Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Tom Naughton: I don't think having a credit as a director has changed my life much. Well, I did grow a beard. And I wear a safari jacket. And after reviewing the video footage I shot at Christmas, I shouted "This isn't right!" and made everyone go through Christmas morning again so I could use more creative angles. It was tough re-wrapping all the presents. Plus I fired my daughter from the role of "daughter" and hired another girl whose head is larger in proportion to her body. But other than that, no, life is pretty much the same.
Read the rest of the interview of the "Fathead" director by Michael@2Blowhards.
Great stuff! My favorite:
You may believe in the Planning Fairy if you believe that planning should take as long as necessary to get all the facts. In reality, you never get all the facts.
I'd quickly add:
- The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope. Speculative finance and moral bankruptcy. [I've just started it. The novel, that is.]
- The Road by Cormac MacCarthy. Post-disaster journey. Father. Son. Cannibals.
- A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. A great intro to Epictetus. Go Stoic!
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. A hard slog with wooden characters, but its sales have shot up and people talk of "going John Galt."
Read the rest of William McGurn's article on the reason for Chapter 11.
In the wake, of course, I've been trying to figure out how the bug slipped past my ultra-cautious practice of staying away from bizarre sites and not clicking on strange messages.
I can't identify how it got through. That mystery does, however, cause me to wonder about clicking on anything sent by a friend and especially raises the wariness level for those invitations to join linked-in networks.
Just one more way that the crazies of the world can affect our daily lives.
Can anyone seriously believe that telling racial or ethnic jokes is a positive step in team-building? That putting down women - or men for that matter - is a healthy practice?
Granted, there are people who are thin-skinned and there are those who like to play "gotcha." Their overreactions harm efforts to prevent discrimination because they provide fodder for those who assert that management is only trying to placate a bunch of politically correct wimps.
At the same time, however, a review of harassment cases does not turn up minor or arcane infractions; ones that would cause a reasonable person to wonder how they could possibly be offensive. The cases involve clearly offensive and usually vile comments; the sort that makes you wonder if the speaker has been in a time capsule for the past thirty or forty years.
Setting aside the question of whether the person is prejudiced, doesn't the behavior raise serious questions about the individual's judgment?
Monday, March 30, 2009
Read the rest of the National Geographic Traveler interview with Paul Theroux.
When I mentioned my plans to go to law school, I was told to study Latin because the law has many Latin phrases. I ignored that and studied French which was about as handy. I suspect that classmates who studied German or Spanish got along just fine.
I was also advised to major in political science as an undergraduate. I found that to be another myth; in fact, an English major may be one of the best choices for future law students due to its emphasis on the ability to write. I knew students with degrees in agriculture and drama, however, who experienced no extra burden in studying the law.
All of which makes me wonder how many of the common career tips are completely off the mark.
For example, if the post-interruption time is going to be considered, how about the pre-interruption time? Jill knows that Jack often interrupts her after his 3:00 meeting. As a result, Jill works less effectively after 3:00 - not starting important work and focusing instead on minor items - because of her anticipation of the interruption.
There is a similar effect with memos. Mickey sends a generally-worded memo to his staff that is designed to correct a specific problem caused by Harold. All of the recipients - possibly including Harold - waste time trying to decipher just who and what triggered the memo.
Tally up the effect of both of these practices over the course of a year and the amount of time lost is sizable. So too, of course, is the amount of time gained if the practices are eliminated.
- Michael Barone
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Barney Frank, who doesn't have the excuse of being stupid, was last seen bullying Mr. Liddy to do what on any other day Mr. Frank would flay Mr. Liddy for doing -- violating the privacy rights of his employees. Charles Grassley? His early bloviating about the duty of AIG executives to kill themselves almost begins to look like a grace note, since it alerted the public to the hyperbolic playacting about to come.
In his eyes, the unions were always the good guys. He'd grown up with stories of the early labor struggles. Although we'd gone far past those days, the old stereotypes still existed for him. On one side were the "working people" and on the other side were plutocrats resembling the little rich man on the Monopoly cards. He regarded rigid solidarity as the unity of the workers ("Never cross a picket line!") and not a slogan for mindless obedience.
