Entries for February 2006

Different Paths to an Effective Company?

This is the fourth of a series of posts introducing the NEO community to the intrepid students who have taken on an optional assignment in MGMT 251 this spring. The fourth student I am highlighting is Kevin Sudnik, whose blog focuses on Managerial Styles. He has made three entries so far, and has uncovered some different frameworks for understanding managerial styles. Please click through to read what he discovered on the Hay-McBer website. Do you fit into one of the styles they have identified? Which styles would you expect to be most effective? Read his entry and leave him a comment, please!

P. S. The first entry in my series highlighting students' blogs, which mentions Danny Pho's Exciting Companies in Northeast Ohio, is here.

The second entry in my series, which mentions David Hastings' Innovations in Motivation, is here.

The third entry in my series, which mentions Chris Reed's Management Issues in the Restaurant Industry, is here.

I never even met her...

... and yet I'm finding the entries about a delightful little girl, written by her grieving father at Dear Elena, so compelling. Elena passed away on Wednesday night, after a very sudden onset of bacterial meningitis. She was not quite seven years old.

Elena's dad is an acquaintance of my husband's, and so this brush with death seems too close to home. Both Scott and I were relieved last night when our daughter said she did not want to do our dinnertime ritual of discussing one bad thing and one good thing that had happened that day. It will be very hard to talk about the death of a child with my daughter... but I hope we will find a way, so that we can be present at visiting hours this weekend.

All we can do, really, is to hold each other and the present moment in our focus, even through the unimaginable pain of such a loss.

who runs the best restaurants in Cleveland?

This is the third of a series of posts introducing the NEO community to the intrepid students who have taken on an optional assignment this spring -- to choose a topic around which to blog in February, March, and April, with the aim of learning something, teaching something, and generating dialogue online. All these students were required to blog about the topics we discussed last fall in MGMT 250 (if they wanted to earn an A) and to comment on one another's blog entries, but this semester, their assignment is optional, and tougher. They need to include weblinks in most of their entries, and do some promotion of their blogs through participation in other online forums or through comments on other blogs. They will also be doing some in-person networking to promote their blogs. Part of my assessment of their work will be related to their ability to generate readers of and comments on their entries.

The third student I am highlighting is Chris Reed, whose blog will focus on Management Issues in the Restaurant Industry. He has made three entries so far, and has uncovered some interesting statistics about the industry. Please click through to read the list he uncovered of the top 8 restaurants in Cleveland. Do you agree with the rankings? What do you think contributes to their success? Are there other restaurants you would nominate as well-run businesses? Chris wants to know about them. Read his entry and leave him a comment, please!

P. S. The first entry in my series highlighting students' blogs, which mentions Danny Pho's Exciting Companies in Northeast Ohio, is here.

The second entry in my series, which mentions David Hastings' Innovations in Motivation, is here.

natural consequences of missing class

There was an interesting article in the New York Times recently about college students -- it focuses on the sense of entitlement that the current generation of undergraduates seems steeped in. My first reaction was that the article overstates the prevalence of these kinds of student attitudes. After all, by far the majority of my students are courteous, dedicated, and driven to exceed expectations.

Then I began reflecting on what happened last week, when I delegated class to my TAs to run a presentation skills workshop while I was fulfilling a professional service responsibility in Chicago. The rate of unexplained absences went up dramatically, even though I had explained to students in advance that they would be given only on this date an opportunity to express their preferences regarding their team assignments for the course's final project. What makes students think that it's OK to show disrespect to the TA in this way? Did they not realize that not having information about their preferences would make my work to construct teams, working in consultation with the team leaders selected from among their peers, more difficult? Certainly, the TA is less likely to offer those students informal feedback on a draft paper before it is due. And clearly, if I don't know which team leaders they want to work with, their wishes are unlikely to be taken into account in the team construction process (which we finished last night).

I have a fairly lax attendance policy -- as long as students notify me in advance about an absence, they are excused. And yet still, some students do not email or call. It's just not that hard to memorize the university's general number -- 368-2000 -- and find a phone to call from if you discover yourself stuck off campus and unable to return before a scheduled class. The students who cannot make that small effort are definitely damaging their reputation in my eyes, and dramatically reducing the likelihood that I would agree to write them a recommendation letter later on.

