HBR Research result: Three rules for making a company truly great

Mai 31st, 2013 Ralf Scharnetzki

Find the Harvard Business Review article here http://hbr.org/2013/04/three-rules-for-making-a-company-truly-great/

Authors: Michael E. Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed


  • Rule1: Better before Cheaper
  • Rule2: Revenue Before Cost
  • “Companies don´t become great by reducing costs”
  • “Exceptional companies accept higher costs as the price of excellence”

Don´t believe it? Read the article.

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The shortcomings of a Like button versus Death

Juli 25th, 2011 Ralf Scharnetzki

Update: 31.05.2013 Like Button for the article below has been reset to 0

Nothing has improved in the last two years, Facebook – the McDonalds of Social- is making it even worse.

Social networks have yet to find a respect-full way of addressing and supporting more aspects of human life.


Source: http://www.geekwire.com/2011/google-engineer-steve-lacey-victim-car-wreck-kirkland

Find more details of this tragedy here: http://www.king5.com/home/Road-rage-suspected-in-fatal-Kirkland-crash-126093229.html

Worth reading: Robert Scobles thoughts about Steve “The geek’s geek”

With deepest sympathy, our thoughts are with Steve`s wife and family.

Posted in Issues explained, Thematic Web Archives | No Comments »

Too many Apps : Distraction caused by switching between multiple applications, windows and tabs

Mai 22nd, 2011 Ralf Scharnetzki

Context switching between multiple applications, windows and tabs creates distraction.


Source: Researchers from uSamp  conducted for harmon.ie an online survey of IT users working in U.S. and global companies

Survey Demographics:
uSamp fielded the survey on digital distraction March 11-29, 2011 to 515 IT users. Respondents work in US and global businesses of all sizes, in the sales, marketing, human resources, or legal departments, and they are at least 20 years old. Margin of error is +/- 4.38 %.

The results of the survey are available here: http://harmon.ie/Downloads/DistractionSurveyResults#

Posted in AcrossApps | No Comments »

PageRank, EdgeRank, PeopleRank : secret algorithms lead your attention

Januar 22nd, 2011 Ralf Scharnetzki

“Attention is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. Attention has also been referred to as the allocation of processing resources.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention

PageRank is part of Google`s software that decides what will be shown as a result to your search. http://www.google.com/corporate/tech.html

EdgeRank is a name used for Facebooks algorithm that decides what will be shown on your news feed after you login.

Quora , a new and currently hot question and answer site still has to finish the development for its PeopleRank software to rank user and content on its site.

Obviously algorithms are needed  because they provide the automation to filter and prioritize the massive amount of information on the web  and in the proprietary databases of those companies.

But all those algorithms share one aspect: the details of how they work are kept secret.

There are several arguments for that, but one specifically is important: People/web site owner/content providers would know otherwise precisely what to do  to get high values for their content from those ranking algorithms. The higher you content is ranked the more likely it is that people will see it, click on it and access your content and that is the precondition to get recognized, be important, make money etc. This is a strong incentive “to cheat” on ranking algorithms and if they are kept secret it seems to be more difficult to do so.

Video from searchengineland.com : Google Ex-CEO Eric Schmid about Google secret ranking

The fundamental drawback is that there is no transparency at all about why some pieces of content appear on a first page of Google, Facebook etc  and others not. Google and Facebook are companies to make money. Currently only Google is under investigation if their ranking methods prefer Googles own content.


Googles most recent response says:

One misconception that we’ve seen in the last few weeks is the idea that Google doesn’t take as strong action on spammy content in our index if those sites are serving Google ads. To be crystal clear:

  • Google absolutely takes action on sites that violate our quality guidelines regardless of whether they have ads powered by Google;
  • Displaying Google ads does not help a site’s rankings in Google; and
  • Buying Google ads does not increase a site’s rankings in Google’s search results.

These principles have always applied, but it’s important to affirm they still hold true.
Source: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/google-search-and-search-engine-spam.html

Closing comments:

We agree with the “The Google Algorithm” article of  ”The New York Times”, but its tone seems to be a little to soft (and in our view it is not only about Google):

“With these caveats in mind, if Google is to continue to be the main map to the information highway, it concerns us all that it leads us fairly to where we want to go.”

As long there is enough competition one could argue that the ranking alorithm as the secret sauce of success of a start up (example: Quora) not necessarily needs to be publicly available (and should not).

But the situation is different if a company is getting a dominant global player. Let us repeat so that we are clear about what is at stake:

Attention is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things.”

If a company is close to  have a  global monopoly for essential attention leading information access (like today Google for search, Facebook for social network news today and maybe soon for search too) it seems reasonable to ask:

How long to can we accept that the attention of hundred of million people world wide on a daily basis is driven  by some secret algorithms that are owned by a hand-full of companies?

And how fit attention leading global monopolys -powered by secret algorithms- together with the concepts of freedom and democracy in the information age?


There is not yet a ranking algorithm known that would continue to work efficiently (and could not be cheated)  if it would be publicly explained and documented.
In the past we had in another field of information processing a similar challenge to solve: in cryptography (great overview also here).

Today we have crypto-algorithms that are openly documented. One excellent example: CrypTool is a free, open-source e-learning application, used worldwide in the implementation and analysis of cryptographic algorithms.

This enables that those algorithms are permanently reviewed and because of that they are considered to be me more secure.

Sure that we can not achieve something similar for ranking?


