Tänään vastaani tuli “Kuukausipalkka tunnissa“-artikkeli. Artikkeli käsittelee sitä, miksi työnantajat vaativat, että töitä tehdään toimistolla yhdeksästä viiteen, kun tärkeämpää työajan seurannan sijaan olisi tulosten seurana.

Olen miettinyt samaa asiaa pitkään. Koska pystyn vaikuttamaan näihin asioihin omassa kontekstissani, olen miettinyt asiaa hyvin pragmaattisesti. Miten tulospohjaisen mallin voisi oikeasti jalkauttaa?

Pitkällisen pohdinnan jälkeen olen joutunut toteamaan, että tuntipohjainen malli itseasiassa suojelee työntekijää, ei työnantajaa. Kun puhutaan siirtymisestä 9-17-mallista tulospohjaiseen malliin, ihmisillä herää mielikuva, että minähän tekisin työt nopeammin ja nauttisin enemmän vapaa-aikaa. Kun lähdin mallintamaan asiaa tarkemmin käytäntöön, tajusin, että kolikolla on myös kääntöpuoli. Mitä, jos tuloksia syntyykin hitaammin? Puolet hitaammin? Vaaditaanko työntekijä tekemään 75 tuntinen viikko? Työnantajalle täysin ennakoitava tasapaksu työtulos olisi lähes unelma, mutta yksittäisen ihmisen kannalta päädyttäisiin nopeasti epäinhimillisiin työoloihin.

Toisin sanoen 7,5 tunnin työpäivän voi itseasiassa nähdä myös niin, että sillä työnantaja rajaa työntekijän vastuun ja kantaa riskin huonoista tuottamattomista kausista.

Olen edelleen samaa mieltä, että kukaan ei voita työntekijöiden kuluttaessa 7,5 tuntia täyteen tuottamattomana hetkenä ja toisaalta lopettaen työt kesken tuottavan hetken. Olemme IT-alalla osittain ratkaisseet tämän vahvalla luottamuksella työntekijöihin, vapailla työajoilla ja liukumalla työpäivien yli. En kuitenkaan usko, että tämä ratkaisee ongelmaa kokonaan.

Toivonkin, että artikkelista seuraava keskustelu tuo uusia ajatuksia, jotka johtavat lähemmäksi ratkaisua. Otan niitä myös mielelläni henkilökohtaisesti vastaan. Ilmeisesti artikkelissa mainittu “Redesign 925”-projekti yrittää myös paneutua tähän ongelmaan. Jään innolla odottamaan sen lopputulosta!

 


Timo Soini selitti eilen Jytkyn anatomia -seminaarissa taustoja postmodernin tekotaiteen kritisointiin Perussuomalaisten vaaliohjelmassa viime kevään eduskuntavaaleissa.

Helsingin Sanomien uutisoinnin mukaan Soini oli kertonut Postmodernin taiteen paheksunnan olleen vaalikikka.

“Se oli tietoinen provo. Tiedettiin, että rääkäisy tulee”, sanoi perussuomalaisten puheenjohtaja Timo Soini.

“Kysymys ei ollut siitä hetkeäkään, saako postmodernia tekotaidetta olla ja onko se hyvää vai huonoa. Ei sillä ole mitään merkitystä: toiset tykkää ja toiset ei.”

Aikoinaan vaaliohjelman tullessa julki perustin sille vastalauseena Postmodernin tekotaiteen ystävät -Facebook-ryhmän. Se saavutti suuren viraalin suosion ja edelleen sillä on 17 729 tykkääjää.

Jos Soinia on uskominen, hän trollasi todistetusti meitä 17 729 ihmistä. Tämä lienee Suomen historian suurin trollaus, koska trollaukset yleensä suoritetaan keskustelupalstoilla, ei valtamediassa.

Keitä Soini trollasi?

Kaivoin esille Facebookin tarjoamat tilastot ryhmästä.

