Commentary by management consultant Michael Wade on Leadership, Ethics, Management, and Life
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
On My List
Many people who mock the excuse of "We've always done it that way" are willing to accept any responsibility that is in their job description.
Not All Action Spaces are Formal
The white space between the boxes on the organization chart.
The hallway discussions after a meeting.
Watch for the areas where the real action may take place.
[Photo by flipsnack at Unsplash.]
Very Hard to Put Down
Monday, January 30, 2023
Another Agatha Christie
Off the Grid
Sunday, January 29, 2023
It's Called Ethics
Cultural Offering has a Charlie Munger observation.
As much as I admire Mr. Munger, I have written many, many, reports as a management consultant that did not contain such advice.
The best consultant will, as quickly as possible, create a situation in which the consultant is not needed.
Find Something Beautiful Today
Saturday, January 28, 2023
Think Beyond the Office
Wally Bock has six non-business books for business leaders.
[Photo by Arpit Rastogi at Unsplash]
The Sinking Screen
Watched part of a current television series that is a major hit.
It was painful.
Watched part of a relatively new movie that made millions.
We are paying the price for the dumbing down of a culture.
Is there any current film that is as good as The Third Man? Rear Window? Lawrence of Arabia? My Fair Lady?
Some three or four decades before the birth of Christ, Rome's first heated swimming pool was built on the Esquiline Hill. The location, just outside the city's ancient walls, was a prime one. In time, it would become a showcase for some of the wealthiest people in the world: an immense expanse of luxury villas and parks. But there was a reason why the land beyond the Esquiline Gate had been left undeveloped for so long. For many centuries, from the very earliest days of Rome, it had been a place of the dead. When labourers first began work on the swimming pool, a corpse-stench still hung in the air. A ditch, once part of the city's venerable defensive system, was littered with the carcasses of those too poor to be laid to rest in tombs. Here was where dead slaves, 'once they had been slung out from their narrow cells', were dumped. Vultures, flocking in such numbers that they were known as 'the birds of the Esquiline', picked the bodies clean. Nowhere else in Rome was the process of gentrification quite so dramatic. The marble fittings, the tinkling fountains, the perfumed flower-beds: all were raised on the backs of the dead.
- From Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World by Tom Holland
Paris Fashion Week
Black Swan Europa looks at fashion's version of Hell.
It's not a pretty picture.
Friday, January 27, 2023
Novels on the Holocaust
- The Wall by John Hersey
- Life with a Star by Jiri Weil
- Treblinka by Jean-François Steiner
- Mendelssohn is on the Roof by Jiri Weil
- All for Nothing by Walter Kempowski
- This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski
- The Emperor of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg
Instincts and Explanations
One explanation was short, convenient, and wrong.
Another was lengthy, complicated, and deceptive.
Listen to your instincts. If something does not seem to add up, it probably doesn't.
Bureaucracy and Excellence
Reason magazine: The results of a diversity plan in New York City.
Thursday, January 26, 2023
A petition for a Pro-Human Approach to the DC Social Studies Standards. You do not need to be a DC resident to sign it.
Commentary magazine: Eli Lake on what the Twitter files show.
The existence of this nomenklatura has been known for a few years. But thanks to Musk and his decision to make Twitter’s internal communications and policies available to journalists Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and others, more detail is now known on why and how this elite endeavors to protect us from all manner of wrongthink.
The owl flew screaming from the barn, its wingtips bright with flame. For a moment, silhouetted against the blank sky, it was a dying angel, scorched by its own divinity, and then it was just a sooty husk, dropping like an anvil into the nearby trees. He wondered if it would set the wood ablaze. But the trees were thickly layered with snow, and any spark that survived the fall would be smothered on contact. He turned back to the barn in time to see the roof collapse, and a cloud of dust burst upwards. Kind of beautiful, if you liked that sort of thing. This must be what got arsonists stoked.
- From Joe Country by Mick Herron
Check It Out
Cultural Offering is another fan of "Distracted."
