Thursday, July 28, 2011

Academic Research Assistance and Editing Now Available

Here at Camplin Creative Consulting, with our background in economics, the humanities, English, biology, chemistry, psychology, education, and organizational development, we are able to address a wide range of business issues and research and editing problems. With Ph.D. and Master’s-level consultants, and extensive experience in teaching English composition, we are able to provide academic-level research and editing.

Minimum Fee:
We charge $30.00 minimum fee for all projects. We also require the total fee up front.

Face-to-Face Consultations:
We charge $30/hr for face-to-face consultations, which can include brainstorming, recommendations, etc.

Turnaround Rate:
Turnaround rate is negotiable, but would be a minimum of 5-7 business days from the date we receive your document.

We provide the following services:

Express Proofreading (If your work is already polished and only needs a quick read for minor errors)
$3.00 per page for hard copy
$2.50 per page for file copy

Basic Proofreading and Editing without comments (Includes spelling mistakes, typos, punctuation, capitalization errors, and awkward grammar)
$4.00 per page for hard copy
$3.50 per page for file copy

Extended Proofreading and Complete Editing with comments (Includes everything that comes with our basic service plus proofreading for general structure, clarity, sense, word choice, redundancies and inconsistencies in narrative voice)
$5.00 per page for hard copy
$4.50 per page for file copy

Deep Editing/Rewriting
$20 per page for hard copy
$15 per page for file copy

Reading Fee: We charge a fee of 1.5¢ per word for any reference document (s) you ask us to review for your project.

Additional Services we provide and specialize in include:
Essay critique-------------------------2.5¢/word
Manuscript critique--------------------2.5¢/word
Dissertation editing-------------------(see above)
Citation Assistance--------------------35¢/citation
Academic editing (APA and MLA)--(see above)
Verification of citation sources-------$10/source

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Varieties of Capital People Have

There is a wide variety capital, including capital particular to human beings. We often hear about "human capital," but the way human capital is measured, it really means "education level." A person with a Ph.D. has more "human capital" than a college dropout. However, we can see the absurdity in this when we consider the fact that Bill Gates is a college dropout.

Nevertheless, this is how "human capital" is measured. This is why Richard Florida, for example, has suggested we consider "creative capital." However, we also need to consider such things as cultural capital, social capital, occupational capital, and actual skills. All of this is, of course, in combination with physical capital, investment capital, land, and capital goods.

A particular person is bound to have human, creative, cultural, social, occupational, and skills capital at different levels. Someone without formal education, but who is creative and has marketable skills has more capital than an unimaginative Ph.D. who knows only about the history of the Basque region of France during the 1200's.

Because few people take into consideration all of these different levels of capital -- at least consciously -- companies are in danger of misallocating this capital (often by missing out on people with high and diverse capital levels). I have little doubt that there is massive misallocation these kinds of capital across the country -- but that does not mean you have to be one of the companies doing this.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Three Ways to Raise Prices

Entrepreneur has a good article on Three Ways to Raise Prices. In short:

1) Target wealthier patrons.
2) Have a great reputation.
3) Location, location, location.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rediscovering a Lost Science


Great talk on inefficiencies. We actually not like pure efficiency. And the world is too complex and ambiguous to ever be purely efficient. In the end, he argues that Austrian economics is the best tradition to use in marketing.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Five Common Mistakes Business Leaders Make About Innovation

Five Common Mistakes Business Leaders Make About Innovation from the WSJ. Number 1 is very important to understand. You cannot predict what is inherently unpredictable. There are no hard numbers for something nobody has ever seen. Take it from a creative person: you cannot predict what works and what doesn't. Your customers are a fickle bunch.

Music Is Education

My latest contribution to Music Together Dallas. It is also being distributed as a flier.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How Ideas Are Generated


Steven Johnson on how ideas are generated. He also discusses this idea in a WSJ article. There is a continuity between natural creativity and human creativity. Understanding one helps one to understand the other.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Music Together Dallas

I am proud to announce that Music Together Dallas has become a client of Camplin Creative Consulting. I am working with them on promotion, advertising, and retention strategies.

