2007年7月28日 星期六

Former Qwest CEO Nacchio Is Sentenced to Six Years

blog 起步晚, 沒有恭逢美國對於大公司最高負責人的起訴風潮。





Former Qwest CEO Nacchio
Is Sentenced to Six Years


DENVER -- Joseph Nacchio, the former chief of one-time high flyer Qwest Communications International Inc. who was convicted of insider trading, was sentenced to six years in federal prison and was ordered to forfeit $52 million he gained in illegal stock sales. He was also issued a $19 million fine.

Mr. Nacchio's attorneys are planning to appeal. To handle his appeal Mr. Nacchio has hired Maureen Mahoney, a high-profile lawyer best known for her victories before the Supreme Court. She represented Arthur Andersen in 2005 when its criminal conviction was overturned and the University of Michigan Law School in its 2003 defense of its affirmative-action policy.

In April Mr. Nacchio was convicted in federal court here of 19 counts of insider trading for selling $52 million worth stock in the spring of 2001 while knowing that his company's finances were in trouble. He also faces a Securities and Exchange Commission civil fraud suit.

Mr. Nacchio plans to ask the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to serve out his sentence in a minimum security prison in or near New Jersey, which is where he has a home and is near to many family members.

The Nacchio criminal case is among the last of a series of prominent prosecutions of corporate executives brought in recent years.

Prosecutors said Mr. Nacchio, a charismatic and blunt CEO who was hand-picked to lead Qwest by its founder Phil Anschutz, maintained an overly optimistic outlook on his company's finances even as the telecom bubble was showing signs of strain in 2000 and 2001 and his underlings told him his optimism might be a stretch. Mr. Nacchio resigned in 2002 as Qwest's stock nosedived. The company eventually restated two years of results, eliminating $2.48 billion of revenue for 2000 and 2001.

During his trial this spring, Mr. Nacchio's attorneys said the former CEO couldn't have "knowingly and willfully" engaged in insider trading at the time because he was consumed by a suicide attempt by one of his sons. His son's suicide attempt had been a family secret but he revealed it because his state of mind was an issue.

Mr. Nacchio's attorneys also said other Qwest executives' concerns were based on whether they could meet internal revenue targets, which were tied to their bonuses. Mr. Nacchio did not testify, and his defense was extremely brief. Mr. Nacchio had asked the judge for leniency in sentencing partly based on his son's mental health state, as well as the former executives "prior good works."

Ms. Mahoney, a former clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist and one-time United States Deputy Solicitor General, declined comment on possible appeals. But a recent defense filing from Ms. Mahoney seeking to keep Mr. Nacchio out of prison pending his appeal lays out the issues that Mr. Nacchio is likely to argue to try to overturn his conviction.

His appeal will likely focus on whether the judge erred in instructing the jury about "materiality." In a brief filed earlier this week, Ms. Mahoney raises the question of whether the warnings about Qwest's finances conveyed to Mr. Nacchio by his executive team were materially different from the sunny outlook he conveyed to investors and analysts.

The brief argues that "predictions are inherently limited and uncertain" and "financial predictions are not materially misleading so long as the company believes them in good faith." The filing also highlights that Qwest's chief financial officer and auditors also signed off on Mr. Nacchio's financial guidance.

In the filing, Mr. Nacchio's attorneys also object to the judge's exclusion of an expert witness, an economics professor, who they say could have rebutted analysts testifying for the prosecution who said they were upset upon learning about Qwest's questionable accounting practices.

Another issue likely to surface in the appeal is Mr. Nacchio's classified defense that he was upbeat about Qwest's financial prospects because he knew the company was going to receive lucrative, secret government contracts. The run-up to the trial was marked by at least seven closed pre-trial hearings where classified information apparently was discussed. Judge Nottingham barred some parts of the classified defense, and the matter barely surfaced at trial.

"The rulings effectively deprived the defendant of the opportunity to provide the jury with information that bore directly on his good faith and could have led to an acquittal," the defense filing said.

Write to Dionne Searcey at dionne.searcey@wsj.com

2007年7月27日 星期五

compliance 法令遵守

補充美國The Sarbanes-Oxley Act(widely known as SOX)法 五年功過


本文多採 compliance法令遵守

與一般市民遵守法律作區別,企業活動方面的「法令遵守」或稱為Business Compliance「ビジネスコンプライアンス」)。


reliability compliance test可靠度適合試驗(統計學、生產自動化名詞)可靠性符合測試(電子計算機) 

電子計算機:regulatory compliance法規符合性;regulator compliance法令遵循主管;chief compliance officer首席承諾官員;ansi C compliance符合ANSI C規範

海事compliance with a warranty履行保證規定 /non-compliance with a warranty未履行保證 

document of compliance符合證書

核能(原子能)certificate compliance合格證明

現在,防止洗錢(antimoney-laundering)或防止內線交易的法令日多,即「遵循(法令)成本」(compliance cost)日高。(regulator compliance 法令遵循主管;chief compliance officer首席法令尊守/承諾官員)

據WSJ 的報導:銀行防洗錢的成本越來越高
Demand Rises for Bank Compliance Officials

Demand for compliance executives is soaring, and banks are paying top dollar to recruit experienced talent in an effort to keep up with numerous antimoney-laundering requirements imposed on financial institutions.

經濟學:Tax compliance 守法納稅 

compliance /法令遵守



 企業を取り巻く法律や規則は、民法や商法をはじめ独占禁止法、不 正競争防止法、労働法、消費者保護法など多数あり、監督官庁の命令・指導などもある。さらに、営業活動や市場競争の公正さ、消費者などへの情報公開、職場 環境(過労死、セクシュアル・ハラスメントなど)、公務員や政治家との関係、証券市場における取り引きなど、多くの面で高い倫理(企業倫理)が求められる ようになっている。

 企業は、こうした多岐にわたる規則・規範を全役員・従業員が遵守 し、もし違反行為があった場合には、早期に発見して是正できるマネジメント体制を作ることが求められる。また、業界慣行、社内ルールがより広い視点で法律 や社会通念と相反していないかといった第三者的チェックも必要になるだろう。

 コンプライアンスの重要性が叫ばれるようになった背景には、違法 行為や反社会的行為を行って、消費者や取引先の信頼を失い、事業継続が不可能になる企業が頻発するようになったことがある。企業にとってコンプライアンス は、リスクマネジメント活動としてとらえられている場合が多いようだ。しかし、complianceの原義に戻って、社会からの信頼を高めるための戦略的活動として取り組んでいる企業もある。

 さらに広い概念として、CSR が知られる。


S.E.C. Revises Its Standards for Corporate Audits ByERIC DASH

Published: May 24, 2007

The Securities and Exchange Commission approved new guidelines yesterday that try to balance the need for tighter financial controls with the cost of complying with them. It said the new procedures will make it less costly for smaller companies to assess the state of their internal financial controls.