Wednesday, January 25, 2023
On My List
The Meeting Game
There are potential meetings, actual meetings, meetings that produce other meetings, meetings held too late or too early, ones avoided, ones regretted, virtual ones, in-person ones, and ones that crowd out others or put your schedule into a deep freeze until they can be scheduled.
Just to name a few.
Remember Winston Churchill
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
As Restraint Dwindles
City Journal: John O. McGinnis on lawyers for radical change.
The condition of the man in bed nine was grave. An intense fever and acute liver condition meant he was unable to eat, or focus on the matters of ambition and desire that propelled him throughout his life.
- From The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive by Philippe Sands
Puerto Rico's Pork Highway
I am way behind on getting to this.
Monday, January 23, 2023
Beats a Rabbit in a Hat
Art Contrarian looks at the art of Arthur Radebaugh.
A Layman's Blog got the ticket we've all been looking for.
If You're Given the Choice
Black Swan Europa has sound advice from Neil Gaiman.
Twittermania: The Fifth Wave
Discourse magazine: Martin Gurri on Twittermania.
Good times ahead.
[Photo by Toa Heftiba at Unsplash]
The Cyborgs Among Us
Even in the mid-1990s, as they walked around Kendall Square in Cambridge, the cyborgs could not only search the Web but had mobile e-mail, instant messaging, and remote access to desktop computing. The multiplicity of worlds before them set them apart: they could be with you, but they were always somewhere else as well.
- Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other
[Photo by Ayesh Rathnayake at Unsplash]
Sunday, January 22, 2023
Find Something Beautiful Today
Saturday, January 21, 2023
Best 2022 Books for Business Leaders?
Wally Bock has a variety of lists.
Protection from Big Tech and Little Tech
A few books I'm recommending to clients:
- A World Without Email by Cal Newport
- Alone Together by Sherry Turkle
- Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- Distracted by Maggie Jackson
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Futureproof by Kevin Roose
- Life on the Screen by Sherry Turkle
- Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle
- Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier
- The End of Solitude by William Deresiewicz
- The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
- Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
- World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer
- You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier
Advice for Our Times
If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.
- Juan Ramón Jiménez
Friday, January 20, 2023
Old Dog, New Tricks
Great workshop yesterday on Equal Employment Opportunity. Lots of smart questions. Nice people.
I was exhausted afterwards. Poured myself into my car.
Am considering how to make it easier. May not be possible unless I move it to Zoom and that's not desirable.
Thursday, January 19, 2023
Off the Grid
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Go for It
Stronger Than We Look
Spiked: Joel Kotkin on America as a nation of giants led by pygmies.
[HT: A Layman's Blog on "Slandering Pygmies."]
It is statistically likely there are more advanced alien civilizations out there.
Hopefully, they're good environmentalists and find us cute.
- Naval Ravikant
Beyond the Beyond
In 1956, Isaac Asimov wrote "The Last Question."
Get Some Old Ambler
Graham Greene described Eric Ambler as "Unquestionably our best thriller writer."
Alfred Hitchock said "The Mask of Dimitrios" was "Hypnotically fascinating."
The man passed away in 1998. You'll find many of his books in the used booksores.
- "Journey Into Fear"
- "The Mask of Dimitrios"
- "A Coffin for Dimitrios"
- "Judgment on Deltchev"
Find Your Style
Tuesday, January 17, 2023
We're riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity's never blind or mute. So it's not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don't stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves: what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying.
Gilles Deleuze, "Negotiations"
Our Man Seneca
Look back in memory and consider . . . how many have robbed you of life when you were not aware of what you were losing, how much was taken up in useless sorrow, in foolish joy, in greedy desire, in the allurements of society, how little of yourself was left to you; you will perceive that you are dying before your season!
- Seneca, "On the Shortness of Life"
Keep for Frequent Reference
If I were to try to read, much less to answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me won't matter. If the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.
- Abraham Lincoln
Monday, January 16, 2023
I Love the Desert
Values and Community
Tablet magazine: "How the Black Church Fueled a Movement."