1st February 2011: Today’s news is that Microsoft is secretly using  Google´s ranking as an input for its ranking algorithm of its own search engine Bing. Google sees that as Microsoft is cheating: Google: Bing Is Cheating, Copying Our Search Results. In case of you can not believe this please find Microsoft´s official response here.

Posted in Issues explained | 5 Comments »

Getting your online Wishlist is on the Wishlist of every Marketer

November 29th, 2010 Ralf Scharnetzki

Christmas is coming; everyone has wishes. Some companies wish to get your data.

Amazon : Universal Wishlist – enter items even from other websites (across websites) and win a price


Steam : Win games from your wishlist, assign priority by simple drag and drop (but how do you remove an item from the wishlist ?)


Google : Shopping list, currently nothing to win here


We tweeted it before : Your value is in your data.

Posted in AcrossApps, Interesting Links | 1 Comment »

Guy Kawasaki : self referential, great communicator

November 23rd, 2010 Ralf Scharnetzki

27.11.2010 Added URL´s to the tweets and retweets

Recently on Twitter: http://twitter.com/GuyKawasaki/status/6930856211910656#

This tweet generated 59 retweets with Kawasakis name mentioned according to Google (27.11.2011)


Kawasaki links in his tweet to this shortened URL http://om.ly/BCXuq, its long URL is:


In that article we can read:

MK: Who is the best communicator the public would be aware of and why do you consider this person a great communicator?

Karen Friedman: Bill Clinton, Ronald Regan, Oprah Winfrey, Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs, Guy Kawasaki for reasons stated above.


Posted in Interesting Links | No Comments »

OneNote grouping objects : poor workaround for an essential missing feature

November 23rd, 2010 Ralf Scharnetzki

27.11.2011 Added workaround “Grouping objects in one image”

Microsoft OneNote is a great application to gather information across other apps.
Its also great because often it does things different and better than other Microsoft apps (example: no saving required).
But unlike PowerPoint it has no functionality to group objects.

That is a missing feature that makes things sometimes hard.

Two workarounds can help in some cases:

1) Grouping objects with tables

  • Insert a table and put objects into the table. This way the table is becoming a “group of objects”.


2) Grouping  objects as one image

  • Select all objects that belong to group with the Lasso (or whatever else)

  • Right click and copy the selected objects

  • Important: Paste as “Picture” as shown in the screenshot below. Onenote will create out of all copied objects one image.

Closing comment

Those workarounds are no great? If you have a better solution let us know.  Or let the product manager of OneNote know that you would like to get a proper solution in the next release of OneNote 2012! Others did before you.

Posted in AcrossApps, Good Ideas, Issues explained, Recommended Products | 6 Comments »

Meta criticism of information aggregation and filtering services: the danger of losing control about our decisions

November 6th, 2010 Ralf Scharnetzki

Metacritic is a very valuable service that aggregates reviews into a “Metascore” for entertainment products like games. For “Supreme Commander 2″ Metascore is calculating a user score of “6.1″.


Included in this is the score of “4″ from user “Breck”.


The issue: “Breck” is not rating “Supreme Commander 2″ with a “4″,  his comments are making very clear that he is rating a “final fantasy” game. How has this wrong “4″ now changed the calculation of the user score of “6.1″?

This is very likely just another simple case of a data quality issue that can be easily fixed and should not at all to be understood as criticism of Metacritic as a service (especially taking into account that user and review ratings by nature are highly subjective).

But there are generic questions behind this case that lead us to a meta criticism of information aggregation and filtering services.

How often do we rely on information services that filter/aggregate and search for us information and we do not know:

  • what sources this service is using (and what sources not)?
  • what algorithms for filtering, sorting and aggregation this service is applying?
  • what quality control mechanisms are executed on a regular basis for that services?

The type of information that is made accessible to us has an influence on our decisions and somehow on our thinking. As long as  logic and data is packaged together in a black box we are in danger of giving up bit by bit  autonomy about our decisions and our thinking. How can we avoid that?

Recommendations going forward:

  • Decide about what information services we are using based on their transparency about the data and the logic they are using
  • Do not rely on a single service for information filtering even if itself is an information services that is aggregating information from many sources (like in our case here you could additionally look at GameRankings or other similar services; you are probably interested in this discussion “Metacritic or Gamerankings?” on GameSpot forums)
Posted in Issues explained | No Comments »

Finally a native Mac App Store : when will Windows get one too?

Oktober 20th, 2010 Ralf Scharnetzki

We asked a while ago for it, now we will get it first on Apples Mac OSX: an AppStore for the Desktop OS.

Read all about todays announcement on Engadget: Live from Apples Back to Mac event

The better user experience of the application life-cycle is becoming a competitive platform advantage

The better user experience of the application life-cycle is becoming a competitive platform advantage

When will Microsoft follow with one AppStore for Windows?
Or maybe Microsoft should buy Steam and get by that also an AppStore on the Mac at the same time?

Posted in Good Ideas | 2 Comments »

Will my computer run this game ? Great overview of laptop graphics card performance

August 17th, 2010 Ralf Scharnetzki

A question asked again and again: Will may laptop run this game ? At least for Windows games you can find  a great overview of laptop  graphics card (currently NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M SLI and ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 Crossfire are at the top of the list) gaming performance at notebookcheck.net.


Source: notebookcheck.net

Posted in Interesting Links | 2 Comments »
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