Friday, July 31, 2009

Tata Motors and Jaguar/Land Rover

The Financial Times has an interesting story today about the struggles Tata Motors has faced since acquiring Jaguar Land Rover from Ford Motor Company. The article raises important questions about issues such as the ability of niche players to survive in an auto industry that continues to consolidate globally. However, I think the most relevant question remains whether a company that makes the Nano - a low cost car for the developing world - is also well-suited to make luxury automobiles. Certainly, some auto firms, such as Toyota, make everything from subcompacts to luxury automobiles. However, Toyota has far more experience in the business than Tata, and they have scale economy advantages over Tata. Moreover, Toyota may be an exception, rather than the rule. In many industries, firms that try to serve such disparate segments of the market end up becoming average at best - not excellent at serving any particular segment. The article does point out, though, that Tata has a reputation for taking a long-term perspective. They have been patient with their investments in the past. Thus, they may ride out this dramatic slump in the auto business, and gradually learn how to make Jaguar Land Rover profitable.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Naysayer vs. the Devil's Advocate

This article, by Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón, offers some useful advice for how to deal with the naysayer in your company who puts up roadblocks at every turn. However, you must also keep in mind the difference between a dysfunctional naysayer and a constructive/useful devil's advocate. In my first book, I contrasted effective devil's advocacy with what Lou Gerstner described as the "culture of no" that he inherited at IBM - where very powerful individuals, acting as naysayers, could effectively torpedo any innovative idea. The bottom line is that you can benefit from devil's advocates who help insure a high level of critical thinking. However, devil's advocates must remember that their job is to spur more divergent thinking, to open up new lines of inquiry, and to generate new options. Their job is not simply to tear down every existing proposal on the table. The best devil's advocate is not closed-minded; he or she seeks to open other's minds up to new possibilities.

Investing in Customer Service

According to this article, "The American Customer Satisfaction Index, a widely followed survey conducted by the University of Michigan, is at a record high. Other surveys also report gains in customer satisfaction." What's interesting about these results? According to the research cited in the article, service often suffers during economic downturns. This year, however, we see firms taking care to retain loyal customers, and trying to improve service. It's good news for customers, who were taken for granted by some firms during boom times.

What does this all mean for companies moving forward? It's so important to understand two sets of customers. The first are those buyers who are likely to defect if not served properly. Does your firm understand which customers, who are profitable for your firm, are also in danger of defecting to the competition? Secondly, your firm has to ask itself: Which consumers are most likely to increase their spending substantially when the economy begins to pick up steam? You want to take good care of them now, so that they demonstrate loyalty to your firm when they begin spending again. In some cases, those buyers may be keeping their wallets mostly closed now, but there may be indicators that they could be profitable customers for you down the road.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Intuition, Emotion, and the Decision-Making of Soldiers

Benedict Carey, writing in the New York Times, offers a look at the latest research on intuition in the military. Carey describes how researchers have been studying the way in which soldiers make decisions about where they believe IEDs are located. It's fascinating work that looks at the role of intuition and emotion in the choices that soldiers make. It reminds me of the groundbreaking work of psychologist Gary Klein, who has studied intuition in the decision-making of soldiers, firefighters, and nurses. Klein has written several great books on the subject. I highly recommend Sources of Power, a book that he wrote in the late 1990s based on his research. Klein shows that intuition fundamentally is pattern recognition based on experience. He provides a model of how we spot cues in our environment, draw analogies to past experiences, and make choices instantaneously and subconsciously in many situations. It's worth reading if you want to know more about what people often describe as "gut instincts."

Wisdom of Crowds

Here's an article about the results of the NetFlix prize, which is an example of what James Surowiecki described as the "wisdom of crowds" in his superb book.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Leaders as Confronters

Carol Smith, senior vice president and chief brand officer for the Elle Group, offers some interesting thoughts on leadership in this article. While I don't agree with her generalizations about women vs. men as leaders, I do think she makes a number of good points about leadership - particularly on the issues of confrontation and hiring.

