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Posts Tagged ‘Business Leadership’

Every day, in countless ways, the competitive position of each of our businesses grows either weaker or stronger.  If we are delighting customers, eliminating unnecessary costs and improving our products and services, we gain strength.  But if we treat customers with indifference or tolerate bloat, our businesses will wither.  On a daily basis, the effects of our actions are imperceptible;  cumulatively, though, their consequences are enormous.
When our long-term competitive position improves as a result of these almost unnoticeable actions, we describe the phenomenon as “widening the moat.”  And doing that is essential if we are to have the kind of business we want a decade or two from now.  We always, of course, hope to earn more money in the short-term.  But when short-term and long-term conflict, widening the moat must take precedence.  If a management makes bad decisions in order to hit short-term earnings targets, and consequently gets behind the eight-ball in terms of costs, customer satisfaction or brand strength, no amount of subsequent brilliance will overcome the damage that has been inflicted.  Take a look at the dilemmas of managers in the auto and airline industries today as they struggle with the huge problems handed them by their predecessors.  Charlie [Munger] is fond of quoting Ben Franklin’s “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  But sometimes no amount of cure will overcome the mistakes of the past.
    —     Warren Buffett
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On This Day In:
2021 Core Strength
Thinking Of You
2020 Rising Danger
210 Day Health / Weight Update (Apr 2020)
2019 Never Let ‘Em See You Sweat
2018 Just Two?
2017 Living Without Love
Good News!
2016 At This Moment
2015 Still Dreaming
2014 Good Wins
2013 Before
2012 Look To This Day
2011 One View Of Man

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We neither understand the adding of unneeded people or activities because profits are booming, nor the cutting of essential people or activities because profitability is shrinking.  That kind of yo-yo approach is neither business-like nor humane.
    —     Warren Buffett
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On This Day In:
2021 DIY: Outdoor Gym Modifications
First Hammock Hang Of 2021
Slow Moving Trains And Squirrels
Just Chillin’… Why?
2020 Still Crazy After All These Years…
2019 20 / 20 Foresight
He Knew Damned Well…
2018 Be Someone’s Kindling
2017 When The Moment Comes
2016 Changed Clothes Lately?
2015 Like Stone
2014 Resistance Is Futile
2013 Subtle Humor
To Look Behind Green Eyes
2012 The Path Is Endless
2011 Happy MLK, Jr Day!!!
A Factor Of Ten
Better Late Than Never?
Whoops!
Acceptable Beginnings
Slow Progress
Useful Confrontation
When Phenomena Are Different
Creative Avoidance
Thinking
Fast And Flexible
Surrender Certainty
Techniques
Vive La Difference
Destiny
Completeness
Art

