BUSINESS AS USUAL

After 45 years of working in the marketplace of business, I have decided to retire and share what little thoughts of wisdom and insight that I have accumulated along the way, with you, the reader.

During these 45 years, 38 years (equally divided) were spent in middle and upper management, so my lessons learned will be predicated upon what not to do...

I will say this as a disclaimer of sorts:  during those 45 years, I have been "let go" 10 times or roughly every 3 and 1/2 years.  So, I know first hand what it is like to be introduced to "Mr. Security," and escorted to my car.

I will say this about that...  those terminations happened in States that have "Employee at Will" laws which basically means that anyone can be fired anytime without being given a reason and there is no legal recourse.

With that said, none of my terminations had merit unless telling the truth is against the unwritten laws of business....   well, come to think of it...

The purpose of this page on the We Were Wondering Blog is for me to share my thoughts of management with you so that you might benefit from what I learned and in so doing be able to add value to your employer.

I hope you enjoy reading my comments and encourage your feedback and/or rebuttals.    BTW, the symbol between articles represents CHANGE.









Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Let’s start off with some basic definitions, shall we?

Truth means:  The quality or state of being true or that which is true in accordance with fact or reality

Justice means:  just behavior or treatment

American Way:  Is the American Dream, the idea that upward mobility is achievable by any American through hard work; the notion that the American way is only possible in the U.S. because of the unique culture.

The TV show Superman first aired in 1951 and that I first watched in 1952/53 on a black and white Admiral with an 8 inch by 11 inch screen.  That show made quite an impression of me as a child and I grew up believing in Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

However 10 years later, I was living “high on the hog” in Cairo, Egypt and did not fully appreciate the impact the Superman TV show had on me mentally.

After graduating high school, there was college, taking a break in the middle to attend the Vietnam conflict (as it was called), then back to college, where after that graduation, I began building my career, still very much unaware of the forces that would be guiding my life,

It was not until a few years after Graduate School (1981) that I began to see the great country of America for that which it really was which was not the American Way at all.  It took me 20 years, but I finally realized it.

America was really a country of “haves” and “have nots” or “wealthy” and “poor” if you will and while there was opportunity, those who were able to capitalize on that opportunity were few and far between, oftentimes “selling their souls” so to speak to get there or get what they wanted or thought that they wanted.

Truth and Justice are not what they appear to be and certainly not the definitions that one will find in Webster’s.

Truth lies in the hands of and is defined by only those who have power.  Power is typically but not always associated with money or wealth.  With power and wealth, one has position wherever one is to dictate what truth is or is not.

Justice, no longer resides on top of the foundations of truth, it lives or dies by what can only be proven in a Court of Law.  If you have wealth and can hire a “top gun” attorney, the odds are in your favor that truth and justice will be manipulated to “set you free.”  

Whereas, if you fate rests with a public defender, the odds are you are going to lose and are no doubt going to spend time in jail, whether you committed the crime or not.

Obviously, these “top gun” attorneys never watched the Superman TV show nor did they catch any reruns.












Which Means He Can

Years ago when I was still very impressionable (and perhaps still am a little bit), I was struck with a sense of awe or something every time I heard the Lord’s Prayer.  In fact, later in life I was amused by all these extremely long prayers, when all that was really needed was that one.

The pondering and wondering has lasted all my life but recently I discovered that the “lead us not to temptation but deliver us from evil” phrase means that he can lead us into temptation for whatever reason(s).  This awareness opened up a lot of mental doors for me and should for you.

But, before I get to where I am going, let me take a slight detour.

We all have stood on the ground and watched airplanes fly by overhead and relative to our position they seem to be moving very fast; however, if we were in the airplane looking down at those looking up at us, we would appear to be moving very slowly.  

That concept has always stuck with me as well.
Now, let’s take that concept and push it outwards into the universe.  The farther we move away from earth towards the edge of the universe the slower we appear to be moving relative to earth, just like in the airplane.  I remember reading an article a while back about astronauts and their beards in space actually grew less than the beards of their counterparts back on earth.

To make this image a little easier to understand, let’s take a bicycle wheel and the inner spoke is earth and the edge of the rubber tire is the edge of the universe.  The inside spoke makes many complete revolutions as the edge of the tire only makes one.

Let us assume for the sake of this discussion that, the edge of the universe ages 1 hour to earth aging 100 years.  And, if we were sitting on the edge of the universe ourselves, we would be able to witness (you must assume this is possible too) the entire lives of several generations over the course of a daily meal.

We can safely say that our entire lives can be watched by someone at the edge of the universe and that this someone knows everything that we did during our lifetime.  Of course, this would not be a new phenomenon as it is possible to have been taking place ever since the earth was created.

Now, let’s turn our attention back to the Lord’s Prayer.

Without Judas there would have been no betrayal and without the crucifixion of Jesus there would be no Christianity, so both events HAD to happen.

Let’s go back a little further in time and look at Noah and the Great Flood.  Why was Noah saved?  Not what we read but the real reason?  Think about the bicycle wheel.  The Great Flood killed everyone except those on the Ark, so in order to preserve the blood line of Mary (Mother of Jesus), one can safely make the assumption that Noah had to be saved.

Life is not a struggle to make money and move up the ladder of success; it is a struggle between the good and the evil that is already inside each of us.  Our entire lives from womb to tomb have been seen and it is known exactly what we will do or not do.  Courses of events can be altered, and we can be led into temptation to serve a purpose unknown to us.


Life is greater than the sum of your parts but the sum of your parts makes life what it is and that should be appreciated and never taken for granted and those who desire to control you are powerless to control themselves.











Women in Business

I am old enough to remember the beginnings of the Woman’s Movement in this country as it started with burning one’s bra…  and while that was an interesting metaphor, it did little to change men’s perception of woman.

For my parent’s generation, the wife stayed at home and while many males thought that was an easy assignment for the “little lady,” most worked harder than their husbands which also went unnoticed.

But, for my generation, the cost of living had gotten so high that it became a necessity for the wife to work as both incomes were needed to pay the bills due to spiraling inflation associated with normal economic growth, although some of us believed it was intentional.

For 40 years now, women have worked alongside males in the workplace and while many were doing the exact same type of work, the women were always paid less more often than not.  Many reasons were offered by management, but none ever made much sense other than the unspoken sentiment that males did not want females working there.

However, as more women entered the workforce, a strange unanticipated phenomenon grew and that was the divorce rate in the country which is now at 50% for first marriages and much higher for multiple marriages.

We could point the finger at males and say they are the problem here but without the female agreeing to participate, there is no relationship and no divorce needed.

And, this has nothing to do with sexual harassment and btw I think that is terrible when it happens providing it is legitimate and not used for promotion or to get rid of a coworker because you don’t like what or how he said something.

Women, by entering the workforce, were now given enormous opportunities to meet other males and explore all sorts of mutual interests at work and on business trips.

As a male, one might think that I am against this intrusion into a male dominated world, but I am not.  On the contrary, I would rather work for a female than a male and when asked why my answer is very simple:  Women do not take their positions for granted like males do.

My first exposure to this came in the late 1970’s when I reported to a Board of Directors where the Chairman of the Board was a female and then replaced by a male who was then replaced by another female.  I much preferred the female Chairman and the organization grew faster under female leadership on the Board than male leadership.

Throughout my career, I much prefer women bosses than male bosses but have found that both when necessary are equally as good at deception and lying and manipulation of the workforce.

It is also interesting to know that there are more females in Colleges and Universities than males, therefore more graduates that will eventually result in more females in management positions throughout the US.  When that happens, will these females start hiring females first?

If females can orchestrate this direction, I can foresee males in the military, law enforcement, police departments, sanitation, athletics, construction, and manufacturing and females taking over all the “behind the desk” jobs.

Not only will this change take place among Caucasian women but it will take place among Asian women, Hispanic women, and African American women.

But, what else will males do, you might ask?

Well, ask the females and see if they care…













Would You Actually Do What 

You Know Is Right?

At 67 years old and after over 45 years of experience in the business world which started in 1968, I have obviously (or not) witnessed or been a part of numerous unscrupulous business activities.

From 1945 – 1950, America had the only economy that had not been destroyed by the war and had to supply the rest of the world with goods and services to rebuild.  We cared very little about quality; instead fast quantity was our primary motivation and incentive.

The 1950’s and 1960’s ushered in unparalleled growth in just about all our business sectors as America literally sat on top of the entire world.

At the end of the 1960’s and into the 1970’s, America started losing its manufacturing edge in steel, electronics, and automobiles.

In the 1980’s the quality revolution took us by surprise and Total Quality Management  came to America from Japan that had been taken to Japan by Americans after 1945.

The 1990’s brought us into a quiet desperation awareness in most of our business communities that resulted in global financial meltdown in the 2000’s from which all of us are still trying to recover.
After 2010, America started to see other completion knock on our doors from Russia, India, China, Japan, and several countries in the Middle East, revolving around wealth from oil.  

Military conflicts around the global have left us spread out, financially and economically weakened and low in spirit due to high levels of sustained unemployment.

Our education is not the best in the world anymore and businesses would rather hire foreigners than Americans due to the cost of labor for the same quality.  Our Middle Class is dwindling and our Politicians care more about re-election and making the other party look bad than doing anything productive.