Skip to next paragraph
Doug Mills/The New York Times

The Securities and Exchange Commission, led by Christopher Cox, is extending the new auditing guidelines to cover smaller companies.

The new standards call for public companies to focus on the areas most prone to potential fraud, streamlining an auditing process that many have called excessive and burdensome.

While big public companies had previously adhered to more rigorous standards, the unanimous vote by the commissions five members paves the way for this more relaxed set of guidelines to be imposed on the smaller companies that make up the vast majority of American businesses, those with a market value of less than $75 million.

Small companies will have to adhere to the new guidelines starting on Dec. 15 for the 2007 calendar year. The commission had previously delayed the effective date amid complaints that complying with the rules would be too costly for small companies.

The S.E.C. also introduced six rule proposals yesterday aimed at making it easier for small businesses to raise capital.

Federal regulators have been under pressure from business groups and lawmakers to ease the requirements of the internal controls provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which was introduced after the Enron and WorldCom scandals.

Section 404, which requires public companies to assess the controls they have put in place in order to certify that their reports are reliable, was intended to discourage fraud and financial manipulation. Its critics, however, say its stringent requirements impose unnecessary costs on small companies and have caused United States financial markets to lose ground.

Congress left it up to regulators to determine how thoroughly auditors had to conduct their exams.

The commissions action yesterday was the culmination of a fierce lobbying battle between accounting firms, which have reaped huge profits from the tighter standards, and an influential coalition of small public companies, which has called for relief for years.

The regulator of auditors, thePublic Company Accounting Oversight Board, is expected to vote today on new rules for auditors, which reflect a similar emphasis on end results over process.

The S.E.C.s new guidelines largely resemble those it proposed late last year, accounting experts say. They call on corporate managers to use a top down approach to identify the areas where fraud or errors are most likely and a risk based approach that allows room to avoid unnecessary testing. This contrasts with a more prescriptive approach that auditors had employed.

Among the most concrete changes is that the S.E.C. will now require a company to get an outside auditors formal opinion on whether its financial controls are working. Previously, companies were required to have outside auditors evaluate the quality of the assessment process as well. Accounting experts said this could lower a typical audits cost by 10 to 20 percent.

Among the rule proposals on the raising of capital, the S.E.C. has recommended changing its Rule 144 in a move that would allow investors in PIPEs private investments in public equity and other restricted securities to sell their positions six months earlier.

Currently, those investors must hold the securities for at least a year. Those who are shorting the stock betting its price will fall will still have to hold it for a year.

The S.E.C. also proposed expanding the number of small companies that would qualify for less stringent disclosure requirements and be able to take advantage of so-called shelf registration. While both areas are prone to abuse, regulators are seeking a balance between making it easier for small companies to raise capital and ensuring investor protection.

The commission will solicit comments on the proposals over the next 60 days.

2007年7月26日 星期四

I.B.M. 的 學習基金帳戶

這公司在員工的教育訓練的制度創新 (限美國員工 比較類似退休制401 的相對基金補助50%) 要求稅制配合....

I.B.M. Plan Ties Training and Accounts

Published: July 25, 2007

In today’s economy, corporations freely roam the globe for the most efficient, lowest-cost sources of supplies and labor, while American workers are told that the way to compete is constantly to improve their skills with training and education.

Paying for it is usually up to beleaguered employees, which only adds to their sense of economic insecurity.

I.B.M., often a trendsetter in business practices, is taking a step to address the workers’ economic problem — a step it hopes other companies will follow and help encourage a change in tax policy.

I.B.M., at a conference in Washington today, is announcing that it will begin offering its employees in the United States specialized savings accounts for training and education. The “learning accounts” will be modeled on 401(k) retirement accounts, which began in the late 1970s. Workers will put up to $1,000 a year into the accounts, and I.B.M. will contribute 50 cents for every dollar put in by the employee.

Under the I.B.M. plan, the employee decides how and when to spend the money, held in an interest-bearing account. When an employee leaves I.B.M., the individual takes the account.

Companies have long paid for employee education and training. Indeed, I.B.M. spends more than $600 million a year on worker education programs. Yet such spending is typically to upgrade a person’s skills for their next job with the company.

“This is truly path breaking,” said Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at the Harvard business school. “The significance is that it’s controlled by the individual. I’m not aware of any other major corporation doing that, as opposed to programs that are part of some career scheme that the company has in mind.”

The I.B.M. move, Professor Kanter said, is part of a broader evolution in corporate-worker relations. “This is reinventing how a company develops the social contract with its workers in a highly mobile, global economy,” she said.

A key message in that new social contract, I.B.M. executives said, is that whether a person stays with the company for a long career or just for a few years, I.B.M. is a place where people can enhance their skills and be more competitive in a labor market buffeted by globalization and rapid technological change.

Investing to create that kind of corporate climate, they say, should eventually give the company an edge in attracting and retaining talented workers.

In an interview, Samuel J. Palmisano, the chief executive, emphasized that the program was inspired in part by corporate self-interest, noting, “I.B.M. will be more competitive.”

Mr. Palmisano pushed for the learning accounts and the 401(k)-style arrangement, which he said recognized the “dual set of responsibilities in today’s world” of both the individual and the corporation. “It puts the right balance of motivation into the system,” he said. “Everyone has some skin in the game.”

Besides encouraging other corporations, I.B.M. plans to talk with universities, urging them to consider tuition discounts for workers seeking new skills.

A tax change is needed, according to I.B.M. and some economists, to help workers to invest in their own education in new fields. Currently, workers can deduct the cost of education and training in their own occupation, as defined by government job classifications, but not in new careers.

For example, if a software engineer wanted to learn a new programming language, the training costs would be tax deductible. But if that person wanted to train to be a business consultant, that would generally not be tax deductible, even though the new job required related technology and skills. If the programmer wanted to become an emergency room nurse, the education expense would not be tax deductible because it is a different line of work.

Mr. Palmisano would also prefer the law to be changed to allow the new accounts to use pretax dollars, as a 401(k) does.

I.B.M. is by no means alone in pushing for tax change. A policy paper last month by three academics — Grant Aldonas of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Robert Z. Lawrence of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Matthew J. Slaughter of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth — recommended, among other measures, that Congress approve full deductibility for training expenses by individuals, “even when directed at preparation for an entirely new career.”

