2007年9月30日 星期日

The Unsung Heroes Who Move Products Forward


The Unsung Heroes Who Move Products Forward

Illustration by James Yang

Published: September 30, 2007

AT first blush, the iPhone from Apple, the new microprocessor family from Intel and the ubiquitous Google search engine have nothing in common. One is a gadget, one is an electronic part and one is a service.

Yet all of these products — much acclaimed for their creativity — depend on obscure process innovations that, while highly complex and lacking glamour, are an essential part of establishing a winning edge in commercial electronics. Indeed, the success of Apple, Intel, Google and scores of other technology companies has as much or more to do with their process innovations as the products that inspire loyalty among fans and admiration from foes.

First, a definitional detour. Processes are the stuff in the proverbial “black box,” the alchemy unseen by consumers or the inelegantly termed “end users” who buy computers, cellphones, cameras and all manner of digital devices and services.

Snazzy products are the stuff of legends, romanticized by “early adopters” and skewered by neo-Luddites. Yet while these products bring glory to companies, novel processes are often more important in keeping the cash registers ringing.

The proof of this proposition is that while companies often spend millions to advertise and market new product designs and innovations, they guard intensely the details of their process innovations.

Consider the question of Google’s greatest business secret. Is it the algorithms behind its search tools? Or is it the way it organizes vast clusters of computers around the globe to answer queries so quickly? Perhaps predictably, Google won’t disclose the number of computers deployed in its vast information network (though outsiders speculate that the network has at least 450,000 computers).

I believe that the physical network is Google’s “secret sauce,” its premier competitive advantage. While a brilliant lone wolf can conceive of a dazzling algorithm, only a superwealthy and well-managed organization can run what is arguably the most valuable computer network on the planet. Without the computer network, Google is nothing.

Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, appears to agree. Last year he declared, “We believe we get tremendous competitive advantage by essentially building our own infrastructures.”

Process innovations like Google’s computer network are often invisible to the public, and impossible to duplicate by rivals. Yet successful companies realize that maintaining competitive advantage depends heavily on sustaining process innovations. Great process innovators often support basic research in relevant fields, maintain complete control over the creation of every aspect of a product and refuse to rely on outside suppliers for important components. Certainly, there are exceptions to these patterns, but even companies like Apple that buy essential processes on the open market nevertheless invest in gaining a working knowledge of the technologies and an understanding of their future arc.

Intel treats its process innovations as a competitive weapon, striving to create a “new generation” every two years. That enables the company’s chips, even if there were no changes in their design, to perform better and cost less to make.

Consumers are usually blind to the importance of novel processes. Even when they learn about these innovations, they tend to think only of the product itself.

“The average consumer doesn’t care what processes are used,” says Mark T. Bohr, an Intel physicist who oversaw what is arguably the most important advance in decades in the technology for making microprocessors, the brains inside computers and other digital devices.

Faced with ever-faster chips that threatened to explode into flames, Intel searched desperately for new processes to make microprocessors. Enter hafnium, a rare metal. Designers led by Mr. Bohr in Hillsboro, Ore., chose hafnium to replace silicon oxide, the venerable insulator in chips and a material used in making glass. Mr. Bohr also helped to identify new materials, whose identity Intel is keeping secret, for the crucial transistor “gates” that sit atop a chip’s insulators.

On Nov. 12, Intel will begin shipping its first chips using the new processes. Gordon E. Moore, Intel’s co-founder, recently declared that the hafnium-and-gate process innovations should allow his so-called Moore’s Law, whereby chips grow ever faster and less expensive, to hold true for some time.

Despite the enormity of the achievement, Mr. Bohr is relatively anonymous, even within Intel. “The work of process development comes second to creating new designs for chips,” he says. Not surprisingly, when Intel starts shipping the new chips, neither the hafnium nor the gates innovations will be trumpeted as selling points. Rather, Intel will emphasize how customers can benefit from using the chips.

If process innovations are unheralded, consumers may misunderstand the nature of technological change.

“Process innovation tends to receive less attention from the informed public for the same reason that incremental innovation tends to receive too little attention: it is more difficult to encapsulate in a press release or photo opportunity,” says David C. Mowery, a business professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a scholar of technological change.

“Process innovation, even more than most product innovations, also tends to realize its economic potential through a lengthy process of incremental improvement based on learning by doing and other types of learning,” he added. “So ‘breakthroughs’ in process engineering are, if anything, even rarer than in product innovation.”

As a result, process gurus are resigned to playing in the shadows, leaving fame, if not fortune, to others. John Feland, human interface architect at Synaptics Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif., knows this enduring truth of invention. He helps design arrays of sensors that drive the touch screens in the newest cellphones like the Prada from LG. Such touch screens are earning raves from consumers, yet Mr. Feland is essentially an invisible man.

“My job is to make our customers look like heroes,” he says philosophically. Then he sums up the special role played by fellow members of the process tribe: “We are like Q to James Bond.”

G. Pascal Zachary teaches journalism at Stanford and writes about technology and economic development. E-mail: gzach@nytimes.com.

2007年9月26日 星期三

Microsoft must tap outsiders

參考 Microsoft Takes Aim at Google’s Ad Supremacy

Inside Microsoft's Plan
To Bring In Outside Talent


Before Brian McAndrews agreed to take charge of a crucial piece of Microsoft Corp.'s online advertising business, he insisted on a key condition: that he be granted certain power over the engineering part of the operation.

The new job didn't have to include that authority, but Mr. McAndrews, new to the company, argued that to succeed in his mandate -- leading the charge against Google Inc. -- he needed it. And in Microsoft's engineering-driven culture, such a team could promise something else for Mr. McAndrews: longevity as a Microsoft executive.

That Microsoft granted his request illustrates a new approach Chief Executive Steve Ballmer is taking as he tries to expand the Redmond, Wash., company into new areas from online music to videogames to Internet advertising. Mr. Ballmer has found he must tap outsiders rather than rely so heavily on homegrown managers as in the past.

How Microsoft fares with Mr. McAndrews will be a test for Mr. Ballmer, who has tried over the years to make the company a more hospitable place for outside talent. Another test will be Don Mattrick, whom Microsoft hired this summer to head its videogame group after a long career as a top executive at game giant Electronic Arts Inc.

Mr. Ballmer has had some successes bringing in and keeping new executives, including Microsoft's current chief operating officer, Kevin Turner, plucked from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. two years ago, and finance head Chris Liddell, hired from International Paper Co. in April 2005.

Still, a combination of forces within Microsoft -- its engineers' exalted stature, its insular culture, its sheer size -- make integrating new executives a lingering problem. Often through Microsoft's history, decisive and aggressive outsiders have been worn down by the second-guessing of Microsoft veterans before stepping down to less prominent roles or leaving altogether.

Microsoft has high stakes in the success of Messrs. McAndrews and Mattrick in tackling their respective assignments. Mr. McAndrews must help reverse Microsoft's rising gap with Google in online advertising while helping the company catch up in markets like social networking. He joined the company through Microsoft's $6 billion acquisition of online-advertising specialist aQuantive Inc., where he was chief executive. Closed in August, the deal was the largest acquisition in Microsoft's 30-year history. That puts added pressure on Mr. Ballmer to make Mr. McAndrews's appointment stick. If Microsoft's talks with Facebook Inc. bear fruit and it takes a stake in that company, Mr. McAndrews's role will be even more important.

Like Mr. McAndrews, Mr. Mattrick takes over a business that is a crucial challenge for Microsoft. As senior vice president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, Mr. Mattrick oversees the range of Microsoft's expanding videogame business, including the Xbox 360 videogame console, an online-game service and development of videogames such as Microsoft's extremely popular Halo series. His critical task will be to expand each of those areas while meeting Microsoft's goal of turning the group profitable for the full fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Mr. Mattrick comes to Microsoft after playing a top role in the rise of Electronic Arts in the 1990s. The job brought him great riches and wide respect.