Sometime in the next 3-5 years, India’s GDP will exceed the GDP of America and join China as having a larger economy.

Somewhere around 2025, Caucasians in America will have numbers less than Asians, Hispanics, and African Americans.

Somewhere around 2050, the top 73 of the top 75 cities will be located in the Far East and that will change the global economy forever.

So, in light of all of this less than positive news, would you “spill the beans” on an American Employer if they acted illegally?  

Immorally?  

Unethically?  

Or, would you figure that the global economy will take care of all of that nonsense?  But, the end of employers would be the end of us, putting us between a rock and a hard place.

My entire career mirrors the growth, stabilization, and decline of the American economy or as they say in the manufacturing world:  from womb to tomb.

My father’s career created the Tidal Wave that both he and I rode but fortunately his death prevents him from seeing what my generation and the next generations are seeing.


My generation will die off, fortunately again, right before the tidal wave makes landfall.












You Are Just As Good

I have always focused my teaching skills and talents which I would suspect are pretty much average (some are better and some are worse) on those students attending the smaller Colleges and Universities.
Why?
I have done this because I do not have a PhD and the larger schools would not hire me and because I think I can add value due to my experience that may not be available at those larger schools.

I ask my students to explain to me the difference between being a student where they are and being a student at Harvard, Yale, or Princeton?  Before the answer and while they are thinking, I explain to them that all the schools hire PhD’s and that all the schools more than likely use the same textbooks.

I also explain to them that the person who graduates last in their class at medical school is still called a DOCTOR. 

Do you ask your doctor or your dentist what grades they earned or were given in school?  No, you do not, you simply accept their degrees.

The answers I get vary but some were:
  • Better scores on entrance exams
  • Wealthy families for tuition
  • Smarter
I tell them that all of that is probably true but as I see it there is no difference other than the students at those institutions raise the bar higher on themselves than those at this institution do…  the knowledge that is learned or acquired is the same. 

If you want the knowledge so that you can compete, then it is up to you not the instructor or where you get the education.

And, I fully understand that those Ivy League schools open doors but only from the “getgo.”  If students are clever and hardworking and have a desire to learn, then they can outperform those Ivy League graduates over time.

At this point, I typically get “deer caught in headlights” stares.

Unfortunately, most of these students under-performed in high school and will continue to under-perform in College and they will under-perform in their careers and under-perform in the wages they will earn.

Why?

Why are Americans like this when the rest of the world wants to and does perform like they were Ivy League students?

I believe that instructors at these non-Ivy League schools can change the mind-set of their students, if and when they want to.  I believe that collectively instructors can influence and change the mind-set of an entire student body, if and when they want to.

But, the instructor(s) must want to first and do they?

I would say the answer is “N0” because nothing has changed at many of the non-Ivy League schools, especially the smaller 4 year colleges and universities.

Do tenured faculties want to put in the time to do this… now that they are tenured?

I attended a small 4 year college in North Carolina back in the 1960’s and one of my professors I noticed always wore suits and kept his hair cut short and maintained strict control and discipline in the classes that I attended.  

Ireturned to this school a few years later and this same professor was teaching class in jeans and a T-shirt, had hair down to his shoulders, wore flip flops, and drove a Harley.  I asked him about it and he said he had been given tenure.  He informed me that his in class style had changed as well.

Who is responsible for under-performing workers?










Do Unto Others

There is one trait that all Americans have in common and this one trait is, sooner or later used by all of us and that trait is “lack of respect for each other.”

I first came into contact with this trait being demonstrated at an early age when attending Church and witnessed various couples here and there and there and here whispering while the preacher was preaching.  This was not an isolated instance and occurred every single time I attended Church and my parents took me to Church every Sunday (including vacations) until I graduated from High School.

Further evidence of this trait was also witnessed by me at an early age when attending a movie theater and hearing several people around me whispering as well.

On a more recent note, I have witnessed professional educators not just talking to each other during faculty meetings, but grading papers, texting, and surfing on their tablets while the President, Provost, or presentation leader was speaking.  What really made this trait stand out to me was the fact that these same educators are heard complaining because students in their classrooms display the same trait when they are lecturing.

This type of Educator behavior has been witnessed in different States, Community Colleges, traditional Colleges and Universities, and Technical Schools.  So, it seems to be more of an universal trait than an isolated instance.

Another aspect of this disrespect is displayed at home or in other people’s homes and can be seen in the following behavior:  multiple conversations taking place, conversations between 2 people when others want to watch a football, basketball, or baseball game, or listing to music on a tablet without earphones.

We all experience disrespectful drivers on our roads all the time and not just on the Interstates, turning out into traffic when they should not, turning without giving a signal, driving very, very slow looking for a street or business, or following too close are some of the most obvious.

And, speaking of being on the Interstate, when we are stopped by a Highway Patrolman for excess speed that patrolman typically either talks down to us or talks in a hateful manner, giving us the impression that he does not like his job and is taking it out of us.  I suppose there are female “cops,” but I have never been stopped by one.

Of course, my all-time favorite is going shopping whether with someone or alone, shoppers are the rudest people you would ever want to meet unless you are walking along the beach at Myrtle and those vacationers are sometimes more rude; although, I want to say that it can be mainly attributed to the “Northerners” who frequent the coast but unfortunately that is not completely true as “Southerners” seem to be just as bad.

So, here is my concern:
·       How did we get this way?
·       Why did we get this way?
·       Can we change?
·       Do we want to change?

I realize that we have not addressed company telephone operators, medical offices operators, technical people that come into your home to make repairs, and the ones that we cannot live without…  the next door neighbor.


I am just glad that not everybody is rude at the same time.








Dirty Little Secrets

The U.S. will remain the world’s biggest oil producer this year after overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia as extraction of energy from shale rock spurs the nation’s economic recovery, Bank of America Corp. said.

Well, this certainly is good news.

But, it will not help reduce the national debt nor will it curb the unemployment problem or the poverty problem or the racial problem with which the rest of us must deal.  

Still, it is very much reassuring that ISIS will also incur a shortfall in financial resources as the price of oil falls towards stabilization.  However, OPEC could eventually agree to cut production forcing the price of oil back up.

For the American mentality…  we are back on top.  And, top is where we would like to be with most of feeling we should, by default, be there all the time.

So, what is left?
·       We still have debt issues.
·       We still have racial issues.
·       We still have domestic violence issues.
·       We still have drug issues.
·       We still have Congress/Senate issues.

And, there is a new global threat that is beginning to become more than a problem and that is ONLINE HACKERS. 

Is our personal data and identity really safe?

It appears that neither the government, nor the military, nor private business can protect us from the online hacker invasions into our personal lives and into the secrets that we prefer to keep secret.

I am sure the Bill Cosby issue is just the tip of the iceberg as far as that kind of issue is concerned as more and more women will not doubt come forward about other males who years ago put them in uncomfortable positions…  since that was common practice for males in this country 40 years ago.

What skeletons do we want to keep hidden is the question that some of us males should start asking ourselves.  And, at what age does it no longer matter if we were exposed and family and friends knew our secrets.  

We all die alone anyway.

Sometimes, it is just very weird for this writer to look at this country and see where we are, where we might be going, and where we came from, and to know that there will always be something hidden away that we do not want others to know about.

Those dirty little secrets that we thought we behind us forever.











Conversations with a Friend

Recently, I got into a conversation with a friend regarding how to best teach management and I was sharing my views as to how I did not want to approach it the typical way through textbook data, scientific discovery, or case studies because none of those seemed to fit with the reality of how work life actually unfolded on a day-to-day basis.

I recall one of my comments revolved around teaching 2-dimensional management techniques in a 3-dimensional world and perhaps that was one reason why they never worked; although, I am really not sure how to teach the concepts 3-dimensional.

My friend asked me how many colors were there in a rainbow.

And, I said that I was not sure but probably 8-10.

He said no because there were an infinite amount of colors.

I said I understood and that the same was tune in music then with sounds as they too are variable.
Then, he asked me what I thought was the easiest subject to teach in college.

I said probably Math or Science because it is concrete and factual.

He asked what the hardest subject to teach might be.

My answer was Philosophy.

We spent the next few minutes talking about how Management was based upon theory even the theory had its roots in facts and data, making it similar to Philosophy and consequently hard to teach because there was no set right or wrong way as there were only right and wrong outcomes.

The Myers Briggs Personality Profile commonly used in business today has 16 different types of personalities that we use to categorize people’s actions.  But, like the colors of the rainbow, there are an infinite amount of personalities and each one of those personalities have the potential of being in play when a manager executes his/her job.

Management is totally unpredictable regardless of how much scientific data one collects and analyzes.  What I might do in situation A with person 1 to achieve outcome Z might not work in situation A with person 1 or in situation B with person 2.

And, when we say experience is perhaps the best teacher then one could also argue that the 20 years of experience I get in company A with less than 50 employees is going to be difference than the 20 years of experience I get in company B with 5000 employees assuming I had the same job in both companies.

So, how is experience relevant?  And, the same holds true with education and personality, does it not?

Most managers, I would think, make decisions and take actions based upon what they intuitively feel is appropriate at the time.  It would seem very silly for them to make decisions and take actions based upon what they know to be inappropriate at the time; and yet, lawyers are hired to explore those differences all the time.


