Friday, September 26, 2014

Angry Times

So many angry events in the last week.  I got into business to work together with other people to solve problems, make money, and have fun doing it.  Why is everyone so angry / depressed / aggressively posturing?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Best German Words you'll learn today

Fingerspitzengef├╝hl: a German term, literally meaning "finger tips feeling" and meaning intuitive flair or instinct, which has been appropriated by the English language as a loanword. In German, it describes a great situational awareness, and the ability to respond most appropriately and tactfully. It can be applied well to diplomats, bearers of bad news, or to describe a superior ability to respond to an escalated situation.

Auftragstaktik:  In mission-type tactics, the military commander gives subordinate leaders a clearly defined goal (the mission), the forces needed to accomplish that goal and a time frame within which the goal must be reached. The subordinate leaders then implement the order independently. The subordinate leader is given, to a large extent, the planning initiative and a freedom in execution which allows a high-degree of flexibility at the Operational and Tactical levels of command. Mission-type Orders free the higher leadership from tactical details.  For the success of the mission-type tactics it is especially important that the subordinate leaders understand the intent of the orders and are given proper guidance and that they are trained so they can act independently. The success of the doctrine rests upon the recipient of orders understanding the intent of the issuer and acting to achieve the goal even if their actions violate other guidance or orders they have received. Clearly, taking the risks of violating other previously expressed limitations as a routine step to achieving a mission is a behaviour most easily sustained in a particular type of innovative culture. That culture is today often associated with elite units and not a whole army.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Healthcare.gov Success Metrics - Net Promoter Score

Ignoring the signup/website experience, I'm curious about the customer satisfaction and actual value from the core product.  Interestingly I've seen zero data (though plenty of anecdotes) to support either direction.

I'd like to run a separate survey targeting just people who have signed up.  I'd just ask 4 questions:

1) Did you have health insurance prior to getting insurance via healthcare.gov? [Yes/No]

2) If so, how are your health insurance premiums compared to your prior plans?
[significantly less / somewhat less / about the same / somewhat higher / significantly higher]

3) How much is the subsidy / year that you are receiving via healthcar.e.gov?
[none / $0-1K / $1K-2K/ $2-5K / >$5K]

4) How likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to your friends and colleagues?
[0-10]

Since the government won't do anything like this for months (if at all), I wonder if there's an outside way to run this survey?  Hmm...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Obamacare Design Objective - Force those with insurance onto the exchange

"I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage — they like their plan and, most importantly, they value their relationship with their doctor. They trust you. And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what." - President Obama, June 15, 2009
Politicians stretch the truth all the time. That's what they're here for.  No surprise.  but this statement wasn't a stretch of the truth -  this statement is diametrically opposed to a core design objective of the ACA.

The individual market health care exchanges are set up to, in part, enable the  the (non-medicaid) poor, sick, and uninsured to get affordable insurance.  But for this risk pool to work, you need a bunch of people who can pay insurance and aren't that sick.  Namely, the 10-15M people who are paying for individual plans today.

If those 10-15M people don't join,
 - the pool is left with high cost participants, which
 - leads to higher premiums for the pool, which
 - furthers the exchange price disadvantage relative to the existing plans, which
 - further dis-incents those people to leave existing plans and join the exchange.

Thus, you have to have those people move from their current plans to the exchange (and before the death spiral above starts), or the whole edifice falls apart.

Forcing people out of their existing individual insurance plans wasn't a surprising, unintended consequence - it is a core design objective of the success of the ACA.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Classic Consulting Quotes

What must change is our attitude to futurity – I am committed to the idea that the firm must emerge stronger --break--, not merely surviving, but thriving. I am also committed to the idea that the firm must achieve its rightful place in the world. To do this we will have to make wise choices in the difficult months ahead, but choices I am convinced we will make, in the right direction – towards longitudinal sustenance against the vision of a genuinely enduring institution.


--break--

At recent meetings throughout the partnership and firm, I have spoken to many of you about the notion of longitudinal sustenance – the idea that we must stay with our essential purpose, particularly during hard times, in order to become a truly enduring institution and one that has the quality, integrity and indeed, scale, to genuinely be counted at the top of the profession.  This note seeks to lay out these ideas to all of you, so we may decisively confront the next year’s challenges, but also be firm of purpose in seizing our destiny. 

