ignore it completely. The chances of anyone caring one bit about this are extremely small. The chances of this blowing up in an employer’s face by taking action are much greater.
And I like his recommendation too, Jeff the author:
I would ask the employee to delete the post. No matter what the intent, others could take it the wrong way. A good employees who meant no harm will immediately say, “Oh, wow, I didn’t think of that. I’ll take it down.” If the employee really is unhappy with the company, that gives us the chance to discuss what’s wrong and hopefully make a bad situation better.
That doesn’t sound bad either. Actually, I like Jeff’s suggestion better; but that’s just me. Who knows?
I think it’s an interesting problem. Social media is publishing, and publishing is freedom, and employment doesn’t — or isn’t supposed to — limit freedom. And even before social media, did I as an employers get to monitor what people wrote in, say, letters to the editor published in the local newspaper? No. On the other hand, did I have to continue paying somebody who publicly and openly insults me or my company? Probably not, but that gets into some interesting legal issues, and I’m not a lawyer.
No ambiguity with this one: the site is named darkpatterns.org…
a pattern library with the specific goal of naming and shaming deceptive user interfaces (aka “dark patterns”) and the companies that use them.
… and author Harry Brignull, in his List Apart post Dark Patterns: Deception vs. Honesty in UI Design, calls them “evil web designers. You can see the list in the illustration here: bait and switch, forced continuity, road block, all of them tried-and-false techniques to deceive users. He writes:
perhaps you’ve never thought about it before but all of the guidelines, principles, and methods that ethical designers use to design usable websites can be easily subverted to benefit business owners at the expense of users. It’s actually quite simple to take our understanding of human psychology and flip it over to the dark side.
“But it tests well,” he points out, as a good reason to use deceptive techniques.
Dark patterns tend to perform very well in A/B and multivariate tests simply because a design that tricks users into doing something is likely to achieve more conversions than one that allows users to make an informed decision.
Just reading the categories on the wiki-like dark patterns site, you recognize most of these techniques. Hidden costs, misdirection, forced continuity … we’re all exposed to most of them most of the time. Call them dark patterns, write about evil web designers, and your position on the ethics are pretty clear. It works for me.
I still believe that business ethics win over the long term. Good business practices keep customers loyal and tricks get caught often enough to impact business.
And we all say that, right? Are you doing it, in your business?
Mark makes his point about the dangers of overfunding a startup with too much outside investment. He says:
Over funding often produces bad behavior in early-stage companies. You hire people too fast, you over build your products, you try to force market adoption and you do PR blitzes before your product is really ready for prime time. And having too much money certainly raises board expectations that you will do big things quickly. No board is going to give you $25 million up front and then expect your year-one staff expenditures to be $2 million.
And that’s great; well said. But I think the underlying problem applies to a lot of other areas in a business. Having three developers doesn’t mean the software project will be done three times faster. A lot of things take time, and time doesn’t divide into meaningful units like bricks.
As I clicked I was guessing my answer: My guess was that the micromanager would be that person you know who is chronically frustrated with people asking him or her questions all the time instead of just doing things. His or her lament would be: Why don’t they take any initiative? Why does everybody ask me every little detail?
Micromanaging isn’t just what you do; it’s the natural result of what you did: you gave (or pretended to give, because you didn’t really give it) a job to somebody, then you second-guessed their decisions and complained about results. It’s cause and effect. Ask somebody to do something and then complain that they did it wrong, and they’ll never make a decision again.
That’s not exactly what that post said, but it was close enough. And that left me thinking about what might be much more important: how to stop being a micromanager. Here’s my prescription, learned the hard way, in three steps:
Give a person a whole job, not just pieces. Discuss the possibilities and uncertainties related to the job. Agree on expected results, the range of possibilities, and how to measure results.
Close your eyes trust them. You didn’t want to do it, you wanted it done, so let it go. If you didn’t trust them then you shouldn’t have asked them.
If you don’t like the results, you have two choices: never again delegate to that person or support them with the understanding that they had to make tough choices on the fly and you still trust them even though you don’t like these results. Make it clear that you know you might have had the same results too. Remind yourself that there was uncertainty from the outset. Don’t second-guess their decisions or they will never make another decision without asking you.