So, we could safely say that management is about outcomes and sometimes those outcomes are perceived to be wrong and our actions take on negative consequences but when those outcomes are perceived to be good, our actions are associated with positive consequences.







Blurred Vision

As a result of our midterm elections, the GOP no doubt in the House and Senate perceive that the American people have given them a mandate; a mandate for what is not totally clear yet, but was it a mandate at all?

The GOP will say yes.

But, I wonder.

The main issue here for me is the fact that the GOP wants to repeal Obamacare and I guess keep the same healthcare system that we had before Obamacare.  But, even that was government financed healthcare which boarders on a socialistic agenda.

So, was the huge victory really a victory for the GOP and their policies or simply a vote against the current state of affairs blamed on the current administration?

Let’s look at 3 basic truths.

            1.     Republicans or GOP are conservative and Democrats are liberal.
            2.     Republicans want a small government and Democrats want a big government.
            3.     Republicans are for the wealth & business and Democrats are for the middle class and poor. 

These truths are not going to change.

Party affiliations are as follows:
·                 Republican      35%
·                Democrat         35%
·                Independent     30%

These numbers can fluctuate by 2-3% either way. 

Americans votes their pocketbooks…  whichever party is in control and the economy is good and life is good then that party gets the credit, but if the economy is not good and life is not good then that party gets the blame.

There are no voter mandates except in the minds of elected officials.

The interesting concept to grasp here is that we live inside a population that feels entitled and those entitlements are going to get worse not better.  Entitlements are almost always funded by the government, not business and not the wealthy unless they are heavily taxed.

Another interesting concept to grasp here is the fact that our society in general is becoming more liberal in their way of thinking and beliefs.  

For example,
             A.    Many States have legalized marijuana
             B.    Many States have legalized same sex marriages
             C.    Americans buy more illegal drugs and porn than any other country in the world


So, here’s the ultimate concept to grasp:  are you really in touch with reality?







Advice to Parents

I received my undergraduate degree from a Christian College and my graduate degree from a Christian University as well, both of which are located in North Carolina.  I am the parent of a college graduate and spent time with her visiting various schools, deciding on which one was going to be the best fit for her personality.

Consequently, I feel that I am in a position to give advice on what parents should look for when visiting campuses, especially campuses belonging to Christian Schools.

While tuition is important, finding the lowest tuition may prove to be not the best education.  The cost of a 4 year College education is in between $150,000 to $200,000, which is about $37,000 to $50,000 per year.

My following list is not necessarily in rank order, but as the thoughts come to me.  First on my list is financial transparency.  All schools carry debt so that is not an issue in and of itself but what debt covenants does the school have in place that may drain the revenue. 

For instance, how much money to they have to deposit in an account to pay retirement to retired employees.  As an example, they are required to deposit $100,000 each month may not seem like a big deal but what if they are required to deposit $300,000 each month or even $500,000 each month.  Those last 2 amounts could pose a financial risk to the college.

My next area is the accreditation.  Most schools in this area follow SACS guidelines so I would want to know what are some of the concerns that SACS had during their last visit and how are they being addressed.

The next area is dorm rooms and this is going to be difficult to determine but will the dorm room that you are being shown be the actual dorm room that will be assigned to your child when he/she starts to attend this school.  

What I discovered during my years as a student was that I was shown one of the best dorm rooms on campus only to find that I was actually assigned to one of the worst dorm rooms on campus when I actually arrived.  To me this is deception and not what you would expect from a Christian school. 

Dorms can become a huge deterrent to continuing one’s education at that school.
The next area is retention and you would want to know the current percentage of retention.  For example, if the current retention is 60% then 40% of the students drop out of school between their Freshman and Sophomore years.  

Do they collect data on why?  Do they conduct an exit interview?  What are some of the changes that are being implemented to address the most abundant reasons?   If this school had a 40% drop out rate and they bring in about 500 Freshman each year, then they are losing approximately $21,000,000 over the course of those three years and that is poor financial management.

Along with this notion of retention, I would want to know how much time is being spent on developing new programs to bring in even more newer students.  Are they spending more time developing programs to bring students in than they are on keeping the students that they already have?  They have they priorities upside down in my opinion.

The next area would be how their faculty teaches and how much “real world” experience do they have.  According to the latest Department of Education statistics, students retain below 50% when they experience lectures, powerpoints, and videos but retain greater than 50% from discussions, greater than 70% from hands on activities, and greater than 90% when they are teaching topics to other students.  

I would want my child to be taught where the greater percentages of retention are realized.  College degrees are abundant and employers are more interested in the value you add than how many “A’s” you achieved.  In fact, during my 45 year career, I have never been hired based upon my grade point average.

My next area of concern would be graduation percentage.  How many students actually graduate after 4 years.  If only 40% of the students graduate after 4 years, that may not be a problem and similar to the national average but if less than 50% graduate after 8 or 9 years then they school may be experience a systemic problem that has not been addressed.

My next area is the percentage of athletes to overall student body.  Why?  For 2 reasons actually;  the first has to do with athletes receiving scholarships which reduces actual revenue and the second relates to the dilution of academic rigor in the classroom due to the pressure that coaches place on the faculty so that these athletes can play.  

Sometimes grades are given not earned among athletes but this happens at all school which is why the overall student body percentage is so important.

The next area is somewhat contingent upon SACS regulations, but I would want to know the percentage of Adjuncts to Full time Faculty.  

Adjuncts typically are working and therefore bring in “real world” experiences, which are good, but on the other side of the coin, a high percentage of Adjuncts may be an indication that the school is experiencing financial difficulties and need to keep their benefit expenses down.  A general “rule of thumb” is a $50,000 annual salary actually costs the employer $150,000 when all the benefits are added back in.

The next area is a little tricky because is rests upon honesty and there may be a little slight of hand going on but it revolves around student teacher ratios in the classroom.  Taking the school as a whole, the ratio may be low perhaps 12 to 1 but in some departments where the faculty is low, the ratio may be 20, 30, 40 to 1.  

The data may not be current and may reflect what was going on 2 to 3 years ago.  One assumes that a Christian school would not play the games but sometimes managing and religious teaching do not coincide.

This last item which would have probably been my first based entirely upon my own personal experience was the realization that I soon realized that I was attending what was called a “suitcase” college that is to say that most students (who have cars) pack up and leave campus for the weekend because there is nothing to do there.  That realization was very traumatic for me and almost caused me to drop out before the middle of my first semester.  It is very difficult but not impossible for a “suitcase” college to grow.  

Along these same lines one would want to know the relationship is between the school and the community: is it close or not so and why?  Is there a lot of local and semi local business interaction with school:  why or why not?  Does the school have active involvement with alumni:  why or why not?

As you begin to receive answers to your questions, a panoramic picture will start to develop of this Christian school and you will be in a better position to decide whether or not you really want your child to go here and more importantly is this where you want to invest your money.

You will begin to determine if this Christian school Walks the Talk or do they just Talk the Walk.  For this parent, I discovered there was a huge difference between the two.













Dive…  Dive… Dive…

Does anyone really know the difference between a democracy and a republic?

Why?

Because they are not only dissimilar but antithetical, meaning that they are directly opposed or contrasted; mutually incompatible.

A Democracy can be seen as the Majority Unlimited, lacking any real legal safeguards for the rights of the Individual and/or the Minority; whereas a Republic is seen as the Majority Limited, with a written Constitution safeguarding the rights of the Individual and the Minority.

In 1776, America was organized as a Democratic Republic or a country that is both a republic and a democracy.   It is one where ultimate authority and power is derived from the citizens, and the government itself is run through elected officials.

Is it really possible to be both a democracy and a republic?

So, how does this democratic republic of ours differ from socialism, let’s say?

Socialism is a social and economic system characterized by social ownership (Government) of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy, as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system.

If there can be a democratic republic, can there be democratic socialism?

Democratic socialism is a political ideology advocating a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system. 

There is no hard and fast definition of Democratic Socialism as it is still evolving just like Democratic Republics are still evolving, but one item is for sure and that is as the government begins to control more and more of what is going on in the lives of its residents, the country is moving in the direction of socialism.

No, I am not a Political Scientist nor am I fully versed in the various forms of government; I am a manager and trained to be a professional manager with the skills to manage any type of operation.

It is through that training and experience that I can critical analyze and problem from a management perspective and my perspective tells me that we are moving closer and closer to socialism with each new change of political power.

While I would be the first to tell you that I am currently receiving Social Security benefits, I would also be the first to tell you that in receiving those benefits I am directly and indirectly authorizing my/our government to move in the direction of socialism.

So, the real question becomes this:

DO YOU WANT TO BE OWNED BY THE GOVERNMENT OR BY BUSINESS?

Who will protect the people from the “bottom line” focus of business people, if it is not the government?

Think about that for a minute.

Do you think business would give a “rat’s rear end” about unlawful termination or sexual harassment?

Do you think business would care about providing a minimum wage for its low end workers?

So, one might be able to build an argument that Democratic Socialism protects us against the Power and Control that business and industry would otherwise have over us?

And, as our Democratic Socialistic government moves more and more in that direction, it will either go bankrupt, have to raise taxes on its citizens, or rely on business and industry to finance that which is controlling them.

