You Do Not Need Permission to Innovate

Bootleggers K turn


A recent Lifehacker article explained the “bootlegger’s K-turn,” a driving tactic that was used to quickly reverse direction and make a fast getaway from the cops, as explained to Brooke Allen by a Prohibition-era bootlegger he had met in the 70’s.

Ironically, this was the least interesting part of Brooke Allen’s complete article. His encounter with that ex-bootlegger also included a key life lesson that served him well throughout his business career.

When FDR brought an end to Prohibition, that bootlegger – Allen called him “Jeb” – had to find new work. Pickings were slim; Jeb finally found a mundane job as a factory drill press operator. To deal with the monotony, he’d think of different ways to improve the drill press. Finally he mustered up the courage to ask the factory owner if he could share his ideas:

After a few years he screwed up the courage to ask the owner, “May I ask a question?”

The owner laughed, “You don’t need permission to ask a question.”

… It turned out Jeb’s idea made the drill-press much more efficient. Jeb was about to go back to work when the owner said, “Why don’t I put you on another machine and let’s see what you come up with.”

In short order he’d invented all kinds of better ways of making things and soon he was even inventing whole new things to make. The owner gave him piles of money and Jeb was very happy.

“I never asked for permission to be a bootlegger because I knew it was the wrong thing to do,” Jeb told Allen. “But, I didn’t become inventive until I learned that I don’t need permission to do the right thing.”

Brooke Allen took away this key life lesson: You do not need permission to do the right thing. Knowing this simple fact is essential for any true innovation to take place. Innovation, by definition, is an act of “intelligent disobedience.” It is unafraid to question the status quo; it unashamedly asks, “What if…?”

I’d also add a big thumbs-up for the factory owner who had the sense to not only listen to Jeb’s idea, but to also encourage Jeb to discover new ideas and share the financial rewards with him. The owner demonstrated business sense that is lacking in too many corporate “leaders” today.

An empty suit of a “leader” probably would just used Jeb’s first idea to make or save money without even a thank you (just like this example); or simply shooed Jeb back to his drill press with a “We don’t pay you to think!” or some other jerk statement.

Poor leaders can go a very long way to discourage innovation; however, that doesn’t change the fact that you don’t need permission to innovate. Lousy leaders who think nothing upsets the status quo without their blessing are kidding themselves. Under their noses, innovations are taking place in the form of secret skunkworks projects, workarounds and hacks that enable workers to sidestep red tape and self-important gatekeepers while also keeping their personal sanity!

Gatekeepers and Workarounds

Now imagine how well such a company could perform if innovation wasn’t driven underground by its own “leaders.”

Bottom line, you do not need “permission” to freely assess “the way things are” and envision “the way things could be.” Recognizing this universal truth might be the “bootlegger K-turn” you need to make a clean getaway from an innovation-hostile, “potted plant” organization and towards organizations and true leaders that actively encourage and reward innovation.

If you liked this post, you may also like:
“I’d Like to Have an Argument, Please” – An Innovation Message from Monty Python
The Impact of Imagination Level on Product Marketers and Managers
Product Managers and Marketers: Ever Feel Like You’re Being Treated Like “The Fighter”?

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Innovation

When All You Have is a (Analytic) Hammer, Does Every HR “Problem” Look Like a Nail?

I found the wording of this tweet and article summary more than a little interesting: What kinds of “HR problems” and “organizational changes” will IBM “solve” with analytic software?

From the Washington Post article (emphasis added):

[IBM] unveiled several new technology services that would apply big data and analytics processes to human resources problems. 

One service, predictive hiring, would use large volumes of behavioral assessments and other employee data to better understand the traits that are characteristic of top performers, and then comb through candidates to identify potential hires. A predictive retention service would analyze workforce data — exit interviews, for instance — to identify those employees most likely to leave.

What strikes me here is a seemingly implicit assumption that employee “traits” are largely constant, innate, “hard-wired.” Either people bring the traits the company believes are those of high performers (or job hoppers) with them through the door, or they don’t. Identify who has (and doesn’t have) those subtle traits, and you can hire and keep top performers while winnowing out the others.

