How the right frame can make statistics dangerous

Look left for the right frame in Hong Kong traffic

Look left for the right frame in Hong Kong traffic

Today I read two articles in which statistics played a key part. And what I read in them as well, is that framing the way the statistics are presented has a fundamental effect on the message. Now, this is nothing new. But with the ever proliferating free news sites, and the ease with which a journalist, or a random person, can become an authority these days, I think that what these two articles really meant to me today, was the need for the ability to think for yourself.
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Weekend reads – week 21


Bad isn’t good anymore
Last week, a 7-year old interview with the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch was taking center stage in one of those internet firestorms. You’ve probably read all about it, and if not, that’s okay, too. Justice Mitchell saw in this particular firestorm another sign of something that the web is proving again and again: bad press has become bad press.
Tags: #business, #marketing, #cool

Waiting on… what exactly?
How long would you wait for service, before you switch to another provider? Well, apparently, that depends on several factors, as Ana Canhoto describes in this post reviewing research on frustration and waiting by the FHOM research group of the Universitat Rovira I Virgili.
Tags: #research, #customer-service, #waiting, #service

Do you know they make disruption?
The maker movement has evolved from the wonderful amateurism of hobbyists in garden sheds and grandmother knitting socks, to disrupting the markets of huge, global conglomerates. You want something? Why not make it. Jermiah Owyang shares his insights, and gives advice on how to embrace the makers.
Tags: #marketing, #maker-movement, #3Dprinting, #disruption

Finally: convergence
With Amazon providing ‘drop-boxes’, and Wallmart and other retailers providing online ordering, the virtual and brick-and-mortar worlds seem to finally be converging. And it’s about time. I think we consumers just want technology to enable us to save time where we don’t want to spend too much of it.
Tags: #retail, #consumers

Size matters for Deutsche Post

Warning sign: not enough stamps

Warning sign: not enough stamps

Sometimes I still send what some now know as snail mail. You know, a piece of paper with lettering on it, printed or hand written, folded to fit in an envelop, and on that envelop an address. Or maybe two: one to where the letter should be sent, and one to send it back to in case it’s not deliverable, or some other problem raises its head.

In the places I’ve lived in, the postage, or the fee you pay to have your piece of mail delivered, depends largely on the weigth of the package. As long as it fits in the standard mail box, that is. So, sending a one-page, A4 size letter would cost the same whether you take an envelop for which you have to fold the letter twice, in three, just once or not at all. Apparently not so in Germany.

Today we received a letter. To be more precise: we received a letter we had sent the day before yesterday. On it featured a bright yellow sticker, explaining that due to the size of the envelop, we had not put enough postage on it. We were short 2 Euro and 70 cents. I had put a 75 cent stamp on the letter, because I thought that was the amount due for letters weighing not more than 20 grammes, which one sheet of A4 size paper in an envelop usually does. And that is indeed the required postage, if the envelop is not bigger than an A4 folded in half twice (you get roughly A6 size) or folded in three (I guess that’s B6 or C6, in any case: the official maximum dimensions of an envelop for this rate are 23,5 cm x 12,5 cm). If the envelop has the size of an A4 folded in half (A5), then you have to pay 3,45 EURO. Yes, that’s right. Simply using another size of cover, will mean you have to pay more than four-and-a-half times as much!

To be fair to Deutsche Post, the postage is explained quite precisely on their website. Still, I find it hard to understand why sending the same letter in a different size envelop can be so much more costly. I’m a fan of price differentiation as a marketing tool, but this difference seems too random to be justified. I really would like to know what’s behind it. So if you have any thoughts on that, or an inside view…

In any case, it’s a good thing to know for when you find yourself needing to send something via post in Germany.