An Interview -- of Me

I have been interviewed by Allen Mendenhall at The Literary Lawyer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Strength in Numbers, Weakness in Collectives

More evidence that groupthink tends to take over, preventing the best ideas from emerging. In this case, the article argues that the Wisdom of Crowd phenomenon disappears if we learn what others are thinking. Nothing like peer pressure -- even unseen peer pressure, when the peers aren't putting any pressure on you at all -- to disrupt variety and creativity. People want to be like everyone else. Unfortunately, this can result in less than optimal solutions and less accurate information and predictions.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Music Can Spark Creativity in Math and Science

Music can spark creativity in math and science. While this may seem mostly relevant to education, the fact that music is related to creativity should catch the attention of businesses who employ creative workers. As Parag Chordia, director of the Music Intelligence Lab at Georgia Tech, observes,

To be a great engineer; to really produce innovative products and to advance the frontiers of science, you have to be creative. And it's not just that music is a diversion or an extracurricular, but it's actually something that's fundamental to life and mind.


Employees should be encouraged to listen to, play, and understand the nature of music. One can make the same argument for employees reading, writing, and understanding the nature of literature, particularly poetry, for the same reason: both music and literature emphasize patterns, improving pattern-matching and -formation, and they also improve retention.

Chordia also observes that, "Creativity lies at the heart of the modern economy."

The entire article is worth reading.

The Success of Failure


If you are afraid to fail, you are afraid to succeed. If you are afraid to risk failure, you will fail to take the risks necessary to succeed. Tim Harford explains the importance of failure, and the right attitude toward failure. Just as importantly, learn how to spot failure and change early. If your firm is sufficiently robust, give your employees the room to fail -- and you will discover great success. While startups are often born from risk-taking, the older a company gets, the less likely they are to take risks. This is unfortunate, as many of these firms have the robustness to absorb much risk-taking and failure. If you want your firm to come alive, risk failure.

The Beauty of the Firm

I have mentioned below that I would discuss topics such as self-organization/spontaneous order and aesthetics (beauty). What I did not mention was that everything on the list is deeply interconnected. For example, one of the features of Austrian economics is the centrality of spontaneous order to that theoretical tradition. Understanding spontaneous orders is important if you want to understand how the economy works, and it can even help one to understand how larger, more complex firms can work most efficiently (noting that firms are, in the end, not really spontaneous orders, though they can approximate them).

So how is self-organization related to beauty? A thing is beautiful if it is paradoxical. Beauty has or contains the following features:

Complexity within Simplicity

Digital-Analog (particular individuals that can coordinate their actions)

Emergent from Conflict

Evolutionary (changes over time)

Generative and Creative

Hierarchical Organization

Play (a nonserious thing done seriously)

Reflexivity or Feedback

Rhythmicity

Rule-Based

Scalar Self-Similarity

Time-Bound

Unity in Multiplicity

These are also features of self-organizing processes. Christian Fuchs lists the following features as aspects of self-organization:

Emergence

Complexity

Cohesion (digial-analog)

Openness

Bottom-up Emergence

Downward Causation

Non-Linearity

Feedback Loops, Circular Causality

Information

Relative Chance

Hierarchy

Globalization and Localization

Unity in Plurality (Generality and Specificity)

And for Emergence, he lists the following aspects:

Synergism (productive interaction between parts)

Novelty

Irreducibility

Unpredictability

Coherence/Correlation

Historicity

If we compare the lists, we can see the correlation between self-organizing complex systems/processes and beauty. Each have the same attributes. "Cognition, co-operation and communication are phenomena that can be found in different forms in all self-organizing systems. Information is a relationship that exists as a relationship between specific organizational units of matter (Fuchs). All beautiful objects are information-generating processes, and all successful firms are, in the broadest definition of the term, information-generating processes (if you inform something, you give it form -- and giving things new forms is what any business does). And to the extent that something is a self-organizing process, it is beautiful. Thus, understanding the nature of beauty helps one to understand whether or not you have a healthy, productive, profitable firm.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Emotional Control and Working Memory Capacity

The ideal employee for most people is one who is in control of their emotions, stay calm under stressful situations, and are able to accept critical feedback. How does one get such employees? By determining if they have a large working memory capacity. Recent research shows that people with large working memory capacities are more in control of their emotions, deal best with stress, and deal well with critical feedback.

