Archive for November 30, 2011

No More Dump ‘n’ Chase!

Dump ‘n’ Chase: An offensive strategy in ice hockey in which a team shoots (or “dumps”) the puck into the attacking zone and aggressively pursues it in hopes of retrieving possession and setting up a scoring chance. Most effective for teams with enough speed and size to force opposing defensemen off the puck. The strategy is often disparaged by broadcasters as lacking in creativity or entertainment value.

Another thought from my doctoral essay analyzing Daniel Bell’s The Coming of the Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting has to do with how Bell’s grand ideas can be applied at the level of business development and transformation.

Bell’s example teaches us that when dealing with today’s highly complex, highly integrated business and economic issues, we may need to think in terms of ontologies rather than strict categories or taxonomies. I see the grand idea of his book as this—our economy has shifted away from manufacturing (analogous to the mechanical, Newtonian, Euclidean) toward a knowledge economy (ontological, quantum, non-Euclidean) and that we must understand how this shift affects and informs society, business, and ways of thinking.

In his book, Bell shies away from offering a new grand plan for how to operate or think in the knowledge economy. His paradigm shift is actually an invitation to consider new perspectives and to “think outside the box” as the business cliché goes!

An analogy from ice hockey, a sport I have played and coached. There are two prominent team approaches in this sport—systems/tactics and concepts. Those who cannot think in the abstract or lack inherent talent must play using systems/tactics, and the most notorious and artless of these is “dump ‘n’ chase.”

Beyond this tactic, there are complex playbooks that lay out plays to be memorized by a team. During a memorized play, each player is equally important to the team’s success as a whole, and if one player forgets his/her role (“Oh, I was supposed mark THAT player?!”), the model fails and it’s 0-1!

However, teams that play using the concept approach allow the natural ability and communication of the players to set the tone. Skills are still important but they are inherent to these advanced players. There can be components and inconsistencies, but this team is more likely to win because an opposing team that plays by systems/tactics can’t adjust and defend again the unpredictable nature of concepts.

(A colleague tells me there’s a similar analogy for soccer fans. Think “kick ‘n’ rush” tactical soccer found in Europe’s lower divisions versus the “total football” conceptual approach favored by the “soccer is an art form” teams such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Arsenal.)

My point is that those who play by systems alone—whether a hockey or soccer team or a business—will never grow beyond a certain level. Those who use structure as a means to organize but at the same time apply concepts to see the bigger, complex picture use a winning combination for today’s technological environment.

Like Ringing the Bell!

Working on an essay for my doctorate at University of Maryland University College analyzing Daniel Bell’s The Coming of the Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting.

Love him or hate him, you have to admit, he was a visionary! Here’s what I say about his theory of the shift from manufacturing to technology/knowledge-based economy as applied to the printing industry.

Visit http://www.quartiermarketing.com for all this put into practice with one of Nine-A’s clients!

Jobs continue to shift away from agriculture and manufacturing toward service/knowledge industries such as government, finance, and healthcare. As technology has improved, we have seen efficiency and productivity improvements reduce or even replace manufacturing and other businesses.

For instance, online marketing has diminished the printing business significantly. As we are able to move process and products to online venues, the printing industry benefits and suffers simultaneously. Printers can use online systems to gain efficiency, yet digital marketing has reduced client printing budgets.

In order to remain competitive, companies can no longer rely on a rigid structure. With the commoditization of technology, we must now look for ways to expand business models. The print shop must now become an advisor to its clients and sell holistic business solutions such as fulfillment, warehousing, and marketing.

The staffing model has seen a significant change from the manufacturing floor to the front office. Technology has created machines that need fewer people to produce more goods. Therefore, printing companies are replacing blue-collar staff with sales, production, and marketing staff. All this, in an industry I am familiar with, is a perfect illustration of a corresponding shift in the labor force. Bell notes that this change will occur at different rates across sectors.