Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to Discuss Disagreements About Ideas

The longstanding (years) bugs in Gravator/Wordpress block me from commenting on the blog. I think maybe I found a way to fix it (just use the +operator gmail allows - so instead of email@gmail.com email+fixforwordpresslameness@gmail.com, I have told Wordpress they seem to have messed up the merging of Gravatar accounts if the email address was already in Wordpress but they never seem to understand).

Good list. Also building emotional intelligence. When people have limited emotional intelligence things quickly jump to taking disagreements about issues personally.

Related: What Does Respect for People Actually Mean? - Lean Blog Podcast with John Hunter (discusses emotional intelligence and management, among other things) - I think people need to learn how to encourage people to criticize their ideas. We want more people providing their thoughts, not less.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Failure of Hero Worship Thinking at JC Penney

Where J.C. Penney And Ron Johnson Went Wrong
Penney’s board opted for a silver bullet that didn’t exist. Rather than do the hard work and heavy lifting necessary to turnaround a brand that had been mismanaged for years, they wanted a quick fix – they bought smoke and mirrors rather than sound business practice.
I think 2 fatal mistakes were made.  First paying Johnson and 3 executives $170 million shows a failure to understand management, leadership and organizations.  It values up hero worship and huge risk taking instead of valuing the deep changes needed to improve a company such as JC Penny.

Lots of boards share this hero worship vision of organizations.  Largely pushed by such a hero worship vision they then took huge gambles instead of experimenting learning and adjusting, experimenting some more and adjusting and only once the evidence supported the wisdom of adopting changes system wide taking that step.  Using the PDSA improvement cycle would have made the experiments much less damaging and hopefully a success strategy (certainly they didn't find one) could have been found.

I have written previously that the CEO is only one person. Ron Johnson showed 4 people (that paid themselves $170 million) are not enough either. The whole attitude such people have about the appropriateness of hero worship and disrespect for the vast majority or workers sets up likely failure.

Related: Netflix is Well Managed, People are Overreacting to Short Term Issues - The Market Discounts Proven Company Leadership Far Too Quickly - How Could They Know?

Monday, May 20, 2013

We Want to Engage the Brains of All Employees

"Did Dr. Deming really say what Dan Pink is saying today?"
John Hunter of the Edwards Deming Institute has supported Dan Pink’s findings a recent post. I read this piece with interest – looking for evidence on how Dan’s views are in sync with those of Deming’s. I found little.
Deming and Pink and Kohn and others do not think the purpose of people at work is to be the hands for a brain sitting in New York telling them what to do. Dan Pink did say the carrot approach works for mundane, repetitive tasks without intrinsic motivation.  Dan Pink does not say work falls into that category (that I have seen).

Many people that don't understand Deming or lean don't have respect for people and the importance of engaging people's mind at work. Those people could take Pink's claim that certain tasks can be done better with carrots but I don't think Dan Pink would agree. I know Deming wouldn't and I wouldn't.

Dan Pink is saying nearly exactly what Alfie Kohn was saying in the 1980s and 1990s (Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes).  Both referenced lots of research on the topic and what Alfie was saying is what those adopting Deming's ideas were using to guide their thoughts.

Dan Pink and Deming are on the same wavelength
Deming’s points cannot be taken as separate entities. There is so much overlap and I believe that is by design. Deming’s 7th point talks about instituting leadership. Specifically, “The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.” To me, this is strong evidence that Deming talks about supporting both the physical and cognitive areas of work.
Related: Two resources, largely untapped in American organizations, are potential information and employee creativity - The greatest waste in America is failure to use the ability of people - Respect for Everyone - Customer Focus by Everyone

Friday, May 17, 2013

14 Plus Potentially 14 More Years for Copyrights Has Become 120 Years

Our Intellectual Property Laws Are Out of Control

Thomas Jefferson opposed all government-granted monopolies, but James Madison argued that while monopolies generally are bad, there is a place for patents and copyrights. In the end, the Patent and Copyright Clause (Article I, Section 8) empowered Congress "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
The idea was that innovators would be rewarded with a short-term monopoly on their work. Afterward it would enter the public domain, hopefully sparking further creations or discoveries. In the early days the Constitution's "limited times" were quite limited: 14 years for patents; 14 years, plus a potential 14-year renewal term, for copyrights. And patents were strictly scrutinized to ensure that they represented real inventions. (Jefferson himself, when he was secretary of state, served as a patent examiner, so important did he consider this task.)
Nowadays the limited times aren't so limited. Copyright has been extended to the life of the author plus 70 years; corporate works (with no living person as "author") get a 120-year term. Patents are good for just 20 years, but there's far less scrutiny to ensure that they represent something truly new—a lot of "nuisance patents" are filed to provide bargaining chips rather than to protect actual creativity. Also, influential companies often get Congress to extend their own patent rights through special legislation. Does a century-plus exclusive right encourage invention more than a 28-year exclusive right? It's doubtful.
Sadly, we continue to damage society to provide government granted monopolies to large campaign contributors.  And we allow our legal system to be subverted by companies threatening to subject others to abusive litigation.  We should fix the system to work for society instead of against the interest of our society.  It is even worse that the USA continues to pressure foreign government to adopt solutions those paying USA politicians lots of cash want, at the expense of the citizens in those countries.

The copyright and patent systems must serve their public purpose or encouraging innovation and creation. The current system does the opposite. The system is doing great harm to our society (likely more harm than anything other than the broken health care system). We need to fix it. Sadly we keep electing fundamentally corrupted politicians that act mainly to serve those paying them the most and who have shown little interest in what benefits the country.

Related: New Deadly Diseases for Business - Bad Government, Closed Access - links to articles on the deadly disease of our broken patent and copyright system - Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation