Tag: Twitter

Have you been Tweetjacked?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
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Whether or not you are on twitter, this post may seem a little out of place for a lean blog.  Rest assured that I’m still very focused on lean; however, twitter has been the source of a growing number of visitors to our site and I feel compelled to share my experiences and help to serve the twitter community.

Not too long ago, I learned a few valuable Twitter lessons and, in the spirit of lean, I decided to share them here.

  1. Twitter imposes limits on the number of accounts you can follow
    • 2000 and account dependent
    • 1000 maximum per day
  2. Tweets can be hijacked or, in twitter terms, #tweetjacked.
    • Link Jack – Your link is replaced by another potentially offending link.
    • Chat Jack – Someone disrupts a chat and attempts to change the topic.

Although a tweetjack may not appear to be quite as dramatic or newsworthy as a security breach on Facebook, Sony, or even Google, it could be.  As we have learned over the past few months, the effects of one single “controversial” tweet can be quite damaging even to the extent where careers are destroyed and lives are ruined.

At a minimum, we owe it to ourselves to be aware of potential threats and how to avoid them to protect our online reputation.  I will only focus on the Link Jack since Chat Jacks occur in real time and the offending account can be dealt with immediately, including blocking if necessary.

I will qualify this discussion by noting that “tweetjacking” as discussed here is a rare exception to my overall Twitter experience.  Twitter has enabled me to connect with many amazing people from around the world and the benefits of knowing them exceeds any of my expectations.

What happened?

In a strange, ironic way, lesson #1 and lesson #2 are actually related.  Lesson #1 was the reason for updating our Twitter – Tips, Tools, and Helpful Hints page.  Lesson #2 occurred after I posted the following tweet:

Original Tweet as Published

Once published, anyone on twitter can add or modify the message and retweet (RT) it to their followers. To avoid giving any further credence to the original “perpetrators”, I created the following retweet (RT) using my twitter account:

TweetJack Example

The Look of Innocence

At first glance, the RT above doesn’t appear to be that much different from the original. To the naive and unassuming, everything appears to be in tact with a few exceptions:

  • Added Text:
    • It is common for people to add a comment or #hashtag to your message.  This may be to reflect their own opinion or endorsement as a means to entice their followers to read it and click on the link.  In this case, “Lessons Learned” seems to be appropriate.
  • Truncated Message:
    • Messages that are longer than twitter’s maximum of 140 characters can be shortened using one of many services available such as bit.ly.  “deck.ly”, the default for TweetDeck was used to shorten the message in this case.
  • Link Jack:  Different URL (http://….)
    • Even if the message is not shortened, the link in your original message may be replaced altogether.  In our case, the link “wp.me/Pnmcq-tK” would simply be replaced by another link.  In our case, the link to my intended page was replaced by a link that led to a completely different web page.
  • Unknown Twitter Account
    • If you don’t recognize the Twitter Account that sent the RT, you may want to check that out too.  It is not uncommon for a “bot” to automatically retweet or RT messages containing specific #hashtags or key words.  For example, there is a “bot” that automatically retweets messages containing the word “Toronto”.

It is common for tweets of interest to be retweeted (RT) by others in the twitterverse.  Once a tweet is published, it is in full view of the public domain, including search engines like Google!

What can we do to protect our content?

Twitter is an open platform where we rely on the integrity of everyone in the twitterverse.  To my knowledge there is no way to protect your tweet from changes by others.  Perhaps an opportunity exists to “protect” the original tweet from being tampered or modified.  Until that time arrives, here is a short list of suggestions that may help:

  • Keep your tweets short
    • Others can retweet (RT) without having to “shorten” your message.
    • This makes it easy to compare the RT or retweeted message to the original
  • Verify content
    • Check the links in the messages you receive before retweeting them to your followers.
    • Don’t retweet a message simply because you recognize the account name!
    • Remember, with a link jack everything looks as it should – only the URL has been changed
  • Protect Yourself
    • Do not leave your twitter account unattended or “open”.
    • It is a simple matter for someone to create a tweet
  • Beware of hackers
    • They may have a vested interested your twitter account
    • Change your passwords frequently
    • Use OAuth to allow third party twitter services to access or your account
  • Beware of others
    • People may have a vested interest in your account as you gain more followers
    • People like to follow celebrities
  • Verify Your Followers / Accounts You Follow
    • Don’t follow accounts just because they follow you!
    • Validate your followers
      • Don’t rely on services like http://truetwit.com
      • Verify Age of Account
      • Number of Tweets
      • Last Tweet
      • Frequency of Tweets
      • Tweet Content
      • Number Followed / Following
    • Block Unwanted accounts
  • Report Violations

