Category Archives: chicago

CONTROLLED DESIGN MANAGEMENT – Part 1

By Moises J Goldman & John Jonelis

Today’s business culture is more strongly creative and entrepreneurial than at any time in history, posing new organizational opportunities and challenges.  That calls for a new way to think about and implement design management.  Using the language of the digital age, this article introduces a new perspective, applying a radically different technique to the management of the creative process, and then demonstrates an intuitive working model that functions in any modern organization.  This is the first installment of a four-part article. 

Current Management Models

Management models have undergone disruptive changes over the years.  The early 1980s was a time when Japanese productivity achieved the highest level anywhere in the world. At that time, productivity had fallen in the USA, and many felt that America could and should learn from Japan.  There was a real call to break from the Traditional Model of product management.

Curiously, the Japanese renaissance was, in large part, the product of an American—the pioneer W. Edwards Deming.  He espoused high product quality coupled with a humane approach to managing people.  He laid out a complex set of principles to realize those ideals.  Deming built his approach on different assumptions than the Traditional Model.  I had the pleasure of working at a company founded on his principles.  This was rare in the USA, but the Japanese implemented his theories with fervor.  Much can be said about the details, but when you boil it down to its simplest terms, Japanese success was actually based on three broad factors:

  • A focus on a strong corporate structure
  • Long-range staff development
  • Consensus decision-making

These factors led to lower turnover, higher job commitment, and higher productivity.  This initiative was then adapted for use in the USA by William Ouchi and became known as Theory Z.1   For a time, Eli Lilly, Rockwell International, General Motors, Westinghouse and many other large corporations embraced this new dogma.

But this new paradigm clashed with the ideas of western management and the expectations of an American workforce.  Theory Z didn’t gain lasting traction in America, where the Traditional Model continued to dominate.  Why the cultural clash? It has to do with the way we think—more particularly, the way in which we picture or imagine a process.  Figure 1 lays out the Traditional Model of product management in graphical form:

Figure 1 – Traditional Product Management Model

The Traditional Model can be expressed as a high-level sequence and it is, quite simply, one specific mode of thought.  To its credit, it does an excellent job of defining a product life cycle.  Everything is placed neatly in a row.  There is a defined beginning and end.  But the weakness of this model slows many organizations that use it and it does nothing to improve or optimize a process.  The inherent top-down mode of thought is a limiting factor, and is also limiting to the models that grew out of it or rose up in reaction to it.

New Paradigms

Nowhere was the contrast with Japan greater than in automobile manufacture.  Japan, long known for its cheap, low-quality vehicles and other junk, began to crank out the best-made cars, electronics, and other products in the world.  Meanwhile, Detroit remained mired in the concept of planned obsolescence.  Consumers took notice and they voted with their wallets.

Then Toyota rolled out Just-in-Time Manufacturing (JIT) as a way of reducing the cost of inventory.  Among other changes, JIT heightened the awareness of design management itself.  Eventually America had to adjust if it was to compete with the Japanese, and the resulting chaos changed the way we do business today.  Companies began to adopt JIT, and increasingly moved toward a new ideal—the Hollow Corporation—also known as the Virtual Business.6

At its extreme, the Hollow Corporation is an organization stripped of almost every function.  Brand means everything and the company makes nothing.  Everything is measured in money, and profit is the only goal.  A simple example of a hollow corporation is an American clothing designer taking on a European-sounding name and making designer clothing in China for sale to the world.  As this trend grew, companies outsourced more and more functions.  This intensified the importance of brand marketing and marketing for globalization.  While this was going on, America was busy transforming itself into a service economy.

Globalization Matures

But industry discovered that it was not only possible but also cheaper to manufacture products overseas and ship them back to US shores.  Whole industries moved their factories offshore—especially to China.  The entire textile industry left.  Tool and dye left.  Electronics manufacture left.  With time, others followed, including crucial smokestack industries such as steel.

The next logical step was to offshore project management and product development.  Creative and physical design had always been a key competitive advantage in the USA.  Its business world smugly expected it to remain so.  But due to the ability to collaborate across the internet, actual design began to take place at multiple locations across the globe, with products for sale to the world—and with great success.

These trends were not without intriguing and sometimes counterintuitive aspects.  Businesses made adjustments.

  • Many US electric generation utilities sold off their physical power plants in search of greater profits as distribution networks.
  • Fluctuation in the currency market led Japanese automobile manufacturers set up production facilities in the USA, closer to the end consumer and using American workers—and still, American manufacturers struggled to compete with them.
  • US automobile manufacturers and other industries abandoned the policy of planned obsolescence and over time learned the new culture of quality.
  • South Korea began to design and manufacture high-quality goods—from pianos to automobiles to mobile phones.
  • China began outsourcing to the Vietnam and other third world countries in search of even cheaper labor.

Lean

In the early 2000s, after the internet bubble burst, it became abundantly clear that the US needed a new competitive edge.  A product management philosophy took hold, called Lean—Lean Development, Lean Manufacturing, Lean Planning, Lean Sigma, Lean Start-up. 2  Lean is a management philosophy that considers any part of the enterprise, which does not directly add value to the final objective, as superfluous—be it product development, customer service, or for that matter, the entire enterprise.  It examines all processes and eliminates the ones that do not add value to the end objective.   Lean is an attempted departure from the traditional way of doing business.  It found favor in the US and, to one extent or another, became a dominant model.

The next article will compare and assess Lean in light of previous models.  Then we will introduce an entirely new way to manage creative enterprises.

GO TO PART 2 – LEAN

Download full paper (PDF)

.References

  1. Deming, W. Edwards (1964) [1943].  Statistical Adjustment of Data. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64685-8. LCCN 64-24416. (1966) [1950].  Some Theory of Sampling. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64684-X. LCCN 66-30538.
  2. William Ouchi: “Theory Z” How American Business can meet the Japanese Challenge. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1981
  3. Lean was originated by Eiji Toyoda and Taichi Ohno of Toyota Motors. Ohno, Taiichi (1988), Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, Productivity Press, ISBN 0-915299-14-3
  4. C. F., L. S. Shieh, Joint Automatic Control Conference, Michigan, p 454
  5. Shieh, L.S. and Goldman, M. J., 1974 I.E.E.E. Trans. Circuit Syst., 21, 341
  6. The Hollow Corporation, Anita Campbell, Small Business TRENDS (2012) https://smallbiztrends.com/2004/04/hollow-corporation.html

Graphics

Flow-charts by Moises Goldman and John Jonelis.

Graphics from MS Office.

About the Authors

Dr. Moises J Goldman holds an MSEE and a PhD in Engineering Systems from UCLA, specializing in large-scale systems, process optimization, and product innovation. MBA from MIT Sloan, specializing in strategic planning and business development.  His focus is on periods of challenge and change, including startup, growth and restructuring.  Goldman served as CEO, COO, and CTO in diverse industries and developed business across the USA, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Brazil, working with small firms as well as branded giants such as Lockheed, Rockwell, ATT, America Movil, GM, Ford, Scotia Bank, and HSBC. Sits on several boards where entrepreneurship and innovation are the primary goals.  Consults to merging companies during the integration phase as well as startups, helping them become going concerns. Member of several advisory boards at MIT.  Founding member of the TALENT program at IMSA.  Dr. Goldman can be reached at Moises.Goldman@outlook.com

John Jonelis patented seven products and developed dozens more in the field of air pollution control.  Created the Revelation suite of trading algorithms.  Private equity investor.  Artist.  Writer, and publisher of Chicago Venture Magazine and News From Heartland—the Journal of the Heartland Angels.  Author of the novel, The Gamemaker’s Father.  Illinois Wesleyan BFA, 1974.  Kellogg MBA 1989.

Copyright © 2019 Moises Goldman & John Jonelis. All rights reserved. Quotation with attribution is permitted for educational purposes.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..
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TAKE YOUR FOOT OFF THE BAG

John Jonelis

I’ve asked it before, “The way you conduct business—is it meaningful to those left behind?”  Is it? 

I’m here at the Levy Entrepreneurship Group, talking with some of the most brilliant business minds in Chicago.  This group’s been meeting for over 60 years.  It’s the genius of Joe Levy, the prolific entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist—the son of a south Michigan Ave car dealer.  Joe was an endless entrepreneur—constantly learning, constantly experimenting—the quintessential gentleman who gave everybody an at-bat—who spoke quietly but directly and told the truth as he saw it.  He pushed people off the bag“You’re lousy at this.  What are you good at?  Contribute.  Help somebody.”  People found inspiration and hope.  Never a disparaging word about Joe.  “If you don’t have a satisfied customer, you’re compromising your future.”  He was the original automobile mega dealer, angel investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.  “God put me on this earth to produce, not to consume.”  Joe Levy is dead at 92.

 

Joe Levy by Anne Elisabeth Hogh

Now I’m sitting with his group—face to face with his family.  We hope to make them understand why we all loved our Saturday morning meetings—why Joe loved them.  The moderator opens the meeting:  “Welcome to the special clubhouse we’re in.  This is a magical place.”  Then we each take turns telling stories to the family:

The Levy Group by Joel Berman

Entrepreneurship Stories

  • Joe told me, “Take your foot off the bag.” It was a constant voice in my head.  Every time I thought, “Should I start this business that I really don’t know much about?” I’d hear that phrase, “Take your foot off the bag.” Sometimes I might take it off a little bit too much.  But I would never be able to start what I’ve done multiple times without that voice in my head and without the support I’ve had from the group.

Take your foot off the bag

  • Joe and I were at the Bryn Mawr Country Club having lunch. Outside the window was this pond with two swans and during the meal, he made a point of the swans, saying, “Aren’t those swans beautiful?”  I said yeah.  Then he did it a second time.  And a third time.  After the meal, we took a walk right up to that pond.  And he said it a fourth time, “Aren’t those swans beautiful?”  I’m like, “Yeah Joe, they are, but what’s your point?”  He said, “Those swans are rental swans.  They’re a business.  I know this guy.  He rents them to all these country clubs.  It’s a beautiful business.”  So the guy puts them out in the spring and he picks them up in the fall and he takes them somewhere to feed them all winter and breed, and then he brings them back again.  It’s got no competition.  Who even would know it exists?  But his point was not only that it was a great business—it’s that it was a simple business in a niche.
  • When Joe found out that I was running my business from my home, he said, “No, you can’t do that.” He said the building next door was empty. He had bought it to store the Levy Center furniture, so we moved in.  That was a big help for us.  A year later, he sat me down.  He said, “Now buy the building.”  The timing was right, so we did.
  • This is the honorary Joe Levy tie. They named a street after him in Evanston where the dealership was.  Following the street dedication, we got ties, and no better day to wear it than today.