As a firm, we have an overall vision and set of aspirations that include the following key elements:

  • Our aim, first and foremost, is to be a high quality, values driven institution at the top of the profession
  • Our purpose is to serve the senior agenda of the world’s leading institutions
  • We are a universal, global consulting firm, implying that in principle we serve the range of issues on the senior agenda across all industries in most geographies
  • Our core doctrine is that of –break--  
  • To achieve this ambition, a key competitive advantage is our structure as a cohesive, global private partnership

This vision has implications for how we manage and grow the business over the medium and longer term, and how we confront challenges over the course of the next fiscal year given the economic downturn.  We must maintain or grow the business in a substantive way and sustain or build momentum around investments across multiple years, and make the appropriate tradeoffs.

As we structure our plan for –break--, we are ensuring this principle of longitudinal sustenance governs our thinking.   Our intent is to:

  • Protect and hold together senior talent, so that the core revenue engine of the firm is sustained through the downturn
  • Retain and develop key talent at all levels of our business while in parallel recognizing the need to manage staff capacity appropriately, with an eye towards ensuring we have the right capabilities and resources to rebound when growth returns, including looking for creative ways to variabilize staff costs to allow us to carry more individuals, but fewer FTEs  (e.g., enhancing our leave of absence programs)
  • Hold reserves for investments in –break--, so that firm strategic priorities -- break-- can be funded
  • Ensure we protect the core – our talent, our key client relationships and our fundamental intellectual capital agenda

Supporting this ambitious agenda requires that we make hard choices between near term compensation and funding longer term institution building initiatives that will propel future earnings.  However, I am confident in our business and the returns these strategic investments will provide.

Near term, we are likely to see continued contraction in the consulting market.  In the face of such conditions we must manage the business and our cost base in a prudent fashion.  To this end, management is implementing a set of actions across the board to address the firm’s controllable costs.  Enhancements to our sabbatical, leave of absence and secondment programs will provide staff with new options and create greater flexibility in how we deploy.  Where possible, we will redeploy client-facing staff to meet demands in growing markets, and where appropriate and in geographies where it is necessary, we will re-shape our capacity to meet market demand. 

In parallel, the regional leadership teams have announced new policies for controlling discretionary spend.  We will significantly reduce or eliminate expenditures on meetings and internal travel, including –break--.  In addition, we must make explicit cost/service trade-offs on necessary versus discretionary support provided to the business – for example, making offices the primary venue for training. 

While these steps are not without consequences, the benefits provided by taking such actions now allow us to maintain the critical mass and shape of the business that will position the firm for growth and to come out of the downturn stronger.  Each of you has a responsibility, as well, to make the right choices in managing discretionary spending and promoting a general mentality of austerity for the firm.

At the same time, we are increasing discipline in our processes that drive top line revenue.  It is now more important than ever that we stand by our clients, supporting them in formulating their agendas in the face of challenges created by current economic conditions.   We have launched a focused campaign effort on --break-- which has resulted in --break--.  This effort is generating real traction in the market and creating new opportunities, while at the same time building capabilities in our marketing and sales processes to do this on a repeatable basis.   Further, I have asked --break-- to take strong form ownership of our biggest commercial opportunities, and review the selling teams for –break-- to ensure we are leveraging firmwide capabilities to maximize our potential for success.  On the back end, we are working with --break-- to meet receivables performance targets.  Our commitment to the foresight agenda will ensure the relevance our message to our clients, differentiate us in the marketplace and help drive commercial success.

In all likelihood, the coming year will be extraordinarily challenging for our clients, and by implication, for us.  Nevertheless, we have seen through challenging times before and have come through a historic challenge in –break--.  What must change is our attitude to futurity – I am committed to the idea that the firm must emerge stronger --break--, not merely surviving, but thriving.  I am also committed to the idea that the firm must achieve its rightful place in the world.  To do this we will have to make wise choices in the difficult months ahead, but choices I am convinced we will make, in the right direction – towards longitudinal sustenance against the vision of a genuinely enduring institution.


--break--

Friday, October 11, 2013

Classic Consulting Quotes

"Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat fish for life. Teach a man to sell, and he'll eat steak." - Managing Director, Consulting Firm

Friday, September 27, 2013

My notes from conversational interview:

Situation: Graduating senior interested in management consulting, but from regular state school majoring in history and economics, and doesn't know where to start. None of the major consulting firms recruit at her school, and she didn't know where to start.

Objective: How do I get into a management consulting job?