Color me skeptical, both of that apparent assumption and whether big data analytics is even the right tool here. I am reminded of Maslow’s law of the instrument: If what you have is a hammer (in this case, an analytic hammer), every (HR) problem will look like a nail.

"We need more people like... us!" Mad Men photo via CNET

“We need more people just like us!
Mad Men photo via CNET

First, the analytics themselves described in the article seem to be at high risk for falling victim to logical flaws described by David McRaney in his must-read blog-turned-book You Are Not So Smart.

For example, since existing leaders will largely decide what those attributes of top performers are that require big data and predictive analytics, they might well end up identifying ideal employee profiles in their own image (confirmation bias).

And analyzing the traits of perceived top performers with a long history with the company appears to run afoul of survivorship bias:

You must remind yourself that when you start to pick apart winners and losers, successes and failures, the living and dead, that by paying attention to one side of that equation you are always neglecting the other…

[For example,] when a company performs a survey about job satisfaction the only people who can fill out that survey are people who still work at the company. Everyone who might have quit out of dissatisfaction is no longer around to explain why. Such data mining fails to capture the only thing it is designed to measure…

Second, human workplace attitudes can and do change significantly over time, particularly in response to the organization’s own traits; for example, whether the work environment is risk averse or proactive, collaborative or politically charged, collective or exclusive. And employees don’t need big data or predictive analytics to draw those conclusions.

Liz Ryan, former HR VP and founder of Human Workplace, hit that nail right on the head (bad pun intended, sorry not sorry) in this recent article:

In order to hit our goals in any organization, we need to build positive energy in the workplace. We need people to be excited about their work… Anyone in your organization will be able to tell when the excitement level is high… low, or nonexistent…

Physicists proved a hundred years ago that energy moves in waves, and we see waves around us in the air and water. Still, we pretend that the workplace is a linear place made only of easy-to-measure particles… as though the waves aren’t there.

To her credit, Liz Ryan doesn’t pull any punches sharing her disdain for technocratic measurement of employee engagement (and by extension, performance) instead of other much more effective ‘low tech’ methods:

If we really care what our employees think, it’s easy enough to find out… We could ask them how they’re doing… We all have enough creativity and intelligence to move our organizations without unnecessary, fear-fueled micro-management practices…

The more formal, rigid and hierarchical an organization, the less easily waves of energy and trust will flow… Give up the Employee Engagement survey, drop the junk-science patina on stupid HR practices and learn how to be human at work. You’ll be amazed how the team’s energy will power your success once you let it start flowing.

While Liz Ryan’s key point is right on target, I do think she takes her criticism of measurement-driven management in her article too far. Business intelligence and analytics, when created and used appropriately, can be a powerful force multiplier. But analytics are not the only arrow in the technology quiver.

Other tools have been specifically designed to actively contribute to employee engagement and an “espirit de corps” that drives new employee productivity. Gamification platforms is one such tool I have become aware of right here in Boston; for example, Objective Logistics‘ MUSE platform engages and motivates restaurant workers, while the WeSpire platform engages and energizes employees around company sustainability and social responsibility programs (of course, both platforms are complemented with analytics).

Making a conscious, personal effort to build an energetic, collaborative work culture should yield much better employee outcomes than poring over predictive analytics based on the past and potentially flawed assumptions. “The best way to predict the future is to create it” is an old saw, but one that still rings true when considering the right actions and technologies to improve employee performance and successful hiring.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Business Intelligence, Interpersonal Skills

Five Years On: Innovation as a Driver of Good Business and Social Good

I recently revisited this article, among the first I wrote for this blog back in early 2009. America and the world was still reeling from an unconscionably cratered economy; and yet, there was substantial optimism that the global economy – as well as global society and well-being at large – would recover and become stronger. That optimism has since been proven to have been on the mark.

Now more than ever five years later, the advancement of global business and global civilization are increasingly viewed as intertwined and no longer commonly regarded as mutually exclusive. With that in mind, it is even more gratifying to look back at this write-up (which I have since refreshed and updated just a bit) on Bentley University’s 2009 Leadership Forum: The Business of Healing Our World – a special event to promote and encourage business initiatives and innovation, to quote Gloria Larson, Bentley University president, “that are both good for business and the broader social good.”

Read the complete article.

