Tuesday, August 31, 2010
"Doing more with less in a world where political, economic, and cultural forces and pressures produce extreme boundary conditions of doing more with more and doing less with less."
The statement has an output and input orientation. Where outputs are critical resources that support life - - water, energy, land, food, and air. Inputs are variables that help produce outputs - - energy, labor, financial capital and technology.
Water sustainability issues provide an excellent back drop that illustrates the ideas behind my statement. Australia is the driest inhabited content and has been in the grips of a severe drought. Three ideas have been formulated. The first is "doing more with more" - - investing $13.2 billion in desalination plants. An expensive and energy hungry alternative - - that fundamentally fails to explore the linkage between water issues and energy consumption (electricity in Australia comes form coal fired power plants). Technology solving one problem while generating an entirely new set of climate change related problems. The second is "doing less with less" - - restricting development and population increases. Namely restrictive immigration policies that would cap a fixed limit on the number of people that Australia could support (22 million people). Third is "doing more with less" - - utilizing information and rehabilitation technologies combined with pricing strategies to encourage conservation, reducing inefficiencies (e.g., water loss via leaking pipes), and adjusting life styles via market forces that are compatible to an arid climate.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Donald Norman has a great book, The Design of Everyday Things (1988), in which he discusses watches. The passage is a little dated, but you will get the point.
In the modern digital watch the spring is gone, replaced by a motor run by long-lasting batteries. All that remains is the task of setting the watch. The stem is a still sensible solution, for you can go fast or slow, forward or backward, until the exact desired time is reached. But the stem is more complex (and therefore more expensive) than simple push-button switches. If the only change in the transition from the spring-wound analog watch to the battery-run digital watch were in how the time was set, there would be little difficulty. The problem is that new technology has allowed us to add functions to the watch: the watch can give the day of the week, the month, and the year; it can act as a stop watch (which itself has several functions), a countdown timer, and an alarm clock (or two); it has the ability to show the time for different time zones; it can act as a counter and even as a calculator. But the added functions cause problems: How do you design a watch that has so many functions while trying to limit the size, cost, and complexity of the device? How many buttons does it take to make the watch workable and learnable, yet not too expensive? There are no easy answers. Whenever the number of functions and required operations exceeds the number of controls, the design becomes arbitrary, unnatural, and complicated. The same technology that simplifies life by providing more functions in each device also complicates life by making the device harder to learn, harder to use. This is the paradox of technology.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Some organizations see innovation as a supply and demand problem. Google, 3m, Nucor, and several others give their employees time to think big thoughts - - Google expects employees to spend 20% of their time on their own projects. Other organization have recognized that their business model is one of exploitation and not one of exploration - - regardless of the lip service surrounding innovation goals embedded in corporate value statements. If their current model is one of exploiting existing relationships and knowledge - - the primary goal in exploitation is efficiency, predictability, and reliability. But innovation and "sperm in the air" are unnatural acts that organizations struggle with - - acts that are uncertain, unpredictable, "breaking all the rules", and "asking for forgiveness rather than permission." They understand that their organizational structure and business model is an impediment to effective innovation.
Organizations need to look strongly at separate innovation structures and specific individuals that have an innovative mindset, collaborative skills, external vision, and a multidisciplinary approach to problems solving. Separate, but not too separate - - the goal is to integrate innovative ideas throughout the company.
Consider the emerging technology of augmented reality - - better known as AR - - in the context of civil engineering. The September issue of National Geographic (Innovation Tip - - read and observe widely) has two pages (30 and 31) that demonstrates the potential power of AR. The power of AR lies in the ability to superimpose computer generated images on the real world, courtesy of a cell phone camera. In the context of civil engineering, imagine the world and ability to see the location of underground utilities on a real world picture as you stand on the street corner. Imagine the ability to see traffic data, demographics, or the location and directions to the nearest subway station. Get a copy of the magazine and think about questions, answers, and creativity - - a world of multidisciplinary connections between the old civil engineering world of concrete and the new world of greater efficiencies, data, networks, and computer science. Think about how you would integrate innovative technology such as AR into a profitable service or product for your clients and customers.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Events in Russia and Pakistan are linked. This year's anticyclones in the Atlantic have produced a gridlock in the world of the Rossby waves, with persistent troughs of low pressure over western and central Europe, while producing a ridge of high pressure over Russia, and lows again farther east. The pressure patterns persist - - producing heat in Russia expected only once in every 400 years or so.
