Re: effectiveness of eBay
I did not mean to imply that lower managers sit idlily by without pushing back. I assume that eBay
is no different than most companies; upper management issues strategic direction and edicts, lower management and worker bees execute the operational implementation. In my experience there is always a gap between the strategic people and the operational people which includes both sides calling each other 'clueless'.
The upper management strategic vision can be understood from their Annual Reports and recent history. I think it is important to understand this when we discuss the 'why' of eBay
policy changes. But truthfully this is a bit far removed when we approach an issue from the bottom up. Starting with something like ' eBay
used to do ABC and now they are doing XYZ' is more important to folks who are coping with the change and how impacts their time and money. And unless we become substantial shareholders or one of us gets a job at the upper levels of eBay
management team we have virtually zero chance at influencing eBay
's at a strategic level.
So with the basic understanding that eBay
's strategic direction is coming down from above, we can turn to the operational implementation. I think this thread has covered several important issues with the implementation but we have a number of 'black holes', significant areas where we are left to guess at what is happening.
First is how Cassini works, eBay
will never open their robe and allow us to see how their search engine works. In terms of the item specifics, at one of the scale is the opinion that item specifics chosen when making a listing have a single one-to-one relationship to the specifics chosen by searchers at the left hand side of the screen. On the other end of the scale is the opinion they play a much larger role in developing an internal eBay
catalog and are used by Cassini in many ways behind the scenes. But we will never really know how it works so other than providing something to discuss on forums and in editorials this tree does not bare much fruit.
The second 'black hole' in our understanding is who are the operational implementation influencers? Internally in eBay
, if they are like most companies, there is a degree of autonomy given to lower management for operational implementation. There may be middle managers who have enough control to drive change for a detail like item specifics. How much is just a guess. But perhaps more interesting part of this 'black hole' concerns external influencers. Do philatelic organizations have any influence? Do philatelic catalog publishers have any influence? Do the 'big sellers' have influence? Does someone's brother-in-law have influence?
So in terms of trying to get them to change we can concede;
1. Upper management is driving the strategic direction and reasons for the changes; this is set in stone and we have no way to change this.
2. At the operational level we have no way to understand how eBays search engine actually works and we have no way to change this.
And since none of us works at eBay
we are left with only one option; figure out how to get one or more of the operational implementation influencers to listen to us. Making posts on forums is probably not going to reach them but it may help in forming a common front. (It is also probably cathartic to be able to commiserate with each other.) A more effective reaction is to ferret out who the existing external influencers are and start working them. Note that this might mean getting into bed with the enemy (i.e. NY Stamps) and hammering out the common ground that helps philatelic sellers at every level.
Lastly we need to keep in mind that even if we find the influencers (internal or external), get them to listen to our input, and they decide to make the item specifics we would like to see; it can get overridden by a number of other parties in eBay
. In my experience this is how technology companies develop and maintain products and services.
1. Sales and marketing, big customers, or upper management drives a strategic change
2. Design engineering plans the operational change and communicates the plan to other departments
3. Other internal departments review the plan, its impact including support, costs (bean counters), quality assurance.
4. The original design engineering plan get modified based upon the input from other departments.
5. Once all departments approve, design engineering implements the plan and the new change is moved to internal testing group.
6. Test group results are used to make further change the original plan to address any issues overcovered.
7. Change is finally rolled out
8. The crap hits the fan. A new task rises of separating the 'whining about change' from the 'legitimate and reasonable issues' that were missed in the original brainstorming and the development testing.
9. 'Legitimate and reasonable issues' feedback from the field then drives a change order, Go to Step 2 above and repeat sequence.
Even small (<200 employees) technology companies operate like this; no company would want a single worker bee making changes without following their normal internal development and testing processes. Anyone who has ever worked developing technology based products understands how easy it is to lose your job by making changes under the radar. It is incredibly easy to cost a company really big money (six or seven figures) with a single change in a line of code. In fact, this can result not in just losing your job but perhaps also losing your career.
I realize that some of the above might seem defy common sense at times. But I ran several smaller technology companies, ones that prided themselves on being incredibly fast and reactive to change, and even we had to follow this kind of development and testing processes to be profitable. Technology today is massively complex and it is highly unlikely that a single person's idea has considered all of the impacts. So while it might make perfect sense to fix eBay
's item specifics to better fit philately, there may be forces that insist upon a standardization across all eBay
I respect your efforts in trying to get a big ship like eBay
to listen and change course; I also stand ready to help in any reasonable way that I can.