Starbucks: Trying to Revive Authenticity

Starbucks tries to go back to its roots and emulate the independent coffee house product/service offering with its new shop in Seattle - 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea, Inspired by Starbucks. It will be interesting to see what Starbucks learns from this experiment. To me, the real success of this concept is not whether this particular store format succeeds, but whether the rest of the Starbucks chain can benefit from the learning and experimentation taking place here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Don Sull: Updating Mental Maps

Don Sull has an interesting new series of posts on his blog about the types of information that managers must use to update their mental maps during turbulent times. Here's a brief excerpt from the introduction of his latest blog post:

"People use mental maps to guide action. In turbulent markets, however, these maps quickly grow outdated. To update their maps as circumstances change, leaders need information that has four critical characteristics. My last three blogs have discussed the importance of real time, unfiltered, and shared data. This post argues that holistic data is critical to spot opportunities and threats in volatile markets."

Financial Literacy

I'm a big believer in the need for improved financial literacy in the United States. However, as this article notes, one major limitation may be finding teachers at the secondary school level who can provide this education on personal finance matters:

"One weak link in the push for more financial literacy training for young people is teachers, who often lack financial savvy themselves. 'You get a real multiplier effect if you get a teacher prepared well,' says Joseph Peri of the Council for Economic Education."

Ultimately, as with so many things, the real problem begins at home. If parents don't set the right example, we are unlikely to find young people developing good financial habits. As a parent, I think it's important to begin at a young age trying to educate children about how to manage money responsibly.

Blunders Costly in a YouTube World

Major customer service blunders prove mighty costly in a YouTube world. See this article and the video below.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Do You Know What Customers Care About?

Many times, we think we know what our customers care about, but we may be relying on "conventional wisdom" or "gut instinct" rather than cold, hard facts. According to G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón over at Business Week, major league baseball teams may be misguided in their understanding of why fans attend ballgames. Here is an excerpt from what Maddock and Viton wrote:

These same teams are, for the most part, relying on either outdated research approaches or "gut feel" to determine what fans want. And not surprisingly they are swinging and missing. Want proof? Consider some of our recent findings:

• Every sports executive we have ever met says the No. 1 thing fans want is a winning team. Fans rank it 11th when asked why they show up at a game.

• What the paying customers want most is a "fan friendly" environment, right? Nope. Fans rank it 6th in importance.

• Teams worry that their ticket prices are too high. Fans say cost ranks 7th when they are deciding whether or not to attend a game

Has your firm tested or validated its conventional wisdom regarding what customers care about most? Do disconnects exist between what you believe and what is actually true? What does this mean for your product and service offering? Every company should take a lesson from these interesting findings about major league baseball, and they should revisit some of the core assumptions that executives routinely making about their customers.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Huffington Post: Review of my work

Thank you, Tom Alderman, over at the Huffington Post for such a wonderful review of my Teaching Company course on decision-making.

Ford's Turnaround

Ford reports more progress on its turnaround efforts. A one-time gain enabled it to turn a profit for the quarter. While the company continues to burn cash at a substantial rate, it does appear to making strides toward turning its core auto operations profitable. It's not out of the woods yet, but there's light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, cutting costs, improving quality, and reducing debt will help the firm stop the bleeding, but to ultimately have sustainable profits, Ford will have to be a leader in new product development. A major test will be this year's introduction of several new models, including the all-new Taurus championed personally by CEO Alan Mullaly. If the Taurus becomes a hit, Ford could have a bright future ahead.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bezos on Zappos

Google vs. Microsoft

Holman Jenkins offers an interesting theory on the competition between Google and Microsoft in today's Wall Street Journal. While many journalists describe this as a heated battle, Jenkins provides a contrasting view. It reminds me of how the rivalry of Coke vs. Pepsi was often termed the "cola war" over the years, yet in fact, it resembled the sort of war described by Jenkins, in which both firms prospered for decades.