The Joe Levy Way Tie – Photo by Rachel Kaberon

  • I recall when they named the street after him. As usual, everybody gave elevator pitches at the start of the meeting.  When it was time for Joe’s introduction, he said, “I’m Joe Levy and now I’m a street.”
  • Twenty years ago Joe wrote a play about internet funerals called Cyber Mourning. It was at the Northlight playhouse in Skokie.
  • When I first met Joe, he asked me what I wanted from him. I knew he had so much to offer a guy like me—a poor immigrant from Greece.  Knowing that people always ask Joe for investment, I thought about his question for a second or so and responded, “Your friendship.”  What I received in return was much more than I could have imagined or hoped for.  He became a friend and a mentor—a man who could address any business issue, and some personal ones as well.  The other thing that we talked about was Joe’s faith—both of our faiths.
  • Not only did Joe teach us the art of being a gentleman—which is very, very hard to do—but he also taught us that entrepreneurship is endless. We took Joe’s words of wisdom, and put them in a placard.”

Plaque presented to the family – Photo by Rachel Kaberon

 The Levy Group

  • The group to me was a way to get working on Saturday without working on Saturday—to get my mind working as an entrepreneur.
  • I remember just 20 years ago coming to the Levy Group and feeling like it was a continuing business education. I call each Saturday a class.  In those classes we talked about business but I also learned about life, loving, giving, and family, and sometimes even death.
  • The ultimate benefit of this group was becoming a ‘Friend of Joe.’ That meant you were part of a group that spanned many a decade and you became aware of the wisdom that came from the experiences shared through the years.
  • I’m having lunch with Joe one day and make a comment to him. And he looks back at me and says, “Do you have a twin brother?”  So I say, “No Joe. Why do you think I have a twin brother?”  He looks at me and says, “Because no one person could be that f’n stupid.”  I use that line all the time today.

Joe in his Flintmobile – Joe Levy Collection

Joe’s Automobiles

  • One Saturday, he brought me into the garage to see his Flintmobile. A full size Flintmobile!
  • He was first at multi-dealerships. Back when Joe was in car dealership, he had eighteen.  People have one, maybe two.  He was the first one to have many.  At one time, he owned 18 dealerships.
  • Car dealerships wouldn’t give a woman the time of day, even if she was with her husband. If she wasn’t with her husband, they took total advantage of her.  Not Joe.  Joe was courteous at all times, and he built an incredible business.  He became the largest Buick dealer in the world.
  • Joe hired a clown for the dealership to entertain the kids. The clown also spied on the spouse.  What she wanted was crucial to the deal.
  • When Buick sold a model called the Wildcat, Joe made sure the Northwestern coaches all drove them.

Joe Levy – Photo by Nathan Mandell

Life

  • One day Joe heard on the radio that they were going to auction off a rare stamp in New York. He gets on a plane, goes to New York, buys the stamp, and before he gets on the plane to come back home, he called Carol and said, “Hey, I’m gonna be late for dinner.”
  • The first thing that will come to my mind when I’m at the racetrack or around horses is Joe Levy. He used to take us there as kids.  He gave us each an envelope with Win, Place, and Show for every single horse.  That was one of Joe’s ways of making sure everybody was a winner.
  • At my daughter’s wedding, my father-in-law took a scissors and snipped away Joe’s tie. Joe thought a moment, then went over and he cut my father-in-law’s tie off.  It was like a Laurel and Hardy thing.  So there they were, the whole evening, with these ties that looked sort of like bow ties without the bows.
  • We had a horse race in the parking lot that included questions about Joe that only the regular group could answer. We had them on silks—sewn numbers on the horses.
  • He gave me an appreciation that family was not just flesh and blood, and giving was not all about money. Time and caring in helping others were way more important in your life, in your learning.
  • Most of the people in cognitive behavior haven’t caught on yet. And all these theorists—they just haven’t caught on to how important kindness and helping and giving are to being able to be an entrepreneur.
  • And if I look back at Joe, what I think about is what he left behind, and that is teaching people how to be good human beings.
  • My dad loved this group. This group was his favorite thing, I think.  All week he looked forward to it—and just so proud of where everybody had come from and gone to.  So, I just—I don’t know what to say—this is just so moving.  So thanks, everybody.

So I ask you, “The way Joe conducted business—is it meaningful to those left behind?” 

 

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2019 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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CAN’T KEEP A SECRET

written by John Bueter, 

comments by John Jonelis

Wow!  Who can resist this?  Take a look-see at this invitation from John Bueter, famous fly fishing personality. 

I’ve printed the letter below along with recent local photos so you can see what’s going on over there.  This is the perfect getaway for a Chicago entrepreneur! Check it out:

The ONE, The ORIGINAL, The ONLY 

SALMON CAMP ‘18

A Tradition for 28 Years!

