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Water Cooler

Information and insight about your career and the workplace at large
June 2006

News and Views

Is Web 2.0 the latest fad, old ideas in new packaging, or a real change in thinking? The ongoing transition of the World Wide Web known as Web 2.0—that is, the Web being viewed as a full-fledged computing platform rather than as a collection of Web sites, as providing services rather than software, and as facilitating two- rather than one-way communication—was identified at a conference in October 2004. To date, even experts disagree on exactly what Web 2.0 means, but many think it's an innovation that business and IT executives need to take very seriously. More

For ideas on how to develop ingenious solutions to ordinary problems, check out the book Why Not?: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small. Authors Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres claim that the key to ingenuity in the workplace is for middle management to stop killing ideas and to start adopting technology that lets people get their ideas heard throughout the organization. Here's the authors' innovation for auto insurance: selling car insurance as an add-on to the price of gasoline. In this system, the more you drive, the more insurance you pay. The system would build in incentives for using more gas-efficient cars and, says at least one economist, if the per-mile fee reflected the incremental risk, driving would be cut back by about 7%, saving insurance costs of more than $8 billion per year. Why Not? Idea Exchange

Many managers think that their job is over once they select a candidate to hire. They neglect to take advantage of the probationary period—at most federal agencies a yearlong probationary period for new hires is "a mere formality." According to a report by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), "Probationers should be notified, before accepting a job offer, that they will be probationers and what that means." Bottom line? New employees who want to keep their jobs should find ways to excel. More

Toolbox

Where can you find a "100% reliable and shockproof crap detector" for knowing which management advice to follow and which to ignore? Robert Sutton, co-author with Jeff Pferrer of Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management, wishes he knew, but says life is just too messy and uncertain. However, he and his coauthor do suggest five guidelines for deciding "which advice to ignore, [and which to] study more closely, and perhaps implement on a trial basis":

    1. Treat old ideas as if they are old ideas.
    2. Be suspicious of breakthrough ideas and studies.
    3. Ask, "What are the incentives for the people who are selling you the idea?"
    4. Beware "monkey see, monkey do" management methods.
    5. Think: Does it seem too obvious?
Read the entire manifesto

Blog Entry

On the job and feeling like Job-- Check it out!


Coming Up

Workshops and Book Signings

40 Plus, July 17. Contact: Peggy Christoff

UD Alumni Networking Night, September 20, 2006, details to come. Contact: Shannon Haley