Zappos Acquired by Amazon

As readers of this blog know, I visited Zappos - the online shoe retailer - about a month ago. I was intrigued by the culture and the incredible customer loyalty generated by the firm. Today, I read that Amazon has agreed to acquire Zappos for $847 million. While I think the acquisition makes a good deal of sense strategically for Amazon, I wonder about the cultural fit. Will Zappos be able to preserve its unique culture? I think Amazon will want to preserve it because the company has delivered such amazing customer service, but I'm sure pressures will emerge on that culture over time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ruining the Mystique

Some start-ups become successful as they cultivate a cult following among a hard-core group of consumers. The brand builds mystique. However, as the firm aspires to grow rapidly, it begins to expand its target market - even to go mainstream perhaps. As it does so, the company brand can "lose its mystique" as Professor Burnett mentions in this Wall Street Journal article. Here are some questions to ask yourself to test whether your firm might be in danger of losing the loyal following that fueled early popularity of the brand:

1. Would some of our earliest diehard customers accuse us of "selling out" in some fashion? What did those early customers once think about us, and how do they perceive us now?

2. How different are our early customers as compared to our newest customers? Do their needs and wants differ substantially?

3. Have we become less authentic over time in the minds of some customers?

4. Have we become less unique and distinctive over time?

5. Does the firm have the same sense of purpose that it once had?

What's Wrong with Academia

Here's a funny article from the Wall Street Journal, which highlights some of the odd studies being conducted in academia. While I haven't read and cannot judge these particular studies, we all know that far too many scholarly publications simply state the obvious or offer results which have little meaning for those outside of academia. The publish or perish culture of our universities gives scholars plenty of reasons to conduct such studies simply to get one more peer-reviewed journal publication under their belt.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Joined Twitter!

Well, I've decided to try Twitter:

Thank You - The Teaching Company Course

Thank you to all those who have been listening to my new course - The Art of Critical Decision Making - from The Teaching Company. I've been overwhelmed by the response to the course since its introduction a few months ago, and I've enjoyed hearing directly from quite a few of you who have been listening (or watching) the course.

Suggestion Box at GM

The Wall Street Journal has a story today about how Fritz Henderson, GM's CEO, has implemented an online suggestion box so that he can hear feedback directly from customers. I certainly applaud Henderson's efforts to listen directly to his customers, without all the usual filters that synthesize and summarize data for a CEO. However, leaders must be careful when they engage in such efforts. First, they have to expose their entire management team to such feedback, so that everyone is hearing the same messages from customers. Second, they must be careful not to act based on anecdotal evidence that may emerge from the suggestion box. Many managers grab on to a particularly compelling story or example, and they run with it. Perhaps, though, that bit of feedback may not represent the experience of the vast majority of GM customers. Finally, the company must be prepared to act on this feedback. Nothing angers customers more than a suggestion box that becomes a black hole from which feedback never returns. Can GM handle the volume that my come their way? Are they prepared to hear what they may not want to hear?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vermont Teddy Bear Stages a Comeback

The Boston Globe reports that Vermont Teddy Bear has completely shifted its strategy in an attempt to execute a turnaround of the struggling firm. It's quite a shift in target markets, from adult men who listened to shock jock radio to children who want a lovable teddy bear with which to play and sleep. Most firms can't pull off such a radical change in their target market, but perhaps Vermont Teddy Bear can do it. It does seem to make sense to play off of their Vermont heritage with items such as an eco-friendly bear.

Is Google a One-Trick Pony?

Many people have labeled Google a "one-trick pony" despite its many varied efforts to launch innovative new businesses. Much has been made lately of their efforts to challenge Microsoft on a variety of fronts, but this article suggests that it's been a tough slog in the application software business. One has to wonder whether Google may lose focus at some point as it pursues so many different avenues of new growth beyond its search advertising juggernaut. How can it keep so many balls in the air, and do them all highly effectively?

Check out Harsh Luthar's Blog

Harsh Luthar is my colleague at Bryant University, and I'd like to recommend his very unique blog. Harsh is a talented scholar and teacher in the field of human resources. His blog has a spiritual/psychological/religious orientation, and it seeks to promote interfaith understanding and peace. Harsh writes on a wide range of issues, including many aspects of personal growth, happiness, and development. Harsh also regularly invites international scholars from England, India, Egypt, Germany, U.S., and other parts of the world to contribute to the site.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Boston Red Sox, Sunk Costs, and Julio Lugo

The Boston Red Sox face an interesting decision in the next few days. One of their shortstops, Jed Lowrie, returns from injury this weekend. They will have to make a spot on the roster for him. One logical move would be to release Julio Lugo, a shortstop who has performed poorly, particularly defensively, during his tenure in Boston. However, Lugo's contract runs through the end of next season. Thus, regardless of whether Lugo plays another game on the Red Sox or not, the club will owe him approximately $13 million for the remainder of his contract.