Of course, it's not so easy to determine who has a large working memory capacity. Considering that simultaneously taking notes while listening to a lecture is the kind of multitasking that demonstrates large working memory capacity, one would think that anyone who successfully finished college has demonstrated their working memory capacity is large, the fact of widespread grade inflation in colleges undermines this as a reliable measure. The article gives another way of testing, though:

To determine WMC, participants were asked to solve mathematical problems while remembering words; those who had the most correct were identified as having a higher WMC.

This is a pretty easy test to administer, and it tells you a lot about your employee or potential employee.

The ability to control one's emotions should be obvious in its benefits. Further, the first step in changing one's behavior is to be able to take criticism well. Such employees are likely to be able to learn from feedback better than those with smaller working memory capacity.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Guide Your Employees; Don't Rule Them

Google CEO Eric Schmidt argues that

People are going to do what they are going to do, and you’re there to assist them. They don’t need me, they are going to do it anyway. They are going to do it for their whole lives. Maybe they could use a little help from me. At Google, we give the impression of not managing the company because we don’t really. It sort of has its own borg-like quality if you will. It sort of just moves forward.

Peter Klein points out that

Google makes extensive use of teams, information sharing, and delegation, and the firm has a fairly flat organizational structure.

and that for Google, managers are coordinators, not dictators. Further,

As with 3M, Google allows engineers to spend 20 percent of their time on their own projects. Still, these projects are subject to approval and monitoring.

I am sure that this means that the project should probably have something to do with the internet and programming, rather than, say, developing a new way of analyzing literature using Austrian economics, but it is still notable that employees are allowed to work on their own projects. This benefits Google because it encourages creativity among its employees -- which is of course vital in a company where creativity is the driving force. And who knows what of those personal projects might turn into something Google can use. This is something all companies should keep in mind.

Further, the idea that corrdination rather than control should be the dominant management style is one particularly beneficial in creative work -- but is also useful in all sections of the economy. Micromanagement and direct control over the actions of employees is one of the least efficient ways of doing things -- central planning and control is inefficient in both firms and economies. General rules that create guidelines for employees work best. Employees need to be able to maximally use their local knowledge, their situational knowledge, to do their jobs best and most efficiently.

Stress Kills Learning and Memory

I have already discussed the fact that lack of sleep affects memory and thinking, but we must remember, too that, stress -- even short-term stress -- also affects memory and learning. We are not talking about mere pressure to get things done by a deadline. No, we are talking about fight-and-flight stress. The things that make employees fearful and defensive.

It is not hard to imagine the following cycle:

An employee forgets to do something. His boss tells him that if he forgets again, his job is in jeopardy. The employee, now stressed, forgets something else. The employee gets written up and warned that if he forgets again, he will definitely lose his job. The employee's stress is increased even more. Since stress affects memory, what do you think is the likelihood he will forget again? Certainly the pressure to remember that thing may override the stress, but the stress is likely to make the employee forget other things. Chasing after the employee on each of these things only makes the employee more and more stressed, and forget more and more things. It becomes a vicious cycle, ending in the employee's termination.

Now, one may just shrug one's shoulders and say, "Well, I can always hire someone else." Which is true. But you may have run off what was once a good employee (before the increases in stress made him a bad one), and it costs to train someone else. Not to mention the costs incurred from the forgetfulness of the employee in question.

This is not to say that you should just let things go. Hardly. But at the same time, management must never forget the history of the employee in question. Keeping things in context, and letting the employee know you are doing so, can help one to correct without creating stress.

Above I was discussing the creation of stress in an individual employee -- but it is just as important to keep a stress-free environment as much as possible for everyone. High-stress environments create high leels of cortisol in people, and that obstructs the laying down of new memories. In other words, it blocks learning. Particularly in creative work, this is highly detrimental to the bottom line, to have one's employees less able to learn -- let alone to remember. Productivity gains can be made by simply trying to make sure the environment is as stress-free as possible (and making sure everyone gets plenty of sleep helps too).

Friday, May 6, 2011

On the Nature of Beauty

In your advertising, do you use people who are beautiful or who are attractive? You may wonder what's the difference, but it turns out that people distinguish between the two. And it turns out that attractiveness is, well, more attractive for your ads.

The article discusses human beauty and attractiveness, but when it comes to advertising, beauty is an important element that many may not take into serious consideration. We accept the idea that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," but this is in fact not really true. There is an underlying concept of beauty that is universal. One of the benefits of this kind of beauty is that is pulls a person into the work and makes the person remember it. True beauty makes you want to reproduce what is seen. One can begin to imagine the viral potential, then, of a beautiful ad.

But do you know what true beauty is?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Companies' Internalizing Education

Companies may need to start internalizing the education of their employees. How many companies hire college graduates who can neither write, create a coherent argument, nor be persuasive? More, these same employees are convinced they can do all three.

But internalizing employee education will accomplish nothing if teachers are hired who do not have the right understanding of the importance of grammar, logic, and persuasion. It is likely one can find many teachers who believe in persuasion, or rhetoric, but who do not understand the important of the former two, even as they are of central importance to being persuasive. And even those who believe in rhetoric do not believe all aspects of rhetoric are important. One can break rhetoric down into its own three elements: ethics, logic, and emotion. It is sad to say, but one would be hard-pressed to find a rhetoric teacher who believed ethics was at all important. I have already mentioned their rejection of logic. And that leaves us with nothing but emotion. Arguments are reduced to either "do as I say, or else" or emotional manipulations, which can range from overwhelming the person with sympathy or pity for one's situation to accusations of racism, sexism, or homophobia just for disagreeing.

Thus it is important to be sure the person you hire to teach your employees how to write have, unlike too many of their college professor colleagues, the right philosophy of writing. In other words, they must believe in the importance of grammar, ethics, logic, and emotion in appropriate measure. A poorly written paper is unpersuasive. An unethical person is unpersuasive. An illogical argument is unpersuasive. And a purely emotional argument is mere bullying, even as an argument lacking emotions will persuade few of a proposal's importance.

Such people can be found, but with the current dominating philosophy found in most college and university composition programs, such people are unlikely to to be found there. You are more likely to find them unemployed by a university, or working adjunct at a community college, desperately fighting for what they believe in against the administration. Or, you will find them among philosophy majors, who will, sadly, have at least as much grammar training as your typical composition teacher, and will have the benefit of knowing logic and ethics.

As the disconnect between schooling and learning becomes ever more evident, companies who need an educated workforce are going to find it necessary to internalize education, to ensure their employees know what they need to know. But doing so will be pointless if companies simply adopt from the failing departments their failing philosophies of education. If you are going to internalize education, you need to know what works, and adopt such programs. Since companies are not colleges, it is too easy to rely on their expertise, not realizing that their "expertise" is itself the problem. No, for an internalized educational system to work, one has to buck the system. One has to adopt what will work. To do that, one needs outside expertise to help set up the programs, to hire the right people, and get the programs going. That is something we can do at Camplin Creative Consulting.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Brand Personality

What is your brand's personality, and can you measure its appeal? It turns out that you can. In other words, does your brand personality work? Is it "rugged, sophisticated, competent, exciting or sincere"? Do people view it as favorable, original, clear?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Does Your Company Do What It Needs to Do?

