

Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is often a horse's axe.

OTOH, he never would have created as much success for his employers if he had

been content to get-along-go-along. His type of self-serving, near-narcissistic

ego-centricity combined with high-energy and high-intelligence is visible in

many managers in many industries, but is more common and less punished in

Baseball, because unlike the accountability-sloughing corporate world, the

elected-officeholder government world and the non-profit & academic &

military worlds, performance accountability in Baseball is completely



...for the risible entrenched commitment the Commissioner's office has to

opposing the use of established technology that's been around since the last

century for the purpose of getting important umpire calls right. Major league

umpires are pretty fantastic, super-human even, in their ability to execute

fiftieth-of-a-second difference calls and get them correct a surprisingly high

percentage of the time. But established technology as an enabling tool could

improve umps' lives; instead of getting 90% of the close calls correct, they

could probably get to 96-98% of the close ones nailed.

In spite of polls indicating very high support for expanded "instant

(the use of existing cameras and angles and slow-motion

playback) to get close calls in games correct more often, Commissioner Zelig claims

he sees no support for it
. While his words have been a little more

conciliatory about it lately, his last official position on it was

breathtakingly toxic...when a pitcher lost a perfect game in the 9th inning to

an umpire's very blown call he expressed joy about the process, not the

blown (and totally avoidable) outcome -- he was thrilled the pitcher and his

manager were so civil.

It's one of those revelatory moments that tells you more about

humans who manage an endeavor than it tells you about the endeavor itself. It's

a management teaching moment, identifying the low-hanging fruit of consulting,

the "Survival".


"Survivals" are a concept forwarded by one of the fathers of American anthropology, Alfred Kroeber. 

A survival in this context is a behavior, a custom, a belief or another cultural artifact that has survived from a past usefulness even though it no longer has a current functional reason for being. My favorite Kroeber example of a survival was the buttons on the end of sleeves of men's suits. They don't button. The majority of suit coats'

sleeves did button before 1905. Slowly, for some functional reasons, coats evolved to not have sleeves that buttoned. But in the buyer's eye, blazers and coats without buttons "looked funny" and tailors put them on even when not needed to feed the customers' need. And because suits have non-functioning sleeve buttons when the next generation grows up, the presumption becomes tacit, invisible, usually unquestioned. 

It's not just material culture that's affected. When you sneeze in a public place with people who know you, what percentage of the time does someone say "God bless you" or "Gez-und-heit". I strongly suspect most people who say this to you don't really believe evil spirits (or

the batting stance of Craig

) will occupy your body if they don't say it (the original reason European people said this). They say it, because...that's what polite people do. Again, unquestioned, tacit behaviors that have no essential function.

Some people mistakenly think Baseball is a hot-bed of

reactionary anti-change-to-tradition ideology. 

It's not. Baseball is super-adaptive, especially since Michael

Lewis popularized in Moneyball the lessons Paul DePodesta brought to life

in the Oakland A's front office. (If you haven't read the book, the chief

DePodesta lesson is seek out the unquestioned, tacit beliefs and behaviors that

no one questions, and figure out which of those have no essential function any

more; then you can act with little competition, at least for a while, on the

alternatives that are being ignored as a result of the survival). One of the

best managers in baseball, the Texas Rangers' Ron Washington, spent his first

couple of years at the helm intentionally walking batters at a much higher rate

than any other AL skipper. It failed too often, so after

the 2008 season, he became far more selective in the application
of the

tactic, and with great success. He didn't stop doing it completely; he saw the

results (on his own or with the help of the very very savvy people in the Ranger

front office), and brought the frequency down by doing it in optimal situations

and less so in less-optimal ones.

But the resistance to using more instant replay, like the

determination to keep Interleague Play, is not just the indication of a's the indication of a Survival-ist, a level of commitment to

dysfunction that transcends habit or blazer-sleeve buttons. Commissioner Selig

actively embraces the wrongness as a faux virtue, as though it's an essential

part of the game that would be lost.

