For an "Amazon-like" experience, it isn't enough to have a website that functions on the front end, the back end and in between. Nor is it enough to have a site that can handle 800,000 users a day without crashing, as the administration now boasts of the health site. Amazon.com handled 26.5 million purchases on Nov. 26, 2012, a company record and a rate of 306 items per second.
You also need an Amazon-like culture,
***• Sweating the details: "Bezos paid a lot of attention to the flow of the checkout process and the warehouse order processing software," writes biographer Richard Brandt in his book "One Click." "And everything had to be stable enough, able to handle enough traffic that it would not crash and leave customers stranded, ***And here is Ms. Sebelius telling CNN's Sanjay Gupta about what the president knew, and when:
Gupta: "Do you know when he first knew there was a problem?"
Sebelius: "Well, I think it became clear fairly early on, the first couple of days."
Gupta: "So not before that?"
Sebelius: "No, sir."
***• Real-time accountability: ... during the 2000 holiday season when Mr. Bezos tested a claim by Bill Price, his vice president for customer services, who said hold times on Amazon's phone lines were less than a minute.
"'Really?' Bezos said. 'Let's see.' On the speakerphone in the middle of the conference table, he called Amazon's 800 number. . . . Bezos took his watch off and made a deliberate show of tracking the time. A brutal minute passed, then two. . . . Around four and a half minutes passed, but according to multiple people at the meeting who related the story, the wait seemed interminable." Less than a year later, Mr. Price was gone from Amazon.
And here is Ms. Sebelius at a press conference in late October on the subject of accountability:
Reporter: "Who has been fired? Senator Bill Nelson said people should be fired for the website not being up and running by October first. Who have you fired?"
Sebelius: "No one. No one has been fired. My goal is to actually get the website up and running."
***• Searching, not planning: The development expert William Easterly makes a useful distinction between "planners" and "searchers": The former come to a task with preset ideas about what should work, and then they go about implementing the plan. Searchers, by contrast, spend their time figuring out through trial-and-error what does work.
Amazon succeeds because it searches. How to reassure customers that their credit card information is safe? Should Amazon invest in warehouses or not? (Mr. Bezos at first opposed the idea, then changed his mind.) Should the site feature negative product reviews? Mr. Bezos gambled that customers would appreciate the honesty. And so on.
By contrast, the Affordable Care Act is the brainchild of planners, the people who always think they know best—and are always the most shocked when it turns out they don't. [Emphasis added]
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
From The Wall Street Journal, "Obama and the 'Amazon Experience': The president could use a download from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos." by Bret Stephens:
Posted 12/03/2013 02:36:00 PM
From Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Commentary, "The Employability of Returning Citizens Is Key to Neighborhood Revitalization: Many roadblocks stand between a job and those coming home from prison" by O Emre Ergungor and Nelson Oliver:
One problem low-income communities may face in trying to revitalize is dealing with a high share of residents who are returning home after serving prison terms. Returning citizens often concentrate in low-income areas, and they typically lack the education and skills needed to find jobs. This Commentary reviews these and other barriers to employment, estimates the degree of unemployment, and describes some solutions emerging for this population.
"The best antipoverty program," the cliché goes, “is a good job.” But for people who have been in prison, jobs—let alone good ones—are hard to come by. (Note that agencies working to assist those who have served prison terms prefer to use the term “returning citizens” when referring to this population, a practice we will observe.)
Nobody really knows what the current unemployment rate is among returning citizens, but we do know that unemployment is extremely high in neighborhoods where returning citizens are concentrated.
|Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland|
While the unemployment rate of the less-educated population was around 15 percent in 2010, 36 percent of New York probationers were looking for a job in the same year. Other estimates put the unemployment rate for returning citizens as high as 60 percent to 75 percent one year after release. Considering that in 2010, 40 percent of the general unemployed population has been looking for a job for more than 26 weeks—a post–World War II high—it is clear that people with a prison term on their resume are fighting an uphill battle.
***Barriers to Gainful Employment
Returning citizens face many employment barriers. While the fear that a person with a criminal background could be violent or prone to repeat criminal activity might seem an obvious one, it is not a big concern for most employers. A far more significant barrier for returning citizens is that they lack the skills that are required in the labor market. The typical job candidate from this population lacks education, work experience, and soft skills like reliability and punctuality.
Surveys show that about 70 percent of offenders and returning citizens are high school dropouts and about half are functionally illiterate. Of those who had less than a GED upon admission to prison, only about 40 percent complete a GED while incarcerated.
Returning citizens often lack soft skills that employers look for, such as showing up to work every day and on time, working hard, being generally trustworthy, and having the necessary communication skills to interact with customers. Surveys of potential employers have shown that many employers are not necessarily worried about a repeat crime on their premises or being sued for having hired a returning citizen if something goes wrong. Rather, they are worried that returning citizens will not be good employees.
Posted 12/03/2013 01:00:00 AM