Why would I say this?

Because it takes money to finance all those programs…


It appears that we are in between a rock and a hard place on this one.








Rate this Supervisor
In the world of hypothetical scenarios that have a tendency to boarder on reality when presented for discussion, what would you have done differently or not if you had been this subordinate?

This scenario is as follows:

Before you became a supervisor of a teaching department, the employee in question was hired and had worked under your supervision for 2 years but a total of 2 years. This teacher always received better than average evaluations from students and word of mouth had caused students to sign up for his/her class causing once than once, multiple sections to be created. 

This teacher never hesitated to add more sections to their teaching load. In fact, as his/her supervisor, you had often said to other instructors that he/she was your best online instructor.

A new employee was hired in your teaching department who position but him/her on an equal level with you and you jointly made decisions in the implementation of policy and strategy. However, this same person had been promoted and was now your boss and you had assumed your working relationship with him/her would basically remain the same... but, it did not.

Your new boss was asking you to support him/her's actions to terminate this instructor who had been such a good employee.There had been absolutely no warning meetings or meetings of any kind to ever discuss ways that he/she could have improved his/her performance; yet, there was now this pending termination.

One student had objected to comments made in class that apparently were sufficient in the eyes of your boss to justify termination. Your boss had asked you indirectly to support him/her with this decision by being present in the office when the termination took place and you had agreed.

We have no way of knowing what was in the mind of this subordinate, but what we do know is that:
  • ·       Due Diligence had not been done
  • ·       No other students in the class in question had been interviewed
  • ·       Academic Freedom had never been discussed by your boss
  • ·       No opportunity to counsel this employee had been suggested

The termination meeting took place and it lasted about 30 seconds with the employee admitting that the student was correct about what was said in class.

We also have no way of knowing what was said between this boss and the supervisor after the terminated employee left the office.

             1.     So, how would you rate this subordinate?
             2.     Would you want this subordinate working for you?
             3.     Would you want to work for this subordinate?
             4.     What do you think of the employer who hired this boss and this subordinate?
             5.     Can you think of other questions that should be asked here?

Bear in mind that the State of Tennessee is an "Employee at Will" State but with that said, there are several criteria available to support "Unlawful Termination."  So, if unlawful termination was proved, how would your rating of this subordinate change, or would it change at all?


We do live in interesting times...










Claims of Sexual Harassment

There should be no doubts in anyone’s mind how inappropriate sexual harassment is in the workplace.  

While it is mainly, a male superior and a female subordinate, combinations take place in a variety of way these days and even though it is more acceptable by society these days, it is still inappropriate for the workplace.  

Pure and simple.  No exceptions.

However, what if the claim of sexual harassment has been delivered to acquire a competitive advantage inside the company or to eliminate competition for advancement?

Is it possible to detect a difference when investigating?

Many, many years ago, I worked for a company while attending college and there was a supervisor there that no one liked, especially the females because of his sexist attitude and comments.  One day, one of the female employees was called into his office and a few minutes later, there was screaming and her blouse was torn open and everyone could see her bra as she ran out of the office towards the bathroom.  

That supervisor was immediately fired shortly thereafter.  We were all gathered in the break room a few weeks later, and I overheard that same female employees tell her other female friends that she had torn open her blouse for the sole purpose of getting him fired.

As I understand the way the law is written, if you are a female and you overhear someone telling a sexist joke that offends you, the person that is telling the joke can be charged with sexual harassment.  

But, what if you are a female and you overhear another female telling a sexist joke and that does not offend you, that person will not be charged; yet, both were clearly inappropriate.

What about the females that wear suggestive clothing to work and get mad at the males that stare, are they wrong; or, have they been set-up so to speak?  If there is not dress policy then who decides what is inappropriate or not?

I see just as many females looking at the rear ends of males after they have walked by as I see males looking at the rear ends of females after they have walked by.  But, more males are charged with sexual harassment in the workplace than females…  are they simply more clever about it?

So, let’s develop a scenario.  We have a male boss and a female subordinate, both of whom, are new employees with the male being employed a month earlier and responsible for hiring the female; both of whom are married to someone else.  The female starts flirting with the male which the male likes and flirts back.  

The flirting extends to emails and texting with the understanding that they are deleting to protect each other.  Then one day, they drive across town to a meeting that results in eating lunch together and the next day, the male is called into the office and fired for sexual harassment.  It seems the female kept all the emails and text messages and used that as a foundation to accuse him of touching her in the car and suggesting that they do more over lunch.

It is assumed that the male is guilty and of course there is proof.  Business continues and a few weeks later, another female sends emails to HR that she has received from this female who had her boss removed for sexual harassment, stating that she had been lying and wanted to get him fired because she knew that she could.  

Subsequently, this other lady is fired and a discussion begins after her dismissal as to whether or not they should contact the terminated boss and offer him his job back.

What would you do?

Clearly, the male boss was guilty of having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate but that relationship had not progressed as far as the female subordinated had claimed it had.



Should this new revelation have any bearing on the decision?







Power to the People

Sometime in the 1950’s as the story was told to me, the Beef Industry decided to force an increase in beef prices in the grocery stores by keeping beef off the market creating a shortage. With just the telephone and word-of-mouth visits over morning coffee, the housewives created a boycott on buying beef that lasted so long that the leaders of the Beef Industry “blinked” and started to release beef back into the market.

I have always been impressed with the collective consciousness of the American people and their determined will power to fight injustice, regardless of the cost.

Becoming wealthy is not a crime but how one gets wealthy no doubt is a crime and if it is not a crime it lacks integrity or ethics.

Sometime in the 1960’s as the story was lived by me, a group of us perceived the will of the people was not just being misunderstood but it was being ignored.  Many of us formed movements to right the wrong but did not realize at the time that our methodologies employed were just as wrong as those we were fighting against.

Our movement failed and those “wounded warriors” who returned home from Vietnam were spat upon, ignored, and many were treated like second class citizens.

However, one thing did remain…   most every male started growing long hair on their heads which was eventually accepted by society.  I found that rather amazing as well as amusing.

But, the rest of the story was never told as we entered and passed through the 1970’s, 1980’s, and the 1990’s as new generations of wealth and poverty began to roll over the country like a plague.

During this last decade 2000 to 2010, we pretty much have been on an emotional, financial, and militaristic roller coaster that had only one accomplishment that was flattening out the middle class so that they could no longer encroach upon those at the top.

And while these new Ivy League Intellectuals became millionaires and billionaires, the rest of us were relatively content to watch them hide their money in off-shore bank accounts to avoid US taxes while extolling the virtues, values, and honor of being an American.

Our conspicuous consumption came from China helping her to become a financial power and own one-third of our debt and our addictive need for petroleum crude oil transferred the largest movement of American dollars from the US to the Middle East ever before witnessed…   and still…  no one does anything, other than put an electronic cigarette in one’s mouth and complain that life is unfair.

Perhaps, I am being unfair to even make comments like this when I should be thankful for all that this country has given me…  Perhaps, I should but I cannot.

We the people, have access to the greatest social media network the world has ever seen.  We can contact millions of people in seconds through the cloud and into their computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. 
  • We are in a majority…  and those that lead us are in a minority.
  • We are in a majority…  and those that are at the top of our businesses , industries, and financial institutions are in a minority.
  • We are in a majority…  and the wealthy and in a minority.
  • We actually have all the collective power we will ever need to create change and convince those in power to do right things.















Ten Times Fired
As I mentioned above, during my 45 year career, I was removed from employment for whatever reason 10 times and I believe that my first article should address each of those situations and let you draw your own conclusions as to my credibility or not.

First Time:  took place in the early 60’s when I got a part time job as a bus boy at a steak house.  One of the waiters did not show up, so I was told to fill in for him with no training.  My first table to serve was a college guy and his date that had been drinking at the bar for quite some time before deciding to eat.  Being new, I did not know all the questions, so he started to ridicule me in front of his girlfriend.  When I brought their food on that big tray that I was supposed to carry above my head, I slipped and most of the food slid off of the large tray and into his lap.  The Manager fired me on the spot.  That job lasted for less than a week.

Second Time:  took place in the late 60’s when I had accepted a job as a laborer on a construction site.  My boss told me to move dirt from one location to another to backfill the foundation using a only a shovel and wheelbarrow.  After a few minutes, I realized how ridiculous that was and got two long planks of wood and nailed them together so that they formed a “V” trough, putting bricks underneath to elevate.  I would shovel the dirt in and it then slid right down to the foundation and I was done in just a few hours.  Once done, I sat down with the other workers who were taking a break.  My boss came over and wanted to know why I was sitting down and I told him I was done and how I finished ahead of schedule.  My supervisor fired me on the spot for not following instructions.  That job lasted for 17 hours.

Third Time:  took place in the 80’s and I was in my 8th year of employment as Executive Director of a non-profit.  During my employment, I had increased revenues by $900,000, tripled the number of member organizations, implemented a united fund raising effort, and was managing 2 profit making entities that generated revenue for the non-profit.  One of the entities was a magazine and the female editor I hired had a college degree but after a few months, I realized she did not have the grammatical skills for the job, so I fired her after working with her for 6 months.  Little did I know that my editor was having an affair with one of the members of the Board of Directors.  She informed me not to fire this editor or that she would have me fired.  I fired her anyway.  Then, for the next 6 months, the focus of my job was to split the Board of Directors and their allegiance towards me so that at those 6 Board meetings, I was able to have a motion to fire me tabled by one vote until next month.  During that 7th month, I informed the Board of Directors that I was leaving because I had found another job.