He certainly has his advocates and followers in this. The

Seattle Mariners' announcing teams seem to "feel" that getting it

wrong when one could easily have gotten it right is a great occasional event and

part of the game's charm. I recently heard XM/Sirius game broadcasts from both

L.A. and N.Y. that endorse that basic position.


So given Bobby Valentine's nature and the persistence-of-resistance to closing

the gap on wrong calls that could easily be made correct calls with the

investment of 90 seconds, giving back some of the shortening of game lengths

trimmed in the last decade, it's not surprising that Valentine is the guy taking

point on this for the field personnel (players, managers, coaches).

In mid-June his Red Sox suffered a loss as a result of missed

calls, and he went ballistic. In the light of the following day, he did not, as

would be the normal "god bless you" response, recant. In fact, he

twisted the ice pick with a little left-back English in an interview with ESPN.

Valentine was asked before Monday's game with the Miami Marlins if he had received a call from the commissioner’s office regarding his comments about the umpiring in Sunday’s loss to the Nationals. He said he hadn’t, but added, “I probably will, right? Isn’t that great when that happens? Then they fine you, take your money, reprimand you, as though I did something wrong. It’s great. It’s a great system. I love it.”

Valentine spent the next 10 minutes talking about umpiring. His basic argument: If hitters constantly swing and miss at balls they believe to be strikes, umpires can’t be expected to get

all the calls right.

"My thought on that whole thing is this: From the time now that people pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to teach their kids to play this great game of ours, the No. 1 thing they try to do is teach their pitchers to throw the ball over the plate. They teach their hitter to swing at strikes and take balls," Valentine told reporters.

"When I did the Little League World Series, I thought it was the most criminal thing I ever saw. I wanted to cry when a kid in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and his team down by one run was called out on a strike three on a pitch that was six inches outside. He couldn’t reach it with his bat. I cried for him. And that kid is scarred for life playing our game by an injustice.

"And then someone says the most ridiculous words that I ever heard: 'But we like the human factor.' It's criminal that we allow our game to scar a young person like that, and then it continues on. I think in 2012 it should not be part of the process.

Huzzah. Wrong, especially easily-avoided wrong, isn't virtue.


Of course, in our work world, especially in business and the military, we see

the Survival-ists striving to block improvement or defect repair all the time.

The two most-frequent reasons are executive insecurity (if

you change that it means we were wrong
) and rice-bowl defense (that is, the

dysfunction serves someone's power or financial interest even if it undercuts

the organization's interests.

I once led a software and hardware test facility that was

created by a publication to compete with the test facilities of another

established pub that had captured the position of "authority" in the

field, even though their test methods were limited and very flawed. I worked

with the Marketing department to build a set of tests very different from the

other pub's and which our pub had slavishly imitated.

WB, the editor who had crafted that previous attempt ,had really

tried to do his best to fulfill the assigned (flawed) mission, which was to try

to match or exceed the volume of the established competitor using the same test

plans but with one-quarter or one-third the resources. He was an extremely

accomplished Computer Science guy w/a degree from one of the elite engineering

colleges of the world & he'd never spent much time mingling with mortal

end-users. So when he crafted test plans by talking with his elite buds and

getting critique from the vendors who created the products, he got predictable

tests that delivered (mostly) predictable results.

So the Test Center staff and I tried to create something

entirely different: user-centered testing, with the plans' developed in 

collaboration with the readers, people who deployed and supported the products

in the field with real users.

And WB was unalterably opposed, even though it was not his job

any more. He campaigned relentlessly to have it overturned, and finally, when I

wouldn't budge without him telling me why he was so opposed, he said

"but if we change, that would mean we were wrong".

This is one of the primary reasons it took from the second

petroleum price shock until about 2009, roughly 30 years, for American auto

manufacturers to boost fuel efficiency, losing significant market share in the

delay. And one of the survivals of the failure, the legislated lack of universal

MPG reporting on all new auto ads, persists to this moment.

Will Valentine be cowed, or will his words free others to point

out the unforgivable failure of preventing a cheap defect repair? The

truth-tellers here usually suffer some, but in Baseball, at least, adaptive

change usually happens. ¿In your own shop, would you speak up or remain silent?