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." - The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sunday, January 15, 2023
Remembering a True Original
City Journal: Theodore Dalrymple remembers Paul Johnson.
If you've never read Johnson's Modern Times, get with it.
Find Something Beautiful Today
Saturday, January 14, 2023
Don't Underestimate the Enemy
The New Atlantis: Alan Jacobs on why we're all going nuts online.
When You are Old
The Power of Social Connections
Wally Bock on "Picnic" and the power of what matters.
[Photo by Mason Dahl at Unsplash]
In the Pipeline
Several drafts coming together. Drafts cobbled from notes taken while sitting in a car or in a restaurant or in waiting rooms. Drafts typed and drafts scrawled.
No place is immune from the scribbler.
And I have stacks of those tablets.
Two books will eventually emerge.
Writers often say, "I don't write, I re-write."
But the point arrives when the re-writing ends.
I am getting there.
Good Times Ahead
There will probably be far more robots than humans in the future.
- Elon Musk
LA Journal in December 2022: "How the Sundance Film Festival Lost Its Cool."
Friday, January 13, 2023
The Dog Test
Mitigating Chaos has an interviewing technique.
The tongue has no bones; it may be twisted in any direction.
- Vietnamese proverb
Don't Hold Your Breath
Matt Taibbi calls for truth and reconciliation on Russiagate.
Whenever I hear "they decided" a particular issue, I have to wonder just which players in that group of "they" had the greatest influence.
I've seen decision meetings where the lawyer's opinion outweighed all of the others. Under different circumstances, the marketing or operations people may have greater clout.
Add to that the fact that most decisions need not be unanimous and serious dissent is rarely reported.
Once the process is over, "they" decided.
"The Skin of Our Teeth"
Nicholas Bate and I have at least one thing in common:
We each had a used VW Beetle as our first car.
I wish I still had mine.
Thursday, January 12, 2023
Author of "Modern Times" and Much More
Historian Paul Johnson has passed away.
Fascinating person. Fascinating work.
May he rest in peace.
Warning: Casual Decisions
The major decisions in life receive a lot of focus. They may result from debate and research, from consultation and careful analysis. All of that stems from their status as major decisions.
Watch out for the major decisions that are not acknowledged as such and instead are handled in a casual, matter of course, manner.
Those decisions don't get the scrutiny they deserve. They are often rushed.
And yet their results can be equal, if not more important, than any of their more reasoned colleagues.
Life is filled with them. Be on the alert.
Joe and Naval
I have a feeling that when a major comet strikes, 80 percent of the world's people will be on YouTube watching "Wild dogs take on a baboon."
[Photo by Jacob Dyer at Unsplash]
The Novel, Not the Magazine
Less Can Be More
I would like a medical clinic/hospital where they knock you out upon arrival and revive you once you are ready to leave.
Of course, there are some parties that could be improved by that approach.
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Find Your Style
Posted in Personal Injury Law Firms
Crank It Up
- Old dogs
- Bay Rum aftershave
- Front porches
- Thank you notes
- Joseph Conrad
- Black and white television
- Anthony Trollope
- Rosemary bread
- Elmore Leonard
- VW Beetles
- Myrna Loy
- Radio broadcasts of baseball games
- Orange marmalade
- Vicks VapoRub
- Schick razor blades
- Claude Rains
- Joseph Cotten
- Chocolate brownies
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
The sinus procedure itself was brief and easy.
The immediate recovery period is less pleasant. Other options, such as eating ice cream, were not available.
A medical appointment. Very enjoyable, I'm sure.
Back soon. Or quasi-soon.
Wish I'd ordered those Ben Casey episodes.
When We Had People Like Goldwater and Moynihan Heading a Key Senate Committee on Intelligence
. . . On the mining of the harbors. I would ask you in particular to remember that I was defending the word of Barry Goldwater. In a public letter to [CIA Director] Casey he stated that our committee had not been informed of an elementally important event. He left for Taiwan. I look up and [National Security Advisor] Bud McFarlane has told an audience at the Naval Academy that contrary to Senator Goldwater's assertion, the committee had been fully briefed. I said if you're going to call Barry Goldwater a liar, you're going to have to get yourself another vice chairman. Casey apologized. McFarlane - who, I think, had been misled - has since testified that we should have been informed and were not.