The report, “Succeeding in the Global Economy: A New Policy Agenda for the American Worker,” was sponsored by the Financial Services Forum, an organization of chief executives of the largest commercial banks, investment banks and insurers.

The I.B.M. move, said Mr. Slaughter, an economist and a former member of the Council of Economic Advisers in the George W. Bush administration, is “precisely the kind of policy we’d like to see throughout the economy.”

Many policy groups have recommendations to increase the opportunities for workers to upgrade their skills continually.

Last month, for example, the Third Way, a research organization aligned with centrist Democrats, called for the federal student loan program to be extended to adults seeking new skills to climb the occupational ladder.

The I.B.M. learning accounts fit into the larger policy debate about how to cope with an economy of increasing dynamism but one that creates a lot of churn in the labor market. Four million jobs a month, or 25,000 an hour in a business day, are eliminated in the American economy. But more than that are created.

I.B.M., a classic global enterprise, deals with plenty of job churn itself as its worldwide employment has increased in recent years, American employment has declined slightly, with steady hiring and layoffs. In the second quarter of this year, 3,500 I.B.M. workers worldwide were told their jobs were being eliminated. A third of the displaced employees typically find jobs elsewhere in the company.

Steps like the I.B.M. learning accounts could well help some people make transitions to new jobs, but they will do little for many workers, said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group.

“This is a pretty forward-thinking move, but it’s wrong to think that you can always train your way out of the box that globalization puts many of these workers in,” Mr. Bernstein said. “That larger problem is where the federal government ought to be.”

I.B.M.’s learning accounts will initially be available in 2008 to workers who have been with the company for at least five years in the United States, where the company employed 127,000 people at the end of last year.

The company has earmarked $40 million over the three years for contributions to the learning accounts, which is in addition to its $600 million training budget. And $20 million will be spent on two other new programs — one to send employees to developing nations to work on environmental and educational projects, and the other to train people who want second careers in nonprofit organizations, government and schools.

美國The Sarbanes-Oxley Act(widely known as SOX)法 五年功過



Five years under the thumb

Jul 26th 2007 | NEW YORK
From The Economist print edition

Corporate America is learning how to live with the tough regulations introduced after the collapse of Enron

Satoshi Kambayashi

FOR the leaders of corporate America it has been five long years. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, widely known as SOX, was signed into law on July 30th 2002 by George Bush, who called its tough new rules the “most far-reaching reforms of American business practices since Franklin Roosevelt was president”. The hope was to restore public confidence in American business, which had been badly shaken by huge corporate scandals, such as those which led to the bankruptcies of Enron and WorldCom.

The act created a new regulator for the accounting industry: the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. To address some obvious conflicts of interest, auditors were prohibited from doing a variety of non-audit work for clients. Firms had to establish independent audit committees, company loans to executives were banned, top executives had to certify accounts and whistleblowers were given more job protection if they reported any suspicions of fraud.

In the act's now notorious section 404, managers were made responsible for maintaining an “adequate internal-control structure and procedures for financial reporting”. Companies' auditors were required to “attest” to the bosses' assessment of these controls and disclose any “material weaknesses”. Failure to comply could result in tough new criminal penalties.

Controversial from the start, SOX came to be despised by many businessmen in America (and beyond, where it has touched big foreign firms). Even its authors have reservations, conceding that its hasty passage into law meant it was badly drafted in parts. “Frankly, I would have written it differently,” Michael Oxley, one of the former congressmen who drafted the act said in March. He added that the same was true of his co-author, Paul Sarbanes. “But it was not normal times.”

The charges levelled against SOX are numerous and serious. Top of the list is the price of compliance. It soon became clear that the costs of implementing SOX's provisions, particularly section 404, far exceeded the modest sums initially predicted. The act is now widely regarded as a licence for audit firms to print money—ironic in that it was these fee-driven firms that, arguably, encouraged the lax accounting that led to the legislation.

Beyond its immediate price-tag, SOX stands accused of undermining America's entrepreneurial spirit. Barely a year after it became law, William Donaldson, then chairman of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), wondered if by unleashing “batteries of lawyers across the country” the legislation would lead to a “loss of risk-taking zeal” due to a “huge preoccupation with the dangers and risks of making the slightest mistake”. Others argue that the act has backfired. Rather than restore confidence in public companies, they claim, it has weakened America's stockmarkets, by driving domestic firms into the arms of private-equity buyers and prompting foreign firms to list their shares elsewhere.

Number crunching

How plausible are these accusations? An army of academics has weighed in on the great SOX debate. But their analyses are hindered by two difficulties. First, SOX was one of a number of post-Enron initiatives, ranging from tougher listing requirements for firms to longer jail sentences for errant executives. Untangling the effects of SOX from these other changes is hard. Nor is it easy to work out how investors and businessmen—who were trying to come to terms with the bursting of the late 1990s stockmarket bubble—might have reacted to the corporate scandals without SOX.

Some academics have concluded that the costs of SOX far outweigh the gains. A much-debated 2005 study by Ivy Zhang, then of the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, estimated that the law's costs exceeded any benefits by a mind-boggling $1.4 trillion. That controversial figure was derived from an econometric estimate of “the loss in total market value around the most significant legislative events”—in other words it assumes that, after taking account of other news, any drop in share prices as the new rules were enacted was thanks to SOX.

In a more recent study, Leonce Bargeron, Kenneth Lehn and Chad Zutter, of the University of Pittsburgh, argue that SOX has “had a chilling effect on risk-taking” by publicly traded American companies. Using a sample of British companies as a benchmark, the study found that American firms have significantly reduced their investment in R&D and overall capital spending, while increasing their holdings of cash. Collectively, they concluded, this reveals a “statistically significant reduction in risk-taking after the adoption of SOX”.

The academics found a second measure to support their conclusions. The standard deviation of share returns—a measure of risk—also fell for the American firms relative to their British counterparts. On the other hand, the study also reported that the riskiness of American companies post-SOX was higher than in the mid-1990s, before the stockmarket bubble got really out of hand. And the ratio of R&D and total capital spending to assets—and thus, presumably, the appetite for risk—was considerably higher in America than in Britain before and after SOX.

Messrs Bargeron, Lehn and Zutter also looked at 9,258 initial public offerings in America and Britain between 1990 and 2006. They found that post-SOX, the probability of listing shares in Britain rose sharply. This seems to support the view that SOX has weakened America's stockmarkets, by driving domestic firms into the arms of private-equity buyers and causing foreign firms to list elsewhere. Others, however, dispute that claim. The past year has seen several official inquiries into the competitiveness of American financial markets, supported by the treasury secretary and the mayor of New York, among others. None pinned much blame on SOX, pointing instead to a range of problems including America's addiction to litigation.