Friday, June 29, 2012

40: Meditation

Through meditation we can start to understand the process and through understanding the process we can begin to understand the principle. This is the way things happen so we begin to understand what is happening on the project.

The Tao
Chapter 40 of the Tao is very short,
Lao Tsu tells us:

Returning is the motion of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.
The ten thousand things are born of being.
Being is born of not being.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Inventors Gone Wild: Krispy Kreme Donut Burger Trumps Texas-Size Cholesterol Catharsis

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought. - Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi

The Texas Rangers are playing great baseball, as of today, projected out to an 103-win season. That's an Alaska-sized pile 'o wins, but amazingly, the meme that munching Texas types this season is The Boomstick, a  24-inch hot dog with chili, cheese and jalapeños with an underlying slab of wood to carry the frelling thing. Unlike the team's front office & manager (relentlessly intelligent, elegantly designed to do the job), the Boomstick is the Anna Nicole Smith of comestibles, replacing pointless size and encapsulated self-destuctiveness in the name of "a good time". Still, it's actually not the scariest concession chatcka of the 21st century. That title belongs to...well, read this reprise and you'll know.

   Most inventions in baseball, in natural evolution, in life, in business, are failures. And that's okay, because inventors who fear failure fear invention, and that limits their effectiveness. To zero. Great inventions tend to be bold -- an essential element shared with the greatest belly-flops.
   Baseball though, as the U.S.' most evolved and highly sophisticated innovation-processing engine, has some good illustrations of the exxxtreme innovation as the managerial equivalent of spontaneous human combustion. This week's Invention Gone Wild: the fat bomb known as the Gateway Grizzlies' "Best Ball Park Hamburger". Hawkeyed Sean McNally at Baseball Think Factory pointed to an article on ESPN describing the concession offering for the East St. Louis Frontier League team. It's a concoction that blows away the scary 30 year reign of the Baltimore Memorial Stadium incumbent Baseball Concession Lord 'o Lard.
   I am going to tell you about the Grizzlies' extraordinary kulinary kookiness, but first a little about the de-throned incumbent. Memorial Stadium proffered the truly scary comestible...deep fried "burritos" A teammate of mine, Burly Betts, used to go the games with me and then would orddr & then actually eat one. A by-product was I couldn't go to the bathroom and give him my scorecard because it would get an Exxon Valdez-autograph-model grease slick on it that would render it write-proof, immune to both pencil and any kind of pen I had access to. Deep fried burritos were not just scary, but Edgar Allan Poe-scary, and something that would not be dislodged for the Chamber of Concession Horrors for decades to come.
   But now it has been usurped by the Grizzlies' Krakatoa O' Adiposity. According to the ESPN story:
Homer Simpson would love the newest taste sensation in minor league baseball: the donut burger.
   The Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League promised to create "Baseball's Best Burger" in time for the team's opener in late May. And they appear to have succeeded. The ballpark sandwich will include a hamburger topped with sharp cheddar cheese and two slices of bacon -- all between a "bun" made of a sliced Krispy Kreme Original Glazed donut. {SNIP}

