Appendicitis Symptoms

January 5th, 2012

The symptoms of appendicitis can vary. It can be hard to diagnose appendicitis in young children, the elderly, and women of childbearing age.The symptoms of appendicitis vary but are centered around abdominal pain. The first symptoms of appendicitis is often pain around your belly button.



Working Together…When Apart

December 19th, 2010

Corporations across the world are making investments in internal communications and networks and virtual teams supported by such infrastructure are on the rise. Teams of people who rarely meet in person face severe collaboration challenges. The biggest challenges are long distance and time zone differences making frequent communication difficult and cultural miscues causing frequent misunderstanding. A recent study of virtual teams of various sizes at big multination companies analyzed why some teams are on the constant danger of breaking up while others are high performers and a virtual hotsop of innovation and energy. A research team at London Business School surveyed more than 1,500 virtual-team members and leaders from 55 teams across 15 European and U.S. multinational companies. BP PLC, Nokia Corp. and Ogilvy & Mather were among the companies where detailed case studies of successful virtual teams were conducted. The findings are published in this WSJ article as 10 golden rules for making virtual teams more productive. Some of the key practices common to successful teams are – online resources where members can learn about one another, choosing a few members who already know each other, cultivate boundary spanners (which appears to be a very T-shaped role), assigning tasks that are challenging, interesting and meaningful to the team and company, and soliciting volunteers (people whose proof of commitment is their willingness to join the team on their own). The article cites examples of Wikipedia and Linux as two successful virtual teams that illustrate the last point,

Who’s Really Innovative?

December 19th, 2010

This WSJ article looks at two lists of the world’s most innovative companies – one by Fast Company and the other by BusinessWeek – and attempts to define what it means to be innovative. I found the author’s taxonomy for distinguishing innovative companies to be very interesting. He writes about five distinct kinds of innovators. First, the tyros. These are young companies built on wacky business models that haven’t been challenged to reinvent yet. Hulu and spotify fall in this category. Next are the Nobel laureates. These are technology companies like Intel, Samsung, Novartis and Cisco that spend billions on R&D each year and hire the smartest engineers and scientists. The third and a much smaller category of innovation heroes are the Artistes. These firms are in the creativity business and their main product is innovation. IDEO and BMW DesignWorks fit this category. Next are the Cyborgs, companies like Google, Apple and Amazon that consistently achieve super human feats of innovation. The fifth kind are the Born again innovators which the author considers the most notable. These are companies like P&G, IBM and Ford which after years of top-down, hierarchical and orthodox practices have reassessed and reinvented their behavior. IBM’s EBO process is one notable example.

Meet Watson, the computer for a smarter planet.

December 15th, 2010

Earlier this week, IBM unveiled “Watson,” a computer that the company claims represents significant new progress in natural language processing, analytics and system design: Named for IBM’s founder, Watson will face the ultimate test in language processing in Febraury, when it faces off against human Jeopardy champions on the popular game show. The Watson “DeepQA” architecture is designed specifically for understanding and delivering precise answers to questions posed in natural language — a separate INFO 202 blog post in itself — but I think this initiative is interesting from an innovation perspective. IBM seems to be hyping Watson as much as it can (the upcoming Jeopardy competition has been likened to when chess champion Garry Kasparov took on a computer in 1997) as part of an effort to make Watson the most outward-facing component of its innovation operation. This is an interesting approach to the diffusion component of the innovation value chain: by publicizing Watson on Jeopardy, IBM hopes to bring attention to (and find potential customers for) its work on technology that sure, could help a computer win at Jeopardy, but could also be used to help diagnose illnesses or solve problems at customer support centers, just to name a few potential applications.

Chatter For Free, Says Salesforce

December 10th, 2010 has thrown its hat into the ring with the release of their collaboration tool. Chatter Free is initially going to be available only to people in companies with active Salesforce licenses, but that’s already a huge pool of users (one estimate I saw had the number at over 2 million).

This is such a rapidly changing field, and the swell and stem of social networking looks at one moment to encompass the entire human experience – and then the next moment be engulfed in public backlash – that it’s anyone’s guess as to what this will mean in the long term.

I frankly find little utility in a social networking tool that’s restricted to one company, but maybe I just needed to spend more time with Kaiser Permanente’s “Ideabook” this summer. Hard to know.

