Management and Motivation

Management: I was catching up a back issue of Fast Company magazine.  In the December/January issue, there were a couple of very interesting articles. The first was a report on how John Chambers is changing the corporate culture at Cisco, a $26B company.  By developing  a decentralized decisionmaking structure, Cisco has been able to generate significant new business in a fraction of the time that it used to.  The second article talked about the future of solar energy, both thin-film and photovoltaic technologies.  The future for these technologies is very (excuse the pun) bright.

Management: I am continually amazed by the lack of leadership in the big corporate executive suites.  From Wall Street to Detroit to San Jose, it seems the only lesson they know is “Where’s Mine?”.  These titans of industry are now regarded by the average American as being slightly less honest and ethical than the average attorney.
Why is it that no corporate leader has said “We will not lay anyone off this year.”?  “We may have to reduce our profit levels from what Wall Street expects, but we are willing to take that hit for our employees and our nation. We’re all in this together.”  Wouldn’t this have enormous strategic value?
Then, we have Larry Summers, by all accounts a smart guy.  He was a former Treasury Secretary, then president of Harvard, now Director of the White House’s National Economic Council.  He has made the determination that AIG must pay $165M in bonuses to the derivative traders that were at the heart of the Wall Street collapse. Sure seems like sticking it to the shareholders in AIG (that’s us, if you weren’t paying attention, the US government owns 80% of AIG).

Three different points of view on this topic: Aaron Zelinsky writes about a creative way that the government can classify these bonuses as to make it a little more palatable to the owners. Another idea has been floated by Matt Miller, who wrote about another idea to help the AIG traders and executives get a little backbone. Eliot Spitzer took a more skeptical view on Slate.

Motivation: The Freakonomics blog tells the story of why basketball teams that are behind by one point at halftime have a higher game winning percentage.

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