In conclusion

Establishing an online presence and meeting new people can be challenging for anyone, including business. Is the content reliable? Is the source credible? Who can you trust? Who can you believe?  In the online world we simply don’t have the luxury of saying “time will tell” and more often than not, we learn that our “interests” have been compromised after the fact.

At the very least, be aware that tweetjacking could happen to you.  As you become more popular in the twitterverse, some people may take advantage of your account to serve their best interests only.  Rest assured I won’t be one of them.

Have you experienced tweet jacking? Feel free to share or comment on your experience.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

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Vergence Analytics
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Brilliant Printing Technology

The foundation's logo.
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Research and development take problem solving to whole new level where solutions have yet to be discovered and are often only imagined.  I am impressed by the relentless efforts of research teams that continue to develop and give rise to the emergence of  life saving, innovative technologies.

As our population ages and “baby boomers” enter into their retirement years, the lack of organ donations is quickly becoming a major concern.  Just when I thought the ability to print inanimate 3D objects, I was absolutely amazed by this TED talk that not only discusses, but demonstrates the ability to engineer and print life saving human tissue and organ structures.

If the video is not available above, Click here to view – “Anthony Atala:  Printing a Human Kidney”.

In this video, the problem and it’s solution have spanned the course of decades and continues to be resolved over time.  The persistence of the teams that pursue these solutions is to be admired.  I wonder how often we may have given up too soon – not knowing how close we were to finding that perfect solution.

Today, I’m thankful to those who continue their never-ending attempts to make the impossible possible to continually improve the quality of life for all humanity.

TED.com presents talks on a wide variety of diverse topics ranging from music, oceans, astronomy, space exploration, technology, medicine, and so much more.  I highly recommend subscribing and trust you will be as impressed as I have been for the years that I have been a member.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics
Twitter:  @Versalytics

Scorecards and Dashboards

Interior of the 2008 Cadillac CTS (US model sh...
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I recently published, Urgent -> The Cost of Things Gone Wrong, where I expressed concern for dashboards that are attempting to do too much.  In this regard, they become more of a distraction instead of serving the intended purpose of helping you manage your business or processes.  To be fair, there are at least two (2) levels of data management that are perhaps best differentiated by where and how they are used:  Scorecards and Dashboards.

I prefer to think of Dashboards as working with Dynamic Data.  Data that changes in real-time and influences our behaviors similar to the way the dashboard in our cars work to communicate with us as we are driving.  The fuel gauge, odometer, two trip meters, tachometer, speedometer, digital fuel consumption (L/100 km), and km remaining are just a few examples of the instrumentation available to me in my Mazda 3.

While I appreciate the extra instrumentation, the two that matter first and foremost are the speedometer and the tachometer (since I have a 5 speed manual transmission).  The other bells and whistles do serve a purpose but they don’t necessarily cause me to change my driving behavior.  Of note here is that all of the gauges are dynamic – reporting data in real time – while I’m driving.

A Scorecard on the other hand is a periodic view of summary data and from our example may include Average Fuel Consumption, Average Speed, Maximum Speed, Average Trip, Maximum Trip, Total Miles Traveled and so on.  The scorecard may also include other items such as driving record / vehicle performance data such as Parking Tickets, Speeding Tickets, Oil Changes, Flat Tires, Emergency and Preventive Maintenance.

One of my twitter connections, Bob Champagne (@BobChampagne), published an article titled, Dashboards Versus Scorecards- Its all about the decisions it facilitates…, that provides some great insights into Scorecards and Dashboards.  This article doesn’t require any further embellishment on my part so I encourage you to click here or paste the following link into your browser:  http://wp.me/p1j0mz-6o.  I trust you will find the article both informative and engaging.

Next Steps:

Take some time to review your current metrics.  What metrics are truly influencing your behaviors and actions?  How are you using your metrics to manage your business?  Are you reacting to trends or setting them?

It’s been said that, “What gets measured gets managed.”  I would add – “to a point.”  It simply isn’t practical or even feasible to measure everything.  I say, “Measure to manage what matters most”.

Remember to get your free Excel Templates for OEE by visiting our downloads page or the orange widget in the sidebar.  You can follow us on twitter as well @Versalytics.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics

Toyota’s Culture – Inside Out

Comparing leadership cultures and creating change
Image by opensourceway via Flickr

As discussed on our Lean Roadmap page, the culture that exists inside your company will determine the success or failure of your lean initiatives in the long-term.  So, how do we cultivate and nurture this culture that we desire to achieve?

Fortunately, I found a great article,  How to implement “Lean Thinking” in a Business: Pathway to creating a “Lean Culture”, written by one of my recent twitter connections (lean practitioner and former Toyota employee) that briefly describes the process embraced by Toyota.

I will not paraphrase the content of the article if only to preserve the essence of the presentation and passion that is conveyed in its writing.

As an aside, it is interesting to note that Toyota does not typically refer to their methods as lean.  Lean is not a set of tools but rather a manner of thinking and focus on a seemingly elusive target to achieve one piece flow.

The spirit of Lean, like synergy, cannot be taught – only experienced.

An innate ability exists and continues to evolve where team members operate with a high level of synergy and are able to identify and respond to concerns in real-time.  Steven Spear also discusses various characteristics or attributes of high performance teams from a different perspective and much wider range of industries in his book “The High Velocity Edge“.

Toyota Recall – Update

Following the release of the NHTSA investigation, Bloomberg Businessweek published an article titled “Toyota, The Media Owe You an Apology“.  The article clarifies a number of allegations against Toyota, however, I am reminded that the government’s investigation did not completely exonerate Toyota from having any responsibility.

Whether the failure is mechanical or electronic is moot considering the tragic results that ensued for some.  I think the real concern is whether the problem itself has been identified and resolved regardless of fault.

Since we are on the topic of culture, consider the media’s role in reporting the events surrounding the recall.  What was your overall sense of the media’s reporting and perspective on this issue?

As you ponder this question, your answer will reveal how quickly events and people of influence can shape our culture.  On a much larger scale, consider the current events in Egypt or the last Presidential election in the United States.

As always, I appreciate your feedback – leave a comment or send us an e-mail.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics

Twitter:  @Versalytics

Superbowl 45 … and a new launch!

Super Bowl Sunday Crystal Ball
Image by circulating via Flickr

Today, February 6, 2011, is Super Bowl 45 (XLV) where the Pittsburgh Steelers meet the Green Bay Packers.  Historically, the commercials are just as entertaining as the game itself.  I thought this Application made for an interesting “message” delivery service.

We are also proud to announce the launch of our digital paper “Versalytics Today“, featuring articles on lean and related topics from our Selected Followers on Twitter.com.  Versalytics Today is updated every twenty-four hours and demonstrates the power of collaboration in the Lean community.

If you would like to be published in Versalytics Today then sign up for your free twitter account and follow us @Versalytics.  We will review your blog and if your content meets with our selection criteria, we will add you to our list of contributors.

It’s time to get ready for the game.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics

Twitter:  @Versalytics

Achieve Sustainability Through Integration

Innovation
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It’s no secret that lean is much more than a set of tools and best practices designed to eliminate waste and reduce variance in our operations.  I contend that lean is defined by a culture that embraces the principles on which lean is founded.  An engaged lean culture is evidenced by the continuing development and integration of improved systems, methods, technologies, best practices, and better practices.  When the principles of lean are clearly understood, the strategy and creative solutions that are deployed become a signature trait of the company itself.

Unfortunately, to offset the effects of the recession, many lean initiatives have either diminished or disappeared as companies downsized and restructured to reduce costs.  People who once entered data, prepared reports, or updated charts could no longer be supported and their positions were eliminated.  Eventually, other initiatives also lost momentum as further staffing cuts were made.  In my opinion, companies that adopted this approach simply attempted to implement lean by surrounding existing systems with lean tools.

Some companies have simply returned to a “back to basics” strategy that embraces the most fundamental principles of lean.  Is it enough to be driven by a mission, a few metrics, and simple policy statements or slogans such as “Zero Downtime”, “Zero Defects”, and “Eliminate Waste?”  How do we measure our ability to safely produce a quality part at rate, delivered on time and in full, at the lowest possible cost?  Regardless of what we measure internally, our stakeholders are only concerned with two simple metrics – Profit and Return on Investment.  The cold hard fact is that banks and investors really don’t care what tools you use to get the job done.  From their perspective the best thing you can do is make them money!  I agree that we are in business to make money.

What does it mean to be lean?  I ask this question on the premise that, in many cases, sustainability appears to be dependent on the resources that are available to support lean versus those who are actually running the process itself.  As such, “sustainability” is becoming a much greater concern today than perhaps most of us are likely willing to admit.  I have always encouraged companies to implement systems where events, data, and key metrics are managed in real-time at the source such that the data, events, and metrics form an integral part of the whole process.

Processing data for weekly or monthly reports may be necessary, however, they are only meaningful if they are an extension of ongoing efforts at shop floor / process level itself.  To do otherwise is simply pretending to be lean.  It is imperative that data being recorded, the metrics being measured, and the corrective actions are meaningful, effective, and influence our actions and behaviors.

To illustrate the difference between Culture and Tools consider this final thought:  A carpenter is still a carpenter with or without hammer and nails.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics

Twitter:  @Versalytics

Why Twitter?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Background

You may be wondering what Twitter has to do with lean or anything even related to manufacturing.  While there may not be a direct correlation to Twitter, the fact that it is still relatively new gave me cause to reflect on what it means to introduce a new system or way of doing things in our organization.  I’m going to share what I learned and why I finally decided to join Twitter.

I find that analogies, like business novels, put everyone on the same page and collectively we are more likely to arrive at the same conclusion when we follow a common model.  In this case I am assuming that almost everyone is at least aware of Twitter and maybe after reading this will also become part of the Twitter community, also known as the twitterverse.

First Impressions

For the longest time I wondered what could be so exciting about Twitter.  In fact, I originally rendered it to be  just another internet craze that was sure to fade away.  Well that didn’t happen and as Twitter gained in popularity I became even more intrigued.  Admittedly I visited the Twitter.com website quite some time ago and my first impression was that Twitter is nothing more than an internet-sized chat room.

I also wondered how Twitter was supported since it is free to use and there is no advertising engine that intervenes with your messages – remember the original “free” e-mail or websites where advertising was added automatically.

Another restriction is that messages can only be 140 characters long.  How much can you possibly accomplish with such limited space?

And finally, I wondered how it was possible to manage the 1000’s of messages that could potentially be published on any day at any given time.

Resources

As with every decision there are two choices, Take it or Leave it.  Of course I could have dismissed Twitter to be nothing more than a distraction and decide to ignore it or, I could least try to understand what Twitter was all about and learn to appreciate why people are so excited about it.  My decision to learn more about Twitter was driven by it’s continued persistence, support, and accessibility through many of the applications that I am presently using.  Almost magically, Twitter buttons started to appear on web sites and blogs (much like this one) that allow you to instantly share information with other people in your network with a simple click.

I decided to Google the term “twitter” to see what I could learn from the top hits.  I also went to the public library and paid a visit to the local book store to see what tangible information was available.  The library had a number of books that served to whet my appetite for more.  I finally purchased a copy of twitter power 2.0 – How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a time – by Joel Comm.  Even if I used my iRewards card at the book store, I discovered that I could get a better deal at Amazon.  The retail price at the book store, before my iRewards discount, was $19.95 CDN / $16.95 US compared to Amazon’s price of $9.97 at the time of this writing.

Informed Decision

The book “twitter power” is equally relevant for beginner, novice, and more accomplished twitter users alike.  I learned that Twitter really is a simple communication tool that can help us in a variety of different ways:

  1. Twitter messages can be viewed as “headlines” or announcements that let your followers know what is going on in real time.
  2. Twitter messages can contain links to your or other websites.
  3. The limited message length keeps them focused on single topic (usually)
  4. Twitter can also serve as a two-way communication “chat” tool.
  5. Twitter enables you to access a wealth of potential experts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  6. Twitter is accessible through your mobile phone.
  7. Communication is instantaneous, life as it happens in real-time.
  8. You can use the search bar to find discussions or sources for specific topics of interest.
  9. You can ask for help and possibly receive an instant response from anyone around the globe (the book references some great examples of life saving help).
  10. Twitter is all about networking and connecting with people first and foremost.
  11. Twitter makes it extremely easy to grow your network by offering recommendations for people to follow
  12. Twitter provides a means to stay connected with the real world of life and business at the same time.
  13. It can be used as a tool to help generate earnings for any Internet Marketer.
  14. Provides a means to find and interact directly with other entrepreneurs in your field.
  15. Current topics that are trending  in twitter are constantly updated  in real-time.
  16. #HashTags can be used to mark or search for unique messages.
  17. The Application Program Interface (API) is documented and allows third party vendors to develop applications.
  18. Third party sites exist that provide additional functionality to Twitter’s limited tool set (http://www.twitpic.com/http://search.twitter.com/)
  19. You can use twitter to offer support for your business or service.
  20. Restrictive account access is possible that allows you to set up exclusive access to messages.
  21. You can even send pictures and view them on http://www.twitpic.com/

I selected “twitter power 2.0” as it covers all aspects of twitter from introduction to setting up your twitter page to ultimately learning how to use it with practical examples.  Other complementary support sites for twitter are also discussed.  I became a student of the twitter world and learned all I could about this simple, yet very powerful application.  The book has 260 pages so it took me a few days to get through it the first time.  It is not my intent to discuss the ins and outs of twitter in this post.  I would rather leave that task to Joel Comm, the author of the book.

Results

Twitter had much more to offer than I had first suspected and when I was duly informed, I decided to join.  Although I have only been active on Twitter for a very short period of time, I have been able to connect with people around the world.  I recall helping a person in Australia to resolve a customized formula for Excel, offering statistics advice to another person in the US, and helping yet another person in Canada with a research project.

The number of followers increases every day.  I have also learned that the Hash Tag #FF means FollowFriday and is sure to increase the number of people that follow you.  I have noticed a marked increase in the number of subscribers and visitors to our site as well as the number of files that have been downloaded from our Free Downloads page.  Twitter has proven itself to be a valuable tool even in the short period of time that I have been using it.

Conclusion:

So how does this apply to lean?  Although I am usually excited and optimistic about the latest and greatest technologies available there have been occasions where the return on learning time simply was not there.  Hopefully you recognized that my initial response to Twitter is likely very similar to how our employees respond to a NEW or different way of doing things.

We not only need to inform our teams of the direction we plan to take, we also need to make sure we provide an ample list of reasons for doing so accompanied by appropriate hands-on training to assure success.  A lot of companies are known to have their “flavor of the month” or “program of the day” where employees have learned to “tolerate” the new direction until management decides it’s not working as intended.

I contend that once employees understand why and how to execute the new strategy successfully, they will not only embrace it but find even more ways to improve it.  You will note that we also cited a few of the many available metrics that allowed me to confirm the impact and effectiveness of twitter.  It is equally important to provide our employees with meaningful metrics that demonstrate the desired achievements by using the NEW system or methods.

Perhaps the most notable of all is that twitter provides new learning opportunities every day.  I have been meeting some terrific new people through twitter who have already proven their value to the world and lean practices.  As collaboration and co-creation are gaining increasing support as a viable business model, twitter becomes a natural extension to this new environment.

It is also worth noting that twitter is being integrated into applications that I am already using.  For example, if you are signed up for twitter, it is a simple matter of clicking the twitter button below this post and sending the tweet to your network.  From my perspective, the most powerful features of twitter are:

  1. Simplicity – easy to use, quick learning curve.
  2. Information sharing with just a few simple clicks.
  3. Networking:  Access to real people in real time all the time – 24/7

You can follow me on twitter @versalytics

You can also visit our Twitter page that offers more information, resources, and free services to enhance your Twitter experience.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

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Vergence Analytics