If you liked this article, you may also like:

Collective-We Firms Eat Exclusive-We Competitors for Lunch (and How to Become One)
Everything I Really Need to Know About Product Marketing I Learned in Elementary School
Doing the Wrong Things Right

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized

Breaking the “Curse of Too Much Knowledge”

A great passage from Jeffrey Fox’s best selling first book How to Become CEO has stuck with me over the years. Fox recounted how one of the U.S. automakers, desperate to improve gas mileage during the 1970s energy crisis, called on its engineers to redesign its cars to be less heavy, improving gas mileage. But veteran engineers insisted that just couldn’t be done. Doing so, they said, would be unsafe, impractical and impossible. They were wrong.

The automaker brought in younger, recent engineering grads with less experience, who proceeded to shed hundreds of pounds off the cars with no adverse safety impact. The new engineers were successful because they were not constrained by preconceptions; they didn’t “know enough” to conclude the task was impossible!

The Man Who Knew Too Much (classic 1956 Alfred Hitchcock film)This story is a great example of what my business friend and colleague Neil Baron calls “the curse of too much knowledge.”

Neil Baron is managing director of Baron Strategic Partners, a business management consulting firm with experience in developing value propositions. I have known Neil for a few years now and have enjoyed many of his presentations at past ProductCamp Boston and Boston Product Management Association (BPMA) events.

Recently, Neil led a Creating Compelling Value Propositions workshop, for which Tench Forbes wrote up a great summary for the BPMA website. During that workshop, Neil said the ‘curse of too much knowledge’ is a major inhibitor to successfully creating a value prop that resonates with prospective customers. From the BPMA summary:

A big challenge is that we assume that our customers know as much as we do about the product. Our own knowledge gets in the way. Companies have an advanced understanding of the technology because they live with it every day. Customers, even those with PhDs, are not at the same level of expertise. This makes it hard for vendors to relate to their customers. It is nobody’s fault. It is just how our brains are wired.

Neil then offers a solution which happens to coincide very closely with how that US automaker lightened the weight of their cars:

Often the problem of too much knowledge can best be addressed by bringing in an someone who does not have the same level of knowledge as your team… The key is that they have the ability to question your assumptions about your product and your customer. (emphasis added)

This is very similar to advice from Michael Roberto’s book Know What You Don’t Know (a longtime favorite of mine that I happened to recently turn Neil on to as well!). In his book, Michael Roberto agrees with Neil that managers need to “seek out the youngest and the brightest inside and outside the organization” to “gain access to a different worldview” about your products and markets. And these two additional suggestions to get unfiltered points of view appear particularly relevant to breaking the curse of too much knowledge:

  • Seek-out-unfiltered-information-go-out-to-peripheryGo to the periphery. Communicate with co-workers in distant geographic regions, units exploring new technology and groups or ventures outside of the firm’s core market. Focus on the disconnects between what people living your products every day versus the “periphery” of the business.
  • Talk to the “nons”, as in speaking with non-customers, non-employees and non-suppliers; those who do not interact with the company, whether for a particular reason (why?) or simply being unaware of your organization. What are their reactions to your product and value prop? Do they “get it” and express some interest in it? If not, why not?

Neil Baron offers a very thorough process in his value proposition workshop to overcome the curse of too much knowledge using tools and techniques based on cutting-edge brain science from MIT. Similarly, Michael Roberto’s book also addresses the root causes of barriers to getting fresh, unvarnished perspectives on products and customers, some of which also involve brain science (confirmation bias) and others rooted in the unfortunate reality of “palace politics” (pressure to conform; advocating for one’s own best interests).

A clear first step forward is to simply accept the paradoxical notion that we as product marketers and product managers just might not “know what we don’t know,” while at the same time “knowing too much”!

If you liked this article, you may also like:

“Collective-We” Firms Eat “Exclusive-We” Competitors for Lunch (and How to Become One)

Marketers: What’s Your Fastball? What’s Your Curve Ball?

Today’s “New Rules” Marketing Organizations Run Like Winning Football Teams


Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Product Marketing, Uncategorized

Not Every Picture Tells a Story: Keys to Effective Business Storytelling

An appropriately told story has the power to do what rigorous analysis couldn’t: to communicate a strange new idea and move people to enthusiastic action.