When the previous head of Microsoft's games business left for personal reasons earlier this year, Mr. Mattrick was already a paid consultant to Microsoft. So when he took the full-time job, he says, "I kind of hit the ground running from Day One."

Mr. Mattrick's boss, Robbie Bach, a Microsoft veteran of almost 20 years, says he is now building an "integration plan" for Mr. Mattrick that maps out ways to give the new executive feedback and provides mentors to the newcomer from outside the entertainment division. The goal, Mr. Bach says, is to help Mr. Mattrick quickly build ties outside his group to the rest of Microsoft.

Mr. Bach's entertainment and devices group is already something of a model for the rest of the company, with a reputation for hiring droves of outsiders from entertainment fields.

Mr. McAndrews joins Microsoft's Platforms and Services division -- the group that oversees Microsoft's Windows software and its online services -- as the group has struggled for leadership in the fast-changing Internet industry. That is one reason why Microsoft bought aQuantive. The 48-year-old Mr. McAndrews joined aQuantive in 2000 after nine years at ABC Inc., where he last served as an executive at ABC Sports. He guided aQuantive through an initial boom of online advertising and then through the bust that followed. He took the company public and expanded it, overseeing 13 acquisitions before helping orchestrate its purchase by Microsoft.

That is one reason Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services division and Mr. McAndrews's new boss, says he is trying to be hands-off. "He's used to being CEO," Mr. Johnson says of Mr. McAndrews. "If you let him run his business and let him achieve the goals he wants to, we'll be fine."

Mr. McAndrews comes into a group that is known for clashes between the advertising and technical sides of Microsoft. He may able to avoid such disruptions thanks to his insistence that he have an engineering team. His job is to manage the relationships with ad agencies and the Web sites that run advertisements. By controlling an engineering team, he also oversees the technology for buying and selling online ads.

Mr. McAndrews says Microsoft wants him to continue building an ad business much as he did before. Still, he says he wants input in the form of technology and other resources from Microsoft that aQuantive didn't have on its own. They "don't want to mess with that formula," he says. "On the other hand, I want to mess with it some."

Write to Robert A. Guth at rob.guth@wsj.com

2007年9月25日 星期二

Congress Looks at sexist and degrading language in hip-hop music

Congress Looks at Hip-Hop Language

Published: September 25, 2007

Filed at 3:26 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two rappers, sitting side-by-side in an ornate House hearing room, went in different directions Monday on the need for hip hop artists to expunge their work of sexist and violent language.

One, Master P, apologized to women for past songs that demeaned them, while another was defiant.

Former gangsta rapper Master P, whose real name is Percy Miller, told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing that he is now committed to producing clean lyrics. The angry music of his past, he said, came from seeing relatives and friends shot and killed.

But he said now that he doesn't want his own children to listen to his music, ''so if I can do anything to change this, I'm going to take a stand and do that.''

''I want to apologize to all the women out there,'' he said. ''I was honestly wrong.''

But rapper and record producer Levell Crump, known as David Banner, was defiant as lawmakers pressed him on his use of offensive language. ''I'm like Stephen King: horror music is what I do,'' he said in testimony laced with swear words. ''Change the situation in my neighborhood and maybe I'll get better,'' he told one member of Congress.

The two rappers were joined by music industry executives and scholars. They disagreed over who was to blame for sexist and degrading language in hip-hop music but were united in opposing government censorship as a solution.

''If by some stroke of the pen hip-hop was silenced, the issues would still be present in our communities,'' Crump said. ''Drugs, violence, sexism and the criminal element were around long before hip-hop existed.''

At the hearing, music videos showing scantily clad women were played; music executives in dark suits testified on the uses of the ''B,'' H'' and ''N'' words, and black civil rights leaders talked of corporate exploitation.

''We have allowed greedy corporate executives -- especially those in the entertainment industry -- to lead many of our young people to believe that it is OK to entertain themselves by destroying the culture of our people,'' E. Faye Williams, chair of the National Congress of Black Women, said.

''From Imus to Industry: The business of stereotypes and degrading images'' was the title of the hearing, referring to former radio host Don Imus, who lost his job after making derogatory comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team. The Imus incident has sparked debate within the music industry about black artists using offensive, misogynist and violent language.

''This hearing is not anti-hip-hop. I am a fan of hip-hop,'' said subcommittee chairman Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who gained national prominence in the 1960s as the founder of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers. But he said there was a need ''to address the issue of violence, hate and degradation that has reduced too many of our youngsters to automatons.''

Record company executives defended the parental guidance labels and edited versions they said keep the more controversial material away from children and stressed that uniform standards or censorship won't work.

In the '50s people were deeply offended by Elvis Presley, and a decade later many were scandalized by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, said Edgar Bronfman Jr., chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group.

''We have a responsibility to speak authentically to our viewers,'' said Philippe Dauman, president & CEO of Viacom Inc., which owns such cable networks as MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and BET.

He said his company takes an active role in editing obscenities out of music videos and excising gang symbols or portrayals of violence, but ''we also believe that it is not our role to censor the creative expression of artists.''

Alfred Liggins III, chief executive officer of Radio One, Inc., one of the largest media companies that primarily serves African-Americans, said the company reviews the contents of songs before broadcasting them and takes care to comply with Federal Communications Commission guidelines. But ''Radio One is also not in charge of creating content, or in the business of censorship or determining what is in good or bad taste.''

The hearing was reminiscent of, although tamer than, a similar event in 1985. At the earlier hearing, lawmakers where exposed to Van Halen's ''Hot for Teacher'' and Twisted Sister's ''We're Not Going to Take It,'' and the late rocker Frank Zappa hurled insults at Tipper Gore, wife of then-Sen. Al Gore, and Susan Baker, wife of then Treasury Secretary James Baker, who were urging the recording industry to voluntarily police itself on song lyrics.


On the Net:

House Energy and Commerce Committee: http://energycommerce.house.gov/

2007年9月24日 星期一

Despite Buyout Skeptics, Hertz Is on a Roll

be on a roll INFORMAL
to be having a successful or lucky period:
Pippa won five games in a row and it was obvious she was on a roll.

With Hertz's shares up 43 percent since its initial public offering, the car-rental company now looks as if it was not necessarily the model of the big, bad buyout that its fiercest critics had suggested.

Its private equity owners looked at the business with fresh eyes and made a number of changes that improved operating performance. By streamlining how the company cleaned and refueled vehicles, they doubled the number of cars that could be processed every hour and re-rented.

Still, it is unclear whether Hertz is the exception or the rule of the recent buyout boom.

Go to Article from The New York Times»


Prying Open European Pharmacies

Antoine Antoniol for The New York Times

A customer requested drugs at a pharmacy in Paris last week while others studied displays. Many Europeans have relied on pharmacists for expert help.

Published: September 25, 2007

MILAN — It does not look like a scene of revolution in one tiny corner of a vast Carrefour hypermart here: a couple of perplexed customers scanning five open shelves stacked with aspirin, ibuprofen消炎鎮痛, antiseptic抗菌 cream and cough medicine.

But for the first time in many European countries, nonprescription drugs are being sold over the counter at outlets other than pharmacies.

“I’m glad we can shop for medicine this way, it’s cheaper and convenient,” said Giovanni D’Ambrosio as he surveyed the offerings for seasickness in preparation for a holiday in Sardinia. “But I’m not sure what I should use,” he said, about to seek advice a pharmacist.

For centuries, European drugstores have been part of a closed guild system governed by laws that required even the simplest medications, like vitamins and mouthwash, to be dispensed by pharmacists.

But with billions of euros in revenue at stake, several big competitors are trying to break that stranglehold on simple drug sales. Large chains, including Carrefour and Auchan, want to offer rows of health products, and pharmacy groups like Boots and A. S. Watson, of Hong Kong, are seeking to create British-style networks in countries that have long protected the influential pharmacy guild.

“In the U.S. or the U.K., you can pop into a grocery store to buy nonprescription drugs,” said James Dudley, a consultant on the industry in London. “But that’s an option that doesn’t exist in most of Europe.”

Efforts to pry open the market to competition are being resisted by many politicians, who view it as an experiment, perhaps a dangerous one. “Everyone is after this because it’s big money,” said Mr. Dudley, noting that Europeans spend 40 billion euros ($56.4 billion) annually on nonprescription drugs.

But for consumers, the trend toward greater competition means cheaper and more readily available treatments for simple ailments. In France, Spain and Italy, the share of nonprescription medications sold outside pharmacies last year was less than 5 percent. And with sales restricted to pharmacies, Europeans have often paid startlingly high prices for basic remedies.

Consider ibuprofen, a common analgesic sold under many brand names. A 100-pill bottle of Advil in the United States can cost as little as $9. Twelve pills of Moment, the brand name here, cost 6 euros ($8.45) at a pharmacy.

The guild system, whose roots reach back before the Renaissance, spins a web of protections over the pharmacists and pharmacies in the largest European cities and the smallest towns. Many countries will allow only pharmacists to own a drugstore, and each pharmacist may own only one. In lands like Italy and Spain, the number of pharmacies is limited by law — only one in a small town — and they are passed on to children like property.

Pharmacists, and even some health ministries, insist that such controls are needed. “The system is justified for the protection of public health” and “to preserve the professional independence of pharmacists,” Patrick Brasseu, a spokesman for the French health ministry, said.

They argue that even limited change will put high-quality pharmacies out of business and pose a potential threat to consumers like Mr. D’Ambrosio, who are so used to receiving advice from pharmacists that they may not know how to choose wisely for themselves.

“Commercial chains respond to the market, not to professional needs,” said Giorgio Siri, president of Federfarma, the Italian industry trade group. “The transformation of an efficient decentralized system of 17,000 independent professionals into a system of a few huge groups that can control the market and limit citizens’ choices will have a negative effect.”

Pharmacists supply health advice across much of Europe. In Italy, for example, the local pharmacist checks blood pressure. Some items, like emergency contraceptive pills, require prescriptions in the United States but can be dispensed without one in Europe because the pharmacist can advise patients before a sale.

But in an age when simple nonprescription drugs are sold even at gas stations and airport shops in Britain and the United States, governments in the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Poland and the Czech Republic have begun to crack open the old system and are allowing the chains to move in, making these medications more widely available.

Two years ago, Norway changed its laws to allow nonprescription drugs to be sold outside pharmacies and opening the market to drugstore chains. Now, 98 percent of the country’s pharmacies are part of chains like Celesio, Boots and Phoenix. In Germany, a Dutch online drug retailer, Doc Morris, is seeking to purchase a pharmacy, challenging a German law that limits ownership to pharmacists.

A recent European Union consultation said the system “protects the monopoly held by existing pharmacists, to the detriment of consumers and competition.” The European Commission, the union’s executive arm, is challenging restrictive ownership laws in several countries.

Part of the divide in how nonprescription medicine is sold in North America and Continental Europe stems from a history of different health care systems. In the United States, where people often pay out of pocket for doctors’ visits and medicine, there have long been efforts to minimize office visits and to sell nonprescription drugs directly to consumers and in bulk to minimize costs.

In Europe, with its government health programs, office visits were free, as was medicine, including nonprescription drugs, if recommended by a doctor. So European patients have felt far less pressure to become knowledgeable consumers about medicine and to make some treatment decisions themselves.

As state systems became financially strained in recent years, that generosity has ebbed, and Europeans in many countries are now paying for basic medicine. That, in turn, has led to more consciousness about costs and a willingness by patients to educate themselves.

There are cultural issues, too — although they are being quickly overcome by consumers. The Italian customers here at the Carrefour in Assago, just outside Milan, scrupulous readers of food labels, tend to look at medication cartons from afar, knowing little about brand names and ingredients.

Massimo Caemi brought a friend to help him look for something for an infected finger. “Eccola!” — here it is — he said as the pharmacist-in-residence guided him to a shelf containing tubes of antibiotic ointment.

“I think it’s great and about time,” Mr. Caemi said after he learned to navigate the drug displays. “And it’s 20 percent cheaper than at the pharmacist’s.”

James Kanter contributed reporting from Paris.



德中/欧中 | 2007.09.23


德国总理默克尔周日坚持在总理府会晤达赖喇嘛,引起中国方面强烈反应,德国司法部长参加的一次两国法制国家对话被临时取消,中国网站上骂默克尔的网民言论 也放松了管制。此间有媒体说德中关系陷入了危机。但默克尔的行为在德国则受到几乎所有党派的赞扬。这次会晤会带来什么呢?德国之声记者报导与分析如下。



默克尔要会晤达赖喇嘛的消息刚公布,中国外交部 就召见了8月29日刚递交国书上任的德国驻中国大使施明贤。周三,中国外交部发言人姜瑜在北京新闻会上说:“我们希望德国中国政府在达赖问题上的立场是明 确的。西藏自古就是中国的一部分,西藏事务是中国的内政。达赖不是单纯的宗教人士,而是披着宗教的外衣,长期从事分裂祖国活动、破坏民族团结的政治流亡 者。中方一贯坚决反对任何国家的官方人士以任何名义和形式与达赖接触。”






周六,达赖喇嘛在黑森州说:“我欣赏默克尔总理 为人权问题和宗教自由坚定不移的支持。”“我相信她(默克尔)有建立一种真正的友谊的意愿。”他还表示,他不相信这次会晤会长期损害中德关系,“中国人只 是在试探他们的底线。”他还指责北京政府的“恃权高傲”,说北京政府走最简单的路,“那就是压迫。”




设在柏林的“德国国际西藏运动组织”(ICT) 发表声明说:“今天联邦总理默克尔与达赖喇嘛在总理的的会晤具有很高的象征力量,虽然官方仅仅把这说成是私下意见交流。德国联邦总理首次与达赖喇嘛会晤是 对西藏和达赖喇嘛的一个重要支持。西藏问题只能通过达赖喇嘛和中国国家领导人的对话来解决。”



1990年,德国当时的总统魏茨泽克在柏林总统 府会晤达赖喇嘛。他是西方第一个会晤达赖的国家元首。1995年,德国当时的外交部长金克尔会晤达赖。中国立即取消了与金克尔的一个日程。1996年,由 于亲自民党的瑙曼基金会在波恩举办了一个批评中国的西藏问题会议,中国因此而关闭了该基金会的北京代表处,到今天为止,自民党一再努力,这个代表处仍然未 能重开。1999年,外交部长菲舍尔会晤达赖,他强调道,德国和欧盟所有国家都认为西藏是中国的一部分,但支持西藏对宗教和文化自治权的要求。也许由于这 个讲话含有北京不反对的内容,中国没有采取什么行动。






第一个方面,在德国国内,默克尔此举显然是得分 的,从上述各党(包括几个主要在野党)的反应可以看出这一点。默克尔显然是位个人全能得分高手。在今年她身为主席国领导人的八国峰会、欧盟峰会上,她都得 了分,而且是大分;访问中国时,她讲人权,又得了德国媒体的广泛赞扬;现在她会晤达赖喇嘛,已经得到德国国内普遍好评。即使是热衷于德中经济关系的德国经 济界,在这些问题上也只能“表示担忧”,没法公开说反对的话。