Climate change will shift the patterns of circulation in some ways, but there is no strong reason to believe that it will lead them to seize up more often. Yet the effects of these persistent patterns may get more unpleasant because the world will be warmer and have a more vigorous hydrological cycle.
Engineers will have to think about a world marked by more heat waves and heavier precipitation - - this will have a profound impact on design standards, codes, development, emergency preparedness, emergency response, and recovery actions.
Friday, August 27, 2010
"When you're teaching always assume there is a silent student in the class who knows more than you do."
That applies to many endeavors in life - - including management. Remember the next time you have a project meeting with your team in a conference room - - "When you're managing and mentoring always assume there is a silent team member in the conference room who knows more than you do."
Thursday, August 26, 2010
- Formalize the System - - Have a formal leadership program that starts at the correct time - - not too early and not too late (and it takes leadership to figure that out - - somewhat of a feedback looping process). It should be a formal "Leadership Development Program" and not a formal "Management Training Program" - - a really huge difference. You want to teach potential leaders to lead versus training managers to manage.
- Focus on Data - - Measure things. Making techies leaders is about metrics - - examples include the performance, responsibilities, and development of the people that you are tasked with actually leading. A critical component of talent management (ask any successful coach) is the performance of the individuals you are tasked with developing.
- Value Leadership - - The culture needs to embrace leadership development - - the complex and difficult task of leadership. Nothing is more messy and uncomfortable to technical professionals than leadership - - leaders who innovate, develop, inspire, take a long-view, ask what and why, originate, and challenge the status quo.
- Engage the Audience - - You cannot come to really bright and talented technical professionals with remedial leadership. Smart, practical, competitive, and action-oriented people want a program that is smart, specific, and fast-moving. They want teachers and facilitators - - not shallow talking heads. Remember - - experience, observation, and feedback - - these three words need to be in the foundation.
- Encouraging Coaching - - Do you reward people for technical skills or for leadership, mentoring, and coaching? If you value leadership and development - - your reward system will have to change. Think about "Peer Coaching" - - colleagues working together for a few days and providing feedback to each other on what they observed.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
- Silicon Wadi - - Tel Aviv, Israel. In 2006 alone, about 3,500 start-ups were created in Israel, most concentrated in this high-tech cluster on the Israeli coastal plain.
- Silicon Island - - Hsinchu, Taiwan. The Hsinchu science park is home to hundreds of high-tech firms, and the surrounding city has the highest average income in Taiwan.
- Silicon Plateau - - Bangalore, India. Located on the Deccan Plateau, Bangalore houses tech giants Infosys, Wipro, and Biocon.
- Silicon Gulf - - Davao, Philippines. The country is pushing to make this region a major IT player by building corporate parks and incentivizing investment.
- Silicon Roundabout - - London, Britain. London's Old Street Roundabout has been given a new nickname for its many Internet companies, including www.diary.com and Last.fm.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
MARTA's situation is dire, but hardly unique according to Transportation for America, a public-transport advocacy group based in Washington, DC, around 160 urban and regional transport systems in America cut service, raised fares, or did both in 2009 or 2010, even as ridership on public transport nationwide has risen to levels unseen since the 1950s. Yet a survey by the group found that while only one in five voters has used public transportation in the past month, four in five believe the country would benefit from an improved transport system, while nearly three in five say the federal government should boost spending on public transport. They did not, alas, say where the money should come from.