Kate Litvak, of Texas Law School, used a different technique to gauge SOX's effect on America's capital markets. In a recent paper she examined its impact on the shares of firms listed both in America and abroad. Shares of cross-listed firms tend to trade at a premium to shares of similar firms that are not. Cross-listed firms seem to gain extra credibility by subjecting themselves to tough foreign corporate-governance requirements, as in America. Ms Litvak found that the cross-listing premium declined after SOX, suggesting that investors believed that the costs of the legislation would, on average, exceed the benefits for cross-listed firms.

In a study published last year by the University of Southern California, Ehud Kamar, Pinar Karaca-Mandic and Eric Talley investigated whether SOX had driven firms out of the public markets. Using a sample of 8,266 acquisitions by private-equity firms in 76 countries between 2000 and 2004, they found that after SOX was passed, it became relatively more likely for small public firms in America to be sold to private-equity buyers than similar small firms elsewhere. But there was no change in the relative likelihood of larger American-listed firms going private. This seems to support the view that SOX is particularly burdensome for smaller companies.

Not all academics are anti-SOX. Luigi Zingales, of the University of Chicago, argues that it was a public-relations triumph, quickly restoring confidence. “The fact it was there, it was strong, it was done quickly, was very important,” he says. This, he notes, was in contrast with his native Italy, which took “two years and lots of bickering” to get a new law after an Enronesque scandal at Parmalat.

Making the audit committee independent and giving it, not the boss, the responsibility for hiring the auditor, was also a big step forward, says Mr Zingales. It may have contributed to the improved performance of auditors which Mr Zingales, Alexander Dyck and Adair Morse report in their paper “Who Blows the Whistle on Corporate Fraud?”. The three economists examined 230 alleged corporate frauds in America during 1996-2004. They found that, pre-SOX, only one-third of big corporate frauds were uncovered by those with a responsibility to find them, such as auditors, industry regulators or the SEC. Employees were more likely than anyone to report corporate wrongdoing. After SOX, however, the proportion of serious frauds discovered by those professionally responsible for doing so rose to 50%. In particular, there was a “stunning increase in the role of auditors (a four-fold increase in the relative frequency of detections) and of the SEC (a doubling of their importance, albeit from a very low level)”.

Sharpening up

Alas, the economists admit they “cannot determine” what part of the post-Enron reforms has led auditors to sharpen their scrutiny of companies. Could it have been the severing of their consulting businesses from their auditing clients? Or was it the salutary effect of the demise of Arthur Andersen, or the required increase in professional scepticism now demanded from section 404? In other words, they do not know whether this is “a permanent change or a temporary reaction to an event that made the risk of bad auditing salient”.

The professionals may have a sharper eye, but successful whistle-blowing by employees fell after SOX, from 20.7% to 15.6% of cases. This, argue the three economists, “suggests SOX's modest incentives are not very effective”. They seem to have brought a surge in frivolous accusations by disgruntled and fired employees rather than tips about serious fraud. Far better, say the three economists, to replicate the financial incentives for whistle-blowing used in America's health-care system, which have led to a higher rate of fraud detection but scant increase in frivolous accusations.

Another good sign is that the costs of complying with SOX are coming down. According to the latest annual study of compliance by Financial Executives International, a club for chief financial officers, even the hated section 404 is costing less. The group's poll of 200 companies with average revenues of $6.8 billion found that the typical cost of section 404 compliance was $2.9m in 2006, 23% lower than in 2005. Internal staff time also fell, by 10%. Adapting to section 404 involved high start-up costs, but now “efficiency gains are being realised”, says Michael Cangemi, the group's chief executive.

Better still, under pressure from the SEC, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has changed its guidance on how to implement section 404. Until now, auditors have been encouraged to be zealous with internal controls, replicating much or all of the work of a firm's internal auditors, and testing the robustness of internal controls against every imaginable risk. The new audit standard, which was approved by the SEC this week, allows a more pragmatic, commonsense approach. Some estimates suggest that compliance fees could fall by as much as half.

Yet, as seems to be the way with SOX, not everyone welcomes this reform. Stephen Bainbridge, the author of “The Complete Guide to Sarbanes-Oxley”, argues that “nothing the SEC has done or plans to do will change the existing incentive-structure for officers and directors. The firm's top management will still have plenty of incentives to spend shareholder money on protecting themselves from SOX liability.”

Others are more sanguine, and see SOX as part of the inevitable swings in America's regulation of business. In a study, Mark Roe of Harvard Law School argues that scandals such as the fall of Enron are the result of two “core instabilities” in America's system of corporate governance: the separation of the ownership and control of big firms, and weaknesses arising from America's decentralised system of regulation. These two instabilities have combined to create some sort of “fundamental large-firm problem” in each decade since the second world war.

If history is any guide to the outcome of reforms such as SOX, America will “solve the current issues—or more plausibly, reduce them to manageable proportions—but then sometime later, somewhere else, another piece of the corporate apparatus will fail,” argues Mr Roe. “We'll patch it up, we'll move on, we'll muddle through. That's what will happen this time, and that's what will happen next time.”

Price is not the only cost

DHsu不太了解(Deming)這 "Price is not the only cost. "的真正意思.

:「cost 是代價、耗費。譬如說,買一塊錢的東西(大陸自製的充電刮鬍刀約台幣一百元),可是整體社會(要付出的)成本,可能2元。這只是一例。」




夏普將構建在環保產品開發中使用的資料庫“G-PASGreen-Product Assessment System,並在日本及12個海外設計與生產基地導入。在全球範圍內導入這一資料庫,屬業界首次(夏普)。

  G-PAS有兩大功能。第一個功能將材料所含有的物質及世界各國的環境法規等環保產品開發時所必須的資訊進行一元化管理。通過這種管理,可以在開發現場評價是否符合環境法規。第二是通過採用LCALife Cycle Assessment)方法計算出CO2排量等,可以在開發現場定量地評價環境性能。

  將G-PAS導入海外設計與生產基地的目的是在全球範圍內,在較短的時間開發出進一步減少環境負荷的產品。利用G-PAS首次設計開發出來的產品是預 078月上市的32吋液晶電視“AQUOS G系列由於採用了G-PAS,所以與3年前的32AQUOS相比,在縮短約30%的開發週期的同時,還削減了約43%的年電耗量(夏普)。(記 者:小谷 卓也)


2007年7月24日 星期二

Bumped Fliers and No Plan B

Bumped Fliers and No Plan B

Jeff Topping for The New York Times

Checking in at the US Airways counter in Phoenix for a flight to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. There were enough no-shows that no one was bumped.