第二个方面,在德中关系上,毫无疑问,政治关系 会受到一定的影响。至于“危机”之说,可能言过其实。这从中方相对温和的反应就可以看出。即使是取消法制国家对话,中方也说是“技术原因”。当然,默克尔 也不希望把关系搞僵了,所以学习布什等的样子,把会晤性质定为“私下交流意见”。


中国一位官员日前说,默克尔这次访问中国与温家 宝会谈时,温家宝说,不少人说德中关系在默克尔上台后变坏了,他不这么认为,他觉得德中关系还是在发展,在进步(大意)。这位官员认为,默克尔错误地理解 了温家宝总理的话。温家宝实际上是在委婉地批评,否则就根本不会提这个话题。这是用外交辞令来批评。但默克尔大概以为真的是在赞扬。

为什么默克尔总理对中国的态度跟前任施密特、科 尔和施罗德有这么大的区别呢?当然,这里面有个人的因素,德国的中国问题专家辜学武、中国前驻德国大使梅兆荣等人都认为跟默克尔来自德国东部对前独裁政权 的看法有关。但应该并非完全是个人因素。有一点也许更重要,即中国的地位发生了质的变化,中国与西方的关系也因而变化了。在前几任德国总理任上时,中国还 是一个高速发展的发展中国家,总体上还是一个弱者,也就是说重要的是通过支持和扶助来共同获益的;而现在中国质变成了一个各方面的强者,虽然这个强者形象 还刚刚开始,但西方已经把它更多地视为对手。与对手之间,是需要经常针锋相对的。这一年来,各方面对中国的态度,包括玩具,黑客事件,等等,都可以看到这 种新的关系的形成,并非仅仅在德中之间。也许在许多政治家心里还是一种潜意识的东西,但实际上这种关系确实是变化了的。对一个强者示弱,或过分地示好,容 易失去国内民心。

西方各国领导人中为什么忽然出现达赖喇嘛热呢? 这里面固然有达赖跟中国的谈判最近破裂的因素在内,但深思一下,会发现并非仅仅如此,这似乎是一个对抗系列片中的一集。也就是说,现在可以说是处于中国与 西方关系转折的微妙阶段,很容易情绪化,而且情绪化已经存在。无论对西方各国来说,还是对中国来说,都需要一种空前的技巧来处理外交问题。软硬之间,是很 难掌握的,对今后的世界外交关系却又是有着重大关联的。



实际上,现在的中国政府比文革期间的中国政府聪 明多了。综观这十、二十年来的中国外交,可以发现,中国领导人现在首先考虑的是自身的利益,并没有一味的强硬,有时候还十分的灵活。在西藏问题上,在与梵 蒂冈关系问题上,在汇率问题上,都没有把门关死,经常有些动作。现在的西藏问题似乎僵在达赖提出的大藏区问题。现在中国的言辞很激烈,把达赖定性为分裂分 子。但是,达赖喇嘛的态度也是比较灵活的,他也已经反复表示过不求独立了,而且他想在有生之年返回西藏的愿望是强烈的。假如达赖喇嘛再灵活一些,中国也应 该会灵活一些。中国与达赖的谈判应该不会不再进行.要有重大突破谈何容易,但哪一天如果重新开谈,那也并不奇怪。而且,重新开谈也会让中国得分,尤其在对 抗情绪普遍比较严重的今天,或者明天。(sr)






福田的施政綱領:在外交政策上,將推行以重視聯合國、保持日美同盟和作為亞洲一員為核心 的外交;在對內政策上,將繼續推行改革與增長路線,致力於建設年輕人充滿希望、老年人感到安心的自立與共生、可持續發展的社會,以及構建國民滿意 的養老金制度。

vision statement

2007/05/18 05:51

某些組織或公司在mission statement  組織、企業使命、目的書. 將某組織、企業的使命或目的、宗旨綜合而以「目的-手段-成果」等方式書寫出的大綱。又稱為Mandate(命令(書),指令(書))。這之前,還有願景說明書vision statement),其方式略似mission statement.這兩者都可以提醒相關的人的決策是否一致,”…and we’ve had to have the courage to say they didn’t fit our vision and mission statement,” says the COO. Growth…”

這「願景說明書(vision statement)」,是廣為台灣接受的翻譯。(願景)是約1990出版的學習型組織{第五項修煉 }中楊教授的創新翻譯法,它從佛教的「願」出發。A Definition of Vision in a dictionary:一般說的視力【Silver教授 created a corrective lens that contains a fluid, so can be adjusted to fix almost any visional issue.】; 'An Image of the future we seek to create'. 遠景【商業遠景令人難過/難堪:the business vision might not be so easy to swallow。技術遠景:...president and co-CEO of Research In Motion, hosts an innovation-themed, invitation-only "Vision Series" session in the Waterloo (Ont.)-based company's 100-seat auditorium】,參考宗教上意思:Vision與我所不知道的譯人:周士良William Butler Yeats, Irish Poet and Playwright, Dies at 73 (Jan. 30, 1939)

他的書A Vision (1925),大陸翻譯成{幻象} (北京:作家出版社,2006),這是不怎麼恰當的翻譯。

譬如說,Google 公司創業的願景之一就是全世界的電子資訊都可以統一處理。或者在20世紀初的「無遠弗屆的電話」(AT&T)、20世紀下半葉的「anytime/anyplace/any……」。有種領導人是有特異能力藉其生意/事業之願景來領導的,我們稱這種人為visionary leader,譬如說,. Ritz-Carlton旅館連鎖的主管取得2次美國國家品質獎,他選為年度的 Lean Six Sigma CEO of the Year for his vision and leadership in initiating Lean Six Sigma...quality. Under his charismatic leadership and vision, won an unprecedented two Malcolm...

職稱:John Cachat, Chairman and Chief Vision Officer,

Organizations sometimes summarize goals and objectives into a mission statement and / or a vision statement:

A vision statement describes in graphic terms where the goal-setters want to see themselves in the future. It may describe how they see events unfolding over 10 or 20 years if everything goes exactly as hoped.

  • A definition of Mission in a dictionary: purpose, reason for being; also, an inner calling to pursue an activity or perform a service.

Many people mistake vision statement for mission statement. The Vision describes a future identity and the Mission describes how it will be achieved. A Mission statement may define the purpose or broader goal for being in existence or in the business. It serves as an ongoing guide without time frame. The mission can remain the same for decades if crafted well. Vision is more specific in terms of objective and future state. Vision is related to some form of achievement if successful.

For example, "We help transport goods and people efficiently and cost effectively without damaging environment" is a mission statement. Ford's brief but powerful slogan "Quality is Job 1" could count as a mission statement. "We will be one amongst the top three transporters of goods and people in North America by 2010" is a vision statement. It is very concrete and unambiguous goal.

'Power of the Dream'


Gucci Chief Peddles 'Power of the Dream'

How Polet Went From Popsicles to Purses
September 24, 2007; Page B1

When Robert Polet took the reins of Gucci Group in 2004, following the departure of designer-executive team Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole, many in the fashion industry questioned whether the former head of ice cream and frozen food at Unilever was out of his depth.

(out of your depth
1 not having the knowledge, experience, or skills to deal with a particular subject or situation:
I was out of my depth in the advanced class, so I moved to the intermediate class.

2 in water that is so deep that it goes over your head when you are standing:
I'm not a strong swimmer so I prefer not to go out of my depth.)

The Dutch executive unveiled a plan in December 2004 to double sales at the Gucci brand and stem losses elsewhere, notably at the group's French label Yves Saint Laurent. Now, it appears to be paying off. Gucci Group's sales rose 7.7% in the second quarter of this year to €836 million ($1.1 billion), faster growth than at bigger rival LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. In the process, Gucci Group has powered profit increases at its parent company, France's PPR SA, which also owns less glamorous discount-furniture and mail-order clothing businesses.