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Personal autonomy and democracy are under assault from surveillance capitalism.  And yet today’s tech industry is largely unregulated, having emerged in the midst of an era of deregulation and defunding of enforcement agencies.  This has allowed tech giants to behave as unelected governments.  Their communications systems have become central to our way of life, as the impact of this week’s Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp outage underscores, but they have their thumb on the scale, amplifying content that triggers fear and outrage because doing so maximizes profits.
The sad truth is that the unregulated tech industry produces products that are unsafe.  Congress has faced the challenge of dangerous products in the past.  When the food and medicine industries were unsafe, Congress created the Food and Drug Administration.  When petrochemical companies dumped toxic waste indiscriminately, Congress approved a series of environmental laws.  Just like tech companies today, the affected industries claimed they would not be able to operate with regulation, but that turned out to be wrong.  Now we need something like an FDA for technology products, designed to prevent harmful technologies from coming to market.  For qualifying products, it would set safety standards, require annual safety audits and certification as a condition for every product, and impose huge financial penalties for any harms that result.  There should also be amendments to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to create better incentives for Internet platforms.
Congress also needs to protect people’s privacy from relentless surveillance.  My preference would be for Congress to ban surveillance capitalism just as it banned child labor in 1938.  (The many industries that employed child labor complained then that they could not survive without it.)  At a minimum, Congress must ban third-party use of sensitive data, such as that related to health, location, financial transactions, web browsing and app data.
The third area for legislation is competition, where Congress needs to update antitrust laws for the 21st century.  The six-hour outage of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp illustrated for many one downside of monopoly:  absolute dependence on a service.
All of this may be true in Mark Zuckerberg’s mind, but the design of Facebook’s business model suggests that growth and profits are the only factors driving “the company we know.”
Based on the evidence of the past five years, one might say that Internet platforms have launched an attack against democracy and self-determination.  It is a battle they will win unless voters and policymakers join forces to reassert their power.  We have been losing the battle since 2016, but I would like to believe that this week was a turning point.
We have the power.  The question is whether we have the courage to use it.
     —     Roger McNamee
From the article:  “Facebook Will Not Fix Itself
Appearing in:  Time Magazine; dtd: 25 Oct / 1 Nov 2021
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On This Day In:
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2019 I’m Up For Trying
60 Day Health / Weight Update (Nov 2019)
2018 #PresidentBoneSpur
2017 My Staggering Confusion
Zapped!!!
2016 And Bloggers?
2015 Ethical Energy
2014 Are You Likely To Defend It?
2013 Might As Well
2012 The Long And Short Of It
2011 Bravery

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Efficiency is doing things right;  effectiveness is doing the right things.
    —    Peter Drucker
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On This Day In:
2021 Two Eff’n Right
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2020 The Premium Few
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2019 Is That Why Love Hurts?
2018 And Honest Politicians
2017 Maya, Maya
2016 Give Value
2015 Believe In Substitution
2014 Pragmatic Religion
2013 How’s Your View?
2012 Giants Win Game 3 Of The 2012 World Series 2 To 0!!!
Still Haven’t…
Accidental Me
2011 What Is Your Ratio?
2010 Giants Win Game 1 With 11 Runs Scored – Repeat 11 Runs!!

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If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs.  But, if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.
    —     David Ogilvy
Founder of Ogilvy & Mather’s
(a famous marketing company)
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On This Day In:
2021 The Same Goes For Countries And Elected Leaders
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2020 Your True Standard
But When The Smoke Had Cleared Away…
2019 Ooh, Shiny
Day 4: Surprised
2018 We Are Approaching Default
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Day 37: Blended Not Juiced
2017 Today Is Not Lost
Day 8
2016 Paying Attention
2015 An Awful Ordeal
2014 What Are You Doing?
2013 Lives > 1
2012 Strange To All The World
2011 Unnecessary Stagefright

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Rank does not confer privilege or give power.  It imposes responsibility.
    —    Peter Drucker
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On This Day In:
2020 Stand Up!
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2019 Only One Direction
2018 Respect Is Long Gone
2017 Dream Of Dreamers
2016 Dear Automakers
2015 And Some Not So Brave Too
2014 In My Lifetime…
2013 Democracy
2012 Borrowed Expectations
2011 Not Necessarily True

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The toughest thing about the power of trust is that it’s very difficult to build and very easy to destroy.  The essence of trust building is to emphasize the similarities between you and the customer.
    —   Thomas J. Watson
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On This Day In:
2019 What Is True For War Is Also True For Elections
2018 Start By Trying
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2017 Outlasting Division
2016 Said The Man Who Trained To Fight For A Living
2015 Tripping On Treasure
2014 The Flower Of Light
2013 Eye Catching
2012 The Holstee Manifesto
2011 Three Crooners For The Shower
The Soldier’s Faith
Vacation, Books And Lots Of Movies

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If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down.  But remember this:  A man flattened by an opponent can get up again.  A man flattened by conformity stays down for good.
    —   Thomas J. Watson
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On This Day In:
2019 Advice From #1 To #45
2018 How Much I Will Miss The Trump Administration
2017 We Need To Continue Experimenting
2016 Consistently
2015 We Must Dissent
2014 Now What?
2013 Judgement
2012 Stuck In My Mind
Life’s Hope
2011 Just Getting Up
Directions Please

