Fortune gives its list of the Dumbest Moments in Business 2009 - midyear edition.
Commentary by Michael Wade on Leadership, Ethics, Management, and Life
Fortune gives its list of the Dumbest Moments in Business 2009 - midyear edition.
In Bawer’s telling, the white flag first waved in 1989. That year, Salman Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses, earned him a fatwa from Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. In his decree, Khomeini called on Muslims across the world to hunt down and kill Rushdie and anyone involved in the book’s publication “so that no one will dare to insult Islamic sanctities again.” The fatwa forced Rushdie into hiding and led to the murder of his Japanese translator. But while many writers rallied to Rushdie’s defense, some perversely blamed the novelist for provoking his own death sentence. Oxford historian Hugh Trevor-Roper sneered that he “would not shed a tear if some British Muslims, deploring Mr. Rushdie’s manners, were to waylay him in a dark street and seek to improve them.” At the time, he writes, Bawer dismissed the Trevor-Roper view as an anomaly. Surely, he reasoned, most civilized people would defend free speech against its Islamist despisers. He was wrong.
Here is Business Week on the Madoff sentence of 150 years. An excerpt:
There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Another top-notch essay from Mary Jo Asmus on whether kindness is a leadership competency.
Speaking as a former EEO Administrator of a large city, I believe the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Ricci v. DeStefano is to be commended. Of course, you'll be able to find plenty of folks on the other side and we'll be hearing much more about this case in the future.
Cultural Offering points to an amazing service.
Can you do certain jobs well while harboring dreams of promotion?
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
Check out Managing Leadership on "echolalia." An excerpt:
The legislation itself is enormous. It’s more than a thousand pages long, filled with obscure provisions that will keep an army of lobbyists employed for years. It’s been resoundingly panned both by groups on the left, such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, who see it as an enormous corporate giveaway, and by Republicans, who accuse it of being a massive tax that will hobble the U.S. economy. It even was attacked by the powerful farm lobby, despite a cornucopia of goodies added in the last few days to get their champion, House Agriculture Chairman Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.), on board.
For a hard-to-put-down, darkly humorous novel about an Indian chauffeur who, amid India's growing prosperity, hatches a murderous scheme, read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.
Writing in Fortune, Richard Siklos on Michael Jackson and what might have been:
Daniel P. Goldman writing in First Things:
Dorothy Rabinowitz on what Governor Sanford should have said. An excerpt:
At certain times we carry out forced marches. We leave for the south. Everyone must keep up. The man who remains in the rear risks death by starvation or being taken by Arab dissidents. After these marches, the number of stragglers is considerable. One must be strong to endure. This is the Darwinist survival of the fittest applied to the troops.
Billy Joel: A Matter of Trust.
With the 1979 Iranian revolution so close in the rearview mirror, the mistakes of Western observers then bear remembering today, as the seeds of something momentous may be again at hand. In the late seventies, some intellectuals, enamored with the idea of revolution in general and the anti-Western outlook of the Iranian revolutionaries in particular, projected their political values on the shah’s deposers. When, instead of embracing the ideology of Harvard Square or Telegraph Avenue, the revolutionaries exported terror, exhibited a toxic anti-Semitism, persecuted homosexuals, and pursued nuclear weapons, many of these intellectuals emerged with egg on their faces. As Mother Jones editor Adam Hochschild candidly admitted after Iranian reality had dashed Western dreams: “The Left is always better at seeing what leads to revolutions than at seeing what may follow them.” Though criticisms of the shah of Iran for human-rights abuses and other crimes seemed on the mark, Hochschild conceded in 1980 that his magazine had been “embarrassingly nearsighted about [the shah’s] successors.”
Recent news stories are raising the old question of whether or not a person's marital infidelity has any impact on his or her ability to perform a job.
The Jack Welch Management Institute will officially launch this week, with the first classes starting in the fall. The MBA will be offered almost entirely online. Compared to the $100,000-plus price tag for most brick-and-mortar MBA programs, the $600 per credit hour tuition means students can get an MBA for just over $20,000. "We think it will make the MBA more accessible to those who are hungry to play," Welch says. "And they can keep their job while doing it."
Management excellence cannot come from fragmented contributions by various functional staffs; that is, if quality assurance has exclusive jurisdiction over a quality program, if production control has an inventory program, and so on. Each staff seeks to impose another set of techniques, each set demanding adjustments and attention from an already choked line organization. Only so much can be assimilated at a time, and it should be cohesive....Japanese are good integrators....Americans are accustomed to thinking that integration of a company is only in one place - at the top, where strategy is made.
Definitely worth a look: Donald at 2Blowhards asks, "How can modernism possibly compete with this?"
