First sighting of a buy now button on Twitter.
I recently interviewed Nichole Kelly, the founder and president of SME Digital, the digital marketing division of Social Media Explorer. I read a post entitled Why We Abolished Our Vacation Policy, and decided I had to interview her about it.Instead or an accrual vacation policy our employees can take time off whenever they need it, without limits or restrictions. Instead of making vacation a “reward” that has to be “earned”, we look at vacation as a requirement to make sure our team always brings their A game to the table. Instead of a maximum limit on time off, we instituted a minimum limit of 10 days for all full-time employees. - Nichole Kelly
Stowe Boyd: Nichole, I read your recent post on your revamping of the vacation policy at Social Media Explorer. As you wrote, ‘Too many times companies hire adults then treat them like children’. Could explain how you now treat your staff as adults with regard to vacation time?
Nichole Kelly: I think most company’s vacation policies treat employees like children. They have to earn time and only take the time that they’ve earned by a specific date or they lose it. This is akin to a rewards system I would design for my children, not the smart adults we hire.
There were three key considerations to how we designed our new approach.
First, taking time to replenish is essential for employees to bring their best to the table. This required a rethinking of what we call our policy. Most people think of taking vacation as going away to some awesome place, but taking a spa day could be equally important to truly replenishing. We all know that a vacation with the kids isn’t always the best form of replenishment. Or wait; maybe that’s just my kids. Just kidding.
As adults, we know the difference between replenishment and taking a day off to cart the kids to doctor’s appointments, but most vacation or “paid time off policies” count these as equal. Therefore, we call our new policy a replenishment policy instead of vacation policy.
Second, time should be controlled by the employee and not an arbitrary accrual method. Instead or an accrual vacation policy our employees can take time off whenever they need it, without limits or restrictions. Instead of making vacation a “reward” that has to be “earned”, we look at vacation as a requirement to make sure our team always brings their A game to the table. Instead of a maximum limit on time off, we instituted a minimum limit of 10 days for all full-time employees. The minimum limit was to ensure that it is clear we don’t reward working yourself to death and celebrate taking time to replenish.
Third, time should be used for true replenishment not running errands. As I mentioned, we wanted a clear distinction between replenishment and taking care of your family. Therefore, we had to put some guidelines in place for what actually counts as a replenishment day and what doesn’t. Employees are trained to follow traditional paid time off standards, so it was important to get them to reframe the way they think about time off as well.
The other day, Satya Nadella releases a sprawling memo, ostensibly to clarify Microsoft’s strategy under his leadership, and it positions the company as a ‘productivity and platform’ company, not the ‘devices and services’ orientation that Ballmer introduced in 2012, and reorganized the company around.
As a result, we should expect another top-to-bottom reorganization of the company, but Nadella only hinted at that, not really revealing any specific plans. And not announcing a departure from any line of business, either (see Satya Nadella wants to focus on the core of Microsoft’s business, which is… everything).
Jean-Louis Gassée took a look at the memo, and tried to break it down, and he found a lot of smoke but little fire. But then he tried to decode it:
Tortured statements from CEOs, politicians, coworkers, spouses, or suppliers, in no hierarchical order, mean one thing: I have something to hide, but I want to be able to say I told you the facts.
With all this in mind, let’s see if we can restate Nadella’s message to the troops:
This is the beginning of our new FY 2015 – and of a new era at Microsoft.
I have good news and bad news.
The bad news is the old Devices and Services mantra won’t work.
For example: I’ve determined we’ll never make money in tablets or smartphones.
So, do we continue to pretend we’re “all in” or do we face reality and make the painful decision to pull out so we can use our resources – including our integrity – to fight winnable battles? With the support of the Microsoft Board, I’ve chosen the latter. We’ll do our utmost to minimize the pain that will naturally arise from this change. Specifically, we’ll offer generous transitions arrangements in and out of the company to concerned Microsoftians and former Nokians.
The good news is we have immense resources to be a major player in the new world of Cloud services and Native Apps for mobile devices. We let the first innings of that game go by, but the sting energizes us. An example of such commitment is the rapid spread of Office applications – and related Cloud services – on any and all mobile devices. All Microsoft Enterprise and Consumer products/services will follow, including Xbox properties.
I realize this will disrupt the status quo and apologize for the pain to come. We have a choice: change or be changed.
With or without the clarity that Gassée would have him use, Nadella definitely has something up his sleeve, and he only hinted at it so far. But this is going to be a rough time to be a Microsoftie, I bet.
Benedict Evans digs into the bind that Samsung is in, maybe a response to Ben Thompson’s Why Samsung Will Fall posted on July 8.
But Evans goes a step beyond Thompson’s analysis, suggesting that Samsung is being unbundled by the entire Shenzhen ecosystem, not just being trapped in the middle between Google and Apple on one side, and low-cost manufacturers on the other.
Benedict Evans, Unbundling innovation: Samsung, PCs and China
When you unbundle an industry, you get new and different types of innovation in different layers of the stack. The skills you had in the bundled world may well still apply in the layer you find yourself in. Hence Samsung carries on doing interesting and impressive things in components, and can innovate up to a point in handsets, with things like phablets, so long as they do not depend on concessions from other parts of the stack. Equally, for example, Dell created an entirely new type of PC company - the PC company as a highly specialised logistics business - without differentiating at the operating system layer at all.
But what’s happened for PCs and smartphones and, to a large extent, mobile networks is that it’s that top layer of the stack, that the PC and Android OEMs and operators struggle to play in, that’s where most of the differentiation happens…ged these adjacent strengths to create better products and a stronger market position. Samsung has used the scale of the component business and access to those components to drive the devices business and vice versa, despite failing, mostly, to create compelling software differentiation. This leveraging of scale, combined with some great execution, has taken it to at least half of the total Android market.
The problem is that Samsung is increasingly competing with another sort of scale effect - it is competing with the entire Shenzhen ecosystem. Before, it was competing with individual companies (many of which happened to use that ecosystem), and like Nokia before it was fortunate in the relative weakness of most of its competitors. As for Nokia, that luck was bound to run out. Now Samsung is starting to face competition with new companies who are finding ways to build new types of handset businesses on top of that ecosystem - taking that ecosystem and using it to unbundle Samsung.
So Samsung is hosed because they can’t dominate any specific part of the stack. Again, their only avenue is Tizen, but they keep fudging the launch.
James Bridle, <The Siege on Citizenship
If you’re born in the United States, no matter where your parents are from or what nationality they possess, you have the right to US citizenship. This principle is called jus soli, literally the “right of the soil,” and it’s actually quite rare in the world: only the Americas implement it, mostly, without restrictions. In the rest of the world, the principle of jus sanguinis, the “right of blood,” holds sway. What matters is where your parents are from and what rights they hold.
Writing in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, exposed to the flood of stateless people unleashed by that conflict, Hannah Arendt memorably identified the possession of a defined citizenship as “the right to have rights.” As the state is the ultimate arbiter of all rights, your recognition by any state is the first condition of the protection of your rights. In law, under jus sanguinis, you are who you are because of whom your parents are, and “who you are” determines whether you have any rights at all.
James Bridle, The Siege on Citizenship
Paola Antonelli, interviewed by Edward Lewine in Surrounded by Great Design at MoMA, and Not Afraid to Use It
I think she’s paraphrasing Henry Mintzberg, who said of emergent strategy,
Emergent strategy means, not chaos, but in essence unintended order.
Ernest Renan, What is a Nation? (Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?)
Julie Cohen, What is privacy for