August 6, 2011


 Wow--the last few weeks and months have unfortunately seen so many things going wrong for us as a country (with the exception of nailing Bin Laden, which was a huge win!)--the problems start with intractable political battles over the debt ceiling, the continuing mounting deficit, the S&P downgrade, the high unemployment, the housing funk, the stock market instability, our falling education rankings in the world, the drought in the Southwest, the famine in Somalia, the turmoil in the Middle East, and today losing so many of our brave special forces soldiers in Afghanistan, and they don't end there--you just shake your head in disbelief and ask how can all this be happening?

I suppose on one hand there is the religious answer that perhaps we are sinners and are being punished for our wrongdoings and that G-d out of his love for us is trying to teach us something and put on us a better track. It is comforting to know that G-d is watching us and controlling the events of the world and is ultimately looking out for our good. With the recent hardships, I would say let the L-rd have mercy on us. Amen!

On the other side, there are those who attribute life events to chance--the roll of the dice--life's general tendencies to ups and downs--perhaps even astrology or fate or other forces of the universe. To them, what happens, happens. It is part of the tests of life and we have to do our best to overcome the trials and tribulations that come our way and hope for better days ahead.

A third viewpoint are those that hold self responsible. They say, what have I or we done to screw things up so badly--What mistakes have we made? What misinterpretations have we read? What actions did we take or fail to take that led to all this mess? This is one that I am most curious about here because it has to do with our our taking responsibility for what is going wrong and for making things right (not in a spiritual sense like in the religious view or in the reactive sense like the rollercoaster view of life as a sequence of chance events).

When we hold ourselves accountable--I believe that means at all levels of our society--from the "I" as in each and every one of us to the the Principals of our Schools, the CEOs of our Fortune 500 companies, our Representatives in Congress, and the Commander in Chief, as some examples. Is everyone doing what they are supposed to be doing and as well as they are supposed to be doing it?

Fortune Magazine (23 May 2011) in an article about the enormous success of Apple pointed out something really critical in their culture that breeds excellence--and that is accountability for delivering results.

"At Apple there is never any confusion as to who is responsible for what." They have a name for this at Apple and it the "DRI"--the Directly Responsible Individual! "Effective meetings at Apple have an action list [and] next to each action item will be the DRI." Moreover, they function as "a unified team."

So at Apple they have individual accountability and that is balanced with teamwork, and they nimbly execute the vision of leadership--who too are directly accountable. For example, the Apple Chief Financial Officer is directly responsible for all cost and expenses that lead to profit and loss.

I believe that as a society we could leverage the Apple model to deliver better results for our country without sacrificing our values and freedoms. We all need to step up and be directly responsible individuals! We can't keep looking at the guy/gal next to us and hoping that they will pull us through. It's will take each and every one of us individually and as a team to cut the pork spending, work smarter, study and increase our skills, and stop the incessant bickering and start doing something constructive.

If we keep fighting over who controls the pie, soon there won't be any pie left. Let's all be DRIs and take a bigger picture view to save the country, while there is still a lot worth saving.

(Source Photo: here)


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