標題的 plan B 指的是你發生狀況時的另外方案
本文的 bump 指因為座位被超額預約(OVERBOOKING)
而致使某些有預約的旅客要被"拉下來" (To deprive (a passenger) of a reserved seat because of overbooking.)

Published: May 30, 2007

PHOENIX — The summer travel season is under way, and so many planes are expected to be full that, if you are bumped, you could end up waiting days for a seat on another flight to the same destination.

Jeff Topping for The New York Times

Brigid Mullin, a gate agent for US Airways in Phoenix, said she often must explain the overbooking of flights to passengers.

The number of fliers bumped against their will is expected to reach a high for the decade this year.

True, those travelers — about 56,000 of them — still represent only a small fraction of all passengers. But the increasing difficulty of rebooking bumped passengers has made the experience more maddening for fliers, and for the airline workers who deliver the bad news.

A look behind the scenes of US Airways at the widespread practice of airline overbooking shows the industry’s struggle to fill every possible seat, including those left empty by the millions of passengers who buy a ticket but then do not show up.

The effort at times pits a group of young math whizzes at the airline against battle-tested gate agents, who are often skeptical of the complex computer models used to predict no-shows and to overbook flights.

Some agents even take matters into their own hands, creating phantom reservations — Mickey Mouse is a favorite passenger name, for example — to keep the math nerds at headquarters from overbooking a flight.

phantom shopping =mystery shopping. 就是請人冒充顧客來查核某組織單位的服務人員如何應對進退:(mystery shopping 【経営】ミステリー・ショッピング (phantom shopping ((調査員を顧客に仕立ててサービスや施設の清潔度,価格設定等を秘密裏に調査すること)).)

“It’s a little bit of black art,” said Wallace Beall, senior director for revenue analysis who oversees overbooking at US Airways.

Overbooking is one of many airline practices that are complicated by crowded planes. Airlines are running closer to capacity than at any point during the jet age — an expected 85 percent or so full this summer, which means all the seats on popular routes will be taken.

Airlines, of course, overbook to avoid losing billions of dollars because of empty seats. Inevitably, though, they guess wrong on some flights and too many people arrive at the gate.

Vouchers for free flights have long been used to convince enough passengers to stand aside and wait for the next flight. But now, more people are refusing the voucher — which can vary from a small dollar amount to a round-trip ticket anywhere an airline flies (people who are involuntarily bumped get up to $400 for their troubles).

The reason is that fliers have figured out that with flights full, there are fewer and fewer seats to be bumped to.

“I usually volunteer to be bumped,” said Pamela Ingram, a consultant who travels most weeks from her home in Binghamton, N.Y., and loves collecting airline vouchers for leisure travel.

“But not lately,” she said. “It’s a different game. The wait can be days.”

The number of people bumped involuntarily — those refusing the voucher — rose 23 percent last year and kept rising in the first quarter of this year.

The ranks of all bumped passengers last year, 676,408, was small — unless you were one of them — compared with the 555 million total airline passengers.

Airline workers, of course, do not like bumping, either.

“It’s embarrassing,” said Brigid Mullin, a gate agent for US Airways here. On one or two flights a day, Ms. Mullin is left to explain to passengers that US Airways sold more tickets than it has seats on the plane.

“People are going to yell,” Ms. Mullin said.

Mr. Beall, the US Airways official, said, “Employees call in sick because they don’t want to deal with overbookings.”

Other coping strategies by agents include entering phantom bookings — in addition to Mickey Mouse, they occasionally enter the name of W. Douglas Parker, the chief executive at US Airways — to keep a flight from being oversold.

But phantom bookings later show up in the computer system as, you guessed it, a no-show, and the system then will overbook the next flight even more.

“We call it the death spiral,” said Mr. Beall’s boss, Thomas Trenga, vice president for revenue management at US Airways.

The airline has repeatedly told gate agents not to enter phantom bookings since US Airways and America West Airlines merged in the fall of 2005.

At an employee meeting just after the merger, Mr. Parker was confronted about the issue by John Martino, then a gate agent in Boston. “You know you’re going to be yelled and screamed at to the point you have to call the police,” he said.

Mr. Parker replied: “Why do we do so much of it? We will overbook as long as we allow people to no-show for flights; 7 to 8 percent of our customers are no-shows.”

At some airlines, the no-show rate is higher, as passengers take advantage of refundable tickets, which include those bought by business travelers at the last minute.

The potential impact is huge. US Airways had revenue of $11.56 billion last year and would have lost out on $1 billion or more of that had it not overbooked, the company said.

And with profit of just $304 million for the year, and with other airlines operating on similarly slim margins, “we’d probably all go bankrupt” without overbooking, Mr. Trenga said.

That said, Mr. Trenga acknowledged, “People view overbooking as something not on the up-and-up.”

So, while he tells his neighbors that he oversees pricing at US Airways, “I conveniently forget to mention the overbooking part.” US Airways rates in the middle of the industry pack on bumping passengers.

Of course, airlines could end no-shows and the need for overbooking by selling only nonrefundable tickets. JetBlue Airways does that, and no-shows lose the value of their ticket.

But business travelers, who pay the most, want refundable tickets and even JetBlue is considering offering them.

The revenue lost by leaving a seat empty — a spoiled seat, in industry parlance — typically exceeds the cost of compensating a bumped passenger. Only fear of angering people keeps airlines from overbooking more.

No-show rates used to be much higher — 20 percent or more for many airlines. Many travel agent reservations were unreliable. Other bookings were duplicates.

At US Airways, into the late 1990s, the no-show rate was about 14 percent, Mr. Beall said, and its ability to overbook accurately suffered. “We were stuck in an overbooking quagmire,” he said. “We had scant credibility” with gate agents.

But even after cleaning up its reservations and reducing no-shows to 7 percent to 8 percent, no-shows still vary widely among flights.

Mr. Beall entrusts the overbooking to people like Sherri Owens, 22. An economics graduate from the University of Virginia, she joined US Airways a little more than a year ago. Like nearly 50 other analysts, Ms. Owens uses software that scans the past no-show rate on flights, breaking it down among as many as 26 fare levels.

People paying the cheapest fares, which are typically nonrefundable, show up; those paying the most, usually refundable fares for business travelers, are more frequently no-shows. Midwesterners show up. People leaving Las Vegas often do not.

The software then takes note of the fares people are booking on a coming flight and estimates the number that will not show. Airlines overbook more aggressively early in the day, knowing they can find seats for those bumped as the day goes on.

Ms. Owens, along with her main job of setting various fares on a single flight, tweaks the overbooking numbers. Then, each week a report comes out that lists all US Airways flights that bumped 10 or more people. The analyst with the most flights on the report is stuck with a stuffed toy crow for the week. And occasionally they hear from angry airport workers who handled the bumping.

The week of April 23, for instance, 18 flights had 10 or more passengers bumped. Half those flights had fewer seats than were sold because of weather-related weight restrictions or substitution of a smaller plane, including a flight from Phoenix to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, that left 37 passengers behind.

On others the airline guessed wrong. A Phoenix-to-San Diego flight, normally with 10 percent of passengers not showing, overbooked by 17 percent. Only 3 percent no-showed. Thirteen people were left behind.

The following week, just 11 flights made the double-digit list. A Las Vegas-to-Boston flight left 10 behind, including 8 involuntary bumps, when it was overbooked by 13 percent, despite the computer system’s listing past flights with only 5 percent no-shows.

Analysts are supposed to explain such failures, but the comments offered for that flight “are erroneous,” Mr. Beall said, scanning the report. “In a perfect world, a manager would force the analyst to come back” and explain. Time-pressed, however, he said, “I can’t guarantee that would happen.”

The analysts are somewhat insulated. Ms. Owens said she had never personally been bumped from a flight. Airport workers regularly ask her to book fewer people on some flights.

“It’s something we look into,” she said. “They remember the flights that oversold and not the five that went out fine. We have all the data in front of us. Normally I compromise between what they’re asking and what I would like it at.”

When employees like Ms. Owens become proficient at the art of overbooking, they tend to leave for other jobs, her boss, Mr. Beall, said.

“They used to stay for two to two and one half years. Now they stay for one and one half. It takes three months to train them,” he said.

“In-depth knowledge is fleeting.”

2007年7月23日 星期一

Today's rule: Not every customer is always right

讀 Drucker Institute 的新人事任命公告
換句話說 要考慮選擇顧客

San Francisco Chronicle

Today's rule: Not every customer is always right

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Anybody who knows anything about business, whether a Fortune 500 CEO or a kid with a lemonade stand, can recite the mantra: The customer is always right. So what was Sprint Nextel Corp. thinking when it told 1,100 or so wireless subscribers that it was dumping them for chronically complaining to the company's customer-service department?

The news hasn't exactly helped Sprint's image. ABC's "Good Morning America" ran the story under a banner that proclaimed: "You Must Be Kidding!" One consumer watchdog called the company's action "absolutely outrageous."

But, in fact, Sprint's move was not only reasonable, it may even prove laudable if it helps the company focus on offering better service to its remaining 53 million subscribers.

Sprint is no corporate angel. The latest survey from J.D. Power & Associates found that the company ranks dead last in the wireless industry when it comes to customer care.

Yet that doesn't mean the company was wrong to drop the 1,100.

We've all been there: forced to sort out an egregious billing error that requires multiple, maddening, Muzak-soaked phone calls. But when a relative handful of customers are calling in as often as 300 times a month -- as some of these Sprint users apparently have been -- it's clear that they should be looking for another cell phone carrier.

From a management standpoint, a line gets crossed: There is no sense in trying to appease the unappeasable.

Interestingly, support for this idea comes from the late Peter Drucker, the "father of modern management," who had a key role in spreading the notion that the customer is king. In studies of Henry Luce's Time-Life, Alfred Sloan's General Motors and other companies, Drucker attributed their success to a keen understanding of the customer. "There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer," Drucker wrote in his 1954 classic, "The Practice of Management."

Yet Drucker taught something else as well: It's crucial for every business to decide who its customers are not.

In her new book, "The Definitive Drucker," Elizabeth Haas Edersheim recalls how he explained the concept to her: "Make sure you know the bounds you are assuming and that they are the bounds you want."

In this case, Sprint concluded that its fractious fraction of consumers -- 1,100 people who flooded its call centers 40,000 times in just six months -- falls outside the company's bounds.

As a business, "You can't please everybody -- and you really don't want to," says management Professor Joseph Maciariello, who worked with Drucker. Some have cast Sprint's move in purely economic terms. These so-called demon customers, it is said, simply became too expensive to retain, costing the company more in time and resources than their contracts were worth.

Undoubtedly there is truth to that. But this issue transcends dollars and cents. Coping with the never-satisfied diverts attention from a key management objective: providing high-quality service to the 99.99 percent of Sprint users who the company says call with inquiries, on average, only once every two months.

One of the hardest things in business is concentrating resources effectively. By unclogging its customer service lines, Sprint now has a chance to make some meaningful gains.

Arguably, Sprint "is serving a greater good," says Peter Sealey, a former top marketing executive for Coca-Cola. "You can't have these people impinge on the service level of everybody else."

It is quite possible, as suggested by the Web site consumerist.com, that some of the 1,100 were "scamming Sprint," calling again and again just so they could pile up credits toward their bills. If so, that alone is a valid reason for a divorce. It also wouldn't surprise me if a few of the 1,100 shouldn't have been disconnected; their tales of woe are sure to make headlines and bounce around the Internet, further sullying Sprint's reputation.

But those folks aren't the ones consumer advocates should be worrying about -- at least not in large measure. The more important matter is this: When we look at Sprint six months or a year from now, will it have seized this opportunity to improve service for the 50-million-plus who remain?

That's where Sprint shouldn't be let off the hook.

Rick Wartzman is the director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. This commentary first appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Contact us at insight@sfchronicle.com.

Myself and Other More Important Matters by Charles Handy

Myself and Other More Important Matters by Charles Handy

查爾斯‧韓第(Charles Handy){你拿什麼定義自己?組織大師韓第的生命故事}台北:天下文化,2007



六標準差(Six Sigma)等為胡說、空話(另外,REENIGEERING, Core Competence, Just In Time, 360-degree Feedback, CRM, Social Network Analysis, Globalization, Format Competition, ROI Marketing {思想者:查爾斯‧漢迪自傳} p.190。「這些詞都是假冒的偽劣技術術語,目的在於把顯而易見的道理,變個說法,顯得更聰明。」

管理要從日常經驗來學習,而不是像MBAMaster of Business Analysis)。

“manage” 在英文日常用語和劇場管理等領域之中,只及於「物」。而leader 是政治學的論述。


2007年7月22日 星期日

due diligence and due care

due diligence and due care

due care = ordinary care = reasonable care 是法律用語﹐用以指善良管理人之應盡之義務…”

to exercise the due care of a good administrator
其中 a good administrator就是民法中所謂善良管理人due care"應有的注意"之意

The Basics of Mergers & Acquisitions Due Diligence 問明基董事長,他會說這是指 "實地去西門子廠址去調查。

The noun due care has one meaning:

Meaning #1: the care that a reasonable man would exercise under the circumstances; the standard for determining legal duty
Synonyms: ordinary care, reasonable care

這是Deming Out of the Crisis 花許多篇幅解釋 DUE CARE 。它無可運作之定義 ,不過,要採用統計品管方式做紀錄、 決策, 來顯示有合理的注意、 用心於某問題(機器 材料.....)