September 28-30

Well, kids, it’s THAT time of year again!  The excitement of the season is overwhelming, as the River comes alive with HUGE fish. Our target species is the mighty King Salmon in the wild and scenic Pere Marquette River.  This area is FLY RODS ONLY.  No spinning gear.  No snagging.  No treble hooks welded to spark plugs.

Last season’s fish weighed in heavier than normal.  This year they’re even LARGER, with documented catches off shore of 40+ pounds!  Bring your big guns, Kids!  We’ll be hosting festivities again at the Bueter Compound.

The 24 hour Campfire tradition continues, providing the backdrop for the usual hijinks, exchange of regional information (mostly lies), recounting of the day’s adventures (again, mostly lies), and permanent cementing of friendships.  Campers are encouraged to use the showers to control the fly, bear, and buzzard problems.

The spirit of mentorism and camaraderie will flourish once again.  Proven fly patterns, proven knots and rigging—all demonstrated.  Maybe some new stuff, too.  Be sure to bring your tying gear—you’ve got things to offer and learn!

We’ve manned the barbeque pit. All the usual suspects will again prepare a super-duper-up-north dinner Saturday night, and a breakfast that will revive the near-dead.

There’s always room for newbies—no matter your level of experience.  Remember the founding concept of Salmon Camp: “This is too much fun to keep to ourselves!”

Lookin’ Forward to fishin’ with y’all !!!

Your Master of Salmon Mayhem,

John Bueter

Is that a compelling invitation or what?  Wanna go?  Well, yeah!  I get to chase 40 lb salmon with a fly rod? Who wouldn’t want a thrill like that?  Let’s go early! 

I particularly like the legal jargon on their “catch and release” form:

“…Illegal substances, firearms, and spinning tackle are not welcome in Camp…Camp “crashers” will be found, drawn and quartered, and their hides nailed to the fence so as to discourage others.  This Camp will go on rain or shine—NO WHINERS.  We encourage good stewardship of our resources, and will not tolerate scofflaws.”

Never fly fished before?  Neither did the gal who caught a 40 lb Chinook last year.  Didn’t stop her.  Oops—guess I just can’t keep a secret. 

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Here’s the place:

  • Bueter’s Salmon Camp 3200 South James Road, north of Baldwin, MI 49304
  • RSVP John or Rhonda Bueter via phone, ‘e’mail, or snail mail, so we don’t run outa bbq sauce & eggs.  Office 231-745-3070, Cell  248-345-1402,  j.bueter@sbcglobal.net , Website www.cloud9baldwin.com
  • Cost for Salmon Camp ’18:   $135

Hey, that’s a bargain!

Pack this stuff:

  • Michigan all-species fishing license
  • Big Dog Fly rod (8-9-10 wt) a spare is not unwise
  • Quality Reel with super-smooth drag
  • Sink-Tip Flyline
  • 12 pound tippet, or higher
  • Lots and Lots of flies (Note: max size #4 single point hook)
  • Waders, Boots, Wading Staff
  • Hook Hone, Nippers, Pliers [Hemostats are worthless here]
  • Big Landing Net (17 inch handle max)
  • Polarized Glasses
  • Flashlight, Lantern, Headlight [Important!]
  • Rain Gear, Appropriate Clothing
  • Tent, Sleeping Gear, Personal Stuff
  • Don’t Forget yer Bubba

Read: ALIEN ABDUCTS FISH,

THROWS FISHERMAN BACK

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 Read: TOO MUCH FUN

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Photo Credits

Various photographers as posted by John Bueter on Facebook, just prior to the event.

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2018 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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JUST WRONG

Remembering the Olympics

by John Jonelis

“That’s just wrong!”  says Loop Lonagan as he grabs his remote control, skips ahead on the DVR, and a major Olympic event flashes by the screen too fast to recognize.  We immediately voice our outrage—all of us: Mark T Wayne, William Shakes, Donatas Ludditis, and me.

T.WAYNE“Go back—go back you idiot!”

ME“What’d we just miss?”

T.WAYNE “The entire race—that’s what we missed!  Execrable!”

Things are usually more congenial.  We like watching the Olympics at Lonagan’s penthouse condo.  And we like the 20 ft. OLED Jumbotron, the glass-wall view of the lake, the Swedish waitresses plying us with drinks and food as we wallow in reclining chairs.  Who wouldn’t?  Every two years we do it—our own private marathon!  AND WE WATCH IT ALL.  Skipping events is not taken lightly.

Loop records every event on every station and presents it all to us in the most excellent way.  He’s a master of the remote!  His skill and judgement add immeasurably to our enjoyment!  We race past the talking heads.  Don’t even stop to hear athlete interviews.  Who has time or patience for such drivel?  There’s always another sport to watch and no shortage at all!  And every one of them is performed with such extraordinary skill!  I absolutely love watching the Olympics this way.

Take figure skating for instance.  Before Loop created our marathon, I’d watch the event live and quickly overflow with indignation at unfair judging. I’d get rowdy, vocal, and loud—probably turn purple—and spoil my appreciation of the skill displayed on ice.  I hate to imagine my effect on other poor souls cursed by close proximity to my fury.  Loop eliminates all that.  Turns out, I find the sport a whole lot more enjoyable if we just watch the excellent skating and wait till the end to see the lineup of winners.