Trust - not propriety - is the coin of this realm.
- From a June 27, 1988 letter from Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan to National Review editor William F. Buckley, Jr. [Published in Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary, edited by Steven R. Weisman]
This book, like my previous book, is Clausewitzian. By that, I mean that it falls within a framework of what war, warfare, strategy, and tactics are as a phenomenon as described by Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831). Olivia Garard, rhyming with Alfred North Whitehead, has said that all strategic theory is a series of footnotes to Clausewitz. I would instead say that all good strategic theory is a series of footnotes to Clausewitz. Good footnotes to Clausewitz is all I hope these books to be. If you are looking for something non-Clausewitzian, this is not it. There are certainly publications that can provide that, but I do not recommend any of them.
- B.A. Friedman in the preface to his book, On Operations: Operational Art and Military Disciplines. [His previous book is On Tactics: A Theory of Victory in Battle.]
Monday, January 09, 2023
DEI: A New Mission at Universities
The Free Press: John Sailer on the shift from truth to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at American universities.
We All Live on Campus Now
New York Post: Hamline University images of Muhammad versus freedom of expression case.
Guess which way the university president went.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression is going after the university's accreditation.
Our Current Dark Age
Consider first that a dark age is not a one-dimensional time of unending disintegration. Rather, it is a distinct turning point in history, a period of flux that often produces great technological and other gains yet ultimately results in a declining civilization and a desertlike spell of collective forgetting. The medieval era was a fertile time technologically, marked by the invention of eyeglasses, glazed windows, fireplaces, windmills, and stirrups, along with the compass, mechanical clock, and rudder. Yet by the sixth century, all of continental Europe's great libraries not only had disappeared but the memory of them was lost to an emerging feudal society, notes Thomas Cahill.
- Maggie Jackson, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age
"The Re-education of Canada"
City Journal: Rav Arora on the Jordan Peterson controversy.
"Ben Simons," Ma spoke up, "I don't know what you're up to, but whatever it is, it had better not be anything shady like the last trouble you got Morris into. I don't want to hear of any more of your money-making schemes like selling family-sized expanding coffins. Nobody in his right mind would want to have a coffin opened up and expanded every time another member of the family died."
- From "My Old Man's Political Appointment" - a short story in Georgia Boy by Erskine Caldwell
Sunday, January 08, 2023
Saturday, January 07, 2023
The New Criterion
A consistently interesting magazine.
The Girl Guides of Canada are getting rid of the Brownies designation.
Bock's Book Recommendations
When Wally Bock recommends business books, I listen.
"The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age"
The legend of Colonel John Boyd is well known inside Western militaries but his ideas on competitive advantage have also inspired politicians, business leaders and many others driven by a desire to win. It is the story of a maverick fighter pilot who rebelled against the 'bomber barons' running the United States Air Force during the Cold War and later challenged the entire Pentagon system, fighting corruption and nepotism as leader of the Defense Reform Movement. However, Boyd is best remembered as a warrior philosopher and his theories on conflict and the human mind revolutionized the art of war.
- From The Blind Strategist: John Boyd and the American Art of War by Stephen Robinson
Both Thinkers and Doers
The intellectual creativity of the founding generation has never been in doubt. Samuel Eliot Morison and Harold Laski both believed that no period of modern history, with the possible exception of the Civil War decades of seventeenth-century England, was as rich in political ideas and contributed as much in such a short period of time to Western political theory. In the Americans' efforts to explain the difference of their experience in the New World and ultimately to justify their Revolution and their new governments, they were pressed to speak and write both originally and extensively about politics, using a wide variety of eighteenth-century instruments, newspapers, pamphlets, state papers, poetry, plays, satire, and, of course, letters. Indeed, their phenomenal reliance on personal correspondence for the communication of their thoughts made the revolutionary years the greatest letter-writing era in American history. (Without Jefferson's letters, what would we know of his mind?) It is a remarkable body of political literature that the revolutionaries created, and what is most remarkable about it is that this political theory was generally written by the very men responsible for putting it into effect.
- Gordon S. Wood, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different
Friday, January 06, 2023
The Continuing Scandal
Tablet magazine: Lee Smith on "How the FBI Hacked Twitter."
Another Art Movie
Worse Than Watergate
Matt Taibbi reveals the Twitter evidence on the government's use of Twitter to suppress free speech.
[Photo by Markus Winkler at Unsplash]
The Long March at Wharton
RealClearInvestigations: Ben Weingarten on what's happening on ESG at The Wharton School.
Thursday, January 05, 2023
Read a Book
How much did Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC lose in prime time viewership in total for 2022?
Fox News lost 1%.
CNN lost 32 %.
MSNBC lost 21%.
Click here for details on Nielsen ratings.
The Collapse of the Progressive Economy
UnHerd magazine: Joel Kotkin sees the growing strength of blue-collar workers.
When Instructions Don't Instruct
In the past month, I have encountered two sets of instructions for products and procedures. Each one was grossly inadequate.
I suddenly realized that it is a pleasant surprise when you run across great instructions.
My question is simple: "Why are poor instructions so common?"
Wednesday, January 04, 2023
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is opposing Syracuse University's action against a student for sponsoring a voluntary scavenger hunt.
The Economics of Literature
All the World's a Lawsuit
Althouse on the lawsuit over a nude scene in the 1968 film "Romeo and Juliet."
The Secret of a Full Life
The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people. This is an illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us.
- Anaïs Nin
When Philanthropy Goes Woke
The Heritage Foundation Special Report: "The Radicalization of Race: Philanthropy and DEI" by Katherine C. Gorka and Mike Gonzalez.
Tuesday, January 03, 2023
Free Speech in Canada
The Daily Wire on Jordan Peterson's free speech battle with the Canadian government.
An Elon Musk Tweet
When More is Less
Commentary magazine: Noah Rothman on "The Paradox of Being Plugged-in."
If the necessary resources, talent, and time are not available, then what might be a viable plan under different circumstances is not viable.
Repeat as needed during analysis.
[Photo by Zoe Holling at Unsplash]
Small But Large
The tasks that are known to be important and sizable will be done. It's hard to ignore them. They're on all of the charts.
The tasks that are important and small, however, may not be done because they are harder to spot. Since they are easier to do, the assumption is that they will be done as a matter of routine.
The result of that oversight, of course, may be enormous.
[Photo by Jamie Street at Unsplash]
Los Angeles Times column: White supremacy comes in all colors.
[HT: Joel Engel]
Monday, January 02, 2023
Late Night Reading
The "Disinformation" Game
Commentary magazine: Christine Rosen on "How Disinformation Journalists Practice Disinformation."
There Was a Job To Be Done
A Good Time to Study the First World War
I have always understood the fascination with the Second World War. The main leaders were very interesting, the campaigns were more complicated, and the technology far more advanced than in its predecessor.
And yet, the period that deserves more attention is the First World War. Dynasties fell, ideologies rose, massive amounts of talents were slaughtered on an unprecedented scale, and the entire event was followed by a pandemic.
There was a logic to the Second World War that was missing in the First.
That alone is why it deserves scrutiny.
That old bell, presage of a train, had just sounded through Oxford station; and the undergraduates who were waiting there, gay figures in tweed or flannel, moved to the margin of the platform and gazed idly up the line. Young and careless, in the glow of the afternoon sunshine, they struck a sharp note of incongruity with the worn boards they stood on, with the fading signals and grey eternal walls of that antique station, which, familiar to them and insignificant, does yet whisper to the tourist the last enchantments of the Middle Age.
- From Zuleika Dobson, or, an Oxford Love Story by Max Beerbohm