September 2009 Archives

And the winners are:

- Michael Jeffries, Abercrombie & Fitch $71.8 million

- James W. Stewart, BJ Services Company $34.6 million

- Brian Roberts, Comcast Corp $40.8 million

- John Faraci, International Paper $38.2 million

- Eugene Isenberg, Nabors Industries $79.3 million

Roll over, Peter Drucker.

More from CNN Money >>

If it wasn't tragic, it would really be funny.

Our politics is based on lies and pay-offs. The Republicans we don't even question any more - we know they're just corporate hacks. On the Democratic side, the blue-dogs are making it fairly easy to see just how much it costs to buy off a politician ($3 million for Max Baucus; that's the going rate these days).

In health care it seems we like monopolies, says Dylan Ratigan who points out the following:

a health care system was created in which a single health care company controls at least 30 percent of the insurance market in 95% of the country, including states like the following:

- Maine, where Wellpoint controls 71% of the market.
- North Dakota, where Blue Cross controls 90% of the market.
- Arkansas, where Blue Cross Blue Shield controls 75% of the market.
- Alabama, where Blue Cross Blue Shield controls 83% of the market.

Your insurance company is the death panel, America!

Here's a dollar from Mr. Wendell >>

Meanwhile the Supreme Court is plotting on corporate free-speech...

This plot needs a deus ex machina - Obama, wherefore art thou?

VG has touched a chord with this article in Harvard Business Review

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How GE is Disrupting Itself describes the concept of reverse innovation - how products developed in and for low-cost countries (like India and China) by multinationals (like GE) lead to growth - not only in the low-cost market, but at home as well.

VG says the article has touched an "emotional" chord with readers who are saying that this approach is just what "western" multinationals should be doing - designing products for the local market at a price-point which is within reach.

Check out the advertisement for one such product:


To me, this is just the first step to being truly global (as they say at Thunderbird). With business commitments at a local level, social commitments will surely follow. 

Now let's see some "ecomagination" in action and build portable solar/wind electrical generators for off-grid villages at an affordable price-point. Right, Bob?

Mapping the Seven Deadly Sins

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The geographers at Kansas State have put their considerable talent to good use. This is pretty stunning:

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Where's the map for hypocrisy?

More fun here >>

I wonder what the late Peter Drucker would have said about Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story?

I think he’d be very sympathetic. Drucker’s disillusionment with the level of executive greed he saw and we see today makes it very likely that he’d be a supportive fan.

And here’s an interesting quote from the man himself:

The leader cannot act in his own interests.It must be the in the interests of the customer and the worker. This is the great weakness of American management today.

[from A Class with Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World’s Greatest Management Teacher, William A. Cohen, AMACOM 2008]


When results are poor, executives don’t deserve bonuses, right Peter?

What Global Warming?

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Corporate fascism? What’s that?

Listen to this Henry Wallace quote from 1944:

“The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power…

Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion…

The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism… They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

Hard to believe? Not.

Here’s an example of the latest garbage: CO2isgreen.org. What global warming? 

Go Michael Moore!

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Every once in a while, farming pays off.

Terry Herbert stumbles across the biggest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold as he fools around with his "trusty" 14-year old metal detector.  Bet his neighbors don't think he's a nut anymore. The poor fellow is now going to meet all sorts of relatives he didn't know he had.

Read it in the news>>

Michael Moore is serious, and most of all, he's right.

It's time for Capitalism 2.0. Let's get some True Democracy going.

Umberto Eco on Handwriting

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Maybe he just likes the taste of ink on his fingers, or maybe he's concerned that we won't be seeing too many works like Jung's Red Book any more, but Umberto Eco tells us that handwriting is good for the soul:

Why should we regret the passing of good handwriting? The capacity to write well and quickly on a keyboard encourages rapid thought, and often (not always) the spell-checker will underline a misspelling.

Eco's own handwriting seems a little less than soulful, if we are to judge by this specimen:

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His concern, however, is real: most kids - what with computers (when they use them) and text messages - can no longer write by hand, except in laboured capital letters.

And of course, we do know that computers don't help you think.  That's best done w/ a sheet of blank paper and a fountain pen. My own love for ink pens stems from a different sort of "creativity" - I enjoy creating doodles out of the ink I spill.