You can find, of course, similar attitudes on management's side where eyebrows automatically move upward at various labor proposals. Due to a lack of trust, each side operates with a "Give them an inch and they'll take a mile" skepticism.
What has always perplexed me is the utter inability to engage in self-critique. The most effective labor and management representatives are capable of appreciating the other side's virtues and their own vices when it comes to any particular issue. The least effective are reluctant even to entertain the notion that their counterparts across the bargaining table just might have a point.
This attitude might be excused if it were some bargaining ploy - often it is - but the automatic demonization or dismissal of the other side ultimately warps objectivity and good judgment.
Friday, March 27, 2009
[My all-time favorite nominee for the Worst Casting Decision of All Time is Glen Campbell as a Texas Ranger in True Grit. They had John Wayne and Robert Duvall and then some loon decided to throw in Campbell?]
What can we learn from bad casting decisions? Here are a few lessons that could be applied to the workplace:
- Don't play to a particular demographic. Go with raw talent.
- Be certain that the individual will fit in with the rest of the cast.
- Beware of scene-hoggers.
- Consider whether people will have a difficult time accepting the person in the role and whether that barrier can be overcome.
- Recognize that there is no small role. One "minor" casting decision that rings false can throw off an entire scene.
- Watch films such as "The Third Man" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" to see how it is done right. Think of how those movies could have been easily destroyed with one misplaced actor.
- Remember that there is a certain amount of poetry that goes into building a cast.
Read the rest of The Wall Street Journal article on Ward Churchill's wrongful termination case.
He was intelligent, but he never made you feel stupid. He was witty, but his wit did not keep you from speaking. He was charming in a quiet way.
He was sort of a comfortable old shoe.
You enjoyed being around him. In some mysterious manner, he would encourage you to be yourself and to open up. Naturally, he was a good listener and yet that skill was ancillary.
What was his secret? I believe it was his ability to communicate that he truly wished others well and that his friendship lacked footnotes. Nothing you could say would ever get you in trouble because he wouldn't permit it. Behind his stare was an abundance of benevolence. He focused on learning from - and enjoying - others. He never rushed to prove his own worth.
An extraordinary person.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Read the rest of Kenan Malik's article here.
Read the rest of The Guardian article here.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The more I see of various employee problems - and I've seen plenty - the more evident it is that one of the major flaws in the workplace revolves around just what a hiring decision contains.
Is an employer simply hiring a person? No. In most cases, the employer is hiring the person and a series of relationships. If the individual performance is fine but the individual is unable to establish and maintain positive working relationships with other employees, then, just as we do with "no fault" divorce, we should consider that no judgment need be made about the parties in order to conclude that the relationship doesn't work.
Rather than adopting that approach, employers (and employees) seek to ascribe individual blame. This effort consumes a sizable amount of time and effort and often exacerbates an already bad relationship.
Attorneys may rightly say that the law protects individuals against harassment and other wrongs. Employers, however, may prevent such problems early on by creating a version of the concept of a hostile work environment. In other words, it would be made clear to employees and to new hires that their ability to foster and maintain a positive work environment will be evaluated. Rather than falling into a blame game where each side may argue that it is less guilty than the other, management will provide an incentive for all parties to work things out, for if it concludes that the relationship is negative, then the relationship must change. That may involve transfer or termination.
This does not mean that a person who has been harassed would be treated the same as the harasser. There are "single situation" harassment cases, but harassment often involves a pattern of smaller actions. An alert employer would act before the behavior reaches the level of harassment and either conclude that one party is at fault or the relationship is faulty and needs correction.
And that may be the most vulnerable point in implementing a positive work environment. Far too many supervisors and managers do not know what is going on in their workplace.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
You stress substance and they want flash.
You disdain the superficial, but they think it's sort of neat.
You use logic and they embrace emotion.
You expect detached objectivity while they expect the bias of friends.
You see rules where they see rough guidelines.
You like order, but they enjoy chaos.
