Mirror Mirror

According to recent census data, roughly 9.000 folks live in Spanish Springs, Nevada — a bedroom community outside of Reno. Not surprisingly, the ever expanding gambling industry — which, I would guess a majority of those 9,000 depend upon for their incomes — has set its sights on building a high-end resort/casino in Spanish Springs. […]

Brand Update: Red Cross

The Washington Post has an update on how the post-Katrina, post-Rita brand experience of the Red Cross matched the brand promise. As noted in an earlier post, the Red Cross crossed up its donor after 9/11 in failing to warn folks in advance that some of the funds would be stashed away for other purposes. The charity was […]

Where To Pump Big Oil Profits?

The LA Times reports that Big Oil  projects earnings of nearly $100 billion – both this year and next. Like any business, these companies must now choose what to do with the money. Here are the choices laid out in the article: 1. Invest in more production, refineries and distribution 2. Slap the industry with a windfall […]

Hierarchy and Efficiency

McKinsey & Company’s patron saint Marvin Bower once commented, “The thing about hierarchy is that it works.” Bower was not celebrating hierarchy; rather, he was initiating a dialogue about it. He began by echoing the deep-seated claim about hiearchy’s relationship to efficiency — particularly decision-making efficiency. In hierarchies, decisions can be made quicker and with […]

Dynamic Deductibility

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is out with their 2004 rankings of the Philanthropy 400. No, this is not a version of the Forbes 400. It doesn’t tell you how the 400 wealthiest people in the world use their money for something other than consumption and further enrichment. Rather, the Philanthropy 400 reports the annual donations received […]

Ben & Jerry’s Redux

Many who admired Ben & Jerry’s iconic status as a socially responsible company worried about the dilutive effect of Unilever’s acquisition of the ice cream maker in 2000. And not without reason. According to current CEO Walt Freese, the company under Unilever softened its commitment to continuing the efforts of its founders. There’s a lesson in this […]

Dead End Giving

We’ve all heard about the ‘gift that keeps on giving’ — an aspiration that connects sustainability with charity. This is particularly important in a world of markets, networks, organizations, friends and family because (1) organizations use charitable resources to achieve chosen ends; and, (2) all organizations are businesses — that is, have some kind of focused set […]

Shareholder Values at Roche

As of today, scientists know two things about avian influenza ( the ‘bird flu”). First, that the disease is deadly. Second, that transmission from birds to humans is rare. In the dice game of mutation, however, both characteristics could change. Humans might become vulnerable to birds. The disease might become less deadly. Mutation at this […]

Ignorance at The Economist

Ignorance at The Economist Over the years since 9/11, The Economist has run a series of commentaries on globalization, corporate responsibility and the common good under such titles as “Profits over people”, “Globalization and its critics”, “The good company”, and “Profits and the public good”.  The pieces are clearly written and worth reading — if you’re interested in […]

Meaningless Politics

We know we live in fractious, partisan times. Our public discourse weighs in with more heat than light. Truth is up for grabs. Not that truth is an easy matter. Still, our contemporary beliefs, behaviors, attitudes and speech have made the always challenging prospect of determining truth – especially shared truths – more complicated. For […]

Delphi’s Viral Bankruptcy

Two centuries from now Robert Miller, the CEO who took Delphi Corp into Chapter 11 last Saturday, will be as little remembered as Ebenezer Monroe — the farmer who may have fired ‘the shot heard round the world’ on Lexington green in 1775. Miller’s filing, though, has already ricocheted across the planet. In just a […]

Suggested Reading

A few weeks back in a post entitled Downsizing Journalism, I commented on the suicidal effects that cost-focused strategies have on newspapers: cost reductions in the face of declining circulation reach into the newsroom which, eventually, reduces the quality of the news which leads to declining circulation and more cost reductions. There are three parts to the […]

Comfort Zones

“Comfort zone” is a wonderful – and wonderfully effective – piece of language.  It communicates in plain English a wise insight about leadership and management in the face of change. The basic message is this: We are all more comfortable in our comfort zones than out of those comfort zones. Often, however, the challenges at hand […]

Frontier Land

Customer and employee experiences of Frontier Land at Disney World might match the real thing if two Florida legislators succeed with a National Rifle Association bill they’ve proposed. The bill makes it a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines if any business enforces company policies that prohibit […]

Budgetary Sleight of Hand

Yesterday’s post about the $300 million of Katrina donations by businesses triggered this anecdote from a friend who leads a non-profit housing group in Minnesota. He was on the phone last week with a few companies that have consistently supported his organization. And, he was told, “Don’t expect the same — if any — financial […]

Corporate Leadership

By mid-September, corporations had donated more than $300 million to Katrina relief efforts. It’s intriguing to compare that number with the $250 million that remained to be spent on critical unfinished aspects of the 1995 Southeast Louisana Urban Flood Control Project, known as SELA. Between 1995 and 2005, the Army Corps of Engineers spent $420 […]