From what I’ve seen, micromanagers unwittingly create their own problem by making people ask them every detail. If you’re my boss and you don’t like what I decided, then I’m not going to make a decision again; I’m going to ask you. I’m going to ask you in excruciating detail. And it’s not my fault, it’s yours.
For the record, Liz’ post took a different angle, but I think it’s another view of the same problem:
You can usually spot a micromanager a mile away – the individual who wants to be a good leader but goes about in the wrong manner. While trying to better their workers, athletes, students, loved ones etc. they end up creating an issue that was not there in the first place.
The micromanager in many instances becomes just that because they want to make sure everything goes according to plan, their plan.
This is the complete unedited text of an email I received last week. It’s just the latest one. I get a lot of them.
I was wondering if you took paid guest posts on your site? Not a traditional “guest post” but one you’d be compensated for and have complete editorial control over.
I’m part of a business that does high-end brand placements worked into guest posts on a variety of subjects. The posts don’t advocate or review our clients, they are informational and/or newsy. We include a reference link to our clients amongst other topical links inside the content. We’d provide the article, written by a domain expert, and money for you to review and post it upon your approval.
(If you don’t take guest posts, we also have arrangements where we discuss your upcoming post and find one in which a link makes sense and pay you to include it.)
Is that something that you would be interested in?
I always say no. Do you?
Back in the dinosaur days (1970-71), when I studied Journalism in grad school, they taught ethics in journalism. There was a code of conduct. And It’s still around, if you’re interested. Here’s a quote from the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics:
—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.
I say all non-advertising writing, not just all journalism, should follow that code of ethics. Not just blogs, but all of social media too. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+: if you get paid to endorse something, say so, or you’re sleazy. Social media is also publishing. And this is just simple right and wrong.
Besides which, if sell yourself like that, then you have no credibility.
It’s been thoroughly bastardized. (mompreneur, solopreneur, and intrapreneur, etc.)
It’s begging for a lawsuit. (from Entrepreneur Magazine)
The first four are enough for me. I’m ignoring that fifth point because I write for Entrepreneur.com and Entrepreneur Press published my last two books. I like the people there.
So we need a new name for entrepreneur.
Robert suggested venturist on Monday. I commented that it wasn’t catchy enough. Then he suggested venturer in his next post, yesterday, called Kicking Off the Antipreneur Movement. He adds:
I would argue for a term that’s as broad and inclusive as possible. Language adoption relies on usage, and you don’t gain users by excluding people. The best term is one that encompasses all the different varieties of those we currently call ‘entrepreneurs’ — founders and buyers, tinkerers and turnaround artists, profit seekers and social visionaries.
With all those criteria in mind, I wonder if ‘venturer’ might be the term we’re looking for.
And that’s why I like empresario. It’s Spanish, from empresa, which means company. And we’re all getting very familiar with lots of Spanish words that become common in American English. And empresario is easy and fun to say, easy to spell, and, in my opinion, kind of cool.
But it won’t work unless everybody does it. Robert suggested we start using the hashtag #venturer on Twitter instead of #entrepreneur. I think #empresario is even better. What do you think?
I remember a cartoon I saw in 1999. The woman says she’s really looking forward to the new millennium. The man answers “You should; you’re a woman.” Fast forward to Jessica Bennett and Jessie Ellison with Women Will Rule the World on Newsweek.com. This is a very well researched and well written think piece, well worth reading. And it makes a lot of sense.
Ami Groth tracked statistics on the age of startup founders in People Over 35 Have Recently Launched 80% of the Startups on Business Insider. Being an old guy, I can’t resist quoting this one, at least this paragraph:
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, people over the age of 35 made up 80 percent of the total entrepreneurship activity in 2009. That same year, the Kauffman Foundation conducted a survey of 549 startups operating in “high-growth” industries — including aerospace, defense, health care, and computer and electronics — and found that people over 55 are nearly twice as likely to launch startups in these industries.
Alex Rampell posted an excellent analysis of the guts of new marketing in The Power of Pull on TechCrunch.
Also, some calendar items:
I’m going to be live with with Dr. Amy Vanderbilt at 11 AM PDT today on Trend POV at trendpov.com/content.