Sustainability, especially the notion of sustainability in the context of transportation systems, needs to become much more systems based. The engineering communities need to have a firmer understanding of the economic, financial, culture, political, climate change/environmental, energy independence, and development linkages that interface with our transportation systems, especially the components that are dedicated to public transport. A singular focus on construction material sustainability, for example in the context of public transportation, misses a key point within any sustainability analysis. Everything is linked, everything is connected, everything must be functional as a system - - economically broke systems are still broke systems that are unsustainable. The engineering community needs to be a leader and visionary in the context of the entire system - - every part.
Think in terms of systems and contexts - - whenever you hear the word sustainability.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
- Corporations are bureaucracies and managers are bureaucrats. Their fundamental tendency is toward self-perception. They are almost by definition, resistant to change. They were designed and tasked, not with reinforcing markets forces, but with supplanting and even resisting the market.
- It took the radio 38 years to reach 50 million people - - 13 years for television, four years for the Internet, three years for the iPod, and two years for Facebook. These are examples of a world marked by rapid globalization, accelerating innovation, relentless competition, and creative destruction. Management has not fundamentally changed by adapting to these market forces.
- Companies can fail from "good" management - - organizations that listened closely to their customers, carefully studied trends, and allocated capital to the innovation the promised the largest returns. Many saw all the trees and missed the forest - - they missed the disruptive innovations that opened up new customers and markets.
- Corporations exist because they historically have lowered "transaction costs" - - the complicated and costly tasks of finding the right person to do the right job at the right time. But the Internet and mass collaboration are producing a new and less costly economic order. Maybe the world of the un-corporation organized with little structure is a dream for Boeing or Bechtel - - but "Wilkenomics" will even impact these types of organizations. Look for a continued lowering of "transaction costs" to be a principle driver of how and why we organize - - a new science of management.
- As strategy consultant Gary Hamel stated in the article - - "The thing that limits us is that we are extraordinarily familiar with the old model, but the new model, we haven't even seen yet." He further points out - - "The single biggest reason companies fail is that they overinvest in what is, as opposed to what might be."
- There's plenty of evidence that most workers in today's complex organizations are simply not engaged in their work - - it all begins to look like "The Office." The new model needs to have the following attributes - - drive, creativity, innovative spirit, decision-making lower in the organizational structure, more ad-hoc than permanent, and information gathering needs to be broader and more inclusive. Look for more "Wisdom of the Crowds" combined with a constant need to engage and evaluate social networking feedback loops.
Change, innovation, adaptability - - the new order of management, and don't look for this to be easy!!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Lohr interviewed Dr. John Tao of Weyerhaeuser. Tao is vice president of open innovation and he offered the following thoughts:
"You have to have some technical background," Tao said, "but a lot of this is market analysis, communications and networking with industry partners."
Thursday, August 19, 2010
- Number of U.S. states with a projected 2011 budget shortfall of at least 10%: 31
- Estimated number of states that will hold less than 1 percent of their annual spending in reserve this year: 14
- Number of states whose pension plans were fully funded in 2000: 26
- Number whose are now: 3
- Projected change since last year in the amount of money states receive from corporate taxes: -$2,500,000,000
The following three should be under a special heading of "Only in America" - -
- Percentage change in new-home sales in the month after a federal first-time home buyer program expired in April: -33
- Number of prison inmates who received tax credits under the program: 1,295
- Number of them serving life sentences: 241
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Robert McCrum has written a book, Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language (2010), in which he argues that the world's English has become the medium that provides us with our interconnectedness. The book traces the origins and growth of English through economics and politics - - from soccer to industrialization to imperial powers to film, advertising, and television. He has several great observations, including the following:
Culture is about identity. For as long as the peoples of the world wish to express themselves in terms of ideas like "freedom", "individuality", and "originality", and for as long as there are generations of the world's schoolchildren versed in Shakespeare, The Simpsons, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bible, Globlish will remain the means by which an educated minority of the planet communicates.
But a more universal metric of communication is mathematics - - the language of science, technology, and engineering. In some respects, mathematical literacy is the driver of world commerce. One plus one equals two links every part of the globe and every segment of society. We seem to forget this fact - - along with Mr. McCrum. McCrum provides a clear example of what a world of one plus one equals three would look like - -
In crude numbers alone, English is used, in some form, by approximately 4 billion people on earth, one-third of the planet, . . .