But this time, he’s taken it upon himself to skip an entire event without so much as asking for a vote.

T.WAYNE  – “May I point out, Mr. Lonagan, that your action is entirely outside the realm of polite behavior and unbecoming a host.  We agreed to vote.  Because of that rule, I sat through a flighty ice dancing competition night after night—certainly not an event worthy of Olympic glory like biathlon or hockey—and I held my tongue  (if not my liquor) and filed no complaint!  But this—this is inexcusable!”

LUDDITIS“I agree with Mr. Wayne.  Is not right what you do.  You must go back.”

Albert Einstein

LONAGAN – “Wadda you say, Will?”

SHAKES “Methinks tis sport to race.  To aver smacks pie on thy face.”

With the revolt heated and noisy, Loop’s dog Clamps wakes up and quick as a short track skater, snaps food off plates precariously perched on large bellies.  I hold my shrimp cocktail high over my head, hoping he doesn’t attack.  An 85 lb. Bull Terrier is capable of snapping a 2×4 with his jaws.

LONAGAN“Clamps!  Down!  Okay you guys—if that’s what you’se all want.  I’m windin’ it back.  But yer all gonna be sorry. Just sayin’.”

LUDDITIS“Is better you do right thing.”

T.WAYNE“Here, here!”

Lonagan cues up the recording and the first competitors in doubles luge begin their run.

LUDDITIS – (wiping his glasses)  “Something not right. I see two stiff bodies—piled like corpses.”

SHAKES“Tis a foul sled that slides no good.” 

ME“What’s the purpose of the second guy, anyway?  Looks to me like the one on the bottom gets his stuffings squeezed out. Kinda awkward.”

T.WAYNE“Patently vulgar and preposterous!  Ought not to be allowed!” 

SHAKES“When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools”

LONAGAN “I tried t’ spare you guys all that pain. There’s hardly room fer ONE guy on dem little lude sleds.  And think about it—they practice like that fer four whole years.  Kinda stretches da ‘magination, don’t it? ‘Course, it might be good if just one of ‘em went down holdin’ a greased pig.  Er maybe a keg and see who can empty it the fastest.”

LUDDITIS – “I wonder if parents are proud.”

T.WAYNE“Those men should be taken out and shot!”

LONAGAN“Okay dat’s unanimous. Let’s see what we got next.”

And while we watch the next sport, I attempt to drive the foul image out of my memory.

 

With thanks for inspiration from Jeremie Freund.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2018 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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GET YOUR OWN ‘BOTS

OR RISK BEING PUT OUT OF BUSINESS BY THEM

by Howard Tullman

Don’t fear the bots. They’ll free your company from unprofitable and tedious work. Yes, some jobs are going to be displaced. But the ones that are left and the new ones the bots will create will be more productive and way more interesting.

I realize that it’s a little frightening for many of us when we hear some of the intimidating statistics about headcount reductions in more and more industries that are being driven by the growing deployment of what we’re generically calling “bots.” But I don’t think bots are so bad for business. I realize that, while the major shifts are just beginning, we’re already talking about the displacement of thousands of analysts and adjusters in the insurance and finance industries as well as hundreds of highly-paid attorneys in sectors of the banking business. The sooner you figure out how to incorporate and deploy these little time- and money-savers, the better off you and your business will be. And that goes for businesses of all sizes.

Excepting some of the folks who will be replaced by these efficient and energetic little wonders, it will be a break for the better. Honest. No one in their right mind will miss any of the boring, repetitive and utterly useless tasks that are a painful part of too many of our jobs. If your tasks can be reduced to a set of instructions and rules that need to be repeatedly and flawlessly executed, we’ll soon enough find a program or a machine to do that work better, quicker and more accurately than you– and to do it 24/7 as well. No one argues with that part of the equation. We’d all love to be freed up from our chores and be doing exciting, creative and constructive work.

The rub comes in the rest of the story – the ratio and the scale of the jobs being eliminated as compared with the new jobs available to replace them. To quote Bruce Springsteen, in My Hometown, “Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back.” Take a look at the hospitality business as a simple example. Airbnb is closing in on Marriott’s $42.7 billion market cap (it’s already worth about $10 billion more than Hilton), but the employee headcounts of these companies are in different universes. Marriott employs more than 225,000 people, Airbnb about 3,500– yes 3,500 employees. And I’m not just picking on Marriott. Hilton has about 170,000 team members. You can argue that some of those people are doing different and allegedly irreplaceable functions. But in the end, the real question is whether the customer/guest’s needs are being more than met. None of Marriott’s guests really cares about whatever it is that fills the day for those extra 400,000 workers. I’m not even sure that most of their managers know what makes up their day.

When you couple the substantial reductions in the workforce with the readily-demonstrated and clearly impressive gains in productivity and lower operating costs that we’re also seeing, it’s clear that there are major bumps in the road ahead and significant disruptions in the ways business has traditionally been done. This is especially true because the vast majority of these changes are neither complicated in regard to the technologies nor costly in terms of the required capital. Low-hanging fruit abounds. JP Morgan Chase reports eliminating more than 350,000 hours of legal document review time per year by employing bots and smart contracts.