I’ve discovered Plancast.com, which lets me post my interview and speaking dates online at plancast.com/timberry. I hope you can join me. I’ll be putting a widget on my sidebar … plancast.com, are you listening? Widgets, maybe?. If you go to that site you can follow me to be able to see my schedule; actually, I think you can see it on that URL whether you follow me or not.
Finally, if you’re an SBDC person and you’re going to the annual conference in San Diego, please join me for a training and certification of my free-for-teachers online curriculum. That’s Sept. 6, the Tuesday before the opening, as part of the “pre-conference.” Please click here for more information on that.
I need your help: Can you suggest a way to give a theme and a title to a series of Friday posts listing good posts and recommended links I’ve seen from the last week? My title here is too dull. I’m not nearly good enough at titles.
I don’t want to do this every Friday, but this is the fifth time since April 1, so I’m thinking maybe I should make it a repeated theme, with a cool title. Except I don’t have the title.
My absolute favorite this week is Megan Berry’s post on Mashable called 7 Tips for Better Twitter Chats. It’s a very good short piece on the step-by-step details of doing a twitter chat. Megan’s marketing manager at Klout (and yes, one of my daughters).
Shashi Bellamkonda of Network Solutions, alias the swami of social media, posted 6 Ways to Improve Your Online Content on the Amex OPEN Forum. Shashi knows. He practices what he preaches.
The SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) has an excellent short piece explaining why you need a business plan on SBA.gov. It’s not a blog post published this week, but SBA.gov tweeted it this week, which caught my attention.
The TED blog posted The 20 most-watched TED Talks (so far). How can you resist this best-of-the-best list from the amazing collection at TED.Com. Trivia question answer: TED stands for technology, education, and design.
The eloquent bar chart here speaks long and loud about changing the marketing mix. It shows where marketers report their business lead come from. Look at it and tell me what it says about the businesses that aren’t at all online:
I picked this chart out of literally dozens of great charts related to marketing, media, advertising and such offered for free in Hubspot’s Marketing Data Box. I realize I frequently criticize survey results and the conclusions people draw, but I love a whole lot of data condensed into a good-looking chart (like this one) so much that I don’t even want to drill down into the methodologies and poke holes in the conclusions.
What I draw from this chart goes back to the absolute fundamentals with the concept of the marketing mix, with emphasis on the word mix. I don’t think every business should run from everything on the right of this chart over to everything on the left. I think it’s a mix because you’re sending messages to different people using different media, hoping to optimize results from a given unit of resources. I do think you have to take a fresh look at regular intervals, so you change your business plan to keep pace with changes in the business landscape.
This has been bugging me for a long time now: It turns out that the phrase “business plan” is a homonym, exactly as in these examples from yourdictionary.com:
Just like the different meanings for crane and date, there are at least two completely different meanings for the two-word phrase “business plan:”
Business plan: what’s supposed to happen in a business. This normally includes priorities, strategy, assumptions, milestones, responsibilities, sales forecast, expense budget, and cash flow.
Business plan: a document used to summarize a business to serve as part of the process of seeking investors or applying for a commercial loan.
Why does this matter? Because I see both of these two distinct meanings coming up in business conversation all the time, constantly confusing people. For example, when successful entrepreneurs tell pollsters they didn’t have a business plan when they started, they’re using definition #2 here. When smart business advisors play down the use of the business plan, they are also talking about that second definition, not the first.
I’ve been starting to distinguish the two meanings in my own work by writing about “business planning” for business plan definition #1, and “business plan document” for business plan definition #2.
That first-definition business plan is about optimizing management. It includes regular plan vs. actual review, course corrections, and managing rapid change. It doesn’t assume that there’s virtue in sticking to a plan for no other reason. It lives on your computer. The slide deck, the pitch, and the document are output of that plan. It’s Plan-As-You-Go business planning.
The second-definition business plan is something like sales collateral; it’s business goal is communicating a deal to investors, or supporting a loan application. It’s important to a subset of businesses that are seeking investment or commercial loans. I see a lot of those in my work as a member of an angel investment group and a frequent judge at business plan contests.
These are very different things, these two definitions of business plan. They are homonyms. And that confuses business discussions about business plans and business planning. Do you agree?