Showing posts with label Mismanagement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mismanagement. Show all posts

June 18, 2019

Beautiful Architecture, Washington DC

Check out this beautiful exterior architecture.  

This fine exquisite pattern is all around this building by Metro Center. 

I think this must've been restored over the last few years, because I don't remember it being this colorful and awesome in the past. 

Civilization can still create some amazing works...whether technology, medical cures, and even beautiful pieces of artwork. 

Now we just need to proceed with the positives of creativity and productivity without destroying ourselves with indifference, dysfunction, and mismanagement in the process. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 2, 2015

Self-Perpetuating Immigration For All The Wrong Reasons

So this is the prevailing misguided logic by some for more immigration. 

We need immigrants to "reduce the ratio of retirees to workers."


Why? 


Because the birth rate has fallen to below replenishment rates (roughly 2.1 births per women). 


And since our "trust funds" for social security, medicare, pensions, and the like have NOT been been kept in trust, BUT INSTEAD have been squandered on other things...


Therefore, according to this warped thinking we now need a wave of immigrants to come save us--have lots of babies and grow our economy--to pay for what we should be able to, but can't--because of gross mismanagement and corruption with the money that was taken out our payroll all our lives supposedly to care for us in our elder years. 


The wrong reasons for immigration are expressed by Charles Kenny in Bloomberg Businessweek.


- According to Kenny, "More immigration is both the cheapest and most effective response to the challenge of a shrinking, aging population," which he frets is "ominous for pension and health-care costs."


- Kenny's approach to immigrants is that they are not vital and talented human beings, but rather basically baby machines with higher birth rates for population replenishment, as he states, "Although immigrants rapidly adopt the fertility patterns of their new countries, they still tend to produce more children to begin with."


- And he says, because most come over as adults, we have the benefits of the workers "without the expense and delay of rearing...[them as] children."


- Oh, and by the way, Kenny says, "Some newly arrived workers help provide cheap child-care options."

Wow, how biased, cold, and condescending is that!


Not once does Kenny mention or advocate for immigration for any of these truly worthy reasons:


Shelter from persecution 


- Political asylum


- Promote diversity


- Bring in needed skills, investment, and innovation 


- Rejoin families


And what is the result of bringing in immigrants to pay our way?


Well, we'll need to bring in yet another and another, wave after wave of immigration, because we can't balance of budget and spend rationally, responsibly, and with an eye toward the future--it's self-perpetuating immigration for the sake of deadbeatism. 


Sweet land of liberty is being thrown out for a bunch of economic opportunists who feel we need "immigrants to [come to] the rescue" rather than join together with us in being great in terms of compassion, humanitarianism, and mutual respect. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 22, 2015

Broken Arm, Broken Metro

So I spoke to a lady on the D.C. Metro yesterday.

Not old, not young--she was sitting in a handicapped seat. 


What happened to her?


She told me how this last year as she was riding the train, it had suddenly and ferociously jerked forward, and then backwards.


The fierceness of jerking motion breaking the top of her arm--the humerus--vertically right down the middle in a horrible break. 


As she was talking her eyes glazed over remembering what happened.


She found herself on the floor of the train lying in excruciating pain.


One kind lady stayed with her as the paramedics were on their way.


She overheard others on the train actually complaining in earshot that they were being delayed "because of her!"


She was taken to the ER, and ended up spending 2 1/2 months in the hospital and rehabilitation center. 


As explained, they couldn't cast this type of break, and she wasn't allowed to sleep laying down--she had to sleep in a chair--again she said how the pain was so bad and unlike anything she ever experienced, incuding childbirth and bypass heart surgery. 


Professionally, she was a lawyer for the government, but ended up not suing Metro, shaking her head that it just wasn't worth it. 


In her wallet, she showed me her Metro disability card that they gave her so she could sit in the special seats now and get a reduced rate riding the train.


Shaking her head, she exclaimed that even though she is mostly healed now, she never stands on a moving train anymore, always making sure she is sitting and nestled next to something.


I could see the emotional pain on her face as she told me her story, and she seemed generally afraid of ever going through anything like that again. 


At the same time that she was talking to me, in eyesight was a younger man hanging out by the center doors on the metro, overfident and not holding on--actually leaning way back on his backback against the doors, almost daydreaming. 


Not everyone heard this lady's story...maybe they should. 


Overall, Metro seems chronically underfunded or mismanaged and in desperate need of major repairs and replacements--train, tracks, escalators, elevators, everything. 


The system is a mess and it needs urgent attention. 