You like to win, but they like ties.
Read the rest of Woody Allen's short story here.
One faction wanted to launch a series of programs that would bring in members and raise the organization's profile. Another faction claimed to want the same thing, but continually found ways to hobble the outreach efforts. It quickly gained a reputation of negativity with the first group.
What the first group finally realized was that the second really didn't want new members, but instead preferred a low-key organization which would focus on smaller projects and not have to grow.
The lack of candor on the part of the "low-profile" group had avoided direct conflict while wasting sizable amounts of time of resources. Their passive-aggressive approach was not adopted with any ill intent. Its practitioners thought that once the outreach programs failed, then a less energetic approach would be more appealing.
What they didn't count on was that the outreach efforts worked. The programs did appeal to members and generated an excitement the organization had not experienced in years. All of that was regarded with silent horror by members of the second group since it did not fit their definition of success.
The ultimate conflict could have been prevented if, from the beginning, the second group had simply been candid.
The workplace contains frequent reminders of the relationship between basic virtues and decent performance.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Unfortunately, the people and organizations that so eagerly seize upon that approach are just as ready to embrace it when business is good.
A decision is made in all relationships: Are you going to be an ally, a neutral or an adversary? The role of adversary is the default mode for many even though it usually brings no advantage. I've found no reason for the tendency other than insecurity. The most secure people I've known have been the most generous with time, guidance, and kindness.
This does not mean that all workplace alliances are healthy, even if the allies are fine people. Some positions carry responsibilities that demand a certain detachment and objectivity. Those jobs demand the role of neutral even though the individuals might prefer the role of ally. These titles may even shift depending upon the exercise of specific responsibilities.
That shift may be awkward, but it is better than being locked into automatic adversarial relationships.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
In many cases, it is because they don't know what the job is. They are busy working on what they think the job is or should be and management may have neglected to clarify the priorities and expectations.
The blame, of course, is not solely on management's back. Carl or Maria may lack the initiative or the desire to define the job in any manner other than that which is most pleasing to them. This attitude eagerly shoos away any hints that the job entails other responsibilities.
That game may work for a while; perhaps for a long period. Their practice, however, is vulnerable to a form of poor management that may have been adopted by their manager; namely, neglect followed by termination. Many managers hate to confront and love to be read. They want Carl and Maria almost intuitvely to understand their expectations. When that does not happen, these managers suddenly and harshly lower the boom. They would rather fire a person than go through the messy process of counseling and goal-setting. Like the duke in Browning's "My Last Duchess," they choose never to stoop to mere correction.
Carl and Maria will correctly believe this to be quite unjust. What they miss, of course, is that while they were playing one game, their manager was playing another.
- Frederick Douglass
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I doubt if Secretary Geithner is going to be retained. He fails to inspire confidence. That is an essential quality in the Treasury post, especially in this economy.
Gladstone said a leader must be a good butcher. Leaders who hang on to staff members long after the person has become ineffective do themselves and their organizations little good. [While the President is at it, he should also consider replacing his press secretary, who is becoming a daily embarrassment.]
I recall one historian's account of how Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who sacked generals without hesitation, was otherwise inclined to delay taking similar action with cabinet members. Clement Attlee, on the other hand, would call in the head of a ministry and say - and I'm relying on memory here - "You're not up to the job."
It sounds brutal, but many an organization would benefit if more of its leaders followed Attlee's approach.
Read the rest about this new biography here.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The contemporary business climate in which we now suffer presents us with many complexities, many indignities. One of them is, unfortunately, the ubiquity of digital communications. This has many benefits, and an equal number of personal liabilities. One of them is the demise of certain excuses that used to make life more tolerable. Included are such now out-of-date chestnuts as “I’ll read that when I receive it tomorrow morning and get you an answer on it by noontime,” which was killed by the fax machine, and “I can’t get there until Tuesday so let’s postpone the meeting until then,” which was laid low by teleconference technology. And now, I’m afraid, spokespeople of executives who wish to hide from the media, the government or their estranged spouses must now come up with a replacement for “He’s traveling right now and cannot be reached.”