~  Steve Denning, “The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling”

Business storytellingPanorama Software has just recently launched Necto 14, the newest version of its business intelligence software. In addition to many other new features, the company describes Necto 14 as being “visual, using infographics, graphic visual representations of information, to present complex information quickly and clearly; creating business stories that every business person can understand” (emphasis added).

I find this messaging to be exciting as well as timely, as I believe BI systems have not done nearly enough to enable business storytelling. But that should change in 2014, as BI author and thought leader Cindi Howson recently wrote:

The concept of storytelling is increasingly appearing in BI products whereby information and analyses are presented to support a decision-making process, a bit like PowerPoint.

Watching the Necto 14 online demo, I found some of the sample infographics told stories better than others. For example, does the following infographic-style chart quickly convey its intended business story(ies) more effectively than a more common variety of chart or data visualization? What do you think?


Regardless of your BI presentation solution of choice, it’s important to note that “business storytelling” is not synonymous with “infographics” or “data visualization”. BI tools can slice and dice data in a multitude of ways, but may not necessarily reveal any sort of causality. (More on this in a moment…)

Also, improving your business storytelling does not necessarily require advanced data visualization tools. Any organization can take a the first step towards better storytelling by following universal best practices when creating even the most simple chart. Data consultant and author Thomas C. Redman recently wrote: “As Edward Tufte advises, label the axes, don’t distort the data, and keep chart-junk to a minimum.”

The next step Redman recommends is also very simple: annotate your charts. “While annotations do not replace a well-told story [told by a speaker in a live meeting], they do give the reader some inkling of what’s involved.”

Consider the “before” and “after” charts (below) cited by Redman in his article. The annotations in the second “after” chart go a long way to tell a story how the company’s efforts to improve customer data quality were successful, while still in the form of a basic chart:



Looking at Redman’s “after” chart annotations more closely, they are not just helpful notes; they also comprise a second set of data (the key milestones of the company’s data quality program – by month), correlated with the monthly data quality measures. As a result of this data correlation, a time series cause-and-effect story emerges, complete with a beginning, middle, and (in this case) a happy ending: a once-severe and pervasive customer data quality problem has been solved.

This leads to a key point: the most compelling business stories are those that present strong correlation-causation relationships across many disparate yet complimentary sets of data.

Perhaps you have seen Charles Joseph Minard’s incredible 1869 data visualization of Napoleon’s army in the Russian campaign of 1812. Minard was given the well-deserved contemporary recognition for this work by Edward Tufte in his acclaimed 1983 book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, noting “it may well be the best statistical graphic ever drawn.”

Charles Josepn Minard's Chart of Napoleon's 1812 March to Russia (1861).

Source: Click map to view/enlarge image. See also:

Minard painstakingly correlated multiple data sources, including the movements of Napoleon’s army over time across a map – marching to Moscow and then retreating from it – with the (rapidly narrowing) thickness of the line representing the number of Napoleon’s men, falling in battle as well as from deadly subzero temperatures reaching -30⁰ F/-38⁰ C. Minard’s data sources are brought together in a very moving visualization that tells the tragic story of the total futility of Napoleon’s Russian campaign and the misery of his soldiers culminating in overwhelming casualties that wiped out the Grande Armee.

Fast forward to today: Big data infrastructures and analytics hold huge potential to not only visualize and tell the story of the loss of life from violent conflict in hindsight, but also develop narratives that prevent global violence in the first place. This vital global goal was outlined in a recent Foreign Policy article: Can Big Data Stop Wars Before They Happen? Author Sheldon Himelfarb cites three key trends justifying optimism that the answer will become a clear “Yes”.

First, Himelfarb points out the increasing amounts of data being generated by more and more people through digital devices; and second, our expanded capacity to collect and crunch data like never before. But his third observed trend may well be the most critical to developing a clear story based on the root human causes that fan the flames of world violence:

When it comes to conflict prevention and peace-building, progress is not simply a question of “more” data, but also different data. For the first time, digital media — user-generated content and online social networks in particular — tell us not just what is going on, but also what people think about the things that are going on.