When I use the term “bots,” I’m not talking about anything as challenging as truly intelligent agents or even anything autonomous. I’m talking about simple lines of code– and not that many– that can successfully execute instructions and directives or commands that are well-established and documented by humans. I hate to call any of this stuff artificial intelligence. At best it’s augmented and extended intelligence. The intelligence being extended is ours; the folks being augmented are us. We’re talking about systems and tools that will help us perform routine tasks with minimal supervision or ongoing direction, and essentially automatically, upon request. Every business still has some of these pockets of obvious inefficiency and it’s mainly ignorance of better options and inertia that keeps them from realizing immediate improvements and significant cost savings. Your business does too, and the sooner you do your own audit and analysis, the better off and more competitive you’ll be. (See Use a Mirror to Mind Your Own Business First)

There are opportunities everywhere, but the sweetest spots for almost any business seem to fall into four recurring buckets. Forget about chatbots and retweeters. Focus internally first where you can get the biggest bang for your buck and where you can ride on existing rails. The people providing support and resources in this emerging space are few and far between right now, but they tend to target these critical areas: HR, Finance, Operations and Sales. I know, you’re already saying, “well duh, that’s just about the whole business”, so trim it down to HR and Finance and start there. Eat the elephant one bite at a time.

One of the best providers is an 1871 alumni organization called Catalytic/www.catalytic.com/> whose tagline says it all: “Do more of what you love, and less of what you don’t.” They are smart enough to understand that they are in a “rinse and repeat” business so that each time they build a new process bot they create the ability to provide a version of that same solution to thousands of other businesses more efficiently, more rapidly, and less expensively. They talk about concrete client results delivered in days, not months or years.

And, to be successful, you need a plan that’s ongoing and iterative and that’s always targeting and attacking the dumbest things you are doing. In many cases, it’s an approach that follows the same basic steps: digitize and dump the paper; speed up the flow and the inter- and intra-departmental handoffs; automate as many steps in the process as possible; measure the results; and do it again. It needs to become a habit and a mantra of your business—always moving to raise the bottom and improve the average.

It’s interesting to watch the adoption cycle as well. It’s both competitive and contagious. The more you do; the more your people will want to do and, interestingly enough, you’ll have them bringing suggestions and ideas to you for next steps–forward integrations into other programs like Word and Excel, for example—instead of sitting on their hands and bitching about the bots.

The dashboards and the flow charts that you now have access to provide levels of actionable information and data that were never available before. Frankly, these are the exact tools that you need to move your business forward. Managing by exception rather than brute force is the only way to spread your scarce and costly resources around.

 

 

Howard Tullman is the father of Chicago’s 1871 incubator.

Read his bio on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_A._Tullman

Check out his websites at http://tullman.com/  and http://tullman.blogspot.com/

Or just type his name into your favorite search engine.

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This article previously appeared in Inc.

Image Credits – Getty Images, MS Office

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under 1871, angel, angel capital, angel investor, Big Corporations, big money, chicago, Chicago Startup, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Howard Tullman, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, startup company, vc, Venture, venture capital

STARTUP OF THE YEAR

by John Jonelis

Here’s a Chicago Area startup that brings pleasure, relaxation, and satisfaction to tired business people, gets them out in the open air, away from the pressures of the big city, and teaches them to smile again. Does that sound like a worthy goal?

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I think so.

Now imagine you’re in waters bounded by trees of all kinds—not a house or building in site! No water skiers. No high-powered outboard motors. Not a boat of any kind!

Well, can you imagine that?

Ah!

You see the flight of the blue heron, the bald eagle, ducks and geese. A couple of otters. Nobody in your boat sets eyes on another human being all day long! Sound good so far?

Ah!

This is nature in the raw. You’re drifting a wild river—in strong current—strewn with huge boulders. As you make your way downstream, you shoot several rugged rapids. But due to the skill of your guide and his specialized boat, the ice in your martini glass is never disturbed. You feel at ease the entire day.

Ah!

You bring along a hat, polarized sun glasses, a rain jacket, but no fishing gear. Your guide hands you an expensive Orvis 8-weight fly rod. It feels surprisingly natural and light in your hand.

Maybe you never cast a fly rod before, but your guide gives you a few pointers and moves the boat a little closer to the target—just to make it simpler for you. Now you’re casting hand-made six-inch streamers at the banks with ease. Soon you find out why the fly rod is favored on the river. It’s the most efficient tool for the job.

And fly-casting is therapeutic and highly relaxing.

Ah!

Soon you thrill to strikes from trophy smallmouth bass that fight like a tigers. The fish here grow fat as footballs. Landing one in the heavy current on a fly rod takes all your skill and strength. I can think of nothing else that gives this kind of peace and satisfaction.

Ah!

Ah!

Wahoo!

Hooray!

Yes, we all dream of exotic trips to faraway places. But this one requires no passport. No airplane tickets. All this is happening on the Wisconsin River—a three-hour car ride from Chicago!

Wanna go?

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Hoo-boy!

You gain entry to this paradise in an unusual little boat—a specially designed dory—incredibly maneuverable—easily able to withstand these rocky rapids.