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Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.
    —    Peter Drucker
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On This Day In:
2017 Some Good
2016 Edges
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2015 I Hope Not
2014 Study The Means Of Expressing Yourself
2013 That Stubborn Thing
2012 Like Mike
2011 Flawless Or Candid
2010 Browning…

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A manager develops people.  Through the way he manages he makes it easy or difficult for them to develop themselves.  He directs people or misdirects them.  He brings out what is in them or he stifles them.  He strengthens their integrity or he corrupts them  He trains them to stand upright and strong, or he deforms them, whether he knows it or not.
     —    Peter Drucker
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On This Day In:
2016 Or Blog
2015 Stretched Today?
2014 Outta Here
2013 Getting Words Right
2012 There’s A New Dog In Town
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2011 A Conservative Is…

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He isn’t a real boss until he has trained subordinates to shoulder most of his responsibilities.
     —    William Feather
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On This Day In:
2016 You Just Have To Care
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2015 My Slow Education
2014 Great Service
2013 You Really Should Wear More Sweaters
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2012 The Serenity Prayer
2011 The Victory Of Life

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You either believe people are fundamentally good or you don’t.  If you do believe they’re good, then as an entrepreneur, a team member, a team leader, a manager, or a CEO — or a government leader — you should act in a way consistent with your beliefs.  If people are good, then they should be free.  Too many organizations and managers operate as if, absent some enlightened diktat, people are too benighted to make sound decisions and innovate.
     —    Laszlo Bock
Google’s head of human resources, (senior vice president, people operations)
From his book:  “Work Rules!
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On This Day In:
2014 If You Ever Fall…
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2012 They Follow A Pattern – If You Know What I Mean
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The Japanese are among the most competitive people in the world;  otherwise they could not have achieved their recent economic successes.  Consensus was established to keep the society cohesive and to control excessive competition, which would cause friction and make tireless rivals of the people in the isolated areas.  So the comment that Japan is a society of consensus is only one side of the story.
   —    Mitsuyuki Masatsugu
From his book:  “The Modern Samurai Society
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On This Day In:
2013 Not Ought
2012 If You Want To, If You Have Something To Offer
2011 I See Lots Of Fools
2010 Orange Inside!!
And The Band Played On…
Happy New Year!!