Excitement in the peace-building field centers on the possibility that we can tap into data sets to understand, and preempt, the human sentiment that underlies violent conflict.

Thankfully, the stories we want and need to tell in our respective organizations don’t fall into this same literal life-or-death category. However, storytelling that moves a business forward demands the same utilization of as many varieties of data as possible – structured and unstructured, internal and external. Doing so will require rapid, powerful data integration capabilities. This wider spectrum of highly diverse data sources must then be combined with clear, user-friendly data visualizations that convey understanding, empathy and a sense of urgency to take timely, opportunistic, successful action.


Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Business Intelligence, Uncategorized

When the Right People Correlate the Right Information, Expect a Masterpiece

“All knowledge is connected to all other knowledge. The fun is in making the connections.”

The remarkable gentleman who said this quote, Arthur Aufderheide M.D. (1922-2013), certainly lived by these wise words.

Dr. Arthur Aufderheide

Dr. Arthur Aufderheide (2008). Source:

An energetic man with an innate curiosity of the world, Dr. Aufderheide was a medical school professor for the University of Minnesota who founded an entirely new area of scientific research: paleopathology – the study of the spread of diseases in ancient civilizations through the forensic analysis of mummies (think of it as CSI: Ancient Civilizations!).

Aufderheide pursued this unique research with gusto for three decades, traveling the globe locating and examining mummies, in the process defining best practices in the scientific examination of mummies taught and practiced around the world, while also aiding present-day understanding of the spread of diseases. His research would also rewrite history; for example, Christopher Columbus did not infect the native peoples of the New World with fatal diseases brought from the Old World as historians had long assumed; Aufderheide’s research revealed tuberculosis was prevalent in the Americas five centuries earlier.

Aufderheide’s innovative research revealed new insights by correlating new data drawn from new sources that had been waiting for centuries to be discovered. I believe anyone involved in business intelligence, big data analytics and enterprise information management can easily appreciate this.

Just as important: Dr. Aufderheide was the perfect person to make those new correlations. You see, Aufderheide came up with the idea for his unique research by combining his decades-long knowledge of disease with his many personal interests in archaeology, anthropology, outdoorsmanship, world travel and native cultures – the perfect correlation of his passions, interests and expertise. His research was so successful, inspirational to his students and earned the recognition from the global scientific community because he absolutely loved doing it – right up until he finally retired at the age of 86.

Of course, Dr. Aufderheide made a living doing this work, but he could have also “made a living” (as in “work for the money”) by remaining in his original career as a hospital pathologist, a job he no longer found fulfilling. Instead, at the age of 55, he wisely made a career change into academia. Had he opted to just “tough it out” in his old job, counting the days to early retirement, it’s safe to say his remaining life work would have been unremarkable at best. By the same token, a different university professor who found his work just as unrewarding most likely would have accomplished very little in the way of new meaningful research, even if he was given Aufderheide’s idea!

I see two key business takeaways from the story of Dr. Aufderheide and his successful life work.

Read more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Business Intelligence, Information Management, Innovation, Knowledge Management

Why the Question “Is Your Product a Vitamin or a Painkiller?” is a False Choice

I recently read an article posing the well-known sales question, Is Your Product a Vitamin or a Painkiller? by George Deeb. It’s a good reminder that it’s better to be selling a “painkiller” technology product that relieves acutely-felt, pervasive business problems, rather than a “vitamin” product that offers some lesser, more specialized value.

I agree with Deeb that it’s much harder to build a large, scalable business around vitamin products than painkiller products, but a product-as-painkiller is not the ultimate or best product offering either.

In other words, the question “Is your product a vitamin or a painkiller?” is a false dichotomy.

The issues of trying to sell a vitamin product are described quite well in Deeb’s article. But painkiller products have their own issues. For example, one of the most frequent and frustrating “competitors” to a painkiller product sale is “none of the above”: To the sales manager’s chagrin, the prospect decides that while the business pain is real, alleviating the pain simply isn’t worth the effort. And the prospect just slogs along with things as they are, somewhat like Norm of Cheers:

In a real world example, business intelligence thought leader Neil Raden once recounted how the BI system he had implemented revealed acute “pains” in multiple business areas of the company. He proposed a prescriptive plan to resolve those issues, only to get brushed off by corporate executives. It seemed a lot like a frustrated doctor trying in vain to persuade a chain-smoking patient indifferent to his own health.