Fourth Time:  took place in the 90’s when I was Corporate Director of Quality Improvement for a $400,000,000 manufacturing company that had plants in 7 States including 1 in Mexico.  I had been in this position for about 9 months when my brother and I were interviewed by a reporter from the Wall Street Journal.  During my interview with the reporter, I asked him if I could speak “off the record” to which he replied, “of course.”  My off the record comments included me explaining how the owners of the company were selling the company and that over 2500 employees would lose their jobs without warning and that it seemed to me that the only reason I had been hired away from the Community College where I had been working was to keep the workers busy on process improvement activities so that they would not find out.  My off the record comments were printed and the day after the article appeared in the WSJ, I was fired by all of senior management on one side of the table with lawyers and me on the other side of the table by myself.

Fifth Time:  took place at little bit later when I was working as a customer service representative or call taker.  My employer from the fourth time fired had “blackballed” me in the area and I could not find employment commensurate with my education & experience, so I was working 3 jobs at one time (Whirlpool Factory Service, Talbots Catalog Ordering, Bell South) as a call taker for $8/hour.  I was working less than 20 hours for each one but I totaled about 40-45 hours each week and could pay my bills.  Whirlpool fired me for giving the customer more information about the product and service than I had been instructed to do.  Talbots fired me for taking too long with each call.  Bell South fired me for not agreeing to a new schedule when I had specifically told my supervisor that I could not do those hours because I was teaching a class for ITT Technical Institute.   Each one of these jobs lasted a little over 6 months.

Sixth Time:  took place in the mid 90’s and I had been rehired at the community college that I had left a couple of years earlier.  I was only the second person in 30 years to be rehired.  My new supervisor and I did not get along because the President told him that I had been hired to do part of his job.  During my first employment, my arrangement with the President allowed me to do consulting as long as I took vacation and gave my school the first priority when doing consulting, to which I wholeheartedly agreed.  So, after a year I did some consulting and when my new supervisor found out, he fired me because I had not cleared my consulting arrangement with him.  The President told me he could not interfere this time, because my supervisor had just made a very substantial financial contribution to the school’s fund raising efforts and was automatically placed on the Board of Trustees.

Seventh Time:  took place almost 2 years after the sixth firing.  I had finally found a job at another community college and had been working there for 9 months designing training programs for industry when my supervisor called me into his office and informed me that I was being given an evaluation that was supposed to have taken place at the end of my first 30 days to remove me from probationary status.  He had just not had time to perform it and was sorry.  Then he said that my work was unsatisfactory (even though nothing had ever been said to me during those 9 months either good or bad) and that I was being terminated but would be paid to the end of the year.  He smiled and said, “off the record,” my boss had told me to do this because the President of the college had told her to do this because one of the HR directors from a local company was getting ready to retire at the end of the year, and wanted to work at the college and the President owed him a favor.  He also said, that if asked about this, he would deny it.

Eighth Time:  took place within a 12 month period of time following the seventh time.  I was working as an organizational development consultant for a local company at $100/hour and I was learning to build and repair computers for a husband and wife computer company for $8/hour.  I went into the field after about 6 months of training with both the husband and wife depending on the severity of the problem.  On one occasion, we (the wife and I) were out on location and she started treating me in front of the client as if I was one of her children that were being scolded.  The comments were getting progressively worse and more humiliating until I finally just turned looked at her with burning, hateful eyes and in a semi-loud voice said, “Quit talking to me and treating me like that…  I’m 20 years older than you and you should be treating me with respect.”  We packed up and left immediately and nothing was said on the way back and when we got back to the office, she went upstairs to her home, and I was left with her husband.  I told him what was going on and he said he would talk to her and not to worry and for me to go and to return on Wednesday as usual.  When I returned, he met me outside and said I no longer worked there.

Ninth Time:  took place in 2010 when I was Director of Education for a Proprietary College in KY and had been working there less than a year when my boss, the President of the campus told me I was being fired because I had not met my retention, persistence, and graduation goals.  I asked her why had I not been informed of this a few months ago so I could have been more focused as I was focusing my time on getting the right instructor in the right class who knew how to teach and had patience with adults.  Once this was in place, I informed her, those numbers would automatically increase.  She said that is not the way things are done here.  If the goals are not reached within 6 months of employment, we give you 3 more months to turn the numbers around and if that is not done, then you are terminated.  She said she was sorry that I had not been informed of this as she had just recently been hired as what was happening to me had happened to her predecessor 3 months ago.

Tenth Time:  took place recently in 2014 after working for a local college for 3 years as a Professor of Management.  Let me say that during those 3 years, I received some of the best student evaluations of anyone who ever worked in the Business Department.  I also had agreed during those 3 years to teach more hours than my peers and to teach during the summer when my peers would not.  Without warning, I was summoned to the office of the Dean of Academics (the Business Dean was also there) where I was asked to read a student email.  This student had taken exception to my teaching approach in the classroom and all the negative comments made by me about the school and some of its employees.  These comments were taken out of context but I said nothing about that.  What I did say was, “Yes, I pretty much said that.”  The Dean of Academics stood up and said, “Then we no longer want you working here.”  Nothing was said about how valuable I was to the college.  Nothing was said about faculty having academic freedom in the classroom.  Nothing was said about these two individuals doing their due diligence and talking to other members of the class to see what they thought.  And, nothing was said in terms of trying to find out if this student had taken things out of context.

Let me also state that each time that I was fired by one employer, a better opportunity opened up for me shortly thereafter.  Coincidence?












Jocks and Grades

I am somewhat embarrassed but not amazed at the recent scandal being aired on the news about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  

I am embarrassed because I am a North Carolinian and because it has been traditional for my family, except for my brother and I, to graduate from that school.   I am not amazed because I have always known that if an athlete is good, then that athlete will always receive the grades they need to graduate.

The fact that this grade exchange has been going on for 20 years is to say the least a dazzling display of fashionable deniability that many of the politicians that are getting caught for wrong doings should notice.

After teaching athletes in my College classes, it is extremely easy to notice a “jock,” because the coaches tell them they have to sit in the front of the class, and they do, but they keep their heads down and try not to make eye contact, at least in my class.  

However, when they have to make class presentations, it is painfully obvious to their team members that they are not prepared.

While I would like to say their writing abilities are below expectations, I cannot because I would have to give credit for that lack of writing ability to 80% of my students as well.  My colleagues used to claim of the same lack of writing skills but would emphatically state that since they did not have an English degree that they could not satisfactorily criticize their work.

But, the story here is not UNC at Chapel Hill; no…  the story is that I would suspect (without any evidence) that fake classes (of some sort, type, and description) are taking place at all College and University Campuses nationwide. 

If the classes are not fake, then the grades are being given away.

Why?  College sports generates an enormous amount of revenue each year plus even more revenue from the successful alumni if the team is winning.

College athletes, especially in football and basketball (and maybe baseball) actually BELIEVE that they can play in the professional ranks and therefore do not need college except as a vehicle to get them there.

Should we stop at college athletes with this diagnosis?  No! 

In almost every college and university in the country there are fraternities and sororities and in these exclusive membership only houses, they have files and files and files of tests, exams, final exams, research papers, etc., that you can imagine from several professors in all majors.

How are they able to do this?

Speculation:  Some professors might be more involved in researching and publishing than teaching so it is easy to use tests from previous years as opposed to developing a new test each quarter along with an answer key.  And, if these tests are prepared in a certain way, a Scantron can be used to grade 100 submissions in seconds.  Some fraternities and sororities actually have students enter a test with the intention of memorizing a few of the questions so that the complete test can be recreated upon returning to the house.

So, if intellectuals can do this and have been doing this, why not JOCKS?










Unintentional Discrimination

We have a sickness in this country of ours and it is how we treat people who are sick.  

And, until you have been sick, you do not know nor are you aware that this unintentional discrimination is taking place all around you.

Let’s suppose that you had a heart attack and that heart attack was so severe that your ejection fraction was reduced to 35% due to a damaged muscle from the heart attack.  Let’s all suppose that 3 of your main arteries on the left side were blocked so much that the Cardiologist wanted to perform a triple bypass but you had stents inserted instead.

Now, these 2 conditions would have you fatigued most of the time…  and, how would your colleagues treat you?  Well, it would be differently, I can assure you.
  • ·       They would not expect as much from you.
  • ·       They would ask are you sure you want to do this extra work?
  • ·       Your boss would start to wonder about your capabilities of performing your job to the 110% expectation.
  • ·       Colleagues would notice your absence at events or how you lagged behind when walking a couple of blocks to have lunch.
  • ·       Your colleagues would notice your change in eating habits and what you ate.


Now, let’s take this a little further, shall we…

What if you added cancer on top of your heart issues?  What then?
  • ·       How many excuses can you make for having to go somewhere when it is time for a treatment?
  • ·       How can you hide the side effects from the treatment?