   Calorie counters predict the monster will set you back about 1,000 calories and 45 grams of fat. {SNIP} (Grizzlies general manager Tony) Funderberg, who has said he has eaten at least 10 of the Grizzlies' new creations as part of a "sampling process," said the team hopes to sell 100 to 200 of them a night at $4.50 each. He calls it a bargain, considering it is a meal and a dessert in one.
   I'm not, as Dave Barry would say, making this up. For those of strong constitution, here's a pic.
LONG PERSONAL & ETHNOGRAPHIC ASIDE: I've never "gotten" the Krispy Kreme thing. I have always loved doughnuts, but the name of that brand alone scared the hell out of me -- the idea of eating anything called Kreme, something that seems assured to use as ingredients no actual food products but was probably intended for use as something like this, seems pretty sci-fi to me. ¿Worse, who wants their cream to be Krispy? What kow delivers krispy kreme? OTOH, back when I drove a Yellow Cab in the D.C. metro area, about the only Peacemaker a group of cabbies I worked with had was the local Krispy Kreme outlet. They were from all over (Biafra, Nigeria, Palestine, New Mexico, Pakistan, to name a few points of origin) and basically worked as zero-sum competitors even if they worked for the same company. Arguments would explode over lines and fares, politics, religion, the best way to get to the corner of N. Vermont St and N. Vermont St. -- yes a real corner guaranteed to fry the skulls of the poor sots who tried to ease the stress of the job by smoking reefer -- and whether the dispatchers were on the take. But one one unifying passion was the consumption of hot, fried fat, a comfort that soothed, and expanded, the savage breast of almost all hacks. The inescapable conclusion of 20th century cultural anthropology was that healthy societies survived by gathering and distributing protein; I guess there must now be a 21st century corollary: that other-than-healthy societies thrive by gathering and distributing fried fats.
   The Gateway Grizzlies play home games a mere 3½ miles from the Midwest's most pungent olfactory landmark, East St. Louis' Monsanto plant, normally a bad thing, but I'm thinking that in this context a positive -- they make (or used to, at least) make most of the aspirin used in the U.S. in that factory, and the grease-hangover headaches demand a gargantuan supply of analgesics.

BEYOND BASEBALL:   But the Grizzlies "Best Ballpark Burger" is as innovative as it is distasteful. It's originality factor is very high. It's a risky invention in that they aren't simply adding something you'd normally add, or tweaking one of the ingredients (remove catsup, add mustard, for example). It's bold, it's's repulsive.
   In part, what makes it seem so repulsive is that it's a specific form of invention called an "intensification". Intensification is a primitive idea, an it can work. It's one of the simplest forms of invention, and it's easy to implement because it doesn't require creativity. Because of that non-requirement, it is the most common form of innovation. It just says "whatever we're doing that seems successful, let's just do more of it." So if customers think a two-blade razor shaves closer than a single blade, ¿why not three blades? And if you think your competitor will re-tool to make three-bladed shavers, preempt her by going to four blades. Automobiles' rear fins grew and got more ornate from 1957 (like this) to about 1962 (more complex like this) and even bigger through about 1964 and then stopped. Designers intensified what buyers wanted until the model failed and they were forced to invent a new look.
   This has worked both in the prepared and processed food industries over the last quarter century. Taken as a market, Americans love eating fat, and more is generally more popular. The percentage of American adult who are merely "overweight" by federal standards has been pretty consistent over the last 25 years, but every 12 years, an additional 9% of the adult population are building their bodies into a configuration defined as "obese" (that is, very overweight). If you are skeptical, take a look at this CDC chart that indicates two-thirds of American adults are overweight and three out of ten are obese.
   In general practice, intensification may make the product of invention more effective or not, but frequently consumers will feel like it did because it seems logical. If a ballpark cheeseburger satisfies because of its very high fat content, amplify the appeal point...throw on bacon (two slices please). And if the bacon cheeseburger maxes out the design possibilities for fat transmission, go straight for what ounce for ounce, is the third most potently concentrated source of fat I can think of: the glazed doughnut (a little under two ounces and roughly 12 grams of fat), not as scary as this one I ate this year.
   Inventors will go wild at times. The bolder the initiative, the greater risks they take and the greater likelihood of remarkable success they have. But when the kreme is krispy, the kuisine is kreepy and it can be either a kickstart to karmatic konsummation or a komplete klunker.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Avoiding Change Manglement, Ichiro-Style

: The act of observation changes

the object being observed

Like most normal people and baseball players, Ichiro Suzuki prefers to do
things his own way. Like almost all successful baseball players, and like many
(though not most) normal people, he is committed to his employer's success. And
it looks like there's a big change coming in both how he will do things and in
his employer's success.