Meanwhile, new enabling technologies march on: painkiller products that once justified a huge capex in on-premises software, servers and services (CRM, marketing automation, legacy BI) are now offered inexpensively on a SaaS basis (SFDC, Marketo, GoodData) with more to come. In other words, more and more painkiller products are becoming available at lower “vitamin-level” cost and simplicity!

Another issue I have with painkiller products is they implicitly assume a business status quo. Consider Polaroid in the mid 90’s: like scores of other large companies then, Polaroid jumped in with both feet into ERP, the ultimate painkiller technology of its time. Polaroid even won major awards for its top-tier ERP implementation. While Polaroid’s ERP no doubt lightened many business pains by optimizing inventory, purchasing, quality control and such, meanwhile the company was failing miserably with new products and not addressing the deterioration of its instant photography market to fast-growing digital cameras. By focusing inward on business efficiencies, management probably became even more insular. I recall reading a Polaroid executive praising the company’s new efficiency of its instant photography “core business.” Not long after, in 2001, Polaroid filed for bankruptcy, with most of that “core business” long gone.

Clearly, while the cessation of business “pain” is important, such efforts are no substitute for the ultimate purpose of a business, as memorably described by Peter Drucker:

There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer.

Drucker further elaborated:

Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs…

To Drucker’s point, I believe that we are still quite early in the use of technology to enable highly effective, personalized, creative marketing that engages prospects and leads them into becoming customers. And the use of technology to help inform innovation efforts is even further behind. Again, quoting Drucker (this from his 1998 essay The Next Information Revolution):

Half a century ago, no one could have imagined the software that enables a major equipment manufacturer… to organize its operations worldwide, around the anticipated service and replacement needs of its customers… But [information technology has] had… no impact on the decision of the equipment manufacturer concerning which markets to enter and with which products…

For top management, information technology has been a producer of data [for operational tasks]… Business success is based on something totally different: the creation of value and wealth.

This requires risk-taking decisions… on business strategy, on abandoning the old and innovating the new… the balance between the short term and the long term… between immediate profitability and market share.  These decisions are the true top management tasks.

The technology products that will reap the greatest financial rewards will be those that address those “true top management tasks” that Drucker noted – which I suggest comprise a third category of products that go beyond both “vitamins” and “painkillers.”

To this key point, there is exciting potential in new big data technologies, for example, that enable a whole new level of insights into markets, products, customers and competitors by leveraging all forms and sources of information. (Please check out this article for further reading, including how Peter Drucker foresaw today’s big data revolution back in 1998!)

So the question “Is your product a vitamin or a painkiller?” is indeed a false choice, and businesses that rely on painkiller product revenue are at more risk than they might realize. It is critical for technology vendors to develop a superior third category of products that go beyond helping customers simply perform today’s operations in a “pain-free” manner, to also help leaders wisely grow revenues in new markets with new products (innovation) – and also spread the word among buyers of these new innovative products in the most targeted, engaging manner possible (marketing) in ways that far outperform your competition.

Artwork by: BTimony (click to see original)

Source: BTimony (click for original)

The last question is what exactly to “call” this key third category of products beyond vitamins and painkillers…

I think “cure” is a misnomer (a cure for what, exactly?)

What about… “steroids”? (I don’t think so)…  Perhaps “miracle drug”?

“Popeye’s Spinach”?!

What do you think?

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Innovation, Product Management, Product Marketing
Mike Urbonas

Mike Urbonas

I create and deliver strong product positioning, messaging and sales enablement that drives sales leads and revenue. I strongly believe in the power of enterprise information platforms, big data analytics and business intelligence to help transform an organization.

I live just north of the great city of Boston with my wonderful wife of 25 years and our two awesome daughters. Love good beer, good coffee, good books and the great outdoors. I'm also a dyed in the wool New England Patriots fan.

Please visit my blog and LinkedIn profile, and follow me on Twitter. Thanks!

Note: Mike Urbonas is not on Facebook at this time.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 771 other followers


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 771 other followers

%d bloggers like this: