Fast Company

Speedometer

Going fast. Going slow. Going nowhere.

Part I Dept. of Higher Learning
A study from the University of Arizona reports that the standard office desk has 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. According to the report, the worst offenders were telephones, desktops, and keyboards. Our new policy: Employees must wash their hands before going to the bathroom.

Part II Dept. of Higher Learning
In 1968, a University of Michigan study divided 475 participants into two groups. Both groups were asked to find solutions to the same assembly-line scheduling problem. They were given identical instructions, with one exception: The second group was told to "be creative." The result: 52% of people in the second group came up with what experts deemed "high-quality solutions," compared with 39% in the first group. Our conclusion: You get what you ask for.

Sign of the Times
One Bay Area startup offers a unique set of services: Its staffers will scrub your kitchen floor, dust your dining-room table, tend to your plants -- and design your Web site or help you set up a wireless network. At GeekMaids.com, downsized techies are doing what they do best: "creating order out of chaos." So this is life after the dotcom crash.

Starbucks is Rolling
Maybe all of those struggling entrepreneurs are sending cell-phone messages while they sip espresso at Starbucks. The company is now the fastest-growing takeout operation in history. It opened its first store in 1971; its second, 16 years later. Now, with more than 5,700 stores worldwide, Starbucks serves nearly 20 million customers a week.

Text Messages Are Booming
SMS (short-message service) capability was incorporated into cell phones as an afterthought. The first message was sent nearly 10 years ago in the UK. Today, cell-phone users send 100 billion messages a month.

Hooray! We're Broke
Shareholder value destroyed at the 25 largest U.S. public companies to go bankrupt since January 1, 2001: $210,000,000,000

Gross earnings since January 1, 1999 of 181 senior executives and 27 directors at those 25 bankrupt companies: $3,300,000,000

Jobs lost at those 25 bankrupt companies: 94,182

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