As Gucci readies for its Milan fashion week show Wednesday, the 52-year-old chief executive must walk a tightrope between boosting sales and keeping his brands exclusive. A few hours before hosting a cocktail party at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice earlier this month, Mr. Polet sat overlooking the Grand Canal and discussed what it takes to juggle some of the world's most exclusive brands.


WSJ: What's the difference between selling Popsicles and $1,000 handbags?

Mr. Polet: Nobody needs another handbag. And if you need a bag, you can get a cheap bag anywhere for $50. So you have to create what I call the "I need to have it" factor when the customer says, "I need to have that $2,000 bag, and my only worry is that it be in stock. I want it now." This is the emotional desire, which comes from the strength of the brand, the power of the dream. I have it as well sometimes.

I still remember when my father bought an Austin Westminster. It had leather seats, and sitting in the car smelling the leather made a tremendous impact on me. When I get shoes, the first thing I do is smell the leather.

WSJ: How does running a luxury label compare with running a mass-market consumer brand?


Mr. Polet: In the first two months I realized the similarities of what I'm doing here are much bigger than the differences. What I do every day, leading and coaching people, I've done for 25 years. But the way we organize creativity is completely different.

WSJ: When you replaced Mr. Ford, Gucci demonstrated it could survive without a star designer. But now Frida Giannini has become an authority in her own right. How do you strike a balance between the brand and the personality?

Mr. Polet: The brand is always more important than the designer because the brand will stay with us, and with our children and children's children, out into infinity. Gucci brand is the 46th brand in the world in the Interbrand ranking [of best brands in 2007]. It didn't get to that position in just one year with one person doing this or that.

Our creative directors have teams of designers, of course. They don't do it themselves, but they have the end responsibility of saying, "This goes in the collection and that not."

WSJ: Does the business side have any say in the creative process?

Mr. Polet: The business side is intimately linked to the creative. The CEO and the creative director have this particular relationship in actually marrying the creative and the business sides.

WSJ: Gucci Group hasn't made any acquisitions since you arrived. Do you think it is ready to add another brand?

Mr. Polet: Acquisitions could play a logical role in the application of our strategy. The primary focus of our investments will be going to Asia Pacific. Is it wise to keep looking at where we can enhance the assortment, the categories, our presence in certain regions by trying to acquire the right target at the right price? Absolutely, and we're constantly monitoring that.

WSJ: Will you meet your target of making every brand profitable by the end of this year?

Mr. Polet: Yes, we are going to meet our targets, and in certain brands actually we are ahead of our targets. Balenciaga two years ago already attained profitability, and Boucheron last year reached profitability well ahead of the dates we had set.

WSJ: What would be the consequences for brands that don't make the break-even cutoff?

Mr. Polet: What we did say in 2004 is that you'd better make it, because otherwise we'll have to think long and hard about whether it makes sense for a brand to be in Gucci Group.

WSJ: Several years ago LVMH, Gucci Group and Prada Group spent billions to amass brands. But recently Prada has sold off unprofitable brands such as Jil Sander and Helmut Lang to focus on its main label. Does size no longer matter?

Mr. Polet: I think we have proven it's very wise to have a portfolio. One example: Providing a career path between the brands. If you're a mono-brand, you're restricted. Here we can actually move people around. When we recently asked Sergio Rossi CEO Isabelle Guichot to head up Balenciaga, the supply-chain director of Bottega Veneta [Didier Bonnin] became the new CEO of Sergio Rossi.

WSJ: Is the multibrand strategy a commercial success?

Mr. Polet: Let me give you an example. [Second-quarter sales at constant currency rates at] Gucci Group as a total grew 12.3% in Japan. The Gucci brand only grew 4%, but other brands in our portfolio grew faster. Bottega Veneta had growth of 70% and Boucheron had growth of more than 30%. And it is here I think you see the beauty of having a portfolio of brands as a luxury group.

WSJ: But if the smaller brands are growing so quickly, aren't you worried they will cannibalize the Gucci brand's sales?

Mr. Polet: Customers appreciate and acquire the brands for different types of reasons. Bottega Veneta is timeless quality for very sophisticated clients who don't appreciate logos on the outside of their bag. Gucci customers love it when there's a logo on the bag, on the shoe, or visible on the ready-to-wear. These are different segments of consumers. There is almost no overlap.

WSJ: You said you wanted to double Gucci's sales to €3 billion by 2011. At what point is a brand so big that it's more mass-market than luxury?

Mr. Polet: It's a differentiation that we never make. We have 227 [directly owned] stores. So, it's not widely available; it's very concentrated. I don't have this fear at all.

WSJ: Accessible luxury brands like Coach have had staggering success in introducing increasingly expensive products. How do you defend Gucci's territory?

Mr. Polet: We never actually think about defending anything. The strategy of all of our brands is to make sure that we go up-market as much as possible. You have more people who aspire to be part of the brand. That allows you to sell products at an entry price-point by buying, for example, perfume and sunglasses, then shoes or ready-to-wear, then jewelry.

WSJ: But doesn't selling perfume at a low price cheapen the brand?

Mr. Polet: I believe in the legitimacy of having price points that allow customers to enter the brand without buying a $5,000 ring or a $2,500 Indy handbag. A big brand like Gucci caters to many, many different strata of customers. Right up there at the highest level is the $38,300 crocodile Indy bag, but at the entry price a normal canvas Indy bag costs $1,690.

WSJ: After years of deepening losses, it seems Yves Saint Laurent is finally on an upward trend. What steps have you taken to improve it?

Mr. Polet: It's one thing to get Yves Saint Laurent to break even, but the real opportunity lies in the fact that we're going to make it a highly profitable brand. We now have five successful families of handbags [at Yves Saint Laurent]: the Muse, Uptown, Downtown, the Tribute and the Double. I wouldn't say these are hit bags, but they are continuously successful around the world and in a sustainable way.

WSJ: How do you keep tabs on the positioning of your brands?

Mr. Polet: We get real data -- market surveys from the Luxury Institute in the U.S., for example -- and continue to monitor the health of all of our brands.

WSJ: What challenges will you address in your next three-year plan?

Mr. Polet: We need to think through how we operate in Japan. Take the [weaker] Japanese yen for example. Not only did we have to raise prices to protect gross margin of the business in Japan, but also Japanese tourist flows started reducing dramatically in the last two years.

We are upgrading our image in Japan. In Ginza last year, we opened a new flagship that is leading the way for us in store design. And you will see as well in the coming weeks and months, from a product point of view, we will innovate specifically for the Japanese market.

In Gucci's high-end jewelry, the majority of sales were in Japan. There's been a quite dramatic upgrading of the assortment, going more to precious stones and gold jewelry, away from what used to be an assortment based on silver.

Write to Christina Passariello at christina.passariello@wsj.com and Stacy Meichtry at stacy.meichtry@wsj.com

2007年9月23日 星期日

沒有 mission statement 也行得通

mission statement  組織、企業使命、目的書.

2007/05/08 09:57


將某組織、企業的使命或目的、宗旨綜合而以「目的-手段-成果」等方式書寫出的大綱。又稱為Mandate(命令(書),指令(書))。某些組織或公司在這之前還有願景說明書(vision statement),方式略似mission statement.

譬如說,世界經濟發展研究協會(World Institute for Development Economics Research,簡稱WIDER,總部位於赫爾辛基)的Mission Statement為:

To undertake multidisciplinary research and policy analysis on structural changes affecting the living conditions of the world's poorest people.

To provide a forum for professional interaction and the advocacy of policies leading to robust, equitable and environmentally sustainable growth.

To promote capacity strengthening and training for scholars and government officials in the field of economic and social policy making.

許多企業的mission /vision statement都包含quality字眼,譬如說,

McDonalds:麥當勞"McDonald's vision is to be the world's best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile."

J. Sainsbury:英國百貨商"Our mission is to be the consumer's first choice for food, delivering products of outstanding quality and great service at a competitive cost through working faster, simpler, and together."


翻讀《摩西五經》(馮象譯注;香港:牛津大學出版社,2006)的版權頁時,才注意到它已加上「牛津大學出版社」的使命書【相對於1993年出版的The Oxford Companion to the Bible】:

Oxford University Press is a department of theUniversityofOxford.

It furthers the Universitys objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide in&

發現Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (2002)已有這了。


在answers.com查coin 時發現 OUP的考古學和建築學都已收編了




Companies can benefit by auditing how closely they fulfill
the aims of their mission statement. ...

Under New Management

In Mission Statements, Bizspeak and Bromides

Published: September 23, 2007

IMAGINE three people who have landed new jobs, each at a different company. All three come to work on their first day breathing fire and decide to read their employers’ mission statements.

Skip to next paragraph
Illustration by Sean Kelly

One is exhorted to strive “to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.” Another is encouraged to “be the best in the eyes of our customers, employees and shareholders.” The third is urged to participate in “bringing the best to everyone we touch.”

Could you tell that the first person works at Microsoft, the second at American Standard and the third at the Estée Lauder Companies?

I didn’t think so.

Mission statements have become ubiquitous since Peter Drucker and others popularized them in the 1980s as a way for companies to articulate their highest purpose. Worldwide, 85 percent of large companies have them, according to a 2006 study of management tools by Bain & Company.

Mission statement consultants — yes, they exist — now recommend that families and individuals create statements as well. Even my daughters’ elementary school put together a mission statement a few years ago for its partnership with a nearby university. But as the use of mission statements has spread, some have become so filled with jargon and bromides that many employees now dismiss them as window dressing.

Calls to nominate the worst mission statement appear periodically on the Web. And the “mission statement generator” at www.dilbert.com strings together clumps of bizspeak to create fictitious mission statements. My latest favorite: “It is our responsibility to assertively administrate timely deliverables in order to solve business problems.”

Ideally, “a mission statement defines a company’s business and its objectives and its approach,” said Darrell Rigby, the partner at Bain in charge of the firm’s management tools survey. “It becomes a bad thing when a mission statement devolves into platitudinous pabulum that employees clearly recognize as hypocrisy.”

pabulum(n.)any substance that can be used as food
pabulum(n.)insipid intellectual nourishment

Some executives believe that the mere act of creating a mission statement is an important team-building experience. In a perfect world, that would be true: a broad cross-section of people would jointly write a statement both specific and lofty and then seek feedback from other employees.

But mission statements rarely come together that way, according to Chris K. Bart, a professor of strategy and governance at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who has studied mission statements. A chief executive is more likely to recruit several allies to sit through a few meetings and patch something together, he said. He estimates that only 10 percent of mission statements say something meaningful.

“Most mission statements aren’t worth the paper they are written on,” Professor Bart said. “That’s the sad reality.”

Undoubtedly, there are cases in which mission statements have helped organizations identify new directions or re-evaluate their work. For example, Johnson & Johnson managers referred to the company’s credo (its lengthy mission-statement equivalent) when they decided how to handle the Tylenol crises in the 1980s. At the time, the credo said: “We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers, and all others who use our products and services.” (In 1987, the word “fathers” was added.)

Kellogg is updating its current mission statement, which reads, "We build Gr-r-reat brands and make the world a little happier by bringing our best to you.” The changes are intended to better reflect Kellogg’s strategic focus, said David Mackay, president and chief executive since the end of 2006, who initiated the review.

“Our mantra externally and internally has been we want to drive sustainable growth” during the six years since the existing statement was published, he said. “Our mission statement didn’t reflect that. We thought it could be a little more powerful.” Kellogg employees can decide if the new statement hits the mark when it is released in the fall.

Too often, mission statements bear little relation to a company’s actual focus. And most elements of a mission statement have “little to no impact” on a company’s financial success, according to a study by Barbara R. Bartkus, an associate professor of management at Old Dominion University, and two colleagues. The study concludes that while some executives value the exchange of ideas that occurs when mission statements are created, many may also view them as public relations devices.

Somehow, some large companies manage to go without a mission statement. Nestlé, for one, publishes a lengthy statement of values on its corporate Web site, but it has no mission statement.

“Why do you need one?” said Robin Tickle, a company spokesman. “I don’t think we see a necessity to use jargon to explain our vision of our company.” He then proceeded to point out Nestlé’s recent strong earnings. “We have a very clear vision and strategy of where we are going as a company,” even without a mission statement, he said. “It must be possible to be successful without one.”

E-mail: newmanage@nytimes.com.

China in Three Colors

基本上 共產黨要追求所謂"綠色資本主義"並執政

Op-Ed Columnist

China in Three Colors

Published: September 23, 2007


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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

After a week of meetings with Chinese energy, environmental and clean-car experts, I’m left with one big, gnawing question: Can China go green without going orange?

That is, can China really undertake the energy/environmental revolution it needs without the empowerment of its people to a whole new degree — à la the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004? The more I see China wrestling with its environment, the more I’m convinced that it is going to prove much, much easier for China to have gone from communism to capitalism than to go from dirty capitalism to clean capitalism.

For China, going from communism to its state-directed capitalism, while by no means easy, involved loosening the lid on a people who were naturally entrepreneurial, risk-taking capitalists. It was tantamount to letting a geyser erupt, and the results of all that unleashed energy are apparent everywhere.

Going from dirty capitalism to clean capitalism is much harder. Because it involves restraining that geyser — and to do that effectively requires a system with some judicial independence, so that courts can discipline government-owned factories and power plants. It requires a freer press that can report on polluters without restraint, even if they are government-owned businesses. It requires transparent laws and regulations, so citizen-activists know their rights and can feel free to confront polluters, no matter how powerful. For all those reasons, it seems to me that it will be very hard to make China greener without making it more orange.

China’s Communist Party leaders are clearly wrestling with this issue. I could hear it, feel it and see it. I could hear it while interviewing government officials. They’ve always wanted a steadily rising G.D.P., which is essential for China’s stability and for the legitimacy of the ruling Communist Party, whose abiding ideology is “G.D.P.-ism.”

But more and more I heard these same officials now saying they want a better environment and a higher G.D.P., because the air has become so filthy here, and the damage to China’s health, rivers, landscape, glaciers and even G.D.P. has become so severe, that the legitimacy of the communist regime, for the first time, is in some way dependent on making the air cleaner. And China’s leaders know it.

For now, though, they want to address this problem without having to change the basic ruling system of the Communist Party. They want to be green and red, not green and orange. I could feel it the minute I arrived.

“Hey, is it a little warm here in your office, or is it just me?” I found myself repeatedly asking in Beijing. No, it wasn’t just me. In June, China’s State Council dictated that all government agencies, associations, companies and private owners in public buildings had to set air-conditioning temperatures no lower than 26 degrees Celsius, or 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Air-conditioning consumes one-third of the energy demand here in summer.

The government just ordered it from the top down. Sounds effective. But then you pick up the Shanghai Daily and read: “More than half of the city’s public buildings have failed to obey power-saving rules setting air-conditioning at 26 degrees Celsius, according to local energy authorities.” Hmmm — seems to be a little problem with follow-up.

In 2005, China’s leaders mandated a 20 percent improvement in energy productivity and a 10 percent improvement in air quality by 2010. You can see why — or maybe you can’t.

I was at the World Bank office in Beijing, meeting with a green expert, and outside his big bay window all I could see through the brownish-gray haze was the gigantic steel skeleton of the new CCTV skyscraper — spectacular six-million-square-foot headquarters reaching to the heavens — one of 300 new office blocks slated for Beijing’s new Central Business District.

I play a mental game with myself now as I am stuck in traffic in Beijing. I look at the office buildings I pass — which are enormous, energy-consuming and architecturally stunning — and I count the ones that would be tourist attractions if they were in Washington, but here in Beijing are just lost in the forest of giant buildings.

And that brings me back to China’s leaders. Right now they want it all — higher G.D.P., greener G.D.P., and unquestioned Communist Party rule. I don’t think you can have all three. I also don’t think they are going to opt for democracy. I am not even sure it is the answer for them right now. So they are seeking a hybrid model — some new combination of red, green and orange. I hope they find it, but right now the vista is mostly an ugly shade of brown.

2007年9月21日 星期五

荷蘭飛利浦照明(Philips Lighting)


  荷蘭飛利浦照明(Philips Lighting)于2007年9月19日召開照明業務相關的新聞發佈會,發佈了有益於防止全球變暖的高效照明器具的效果,以及該公司的照明器具。該公司 首席執行官馮德生(Theo van Duersen)在發佈會上強調,“日本可以通過改進照明器具的使用方法,進一步降低耗電量”。

  馮德生表示,照明耗電量在全部耗電量中所佔的比例,全球平均為19%。如果單看歐洲,“由於最先採用了高效率的照明器具”,比例僅為14%。 另一方面,日本使用的照明器具效率較差,照明器具不隨時關閉,而且亮度過大。因此,“照明消耗的電量約佔整體的20~22%。從照明使用方式來看,日本比 全球任何國家效率都低”(馮德生)。馮德生用嚴厲的口吻表示,在通過高效使用照明器具,削減CO2排放量,防止全球變暖這一方面,日本在全球中“做的最差”。


  從反面來考慮,通過改進照明器具和使用方法,日本的耗電量能夠得到相當大的降低。日本飛利浦電子表示,日本國內的路燈約有70%使用水銀燈。把這些燈 改換為螢光燈,能夠提高效率,減少約60%的耗電量。辦公室和各種設施中使用的螢光燈通過使用將逐漸成為歐洲標準的“TL5”產品代替目前日本標準的 “T8”產品,能夠減少約60%的耗電量。

  TL5螢光燈的發光效率為100lm/W(與專用變頻器電路組合使用)。單看發光效率,T8螢光燈和TL5螢光燈不分上下。但是,TL5的輸 入功率小,因此能夠降低耗電量。由於輸入功率低,TL5的光通量較小,但是仍能保證照明所需的亮度。TL5產品已于2007年由日本飛利浦電子投放日本市 場。其特點是直徑僅為16mm,壽命達2萬小時。未來,壽命估計還將達到6萬小時。

照明耗電還可進一步降低 LED被寄予厚望



  除LED外,飛利浦照明還對使用有機EL的照明器具表示了期待。把有機EL用作面光源,可以應用於目前大多使用螢光燈的大範圍照明用途。但是,有機EL的發光效率目前比較低,僅為40lm/W左右,改進還需要很長的時間。(記者:大久保 聰)

「日本の照明の使い方は,世界で最も効率が悪い」,Philips Lighting社が改善を求める



照明展2007.3.6-9 日本東京














Mattel Official Apologizes in China


September 21, 2007

Mattel Official Apologizes in China

Mattel, the world’s largest toy maker, apologized to China today over its recalls of Chinese-made toys this summer at a meeting with China’s product safety chief.

Press accounts of the meeting in Beijing said Thomas A. Debrowski, Mattel’s executive vice president for worldwide operations, had apologized to China for harming the reputation of Chinese manufacturers. That prompted criticism from American politicians and others that Mattel was kowtowing to China, where the company manufactures 65 percent of its toys in partnership with dozens of Chinese vendors.

But Mattel countered those press accounts this afternoon, saying they had mischaracterized Mr. Debrowski’s remarks. Mattel sent Mr. Debrowski to the meeting to apologize to consumers in China, not to manufacturers there, a spokeswoman said. His remarks were not intended to address harm that has come to the reputation of Chinese-made products as Mattel and other companies have recalled millions of toys, she said.

“Since Mattel toys are sold the world over, Mattel apologized to the Chinese today just as it has wherever its toys are sold,” Mattel said in a statement.

Nonetheless, Mr. Debrowski’s comments created a furor in the United States.

“It’s like a bank robber apologizing to his accomplice instead of to the person who was robbed,” Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said in an interview. “They’re playing politics in China rather than doing what matters.”

Mattel released a copy of the draft of remarks that Mr. Debrowski planned to make at themeeting with Li Changjiang, China’s product safety chief. In those remarks, Mr. Debrowski clarified that many of the units recalled this summer were magnetic toys that, though produced in China, were recalled because of a design mistake by Mattel.

“Mattel does not hold Chinese manufacturers responsible for the design in relation to the recalled magnet toys,” Mr. Debrowski said, according to the copy of his planned remarks.

A spokeswoman for Mattel said she had not seen a video or heard a recording of the meeting to confirm what Mr. Debrowski had in fact said.

Press accounts from Beijing quoted him as saying that the “vast majority of those products that were recalled were the result of a design flaw in Mattel’s design, not through a manufacturing flaw in China’s manufacturers.” Mattel said when it recalled the magnetic toys in mid-August that those recalls were not caused by a Chinese vendor. That made those recalled items different from the more than 80 other styles of toys that Mattel recalled because they were tainted with lead paint.

Press accounts from Beijing quoted Mr. Debrowski as saying the lead-related recalls were “overly inclusive, including toys that may not have had lead in paint in excess of the U.S. standards.” That was not inconsistent with previous remarks by Mattel executives, who said throughout August that they had recalled more units than necessary because they were being conservative.

But some critics today said Mattel should not have lumped the magnetic recall in with the lead-paint ones.

“They really mixed these issues,” said Dara O’Rourke, an associate professor of labor and environmental policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mr. O’Rourke said that Mattel has been more focused on public relations rather than fixing its problems. He said that Mattel used China as a scapegoat for its own problems and that the toymaker is now paying the price for that.

“There’s no question that Mattel is still completely committed to operating in China and needs those factories,” he said. “There was a lot of scapegoating China, but I would argue that this was caused by a system that is designed to push down costs and speed up delivery. There are root causes and Mattel is behind those.”

Management experts said that Mattel is in a tight position with the messages that company executives have to deliver to keep its partners happy.

“They have relationships with suppliers, they have relationships with customers, they have relationships with governments and with investors,” said Steven D. Eppinger, the interim dean and a professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “But they cannot give them different messages.”

Mr. Eppinger said it is more difficult maintaining good relationships with vendors abroad, and that communications can be misunderstood more easily.

Marshall W. Meyer, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said that Mattel’s legal counsel might not be so happy with the remarks attributed to Mr. Debrowski in the face of the lawsuits.

“I’m no lawyer, but my reaction was this was plaintiff’s Exhibit No. 1,” Mr. Meyer said. “Did the corporate general counsel weigh in on this?”