Several troubling issues with the statement (unless you are a graduate of Enron's Center for Numerical Sciences) - - one is that our total population is 6,861,800,000. That implies that MrCrum's English used valuation is in the two-thirds range - - which is nonsense. The second is the level of precision - - utilizing a range would be more appropriate. Most sources estimate that English spoken as a first language ranges from 309 to 400 million people. English as a second language is spoken by 199 to 1,400 million additional individuals. Assuming these two groups constitute English "in some form", English is spoken by between 500 million and 1.8 billion people - - ranging from 7% to 26% of the planet's population.
English and mathematics - - both are drivers of our interconnectedness.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Gaps in reliability, truth, ability, and responsibility - - we are running an extremely high trust deficit between our citizenry and employees and leadership class. Maybe it's the eight million individuals laid off over the last several years or our inability to solve important and critical national and international problems. Whatever the reasons, a rather damaging gap in trust has developed between leaders and followers in many of our corporations and public institutions.
Trust is a funny thing - - it takes years to develop but minutes to destroy. You can measure the development of trust in inches - - but the collapse of trust is measured in feet and yards. Faith and hope - - you take these two attributes out of the mix and the trust matrix of cooperation, collaboration, certainty, and conviction becomes "a close run thing" between our leaders and followers.
George S. Barrett, chairman and C.E.O of Cardinal Health, a heath care company based in Dublin, Ohio, does a great job of putting trust in the context of leadership:
Articulating it in a single sound bite is hard. But I do think leadership is largely about trust, and trust has a couple of dimensions. It starts with competence. People have to believe that you really know what you're doing. They have to really trust in your judgment because the data is so complex out there that they have to believe you can see through all the silliness and have some sense of the right course.
People have to trust that you have a point of view about what this enterprise is going to look like. What do we seek to be? And they have to trust that you understand them, that you get them, and that you have their interests at heart. When you can do these things, it can be a powerful combination.
I think a leader has to be comfortable with having the weight on their shoulders. It can be hard, and it's a different experience if you haven't had to experience this. That's not for everybody, but I like it because I don't feel like I'm alone. I wind up bringing the group together, and we own the weight. I love that part of it.
I also believe that leadership is a two-way street. I tell my team, "I expect to learn from you as well as you'll learn from me."
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
- Conflict - - Look for confrontation and battles that will see civil engineers as active participants - - fights over climate change public policy; fights over the ideas and actions embedded in sustainability (e.g., cement production); and fights over funding requirements needed to improve our aging public infrastructure. Conflict management and public attitude influencing skills will become an important skill for engineers.
- Commune - - Not in the physical sense of the word, but as networked individuals and groups sharing an Internet version of "accommodations and possessions" - - ideas that spark creativity and innovation. The larger the commune the greater the opportunity for coming across new and innovative ideas.
- Consensus - - Engineers will be at the center of our future debates and conflicts - - the ability to build and shape agreement with a diverse cross-section of our citizenry will be critical.
- Combine - - From multidiscplinary approaches solving multidisciplinary problems to design-build project delivery systems to public-private partnerships - - the ability to blend, mix, and fuse a matrix of capabilities will be critical in forming unions that address old problems in new ways.
- Cohort - - Your groups or network will drive relationship management. Facebook and LinkedIn will become the models on developing, maintaining, and visualizing connections with your key groups and organizations.
- Communicate - - How and why will drive the communication equation and space. How will increasingly be a function of new technology, while why becomes more in the context of influence capabilities than information transfer.
- Conversation - - We need a national "heart-to-heart" on a wide variety of complex and difficult issues. Engineers need to be active participates in these discussions and debates.
- Community - - All problems and politics start at the local level. We need to actively engage at the level of our local communities. Democracy is about driving the car, not just seating in the passenger seat.
- Coalition - - We need to breakdown the engineering barriers between the various disciplines. A common vision, a common voice - - a bloc of like minded thinkers, problem solvers, and builders that see new paths to enlightened goals.
- Collaborate - - We must join forces with the other key stakeholders - - the political classes, the bankers, the developers, the lawyers, the scientists - - a combination of the best and brightest that is willing and able to disrupt the status quo.
- Coordinate - - Working with others while actively arranging the elements of a complex whole to achieve greater social efficiencies will be critical in a future world marked by climate change, energy transitions, and sustainability improvements.
- Cooperate - - We must be seen as the hub at the center that drives a spirit of national and international cooperation and action for a common goal and endpoint.
- Coexist - - The future of our world as we know it depends on global harmony - - given that we will always have some level of wars and conflicts. But many of our most complex problems need a space and framework that has a foundation in coexistence. Engineering, in some form or fashion, has the opportunity to provide the global community with the glue and bonding that heightens the spirit of coexistence.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
- Integrated Risk and Knowledge Management System - - Systems that allow organizations to engage in a iterative evaluation of events that prevent you from meeting your objectives coupled with proactive implementation of measures to control or mitigate those risks. Look to these system having capabilities to transfer knowledge to risk owners with the goal of helping them to solve their problems. The ultimate goal is to develop capabilities and resources that interlock risk management, work process optimization, and knowledge management.
- Continuous Risk Management - - Vertical and horizontal communication and coordination of risk throughout the entire project life-cycle. This level of linkage and connectivity allows for the capture and transmission of lessons learned and best practices - - using a "central nervous system" for knowledge sharing.
- Knowledge-Based Risks - - Web-based, multi-media knowledge bundles that provide users with expert advice on risk control and mitigation strategies. Instead of a "collect, store, and ignore" approach, knowledge-based risks form an active collection of lessons learned that are continually reused and updated.
- Riskapedia - - The resource is a "hard hat area" that is intended to be under construction for life. Riskapedia is all about user interaction, conversation, evolution, and ultimately, the accomplishment of work. Users have the opportunity to rate and discuss content, provide or author content, ask questions of experts, and use content in the performance of work and the management of risks.
- Knowledge Capture and Transfer - - Knowledge capture and transfer uses the most natural modality - - conversation but carefully structured and controlled conversation. Project risk records are used to guide the initial interviews.
- Wiki-Enabled Teams - - Wiki environments enable horizontal communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing across the project space. The wiki provides teams an easy-to-use, flexible interface to collaborate on documents, conduct discussions, manage calendars, locate information, and most important, work more effectively.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
The Nature article demonstrated that the top Foldit players can fold protein better than a computer. In addition, by collaborating, the top players often come up with entirely new folding strategies. Call it distributed thinking, utilizing the ideas behind distributed-computing, we are entering an era of computation between humans and machines being mixed. Humans were better than the machines at remodelling in Foldit, while the machines were better at starting from scratch. Both have their strengths and weaknesses - - a place for humans and the machines.
Some 57,000 individuals have been attracted to Foldit. Few of the best performers are biochemists. To entice the non-scientific, the game comes with upbeat arcade music, bleeps, pops, and colorful star confetti when you succeed. Players also get nifty tools like - - shake, wiggle, or rubber band - - where they tweak the basic structure into the optimal shape, though some players preferred to do that by hand. One such player is Scott "Boots" Zaccanelli, and was profiled in the Nature article:
A resident of McKinney, Texas, he splits his time between a day job as a buyer for a valve factory and a personal business - - Good For You Massage Therapy - - that takes him and his massage chair to rodeos, county fairs and flea markets. But he has also been hooked on Foldit since 2008. "I'm pretty much there every night," says Zaccanelli, who has used his undergraduate biology degree to help him rise to a number -6 global Foldit ranking. "I can look at something and see that it's not right."