Postmodernin tekotaiteen ystävät (1.2.2011-1.7.2011)

Mielenkiintoista huomata miten ilmiön leviäminen Facebookissa tapahtuu vain muutamassa päivässä. Toisen piikin sai arvatenkin aikaan Perussuomalaisten vaalivoitto.

Postmodernin tekotaiteen ystävien maantieteellinen sijainti ja kieli

Huvittana yksityiskohtana Facebookin piraattienglannin käyttäjät olivat paremmin edustettuina kuin esimerkiksi saksan kielen käyttäjät. Piraattienglannin opetus kouluihin?

Postmodernin tekotaiteen ystävien sukupuoli ja ikä

Lienee aika hyvin linjassa presidentin vaaleissa Pekka Haaviston kannattajien demografian kanssa. 5% vaje sukupuolissa selittynee ihmisillä, jotka eivät ole merkinneet sukupuoltaan Facebookiin.

Postmodernin tekotaiteen ystävien aktiivisuus (1.2.2011-1.7.2011)

Timo Soinin trollaus puhutti parhaimmillaan 30 000 ihmistä, 10 000 päivittäin.

Kaikki jäänee odottamaan mielenkiinnolla Timo Soinin trollauksen haastajaa presidentinvaaleissa. Esimerkiksi Sauli Niinistöllä olisi reilulla etumatkallaan varaa pieneen valtakunnan tason pilailuun.


To wrap up year 2010 I counted my received and sent e-mails. I have a total of 12211 received e-mails* and  7076 sent e-mails. If I divide those numbers by the amount of my working days in 2010 I get 52 e-mails received and 30 sent per working day.

* Excluding spam, I’m not a subscriber of any newsletter and I have disabled all e-mail notifications such as from Facebook.

This brought up again one of my favorite subjects, the personal process of handling e-mails. How do I handle the load without missing e-mails nor burning out? I think people don’t often give this as much thought as they should.

I’ll present here my current process for handling e-mails with the pros and cons I see in applying it.

The Taskbox model

I’ll call my process for handling e-mails the Taskbox model. It refers to the fact that Inbox is regarded as a personal task list filled by other people. It means every e-mail in your Inbox is a pending task. In other words, if your Inbox has 10 e-mails, you have 10 pending tasks.

These are the three steps in the process

The process consists of three steps, previewing, taking action and archiving. Let’s go through these steps one at a time.

Preview

When new e-mails arrive, you preview them. Previewing means glancing at them quickly. When you preview an e-mail your aim is to understand what kind of actions are required from you, how urgent they are and then decide whether you should immediately take action or postpone. Most often e-mails are postponed.

Unread e-mails get a new definition here. The unread tag on an e-mail indicates that it has not been previewed yet.

I think this is quite natural behavior. When you have received a bunch of e-mails, you have an urge to first glance through all of them.

Take action

Taking action means here simply handling an e-mail. You read it through, you reply if required, you take some actions if asked for and so on. After you have taken all actions required by an e-mail, you archive it. Note that you can execute e-mails in parts. When someone asks me to deliver something, I often reply “Ok, I’ll look into it and get back to you on monday”. In such a case, the task is not fully completed yet and the e-mail stays in my Inbox until I deliver everything on monday.

Archive

Archiving in this process means closing a task. Open tasks are in Inbox, closed are not. I use a mailbox folder called “archive” where I move e-mails to archive them. If you want to categorize your e-mails, you could move them to different mailbox folders. The point just is that you get them out of your Inbox. How do you move e-mails? I usually just drag if using my laptop.

Example scenario

A carpet pick up scenario according to the Taskbox model

Let’s say I receive an e-mail from my dry cleaner. When I receive it, I preview it, and it turns out to be a notification that my carpet is ready for pick-up. I don’t rate fetching my carpet urgent or high priority. However I reply them “Thanks for the notification!”. As the e-mail still requires action from me, I leave the e-mail in my Inbox.