Is your company a risk-taking company? Does your company encourage entrepreneurship and experimentation? If so, is it encouraging people in the right ways? Do your employees feel like the company cares for them? Do your employees feel secure (physically and economically)? How can you go about making your company exhibit all of these things and, thus, become more creative and profitable?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Selfless Behavior Brings Success for All

If you can get your group to consider itself in competition with another group, the result is greater success for the group. Under the right conditions, those who bring the group down will actually often punish themselves to protect the group. Having such a system would obviously be of great benefit to a firm, creating a more efficient, successful firm because each member is concerned with the welfare of the firm more than their own welfare. Any time you can get your employees to self-regulate, you have a much better, more effient firm.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Leader Beliefs About Followers Impact Company Success

What do the leaders in your firm believe about their employees? It turns out that what they believe about their employees matters a great deal, because it becomes self-fulfilling. According to psychologists Thomas Sy:

"if managers view followers positively -- that they are good citizens, industrious, enthusiastic -- they will treat their employees positively. If they think of their employees negatively -- that they are conforming, insubordinate and incompetent -- they will treat them that way"
And it turns out that what you believe about your employees becomes self-fulfilling. If you believe your employees to be good, they will be, while if you believe them to be bad, well, they will be. Not right away, of course, but over time. In the former case, the employees want to live up to what is believed of them; in the latter case, the employees begin to think, well, if there's nothing I can do to please them, why bother? They increasingly become what you believe them to be.

John Mackey: Helping Your Organization Self-Actualize

Ideas Matter has a good posting on John Mackey: Helping Your Organization Self-Actualize. The purpose of the firm is most certainly to make a profit, but what goals do your employees have? If they are there just to make a paycheck, you are not getting the most you can out of your employees. A healthy firm, like a healthy organism or ecosystem, will grow and prosper. A more accurate metaphor than ecosystem, though, is garden. An ecosystem is a bottom-up self-organizing system -- which is not really how a firm is structured (though some of the principles of such systems can be used in larger firms). A garden, however, is organized by someone -- planted and weeded, watered and fertilized. Nevertheless, a good gardener knows when to leave something that pops up unexpectedly, and can recognize that a garden with perfect order is not nearly as beautiful as a garden with rough edges. There are many kinds of balance one must achieve in any kind of organization: and the balance between order and disorder is but one.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Importance of Well-Rested Employees

Understanding how the human body and mind work is important to understanding how to have the most efficient, productive workers. Swing shifts are among the worst things you can do to your employees -- and to your company. Companies are tempted to institute swing shifts on the idea that it's only "fair" that everyone have to work what is perceived to be a bad shift -- 3rd shift. What results, however, is a tired work force who cannot think well.

Hormones are synchronized with the wake-sleep cycle. When people change shifts, the brain never knows when it's supposed to be asleep, so this affects how people function.

People who change shifts every few days are going to have all kinds of problems related to memory and learning, Fishbein [a neuroscientist at the City University of New York] said. This kind of schedule especially affects what he called relational memories, which involve the ability to understand how one thing is related to another.
One cannot imagine anything worse to make less efficient than relational memories, which only adds to the problems of slower work from sleepy workers, and bad thinking and slower work from workers who cannot concentrate.

Many 3rd shift workers also readjust their schedules on their days off, which is something they really should not do. It is understandible that one may want to have their days back on their days off, but in the end, it's harmful to the person changing their sleep schedules around -- for several physical and mental reasons.

Overall, well-rested employees are more productive employees. You may be getting less out of your employees by having them work earlier, later, or on swing shifts.
______________________________

Update: and here is why all of the above problems occur. It turns out that when you are sleepy, part of your brain will take a quick nap. Your employees may literally be half-asleep on the job, even when apparently awake.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hayekian Insights Into Knowledge

"such complex phenomena as the market, which depend on the actions of many individuals, all the circumstances which will determine the outcome of a process … will hardly ever be fully known or measurable." -- F. A. Hayek

Every company of course has to keep this in mind when dealing with the market. Competition is, of course, a discovery process, so the unknowns eventually become knowns through market competition. Competition creates more opportunities for profit, not less.

At the organizational level, the heads of small firms and their employees may be able to fully know all that is going on in the firm, but the larger the firm grows, the less likely this is to be the case. The larger the firm is, the more one has to rely on employees' local knowledge.

