I blogged yesterday about the very bad business decision made by Walt Baker, CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality Association. Mr. Baker forwarded a highly offensive e-mail, and the consequences were severe and immediate. His marketing firm immediately terminated by the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. He has now been fired from his job as CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality Association – as he should have been. The vote was unanimous.
Read about it here.
I wrote this in my earlier post:
This is what he should have learned. Not to receive such e-mails. He should have responded to those who sent him such offensive material with a demand to stop sending it to him, and to let them know that such behavior was not acceptable in a civil society. If he had done that, there would have been no danger of simply forwarding the offensive e-mail to begin with.
Now, some can argue that my comments are against the notion of free speech. So I say, write and say and send whatever you want. But if you intend to conduct business in a civil society, it’s wise to practice civility.
Cheryl offers: I began to wonder as each Olympic athlete stepped to the podium to be awarded their medal if they were using just a few bouquets of flowers and passing them around between events. They all looked the same! As it turns out, my friend in Canada, Lyn Kyneston, solved the mystery for me. Each bouquet of green spider mums with hypericum berries surrounded by leather-leaf fern, monkey grass, and aspidistra leaves, was made by Just Beginning Flowers in Surrey, B.C. This florist is much more than a florist; they are also a non-profit that teaches people with significant social barriers to be florists, provides them with experience, and then helps them find jobs. The many women who worked on these 1800 bouquets might be recently released from prison, formerly abused or recovering drug addicts. It made me remember what Marcus Buckingham wrote in his book, First Break All the Rules, which in many ways, this florist is doing. He said “Every role performed at excellence deserves respect. Every role has its own nobility.” High five to the Olympic committee that chose this extraordinary florist and bestowed not only medals to athletes, but also bestowed opportunity, confidence, and respect to these women in need.
The books keep coming about the great financial crisis. The questions they are trying to answer are these:
what went wrong?
why didn’t we see it coming?
and most importantly
how do we fix it?
how do we keep it from happening again?
I’ve read and presented The Black Swan and This Time is Different (I blogged about that one recently, here). Business Week reviews another new one with Slapped by the Invisible Hand: Richard Posner has steadfastly fought the regulation of markets—until now, a review of The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy by Richard A. Posner.
There is a theme developing. The theme is this: a number of people (Alan Greenspan was one key player in this) believed that the market was self-correcting. The call for fewer regulations — for deregulation — was a call to free up the markets, confident that financial institutions would do well by all of us.
That confidence has been shattered.
From the review:
In Posner’s latest book, The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy, the prolific federal judge and University of Chicago economist argues that competitive forces inspire financiers to take irrational gambles—especially when they’re betting other people’s money. We cannot trust them to put the common good ahead of profits, says Posner. As a result, government must step in to limit the risks bankers take and, occasionally, repair the damage they inflict.
Laws inspired by the Great Depression helped achieve a half-century without catastrophic meltdowns. The dismantling of those laws and emasculating of the agencies established to enforce them—without the enactment of new regulation suited to today’s Wall Street—go a long way toward explaining our recent brush with disaster.
Though Posner was himself a champion of deregulation, he now sees the error of his ways. And he joins the chorus of voices saying that we’d best do a much better job at paying attention, overseeing, regulating. Again, from the Business Week review:
As an influential free-market thinker, he helped shape the antiregulatory ideology that inspired so much public policy since 1980. Belatedly he admits error. The Chicago School and all its powerful acolytes blundered, Posner writes, “by persuading themselves that markets were perfect, which is to say self-regulating, and that government intervention in them almost always made things worse.”
I had a professor in college years ago who said (from my rusty memory), “if one person/author says something, pay a little attention. If nearly every author says the same thing, pay a whole lot of attention.”
Well, a whole lot of authors and observers are saying the same thing: somebody (the government, in some fashion) has to regulate. To quote Ronald Reagan, though he was speaking of the Soviet Union: “trust, but verify.”
