I See Pitchforks

Greed

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

Greed and Pitchforks I was listening to podcasts as I was traveling around southern California in my car. I almost skipped the next playlist podcast when I heard the topic was The Seven Deadly Sins. They hooked me before I could safely move to the next podcast. I’m glad that I listened. According to the standard list, the seven deadly sins …

Accountability Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo – Extensive Fraud – Governance

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

Accountability I’m often asked about the difference between accountability and responsibility. The distinction I make (perhaps a bit oversimplified?) is that responsibility can be and often is shared with others. However, one cannot share accountability. Another distinction I’ve heard in our leadership circles is that one takes responsibility, but one is held accountable (by oneself and/or others). In the recent …

Paul Tudor Jones II: Why we Need to Rethink Capitalism

David Salahi2-Jobs & Tech

In his TED Talk Paul Tudor Jones II said: “… we as a society have come to view our companies and corporations in a very narrow, almost monomaniacal fashion with regard to how we value them, and we have put so much emphasis on profits, on short-term quarterly earnings and share prices, at the exclusion of all else. It’s like …

Administrative Law

The Regulation “We Deserve.”

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership, 3-LI

Yesterday I had lunch with a good friend and colleague. We had a wide ranging discussion as usual, including talking about the water situation here in Southern California. Recently a court ruling found that a small town’s water district here in SoCal did not calculate their rates properly. I suspect the Water District knew that, but had other reasons for wanting …

Professor Ann Lee

Book Review: What The U.S. Can Learn From China by Ann Lee

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership, Book Reviews

I had the pleasure of seeing Professor Lee at a recent Harvard Business School Alumni presentation where she was the guest speaker. Her discussion left no doubt about her commitment and passion when it comes to bringing the United States and China closer together. She knows both countries quite well and acknowledges the good, the bad, and the ugly in …

Standing On The Sun

Book Review: Standing on the Sun by Christopher Meyer

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership, Book Reviews

How the explosion of capitalism abroad will change business everywhere. Some years ago, I was waxing poetic after a hunting expedition in Upstate New York. It happened to be a beautiful, cold, snowy day and I just happened to be very conscious of how the woods in which I was hunting looked so different each time I move slowly, quietly a …

From time-to-time, I find myself in a philosophical discussion with colleagues about our economy and our brand of capitalism. There are, of course, the two extreme views on this subject: (1) markets should be the only determination of value with no interference from government and (2) free markets are bad and central planning is the way to make sure people are protected from greed. Most of the folks I know are not at either end on this spectrum but are much more toward the center. After one such conversation, I found myself saying to a colleague that, "An economy without capitalism is lame; capitalism without regulation is a cancer." I liked that comment so well that I decided to use it on my e-mail signature for awhile. It seems very obvious to me that we cannot, do not and never have had a totally free market version of capitalism. Certainly the headlines exposing company and government excesses proves the point that it isn't wise to let things go unregulated. The question always seems to be how far do we go with the regulation? How much do we allow government (local, state and/or federal) to interfere by favoring industries or businesses within those industries? How much do we allow business to influence government through lobbying? The amount of money involved will certainly corrupt those who are governing and lobbying. It seems clear to me that the U.S. government at many levels is almost as corrupt as just about any other government; we just call it lobbying. I'm not alone in this view (see blog post to the left). It also seems to me that businesses, as they grow to become "big business," will always cater to the shareholder often with reckless disregard for the greater good and long term view of stakeholders. I wish to note that organized labor is also big business and should be included in that category for the purposes of this essay. The gift we've had so far seems to be that we have been able to balance those two diametrically opposed ideals of a free market and protection for stakeholders. But the time has come for us to re-evaluate things. Both because of the force of global connection and because our country is now seeing a vexing problem of concentration of wealth in a minority of stakeholders. In other words, whether you agree or not, the perception by a growing majority (and perception is reality) is that the system is no longer "fair." We who believe in our system and wish to see it and our country thrive ignore this reality at our own peril. My point here is that we are at a crossroads. Enterprising people will take advantage of the opportunity presented by the disenchantment with how things are going. I don't know what form that will take for the entrepreneurs among us, but I suspect it will have something to do with building a business that is recognized as embracing a "high ethical standard," be sustainable (and all that that means in terms of environment, resources, etc.) and provide an exciting, challenging workplace. Employee motivation will follow the concepts that Daniel Pink outlined in "Drive" minimizing the emphasis on money. CEOs will earn a reasonable multiple of the employee salaries. The New York Times Business Day section on 10/29/2011 published an essay by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen titled, "What's Luck Got to Do With It?" I was impressed with the response that Progressive Insurance Company had to California's proposition 103 which definitely slammed the insurance industry. I think we would all do well to look at our businesses (large or small, private, public, for-profit or not-for-profit) and see how we can best respond to the Occupy Wall Street mentality. It does us no good to rail against it. Nor does it help to declare how "they don't get it." Instead, we can use this opportunity to our competitive advantage and rebuild our business to one which is truly admired by customers and competitors alike.

My veiw of U. S. Capitalism – Nullius in verba

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

From time-to-time, I find myself in a philosophical discussion with colleagues about our economy and our brand of capitalism. There are, of course, the two extreme views on this subject: (1) markets should be the only determination of value with no interference from government and (2) free markets are bad and central planning is the way to make sure people …

Book Review: Collapse by Jared Diamond

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership, Book Reviews

I’m not particularly a fan of history, but this book has been recommended to me by several colleagues. It’s been on my “to read” shelf for almost a year now, so it’s high time I got to it! The fly leaf gives us this hint: “Diamond weaves an all-encompassing global theses throughout a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives,” and I …

Gangs of America

Book Review: Gangs of America by Ted Nace

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership, Book Reviews

I found this to be a fascinating book, well researched and documented. Mr. Nace traces the history of the American Corporations from the earliest years of our union. It would be easy to draw the conclusion that Mr. Nace is anti-business, but that is not how I read his position. Instead, what he is suggesting is that we have created …