Author Clay Shirky refers to this as a perfect example of our "cognitive surplus" - - the combination of intellect, energy, and time that allows individuals to ban together to solve complex problems. The pooling of our efforts at a vanishingly low cost - - the movement of consumers to collaborators - - a world driven by social production. A world of "Zaccanellis" with a passion for creativity and generosity in our increasingly connected age. Wikipedia may have been the first of the pioneers - - but look to distributed co-creation moving into the economic mainstream and being a force for creativity and innovation.
Check out more at - - http://fold.it/portal/
Monday, August 9, 2010
The first thing she gave me advice on, and I give it to everybody, is to journal. Write things down. When you come out of a meeting or an interview, or you just finished running a session, what's on your mind? How did it make you feel? Again, it was raising my self-awareness around my management style. I think it was critical.
And then she taught me about meditation. It's about how you talk to yourself. And it's getting to know yourself. It's learning to kind of manage my mind and create the stability. You wouldn't think an executive coach would provide that, but at a young age when I was a V.P., it was the most valuable piece of advice I got.
Engineering and "self-awareness" - - words one typically never sees in the same sentence, probably the same book. But reflecting is an important element of the management and leadership process. In fact, self-reflection is one of the great gifts a person can have (the ability to see things as they are, without blinders, is an even greater one). Reflecting on the past typically takes a backseat to looking ahead - - while attempting to contemplate the future gets foreclosed on by pressing events in the present. Like Thoreau - - find yourself a "Walden Zone." Someplace offline and completely disconnected - - a place that you feel comfortable thinking and writing.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
At stake is at least $1 trillion. That's trillion, with a "t," as in titanic and terrifying.
The figure comes from a study by the Pew Center on the States that came out in February. Pew estimated a $1 trillion gap as of fiscal 2008 between what states had promised workers in the way of retiree pensions, health care and other benefits and the money they currently had to pay for it all. And some economists say Pew is too conservative and the problem is two or three times as large.
The engineering professions, namely the design and construction firms that have a considerable financial stake in all of this (i.e., plugging gaps in trillion dollar holes is a whole lot of bridges and highways and dams and community libraries) need to step forward and be a part and party to the discussions and debates surrounding potential alternatives and solutions. One can watch the movie or be in the movie - - this is a blockbuster that we need a starring role in.
Michael Elliott, in his August 16, 2010 Fortune column, The U.S. Isn't Alone: High Unemployment Rates Are The New Global Reality hits on a parallel city/state issue:
Unemployment was the specter at the Global Forum's feast. For all the excitement over the developing world, there was a constant recognition that the Great Recession had played havoc with labor markets. On July 2 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released deeply disappointing figures for June, with the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remaining stubbornly high at 9.5%, the same as a year ago. There's probably worse to come. In Cape Town financial analyst Meredith Whitney, who warned of the parlous state of the banking sector in 2007, drew attention to the silent fiscal crisis in the U.S., the one hammering state and local governments. As they try to get their budgets in order - - 49 states must run balanced budgets - - those governments, which account for 15% of U.S. jobs, will cut programs and lay workers off. In a May report, Whitney's firm, the Meredith Whitney Advisory group, estimated that 1 million to 2 million state and local governments jobs could be cut in the next year.
With these two examples - - and many more from both the recent Great Recession and our 10-year Great Stagnation - - the barometer is economic. But the anger is human and increasingly political. You take away a sense of optimism, things tend to get more volatile. Sixteen million unemployment and underemployed people without hope - - it starts to look a lot like Latin America: a grossly unequal society that is prone to wild swings from populism to orthodoxy, which makes sensible government increasingly hard to imagine.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
- Bluefin tuna has gone from a "bloody fish" mainly seen in cat food to bon-maguro, Japanese sushi. At one point, 1,000-pound giant bluefin were selling for $100,000 or more. No more - - Atlantic bluefin face annihilation.
- The total fish population, once deemed "beyond the limits of our imagination", has declined dramatically across the board. Increased demand, combined with technological advances ranging from factory freezer trawlers to GPS to "smart fish aggregating devices" - - the combination has had a huge negative impact on fisheries.