Motorized aluminum rowboats and jon boats risk ripping open their bottoms and ruining their props and lower units on submerged rocks. Electric trolling motors are useless. These rapids swamp canoes and challenge kayaks. A $75,000 bass boat wouldn’t last an hour.

But the diminutive dory makes for safe passage and provides a comfortable and stable platform for you to cast your line with accuracy. It makes the raging water seem calm.

Ah!

Your guide controls the boat with incredible precision using oars.

Yes—oars!

The specialized equipment and the guide’s skill allow you to gain entry to this paradise. Almost nobody else can get in here. That makes for very little fishing pressure. That means abundant game, eager to attack your offering. And the bass here are much larger than those found on famous rivers out east.

Now, THIS is what I’m talkin’ about!

Abe Downs—a chemist by profession—runs Great Northern Fly Fishing out of Stevens Point Wisconsin—just three hours north of Chicago. He’s an Orvis-certified guide and brings his scientific training and businesslike professionalism to bear alongside his extensive fishing knowledge. He’ll even get you a discount at a local restaurant.

Abe switches to musky with the fly rod in the Spring and Fall and scores a good percentage of the time. I love fishing musky but they’re called “The Fish of a Thousand Casts” with good reason. In contrast, these huge smalleys seem always voracious for a meal—even after a cold front! They fight harder than pike. And they bite in the summertime!

Okay, I hear the objections. This ain’t no startup because—because what? Because Abe doesn’t plan to grow like Uber?

Bosh! This little company may not present an investment opportunity for your venture capital fund, but it’s a startup all the same—and quite a successful one. He’s booked most every day of the season. Like a tech startup, he makes use of specialized technology and proprietary knowledge to operate the business. Few can compete in his niche.

And he brings pleasure, relaxation, and satisfaction to himself and his clients. Does that sound like a worthy goal?

I think so.

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On one trip this summer, my fishing partner was my son. On another, it was my friend, Rod Erickson. Neither fished with fly rod and streamer ever before. Both learned quickly and—truth be told—out-fished me. I think Abe is a good teacher.

Photography by John Jonelis, Robert Jonelis, and Rod Erickson

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Great Northern Fly Fishing

Abe@GreatNorthernFlyFishing.com

715-572-3225

1020 Tree Lane, Plover, WI 54467

 

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under chicago, Chicago Startup, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Fishing, fly fishing, Innovation, new companies, pike fishing, smallmouth bass, Startup, startup company

SECRETS DARK AND OLD

by John Jonelis

“I still say da guy deserves what he got. He ran down dat poor animal on purpose! Hates squirrels. Says so in da papers.” So proclaims Loop Lonagan regarding Alderman Brookins of Chicago’s 21st Ward.

“Is not true! Right here in Chicago Tribune, it read—how you say—kamikaze squirrel.” Donatis Ludditis thumps a stout digit on a newspaper headline and continues in his broken English. “Creature attack alderman. Throw itself into wheel of bicycle in suicide attack! Here is proof, see?” He points to a photograph—a photograph that Brookins took himself. It shows the murdered animal lodged in the spokes of his ruined bicycle. “Newspapers in whole country print story.” says Ludditis. “Not one say alderman cruel to animals! Not one time!”

Photo by Alderman Brookins

Lonagan clutches his brow for a long moment. “So yer tellin’ me dat ever’body believes dis guy’s story?”

The Brookins story has re-surfaced in news outlets because the man is up and taking nourishment after recovering from major injuries. At the time of the accident, he was credited with some rather peculiar remarks. Apparently, because of his vigorous opposition to the eastern gray squirrel and his call for the extermination of the species, the local underworld of tree dwelling rodents staged a coordinated and premeditated suicide attack against their arch nemesis. Now he’s on his soap box, again garnering support for his cause. It makes me wonder if this guy read too many comic books in law school.

Lonagan abruptly pounds a fist against my desk. After an involuntary flinch, I roll back my chair to examine the man from a somewhat safer distance. “Okay, lemme tell you a story ‘o my own,” he says. “One fine day, I run down some neighborhood kid—on purpose—’n’ he gets stuck behind da front wheel o’ my Cadillac er Lexus, er whatever politicians drive deeze days. So whaddaya think I do?  I climb outa da driver’s seat and snap a pic o’ da corpse ‘n’ post it online. Den I say, da kid launched hisself at my car’s front wheel in an effort t’ kill me, ‘cause I been crakin’ down on neighborhood gangs.”

“I object! Loop, that’s just awful.” But I’m too late to squelch the horrid image.

Lonagan raises both arms, palms open. “See? You’se is never gonna get anybody t’ buy a story like dat. What makes dis squirrel any different?”

“I not know,” says Ludditis. “Back in old country, if you damage party member limosine, you pay! No matter how it happen. Is politics!”

Howard Brookins speaks to the medea – Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune

During this exchange, Jim Kren’s face—never a pleasant sight—screws up tighter and tighter in what I always take as a combination of anger and spite. I’ve been watching him and waiting for an explosion. It begins with a slow leak. “You two judicial giants know nothing whatsoever of the true ramifications of this matter,” he says. “I can tell you a thing or two about the eastern bloc squirrel. Some of it will curl your hair. People know they are astoundingly cunning rodents, but there is more—much more!”