What should the Red Sox do? The $13 million represents a sunk cost. It should be irrelevant to the decision as to whether Lugo should remain on the team. It's as if they already paid him the money, since its a guaranteed contract. If Lowrie is better than Lugo, then the club should release Lugo and "eat the money" as they say in baseball. Of course, most sports teams would keep the player, out of a desire to not "waste" the money that they have spent on him. That's poor logic, but it happens all the time in sports. The big-money athlete gets playing time, while a low-paid athlete sits on the bench, despite the fact that the low-paid athlete is the better performer. Why? Because management allows the sunk costs to sway their decision.

Scholars Staw and Hoang published a great paper in Administrative Science Quarterly back in 1995 showing that sunk costs distort decisions in the NBA. Players drafted very high coming out of college tend to get more playing time and stay on their original team longer than players selected later in the draft, holding constant for performance. In short NBA clubs often throw good playing time after bad, much like companies throw good money after bad when high sunk costs exist.

What will the Red Sox do? History suggests that this management team understands the sunk cost trap, and it is willing to release players even if they have invested a great deal of money in the player. They faced the same situation with another shortstop, Edgar Renteria, and they chose to "eat the money" rather than throwing good playing time after bad. My guess is that they do the same with Lugo. Of course, some fans might wonder why J.D. Drew continues to get so much playing time, and if perhaps his huge contract has affected the club's decision-making with regard to that player, who has under-performed expectations since signing with the Sox. Could J.D. Drew someday be another test of Boston's ability to avoid the sunk cost trap?

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Knowledge@Wharton has published an excerpt of my latest book. This excerpt is from the final chapter, which focuses on the mindset of a problem-finder.

The Power of Collaboration

Maya Payne Smart at has an interesting article on small businesses collaborating with one another to compete for contracts, reduce costs, and introduce new products and services. Collaboration through contracts and relationships provides an appealing alternative to either going it alone or engaging in a full-blown merger with another firm. However, such collaboration raises key challenges. First and foremost, firms must be careful to protect their intellectual property. Second, firms have to think carefully about how to divide both the costs and the profits associated with a collaborative endeavor. They have to think about carefully delineating each firm's roles and responsibilities. They must think about the extent to which the company cultures are compatible with one another. Finally and perhaps most importantly, they must consider their exit strategy for this collaborative venture. Is this going to take place for a finite period of time? Is it going take place for a particular project? How will it end, and when it does, how will firms separate from one another in a constructive way?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Progressive Insurance

Progressive Insurance has put a substantial amount of advertising dollars behind its "Name Your Price" innovation in the automobile insurance market. With this new program, customers go to the firm's website, input a price they are willing to pay for car insurance, and then are given several options for car insurance packages that they can purchase for that price. It's another distinctive strategy by a firm known for innovation in the auto insurance market. I wonder if this "Name Your Price" concept might be applied effectively to the health insurance market. What if we could name our price and then instantly be given an array of options for health insurance packages that we could procure at that named price?

Internship Opportunities

For my students, see this article about the companies with the largest internship programs.

Blogging Workshop at Academy of Management

I will be one of the presenters at a professional development workshop about blogging taking place at the Academy of Management conference next month in Chicago. The title of the workshop is Blogging for Management Scholars: Why & How to Read Blogs, Write for Blogs, and Create your Own Blog. The date of the workshop is Friday, August 7th. The organizer is CV Harquail, the author of the Authentic Organizations blog.

I'm also the co-organizer, with Professor David Ager, of a professional development workshop titled Creating Leadership Development Experiences: Collaboration among Academics and Practitioners. That workshop also takes place on Friday, August 7th. I encourage my faculty colleagues at other universities to attend one or both of these workshops if they can.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Leadership Transitions

How might companies make the transition to an outsider CEO more effective? Let's take a look an interesting successful example that other firms might try to emulate.