I have managed people who were cancer patients and who were going for treatments once a month and trying desperately not to treat them any differently than they other people I managed, but, there were no guarantees that I could do that.

If an employee takes FLMA leave then that company has to give them their job back, but the person on FLMA leave does not receive their full salary, so most employees are hesitant to apply for that leave option.

Those patients that do not apply for FLMA leave, then are subject to the whims of their employer who may or may not perceive that this person with cancer on their staff is a liability.

Once a person is considered a liability,  that person cannot be terminated for any issue that would result in a law suit.  Therefore, management usually invents another reason for termination that can be reasonable documented.

All managers learn very quickly how to terminate employees to prevent potential lawsuits…  and, this lesson learned is never forgotten, misplaced, or not retained for no matter how long one works.

I have always wondered why management is only concerned with the obvious… 
  • ·       What about employees who smoke?
  • ·       What about employees who drink every night?
  • ·       What about employees who are weekend tokers?

Shouldn’t they be unintentionally discriminated against too?













Change

It is widely believed by some of us that the following is true:

People do not typically change until the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing.

And, when you think about it, the phrase explains a lot.

So, why do we teach Change Management at our Colleges and Universities?  For that matter, why do we teach Strategic Planning at these institutions if these institutions themselves are not developing Strategic Plans themselves?

Are we teaching:  Do what I say not what I do?

It is also widely believed by some of us that change is difficult for most of us because we fear what will happen to us after the change and not so much will we be able to learn but will we still be around or will this change end our employment?

So, we spend a lot of time teaching change agents how to make employees feel like that still have a place at the organization after the change.  And, while that does keep a lot of consultants employed and for good reasons, is it really at the heart of the problem?

During my 45 years of working in the world of business, I quickly discovered and found a phenomenon repeated over and over and over again.  This phenomenon was the “Big Fish in Little Ponds” malady.  

While I first discovered this within the ranks of Boards of Directors at Non-profits, I began to see it “rear its head” at all sorts of organizations and within all levels of management, including the rank of file of the labor force.

Everyone within an organization has some degree of power and control that they do not want to give up, pure and simple.

Another delicate but critically important issue having to do with change via developing Strategic Plans is the collection of meaningful data form the SWOT analysis.  Many organizations developing these plans apply SWOT to the organization, department, divisions, etc., but do not apply the analysis to people who also have strengths and weaknesses that impact implementation of these plans down the road.

Suppose you are developing a Strategic Plan for a College or a University, do you conclude that all professors know how to teach students and know how to teach those students well or do you presuppose that all teaching abilities can and should be constantly improved through training?  What professor, especially those that are tenured are going to admit that they need to improve their teaching abilities?


I would think very few.  Consequently, the data that you are collecting from SWOT is not meaningful data on which to base strategic plans and create change and yet many of our “fine” institutions do exactly that.






The Peter Principle

The Peter Principle is a concept in the theory of management theory in which the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate's performance in his or her current role rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role.

Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and "managers rise to the level of their incompetence."

The principle is named after Laurence J. Peter who co-authored with Raymond Hull the 1969 book The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong.

While some have referred to this principle as humorous, it seems destructively sad to me because I have personally witnessed the principle time and time again throughout my career, and have always wondered:  “Why did that person get promoted?”

The real question for me here is, are we aware when we are being promoted as a result of this principle?  And, I would tend to think that yes we are.  Why?

Throughout our college careers, we, as retainers of knowledge know what we know well and know what we do not know well.  For instance, I am aware of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, but I would not be able to apply those principles very well to a Ledger Sheet or Closing Out the Books.

Some Management Professors know Management Theories but do not know Operations Management and will readily admit that.

However, there are some people who had been merely associated with a specific type of accomplishment will take credit for that accomplishment when relocating to another employer and then spend time trying to avoid what they had been hired for (that they really don’t know) or they try to recruit someone to do it for them so that other person can be blamed if it goes wrong.

Those that are gifted with a “silver tongue,” can be very convincing especially when around those who want to believe the positive in people.

In my classes, I ask the students on the first day the following questions”
  • ·       Who are you?

  • ·       What do you know?

I recall one time, a student asked our speaker at an Executive Speaker Series event that question and their answer was:

“I don’t know what I don’t know,” as he smiled and walked to the other side of the stage.  It was apparent to me that he was not prepared for that type of question because most successful business people know exactly who they are, what they know, and what they do not know.

So, why do we still promote managers to their levels of incompetence?









Integration of Faith

I was fortunate in my early life to have attended high school in Cairo, Egypt, U.A.R., under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser.  There were 28 students in my graduating class representing 18 different nationalities with the Valedictorian being awarded to a Hungarian Communist.

We could not work during the summers so a group of us would always spend that “off time” traveling through Europe on a Diplomatic Passport.

I experience no discrimination at all until I returned to the US to attend a Southern Christian College.  I felt embarrassed for our African American athletes and it was rumored that a group of Christian athletes dressed him in a “hoodie” and took him to a local KKK meeting one night. 

I doubt there was a full moon that night, but who knows.

I have been honored and extremely blessed recently to have had the opportunity to work for a Christian College where we were encourage to integrate our faith into the classroom to both Christians and Non-Christians alike, especially when it came to my classes because all of them revolved around management and no matter what type of work gets done, there will be a manager associated with those efforts.

What better place to share integration of faith beliefs and ideas and practices.

BUT, should the Integration of Faith extend beyond the walls of the classroom and reside in the minds of those managers as they execute their easy and difficult decisions?

Do we as Christian Adults have the emotional fortitude to practice what we preach?
Two interesting questions, are they not? 

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a gentleman while waiting in the checkout lane at WalMart and we discussed all that I just shared with you above.  

Towards the end of our waiting time and conversation, he presented several scenarios and wondered how my students might handle them by integrating their faith.

  • Should we terminate a Vietnam Era Veteran (decorated or not) because he said (for the most part) what we did not want to hear in one of our classrooms in a Liberal Arts Christian school?
  • Should we terminate a cancer patient who has non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (or any type of cancer for that matter) because negativity was surfaced in our Liberal Arts Christian school classroom in the hopes of creating change for the better (increased revenues)?
  • Should we terminate a severe heart attack survivor (who beat the survival odds at time of incident) who integrates faith into classroom discussions in both traditional and non-traditional ways, but in so doing develops critical thinking and problem solving skills in not so comfortable ways in our Liberal Arts Christian classroom?
  • And, if there is such a concept in our integration of faith, should we terminate a senior citizen with a lifetime of “faith integration” experiences to share, again, because this person dared to cross an “un-written down” line?
So, if I were in the classroom…  

I would be asking my Management students these questions. 

And, I would be asking them to answer from a “bottom line” perspective and then from an integration of their faith perspective. 

I would be asking what if anything had changed their actions and decisions, and why?

I would be asking them if any of these theoretical response/action/decision scenarios would change if they had a spouse and children to support, along with a mortgage and other loans, because it is not easy to put one’s job on the line when considering responsibilities and obligations.

Oily managers use this knowledge when manipulating others to do their bidding.

I would like to end with a little phrase I often quote to my students:  

If you always do what you always did then you will always get what you always got.

Isn’t this a beautiful statement?

And, what better way to integrate one’s faith outside the classroom than to explore it in a “safe environment” inside the classroom.

How would you want future Christian Managers and Leaders to behave?






Who Is/Are Our Customer(s)?

“If Japan Can Why Cannot We?”,  was an NBC Whitepaper that aired sometime in 1981 and fortunately for the USA, the top executives of the Ford Motor Co., watched the whitepaper and subsequently hired a Dr. Edwards W. Deming (a PhD Statistician frequently mention) at an astounding fee of $50,000/day but don’t recall if that with expenses included or not.

Dr. Deming taught those executives a program that later became known as TOPS (Team Oriented Problem Solving) or Statistical Problem Solving. 

In any event, what came out of this was an understanding of an accurate definition of the word “customer.”

Oftentimes, when I stand in front of a classroom of Juniors and Seniors, I will ask them,

“Are you my customers?”

There is a loud and unanimous “YES!”

But, when I ask them,

“Am I your customer?”

There is “loud” and unanimous silence.

Sometimes, when I sit around a conference table at a staff meeting waiting for it to start, I ask,
“Are students your customers?”

There is typically silence and smiling and more silence, then one might venture to say a thought out loud,

“Of course not.  You would not want a student telling you if you should give a test or not, and if you were giving a test, you would not want a student telling you what questions should be put on that test.  For heaven’s sake, where’s the learning?”

“No, not that,”  I would say, “I agree with you there.  But, what about the way in which you deliver the material?”

This time it was obvious that I was seeing reflective silence but still not comments.

I continued by saying,

“For the first couple of weeks in all my classes, I always end the class by telling the students they are my customers and is there anything I need to do to change my teaching style so that the transfer of knowledge is better for them? I give that a moment to sink in….

“…in fact,” I continue, “you are my customer and I am your customer, other departments are our customers, the athletics department is our customer.   And, if we look at external customers, then we have:  parents of students, alumni, donors, sponsors, the community, service partners, potential employers, etc.”