So, I'm glad that the article pointed out some of the natural consequences of inappropriately cavalier behavior for students who make the mistake of treating professors as mere service providers. Yes, students are customers, and we owe them a level of fairness and consistency... but students are also apprentices, learning the world of professional responsibility, and they owe us as their mentors a certain minimum level of respect.

problem solvers wanted

In a faculty meeting yesterday, one of my colleagues argued that we could measure our degree of success in developing our students' skill levels by assessing the difference in their salaries before they entered a degree program and after they left. He asked a rhetorical question, something along the lines of this: "Isn't anything we do that will have value for students going to get translated into more money for them after they leave here?"

I could not help myself. I bellowed, from the last row, "NO!"

I feel quite strongly that an MBA is not just a ticket to corporate success. It should also be a ticket to superior problem-solving skills, and an understanding of how businesses can be used as vehicles for solving world problems. When I ask my students what their top 5 values are, relatively few of them say "getting rich"... most of them talk about things like honoring their family, enjoying time with friends, and pursuing meaningful achievements. The value of our degree programs must lie in the extent to which we develop the skills that students need to live noble lives, acting in accord with their values.

James Cascio at Worldchanging makes an impassioned argument that environmentalists need to be working on solving the poverty problem, and I would argue that businesspeople should be working with them. CK Prahalad argues in "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid" that pulling those in poverty out and into a class of entrepreneurial consumers is the next great challenge for business. I would argue that pulling all of us into the status of sustainable producers and consumers is fundamental to the question of whether our global society will remain healthy, or implode within my daughter's lifetime.

CK Prahalad's book argues that working at the bottom of the pyramid is profitable. I'd assert that even if it yields lower lines of financial return than other types of work, it's still worth pursuing. There are more important things in life than making more money, and solving the problems of poverty and environmental degradation are two of those most important tasks for my generation and those that follow.

More information about companies pursuing this strategy is available here and here and here, and I'd appreciate receiving links to other similar collections of information, as well.

Global Discover Contest

The Weatherhead School of Management’s Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit (BAWB) has partnered with Net Impact to develop the Global Discover Contest, which invites people to offer suggestions on new ways for business to live in mutual benefit with the earth’s ecosystems and world’s societies. The deadline is April 1. Learn more at this URL.

innovations in motivating employees

This is the second of a series of posts introducing the NEO community to the intrepid students who have taken on an optional assignment this spring -- to choose a topic around which to blog in February, March, and April, with the aim of learning something, teaching something, and generating dialogue online. All these students were required to blog about the topics we discussed last fall in MGMT 250 (if they wanted to earn an A) and to comment on one another's blog entries, but this semester, their assignment is optional, and tougher. They need to include weblinks in most of their entries, and do some promotion of their blogs through participation in other online forums or through comments on other blogs. They will also be doing some in-person networking to promote their blogs. Part of my assessment of their work will be related to their ability to generate readers of and comments on their entries.

The second student I am highlighting is David Hastings, whose blog will focus on Innovations in Motivation. He has made two entries so far, and has generated a total of seven comments, which is impressive! Please click through to read his thoughts on businesses that buy lunch or dinner for employees. Do you have any suggestions about techniques your employer has used to try to motivate you? Whether they have fired you up or burned you out, David wants to know about them. Read his entry on perks and leave him a comment, please!

P. S. The first entry in my series highlighting students' blogs, which mentions Danny Pho's Exciting Companies in Northeast Ohio, is here. Did anyone guess the answer to his teaser post about a technology company based in Northeast Ohio, with employees working in Europe, Japan, and other foreign locations? Here's a hint. Click through to read his entry and give him any comments you have about this company.

Would you be able to forgive him?

Biswanath Halder was sentenced to life in prison on Friday. One of the brothers of Norman Wallace, the Weatherhead MBA student who Halder shot and killed on May 9, 2003, forgave the shooter after the sentencing... another spoke bitterly. I can understand both of their reactions.

I never had a chance to meet Norman Wallace, and yet I know that his death was a tremendous loss.

Continue reading "Would you be able to forgive him?"

step 1: believe in yourself

Today Meredith Myers and Latha Poonamallee will be leading MGMT 251 students through a presentation skills workshop. As this essay by Carmine Gallo in Business Week points out, step 1 in delivering an effective presentation is to believe in yourself. The article offers other helpful tips as well.

I found the article online via the Tom Peters Newswire, which is a really helpful filter if you are looking for discussions of current business topics on the web.

There is also a collection of other presentation tips collected at my deli.cio.us tag about presentations, and at the aggregation of all popular deli.cio.us links on presentations. If you have not already seen Delicious, I recommend checking it out -- you can even integrate your list of tagged weblinks into your Blog@Case! Here's how.