Why does it always take a tragedy to finally get action? 


Coincidentally, I saw today that Metro (WMATA) is advertising in the Wall Street Journal for a new General Manager and Chief Executive Officer--yep, good luck to that person, they will definitely need it and a lot more!  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Christian).

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July 8, 2015

Seriously Big And Out Of Order

I took this photo in Washington, D.C., and I don't know about you, but I hate when things are out of order.

We count on everything to be in normal working condition, and for life in general to function with at least a modicum of structure, process, and according to basic laws of nature. 

But these days, the world is seriously off-kilter and here are just a few examples:

- Russia, post the Cold War Soviet Union, isn't supposed to do a blitkreig and just take over Crimea and fight an undeclared war in sovereign nation, Ukraine. Additionally, our vital economic partner, China, presumably wouldn't have near unfetterd access to our industrial and government secrets, including the personnel records of the entire Federal workforce. 

- The major world powers comprising the P5+1 normally wouldn't treat Iran deferentially and as a negotiating equal or even more than than that with near open negotiations and crucial concessions, especially when dealing with no less than the proliferation of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. 

- Terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, and more wouldn't be taking over swathes of the Middle-East, Africa, and Asia, and we are not sure what our strategy even is or whether we have one yet. 

- Advanced industrialized nations wouldn't be polluting themselves and the rest of the world towards the environmental catastrophic brink all the while denying that our lifestyle is not sustainable and that global warming even exists. 

- Smart democratized nations wouldn't be living incessantly beyond their means and borrowing themselves into national debt oblivion--from Greece to Spain, Portugal, and Italy, and right here in the United States of America. 

- The Center for Disease Control doesn't handle deadly biological pathogens callously and negligently with the potential for a massive lethal outbreak, while admitting to a serious pattern of safety lapses.

- Medicine isn't just another "business and medical treatments for the sick shouldn't cost $250,000 a year for a regiment of one or two pills a day, medical professionals don't simply extend quantity of life without weighing it's quality, and those in hopeless cases with severe pain and suffering wouldn't be forced to go on "living."

- The richest 1% of the world can't truly hold more than 50% of the world's wealth, live in mega mansions and drive fleets of cars, yachts, and planes, while masses of people are malnourished, diseased, homeless or in substandard living conditions.

No life is not perfect and certainly, even those perfectionists among us wouldn't expect everything is be in 100% working order all the time--things break down, accidents and mistakes occur, and sh*t happens--but when life is getting shamelessly more out of order than in order than we need to be asking ourselves some serious and potentially life-altering questions, like what the heck is going on around here? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 16, 2012

Either Way A Fiscal Cliff

Okay, so here's the dirtly little secret...

The "Fiscal Cliff" that everyone is supposedly working on to avert--is really unavoidable!

Yes, the Sequestration that was put in place that eliminates the broad-based tax cuts from a decade ago and reduces spending across military and domestic government spending--can be replaced by more surgical tax increases and spending cuts. 

But with a National Debt of more than $16 trillion dollars and one which has been trending up over a trillion dollars a year, we have gorged ourselves and spent beyond our means for too long--and the time to pay up is fast approaching.

For example, critical entitlement programs like social security and medicare are running out of funds and will not be able to cover benefits by 2033 and 2024, respectively.

What is even worse though is that the money you have been paying into "the system" from your payroll taxes for decades hasn't been put aside in trust for you, but has been spent on other things--sort of like robbing Peter to pay Paul. And now what?

At a time when national competitiveness is suffering, jobs are going overseas, test scores in science and math are trending down, and we have the lowest percentage of Americans working in 30 years, we are saying that we've essentially spent our last dime decades ago and have been doubling down with more and more borrowing--that we don't really know if we can ever pay back. 

While we would like to "grow" our way out, by having more people working, earning more, and paying more into the system, our growth projections of slightly more than 2% next year and a historical average from 1947-2012 of just 3.25%--this seems more than wishful thinking. 

More likely, as the percent of our national debt to GDP continues to rise and our national credit ratings are are at risk of falling, interest rates will start to rise first slowly and then faster to elevated levels to compensate for the increased borrowing risks, and we will see inflation rear it's ugly head--it is ugly because inflation will mean your savings are worth less or potentially even virtually worthless. 

This will make the $16+ trillion deficit also worth less, so we pay it back through inflation as Germany did with hyperinflation after WWI, and the essential wiping out of our personal savings. Viola, deficit paid down, but pay attention to at what personal costs! 

Unfortunately, the fiscal cliff is here and will happen whether spending is cut here or there and taxes go up on some or everyone. This is just the negotiation of how to spread the pain and spin the tale. 

And either way the fiscal cliff is going to hurt, because you have to cut spending and increase taxes leaving people with even less money in their shrinking pocketbooks, and if you don't, the credit agencies will continue cutting our national credit rating leading to higher interest rates on the debt and higher inflation--so either way, our creditors will get their pound of flesh. 

In the E.U. now, we are seeing the effects with countries from Greece to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and more reeling from the impact, but this is only the beginning, because the lending spigot instead of being turned off, has been opened up further to kick the can down the road. But who will be the lender of last resort, when there is no one that can reliably pay it back?

In the end, you can't raises tax or cut your way out of decades of financial mismanagement, overnight. In the corporate sector, we say Chapter 11--what do you say for Western civilization? And what do we tell our children and grandchildren?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 25, 2012

Don't Let Them Fling It Onto You

So this guy has a job where he is at the front of a line of people passing buckets of sh*t to the next guy in the line. 

A stranger comes along and asks him what he is doing--"what is your job?"

The man passing the buckets replies, "I am a manager."

The stranger looks askew and quite puzzled, he asks, "What makes you think you're a manager?" 

The man at the front of the line answers "because I don't take no sh*t from anybody!" :-)

And so it goes, we work on "the line" whether passing buckets or pushing papers, and someone in the front thinks they are the boss or superior--and as someone from the military once told me, "I don't take sh*t. I give sh*t!" 

Unfortunately, for those of us who humbly go to work to do our jobs, the prevalence of workplace bullies--who push their weight around can make our (work) life very unpleasant and unproductive. 

A Zogby poll in 2007 found that 49% of workers had experienced or witnessed workplace bullying--and this included all sorts of harassment such as verbal abuse, sabotaging someones job, and abusing their authority.

Workplace bullying is being called a "silent epidemic" with a full 37% or 54 million workers in the U.S. having suffered at the hands of a workplace bully. 

The results, of course, can be devastating not only for the person's job, but often they (45%) suffer adverse psychological and physical health impacts. 

Further, as we know, when people suffer, their families usually suffer along with them, so the ultimate impact in terms of the number of people affected is disproportional to those those who experience bullying firsthand. 

Aside from the people impact of bullying, the organization and its mission suffers in terms of elevated absenteeism, decreased morale, lower productivity, and stunted innovation. 

This is why aside from the basic humanitarian aspects, an organization should be extremely watchful for and weed out bullies in the workplace. 

However, when bullies, are front and center in the leadership ranks of the organization, the problem is all the greater, because others lower in the hierarchy, but also at senior levels may be hesitant to address the issue. 

They are scared to confront the bully as perhaps they should be given the bully's threatening posture and deeds. 

But the answer is not to get personal, but rather to make it objective--know the laws and policies that protect you, document the events, identify any witnesses, discuss with organization representatives charged with investigating possible wrong-doing, and seek legal counsel, where appropriate.

Probably, the most important thing is to be clear that like the manager at the front of the line, you do not accept sh*t from anyone--that you and your family's health and well-being deserve at least that much.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to EverJean)

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October 23, 2010

Beyond The Stick

Over a number of years, I’ve seen different management strategies for engaging employees. At their essence, they typically amount to nothing more than the proverbial “carrot and stick" approach: Do what you’re supposed to do and you get rewarded, and don’t do what your superiors want and you get punished.

Recently, the greater demands on organizational outputs and outcomes by shareholders and other stakeholders in a highly competitive global environment and souring economy has put added pressure on management that has resulted in

the rewards drying up and the stick being more widely and liberally used.

Numerous management strategists have picked up on this trend:

For example, in the book, No Fear Management: Rebuilding Trust, Performance, and Commitment in the New American Workplace, Chambers and Craft argue that abusive management styles destroy company morale and profitability and should be replaced by empowerment, communication, training, recognition, and reward.

In another book, Driving Fear Out of the Workplace: Creating the High Trust, High Performance Organization, Ryan and Oestreich confront how “fear permeates today’s organizations” and is creating a pandemic of mistrust that undermines employee motivation and commitment.

I can’t help but reflect that the whole concept of managing employees by the carrot and stick approach is an immature and infantile approach that mimics how we “manage” children in pre-school who for example, get an extra snack for cleaning up their toys or get a demerit for pulling on little Suzy’s hair.

As leaders, I believe we can and must do better in maturing our engagement styles with our people.