After work I decide to pick the carpet up on they way home. As a result, all actions required by the e-mail have been taken and I move the e-mail to my archive folder.

Pros and cons

So why is this Task box model so handy?

  • simple and easy to pick-up
  • you never miss a single e-mail again
  • no time spent in noting down tasks elsewhere
  • allows you glancing at e-mails without the fear of forgetting them
  • e-mails are easily postponed – by doing nothing

And what are the shortcomings?

  • as glancing is allowed and so easy, it easily encourages you to interrupt your work all the time
    • this has been a big problem for me, at the moment my process for avoiding this is taking e-mails offline for certain periods of day
  • on bad days Inbox filling up faster than you process can be stressing
  • if you are swamping with high priority issues, your processing order is quite arbitrary
  • some lowest priority e-mails will can stay in your sight for months
  • it does not allow following up sent emails
    • for example if I request something from someone and that someone forgets it (apparently he’s not using this e-mail processing technic), would be handy to have it as a pending sent e-mail

Summary

I feel every office worker who spends time every day on e-mails should give thought to his or her personal e-mail handling process. I presented here the Taskbox model I use where you treat Inbox as a task list. An e-mail in the Inbox equals to a pending task.

As a disclamer, the model has not been invented by me, someone presented it to me a few years back and ever since it has been evolving slightly in my use.

I hope this gives inspiration to some people. I also hope I could have discussions on the matter to help to improve my personal process.


How did we as an unknown company create a buzz around our game’s beta launch without any paid marketing? How did we get featured on the big local mainstream media (Helsingin Sanomat newspaper 27.1.2010, Taloussanomat), big local gaming media (eDome, V2 – here and here, Peliplaneetta), multiple international blogs (google.com listing, for example here, here and here), various newsletters, Twitter feeds and so on? Before this we had been only once mentioned in a Taloussanomat article by Suvi Häkkinen (she’s well tuned into weak signals?) and our game had been mentioned in a few places as part of the recipient list for the Nordic Games Program I/2009 grant. So we really started almost out of nothing.

This was an interesting challenge for me which ended up as a very rewarding learning case. I decided to share the lessons learnt in the form of generic guidelines on how to maximize the publicity of an announcement. For easy writing I refer to companies, products and even games but in my opinion all the guidelines apply as well into any other context. As a disclaimer these are all my personal conclusions based on this one time experience and the extensive talks I was luckily able to have with the experts (thanked in the end of the post).

Reaching out for the press

1. Prepare a press release (FIN, ENG)

The very key thumb rule is that journalists are busy and their time is your most valued asset. So one starting point for making a press release should be to minimize the parsing work of a journalist if he decides to publish an article based on your press release. This can be achieved by aiming to have the press release in as easily publishable format as possible. In other words it should be an interesting stand-alone article aimed at the readers, not at the journalists. You know you have succeeded in this if the press release gets published in at least a couple of places exactly as you sent it out.

The press release format we used was roughly the following:

TITLE: SOME INTERESTING ANGLE TO THE ANNOUNCEMENT

First paragraph: the actual announcement, who released what and when.

“Second paragraph: a juicy comment about the actual announcement”, said by an interesting person behind the release (CEO, game designer or so).

Third paragraph: more details on the announcement.

“Fourth paragraph: a juicy comment reflecting the annoucement from another angle and reflecting also future”, told by yet another interesting person behind the release.

Fifth paragraph: putting the announceent into bigger perspective and commenting the future or next steps.

While writing this I noticed we had left out the 5th chapter from the English press release. I’m quite convinced it was not on purpose and it just shows how quickly in the end we had to execute all this. We did not prioritize English press release too high because we saw our chances getting actually through in the international press very scarce.

A good thing to remember is that getting published is not the only goal of a press release. Another goal for a press release is to increase the awareness of the journalists on your company or product. Even if the journalists don’t open your email, they might remember your company’s name from the subject line next time you send a press release.