- Peak fish - - a total world catch of around 85 million tons - - was actually reached in the late 1980s.
- Catch size and the size of the fish actually caught have declined dramatically.
- Current fish consumption is equal to approximately the entire weight of the Chinese population - - 170 billion pounds.
- Most fish you probably get at the store or at a restaurant has been farmed - - with their corresponding issues of cross-breeding and pollution from the farms.
- A review of the box score from the movie Jaws showed somewhat of a tie - - three or four dead humans and three or four dead sharks - - and I think the humans were extremely happy to get out of the movie with a tie. The actual box score is shockingly one sided - - five to eight dead humans per year worldwide and 100 million dead sharks.
Our efforts to manage the resources in the seas have demonstrated the limits of global cooperation - - once you cross into the international zone, competing interests force a movement toward "everyone interests" becoming "my interests." The dual passions of greed and commerce, combined with hunger - - dictate the behavior of all the participates. As we march toward civilisation changing climate change - - we should remember how we failed to manage the resources of our oceans as we attempt to manage an even more complex set of resources on the land and in the air.
Friday, August 6, 2010
"If you are early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, you are forgotten."
Many, many people never got this lesson and message. Many others did. David Sokol is one that did. He is profiled in an article in this month's Fortune - - the article is entitled Buffett's Mr. Fix-It. At 53, Sokol is mentioned most often as Buffett's heir. He is currently running and turning around NetJets. He has an engineering background - - civil engineering. Like with a lot of engineering types - - the following management style follows - - ". . . he is a tough, no-nonsense manager. He's up before 5 a.m. each day and jogs five miles and lifts weights five days a week . . ." And he learned the appropriate time management skills:
"His assistants also know he never likes to be late for a meeting - - he believes it shows disrespect. They always build in extra time in case something goes wrong, but they also make sure he has work to do if he happens to show up a half-hour early."
He also self-published his own book - - Pleased but Not Satisfied.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
- Thinking is heavy - - too much of it can wear a manager down - - while acting is light - - too much of that and the manager cannot stay put.
- The manager has to practice a well rounded job.
- Effective managers do not exhibit perfect balance among their roles; they tilt toward certain ones, even it they cannot neglect the others.
- Downsizing - - this looks to be a contemporary form of bloodletting - - the cure for every corporate disease.
- Some managers see themselves on top with regard to the hierarchy of authority, but also metaphorically. Other managers see themselves in the center, with activities revolving around them, outside as well as inside the unit.
- While every manager has to make the job, he or she also has to do the job. That is why managerial style cannot be considered out of context, independent of where it is practiced.
- People who have a job to do shouldn't need to be "empowered" by their managers.
- How to plan, strategize, just plain think, let alone think ahead, in such a hectic job.
- Strategies can form without being formulated: they can emerge through efforts of informal learning rather than having to be created through a process of formal planning.
- Where to find strategic synthesis in a world so decomposed by analysis?
- Structure is supposed to take care of organizations, just as planning is supposed to take care of strategy. Anyone who believes this should find a job as a hermit.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Provided below are several examples of the Halpern the Elder view of the world:
"You pitched a great game, you really did. I'm proud of you. Unfortunately, your team is sh*tty . . . No, you can't go getting mad at people because they're sh*tty. Life will get mad at them, don't worry."
On My First School Dance
"Are you wearing perfume? . . . Son, there ain't any cologne in this house, only your mother's perfume. I know that scent, and let me tell you, it's disturbing to smell your wife on your thirteen-year old son."
"I just want silence . . . Jesus, it doesn't mean I don't like you. It just means right now, I like silence more."
On Asking to Have Candy Passed to Me During Schindler's List
"What do you want - - the candy? They're throwing people in the gas chamber, and you want a Skittles." (Edited version)
On Breaking the Neighbor's Window for the Third Time in a Year
"What in the hell is the matter with you? This is the third time! You know, at this point I think it's the neighbors fault . . . No not really, it's your fault, I'm just in denial right now that my DNA was somehow involved in something this stupid." (Edited version)