Leadership on a Cliff

What was a harrowing descent had just become worse, the steep scree slope ended in a cliff of unknown dimensions. We had all bought into our guide’s decision to take the short-cut. Down was bad. Now we had to go back up. (from events recounted below…) Leadership fascinates me. Of course, recommended flavors and real life often don’t seem to line up as neatly as rah-rah management guides try to make us believe. While it would be nice to think that every successful conclusion was due to good leadership and every failure was due to bad, the lessons tend to be individualistic, full of false positives and negatives. Often the ability of followers to succeed in spite of leadership inanities is a more fascinating process question. That’s why it was refreshing to see that the 8 management points (and 3 pitfalls) put forward by Google appeared to be good common … Continue reading

Avoid Middleman Status

Are you a middleman? I ask, simply because I’m regularly looking over my shoulder at middleman status myself. If you’re not being pushed into middleman status by technology, then it could be your customers and suppliers who put you there. Paranoia reigns. Sorry. This is not a new state of being. Walmart began its attack on independent distributors (middlemen with warehouses) ages ago wiping most of them out. They are so efficiently tied into their supply chain now that orders sometimes bypass headquarters and go straight to factories. (Headquarters as middlemen, who’d of thunk it?) In the print industry process middleman felt the pinch. First typesetters went, followed by color separators. As newspapers are fast finding out, the entire printing process is being pushed to the side. Moving news to eyeballs quickly means that in some places even editors are seen as middlemen now. Middlemen. They start as facilitators but … Continue reading

The Increasing Cost Of Bad Behavior On Innovation

The cost of innovation is increasing due to bad behavior. This ran through my mind as I learned that the great bicycle experiment in Paris has hit an expensive traffic bump (NYT 10/30/2009). The idea of being able to rent a bike for an hour or two and drop it off, not where you started but wherever you end up, seemed perfect for our new green and healthy mindset. But as with many ideas that make life better, affordable implementation depends on general ‘good behavior’. Expected behavior has a large impact on how you develop an idea. Dr. Leonard Kleinrock, who was a major force in the development of the internet (Happy Birthday Arpanet), explains in a recent Science Friday interview what he feels was a mistake we are still paying for: “Yes. In fact, in those early days, the culture of the Internet was one of trust, openness, shared … Continue reading

Non-Competes, Health Insurance and Other Ugly Limits To Innovation

Limits and creativity run in the same circles. Desire to dig under, work around, leap over and push through is strong motivation to think anew. However, there are limits, that — hmm, — limit. Did you know that a major difference between moribund Detroit and high flyin’ Silicon Valley is the difference in how non-compete agreements are enforced? (Michigan enforces them, California limits them.) In the recent Carnegie Mellon University publication: “Renewing Globalization and Economic Growth in a Post-Crises World – The Future of the G-20 Agenda” Serguey Braguinsky and Steven Klepper write about various ways worker mobility can limit innovation on a regional scale. In addition to visa restrictions, social pressure and lifetime employment guarantees, they use the non-compete as a primary example of the damaging effects of limiting mobility in the United States. I’ve been on both sides of non-compete covenants. I’ve never particularly liked them, but never … Continue reading

Fear and Loathing In Las Healthcare

I was shrinking my carbon footprint on the bus from Chicago trying to jot down notes about my thoughts on healthcare when the cold medicine took hold and the twisted facts everywhere began to resemble the screeching of bats. I’ve let the post rest but I’m still stuck in a rut where every time I see Harry and Louise I end up ruminating on Duke and Dr. Gonzo. “There was every reason to believe I was heading for trouble, that I’d pushed my luck a bit far. I’d abused every rule Vegas lived by-burning locals, abusing the tourists, terrifying the help. “The only hope now, I felt, was the possibility that we’d gone to such excess, with our gig, that nobody in a position to bring the hammer down on us could possibly believe it. …When you bring an act into this town, you want to bring it in heavy. … Continue reading