The silence is broken by the person, who called the meeting,

“Ok…  we have gone beyond the time I wanted to start this meeting so let’s begin as we have a lot to cover in a short amount of time.”

So, what do you think?

And if…  all these people are in fact our customers…  how do we treat them?

What is a quality experience for them?

A new definition is at hand.

What if:  Quality was achieved by EXCEEDING (not just meeting) the expectations of all our customers?







W.  I.  I.  F.  M.

After reading the book, The Fifth Discipline, by Peter Senge, I was stuck by how much time he spent on making sure that organizations created learning organizations who had very simple but profound visions, and that those visions were shared by the entire workforce from top to bottom.

What did this mean?

And, how does an organization share a vision with the entire workforce?

Since I have experience attending and working at a Christian College, let me use that segment of the industry as an example.

Here is my proposed vision for them:  We are the global Institution of choice for Christian Liberal Arts Higher Education.

What I am setting up in the minds of the workforce is:
  • ·       We are not just the leader in the State.
  • ·       We are not just the leader in the Region.
  • ·       We are not just the leader in the USA.
  • ·       We are not just the leader in North America

We are the global leader…

And, we are not striving to get there because, in my opinion, that would conclude that we are not there yet and may never get there, but we are constantly striving.

Ok…  so, let’s assume that I have gotten you over that hurdle…  how do we share this vision?

You know, it is one thing to teach “all sorts” of management concepts in the classroom (obsolete and otherwise) but we never fully get the opportunity to implement any of these concepts unless we do so experimentally via a “simulation.”

So, how do we know any of them will work?

And, does implementation revolve around the personality of the one implementing?  So, if that is true, then 2-3 people implementing the same strategy, will implement somewhat (or to a larger degree) differently.

Now we have the possibility of incorporating “variation” in the way the management work gets done.  Some managers could have a lot of variation and some might only have very little with their management styles.

What impact is that going to have on the workers?

What impact is that going to have on the workers when we try to implement this “shared vision” thing?

And, why did I not have a professor as part of my tuition and college education to teach me “stuff” like this?

Well, the answer to that one is probably this:  in some of our smaller four year institutions, we cannot afford to have professors with experience, especially since they do not have a PhD. Although, I must admit that there are a few exceptions here.

But, it is still something to consider if we want to “carve our” a market niche with our educational offerings that might increase students and ultimately revenues.

But, back to this shared vision problem.

W.  I.  I.  F.  M.  is the only solution here.  And, it stands for this:

What’s In It For Me?

Once you solve that riddle, everything else will fall into place as long as you have a well-articulated and honest Strategic Plan that incorporates a correct implementation plan.  If the data you collect is not “meaningful”  then all your strategies with be a quarter to three quarters of an inch off.  Engineers know exactly how devastating that can be.

“In God we trust…  

everyone else brings 

meaningful data?”

  







We versus They


What Business School textbooks and Business Schools do not tell you about management in the business and industry and the existing company cultural environment.

First of all, when one graduates with a Bachelors Degree, one automatically moves into the world of management, regardless of degree.  One is now an exempt employee.

Exempt employees are paid a salary and FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) does not apply to them.  Only non-exempt employees (hourly workers) must be forced to comply with this Act.  

For instance, non-exempt workers must be paid at least the minimum wage and must work 40 hours, and must not be forced to work overtime but if they agree to work overtime must be paid time and half wages.  

There are several pages of these guidelines and they are typically managed by the HR Departments.
As an exempt employee, you can be forced to work overtime without any additional compensation.  On average, a salaried worker puts in 60+ hours a week.  Oftentimes, it is 80 hours and the R&R weekends are a luxury of the past.

CAVEAT:  Some people hold the notion that College Professors only work about 20-30 hours a week on average which includes preparation and grading papers; but, in reality they are putting in 60-80 hours off campus doing “things” that will get them tenured or keep them tenured which could be a condition of renewed contract of employment.

FIRST ISSUE:  So, one is now receiving a salary and managing a workforce that is paid hourly and pretty much forced to work overtime in order to pay their monthly bills which escalate with children.
Why is salary/wage an issue?  Because, the workers perceive that those who earn salaries are better than they are.  This perception leads into the second issue.

SECOND ISSUE:  Salary workers dress in nicer, more expensive clothes and drive more expensive cars on average than hourly workers do.  In many cases salary males wear long sleeve shirts (short sleeve shirts are forbidden) and ties and salary women will wear that which they might wear to Church but not out to a nightclub.  Hourly workers wear jeans and T-shirt or a uniform that could be a jump suit or all blue/grey/brown pants and shirt.

THIRD ISSUE:  Salary workers (management) for the most part treat hourly workers with contempt and disrespect; although, new graduates always try to be nice until they realize that the workforce is taking advantage of them.

An hourly worker is required to have a 10 minute break every 4 hours and a 30 minute lunch/dinner break.  The breaks usually occur 2 hours after work starts and sometimes last for 15 minutes and lunch varies from 30-60 minutes, with the understanding that no hourly worker can leave the premises for lunch unless they want to go out and sit in their automobiles.  Salary workers can and oftentimes do leave the premises for lunch.

The hourly workers typically do not take the responsibility to be back at their workstation by the end of the 10-15 minute break.  They may try to stay in the break area for the full ten minutes if they can. 

And then, on the way back to their workstation, they always need to use the restroom which should have been done within the 10 minute break.

First Line Supervisors (almost always entry level college graduates) are out with the workers and are left with the responsibility of enforcing the rules and are seen by the workforce as nothing more than traffic cops, intentionally looking to see if they can catch the worker doing something wrong.

These types of situations further expand the GAPs that exist between management and labor and over the years an animosity has developed and has always been perpetuated on both sides.

In situations where almost all the workforce has college degrees like higher education organizations, the Administration is Management and the Faculty is the Workforce and the Administration never perceives the Faculty as working as hard as they do, even though they will tell you the opposite in campus wide meetings.

Why is this type of behavior generally done in Education?  Because studies have concluded that if you praise the worker in front of their peers or each other, they will not spend as much time focusing on the GAPS.

Bear in mind that there are always exceptions to the norm(s) which is why we have the 80/20 Rule…   to be explained in a future post.

  






The 80/20 Rule

Management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population; Pareto developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

This rule has become a bread and butter staple for Management in any industry or business within any industrial classification.

  • ·       20% of our customers generate 80% of our revenues.
  • ·       80% of the workforce wants to do a good job
  • ·       20% machine downtime is satisfactory
  • ·       20% of an employee’s work should be stretch goals
In Education, it might be seen this way:
  • ·       80% of our donations will come from 20% of our donors.
  • ·       20% of our graduates will be extremely successful and 80% will not.
  • ·       80% of my in class problems come from 20% of my students.
Companies like Apple may perceive the rule a little differently, such as:
  • ·       80% of our customers must be repeat business.
  • ·       80% of our time must be spent on innovation
  • ·       80% of our Net Income must be spent on innovation
Other companies, might look at the rule this way:
  • ·       80% of our supplies comes from 20% of our vendors.
  • ·       80% of our employees are labor and 20% are management.
  • ·       20% of our entire workforce are promotable and 20% are not.
  • ·       80% of our customers are loyal and 20% are not.
  • ·       80% of our projected annual revenues will be realized.
  • ·       Plant efficiency must be at least 80%
  • ·       Increase revenues annually by 20% and decrease expenses by 20% annually and have annual growth of 20%
One of the reasons why I left the Proprietary Education Industry was the fact that the mindset of Upper Management was predicated on have 20% of their graduates become really success so they could use that success to manipulate all potentially new students in thinking and believing that they too could achieve that success. 

There is not illegal in that type of marketing approach; in fact, something similar in done by marketing in all businesses all the time; but, I think it is unethical.  Most of the students (80%) that want to attend Proprietary Schools for their educational development would have a difficult time being accepted in the worst 4 year traditional College or University.

What that tells me is that students are being told they are College material when they are not.  Then the faculty is being strongly encourage (but not forced) to pass the students along by using metrics that can only be achieved (80% of the time) if that is exactly what they do.  

These students graduate with very high student loans (80% are Government Grants) and literally have no College knowledge and cannot find high paying work as promised in the beginning at the initial interview.

I would suspect that College Athletes (80% of them) are being placed in similar situations because the data shows that donations increase when schools have successful athletic programs.

Like all tools managers use, I would suspect that 80% of them are using those tools unethically and 20% of them are using the tools ethically.

But as “they” say:  It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.







Management versus Leadership

Many professionals today, including those who are at the top of our businesses and industries use these 2 words interchangeably…  when they are on opposite ends of the spectrum.  In fact,  there are also many professionals who refer to influential business people are Leaders when in fact they are only very good managers.

Managers do things right whereas Leaders do right things.

The functional areas for most managers are:  planning, organizing, delegating, and monitoring & controlling. 

If you were to ask business students if they were in agreement with this, they would typically say no and that leading and communications should be added. 

Others might say that motivation, compassion, and empathy should be added because if employees are treated well they will perform better.

My first thought when I hear this is:  I wonder how long it will take for them to lose this naïveté?

When I taught this class to students, I would tell them that while leading, communications, motivation, compassion, and empathy are all good ideas, I would not hire a manager just because he/she had these traits, skills, abilities, or whatever.