2007年9月20日 星期四


Quality Times 39 品質 時報 第39期:2007年2月14日(周三). Feb.14, 2007

時尚輕便鞋生產商Crocs Inc.正在悄悄策劃一項驚人策略﹐希望以此使自己避免業績的大起大落﹐這個策略就是﹕大膽進軍從女式時尚鞋到女裝的各個服飾領域。該公司生產的鞋子在去年夏季風行一時。

但 許多華爾街人士卻對Crocs的業績能繼續保持快速增長感到沒有把握﹐該公司2006財年的銷售額高達3.38億美元﹐遠遠高於2003財年的120萬美 元﹐其目前54美元以上的股價也大大高於1年前僅為21美元的發行價。截至上個月﹐該公司股票的賣空量大約相當於該股已發行股總量的30%﹐那些賣空 Crocs股票的人都希望從該股的下跌中獲利﹐他們都在等待著這家公司的“一招鮮”不再能吃遍天的時候。




該 公司定於今年秋季面市的新產品將很少使用其具有專利權的材料Croslite﹐這是一種具有防水性的塑料樹脂﹐用其生產的鞋既舒適又耐穿。新推出的產品將 只用Croslite做鞋底﹐這九款時尚新品將以楔形鞋跟、皮革、小山羊皮以及羊羔毛等為特色。它們的預期售價在70至200美元之間﹐大大高於 Crocs普通產品30美元左右的價格。



Crocs的首席執行長羅納德•斯奈德(Ronald Snyder)承認﹐該公司以前推出的鞋子之所以能流行可能確實有偶然因素。但他認為這種局面將會改觀﹐Crocs終將發展成一家非常大的公司﹐擁有眾多不同的品牌。

人 們有理由看好這家公司。在電子產品生產商偉創力國際(Flextronics International Ltd.)前管理人士的領導下﹐Crocs已在全球每個主要大陸建立起了自己的生產和銷售業務﹐它目前在全世界18,000個零售點出售自己的鞋子。通過 簽署授權協議﹐該公司還獲准在自己生產的鞋子上打上一些職業及大學運動隊的標誌以及華特-迪士尼公司(Walt Disney Co.)和維亞康姆公司(Viacom Inc.)旗下Nickelodeon所擁有的卡通形像。



Wedbush Morgan Securities駐洛杉磯的分析師傑夫•明特(Jeff Mintz)說﹐Crocs的股價昂貴﹐但貴得並不離譜。他將Crocs的股票評級定為買進﹐並將該股的12個月目標價定為55美元。明特認為﹐雖然 Crocs的本益比很高﹐但該公司業務增長得也很迅速。在Crocs去年進行首次公開募股時﹐Wedbush Morgan Securities是承銷商之一。

看跌Crocs的人士則要人們關注該公司高昂的本益比。因為相比之下﹐Ugg時尚羊皮靴生產商 Deckers Outdoor Corp.基於2006年每股收益的本益比只有22.4倍。這家公司曾因該產品而一度大出風頭﹐但自2003年以來該公司的銷售增長動力已經消失。而另一 家製鞋企業Steve Madden Ltd.的本益比則更低﹐只有14.4倍。

一些不看好Crocs前景的人聲稱﹐該公司的業務增長動 力最終將更多來自現有零售商而不是新增加的零售商。而這只有該公司新推出的產品被證明物有所值時才能實現。許多投資者都認定Crocs不會成功﹐該公司高 達30%的賣空量便是證據。相比之下﹐Deckers、Steve Madden和童鞋生產商Heelys Inc.這三家製鞋商被賣空的股票量相當於其已發行股總量的比例分別只有13.6%、5.5%和3.3%。

紐約投資公司Straus Capital Management的首席投資長斯特勞斯(Melville 'Mickey' Straus)認為﹐雖然包括他在內的大多數人對Crocs的未來前景都是懷疑大於信任﹐但該公司已經多次以其出色業績令人大感意外﹐它今後可能還會這 樣。這家管理著2億美元資產的公司持有60,000股Crocs股票。

另一個讓投資者對Crocs抱懷疑態度的因素是﹕Thomson Financial提供的數據顯示﹐過去1年中﹐該公司管理人士共售出了2.123億美元的公司股票﹐而他們同期只買入了420萬美元的Crocs股票。 該公司的一些管理人士已經離開了這家公司。但那些未離開的管理人士也在出售公司股票。據Thomson稱﹐Crocs首席執行長斯奈德已經賣出了180餘 萬股該公司股票﹐套現6,150萬美元。



Kris Hudson

Health warning over 'dangerous' Crocs

By Tom Leonard in New York
Last Updated: 2:35am BST 19/09/2007

Crocs, the popular plastic shoes that are reputedly as comfortable as they are ugly, may not be quite so “go-anywhere” as they seem.

Health warning over 'dangerous' crocs
Reports are increasing of wearers getting their toes caught in escalators

Reports are increasing around the world of Croc wearers, invariably young children, getting their toes caught in escalators - sometimes with drastic results.

Made of a soft, synthetic resin, Crocs were designed as a boating shoe because of their non-marking, slip-resistant soles.

Their soaring popularity has been fuelled by their appearance on the feet of the likes of George Bush, Jack Nicholson and Kate Middleton.

The Colorado-based company, which only started five years ago, last month reported sales had jumped by 162 per cent, to pounds 110 million, from April to June this year.

But in Washington DC, the Metro, one of the largest American subway systems, has now put up warning notices about wearing such shoes on its moving stairways.

The posters don’t mention Crocs by name but feature a photo of a crocodile.

A Metro spokesman said that, in the past two years, so-called “shoe entrapments” had gone from being relatively rare to occurring four or five times a week.

In American Girl, an upmarket US toy store chain owned by Mattel, signs warn customers wearing Crocs or flip-flops to use the lifts instead of escalators.

There have also been Croc-related escalator incidents in Singapore and Japan as well as in malls and railway stations across America.

The Japanese government warned its public last week that it had received 39 reports of sandals - mostly Crocs or similar products - getting stuck in escalators between late August and early September.

Most of the reports involved small children, some as young as two.

In Singapore, a two-year-old girl wearing rubber clogs - the brand is unclear - reportedly had her big toe ripped off in an escalator accident last year.

A common pattern is that the accidents occurred because of the brightly-coloured, clog-like shoes’ flexibility and grip, supposedly two of their main selling points.

Some accidents reportedly occurred because the shoes got caught in the “teeth” at the bottom or top of the escalator, or in the crack between the steps and the side of the escalator.

In the US, a three-year-old boy wearing Crocs suffered a deep gash across the top of his toes on an escalator at Atlanta Airport in June.

A spokesman for the airport terminal said it was one of seven shoe entrapments since May, all but two of which involved Crocs.

During the past two years, shoe entrapments in the Washington subway system have gone from being relatively rare to happening four or five times a week during warm months, although none has caused serious injuries, said Dave Lacosse, who oversees the subway’s 588 escalators, the most of any US transit system.

Rory McDermott, four, caught a Croc in an escalator in a suburban Washington shopping mall last month.

His mother, Jodi, managed to yank him free, but the nail on his big toe was almost completely ripped off, causing heavy bleeding.

Mrs McDermott said she initially had no idea what caused the accident until someone at the hospital remarked on Rory’s shoes, prompting her to do an internet search.

She said: “I came home and typed in ’Croc’ and ’escalator,’ and all these stories came up. If I had known, those would never have been worn.”

Kazuo Motoya of Japan’s National Institute of Technology and Evaluation said children may have more escalator accidents because they “bounce around when they stand on escalators, instead of watching where they place their feet".

Crocs says its shoes are “completely safe” and has suggested the accidents are instead due to badly-maintained escalators or people not behaving safely on them.

It said in a statement: “Escalator safety is an issue we take very seriously. In order to stay safe while riding escalators or moving walkways, it’s important to pay attention, especially when stepping onto or off of the escalator or walkway. It’s also important for parents to help young children ride escalators and moving walkways safely."

Crocs said it was working in the US with the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation on public education initiatives.

However, Barbara Allen, the foundation’s executive director, said that after a Crocs official rang her a year ago about possible cooperation, there had been no further contact and the company had not returned her calls.