It's the result of a many-year Change Management initiative that has been
barely committed to over the years, sometimes desultorily, sometimes not at all,
the luke-warmness of it created by or merely encouraged by executive ownership.
That lack of commitment eroded the commitment of the Seattle Mariners' all-time
most successful manager and ate the career of one other proven manager. That
chronic lack of commitment, though, resulted in what I call Change Manglement...the
act of changing only when the status quo has declined so severely that only a
functional idiot committed to failure
(or with
an incentive that transcends what everyone else considers "success"
would continue on the same path.

Ichiro Suzuki is a relentless seeker of excellence, and through an intense
commitment to doing things his own way (even if that meant training 50% more
than any other franchise player in the big leagues, and even if that meant
politicking to get rid of anyone who wanted him to do things differently), he
has had a long and successful career making continual small adjustments to a
basic foundation to which he's committed. 

He hasn't changed because he's been a success in his own measures of what
that means. For Suzuki, like most people, it's hard to balance a decision to
change when the contributor has been a success in their own currency, but that
currency is different from what makes the employer successful, either in its own
currency, or that of customers. Measuring the same events using different
currencies is one of the most significant blockages in getting contributors,
employers and customers to achieve Change (because if one measures
"accomplishment" using different currencies, the status quo may look
"better" than the proposed change. 

HISTORY FOR THOSE WHO WANT IT (otherwise skip down to next

In his seven years as a regular in Japan, he led the league in batting
average seven times, that is, every single season. In his first
(adjustment) year in the Majors, he won the batting title. In his 4th year of
play, as a 30 year old, he broke the all-time record for hits in a season (in
162 games, not the 154 games George Sisler had done it in) and most singles in a
season (again, in more games than Wee Willie Keeler). He has been great at what
he does, overrated in the outfield but still more than adequate there.

As a previous Mariner GM noted, it's great that Suzuki hits .340, but because his
hits are so singles-centric, and because he doesn't walk much, his batting
average alone overstates his true value as a lead-off batter. Again, when he can
hit .330 and get on base at about a .375 clip and steal 40 bases a season while
not getting caught stealing much, he's very useful, but not a super-star.


Over the previous few years, he had made small adjustments, getting just-enough
better at dealing with the inside pitches that it encouraged pitchers to work
the whole plate more he been surprisingly resistant to both radically altering
his approach and the expected ravages of age.

But last year, his approach just tanked. Look at this comparison of 2011
against his previous output as measured in percentage of plate appearances.

Suzuki 1b 2b 3b HR BB+HBP K
2001-9 25.1% 3.4% 1.1% 1.2% 6.9% 9.0%
2011 21.4% 3.1% 0.4% 0.7% 5.4% 9.6%

Every single aspect of his game, from his sky-high production of singles, to his already lightweight production of
walks, sagged markedly. It's not as though it left him one single tweak to focus
on. While he has been resistant to changing his approach (going for more power
as former manager Lou Piniella had requested, or for more walks and steals as
former manager Mike Hargrove had hoped for), this was a collapse by any measure.
And his relatively hollow .370 on-base percentage declining to 2011's .310
really made his desire to be a lead-off batter a hollow hope.


As I've written about a
few times
, Ichiro has shown an extraordinary mastery of change in his
career, adjusting to age, to changing continents, to the never-ending
adaptations of pitchers and infielders to his game. But last week, he finally
relented to the bigger changes he has been avoiding. According to this
by the usually insightful Larry Stone:

Ichiro's style change is bigger news than his
lineup change

At age 38 and moved to third in the batting order,
Ichiro plans to evolve into more of a traditional gap hitter.

PEORIA, Ariz. — A quiet Mariners camp was
riled up on Tuesday.

In his post-workout media session, Eric
Wedge matter-of-factly dropped the blockbuster news he had been hinting at
since the end of last season, with a couple of new twists. Turns out it was a

Part one: Ichiro is no longer the leadoff
hitter. Gasp.

Part two: Chone Figgins is. Whaaa?

Part three: Ichiro will hit third. Wow.