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Although the attitude is commendable, it is jarring how often the so-called reform would actually make matters worse. The dangers are hidden, of course, in the unintended consequences but the analysis assumes there is only one significant consequence and that it is so beneficial that any negatives are left in the dust.
This is where experience comes in. The experienced person knows what can quickly go wrong. That battle-tested soul is aware of what to say and what to omit and possesses a refined taste for restraint.
This restraint does not rule out boldness. It simply recognizes that many of the greatest blunders are made by those who are trying to make things better.
A friend of mine recently mentioned that he asked a surgeon just what the medical maxim of "First, do no harm" means. The surgeon replied, "It means you have a respect for tissue."
I received a notice from Blogger saying that its automatic blog screening process identified Execupundit.com as a spam blog.
They gave a process through which I can request a review so a real live person can check out the blog and make a determination. If I don't respond in 20 days, they delete the blog.
I suppose their theory is that a spam blog won't respond and the 20 day limit gives them the chance to drop a bunch of fake blogs.
Of course, I checked around before responding. [Law prof Ann Althouse received a similar notice over a year ago.]
The real spam-related blogging danger that I see is in the comments. I reject spam comments almost daily, mainly from gold bugs. In the days when I didn't screen comments, it was not unusual for 25, 30 or more spam messages to pop up overnight. None had any relation to the initial post. If Blogger made it easier to delete those comments, I'd go back to letting readers post comments without any screening.
It is a weird world out there.
A couple days ago I finally got being a good startup founder down to two words: relentlessly resourceful.
Till then the best I'd managed was to get the opposite quality down to one: hapless. Most dictionaries say hapless means unlucky. But the dictionaries are not doing a very good job. A team that outplays its opponents but loses because of a bad decision by the referee could be called unlucky, but not hapless. Hapless implies passivity. To be hapless is to be battered by circumstances—to let the world have its way with you, instead of having your way with the world. 
Read the rest of Paul Graham here.
- Norman Wirzba, Living the Sabbath
Monday, March 16, 2009
Perhaps the main reason why pulp cover art wasn't especially refined was because pulp editors and art directors (if there were any -- often the editor dealt with art as well as with words) didn't want refinement. What they wanted was eyeballs, and the way to attract the attention of people scanning magazine shelves of news stands was dramatic scenes and bright colors. As a matter of fact, cover artists were often ordered to include areas of bright red because it was thought to be a good attention-getter. Another important factor had to do with the low pay; artists couldn't afford to spend much time on refinement if they expected to make any kind of living painting pulp covers.
- "As soon as I lose some weight, I'll get to the gym."
- "If they promote me, I'll show them what I'm really capable of."
- "I don't want to go near the water until I learn how to swim."
- "If she ever gets seriously ill, I'll tell her how much she's meant to me."
Whitman's living room - for now her campaign office - is the starting block of what is certain to be one (no, make that two!) of the most dramatic reinvention efforts in a long while. One reinvention is California, which is more critical to the recovery of the U.S. economy than any other state. Twelve percent of Americans live here. Ten percent of Fortune 500 companies have headquarters here. California's GDP, at $1.8 trillion, makes it the eighth-largest economy in the world. In the past year more people have lost jobs here than in any other state. More homes have gone into foreclosure. More banks have failed. And as Whitman notes, businesses are moving out at an alarming rate, most often citing excessive regulation and intolerable taxes. For top earners, California's taxes are the highest in the U.S. And to what end? California's credit rating is the lowest in the nation.
Manjoo cited all the statistics: Facebook had just added its 150-millionth member and since last August is signing up 374,000 people each day. It has achieved absolute critical mass, thus compounding its utility and effectiveness. Not joining now is an affectation in itself, like refusing to own a cellphone or rejecting the social lubricant of antiperspirant. "Facebook is now at the same point," he wrote. "Whether or not you intend it, you're saying something by staying away."
How right you are, Mr. Manjoo. I am indeed saying something, and it is this: I hate Facebook and everyone on it, including my friends, who I like. My wife just joined it, and I dearly love her. But scratch that. I hate her too. After all, right is right. Sometimes, we courageous few must make a stand.
Read all of the Matt Labash article here.
- They don't believe it is an injustice.
- The act has been done before and so they see neither reason for protest nor hope for reform.
- They are afraid any protest will harm their career.
- They are worried that if they speak up they may have to do something even bolder.
- They believe it was an injustice but that it did little harm.
- Their influential friends have remained silent.
- They associate complaints with cranks.
- The system that produced the injustice favors them financially.
- The injustice is cloaked in a noble reason and they seize upon that rationalization.
- They are waiting for someone else to speak up.
- Now more than ever: An employee etiquette test.
- Population Statistic has found the best Madoff headline.
- Disturbing news from Austria.
- Federal government employment: Teaching a hippo to dance?
- Michael at 2Blowhards: NYC movie prices.
- Exotic job openings involving travel and adventure.
- If pet shopping, think about longevity before buying a parrot.
- The old brick clue: a "vampire" skull found in Italy.
- A good ten-cent cigar: Edie Adams and Stan Getz.
- Great moments in advertising: Billboard companions.
- James Surowiecki on Warren Buffett and the banks.
- The Onion: Congressman issues preemptive apology for affair.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Surrendering to cliché in the end, he did accept a knighthood and become “Sir John,” and he did become Falstaffian in appearance and indulgence: “so surfeit-swell’d, so old, and so profane.” He declined to care about his weight and health, maintaining that “there is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward.” Approaching the root of the matter in one courtroom, he congratulated the jury on having sat through perhaps the most boring legal case on record. The judge in his own summing-up began by saying, “It may surprise you to know, members of the jury, that the sole purpose of the criminal law in England is not to entertain Mr. Mortimer.” Quite possibly not, but the attempt to prove otherwise was as good a way as any of keeping those demons at bay.
[HT: Arts & Letters Daily]
Once again, this year, the same states that took the bottom five spots over the past few years preserved their rankings for the most part. For the fourth year in a row, California and New York were ranked the worst and second worst state to do business in, respectively. Michigan was ranked third from the bottom for the second year in a row. The only difference in the bottom five was a flip in the worst fourth and fifth states, as New Jersey took over Massachusetts as the fourth worst state.
This is the biggest generational transfer of wealth in the history of the world. If you're an 18-year-old middle-class hopeychanger, look at the way your parents and grandparents live: It's not going to be like that for you. You're going to have a smaller house, and a smaller car – if not a basement flat and a bus ticket. You didn't get us into this catastrophe. But you're going to be stuck with the tab, just like the Germans got stuck with paying reparations for the catastrophe of the First World War. True, the Germans were actually in the war, whereas in the current crisis you guys were just goofing around at school, dozing through Diversity Studies and hoping to ace Anger Management class. But tough. That's the way it goes.
[HT: Real Clear Politics]
Read the rest of The American story here.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Here's an illustration of negotiation mistakes from the film "Get Shorty."
[A consumer warning for those unfamiliar with that excellent movie: The language is very R-rated.]
Read all of Joseph B. White's speech on how the Detroit automakers screwed up. It contains lessons for all businesses.
[HT: Robinson and Long ]
My text is drawn from Federalist 62, probably written by James Madison: "A good government implies two things: first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained." Note the word: happiness. Not prosperity. Not security. Not equality. Happiness, which the Founders used in its Aristotelian sense of lasting and justified satisfaction with life as a whole.
I have two points to make. First, I will argue that the European model is fundamentally flawed because, despite its material successes, it is not suited to the way that human beings flourish--it does not conduce to Aristotelian happiness. Second, I will argue that twenty-first-century science will prove me right.
Read the rest of Charles Murray's speech here.
Aren’t you bored with career strategies? Don’t you feel sometimes, when you’re looking at business magazines or books or listening to drivel from guys who supposedly know everything, that everybody is simply reinventing the same wheel over and over again?
You’re right. The problem is that business people often need to hear the same things over and over again. It’s not because we’re stupid. Probably.
Be sure to read it all. We've all been there.
- BusinessPundit: Ben Stein on cap and trade.
- Haily Eber on the decline of the fax machine.
- HBO's "Rome": Behind the scenes.
- The Hill: How long will the honeymoon last?
- Like fine wine: Greenstreet, Bogart, and Lorre negotiating in The Maltese Falcon.
- I kind of like this: An Idaho teacher is selling ads for pizza on his test papers.
- When everything is a priority: George Will on the President's need to choose.
- Yes, Tom Hayden is still around and still angry.
- Dark Roasted Blend: Apocalyptic scientific experiments.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
If you are being hit with closed questions (the kind of questions that demand ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers) make sure you immediately follow your monosyllabic answer with an explanation as to why this is your approach, how it has worked for you in the past and why this makes you different/special/wonderful. You need to do this without drawing breath!
What is surprising is how often poor casting is ignored in the workplace. Extraordinary attempts are made to transform an individual who completely lacks the capacity and inclination to perform in a particular role. The person is sent to workshops, given mentors, and coached with the underlying belief that, with sufficient training, all is achievable.
Sometimes, more negative inducements are employed. Disciplinary action and threats are given and yet the result is the same. Management is disappointed by a performance that any objective observer could have predicted from the start. Ed or Mary is not cut out for sales, HR, etc. It is not a good fit.
Why do organizations squander time and energy in these hopeless transformational efforts? Perhaps because the same people ordering those actions were responsible for miscasting the person in the first place. Once the blunder has been made, it can be very tempting to justify the decision by changing the person. If the person fails to respond to these generous gestures, then it is much easier to blame the victim of the poor casting.
After all, he or she was given every chance.
Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, French economists, are rock stars of the intellectual left. Their specialty is "earnings inequality" and "wealth concentration."
Messrs. Piketty and Saez have produced the most politically potent squiggle along an axis since Arthur Laffer drew his famous curve on a napkin in the mid-1970s. Laffer's was an economic argument for lowering tax rates for everyone. Piketty-Saez is a moral argument for raising taxes on the rich.
Moderate drinkers are richer than teetotalers, too. In 2001 the University of Michigan's Panel Study of Income Dynamics found that light drinkers (one to two drinks a day) had a mean income of $49,000, versus $36,000 among teetotalers. This is a nuanced statistic; drinking may be associated with other variables (like education) that influence income. So the researchers did their best to strip these other causes out. If two adults were identical with respect to education, age, family status, race and religion, except that the first had one or two drinks each night after work while the second was a teetotaler, the drinker would tend to enjoy a "drinker's bonus" of about 10% higher income.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
HP and its boutique/luxe division Voodoo deserve serious praise for what they've accomplished with the Firebird 803. Taking a mix of laptop and desktop guts, juicing it up with high-end components, cooling it with liquid goo instead of noisy fans, and encasing it inside a gorgeous, curvy shell that would make most industrial designers weep with envy, they've made the Firebird a testament to how the envelope can be pushed in the typically boring PC world.
It's also a veritable bargain, priced at $2,100, fully loaded.
You know you want one. Read the rest of the Wired review here.
Around 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time, Symantec noticed that its Norton support forums were being flooded with blank messages that had PIFTS.exe in their subject line. Within three hours there were 600 posts about PIFTS.exe. The posts contained no text, only subjects such as "IF PIFTS.EXE WAS HERE, THEN WHO WAS PHONE?" and "OH GOD YOU GOT CHOCOLATE IN MY PIFTS."
Symantec began deleting the messages, assuming they were from spammers.
Read the rest of the CSO story here.
When he died in 1910, Mark Twain left behind a mass of papers. (”The largest collection of personal papers created by any 19-century American author,” says publisher HarperStudio.) Now some of those papers will be seeing the light of day.
Among them was an unpublished story that will appear in next week’s issue of the mystery quarterly The Strand. “The Undertaker’s Tale” is a never-before-published humorous piece by Twain. “Twain uses his razor sharp wit to pen a tongue-in-cheek tale about the funeral industry which could easily have been written today,” says Strand editor Andrew Gulli.
But what about the adverse actions that occur because of other positive qualities? Let's be frank. There are people whose careers are harmed because they are:
We can easily cite examples of when a virtue becomes a vice. The analytical person may be indecisive. The courageous person may be rash. But that criticism may be too easy. Groups may benefit from an examination of when virtues become drawbacks.
That discussion may also assist in dissecting the roots of "Here comes someone who is bright, attentive, and helpful. Obviously, he must be destroyed."
- Philip K. Howard
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
- Indexed has a new URL.
- Public sector pensions: A police commander retires.
- New book: In defense of middle managers.
- John Phillips on avoiding WARN violations.
- Seth Godin: The difference between publicity and PR.
- Jim Stroup is considering our nature to nurture.
- State Department theme song?
- Thomas Sowell on subsidizing bad decisions.
- Back by popular demand: The Stones spoof with The Girl with Faraway Eyes.
- Cool Tools on the Kindle.
- The trailer for "Tom Jones."
- A new photo of Lincoln has been discovered.
- Bad relationships: This one is going nowhere.
- Christie's has an auction of vintage film posters.
- Why doesn't Bruce Bawer make it easier to link to specific posts at his blog?
Elena likes to have decisions fully staffed so all interested parties get a chance to attach their comments to a single decision paper. She likes clear recommendations and more than three options. She does not like verbal reports. She may decide on the basis of the paper alone or may call in staff members so they can discuss their concerns. Her goal is the best possible course of action. She occasionally jumps down the chain of command in order to see if facts are being filtered.
Carlos has faith in his intuition. He likes to make up his own mind and then see how his recommended course of action is regarded by the staff. If he feels strongly about a particular course, he will push it through but he sometimes reverses his decision if the staff makes solid points. He brags that he is collegial, but his associates regard him as a faux collegial.
Samantha likes to see staff members battle over turf and prestige. She sometimes gives two people the same assignment just to see which one comes up with the best ideas. She dislikes filtering and places herself at the hub of her area. She is wary of any associate who seems to be getting too powerful. She both charms and manipulates.
Frank is very charismatic. His associates routinely defer to his judgment because he is usually right. Frank has enormous self-confidence. Most of his staff members are highly dependent upon him. He has not groomed a successor. If Frank weren't around, his team would deteriorate into a mob.
Preston does not trust his staff. He piles rule upon rule to close loopholes and he quickly terminates any dissenter. His staff members push both important and minor decisions up the ladder to Preston. This creates enormous inefficiency but Preston does not mind so long as his own position is secure. He regards the upward delegation as proof that his associates are inept.
Monday, March 09, 2009
Mel Brooks as Frank Sinatra singing America The Beautiful.
Hollywood is going to undergo a radical simplification during the next few years, and so will the independent film market. The number of films released will decline by at least a third, and probably more, this year, and will be down by 50 percent in 2010.
The economic logic is inescapable. Hollywood no longer has hedge-fund capital to burn. The kinds of tricky European tax shelters that allowed studios to make movies for almost nothing (detailed brilliantly in Edward Jay Epstein's The Big Picture) are going to be closed. Even Steven Spielberg was forced to go shopping for new backers in India, and when those backers went broke, he came back to the United States and found that his old friends at Universal had lost their stomach for doing business with him.
Read the rest of John Podhoretz here.
Read the rest of Fortune on how to get the most car for your money in a buyer's market.
- Rising Star
- Big Talker
Those are just a few and they need not have any strong connection to reality in order to stick. [I've run across some workers with the Incompetent label who were quite able.] All that is required is for someone with influence to ascribe the label and then the sealing process begins.
This not only limits the victim; it also narrows the perception of those who deal with the person. The Complainer may have some valid points about a particular problem, but once the label has been applied, many listeners will be too quick to dismiss those points.
The standard warnings about gossiping should also include cautions against the use of labels. A person who has earned an especially negative label should be turned around or turned out. Keeping the person on board with the equivalent of The Scarlet Letter does no one any good.
There are some labels for organizations that permit this. They aren't very complimentary.