But unlike Eco, I think ballpoint pens do have a purpose, especially during those endless business meetings:


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The Republicans are all for the public option when it comes to property, says David Cay Johnston in this insightful article at HuffPost.

Crooks.

Breaking The Cycle of Failure

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Why do companies behave like Hyatt Hotels and Circuit City?

By treating employees as costs they minimize their investments in employee training. The result is poor employee morale, substandard performance, and customer dissatisfaction. [Once again, here's Drucker >>] 

I first met this idea in an article I read in the Bechtel library in Houston. I was new to the corporate world, and I was trying to figure out what companies should be doing to be the "employer of choice" in their particular industry.

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Of course, now I know this as an example of a vicious circle.  The opposite of this approach, a virtuous circle - seems far more rare - in business, non-profits, and learning institutions as well.

I now see this as Management 101. In fact, it seems so obvious, you wonder why anyone would choose to destroy their company this way. 

My guess: the culprit is executive pay. And in government? It's the lobbyists.

Michael Arrington's tips on how to network are basic, but sorely needed by the nerd community:

1. Never underestimate the power of an introduction. A mutual friend who introduces you by email or in person is far more effective than a cold self-introduction at a crowded event. Approaching someone randomly should be your last option.

2. Don't approach someone when they are clearly in the middle of something. If I'm throwing a conference, there likely isn't any time at all that is appropriate to approach me. But there are 2,000 other people there you can hit up who aren't as busy as I am at that time. Hit me up at the event that I'm attending but not running.

3. Don't approach someone when they are in the middle of a mob trying to get their attention. This is usually after a speaker has just left a stage, and everyone hits them at once. If you must grab them then because you have no other way of meeting them, make it very, very quick and aim for nothing more than their business card so you can email them later.

4. If you get someone's business card, never call them. That mobile phone number isn't for you, the person who just met them. A random call to their cell phone is never welcome. Send an email. (I kinda messed up on this one. Larry Hagman gave me his card once, but it didn't have his email... so I never called! Ha.)

5. When you approach someone, don't assume they know you even if they do. You see them across the room, note them, approach them and say hello. You've had a few moments to think about it, but all they see is a face in front of them, a thrust out hand and a "hello!" It's not reasonable for them to decide if they know you, remember your name and where you work in a half-moment.

Instead, say "Hey Bob, It's Mike from TechCrunch, good to see you again" slowly and clearly. You've just told them your name, where you work, and the fact that you've previously met. Trust me, they are thankful for all that information, and everything will go smoothly from there.

6. If you forget to tell them who you are, don't get offended if they don't know. There will likely be a few sentences of very unspecific conversation as they try to remember any detail about you, or even if they've met you before. If they start off with "how are you?" or "what do you think about the event?" then things are going badly. They should be asking "how'd that financing with Sequoia go?" or something much more specific.

7. If you've blown it to this point, for the love of God fix it. Drop in something like "yeah, since I met you at the whatever event we've been rocking at TechCrunch. We finally launched that new blog on bicycles." Bam, you've saved the situation. Notice how much better the conversation goes from there.

8. Look for body language. If you pay attention you can tell how engaged they are. If they aren't engaged (looking away, never talking, etc.) don't try too hard to get them to focus. Instead, move on to what you want. Get their card, see if a meeting or a call is possible and ask for the best way to make that happen. Some people think the more time they spend with a person the more likely they'll get what they want. In reality, it's the opposite. Don't take time just because they are too polite to end the conversation.

By this time, you're probably asking: am I a geek, dweeb, dork or nerd?

Thanks to John Hagel for clarifying:

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More from the BBC >>

Stupidity is not learning from the mistakes of the past.

Now we see Hyatt Hotels destroying themselves in much the same way that Circuit City did before them.

What is it with these management decisions?

Paul Michelman describes the two-step process:

1. Make the decision to fire a very important yet modestly paid sector of your workforce. Fire the entire lot of them.
2. Outsource their positions to a third-party vendor who will bring in contractors to do their jobs at a lower cost. But -- and this is critical -- before you fire them, trick your workers into training the people who will replace them. How to pull this neat trick off? Tell them they are training vacation replacements. (Best to leave out the fact that the vacation is permanent).

Nice job.

A while back I had written about similar stupidity from Circuit City and the results of their brilliance.  Same plot, same results.

How can a company compete when they turn their employees into disengaged zombies?  This is an old management problem. Peter "The Great" Drucker believed that employees are assets and not liabilities.  Too bad there are so many businesses that haven't yet learned the cost of treating employees as costs.

And once again, I'm sure these executives are paid "well above the market-based salary range for their role."

The President outlines his plan to fix healthcare:

What's wrong with this? Nothing.

The insurance companies have spent over 375 million dollars blocking this with their Republican friends and their blue lap-dogs. At 300 million Americans, they could have given us each over one million dollars!

Here's Matt Taibbi via Dr. Andrew Weil:

Heading into the health care debate, there was only ever one genuinely dangerous idea out there, and that was a single-payer system. Used by every single developed country outside the United States (with the partial exceptions of Holland and Switzerland, which offer limited and highly regulated private-insurance options), single-payer allows doctors and hospitals to bill and be reimbursed by a single government entity. In America, the system would eliminate private insurance, while allowing doctors to continue operating privately.

In the real world, nothing except a single-payer system makes any sense. There are currently more than 1,300 private insurers in this country, forcing doctors to fill out different forms and follow different reimbursement procedures for each and every one. This drowns medical facilities in idiotic paperwork and jacks up prices: Nearly a third of all health care costs in America are associated with wasteful administration. Fully $350 billion a year could be saved on paperwork alone if the U.S. went to a single-payer system - more than enough to pay for the whole goddamned thing, if anyone had the balls to stand up and say so.

The time is now, America: Healthcare for all.

Svante Paabo's research shows us that human groups--southern Africans, Western Europeans, Native Americans--are closely related, despite superficial distinctions.

Here's what we learn about the Neanderthals: 

Neanderthals contributed little, if any, DNA to modern humans. Instead, they appear to have been displaced by modern humans--the taller, more graceful creatures with round skulls and prominent chins who first appear in the fossil record in eastern Africa about 200,000 years ago. The Neanderthals retreated into more remote parts of Europe before going extinct.

I have to say the story of Jung's Red Book is fascinating.

But what really stunned me was what the book actually looks like:

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A work of art, surely, but we are about to learn a lot more about dreams. And reality.

Do you have a book of dreams?

Vijay Govindarajan's Innovation Quarterly is now open to subscribers.

It's free, and it's going to be good.

Sign up if you're interested in how innovation works.

Disclosure: VG truly is one of the sharpest minds in the business world, and I'm privileged to work on his newsletter!

The kids launch Planet Green

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After talking about it for several years, my daughters have finally launched Planet Green. I wonder how long they'll demonstrate "constancy of purpose"?

Thanks to their activism, we have now been vegetarians for several years, we worry about water, and try to stop wasting natural resources. In many ways they have helped shape my green thinking, by opening my eyes to the news and to our stunning inaction as the planet dies around us. The Silk Milk boycott was their idea, as was their insistence that we should minimize the use of paper towels, etc. etc.

It will be a fun experiment, I believe.

Why Newspapers Fail

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Michael Moore brings his unique perspective to the issue:

Question: why is this a unique perspective?

Because, all too often, we don't really care about our customers.

If the Mayo Clinic supports the Obama health care plan, you should too, period.

Communicating Change

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It's not enough to work hard and do your best when the Becks and Limbaughs of the world are doing their best to destroy your arguments with rage, hatred and lies.

What's needed is a simple framework to communicate what it is you are doing and why.

Vijay Govindarajan's post - Obama's Challenge: Communicating a Framework for Change - shows us what Obama should be doing to communicate more clearly.

And he's got to find some of that campaign passion as well.

The magic of Steel Pulse is their ability to transform a song into a mystical experience.

What should be a simple rendition of "Chant a Psalm" turns into a moving version of their timeless classic:

And here's another version of David Hinds singing the same song in a more traditional style.

The Republicans are busy with their one goal: "obstruct Obama." So what else is new? They were against Social Security and Medicare as well.

But here are some real numbers. If you look at the current cost of health care as a % of GDP, the Republicans should be signing up for the public option. Of course, they don't care about the public - we, the people, that is.

We're being taken for a ride, as usual.

Have a nice day.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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