How bad can the legacy of the baby boomers really be? Let's see: We're the generation that spawned Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Google, ATMs and Gatorade. We defeated the evils of communism and delivered the world from the brink of global thermonuclear war. Now youngsters are telling pollsters that they think socialism may be better than capitalism after all. Do they expect us to apologize for winning the Cold War next?
College students gripe about the price of tuition, and it does cost way too much. But who do these 22-year-old scholars think has been footing the bill for their courses in transgender studies and Che Guevara? The echo boomers complain, rightly, that we have left them holding the federal government's $8 trillion national IOU. But try to cut government aid to colleges or raise tuitions and they act as if they have been forced to actually work for a living.
Read the rest of Stephen Moore, who may now be in the Witness Protection Program, here.
The class started at 6 a.m. on the other side of town. Most of the attendees were at the end of a shift. A bright bunch. We talked about communication issues and the discussion drifted into territory that was a mixture of sophisticated and basic.
I used to think that anyone doing anything weird was weird. I suddenly realized that anyone doing anything weird wasn't weird at all and that it was the people saying they were weird that were weird.
Business Week gives its list of books for the beach.
There is a major reason why Equal Employment Opportunity should never be placed in the Human Resources Department:
Fortune provides an interesting collection of "the best advice I ever got" from a diverse pool of achievers.
Peter Robinson examines the views of Milton Friedman on the issue of health care. An excerpt:
Robert Cialdini on how to influence others.
The chronological approach is drilled into us in elementary and high school. We start the story at the beginning and work on through, box to box, to the end.
Consultant, professor, and prolific author Nicholas Bate on the small steps that can lead to great achievement. A favorite:
Peter D. Kramer on the therapy often found in work:
Sometimes I get the feeling that the whole world is against me, but deep down I know that's not true. Some of the smaller countries are neutral.
A little over a decade ago, a 50- or 60-foot waterfall was thought to be the biggest drop a kayaker could survive. But sturdier boats and new techniques have allowed daredevils and explorers like Mr. Stookesberry to push the outer limits of the sport. By mastering big waterfalls, the most extreme kayakers are venturing into unexplored river gorges and uncharted rapids that were previously deemed out of reach, sealed off by fortress-like waterfalls where portaging is impossible. Like 19th-century explorers and alpine climbers seeking to conquer untamed peaks, these adventurers risk their lives to claim a “first descent” of a waterfall or a long, treacherous stretch of river.
There is one reason why the classical styles acquired such stability: they enshrined an idea of legitimacy. Gradually their forms and details came to have a permanent meaning and could therefore be relied upon to convey their messages without the benefit of words, and in a serene and genial idiom that mitigated the urgencies of city business. A classical doorway does not need the sign marked ENTRANCE; the classicial steps need no supplement of words to attract the attention and the movement of those who walk on them. The use and meaning of a building were laid before the public in a series of visual cues that both expressed and endorsed the common understanding of the purposes of civic life.
Is it possible to fall asleep while being tattooed?
A glance, with some inserted rock music, at the classic film, The Hospital.
Until he retired in 2007, Myers was an official at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), a group within the State Department that scrapbooks intelligence supplied by the 18 federal and military agencies that actually do legwork and plops it on the desk of the secretary of state. Myers is also one of some 130 "professorial lecturers" at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, a title he has held since 1979. Although Myers is a Ph.D.--his 1972 Hopkins dissertation defending -Neville Chamberlain was titled "A Rationale for Appeasement"--his SAIS rank is really nonacademic, shared by a floating crew of 130-odd part-time lecturers, mostly State Department employees and other diplomatic professionals who give classes from time to time. Mrs. Myers was an executive in the computer department of Riggs Bank--a bank often said to have cooperated with the CIA. And since 1979, the government believes that the Myerses have been passing classified information to the Cuban authorities. The couple told FBI agents that they are passionate and committed supporters of Fidel Castro and the transformation he has wrought upon Cuba.
The operation, although complicated, was a great success.
The first and paramount responsibility of anyone who purports to manage is to manage self; one's own integrity, character, ethics, knowledge, wisdom, temperment, words, and acts.
Will be out of the loop for a few days.
I'm way behind in acknowledging these extensive listings:
I'm honored to be in the company of the other bloggers.
Baseball is a game of nuance where three successful hits out of 10 makes you an expert. Two hits out of 10, on the other hand, makes you a real-estate broker or a shoe salesman or, in May, significantly better than Mr. Ortiz whose average for the month was .143. But the painful beauty of Mr. Ortiz’s slump, is that it does feel true to the essence of a game where all the best stories, as in fiction and life, are about adversity.
Via David C. Maister's blog, here are some observations that are well worth your time even if you are not an attorney:
Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.
Cultural Offering has assembled an impressive list of "vacation" movies. I'd add:
Noted employment attorney John Phillips has been posting on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's District Court decisions on a variety of workplace-related topics. Here are his posts regarding her judicial opinions on:
Talk about a niche!
Victor Davis Hanson relates a story from the farm to illustrate the difference between academia and the real world:
Roger Scruton explores the glorification of ugliness in the arts. An excerpt:
In its school programs on entrepreneurship, Junior Achievement encourages students to notice unmet needs around them and imagine ways to fulfill them. Encourage children to ask themselves, for example, what could be done to help consumers use less water or energy? To help people drive to work more easily? Junior Achievement cites Motorola cofounder Paul Galvin, who began mass-producing car radios in 1930 after noticing people trying to custom-fit home radios into their cars. That kind of resourcefulness, experts say, will never go out of style.
Idea Anaconda has a report on one of the newest knights in Britain.
No single thing abides, but all things flow.
I've written earlier about the dangers of assuming the job of Master of the Universe.
Fortune has a sad tale of the real estate market in Phoenix.
Spy novelist Alan Furst gives his top 5 list.
For prosperity doth best discover vice, and adversity doth best discover virtue.
What Would Dad Say has a list of the top 150 career experts on Twitter.
My post on scary items in the workplace is up at U.S. News & World Report.
Seth Godin has a plan for unemployed college grads. An excerpt:
I was at the gym early this morning.
The joy of lists! Is Dead Poets Society the best school film ever?
Making good judgments when one has complete data, facts, and knowledge is not leadership - it's bookkeeping.
If you make handbags and you want to ensure high quality, this is one solution.
Well, if you had a leaf-blowing dispute with a neighbor two years ago, which flag would you fly?
Here, in an American Heritage article adapted from a new book, is an extraordinary story of Major Robert Rogers and his Rangers during the French and Indian War. [An expurgated version of the tale is in the Spencer Tracy film "Northwest Passage."] An excerpt:
The winners of the Webby Awards have been announced.
Chrysler's bankruptcy will leave lots of people empty-handed. Among them are accident claimants who seek compensation when a faulty Chrysler vehicle causes injury or death. Under terms approved on June 1 by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Arthur J. Gonzalez, the "new" Chrysler emerging from bankruptcy won't be liable for product defect claims involving any cars sold before it came into existence.
Be enthusiastic. There's a lot of gloom and doom around in recession. Don't be part of it.
Wired has the top ten ways to provoke a geek argument.
You can learn many valuable career and life lessons from successful refugees. Some significant ones are:
Gerdin is old-school. His office has no computer, and he doesn’t use email. He runs the company using reports, handed to him weekly, printed on old-fashioned continuous-feed computer paper, with columns of numbers showing how each truck, each customer, and each load, dispatched from one of 10 terminals across the country, is performing. When he sees something appalling, he lumbers over to the company’s sales desk, or to its dispatchers, and chews someone out. He recently delivered a tirade when he discovered that on repeated trips across Nebraska, trucks failed to detour to a customer in the small town of Crete and had been needlessly running freightless—meaning unpaid—for 121 miles.
The happiest people are those who take other people and other creatures as they find them.
Cultural Offering has a great piece on how the music of George Jones grows on you.
Creative-writing programs are designed on the theory that students who have never published a poem can teach other students who have never published a poem how to write a publishable poem. The fruit of the theory is the writing workshop, a combination of ritual scarring and twelve-on-one group therapy where aspiring writers offer their views of the efforts of other aspiring writers.
Bass cheated, which was bad enough, but in the eyes of the school community she was guilty of something worse: weakness. From its very start, in 1843, Miss Porter’s has been committed not just to the old-fashioned values of charm, grace, and loyalty but to another, unspoken value as well: the ability to tough it out. Deeply ingrained in the school’s DNA, it makes the school a kind of upper-class, social Outward Bound.
Mark Steyn reviews Paul Anthony Rahe's book on soft despotism. An excerpt:
Daniel Henninger on the new economic approach. An excerpt:
All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
Consciously choosing to ignore certain behavior is an important element in management success.
Fast Company gives a peek inside a Saudi prince's $485 million plane.
What you need on a Monday and possibly beyond: The Rules of Dogness.
Stanley Bing is floating ideas for reality shows:
Carmine Coyote at Slow Leadership has an excellent article on procrastination. An excerpt:
From Shelby Steele's article on Sotomayor and the politics of race:
Now, of course you're not going to get a visit from the Gestapo if you see the world differently; if you don't think the good kind of diversity is skin deep or that the only legitimate community is one where "we're all in it together," you won't be dragged off to a reeducation camp. But you very well may be sent off to counseling or sensitivity training.
In Friedan's day, women were clearly the second sex. Not so today. Yes, many women are struggling with the challenge of combining family and work. But men do not have it easy either. They are increasingly less educated than women. They are bearing the brunt of the recession. The New York Times recently reported that "a full 82 percent of the job losses have befallen men." Reuters referred to the surging male unemployment rate as a "blood bath." Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "FastStats" show that men are less likely than women to be insured--and more likely to drink, smoke, and be overweight. They also die six years earlier than women on average.
Why are there no conferences, petitions, workshops, congressional hearings, or presidential councils to help men close the education gap, the health care gap, the insurance gap, the job-loss gap, and the death gap? Because, unlike women, men do not have hundreds of men's studies departments, research institutes, policy centers, and lobby groups working tirelessly to promote their challenges as political causes.
Read the rest of Christina Hoff Sommers here.
Steve Pavlina's Personal Development for Smart People site is one of the best ones out there.
There is a difference between celebrity and recognition. Celebrities are recognized in the street, but usually because of who they are, or who they are supposed to be. To achieve recognition, however, is to be recognized in a different way. It is to be known for what you have done, and quite often the person who knows what you have done has no idea of what you look like. When I say that I've had enough of celebrity status, I don't mean that I am sick of the very idea. As it happens, I think that the mass-psychotic passion for celebrity — this enormous talking point for those who do not really talk — is one of the luxurious diseases that Western liberal democracy will have to find a cure for in the long run, but the cure will have to be self-willed. I don't think that it can be imposed, and certainly not from the outside. I didn't much like Madonna's last television appearance in Britain. Billed as the height of sophisticated sexiness, it featured Madonna wearing high heels, a trench coat and a beret. She crouched like a pygmy prizefighter while snarling into the microphone as if anyone listening might be insufficiently intelligent to understand her message — a hard audience to find, in my view.
del Toro: We are used to thinking of stories in a linear way—act one, act two, act three. We're still on the Aristotelian model. What the digital approach allows you to do is take a tangential and nonlinear model and use it to expand the world. For example: If you're following Leo Bloom from Ulysses on a certain day and he crosses a street, you can abandon him and follow someone else.
A key element of productivity consists of knowing when to engage and when to disengage.
Troops landing on the exposed beach were simply mown down. The casualty rate was massive. The advantage, other than in sheer numbers, lay plainly with the defenders. Omaha [Beach] gave a horrifying taste of what the landings could have faced elsewhere had the German defense been properly prepared and waiting. But even at Omaha, after several torrid hours of terrible blood-letting, almost 35,000 American troops were finally able to push forward and gain a foothold on French soil. By the end of the day, around 156,000 Allied troops had landed, had forged contact with the 13,000 American parachutists dropped behind the flanks of the enemy lines several hours before the landings, and been able successfully to establish beachheads - including one sizable stretch some thirty kilometers long and ten deep.
In the bailout state, the federal government takes over failed private entities in order to maintain overall economic stability. Sometimes the companies already had ties to government, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) that the Treasury seized--sorry, "took into conservatorship"--last summer. Sometimes the bailout state's beneficiaries are businesses like AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America, and the other financial institutions wedded to government through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (or TARP). Other times, the beneficiaries are unions: the United Auto Workers (UAW) whose members' jobs at Chrysler and the "new GM" will survive thanks to government largesse.
The wards of the bailout state have more in common than government support. After all, the government has supported the railroad, agriculture, and steel industries for a long time. But not through direct bailouts. No, the salient feature of the bailout state is government ownership and control.
Read the rest of Matthew Continetti in The Weekly Standard.
My post on poorly delivered praise is up at U.S. News & World Report.
If you like pulp, noir, or crime fiction or simply appreciate the cover art on those old novels, Cullen Gallagher has a site for you.
I've found that unless I block out some machete time, the jungle begins to return.
I find it far easier to postpone these chores than to fail to return a phone call. Phone call messages, for some reason, are more pressing and I have a strict rule of returning all calls, if at all possible, within the work day.
The seemingly trivial tasks do not easily merge with other business. They demand special focus and, if unattended, spark feelings of guilt that are not minor.
Recently, I wrote about the importance of designating an Unpleasant Tasks Day once a month. Once a week, at least an hour or two should be devoted to Jungle Work.
And if it is not placed on the calendar, it won't get done.
When times get hard, do people go to the movies? An excerpt from the Business Week article:
Gently in manner, strong in deed.
Idea Anaconda points to a review of the lack of class in Hollywood and the music industry.