The job of a manager is to achieve results, period.  Most companies do not care if you can communicate well, if you know how to lead, if you are compassionate, know how to motivate, or have empathy for employees.

Those managers that know how to achieve results can add value, and organizations hire people not because of knowledge or degrees but because it is perceived that they can add value.
Motivation is done by firing employees who are not getting the job done, especially in “employee at will” States.

Managers however do lead people to some degree through their functional areas and how well they are executed, but that does not make them leaders.

Leaders, on the other hand, do right things, pure and simple…  which is easier said than done.

Leader have a vision and know how to create a shared vision within the workforce.

Leaders are change agents and know how to properly manage that change.  Employees don’t mind change they mind being changed.  Typically, they do not change until the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing.

Leaders do not always do things that benefit the bottom line or the stockholders, but what will achieve those same things 10 to 15 to 20 years out and farther.

Leaders follow the Golden Rule:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

When I think of Leaders, I think of the following people:
  1. Jesus Christ
  2. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  3. J. F. Kennedy
  4. Mother Theresa
  5. Mahatma Ghandi
  6. Nelson Mandela
  7. Anwar Sadat
  8. Che Guevara
  9. Alexander, the Great
  10. Winston Churchill
  11. Julius Caesar
  12. Mao Zedong
  13. George Washington
  14. Adolf Hitler
  15. Abraham Lincoln
One point you should take away from this list is that not all leaders achieve positive results.  Additionally, not all leaders are going to make good managers; in fact, a good leader cannot be a good manager and a good manager cannot be a good leader.  These two positions are mutually exclusive.

Finally, not all leaders are as famous as those from the list above.  True leaders exist in the ranks of the military, sports, healthcare, education, and in business and industry as well.

So, maybe the next time you think someone is a good leader, maybe what they really are is a good manager…  like Steve Jobs…







The Bucket of Water Lesson

It was the summer of my Freshman year in College and I had returned home to Virginia to work road construction for a few weeks before going back to North Carolina.  My friend Vic (who was the original co-author of this blog) lived only a few miles from me, so one Saturday morning I drove over there to see him.

Vic was out in the front yard with his father digging a hole to plant a tree of some sort.  I parked the car along the curb, lit a cigarette (I smoked back then but stopped cold turkey at age 40) and walked over to where the duo was standing, deciding what needed to be done next.

I said hello to his father and then to Vic and his father asked me questions about what was going on in my life.  As we talked (the actual conversation has long since been forgotten) I mentioned that my approach after College was going to put me in a position to be so valuable to a company that they would never want to let me go.

About that same time, Vic’s father asked me to go to the back of the house and get the bucket that was sitting there against the wall and fill it with water and bring it back up front to where he was standing.

When I returned with the bucket of water, Vic’s father told me to stick my arm into the bucket of water, which I did.  Vic’s father then told me to remove my arm from that buck of water, which I also did.

Vic’s father then said to me:  You will be as important to an organization as the hole you left in that bucket of water when you removed your arm.

As I recall, Vic and I smiled and I probably said something “smart ass” back to him, but his 
comments have stayed with me for these past 48 years.  I was 19 years old at the time.

Throughout my career, I have found his words to be CORRECT and ACCURATE.  Employees are expendable commodities like office supplies and you are only as important as your last success.

Attaining high salaries makes the termination a little more difficult because of the monies invested in you, but ANYONE can be replaced.

So…  my advice to you is that as soon as you start working for one company begin your job search looking for another one.


It is a variation of the GOLDEN RULE:  Do unto others before they do unto you.







Communications

When we think of communications, we typically think of talking and writing and don’t really think much about the former since we all know how to speak but we do understand that the later for the most part needs some on-going work; however, we are always too busy to take time to practice.

Most business professionals today will agree that 80% of the problems in business and industry today can be traced back to poor communications; in fact, when the US invaded Iraq in the Bush administration, our first casualties were a result of “friendly fire” caused by poor communications.

When a conversation takes place between 2 people (let’s say A and B) there is a 50/50 probability that B will hear the message either correctly/incorrectly.  Assuming that B correctly understands (50%) and attempts to pass along that message to C, C then has the same 50/50 chance that B had and the result is 50% X 50% which equals 25%.  Assuming C hears correctly (25%) and attempts to pass the message to D, D then has the same 50/50 chance that B and C had and the result is 25% X 50% which equals 12.5%.   Assuming D hears correctly and attempts to pass the message to E, the result drops down to 6.25%.

While we assume that oral communications is something easy and therefore take it for granted, the first person to hear the message is pretty much the only one who is going to hear correctly other than the one passing along the information to begin with.  

The 3rd and 4th and 5th persons are not going to get anywhere near accuracy:  C is 25%, D is 12.5%, and E is 6.25%.

So, what is the solution?

Should A have talked with B, C, D, and E all at the same time?

Possibly…

But, I doubt very seriously if B, C, D, or E would have given A 100% of their attention 100% of the duration of the conversation.  We are not “wired” like that.
  • Our minds drift in and out of the moment. 
  • We might be thing about a previous conversation or about something that needs to be done at home or an argument that took place with your spouse or child before you left for work that morning. 
  • We might be thinking about completing our taxes or applying for a loan or that we got turned down for a loan because of too much debt. 
  • We might not feel well or we might have a headache or we simply might have a lot of gas and need to get away from a crowd of people.


Yet, no one ever thinks about having any kind of course or training that deals with teaching people how to talk and/or how to listen.

What about written communications?

Most high school students write at an eighth grade level believe it or not.  High School teachers have gotten into the habit of passing students through with D’s which can be rationalized this way:  in terms of functional knowledge there is really no difference between a 59 (F) and a 60 (D), so let’s assign a D and pass the student along.

In College, there are 2-3 English courses that are required for graduation none of which may actually be a grammar course, although essay assignments are required.  Most of them focus on comparing and contrasting literature.

In Business Schools, there are also papers assigned but since these PhD’s do not have their degrees in English, they do not feel qualified to spend too terribly much time on grammar except for the obvious.  

They are more concerned with making sure the in-text citations are done correctly.

I have always found this rather humorous at times because:  grammar, not taught, is needed in business; citations, taught, are not needed in business.

Consequently, we have literally a bunch of business graduates being “pumped out” into the marketplace by the smaller 4 year Colleges and Universities with degrees in:  
Accounting, 
Marketing, 
Business Administration, 
Finance, 
and Management that are not good communicators both orally and written.

So, why is it really that we need good communications skills?
  1. What about writing up accurate accident reports?
  2. What about writing up accurate hazardous chemical reports?
  3. What about writing a narrative on a performance appraisal that makes no sense?
  4. What about writing up a discipline problem that is difficult to read?
  5. What about sending a memo to your boss that is grammatically incorrect when you are in line for a promotion?
  6. What about sending a letter to a customer that causes that customer to leave?
  7. What about writing an incorrect cover letter when you are applying for a new job?
So, what is the answer?

In School - Spend a lot of time on oral and written communications that a student is going to need to use in the marketplace.  Stress grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, etc. Don't worry about the high schools not doing their jobs properly because you have to prepare your student for the "real world."

In Business - Spend time with all employees on both oral and written communications and teach people over and over again how to listen.  Is it going to cost you?  Yes, it will...  But, how much in the long run will it cost you if you do not do this?

REMEMBER:  Leadership is about doing RIGHT THINGS...





Words of Wisdom

In 1986 (I had been working since 1968), I went to work at a Community College in North Carolina as a Director of Focused Industrial Training or FIT.  I was my job to design customized training programs for employees of industry which also included skills upgrading and development for EMS, Law Enforcement and Fire Departments.  

These organizations may have already had training programs in mind and we would then simply pay the instructor for them so they could redirect monies into other areas that needed financial attention as well.   

It was a win/win situation.

This particular Community College served 2 counties and there was a campus in each county.  The Provost of the adjoining country had been the President of the main campus for almost 20 years, and decided it was time for him to step down.  He had also been responsible for hiring me.

During one of my visits to the satellite campus, the Provost invited me into his office for a chat. With both got coffee and he asked me how it was going over here and was I finding my way around ok.  I informed him what I was doing and what I was planning on doing and asked him what he thought about that.

The Provost was in his late 60’s maybe early 70’s and had been working for quite a while but mainly in Education, starting out as a high school teacher, then principal, the college teacher, the college president, and finally this last position.

He looked at me from behind his big oak desk with his elbows on the desktop and looked me straight in the eye and said,

“Let me give you a piece of advice.”

“yes sir,” I replied.

“Never, ever ask what you can do,” he said then paused as if reflecting, “ask what you cannot do.”

“Excuse me,” I said in a curious tone.

Smiling, he said,

“You ask what you cannot do because no one can ever think of all the things that you cannot do.  You never ask what you can do.”

“Ok,”  I said, “why?”

“Once you know what you cannot do, then EVERYTHING else is up for grabs…” he said cheerfully, “…and they can’t do nothing [sic] to you when they find out because it was not on the list of things you could not do.”


I cannot remember where the rest of the conversation went nor can I remember what I do after our conversation for the rest of the day; but, I do know that I never forgot that advice.  I have always amazed by the “straight laced” managers or so they appear to be when I find out that they like me try to find ways to “beat the system.”


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