Necessity is the Mother of Innovation

December 10th, 2010

A few years ago, when I started using Zipcar, I thought that even though it was a great idea, the company that comes up with a scheme by which users don’t have to return each car to the point of origin will strike gold. Daimler’s innovation unit, born from a company in dire need of a refresh, may be on track to do just that. This article from the Economist gives an idea of what may be on the horizon from a company driven to innovate to shed some Chrysler-tinted scar tissue and regain some brand equity:

Another idea noted in the article is a ride share scheme that would allow informal carpooling to take place more easily via social networking. Getting to San Francisco from the East Bay, and vice versa, has been easier for the past 30 years or so with the “casual carpool,” where riders and drivers all line up at predetermined spots around these cities and essentially hitch across the bridge together. This delicate exercise in collectiveness and common courtesy was threatened with bridge toll hikes earlier this year, but an idea that can preserve it may just be coming from Germany soon.

Psychological safety

December 10th, 2010

This post on Eye Tracking Update mentions some recent research on how people in groups signal each other to negotiate whose turn it is to speak. The cues people use to signal conversational turn-taking are subtle: eye contact, a tilt of the head, a slight change in pitch. Many people use these signals automatically, without any conscious awareness of how they’re being received.  Even when an individual’s signals are extended to everyone in a group, those reading the signals may not perceive them in the same ways, since people have different speech styles (based on gender, ethnicity, whether they have issues like asperger’s/autism or social phobia, the area they’re from, past and current peer groups, and on and on).

People with more power in a group situation, especially, tend to have more influence on the conversational rhythm.  Perhaps managers who consciously try to use turn-taking signals inclusively and who pay attention to how they’re being read can do a better job of creating settings in which a diverse group of people feels welcome to provide input.  Even though turn-taking signals are subtle, their effects are strong.  Most of us have a pretty clear sense of when we might be interrupting or when someone else is interrupting, even if we’re not aware of the signals that underlie that sense.

*Paper the post refers to is here (pdf).

They have some stuff in there about human-machine interfaces too.  Which reminds me… it’s sort of weird how often I’ve ended up thinking about turn-taking signals while doing various group assignments and interviews this semester: Like, when you’re used to interviewing people in person, how do you manage the flow of an audio-only interview?  What happens when one person in a group interview sits at the end of the conference table where the interviewers can’t make eye contact with that person?  Why is it that in some groups a particular subset of people do most of the talking?  Etc.

The Glass Cliff

December 10th, 2010

“How Women End Up on the ‘Glass Cliff'” is a new HBR article exploring the “glass cliff phenomenon”, which describes the disproportionate challenges women face in corporate leadership once they break through the “glass ceiling”. Specifically, women are more likely to occupy high-risk positions than their male counterparts in corporate leadership. Research cited by the authors indicates that companies tend to appoint women to leadership positions specifically when the companies are struggling, and suggests that this may be the case

…because stereotypically female attributes, such as communication and team-building skills, are especially valued during turbulent times.

One can only draw comparison to the leadership styles of the various Everest teams: the demanding but consultative leadership of Breashears stood in stark contrast to Rob Hall’s strictly authoritative approach. Simply swapping leaders in time of crisis may not be enough to avert disaster (c.f. other levers in the lecture slides)—and could be construed as “setting one up for failure”. Still, the desire for leaders who can work well with their team may not be so misguided.

Defensiveness as an Organizational Challenge

December 10th, 2010

Bob Brennan, president and C.E.O. of Iron Mountain, believes that defensiveness is destructive. He feels that managers are too often guided by a ‘command and control’ style of leadership, which may work well for specific outcomes, but hurts a manager in the long run.

Without the openness to ask for constructive feedback, even in the form of criticism, managers propagate a status gap between them and their teams. Brennan suggests that leaders consistently ‘give constructive feedback, never destructive. And managers need to seek constructive feedback themselves.’

They should be asking ‘What do you recommend we do?’ to keep on eye on who is open-minded, and who is thinking about moving the company forward. They key for Brennan is an open environment that promotes collaboration with clear expectations and the ability to give and receive constructive feedback.

Most Innovative Companies

December 10th, 2010

The top 50 innovative companies according to might actually surprise you.

Then there are’s top 50 innovative companies.

There are some obvious discrepancies in comparing the two list, some well known companies miss the cut, some in the top 10 we have never heard of. Facebook is #1 according to fastcompany, but #48 according to BusinessWeek. Which begs the question, how do we define innovation? Is it just young and disruptive technology, or is the corporate giant who continues to reinvent itself?