On changing the culture, On outsourcing, On service design, On service innovation, On social media

Harvard Business Review’s contribution to the death of printed media – a HBR Subscription #fail story

I am a business oriented technology fan that likes to stay updated on the recent trends and research. HBR is perfect in that extent and I love the content.

I use  Kindle on my cell quite a lot and read electronically, but I also love reading on paper – the tactile user feedback that paper gives me, the ability to take notes, fold corners and let my eyes rest while reading adds value to me. I also love great user experience. Especially it is important if you aim to target a group of busy business users and managers. I have enough time guided CEO and mid level managers through services that has been carefully designed with them actually in mind. Therefore I am utterly baffled with how crappy the subscription service user experience of HBR is – seen from Norway that is.

First, here is the invoice that I received, this is the third letter I receive that looks exactly the same except from the headline which is increasingly harsh.


#HBRFail1 – Pay option: Cheque enclosed


I am a 31 year old Norwegian.

I do not know what a cheque is,

I do not know how get hold of one, not to mention to complete one.

If I dig realy deep in my memory I think I saw my mom complete one when I was 8 years old.

That was back in 1990.

(As a sidenote, filling out my credit card info on a piece of paper and filing it to you by snail mail also feels a bit awkward, which is why I progressed electronically)

#HBRFail2 – Wrong URL


Last time I checked the TLD list, .hbr was not on the list.

#HBRFail3 – Unclarity whether my account number is 9 or 12 digits


As you will see below, this gives a cascading error when I try to log in.

Ok, I overcame these issues on the third letter, decided to give my MasterCard a shot online and actually managed to click myself into hbr.org/subscriberservices.

Actually a tiny kudos here, beause all these URLS work, it is just that none of them are atually printed on my letter:

I will get back to the latter four URL’S, but here are the landing page for hbr.org/subscriberservices


#HBRFail4 – Unhelpful help with the digit length

As I mentioned #HBRFail3, I was thrilled that there was a help file here that would help me answer whether 9 or 12 digits were right.

Unfortunately it does not serve that purpose as the account number in the picture is 9 digits and my number was 12:


#HBRFail 5 – Unclear call to action for international users


Did you see it before you looked at my arrows? Yeah, that is the link I was supposed to click.

Obviuosly I was a bit in the fog because it was my third letter of invoice and I had had the hassle of guessing the URL, and I was very eager to log in, but it would be easy to design the page so that International users actually saw the message. It fails the “dont use click here policy” also.

I did not find this link until I turned the letter over, found the phone number to the lovely gentleman Luke in the Netherlands, and made him a call. He was very nice and polite, but still made me embarrassed in a most pleasureable gentlemans way when he made me aware of the link.

Remember the URLs above? Actually the four latter ones send you directly to the international site, so why the heck did you not print one of those on my invoice in the first place? This might call for a separate error, but I’ll spare you.

Now onward, this is the error message I got when I tried to login – no wonder I did not concentrate on the link:


#HBRFail6 – Not provide the user with useful error messages

Remember #HBRFail3 and #HBRFail4? Well, I still could not log in with neither 9 nor 12 digits.

Since I had not received any e-mails regarding this invoice (it was after all third notice) I thtought that it might be they had the wrong e-mail adress for me.

Not a throught crossed my mind when I read that error message that I was on the wrong page until the kind Luke by phone from the Netherlands made me aware of the link and what I call #HBRFail5.

#HBRFail7 – Not able to process my MasterCard and to give me feedback about it

Finally, I have managed to log in (by clicking the link “click here” for, selecting my country and login in and calling luke). Now I happily entered my MasterCard number. I got the message that they could not use it.

I called Luke again (are you the only one in the Netherlands on the phone?). Nice, he knew my case from 2 minutes before, but still asked for my account number again (did you not register my phone number and have automatic popup/CTI Integration like most modern call centers?).

Well Luke told me that they had actually received my credit card info once earlier in May, but they were unable to process it.

Oh yeah, now I remember, on the first letter I actually tried the same route as above but never succeeded login in.

Therefore I (#facepalm for security in hindsight) sent my Mastercard number by mail. They had not been able to process it.

How about telling me? In the end I tried a different card, A VISA, with Luke on the line, and it worked.

Hopefully, I will get all my issues this year as well.

Thanks to Luke for being polite and helpful.

Thanks to the HBR editors for providing good insight and thoughts.

Warm regards

A true fan

On changing the culture, On collaboration, On dreaming, On tigers

The 7 good habits of people in great organizations

Think about an organization where every single employee…

    take initiative and make things happen – rather than complain and mourn.
    have a purpose, a vision for their lives and steers by this vision in their everyday activities.
    believes that they are the creative force of their own lives and knows what is important to them and acts based on these priorities.
    knows that there is enough for everybody and look for solutions together by being careful and brave.
    give each other psychological air, do not judge others and thus create an aura of trust.
    involve others in their difficult decisions and firmly believe that
    1 + 1 = 4
    use 7 hours each week on sharpening their skills, and the remaining 161 hours to live in the four dimensions of life (physical, mental, social and spiritual) and increase depth and quality of life.

Think about the value creation we would have if these habits were integrated in your organization?