Regular people coming to work to support themselves and their families and contribute to their organizations and society don’t need to be “scared straight.” They need to be led and inspired!

Monday’s don’t have to be blue and TGIF doesn’t have to be the mantra week after week.

People are naturally full of energy and innovation and productivity. And I believe that they want to be busy and contribute. In fact, this is one of life’s greatest joys!

Leaders can change the organizational culture and put an end to management by fear. They can elevate good over evil, win the hearts and minds of their people, and put organizations back on track to winning performance.


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October 31, 2009

Complexity, plain and simple

There is the old saying that rings true to basic leadership: “Keep it Simple Stupid,” (or KISS) yet for various reasons people and organizations opt or are compelled toward complexity.

And when things are complex, the organization is more prone to mistakes, people to misunderstandings, and leadership to mismanagement--all are points of failure in the dynamics of running an organization.

Mistakes can be costly from both a strategic and operational standpoint; misunderstandings between people are a cause of doubts, confusion, and hostility; and mismanagement leads to the breakdown of solid business process and eventually everything goes to pot.

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal, 26 October 2009, defines four types of complexity:

Dysfunctional—This is the de facto complexity. It “makes work harder and doesn’t create value…research suggests that functional complexity creeps into a company over years through the perpetuation of practices that are no longer relevant, the duplication of activities due to mergers or reorganizations, and ambiguous or conflicting roles.”

Designed—This is an odd one…why would you design in complexity? “Executives may deliberately increase the complexity of certain activities or they may broaden the scope of their product offering, because they expect the benefits of those changes to outweigh the costs.” Example cited: “Dell believes that configuring each product to individual specs, rather than creating them all the same, makes customers more likely to buy from the company.”

Inherent—I guess this is the nothing I can do about it category, it just is hard! “The difficulty of getting the work done.” Plain and simple, some jobs are highly complex Mr. Rocket Scientist.

Imposed—This is the why are they doing this to us category—external factors. This “is largely out of the control of the company. It is shaped by such entities as industry regulators, non-governmental organizations and trade unions.” I would assume competitors’ misdeeds would fall into this one as well.

Whatever the reason for the complexity, we know implicitly that simplification, within the realm of what’s possible, is the desired state. Even when the complexity is so to say “designed in” because of certain benefits like with the Dell example, we still desire to minimize that complexity, to the extent that we can still achieve the organization’s goals.

I remember years ago reading about the complexity of some companies’ financial reports (income statements, balance sheets, statements of cash flows…) and news commentators questioning the authenticity of their reporting. In other words, if you can’t understand it—how do we know if it is really truthful, accurate, or the full story? Well-publicized accounting scandals like Enron, HealthSouth, and many others since around the mid-1990’s come to mind.

Generally, we know that when something is veiled in a shroud of complexity, there is often mismanagement or misconduct at play.

That is not to say that everything in life is simple—it isn’t. Certainly advances in the sciences, technology, and so on are not simple. Knowledge is incremental and there is certainly lot’s of it out there to keep us all occupied in the pursuit of life-long learning. But regardless of how complex things get out there—whether dysfunctional, designed, inherent, or imposed—we should strive to make things easier, more straightforward, and as effortless and trouble-free, as possible.

Will simplification get more difficult as a goal as our society continues to advance beyond the common man’s ability to understand it?

Yes, this is going to be a challenge. It used to be that graduating from high school was the farthest most people went with their education. Then college became the goal and norm for many. And now graduate and post-graduate studies are highly desirable and expected for many professional careers. It is getting difficult for people to keep us with the pace of change, breadth and depth of knowledge, and the advancement in technical fields.

One of the antidotes to the inherent complexity seems to be greater specialization such as in medicine, technology, engineering and so forth. As knowledge advances, we need to break it up into smaller chunks that people can actually digest and handle. The risk is that the pieces become so small eventually that we can lose sight of the bigger picture.

Complexity is here to stay in various forms, but we can and must tackle at the very least the dysfunctional complexity in our organizations. Some ways we can do this include breaking down the silos that impede our collaboration and information sharing; architecting in simplification into our strategic, operational, and tactical plans; building once and reusing multiple times (i.e. through enterprise and common solutions); filling gaps, reducing redundancies, and eliminating inefficiencies; reengineering our business processes as a regular part of “what we do”, constantly innovating better, faster, and cheaper ways of doing things; thinking and acting user-centric, improving the way we treat our people; and of course, being honest, transparent, and upright in our dealings and communications.


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