In the late 1980s, General Dynamics encountered serious financial difficulty. The company brought in an outsider, Bill Anders, as CEO. Anders, the former Apollo 8 astronaut, had served as an executive at General Electric and Textron. In September 1989, the General Dynamics board chose Anders as the heir apparent to the current CEO, Stanley Pace. Anders joined the firm as Vice Chairman on January 1, 1990. He served in that capacity for one full year, and then succeeded Pace as CEO on January 1, 1991. During his time as Vice Chairman, Anders learned the business inside and out. He conducted a comprehensive strategic and financial assessment, and he evaluated the changing industry dynamics given world events taking place as the Cold War came to an end. He also evaluated the strength of the management team at General Dynamics, deciding on the individuals he wished to retain and those he would replace.

Why is this an interesting example? Well, many firms have planned successions for inside hires, but very few firms have periods of transition for outside hires. Instead, they often hire an outside and throw them into the fire. In many cases, the outsiders have a bumpy transition, to say the least. In this case, though, Anders had a year in which to get up to speed on the business, including a thoroughy assessment of the strategy, culture, and personnel. Anders had a remarkably successful tenure as CEO, and he set General Dynamics on a new course that would lead to exceptional performance over the past two decades. Many people remember his tenure at General Dynamics because of a controversial compensation package that he negotiated for himself and other top executives. Of course, in today's terms, his package looks rather bland! Still, what should be re-examined is the thoughtful approach to leadership transition which the company and Anders undertook so successfully. Other companies ought to consider emulating that strategy when bringing in an outsider as CEO.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Vertical Integration in the Auto Industry

Andy Grove, former Chairman and CEO of Intel, has an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal in which he suggests that the auto industry should follow the path taken by the computer industry two decades ago... by moving away from the old business model of vertical integration. Grove questions whether the government's actions to date are simply propping up an old business model rather than investing in a fundamentally new way of doing business.

How Boards Can Avoid Surprises

Barry Bader has a blog post about an interview that he conducted with me several weeks ago. I look forward to seeing the full interview published soon in his publication, Great Boards. That publication is a useful read for those involved in both healthcare management and governance.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Career Advice from Colin Powell

Fortune magazine current issue has a feature in which a number of prominent people share the best advice they have ever received. General Colin Powell offers this bit of wisdom pertaining to your career:

“You won’t become a general unless you become a good first lieutenant.”

– Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and retired four-star general, in the Best Advice issue of Fortune, now on newsstands. This “barracks wisdom,” Powell says, was passed down from the old reserve captains to the young infantry officers at Fort Benning in the form of a fable: A young officer asked a general what it took to earn that rank. The general told him he’d have to have moral and physical courage, never show fatigue or fear, and always be the leader. The young officer thanked him and said, “So, is this how I become a general?” The captain answered, “No, that’s how you become a first lieutenant, and then you keep doing it over and over and over.”

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

McNamara and Obama

Bret Stephens wrote a very insightful piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the lessons that President Obama might take from Robert McNamara's career in Washington. Here is the excerpt which I found fascinating:

But all that happened only after the Planners gave way to what development economist William Easterly has called the "Searchers." As Mr. Easterly writes in his book "The White Man's Burden," "a Planner thinks he already knows the answers; he thinks of poverty as a technical engineering problem that his answers will solve. A Searcher admits he doesn't know the answers in advance; he believes that poverty is a complicated tangle of political, social, historical, institutional, and technological factors. A Searcher hopes to find answers to individual problems only by trial and error experimentation. A Planner believes outsiders know enough to impose solutions."