A good practice (so I was told) is to include a paragraph about your company in the very end of the email. This is for the journalist to be able to easily check who is this company behind the release. Even if they know you they might have a wrong picture of your business.

The press release overall should be as compact as possible. This is again to serve the journalist as well as possible. If a journalist decides your matter is interesting enough to open the email and invest some seconds on checking it, you should make sure he gets into the core of the things instantly.

In case the journalist then sees the subject possibly worth of writing about, he is willing to invest minutes on it. The next problem he will face is how to get more insight on the subject. That is why your press release should point the sources for more information: contact details for interviews and a press site for more detailed information. Note that from a journalist point of view it is more interesting to get a contact to the CEO instead of a PR agency that is most probably just going to answer questions based on a prepared list of facts.

2. Prepare a press site

Again the main focus is on providing information to the journalist making it as easy as possible for him and saving his time. This can be achieved by an index in the beginning of the press site blurting out all the topics covered.

A FAQ section is a good way to start. Your goal is to be able to guess what questions the journalist has on his mind after reading your press release. This was our best guess:

  • What is Crown of Byzantus?
  • What makes case Crown of Byzantus exceptional?
  • Who are behind the game?
  • When will the game be released?
  • How can I play the game?

The other important part of the press site is to provide needed graphical material for an article. Especially in online releases the journalists are most probably not going to come to your office to get a photo of you. Also having the journalist use your product and take screenshots would most probably require more of their time that they are able to invest. So providing good walkthrough material, illustrations and screenshots to include in the article are essential. Not to forget the logo of the product and your company both in various formats.

In the articles about us all but one used solely graphical assets provided in our press site. So this should not be taken lightly. This was also maybe one of our biggest mistakes. We initially put there only screenshots from the game accompanied by two illustrations that are actually used in half the original size inside the game. The low-detailed illustrations got used in many places. As a result I realized this is yet another important reason to produce concept art on a game. Helsingin Sanomat was the only media that decided produce their own graphical material. They came to the office and took a photo.

As a side remark I’ve been told that journalists can use photoshop for cropping and resizing images. So you shouldn’t be too worried about supplying small enough images to fit a web layout.

3. Identify interested journalists

You should try to identify first the media and then the individual journalists that might be interested in your field. Getting the direct email address to a journalist supposedly increase the chances of your announcement getting read. Also this allows building personal relationships which can be fruitful in the long run. Remember the journalists receive tens of press releases a day. So sending “hello, can we talk?” opening messages most probably won’t get you anywhere.

One mistake I did was that I contacted a CEO of a gaming magazine I knew. I asked if they are interested in writing about us. Of course he gave me contacts to their journalists but going through their boss doesn’t really add value. Journalists are pretty picky on their ethics and most probably they might even feel offended that you try to force yourself in through their seniors.

4. Double check all the online material on you, the company and the product

If you get your release through, there will be tens of thousands of people reading it and thousands of people investigating further. Some will no doubt google everything out. Even 1% of the crowd is tens of people.

As an example in the follow-up comments of an online article someone analyzed my Master’s Thesis after reading it. My Master’s Thesis is not really hidden so I can’t blame on finding it but that just shows how much some people are willing to spend time on digging you out.

At this point it’s definitely positive if your company’s website is in a good shape. Ours isn’t. We got 410 unique visits there. But even more important is to spend a moment thinking on what the people will find when wanting to further know your product. Perhaps the best way to do this is to produce one centralized home page that features clearly information and pictures on your product. You should try to get this page as the first result in the google for your product’s name and all the misspellings (we got misspelled a lot thanks to our cumbersome product name). This requires some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) work but having [what people google for].com domain is a good starting point. We have byzantus.com and crownofbyzantus.com. Overall though this is one of the things where we failed. We were too busy to really work on a proper home page and in the end it didn’t even feature any screenshots from the actual product. This lead to some of the articles linking to our blog and some even to our press site since it contained the most information.

5. Send the press release out

Goes without saying that the press release should be sent out to everyone at the same time.