Ichiro, meanwhile, turned 38 last October,
and now he will be asked to re-invent himself. And do so in the spot in the
batting order many consider to be the most crucial — the one traditionally
reserved for the team's best hitter. That has clearly been Ichiro in the
past, but it was not Ichiro last year, when his "slap and run"
style stopped being effective.

We are already seeing signs of what for him
is a radical new approach. For one thing, in batting practice Ichiro has
unveiled a much wider, and more balanced, stance. For another, he's not
lifting his front leg, not perceptibly. His hands are lower. And, putting it
all into action, he seems much more intent on scalding line drives than the
slashing style of old.

"You can already see he's obviously
made some adjustments this winter if you watch him take BP," Wedge said.
"Ultimately, what I want him to do, I want him to make it his own. He's
as smart a baseball player as we have in there. He understands the game very
well. He understands what the responsibilities and priorities are with
someone hitting third. I'm trusting in that. What he wants to do is what's
best for the ballclub. That's what he's doing here.

"Any adjustment he's making is because
there's good reason for it in his mind. I don't think he made any changes
coming in here from a batting-stance standpoint with regards to just hitting
third. I do know one thing: He's stronger. He knew this was an option, and I
think he prepared for it."

Turns out that's exactly the case. Ichiro
said he had been preparing himself mentally all winter for the possibility of
hitting third. And he confirmed that he had also been working on changing his
hitting style.

"I've been working on that stance the
whole offseason, so that's not temporary," he said.

Asked why, he said, "To perform
better. We all make changes, adjustments to perform better. That's the only

Ichiro, to his credit, is saying all the
right things about leaving leadoff, and Wedge stated emphatically: "He's
on board. I was very clear with him, he was very clear with me. He's ready to

It is true that Ichiro actually played more
games hitting third than first during his seven years in Japan, and won a
batting title in all seven of those years. It is true that he dabbled in the
three-hole during both of Japan's World Baseball Classic title runs. And it
is true that every Mariners manager preceding Wedge — starting with Lou
Piniella — toyed with the idea of hitting Ichiro third.

It is also true that Ichiro's identity as a
major-league player outside of Japan — as a Mariner, in other words — has
been inextricably linked to being a leadoff hitter.

In fact, in spring of 2001, when Piniella
was contemplating Ichiro hitting third, Ichiro told the Seattle P-I, "I
guess you could say I have the experience in the middle of the lineup. But I
don't like it. When you look at major-league hitters, the picture of Ichiro
isn't what comes to mind when you think of No. 3 hitters. I'm not a home-run
hitter ... But if the manager says to do it, I will do it to the best of my

Piniella eventually backed off on the idea
(except for three games in 2002, during which Ichiro went 8 for 14 as the No.
3 hitter) as did all his other managers. But that was when Ichiro was
cranking out 200 hits a year and hitting .300 annually, a trend that stopped
at 184 and .272 last year.

To me, the change in Ichiro's approach is
more interesting, and potentially more impactful, than the change in the
Mariners' batting order. I think it's absolutely the right thing for him to
do, regardless of where he hits in the lineup — the best way to regain his
stature as a premier hitter.
At his
age, Ichiro is not going to get any faster, so an approach that has been so
predicated on infield hits — more than 50 a season in his prime years, and
up to a peak of 63 in 2001, when he took the league by storm — is not going
to continue to be effective.

The first reaction, of course, is to say,
"So why put a guy like that in three hole?" It's a legitimate
question. But everyone has seen what Ichiro can do in batting practice when
he swings from his heels. Drive after drive into the seats. His career
numbers hitting in the clutch are excellent (.333 batting average/.436
on-base percentage/.411 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position
in over 1,300 at-bats). And there has always been a sense that Ichiro can do
what he wants with a bat, if he puts his mind to it.

Now, it seems, he is ready and willing to
put his mind to being a more conventional hitter, one aiming for the gaps and
not the hole at shortstop.


In baseball (where's it's obvious) and beyond (where most managers just don't
get it), to create positive change, you need both to design organisational
change (reassign job responsibilities, prune technological and workflow plaque,
tweak or remake messages given internally and to customers and suppliers, to
name a few key aspects), and re-shape individuals' behaviors.