Courtesy of Gøran Gundersen who made me aware of the 7 habits and his interpretations of the habits and Stephen Covey who coined them in his book 7 Habits of highly effective people.

On changing the culture, On collaboration, On social media

What kind of paradigm are we in?

My fiancé studies ExPhil and perspectives on learning and technology this semester, and I simply wonder what paradigm are we in?

From Koschmann, T.: Paradigm Shifts and Instructional technolgy. An introduction 1996. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers (who reference like that nowadays anyway? Scientists. Periode.) it is written this about Paradigms:

Kuhn theorized in 1972 that scientific research proceeds through long, relatively stable periods of normal science intermittently punctuated by briefer, more tumultuous times in which new paradigms for research may emerge. He charachterized normal science as “research firmly based upon one or more past scientific achievements, achievements that some particular scientific community acknowledges for a time as supplying the foundation for its further practice.

I have long since predicted a massive change in the entire academic world around this. Due to the Internet, information spreads faster and faster. Things change faster and faster, and I can not understand how academia can withstand this ever increasing change spead much longer. They still refer to scientific articles and journals. They still get compensated to publish in journals. While the entire rest of the world just googles, reads, learns and accepts and not to mention blogs, tweets and discuss online!

So my question is, what kind of paradigm are we in? About time some scientists hatch?


Paradigm shift

On changing the culture, On collaboration

Think with exciting partnership

The norwegian electric car manufactorer Think has been through several tough financial rounds, and according to some calculus one car should be sold at the price of 3 million. Recently they released news that they will start manufactoring Think City in USA.

Today they released news that they together with strategic partner AeroVironment earlier behind charging of GM’s EV1, will develop rapid charging stations to deliver 80 percent in 15 minutes. 15 minutes is just long enough time to eat a burger and sip a coke.

I think gas stations will become dining sites with charging stationshowever it will take many years before we get there. What do you think?

Photo: Think

On changing the culture, On entrepreneurship, On tigers

Norwegians face death penalty

Referring to my post about the Norwegian pair in Congo, they got their death penalty today. They had to be convicted before international press noticed the news and now it seems to be everywhere. CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera. Pretty well visited as well accordning to Norwegian papers. Good!

By the way I still miss aftenposten.no/english and think I may start a facebook-group to get it reopened some day. Or maybe start a new english service from Norway?

On changing the culture, On collaboration, On social media, On the CIO role

Did your boss get social media? Three bullet points to get him there

Recently there was a case in Norway (the first in our country that I know) where profiled Norwegian blogger Vampus tweeted “cleaned out my desk and ready for new challenges”. She was just internally reorganized in her company, and most certainly did not quit – at least not by communicating to her boss via Twitter.

The handling of the case by her management was an interesting one, where we should learn. I just posted at the Norwegian collaboration blog about what to learn if you are a manager or CEO, and here is the executive summary so to speak:

  1. Create good guidelines for your employees (and yourself) on what is allowed and not to write online. Ask employees already blogging what it should contain and use common sense.
  2. If in doubt when you read an online post from your employees, ask them what they meant by it, especially if something can be interpreted bad for your company, it may be ironic or “to the point”.
  3. Be aware of what one as a company want to acheive by having profiled bloggers employed and discuss expectations already when interviewing for employment. If already employed, make sure you give good guidelines as in bullet 1.
On changing the culture, On social media

Norwegians are talking, but are they thinking and analyzing?

In this blog post I criticize journalists for being to tabloid and immediate referendums thrown at the people for contributing to stupidity. Here goes.

According to the biggest newspaper in Norway there was a Norwegian girl who first reacted to the new terms from Facebook and eventually gathered enough support to get them changed. This time to the good! Such immediate referendums made available through Internet have totally changed the way both companies, but also the politicians have to do their work. Dramatically!

However, they have a potential downside (at least one). When our Minister of Justice, mr. Knut Storberget nearly have to leave his chair because of an uncontrollable and extremely tabloid flaming from Norwegian newspapers and media, supported by the simplifying opposition, I understand that people turn to blogs instead of newspapers, but probably not to a large enough scale. And if they add to their media habits with blogs, do they read them with a critical analysis in mind? People have a tendency to believe in what they believe in, and then search for (and of course find) supporting evidence wherever they look. This is also why the Liberalistic Party (Fremskrittspartiet) is finding so many supporters these days. They tell people the simple story; Storberget did not have control over his Ministry, and should leave (and add to the story a couple of other blunders he made in the fall). I do not think it is that easy.

No one is perfect, not the secretary who happened to post the Police Hijab press release on the ministries web pages too early, neither the minister himself who followed up very clumsy at the beginning. He might however have learned by now. I do not know. He is probably no worse than any unknown alternative, but to be forced to step down by the opposition on this matter, because the press and opposition wants blood. As more and more voices are fronted, more and more blood seem to be what one want, and more and more dirt is being written about our high profiled politicians, I can not do anything but conclude that it has become a hell lot harder to be a politician, and that they have to listen to many almost immediate referendums to stay on top, and have the journalists back away.

Are the journalists just doing their job as the critical media shall be, or are they stressed to the brink, buying good stories based on presumptive evidence, and trying to make them hit the front page just to sell more papers, miscarrying justice as they go, and terrified that the media house they work in will set them on the street due to bankruptcy?