There’s no other magic about it apart from the analytics. I got a tip that it’s important but I thought “I can always analyze the traffic we get to our press site”. But that didn’t work out because we got hundreds of visits there. So in the end I didn’t have a clue what part of the tens of press members I sent the release out to checked our press site.

The easiest way that I’ve found out to handle this is using a mailing service such as MailChimp. They provide tracking automatically by adding Javascript tracking elements to your (HTML) email and the links in it. It also forces you to allow people to unsubscribe from the list. This is of course good as well since you want to keep the journalists happy.

This is our English press release for the launch sent 18.2. It basically says that I sent the email out to 27 people, 3 opened the email and one clicked the link to press site. So even getting the international press to open a random email is a very slight chance.

Contacting the blogosphere

One important reason for reaching the blogs is to start the buzz. You can get much more easily through to small blogs and the more noise there’s about you the better the chances for you to also get covered by the big blogs and the press.

Overall contacting the blogosphere works pretty much the same way as contacting the press. Bloggers in the end are pretty much like small scale journalists. They also get spammed a lot and they also have limited time. Especially since it’s often a hobby.

However I regard bloggers a bit more tech-oriented and liberal. There is no practice of sending “blog releases” for one. I guess press releases could work ok’ish for bloggers as well. I was advised though to be a bit more personal. Based on my experience the modified guidelines for reaching bloggers could be:

  • Instead of a full scale press release send a shorter email announcement.
  • Don’t ask to blog. If your subject is interesting the blogger will blog about it. That’s what bloggers do, blog about interesting things.
  • Pictures can and should be used as attachments to increase the interest on your matter.
  • Giving the blogger something exclusive they can give to their readers is a win-win trade. For example closed beta invitation tokens are good.
  • Journalists are used to getting treated well, bloggers aren’t. So treating bloggers as well as you treat journalists can make them happy.
  • Being as personal as possible is important. So aim for discussion with the bloggers instead of one way corporate announcement.
  • Emails are cheap so why only reach for the top blogs? Actually you might get much better coverage with less time spent from 100 top 1000 blogs instead of 3 top 10 blogs.

Thanks

The biggest part of our successful campaign and the lessons learnt are thanks to a handful of experts I had the pleasure to get advised by.

Annakaisa Vääräniemi – a highly regarded journalist – told me how to contact her kind.

Antti Vilpponen – a famous ArcticStartup blogger – gave me advice on reaching bloggers.

Asmo Halinen – an experienced serial entrepreneur – discussed the matter of press releases and how to manage company PR in the long run.

Vili Lehdonvirta – someone who has been featured in all the major media including TV and radio in Finland – gave good tips on press releases and advised who to contact in both Finnish and international press.


FFF: Five Forces of the Finnish Online Game Industry

Abstract

The Finnish game industry had a turnover of 87 million euros in 2008 with 87% from export and is on a steady growth. Finnish government subvents the game industry by 6 million euros per year through Tekes. Their goal is to make the industry a significant and established export industry for Finland. The Finnish online game industry accounts for the majority of the game industry sales. It consists of 4 medium sized companies (Sulake Corporation Oy, Apaja Online Entertainment Oy, Frosmo Oy, Sanoma Entertainment Oy), a number of under 15 person companies and a few companies with their core in non-online gaming.

Yet the new-product development evaluation process in the Finnish online game industry seems to be often very vague and even emotional. The success factors of a game are difficult to pre-evaluate. On the other hand as the industry is producing wide audience entertainment it also attracts enthusiastic game consumers to the production. These factors lead the decision-making toward personal intuition and away from systematical analytic evaluation. This study seeks to provide a market-driven approach for the planning of new-product development in the Finnish online game industry.

The study examines the relevant topics in general marketing management literature and forms a synthesis model for the Finnish online game industry. The model is evaluated and elaborated with qualitative case studies from the Finnish online game industry.

The result of the study is a Five Forces of the Finnish online game industry model. It provides a tool for a market-driven approach to evaluate and elaborate the new-product business potential in the Finnish online game industry. The model highlights the global and turbulent nature of the markets, heavy competition and low entry barrier for the market. Overall partnering and trafficking through partners was found to be one of the main keys to success.

Five Forces of the Finnish online game industry is an industry specific adaptation of Porter’s Five Forces model. The main differences are the emphasised threat of entrants, the high bargaining power of buyers and the insignificance of suppliers. The result is close to Dave Chaffey’s version of the Five Forces for the internet era. However Five Force of the Finnish online game industry provides more details through industry specific insights.

Tiivistelmä (Abstract in Finnish)

Suomen peliteollisuuden liikevaihto on jatkuvassa kasvussa. Vuonna 2008 se saavutti 87 miljoonaa euroa, josta 87% tuli viennistä. Yhteiskunta tukee peliteollisuutta 6 miljoonalla eurolla vuodessa Tekesin kautta. Tavoitteena on tehdä peliteollisuudesta uusi merkittävä vientiteollisuus. Verkkopeliteollisuus vastaa suurimmasta osasta koko peliteollisuuden liikevaihdosta Suomessa. Se koostuu neljästä keskikokoisesta yrityksestä (Sulake Corporation Oy, Apaja Online Entertainment Oy, Frosmo Oy, Sanoma Entertainment Oy), useasta alle viisitoistahenkisestä yrityksestä sekä muutamasta yrityksestä, joille verkkopelit eivät ole päätoimiala.

Kaikesta huolimatta uuden tuotekehityksen käynnistämisen evaluaatioprosessi näyttää olevan yllättävän epämääräinen ja jopa tunnepitoinen suomalaisessa verkkopeliteollisuudessa. Pelin menestymistä on vaikea määritellä ennalta. Toisaalta, koska pelit ovat massaviihdettä, myös alalle päätyy innokkaita pelaajia. Muun muassa nämä asiat vievät päätöksentekoa kohti henkilökohtaista intuitiota ja pois analyyttisestä ja systemaattisesta evaluaatiosta. Tämän tutkimuksen tavoitteena on esittää Suomen verkkopeliteollisuudelle markkinalähtöinen malli uuden tuotekehityksen suunnitteluun.

Tutkimus käy läpi relevantit aiheet yleisestä markkinoinnin johtamisen kirjallisuudesta ja muodostaa synteesimallin suomalaiselle verkkopeliteollisuudelle. Malli evaluoidaan ja mallia jalostetaan kvalitatiivisilla tapaustutkimuksilla Suomen verkkopeliteollisuudesta.

Tutkimuksen tuloksena syntyi “Five Forces of the Finnish online game industry”-malli. Se toimii työkaluna uuden tuotteen kaupallisen potentiaalin markkinalähtöisessä arvioinnissa ja jalostamisessa. Malli painottaa markkinoiden globaalia ja muuttuvaa luonnetta, kovaa kilpailua sekä matalaa alalletulokynnystä. Markkinointipartnerit osoittautuivat yhdeksi tärkeimmistä menestystekijöistä.

“Five Force of the Finnish online game industry”-malli on alakohtainen sovitus Michael Porterin “Five Forces”-mallista. Suurimmat erot ovat korostunut uhka alalletulijoista, ostajien suuri neuvotteluvoima sekä toimittajien merkityksettömyys. Tutkimuksen tulos on lähellä Dave Chaffeyn Internet-aikakaudelle tekemää muunnelmaa “Five Forces”-mallista. “Five Forces of the Finnish online game industry”-malli erottuu kuitenkin erityisen tarkoilla alakohtaisilla yksityiskohdilla.

Links

Lehdonvirta, Pyry (2009). Marketing Management in New-Product Development in the Finnish Online Game Industry.

Slide Share presentation on Marketing Management in New-Product Development in the Finnish Online Game Industry.