In my own management practice, the first knowledge I try to document is how
the organization defines "success" (that is, its currency or
currencies). If the organization is not already successful on its own terms, a
frequent major contributor is that either contributors don't share the same
currency or internal incentive systems don't reinforce that currency -- or
outright undermine it. For example, I was working with a publishing concern four
years ago that had as a mission delivering online the most important and
interesting informational details the readers wanted. Okay, but contributors
were evaluated primarily on how closely they hewed to deadlines and the
conformance of their grammar and punctuation to a style guide...all very
worthwhile objectives, but very different from the mission. It's not surprising
that the shop was pointlessly tense and the product a failure at its mission. No
one was particularly happy with the results, but change (outside of contributor
churn, something that would not affect the organization's success) was not on
the menu. This doesn't exactly guarantee failure (contributors may choose to
pursue the organization's mission if it's stated clearly, even if contributors
get no praise or bonus for it -- but to succeed in this environment requires a
great deal of luck or extraordinary hiring). (One of the smartest clients I've
ever worked with wrote a
how-to book
on part of the currency issue and it's a very worthwhile first
step if you need to get actionable ideas on turning a currency problem around,

So getting contributors' and the organization's currencies running at least
parallel is an important first step. When Ichiro first came to the team, they
were determined to get to the playoffs to justify the most expensive publicly-subsidized
stadium ever built, and he was the catalyst achieving that. His currency was:
being a batting average champion, being respected as a defender, notching 200
hits per season, helping the team achieve its mission.

Over time, the team mutated. As documented in Jon Wells' forthcoming book, Shipwrecked: A Peoples' History of the Seattle Mariners,
executive management committed to an overriding single mission: achieving
positive cash flow every year. While not all fans/customers share Wells'
currency (winning titles), and while most MLB customers will settle for an
adequate team that is entertaining and has entertaining, family-friendly
diversions, close to zero customers share executive management's overriding
single mission. After a few years of cash-flow success with lagging on-field
performance, contributors, especially hyper-competitive ones like professional
baseball players, tend to lose some sharpness. Not Suzuki: he just pursued his
own currencies more doggedly, and because the team's fortunes were so lukewarm
and winning titles became more apparently a back-burner objective, the front
office and field management had less incentive to go toe-to-toe with the
outfielder to get him to do what they wanted even if it wasn't exactly what he wasn't close to making a difference between winning a World Series
and having a mediocre record, so ¿why sweat it?

The Seattle Mariners team approaching the 2012 season is a different animal,
though. The front office has apparently got executive management to consider a
long-term plan for extended winning records, giving playing time to young
players and hot prospects who, if they succeed, become very cost-effective,
success-hungry contributors. 

It's a strategy that tends to produce interesting but losing teams in the
present with a chance to contend in the future. Given that strategy, Ichiro's
pre-eminent currencies are worth less to the team. Instead of "setting the
table", he needs to "set the tone" of a team ethic. When the
young players see even the self-centered star is willing to make major changes
to help the team succeed, they are likely to pattern their own behavior after
that trajectory, one that helps organizations succeed.

It helps, of course, that Suzuki had an historically awful season last year
and that, competitive dude he is, that allows him to relax his jaws a little bit
and release the radial long enough to give the field manager's Change initiative
a try.

But a key part of this Change initiative is getting the contributors to buy
in. It's not enough to have a clear stated mission, and to rework incentives. To
achieve organisational change, the team has to get the individuals that make up
the systems to change, too. Change is organisational, but change in personal,
too, and without both, the odds of success are close to zero.

The M's new experiment will be fun to watch through its predictable downs and
ups. And if you have enough courage and persistence to try this in your own
organization (through reassigning job responsibilities, pruning technological and workflow plaque,
tuning your incentive systems -- both explicit and tacit, tweaking or remaking messages given internally and to customers and suppliers, to
name a few key aspects) you have a potent tool for revolutionizing your

Baseball does this all the time. ¿Will you?