Around the Dot

28 July 2005

28 on 28
I'm turning 28 today...

I guess I need to make a fortune really quickly if I want to retire by my thitiest birthday - yep, that was the plan :)

Bribe And Date
Scientists of the University College London have created a model to determine what the best gifts are for a male to improve his chances with the female he wants to date (and mate with obviously). The study is quite broad and observes (and recommends) invitation to the restaurant for human beings and food items for little bugs.

Some UCL students joined us for the Entrepreneurship Management elective I took in my 3rd term but this kind of research was never mentioned. That’s a shame because these findings could be used for the basis of a new breed of dating websites*. Too B.A.D.?

* This Entrepreneurship course was mainly aimed at feasibility studies and each group had to pick a venture idea so we could have known more about that clumsy assumption of mine. :)

21 July 2005

Blognus plan?
My weekly readings have brought much enlightenment (English native speakers: can I say that?) in the field of “Organisational Behaviour”. Some people are studying how e-mail flows and forwarding can help build maps of social networks. Others propose new “de-motivational” ways of managing staff in a radical fashion (thanks Miss N for the link):

So far, so Swiftian; especially the suggestion that managers “cleanse” after shaking hands with a worker, even by simply wiping your hands on clothing, just to reinforce to them that they represent a contamination.

Based on this and surfing on a few other blogs, I made a couple of observations that I want to share with the scientific community under the name of “Blognus Plan” theory.

Abstract: Use blogging rates, profiling and a correlation model to determine bonus plans.

It seems you can measure your white collar employees’ efficiency and dedication to the fulfilment of their tasks or whatever you pay them for by using the frequency with which they post on their blog. Given the development of blogging and provided you can identify which employees are blogging and where (Google anyone?), you can then monitor their activity and develop a model to give you an index of their actual workload, provided also that you know their “profile”. An educated guess is that some people blog more when they have spare time (the “Happy” profile: “nothing to do? Let’s blog or get home earlier”) or when they feel literally exploited (the “Complaining” profile: “Too much work; I’m too tired – I need to complain and share online”). Other profiles should be established from further study.

My very primary research using two MBA students’ blogs (names disguised) indicates there is a correlation between workload and blog publishing rate – You have to be able to isolate other factors I guess.

Student 1:
Phase 1: had a training in the US for a few weeks. 4 posts in 4 weeks.
Phase 2: is now back and fully working in Europe. 1 post in 2 weeks (and counting).
Analysis suggests the subject is working harder in phase 2.
Yet to determine: further analysis might suggest we need to add a “Party Boy” profile (the more free time, the less blogging). Introducing a set of geographical dummy variables might be a good idea (US suburbs vs. European city).

Student 2:
Phase 1: training and working on a presentation template. 4 posts in 1 week.
Phase 2: less motivating work and waiting for data to start 2nd project. 1 post in 2 weeks
Phase 3: second project starting. 3 posts in 1 week.
Analysis suggests the subject is blogging more in phases of excitement.
Yet to determine: Can the model be also used to track motivation of “Thrill seeking” profiles? We need to introduce a “work interest” index to refine the regression.

I know I should link to existing theory etc. A good preparation to my shadowing project report it seems.


  • It is too early and it would be erroneous to apply any of these findings to the author’s current post. Seriously, if companies also tracked exact post time… :)
  • Does anyone know about someone using blogs and links to establish maps of social networks?

20 July 2005

British (and increasingly the rest of the world) see French as arrogant and always complaining – add “lazy” and you’ve the big picture.

The latest wave of opposition to Pepsico rumoured takeover of Danone is not going to help… Are French people born to say just “Non!”?

How typical and arrogant of France’s “old guard” (politicians and unionists). So, it’s Ok for France’s Vivendi to buy Universal, an emblematic US company but it’s an outrage for Pepsico to (maybe) raid Danone, a company which is to France “more than a floret” (according to a government member).

I wonder if foreign investors and companies will still be interested in investing in France in the long run – is the Olympic Committee’s decision the first major example of that glooming future?

A bit more if you can read French:

Danone "est plus qu'un fleuron", c'est "une entreprise particulière car elle procède de l'équilibre de notre production agricole, c'est aussi un facteur structurant des PME françaises et européennes qui travaillent pour Danone. C'est une entreprise très importante pour l'équilibre de notre pays sur l'emploi, sur l'aménagement du territoire, sur la santé et sur l'art de vivre", a souligné M. Borloo.

Isn’t that true of all companies of the CAC40 (apart from the agriculture bit)?

19 July 2005

French Math
It would take 250 days of work for the whole French working population to pay back France’s debt.

I just calculated this number during my diner. I was watching LCI and they announced that half the French workers decided to work on the Journée de Solidarité (day of solidarity) – a former holiday converted back to a normal work day to pay for pensions, etc. and soon to be renamed or cancelled… The Government collected € 2 billions on that day.

Knowing that the Government’s debt is a bit more than €1,000 billions (source: Les Echos), it would then take 250 full days for “us” to repay our debt:

€1000B / (2 * €2B) = 250 days.

I guess it’s no big deal for someone to have a loan equivalent to one year of salary (I owe my bank more than my past salary with my MBA loan). But what about a whole country? I really think France is spending more than it can afford and I hope that the “serious” people claiming that in the media will finally be heard.

Hopefully, Asians will still like to visit France as the Asian economies develop in the coming decades. I’m glad I’m taking a concentration in Marketing – it might soon be the only serious job in France: selling it as an exotic vacation destination (“Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, the wine… and we still have a communist party!”).

07 July 2005

The crash of 13h42
It’s funny how you can see the impact of the finish race for the Olympic bid on the CAC40 index (source Finance).

CAC40 on Olympic Bid Decision

I wasn’t really supporting Paris’ candidacy but I was struck to see how important getting the Games was for the people around me. I followed the final “episode” of this bad story on TV in a Parisian “bistrot” with some of my co-workers and everybody was disappointed.

The mayor’s office, the media and the population (in this order I presume) were thinking that the Games would help to boost France’s economy, image and morale. I was really thinking it was doubtful and I hope that this will help my fellow citizen focus on the real matters. What we need is not the Games (Good luck to London with that). What we need is changing the French/European system.

Tackling the debt and government deficit issue (less civil servants, healthcare, dubious spendings)? Facing the unemployment question while international competition has never been so strong and economic prospect are not that good (oil prices, euro/dollar exchange rates rise and fall)? Sure, that’s not as sexy as getting the Games in Paris. But it’s far more difficult and will require real sacrifices. We can argue over politics’ roles (the mayor’s fault, the president’s fault, etc.) and I think they are to blame for spending public money to show off all over the globe (an issue nobody really discusses). But better than that, France should try to address – for once – the real issues.

Of course, I am not popular with my fellow citizens when I express this kind of point of view. My co-workers even nicknamed me “rosbif” after the bid results (“roast beef”, our equivalent for “British” to the “Frog” they use for us). But I don’t want to stay in France as it is (becoming not less or more than a touristy destination), one reason I chose to study in London and I’m willing to work in the UK or the US after that. And to be true, I do have a “London 2012” sticker on a folder I always have in my bag. Some trophy from a London Business School party… :)

Note: this was posted before the first news of the sad events in London and my thoughts are of course going to all my friends there and to the Londoners.