Kren looks to be on a roll. “This eastern bloc squirrel represents the most monstrous and pernicious plot against humanity since the fluoridation of water! We face a much larger threat than that posed by the proliferation of common vermin. These squirrels are more capable than rats and possess a much higher intelligence!” Kren gets increasingly loud and shrill. “Eastern bloc squirrels look out for their kind and know who is persecuting them! If you thwart their plans, they figure a way to take care of the problem! Nothing can stop them from getting what they want!”

Lonagan takes a seat, shaking his head in hopeless abandon. I’ve heard Kren utter such a sentiment before, but never an inkling of this political angle. The man bears watching.

Greedy Guts the Squirrel

“Agents of sedition started smuggling these iconoclasts to our shores decades back!” shrieks Kren. “And they now represent the dominant species! Think of it! Squirrels in your own back yard—the place where your children play! Your children! Talk about infiltration! And they remain there all night, listening to your every word! They meet in secret, pass on intelligence, and formulate plans!”

“So,” says Lonagan with a smirk. “How d’ya figure they listen in on City Hall?”

Kren doesn’t miss a beat. “Don’t be so naive, MISTER Lonagan! In an era of central heating, do you actually believe they cannot gain easy access to any building they choose through the HVAC system? Certainly, gentlemen, it is child’s play for the eastern bloc squirrel to monitor a city council meeting and plan a counter-attack! I could show you one of their secret websites! It disseminates information about these scheming rodents to their craven human allies! It’s written in a code—a code colloquially known as poetry—a cryptic language few speak any more. Let me show you an excerpt.”

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There are secrets dark and old

Things that make the blood run cold

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Facts that twist the human brain

And plunge the mind into pain

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Knowledge that is from long ago

That man was not meant to know

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But the squirrels know

Don’t have a problem with it

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.See video performance by Bob Badpoet

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“Gentlemen, what to you say to that?!!!” Krens interogatory smacks of satisfaction—like he’s busting out with a SO THERE! “If you truly want to gain an inside knowledge of the malicious nature of these animals, here is this!”

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.I am the rodent of your discontent

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From the bushes I listen as you vent

I know what you said and what you meant

For I am the rodent of your discontent

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For my services I charge no rent

I encourage every argument

Behold the rodent of your discontent

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What I do earns me not a cent

But your anger has a sweet scent

Savored by the rodent of your discontent

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Gnawing on your house until my strength is spent

Just to add to your torment

Despair of the rodent of your discontent

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I would follow no matter where you went

So that new troubles I could invent

Fear the rodent of your discontent

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See video perfomance by Bob Badpoet

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Kren leans forward and speaks in a more secretive tone. “Most do not know that these eastern bloc squirrels plotted world dominance long before the era of modern totalitarianism. Men are putty in their paws! Have any of you read the squirrel manifesto? No? It is the most outrageous collection of hate and bile uttered by any animal since the beginning of time! I keep an excerpt with me—it is written in the same foul poetic code.”.

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I come seeking nuts and seeds

To get them I do dark deeds

Fear the squirrel

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I take what I want in food

Even if it hurts your mood

Fear the squirrel

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I sneak into your house at night

At your groceries I bite

Fear the squirrel

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Many wonder how I know

Where it is your food you stow

Fear the squirrel

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Such knowledge is not hard

After all I live in your yard

Fear the squirrel

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I know secrets lost and deep

I gather them while you sleep

Fear the squirrel

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I whisper dark knowledge in your ear

Tell you what you don’t want to hear

Fear the squirrel

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Madness stalks the dreams of man

It is all part of the plan

Fear the squirrel

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Or you could leave out some sunflower seeds

Up to you

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See video performance by Bob Badpoet

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Lonagan opens his eyes wide and his nose almost touches Kren’s. “So I take it you’se is sidin’ with da Alderman?”

“Yes!” says Kren, squaring his shoulders and pushing back. “I take the good Alderman’s side on this issue—and not without reason! I know!  The eastern bloc squirrel is alien to everything we stand for! I can no longer permit alien infiltration, alien sedition, and the international eastern bloc conspiracy to sap and impurify our entire way of life!”

Time for me to pull rank. “Gentlemen,” I say. “Let us repair to the front room for some refreshment. I have another matter to discuss.”

The front room of our magazine offices is Ludditis’ bar.

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Go to Part 1 – TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM

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Source Material & Links

Kamikaze Squirrel Gets Revenge on Ald. Brookins

Chicago Tribune

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Alderman, victimized by squirrel, still fighting trash-seeking furry rodents

Chicago Tribune

 

Bob’s Bad Poetry

You Tube

Bob Badpoet

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This magazine fully endorses Bob Badpoet but the remarks by Kren, Lonagan, and Ludditis do not necessarily express the opinions of the editor or this magazine.

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Graphics and Other Credits

Poetry by Bob Badpoet

Dead squirrel photo by Ald. Howard Brookins

Photograph of Howard Brookins by Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune

Bob Badpoet graphic by Jennifer Jonelis

Wildlife photography and Tavern graphic by John Jonelis

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
.
.

 

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Filed under Characters, chicago, city, Conflict, Innovation and Culture, Jim Kren, loop lonagan, public servants, the chicago machine, The City, the great outdoors, the machine, Whack jobs