Depending on the size and complexity of the firm, different kinds of organizational structures are needed to facilitate the creation and transmission of knowledge in the firm. Rigid hierarchies are not always best or most efficient. Larger firms, though not themselves spontaneous orders, can nevertheless use some of the lessons learned from understanding spontaneous orders to harness the full potential of each and every employee.

Even so, one cannot expect to accurately measure the degree to which such efficiency develops. There is more and less, but whether perfect efficiency is reached (or can be reached) is impossible to know. What we can know, however, is what kinds of structures work best.

Genes Predict Learning Style

Have you ever had an employee who just couldn't seem to learn from experience? Well, perhaps it is because you taught that employee what to expect in their job.

Researchers at Brown University have discovered that there is a genetic element to the degree to which people learn from experience after they have been told what to expect. At one extreme, some people are born with a tendency to just believe what they have been told, and to continue believing it no matter what experience teaches them; at the other extreme are those who don't believe anything unless they have experienced it themselves. There are, of course, variations in between.

The "Yes-man" may in fact just be a true believer. The rebellious employee may just be someone who has to have everything shown to them so they can experience it for themselves.

Naturally, there may be other factors as well. But this adds to the complexity of why one's employees may be acting as they do. The most efficient company will know what to do with such employees. Do you know what to do with them?

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Creativity Killer

David Sherwin has a piece in The Atlantic titled The Creativity Killer: Group Discussions.

In it Sherwin discusses how many businesses create groups to create new ideas, and how this often fails. The first thing I would note is that creativity cannot be turned on on demand. This is not addressed in the article, but it's an important limitation on such meetings to generate ideas.

Nevertheless, Sherwin does a great job of discussing the best ways to use groups to generate new ideas. The bottom line is that humans are a social species. Thus, it should not be surprising that we are more creative, and most efficiently creative, in a social setting. The problem comes about when we mistake collective action for social action. With collective action, we reach consensus in the way Sherwin discusses. Thus, the best ideas are unlikely to develop. At the other extreme, isoalted individuals do a good job of coming up with ideas, but it is easy to become stuck with the same ideas. Since people are often specialists, their solutions are often narrowly defined to their own area of expertise, as one would expect.

What, then, is the solution? The solution is to avoid collective action and isolated individualism, and to instead foster individualistic social groups. All of Sherwin's examples are variations on this theme. For even better ideas, if one has the time, it is best to allow your team to come up with ideas on their own, meet to discuss them, then go out to work on the ideas, etc., until a set of recommendations can be developed. This takes time, but it is more likely to result in the best solutions.

Increasingly, businesses need to foster creativity. As a creative person myself, I am quite familiar with what creative people need to maximize their creativity. The problems and the solutions may be different, but the culture and environment needed to maximize creativity is the same for all creative people.

Future Topics

I will periodically discuss why I use the elements I use in my consulting, to give potential and current clients some insight into my methods and to explain why I use those methods.

Things to look for in the future:

Austrian Economics

Spontaneous Order and Self-Organization

Hierarchical Networks and Scale-Free Networks

J. T. Fraser's umwelt theory of time

Clare Graves' theory of adult psychological and social evolution

Evolutionary Psychology

Culture

Creative Conflict and Destructive Conflict

Creativity

Education and Learning

Aesthetics

Complexity

etc.

Welcome to Camplin Creative Consulting

Camplin Creative Consulting is a new consulting business located in Richardson, TX, a suburb of Dallas. We make use of spontaneous order and self-organization theory, which includes network theory, Clare Graves' psychological theories, J.T. Fraser's theory of time, and Austrian economics. We also use evolutionary approaches, including evolutionary psychology and the most recent work on how the brain works, and cultural studies. We apply all of these approaches to understanding companies in their full complexity, from the kinds of thinking present in the firm to their hierarchical network structures and the firm's relationship to the spontaneous order economy.

Conflicts and tension are a central part of any system. There are good, creative conflicts and bad, destructive conflicts. It is important to discover which are which, and to understand how to foster the former while reducing or eliminating the latter. These conflicts make up each company's culture, and allow a company to either work well and maximize profits, or exhibit frictions and fail to maximize profits -- or even lose money.

We hope you will let us help you.