Stephens writes in reference to the President and his advisors, but I think the notion of Planners vs. Searchers also applies to business executives. Too many CEOs think of themselves more as Planners than as Searchers. They would be well-served to remind themselves that they are unlikely to have all the answers for the thorny problems facing their complex organizations. As leaders, they need to think more carefully about how to uncover the answers amidst the skills, capabilities, and knowledge embedded at all levels of their organizations.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Boeing and Vought Aircraft Plant

Frustrated by delays with the 787 Dreamliner, Boeing has announced that it's acquiring a Vought Aircraft Industries manufacturing facility in South Carolina. The company says that they believe that assuming ownership and complete control over the facilty will help them get the Dreamliner back on track. This incident makes for an interesting example of the virtues and costs of vertical integration. Many firms have chosen to de-integrate in recent years, but of course, there are some coordination and transaction costs associated with trying to work closely with an outside party on a complex endeavor. Boeing appears to have concluded that the coordination costs have become unwieldly, and that the benefits of full ownership and control are perhaps greater than they first anticipated.

Decision Criteria at General Motors

Is this the type of decision-making that will lead to a successful turnaround at General Motors? I think not. Trying to balance so many objectives, rather than focusing on restoring the firm to profitability, seems like a recipe for failure. Moreover, I wonder if it is credible for GM to espouse a strategy of trying to become "the greenest car company in the world." Is this the actual strategy, or is it simply hyperbole? Can the company get back to profitability in the near term while pursuing this vision? I have my doubts given their current capabilities.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Robert McNamara

I just heard the news that Robert McNamara has died. I understand that many people reviled him for his role as a principal architect of the Vietnam War, and there's no question that he made many tragic mistakes... However, I'm still very grateful that Mr. McNamara visited my class at Harvard Business School four years ago. I'm especially thankful for the fact that a conversation with him that day inspired the stream of research that led to my recent book. My students certainly appreciated the opportunity to ask him about many of the momentous decisions he was involved with as Defense Secretary, President of Ford, and head of the World Bank.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Comparison in Decision-Making

Dan Ariely also points out in his book, Predictably Irrational, that we tend to avoid difficult comparisons when making purchasing decisions, while gravitating toward easier comparisons. What does this mean? Suppose we are comparing products A and B, and these two products differ along many dimensions. Now suppose that we add a slightly inferior version of A to our set of choices. How does this affect our behavior? It turns out that adding a slightly inferior version of A to the mix enhances the likelihood to choose the better version of A. Why? Human beings tend to gravitate toward the "easy" comparison...i.e. comparing A to the inferior version of A. Once we do that, the choice becomes obvious.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Predictably Irrational

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the attempt by some Harvard Business School students to create an MBA oath akin to the professional oaths taken by doctors and lawyers. I must admit that I had my doubts regarding the efficacy of such an oath in promoting more ethical and responsible behavior on the part of business executives.

Today, I just finished reading Dan Ariely's interesting book, Predictably Irrational, while on the train from Amsterdam to Brussels (I'm teaching several executive education workshops this week in Europe through the Institute of Management Studies). Ariely is a behavioral economist, i.e. a scholar working at the intersection of psychology and economics to understand how human behavior often does not confirm to the "rational" model of choice employed by many economists.

In his book, Ariely has several chapters on the topic of honesty and cheating. He describes an interesting experiment in which he examines whether being reminded of the Ten Commandments might induce individuals to exhibit more honest behavior. In the experiment, participants were asked to solve some simple mathematics problems. The control group did not have an opportunity to cheat; they handed their answers directly to the experimenter. A second group had an opportunity to cheat; they were allowed to self-report their number of correct responses without handing in their answer sheets. Prior to taking the math test, this group was asked to write down the names of ten books that they had read in high school. Finally, a third group also had the opportunity to cheat through self-reporting, but they were asked to write down as many of the Ten Commandments as they could remember. What did Ariely find in this experiment? The second group answered more questions correctly than the control group, suggesting some cheating. However, the third group (which recalled the Ten Commandments prior to taking the test) did not answer any more problems correctly than the control group. Amazingly, many subjects could not recall all of the Ten Commandments, yet they still exhibited honesty. Simply thinking about moral standards had induced honest behavior!

Could this mean that taking a professional oath would reduce unethical behavior on the part of business executives? I'm not so sure. As Ariely points out, the key to his experiment is that the subjects were asked to think about the Ten Commandments immediately before they had an opportunity to cheat. In the case of the MBA oath, students may take it upon graduation, but the tempting situation may not occur to them for a number of years. Thus, the key to any professional oath is not simply to administer one at the start of a career, but to somehow reinforce its salience over time.