My advice:

  • First, categorize the possible target firms.
    1. The Majors/boutiques (Mck/bain/bcg/etc, including other boutiques)
    2. The Giants (Accenture, Deloitte, PWC, Cap, etc)
    3. The Locals (regional firms who don't show up on any national list)
  • Second, define the approach for each and weight
    1. Majors
      • If you don't have an "side door" via your network, you probably don't have a chance. 
      • Don't waste your time submitting your resume online.  It won't go anywhere
    2. The giants
      • Do they have an on-campus recruiting motion?  Find out.  Use it and find out if they are recruiting for the MC/strategy practice (vs. BPO/transformation/staff aug work).  Hit it hard.
      • Check your alumni and linkedin networks for someone who works there.  Reach out.  Create a "side door."
      • Don't waste your time submitting your resume online
    • The Locals
      • Sleuth them out.  Web search is easiest.
      • Find someone who works there.  Reach out, and ask for a casual informational chat over coffee.
  • Third, nail the approach execution
    • Creating a "side door".  
      • Find these people via your network.  If you're not connected, reach out via an email. Explain that you're considering applying with the firm and want to learn more about it. Ask for a casual phone or coffee conversation.
      • It's not an interview but it is.  Like a first date, you might want to sleep with the person but you can't come out and say it.
        • Conversationally introduce yourself and explain why a) consulting is what you are going to do after graduating, and b) why you think this firm might be the right place.
        • Ask probing questions (if you can't think of any, just look them up on the internet) about the company and that person's experiences.  Ask follow up questions.  Just saying "wow that's really cool" is boring.
      • Finish with the ask.
        • Ask for their help or advice for the next step to keep it moving forward.
        • "This place sounds great!  Any suggestions on how I can stand out in the interview process, or who else in the firm I should talk to?"  
        • You are looking for them to say a) yes, talk to this person, b) I'll pass your resume to the recruiting team.
      • Follow up PROMPTLY.  
    • Nail the interview
      • Practice the hell out of the case interview.  Spend 5 minutes a day doing 3-digit multiplication and long division problems.  Write answer to the top 50 behavioral interview questions.  Say them out loud.  Get your answers to them crisp, punchy, and in in under 60 seconds.
      • Say your answer to these questions, out loud, 50 times in your room, until you love the answer:
        • Why do you want to work here? (60 seconds, 2-3 main takeaways to remmber
        • Why should we hire you? (60 second, 2-3 main takeaways)
        • Walk me through your resume (where your walk through should make clear the first 2)  (120 seconds, 3-5 main takeaways)
        • What to show in the interview.
          • Demonstrate intellectual competence, critical thinking, and ability to put a structure to an undefined problem.  
          • Show enthusiasm.  If  you're not enthusiastic, fake it until you get the offer
          • Be articulate and succinct in everything.  We hate ramblers who don't get to the point.
        • What they don't care about: domain expertise.  You are a college senior - you know nothing.  What we need from you in someone who can learn.
    • What will set you apart
      • Being prepared.  It's an easy ding when we see 80% of the people ramble through their resume or stumble through the case - thinking that they are so smart, they can wing it.  
      • Own being the underdog.  A harvard kid gets an easier pass.  You need to show them that you are perfect for this job and with your answers that show massive prep, you are hungry and dedicated for it.
      • Hustling.  Work the "side door" entrance respectfully but hard.  If someone doesn't respond to an email, follow up one week later.  If they don't respond again, try someone else.  Keep hustling.
      • Sell yourself.  You may be an engineer, historian, or poet.  Who cares.  You are not a pretty snowflake who I will recognize for its sheer potential the moment you walk in the room.  I've got one hour with you and 10 other candidates coming.  SELL ME ON YOU.

    Thursday, September 26, 2013

    How to get into Managment Consulting from Undergrad

    My notes from conversational interview:

    Situation: Graduating senior interested in management consulting, but from regular state school majoring in history and economics, and doesn't know where to start. None of the major consulting firms recruit at her school, and she didn't know where to start.

    Objective: How do I get into a management consulting job?