Health Care of the Future
This post is part of HBR’s Health Care Innovations Insight Center.
If ever a field needed a makeover, it’s medicine. Chaotic, expensive, inefficient, and often ineffective, health care is dying for innovation. There’s no shortage of clever ideas, but, as we will be discussing online in the coming weeks, barriers to innovation — everything from heart-stopping price tags for new technologies to doctors’ famous crankiness about doing things differently — are just as abundant.
Here are 10 innovations that we at HBR think will have a big impact —if they can prove themselves and make it into the mainstream. You can also view a slideshow version of the 10 innovations.
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Here is the first innovation Morse discusses. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Daily Alerts, please visit email@example.com.
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Checklists: Health care is catching on to something pilots have known for decades — that by taming complexity, checklists can save lives. In his best seller The Checklist Manifesto, surgeon Atul Gawande describes how using a simple checklist before surgery can help hospitals catch stupid mistakes before they happen (are we operating on the right patient?), reducing deaths nearly half. A checklist tested at Johns Hopkins Hospital required doctors to confirm, among other things, that they’d washed their hands before inserting a central line. Incredibly, when doctors used the list, the 10-day line-infection rate fell from 11% to zero. So using checklists is a no-brainer, right? I asked Gawande about that. The good news, he told me, is that they’re being adopted pretty fast compared with other innovations in medicine (it took more than a decade for aspirin to become a routine part of heart-attack care). The bad news is that if you try to mandate checklists “it will fail,” Gawande says. Hospitals need to sell docs on the value of checklists and, more difficult, get them to step off the pedestal and become team players, comfortable in a world where a nurse can tell them to go wash their hands.
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To see the slideshow:
To read an article about the Johns Hopkins checklist:
Gardiner Morse is a senior editor of Harvard Business Review Group.
“In the business world, failure has become an expected rite of passage. You hear all the time how nine out of ten new businesses fail. You hear that your business’s chances are slim to none. You hear that failure builds character. People advise, ‘Fail early and fail often.’
“With so much failure in the air, you can’t help but breathe it is. Don’t inhale. Don’t get fooled by the stats. Other people’s failures are just that: other people’s failures.
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“Contrast that with learning from your successes. Success gives you real ammunition. When something succeeds, you know what worked – and you can do it again. And the next time, you’ll probably do it even better.
“Success is the experience that actually counts. That shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s exactly how nature works. Evolution doesn’t linger on past failures, it’s always building on what worked. So should you.”
I just read the article in Time by Douglas Brinkley about Tom Hanks and his upcoming series (Hanks and Spielberg together) on the War in the Pacific for HBO: How Tom Hanks Became America’s Historian in Chief. It is worth reading. But here is an underlying message in the article/profile that grabbed me: Tom Hanks reads books. Lots of books. And when he gets hold of some concept, some idea, he looks for more books to read. Though film is his medium of choice, it is from books that he learns in depth. Here’s just a hint at his reading regimen:
He harbors a pugnacious indignation against history as data gathering, preferring the work of popular historians like McCullough, Ambrose, Barbara Tuchman and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Tom Hanks reads, and then he does something with what he reads. And how good is he? Here’s what Brinkley wrote:
He’s the visual David McCullough of his generation, framing the heroic tales of explorers, astronauts and soldiers for a wide audience. (McCullough’s John Adams has sold about 3 million copies; Hanks’ John Adams brought in 5.5 million viewers per episode.) And in the history world, his branding on a nonfiction title carries something like the power of Oprah.
Though Tom Hanks dropped out of college, he is a serious, life-long learner. He dropped out of college for the purpose of learning even more about his craft, acting. (For a quick description of this chapter in his life, read the Wikipedia article).
And his hunger for learning has never slowed. The overwhelming impression one gets from reading the Brinkley piece is that Tom Hanks is dead serious about learning, and then equally serious about teaching. And this has become his true life’s work.
For a blog that cares about books, Tom Hanks provides a pretty good example of why good books matter.