Victorian Penny Car

Victorian Penny Car Victorian Penny Car 2 Victorian Pennies
I took these photos in Classic Motors of Washington, D.C. 



This car is made of Victorian Pennies from the U.K. 



The pennies are special (1837-1901) with an intricate design of British Queen Victoria. 



This car is one of only 9 in the entire world. 



The sign in the back window says, “This vehicle is not for sale.”



It’s got to be some job to get all those old pennies on this car. 



I remember when we were kids my sister had this long green plastic container for collecting pennies.  



Pennies already back in those days were worthless, and it was just a hobby to throw them in and see how many we could collect. 



After some years, the thing was so heavy, I could use it for my exercise routine.



So why do we still make stupid pennies…for classic collector vehicles?  



Old habits die hard, and the government is a big bureaucratic ship that doesn’t turn on a penny or dime or whatever–I think that’s the real reason we still do so many nonsensical things. 😉



(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

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Securing Transport To The Cloud

A new article by Andy Blumenthal on cyber security and cloud computing in Public CIO Magazine (June 2012) called Securing Cloud Data Means Recognizing Vulnerabilities.It’s the principle of inertia: An object in motion stays in motion unless disturbed. Just like a car on a highway, everything zips along just fine until there’s a crash. This is similar with information on the superhighway.”Let’s all do our part to secure cyberspace.Hope you enjoy!

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Kenny Holston 21)

>Balancing Planning and Action

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There are two common problems where immature or dysfunctional governance results in poor performance. When good governance is lacking, either decision makers:

1) Over-think and underperform or

2) Under-think and underperform

In the first case, people are seemingly paralyzed (often in a state referred to as “analysis paralysis”) and are hesitant to make a decision and so the organization stagnates—in a state of perpetual inaction—and underperforms.

In the second case, people don’t think enough about what they are doing—they lack adequate mechanisms for planning, analysis, vetting, and general due diligence—and are too quick to just do something, anything—whether or not it’s the “right” thing—and again they end up underperforming.

Both situations have negative consequences on the organization: In one, people are over-thinking and therefore not doing enough and on the other hand, people are under-thinking and therefore end up doing the wrong things.

Instead what we need is a rational sequence of think, do, think do, think, do—where actions are regular, frequent, and driven by a reflection of what’s occurred, the entry of new inputs, an analysis of alternatives, a vetting process, and the point of decision-making.

This is the essence of good governance and the most basic balance of thoughts and deeds, where thinking leads to action and action feeds back to the further thinking and so on.

In it’s more expanded form, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the father of quality management, founded the Shewart cycle or PDCA (based on the scientific method)—where planning, doing, checking, and acting is a constant cycle of action and reaction:

Here we can see that good governance leads to continuous momentum from planning (thinking) and doing (performing) to a robust feedback mechanism that includes checking on results and acting to analyze and improve on those.

A recent article in MIT Sloan Management review, Spring 2010 called “Learning When To Stop Momentum,” by Barton and Sutcliffe, provides similar lessons from the perspective of overcoming dysfunctional momentum.

Dysfunctional momentum: “occurs when people continue to work towards an original goal without pausing to recalibrate or examine their processes, even in the face of cues that they should change course.”

Dysfunctional momentum fits into the category described above of under-thinking and underperforming. If we don’t “pause and recalibrate,” (i.e. think before further action) we are not going to perform very effectively.

The authors recommend that we do the following to cure dysfunctional momentum (under-thinking):

1) Be humble—“be confidant in your skills but humble about the situation. Even the most experienced experts cannot know how a dynamic situation will unfold.”

2) Encourage skepticism—“it is important that everyone’s voice be heard.”

3) Seek out bad news—“use the acquired information as an opportunity to learn.”

4) Be available—“interruptions force us to reconsider whether we really know what is going on and how well the present actions are working.”

5) Communicate frequently—“face to face is the richest medium for communication because…it conveys multiple cues that allow for a range of meaning, and it provides the opportunity for rapid feedback.”

To me, we can also cure dysfunctional paralysis (over-thinking) by tempering the prior recommendations with the following ones:

1) Be bold—be willing to understand the requirements, the options, vet them, and make a decision and move forward.

2) Encourage conviction—hear everyone’s opinions, thoughts, and ideas and then have conviction and take a stand.

3) Seek a decision—get the good news and the bad news, put it into a business case or other presentation for decision makers to act on.

4) Be discrete—manage time with discretion following the phrase from Ecclesiastes that “there is a time for everything”—a time for thinking and a time for doing.

5) Communicate with purpose—communication is critical and often the best communication is directed ultimately toward some decision or action to further some advancement on the subject in question.

The article summarizes both perspectives this way: Dysfunctional momentum occurs not necessarily because people are ignorant, risk-seeking or careless, but because they are human and have as much trouble in controlling momentum as they do in surmounting inertia.”

To address the issues of over- and under-thinking problems, we need to establish policy, processes, structures, and tools for good governance that support people in thinking through problems and making decisions on a sound course of action—leading us to a continuous and healthy cycle of thoughts and deeds, planning and action.

>What Stops Us From Going Cashless

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How many of you ever wondered why we continue to use dollar bills and coins when we have credit and debit cards that make cash virtually obsolete?

I for one have long abandoned cash in lieu of the ease of use, convenience, orderliness of receiving monthly statements and paying electronically, and the cleanliness of not having to carry and handle the cold hard stuff.

Not that I am complaining about money at a time of recession, but seriously why do we not go dollar-digital in the “digital age”?

Before debit cards, I understood that some people unfortunately have difficulty getting the plastic because of credit issues. But now with debit cards, everyone can shop and pay digitally.

Even government run programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP aka food stamps) now uses an electronic card for purchasing no money paper stamps.

It seems that credit/debit card readers are pretty much ubiquitous—stores of course, online—it’s the way to go, even on the trains/buses and candy machines.

From the taxman perspective, I would imagine it is also better and more equitable to track genuine sales transactions in a documented digital fashion than enabling funny “cash business.”

So why don’t we go paperless and coinless and fully adopt e-Commerce?

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal, 11 Sept. 2009, described a trendy NYC restaurant that was doing just that.

“The high-end New York City restaurant said goodbye to dollars: Tip in cash if you like but otherwise, your money is no good here.”

Others have been going cashless for some time now.

“In the world of online and catalog retailing, credit and debit cards have long been king. And in recent years, a handful of airlines have adopted ‘cashless cabins.’”

As the NYC restaurant owner said, “Suddenly, it struck me how unnecessary cash was…[moreover,] the convenience and security of going cashless are well worth the added cost.”

Further, from the customer perspective, using a debit or credit card lets users optimize their cash flow and earn reward points.

I believe that the day is coming when bites and bytes are going to win over paper and coins.

This is going to happen, when the IRS requires it, the government stops printing it because it always has (i.e. inertia), when retailers recognize that the benefits of digital money outweigh the fees, and when resistance to change is defeated by common sense of modernization.