    My advice:

    • First, categorize the possible target firms.
      1. The Majors/boutiques (Mck/bain/bcg/etc, including other boutiques)
      2. The Giants (Accenture, Deloitte, PWC, Cap, etc)
      3. The Locals (regional firms who don't show up on any national list)
    • Second, define the approach for each and weight
      1. Majors
        • If you don't have an "side door" via your network, you probably don't have a chance. 
        • Don't waste your time submitting your resume online.  It won't go anywhere
      2. The giants
        • Do they have an on-campus recruiting motion?  Find out.  Use it and find out if they are recruiting for the MC/strategy practice (vs. BPO/transformation/staff aug work).  Hit it hard.
        • Check your alumni and linkedin networks for someone who works there.  Reach out.  Create a "side door."
        • Don't waste your time submitting your resume online
      • The Locals
        • Sleuth them out.  Web search is easiest.
        • Find someone who works there.  Reach out, and ask for a casual informational chat over coffee.
    • Third, nail the approach execution
      • Creating a "side door".  
        • Find these people via your network.  If you're not connected, reach out via an email. Explain that you're considering applying with the firm and want to learn more about it. Ask for a casual phone or coffee conversation.
        • It's not an interview but it is.  Like a first date, you might want to sleep with the person but you can't come out and say it.
          • Conversationally introduce yourself and explain why a) consulting is what you are going to do after graduating, and b) why you think this firm might be the right place.
          • Ask probing questions (if you can't think of any, just look them up on the internet) about the company and that person's experiences.  Ask follow up questions.  Just saying "wow that's really cool" is boring.
        • Finish with the ask.
          • Ask for their help or advice for the next step to keep it moving forward.
          • "This place sounds great!  Any suggestions on how I can stand out in the interview process, or who else in the firm I should talk to?"  
          • You are looking for them to say a) yes, talk to this person, b) I'll pass your resume to the recruiting team.
        • Follow up PROMPTLY.  
      • Nail the interview
        • Practice the hell out of the case interview.  Spend 5 minutes a day doing 3-digit multiplication and long division problems.  Write answer to the top 50 behavioral interview questions.  Say them out loud.  Get your answers to them crisp, punchy, and in in under 60 seconds.
        • Say your answer to these questions, out loud, 50 times in your room, until you love the answer:
          • Why do you want to work here? (60 seconds, 2-3 main takeaways to remmber
          • Why should we hire you? (60 second, 2-3 main takeaways)
          • Walk me through your resume (where your walk through should make clear the first 2)  (120 seconds, 3-5 main takeaways)
        • What to show in the interview.
          • Demonstrate intellectual competence, critical thinking, and ability to put a structure to an undefined problem.  
          • Show enthusiasm.  If  you're not enthusiastic, fake it until you get the offer
          • Be articulate and succinct in everything.  We hate ramblers who don't get to the point.
          • Be cool.  don't show OCD tendencies.  Remember, it's kinda like the first date where you're trying to get the girl in bed.
        • What they don't care about: domain expertise.  You are a college senior - you know nothing.  What we need from you in someone who can learn.
    • What will set you apart
      • Being prepared.  It's an easy ding when we see 80% of the people ramble through their resume or stumble through the case - thinking that they are so smart, they can wing it.  
      • Own being the underdog.  A harvard kid gets an easier pass.  You need to show them that you are perfect for this job
      • Hustling.  Work the "side door" entrance respectfully but hard.  If someone doesn't respond to an email, follow up one week later.  If they don't respond again, try someone else.  Keep hustling.
      • Sell yourself.  You may be an engineer, historian, or poet.  Who cares.  You are not a pretty snowflake who I will recognize for its sheer potential the moment you walk in the room.  I've got one hour with you and 10 other candidates coming.  SELL ME ON YOU.

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    Ozymandias

    My works won't be worn away by the sands of time, with faint echoes of greatness that the sleuth can uncover, ponder, and imagine. They'll be buried under a billion bits of information worker detrius - the daily shedding of dead data inside the corporate organism.

    Having fun along the way can never be taken away and is binarily different from a daily loathing; meanwhile, while the analog gap between making an impact and just pushing the paper fades to zero as time progresses.

    What lasts longer; that at one point my works had an impact, but have since disappeared, or that I enjoyed the ride?

    Who said TV couldn't teach you anything?

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    Technology/Device Social Crutch

    I recently attended a 2-day offsite with mid-level executives at a large client of ours. The evenings were general social events of dinner, drinks, and non-work discussion. I was so surprised to observe how often people talked about their devices or technology as a topic of discussion, referenced their devices in the midst of discussion to look something up, or dropped out of a discussion entirely to read off their devices.

    In a rare night away from spouses and kids, in an intimate and friendly environment with interesting people, lubricated by drinks - we couldn't make it 5 minutes without the devices crutch being leaned upon.

    Friday, September 26, 2014

    Friday, November 22, 2013

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    Monday, November 4, 2013

    Friday, October 11, 2013

    Friday, September 27, 2013

    Thursday, September 26, 2013

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    Monday, March 4, 2013