Weekend reads – week 20

Changing relationships: are you prepared?
In this “dear brands” letter, Jermiah Owyang tells his favorite brands that the relationship he has with them has profoundly changed. And if you want to keep doing business in the future, you better read this closely, because it’s not just mr Owyang who feels this way.
Tags: #business, #innovations, #newBiz

Sleep to change the world
Getting enough sleep is important in keeping on the top of your game. Not sleeping enough, has a similar effect on your performance as drinking a lot of alcohol. So, if you want to change the world, be sure to get enough sleep, says this HBR post. Also interesting, is the identification of influencers in this article. Especially for marketeers that are looking for the right influencers to influence.
Tags: #business, #sleep, #success, #marketing

How fair will you play
Two examples of Fair Play popped up in my social media channels this week. The first one was from women’s football in France, where the ladies of Olympique Lyonnais won a match in a penalty shoot-out. It appeared that their opponents had scored in regular time, but the goal was not acknowledged by the referees. After no other goals were scored, the match eventually went to a penalty shoot-out. The ladies from Lyon feel they did not deserve the win in this way, and offered a replay.
The other example is actually from December, but it popped up in my FB stream. A Spanish runner showed a wonderful example of fair play and honesty by not taking advantage of a mistake from the Kenyan runner in front of him.
Next time you can cheat, think about these examples. Are you really winning when you steal victory?
Tags: #sports, #FairPlay, #honesty, #winning

Weekend reads – 11/12 May

What’s your advice?
My friend Ana Canhoto sent a message to her students, with a very valuable piece of advice in it. It was not directly related to the topic she teaches, more an advice about life. Not only does she show how good teachers care about their students, but the post on her blog also illustrates that a great educational institution goes beyond just transferring knowledge: it also should have a system to support students in their transition to adulthood and working life. And to get the best results possible. So, here is Ana’s advice, what’s yours?
Tags: #education, #life, #advice

The last step to make aid work
Why won’t Babu move? Well, because we know what’s good for her, but don’t know (and don’t invest in) what really moves her. In this open blog post, the World Bank illustrates a key success factor for international development.

Do you know your characters?
In this lovely, informative video, Ben Barret-Forrest explains the history of type. Now that we are able to create our own, or simply pick a font from a big list, I think it’s valuable to know how it all evolved out of hand writing.

Humanizing immigration
There’s a debate going on in the US about immigration. To come to a proper law on immigration, the Senate has hearings, in which experts give testimony. One of the experts invited is VC Jeff Bussgang. He published his planned testimony on his blog, and I think it’s worth reading, because it gives another view on immigration than the view we often hear these days, especially in Europe. Not all immigrants are the profiteers they are made out to be by prominent politicians.
Tags: #politics, #immigration, #innovation, #entrepreneurship

The Start-up Vibe of Central and Eastern Europe
Do you still think Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) are former communist states from which the populations can’t wait to get their hands on benefit money in Western Europe? Think again. Places like Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius and Sophia are now the vibrant tech start-up scenes that many European countries would like to see. In this post on Sparksheet, we see how several Silicon Valleys are sprouting in the CEE.
Tags: #innovation, #entrepreneurship, #Baltics

Eating from the garden: rhubarb-sage compote

New stalks are already sprouting on our rhubarb plant

New stalks are already sprouting on our rhubarb plant

Having a garden is a lot of work: mowing the grass, trimming the trees, taking out the parasitic weeds that want to ruin everything. But, it’s also a great joy. What I always thought of, when thinking of living in a house with a garden, was to have at least some edible things growing in it. So, when we made our trip to one of those garden centers recently, we bought several herbs to plant. And some strawberries. The herbs I can use already, the strawberries we have to wait a bit for. Fortunately, there were already some plants growing in the garden, that are meant for consumption. One is a sage bush, that was placed in a not very nice looking pot sort of thing, and I replanted in a small sunny patch of the garden, right next to the rhubarb. Now, we used to have rhubarb in the garden when I grew up, and my mother used to make all sorts of things with it. I just never liked the taste of it. Still, after replanting the sage (and smelling the scents of it), I felt I could try to make something that combined the sage with the rhubarb. There were quite a few stalks growing from the red thing already, and the smell of the few branches of the sage bush that broke off during replanting somehow made me think this could be a great match.

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