2007年7月21日 星期六

C.E.O. Libraries Reveal Keys to Success

C.E.O. Libraries Reveal Keys to Success

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Michael Moritz, venture capitalist and owner of a huge library, says he can’t discard books.

Published: July 21, 2007

Michael Moritz, the venture capitalist who built a personal $1.5 billion fortune discovering the likes of Google, YouTube, Yahoo and PayPal, and taking them public, may seem preternaturally in tune with new media. But it is the imprint of old media — books by the thousands sprawling through his Bay Area house — that occupies his mind.

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Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Books in the California home of Michael Moritz.

“My wife calls me the Imelda Marcos of books,” Mr. Moritz said in an interview. “As soon as a book enters our home it is guaranteed a permanent place in our lives. Because I have never been able to part with even one, they have gradually accumulated like sediment.”

Serious leaders who are serious readers build personal libraries dedicated to how to think, not how to compete. Ken Lopez, a bookseller in Hadley, Mass., says it is impossible to put together a serious library on almost any subject for less than several hundred thousand dollars.

Perhaps that is why — more than their sex lives or bank accounts — chief executives keep their libraries private. Few Nike colleagues, for example, ever saw the personal library of the founder, Phil Knight, a room behind his formal office. To enter, one had to remove one’s shoes and bow: the ceilings were low, the space intimate, the degree of reverence demanded for these volumes on Asian history, art and poetry greater than any the self-effacing Mr. Knight, who is no longer chief executive, demanded for himself.

The Knight collection remains in the Nike headquarters. “Of course the library still exists,” Mr. Knight said in an interview. “I’m always learning.”

Until recently when Steven P. Jobs of Apple sold his collection, he reportedly had an “inexhaustible interest” in the books of William Blake — the mad visionary 18th-century mystic poet and artist. Perhaps future historians will track down Mr. Jobs’s Blake library to trace the inspiration for Pixar and the grail-like appeal of the iPhone.

If there is a C.E.O. canon, its rule is this: “Don’t follow your mentors, follow your mentors’ mentors,” suggests David Leach, chief executive of the American Medical Association’s accreditation division. Mr. Leach has stocked his cabin in the woods of North Carolina with the collected works of Aristotle.

Forget finding the business best-seller list in these libraries. “I try to vary my reading diet and ensure that I read more fiction than nonfiction,” Mr. Moritz said. “I rarely read business books, except for Andy Grove’s ‘Swimming Across,’ which has nothing to do with business but describes the emotional foundation of a remarkable man. I re-read from time to time T. E. Lawrence’s ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom,’ an exquisite lyric of derring-do, the navigation of strange places and the imaginative ruses of a peculiar character. (這兩本台灣都有翻譯本) It has to be the best book ever written about leading people from atop a camel.” Students of power should take note that C.E.O.’s are starting to collect books on climate change and global warming, not Al Gore’s tomes but books from the 15th century about the weather, Egyptian droughts, even replicas of Sumerian tablets recording extraordinary changes in climate, according to John Windle, the owner of John Windle Antiquarian Booksellers in San Francisco.

Darwin’s “Origin of Species” was priced at a few thousand dollars in the 1950s. “Then DNA became the scientific rage,” said Mr. Windle. “Now copies are selling for $250,000. But the desire to own a piece of Darwin’s mind is coming to an end. I have a customer who collects diaries of people of no importance at all. The entries say, ‘It was 63 degrees and raining this morning.’ Once the big boys amass libraries of weather patterns, everyone will want these works.”

C.E.O. libraries typically lack a Dewey Decimal or even org-chart order. “My books are organized by topic and interest but in a manner that would make a librarian weep,” Mr. Moritz said. Is there something “Da Vinci Code”-like about mixing books up in an otherwise ordered life?

Could it be possible to read Phil Knight’s books in the order in which Mr. Knight read them — like following a recipe — and gain the mojo to see a future global entertainment company in something as modest as a sneaker? The great gourmand of libraries, the writer Jorge Luis Borges, analyzed the quest for knowledge that causes people to accumulate books: “There must exist a book which is the formula and perfect compendium of all the rest.”

Personal libraries have always been a biopsy of power. The empire-loving Elizabeth I surrounded herself with the Roman historians, many of whom she translated, and kept one book under lock and key in her bedroom, in a French translation she alone of her court could read: Machiavelli’s treatise on how to overthrow republics, “The Prince.” Churchill retreated to his library to heal his wounds after being voted out of power in 1945 — and after reading for six years came back to power.

Over the years, the philanthropist and junk-bond king Michael R. Milken has collected biographies, plays, novels and papers on Galileo, the renegade who was jailed in his time but redeemed by history.

It took Dee Hock, father of the credit card and founder of Visa, a thousand books to find The One. Mr. Hock walked away from business life in 1984 and looked back only from his library’s walls. He built a dream 2,000-square-foot wing for his books in a pink stucco mansion atop a hill in Pescadero, Calif. He sat among the great philosophers and the novelists of Western life like Steinbeck and Stegner and dreamed up a word for what Visa is: “chaordic” — complex systems that blend order and chaos. ([台灣有翻譯本)

In his library, Mr. Hock found the book that contained the thoughts of all of them. Visitors can see opened on his library table for daily consulting, Omar Khayyam’s “Rubáiyát,” the Persian poem that warns of the dangers of greatness and the instability of fortune.([台灣有翻譯本)

Poetry speaks to many C.E.O.’s. “I used to tell my senior staff to get me poets as managers,” says Sidney Harman, founder of Harman Industries, a $3 billion producer of sound systems for luxury cars, theaters and airports. Mr. Harman maintains a library in each of his three homes, in Washington, Los Angeles and Aspen, Colo. “Poets are our original systems thinkers,” he said. “They look at our most complex environments and they reduce the complexity to something they begin to understand.”