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Today I am home ill with what seems to be an ear infection.  Every few years, I get this swollen sensation on the right side of my head.  It feels like my head has a weighted balloon attached to the right side.  When I turn my head, stand or look quickly in any direction, I get a light-headedness and it feels like my vision / brain is continuing to move after my head (or eyeballs) have stopped.  Several years ago I had to go to the ER to get seen by a doctor about this condition.  Then, I also had an associated fever, which I fortunately don’t have this time.  In any case, I take some decongestants and my vertigo pill and I kind of spend the day in a half-stupor of fatigue and dizziness.
This morning I completed a book I’ve been reading off and on for several years now.  Our local library system has an annual shelf clearing book give-away each August and they have about 800 to 1,000 boxes of books which are set out for anyone to take what they want – as much as you can carry, and come back tomorrow.  Today’s book was one of these and I picked it up about three years ago.  It has mostly sat in my car waiting to be read.  I would grab it whenever I had a doctor / dentist visit to have something to read in the waiting room.  Unfortunately, if you don’t wait much, you don’t read much, so this has taken quite a while to get through.
The book is titled:  “The Modern Samurai Society: Duty and Dependence in Contemporary Japan“, (1982©) and was written by Mitsuyuki Masatsugu.  The book attempts to explain contemporary (circa 1982) corporate Japan in terms of the historical legacy of the Samurai (“samurai” means “one who serves”) society which held sway in Japan for several centuries.  The samurai tradition fell out of favor with the coming of the industrial revolution in the last half of the 19th century.  (As an aside, part of this transition was portrayed in the Tom Cruise movie:  “The Last Samurai“.)  In essence, it attempts to explain Japanese business management techniques to non-Japanese.
To Masatsugu, successful Japanese management stems from eight factors which incorporate two features from Japanese culture.  The eight factors (guiding principles) to success are:
1)  Paternalism;
2)  Guaranteed lifetime employment;
3)  Seniority-based promotion;
4)  In-company unions;
5)  Periodic transfers;
6)  Overtime work as a safety valve;
7)  Enriched welfare program;  and,
8)  A selective retirement system.
The two features which Masatsugu believes to be uniquely emphasized in Japanese society are:
1)  Diligence – the duty each individual has towards their country in general and towards their company in particular.  And,
2)  Dependence – a recognition that even though the employees are individuals, they must work together to surpass non-Japanese companies.
Like any “valid” theoretical explanation, management theories must meet a minimum of two criteria:  does it accurately describe what is currently happening, and two, does it have predictive value either for when external conditions change or when internal structures are abandoned (or both).  In this book’s case, we now have the benefit of thirty-two years history to see that Masatsugu’s proposal was pretty spot on.
Since the book’s release Japan has suffered both a housing boom collapse and an economic drought now approaching the middle of its third decade.  The housing collapse happened in the 1980’s and the start of Japan’s economic drought (I hesitate to call it a collapse as Japan has only recently been surpassed by China as THE economic power in Asia) occurred in the 1990’s.  In fact, the 1990’s is sometimes referred to in Japan as “the lost decade” because there was so little economic growth.
Specifically, Masatsugu suggests the structure of Japan’s economic strength is based on these principles and if any one (or combination) fails, the entire structure will waver and ultimately collapse.  Masatsugu predicts the gradual incorporation of western management will bring about an economic failure.  He leans towards the abandonment of guaranteed lifetime employment and seniority-based promotion when “times get hard”.  Masatsugu says that in past times, management held to principle and the economy eventually turned around.  He cautions that future management might not have the fortitude to withstand to pressure to abandon principle in an effort to meet “western style” quarterly objectives.  We now know Japanese management has moved away from guaranteed lifetime employment, seniority-based promotion and selective retirement.  All of these actions have had a detrimental effect on business (and societal) productivity in the U.S. over the last 40 years.  It will be interesting to see if the same happens in Japan and how long it will take to happen (if it does).
I doubt very much that this book could be written in today’s “politically correct” world as it has several racist and sexist comments which, in context, seem common sense, but are actually inculcated cultural biases.  For example, women are generally considered unequal to men in the business world, because…  Wait for it…  Because they are!  (Well, except when they aren’t.)  In the author’s view, a woman can be one of the main reasons a man succeeds in business.  But, a female can never succeed in Japanese business on her own.  In all, though, these are trivial reasons to be critical of a book which I believe is overwhelmingly a valuable (if dated) insight into Japanese business culture.  Highly recommended!
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On This Day In:
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2020 A Good Reason To Blog
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2019 Living Free
2018 Relative Imagination
2017 Thank You, Senator McCain (So Far Anyway)
2016 What About Friends?
2015 It Tastes Good To Me
2014 Others’ Footsteps
The Not-So-Modern Samurai
2013 Doin’
2012 A Lover
2011 What Have We Found Here
Words

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Wisdom means acting with knowledge while doubting what you know.  It entails striking a balance between arrogance (assuming you know more than you do) and insecurity (believing that you know too little to act).  It requires asking for help and asking questions, as well as giving help and answering questions.  With an attitude of wisdom, managers can do things now, but still keep learning along the way.
    —    Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton
[Quoted from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2006
The article is titled:  “Act On Facts, Not Faith
It can be found online at:  http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/act_on_facts_not_faith/
    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2013 Three Thoughts
2012 Gentle Reader
2011 Leave The Light On For Me Anyway

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