He never could find a poet who was willing to be a manager. So Mr. Harman became his own de facto poet, quoting from his volumes of Shakespeare, Tennyson, and the poetry he found in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and Camus’s “Stranger” to help him define the dignity of working life — a poetry he made real in his worker-friendly factories.(這兩本台灣都有翻譯本)

Mr. Harman reads books the way writers write books, methodically over time. For two years Mr. Harman would take down from the shelf “The City of God” by E. L. Doctorow read the novel slowly, return it to the shelves, and then take it down again for his next trip. “Almost everything I have read has been useful to me — science, poetry, politics, novels. I have a lifelong interest in epistemology and learning. My books have helped me develop a way of thinking critically in business and in golf — a fabulous metaphor for the most interesting stuff in life. My library is full of things I might go back to.”

It was the empty library room and its floor-to-ceiling ladder that made Shelly Lazarus, the chairwoman and chief executive of Ogilvy & Mather, fall in love with her house in the Berkshires, which was built in 1740. “When my husband and I moved in, we said, ‘We’re never going to fill this room,’ and just last week I realized we needed to build an addition to the library. Once I’ve read a book I keep it. It becomes a part of me.

“As head of a global company, everything attracts me as a reader, books about different cultures, countries, problems. I read for pleasure and to find other perspectives on how to think or solve a problem, like Jerome Groopman’s ‘How to Think Like a Doctor’; John Cornwall’s autobiography, ‘Seminary Boy’; ‘The Wife,’ a novel by Meg Wolitzer; and before that, ‘Team of Rivals.’

“David Ogilvy said advertising is a great field, anything prepares you for it,” she said. “That gives me license to read everything.”

Harriet Rubin is the author of “Dante in Love” and, most recently, “The Mona Lisa Stratagem: The Art of Women, Age and Power.”

talent management benchmarking

talent management

Accounting for good people (它的聯接通常只1-2周內有效)

Jul 19th 2007 | LONDON AND NEW YORK
From The Economist print edition

Surprising as it might seem, the Big Four accountancy firms have lots to teach other companies about managing talented people



上月(628日)) (鍾漢清)對內部稽核人員做一場演講:(事業、改善)專案稽核與品管。會後,碰到一位"四大會計"的員工。



GREEN DESIGN and The Best Product Design Of 2007



Kohler Steward Waterless Urinal

Designer: Kohler Co.


A soft elliptical shape provides a fresh, sleek, modern look to a system that disposes of waste without using water. Designed to easily replace existing urinal Read the story
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The Best Product Design Of 2007
This year's awards run the gamut from "split-head" hammers to ultralight jets to savings plans for shoppers

The evolution of design from a narrow focus on aesthetics into a richer discipline that embraces branding, services, sustainability, medicine--even the comfort and safety of pilots and passengers--is on clear display in the 2007 International Design Excellence Awards. What had once been the preserve of engineers, business consultants, ecologists, and brand managers now falls within the growing purview of designers. Reflecting this expansion of the role and definition of design, the 2007 contest has been renamed from "Industrial Design" to "International Design." Winners from 20 countries took gold, silver, and bronze prizes for service innovation in banking, mapping the interface between pilots and cockpit instruments, creating broad corporate and brand strategies, bolstering sustainability via electric cars, and remaking hammers and wrenches in new, better forms.

So dynamic is the field that it is attracting a new crop of talented people. The student work, in particular, was startlingly good in 2007, with students taking a record 10 of 81 prizes. (The contest is run independently by the Industrial Designers Society of America and sponsored by BusinessWeek.) The University of Cincinnati's J. Ryan Eder garnered the Best of Show award for his concept for an exercise machine that accommodates both wheelchair-bound and fully mobile people.

The new name for IDEA also reflects the growing internationalization of the design scene. There were 595 foreign entries from 29 countries this year, as well as 1,096 U.S. entries. Design teams from Asia and Europe took a significant percentage of the awards. What were the key trends? The largest category of winners by far, some 13 of the 81, had an eco-design focus. The Tesla Roadster electric car took the gold with an exciting shape by the Lotus Design Studio in Britain and an all-electric plug-in engine. The Tesla is the un-Prius: a hot, fast sports car that's also green. Herman Miller (MLHR ) and fuseproject won a silver in design strategy for the LEAF lamp, which uses LED lighting to save energy. A hydrogen-fueled toy car, by Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies in Shanghai, took a silver.

A second big trend was reinvention, often using beautiful new forms to express older functionality. The gold-winning Fuego outdoor grill, by Robert Brunner, is designed to let everyone on your deck or patio gather around the sleek, island-like grill while you cook. The Home Hero Fire Extinguisher that captured a gold for the Arnell Group is so good-looking that people will want to display it--possibly making it more available in case of fire. ATOMdesign transformed the traditional framing hammer with a split head that reduces stress on the user. And Extremis introduced InUmbra, a redesigned patio umbrella that hides the pulleys and ropes above the umbrella.

In years past, most IDEA awards went to computers and other high-tech products. Not so in 2007. But Samsung Electronics did get a gold for its LCD Monitor Mobius, designed with IDEO. A new hinging system allows the base and monitor to move to a user's individual comfort level. New this year were awards for service innovation. Citicorp (C ) Credit Services and Ziba Design Inc. won a bronze for the SmartMoney RFID card, which can fit on a keychain. You make a payment simply by waving it near a receiver. The Bank of America (BA )/IDEO team won a bronze for the Keep the Change program, which encourages people to save as if they're putting change in a jar. The bank's program also won a rare Catalyst award. These are given to well-designed products that are especially successful in the marketplace. Catalyst jury leader Keith Yamashita, chairman of Stone Yamashita Partners, said, "BofA used design to study, map, and ultimately inspire how people save."

The one product that won the most awards--two gold IDEAs and one silver plus one Catalyst honorable mention--was the Eclipse 500 Very Light Jet by IDEO and Eclipse Aviation. The Eclipse jet won in IDEA's research, interaction design, and transportation categories. Yamashita had this to say: "The impressive point in this case is how much economic value this program has created by using design in strategic ways."

IDEO took seven IDEA awards, four gold, one silver, two bronze, plus four Catalyst prizes. They won none in 2006. Other big winners were Formation Design Group with three IDEAs, and Smart Design, which also picked up three. Continuum won a Catalyst Honorable Mention for its work with Master Lock Co. and a bronze IDEA. Four U.S. companies, Eclipse Aviation, Belkin, Stanley Works, and Timberland, took top honors. The jury was tough this year. Only 20 golds were given, compared with 27 in 2006 and 38 in 2005. For additional award winners, read on.