Unfortunately, I cannot be in class today, because I am scheduled to fly to Chicago at 10:30 am for a board meeting in a professional association. I was elected last May to serve as a representative-at-large for the 2600+ members of the Organization Development and Change division of the Academy of Management. I'll be back Saturday evening. If anyone needs me before then, my office voicemail has my cellphone number.

NEO's exciting companies

This is the first of a series of posts introducing the NEO community to the intrepid students who have taken on an optional assignment this spring -- to choose a topic around which to blog in February, March, and April, with the aim of learning something, teaching something, and generating dialogue online. All these students were required to blog about the topics we discussed last fall in MGMT 250 (if they wanted to earn an A) and to comment on one another's blog entries, but this semester, their assignment is tougher. They need to include weblinks in most of their entries, and do some promotion of their blogs through participation in other online forums or through comments on other blogs. They will also be doing some in-person networking to promote their blogs. Part of my assessment of their work will be related to their ability to generate readers of and comments on their entries.

The first student I'm highlighting is Danny Pho, who has chosen to focus on exciting companies in Northeast Ohio. As a native of the area, Danny wants to reverse the negative self-talk that he has heard for most of his life about Cleveland, and demonstrate to his fellow 20somethings that there are really cool places to get a job in Northeast Ohio.

Do you have suggestions for him about companies he could profile? Are you looking for a little free publicity about your company, which might help you recruit some outstanding Case students in a year or two when they graduate? Would you be willing to talk with Danny by phone, or meet him at Arabica? Please leave him a comment and welcome him to the blogosphere.

how the media enforces two party politics

So today, the Plain Dealer published its first major story about candidates for Governor and Senate, just about 10 weeks before the primaries. Only, they didn't list all the candidates. Compare with this list.

No, the PeeDee used a headline about "Candidates for Ohio Governor", but then the subheadings include only "Major Republicans" and "Major Democratics" (and is that a typo, or what? don't we usually say Democrats?) Note that Republicans are listed first, and then Democrats, and neither candidate list is in alphabetical order. Bias? What bias?

The effect of excluding other candidates, like Weatherhead emeritus Bill Pierce, the Libertarian candidate, is to reinforce the notion any disaffected citizen might have that there are no realistic alternatives to the two major parties. It is based on the erroneous assumption that newspapers don't influence elections -- they only report on them. But if they report on them in biased ways, then they certainly do influence voters!

So, if you want to get a picture of the whole field of candidates, don't count on the PeeDee. Check out Meet the Bloggers, instead!

hope amidst hostility

I certainly support free speech, but I've never thought that name-calling or other schoolyard taunting rituals were worth participating in, and so I find it hard to understand the rationale of the Danish journalists who published cartoons of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban. Amidst all the variety of reactions to their decision in past weeks, I found two that were especially encouraging about the possibility that through dialogue, we might reconcile our differences.

The first is a post by Jill Miller Zimon quoting Tariq Ramadan about differences in freedom of expression laws in different countries.

The second is a post by Yasan Badran at Global Voices Online summarizing reactions in Syria to a recent anti-Danish demonstration, and reporting on a recent initiative called Bridge the Gap in Blogspace, which aims to promote intercultural understanding.

I hope that out of efforts such as these, we will see more uses of humor to unite, rather than divide.

Postscript: Just after I made my post this morning, Mano Singham made a post on the same topic. As usual, Mano provides valuable background to the story, and demonstrates how bloggers can complement and deepen stories as told by the mainstream media.

no ordinary Sunday

I did something very unusual today (unusual for me, that is). I attended a worship service at the Unitarian Universalist Society on Lancashire Road in Cleveland Heights. I had been drawn by the invitation from Theresa Kine, interim minister, to celebrate February as a time to thaw and open up new space for growth within ourselves.

After the service, the minister introduced herself during the tea and coffee hour, and I asked her about her closing benediction, which I had found especially powerful... it included a phrase or two about "greeting the spiritual in our lives with laughter and with tears" and something about the strength to suffer hopefully. She said it was by Forrest Church of All Souls in NYC. I have not been able to find the benediction online, but I did find this very recent sermon of his, which was a powerful read. It is entitled "you say you're not religious", which is one of the things I have said many times in my life. He does a good job of giving a realistic preview of what it would mean to join a UU community.

If you are seeking answers to spiritual questions, like me, I hope you had the good fortune to hear wisdom shared today in a community of likeminded people.

if a psychiatrist can run a university...

... then perhaps a psychologist can run the state of Ohio. (The psychiatrist to whom I refer of course is Case's own Ed Hundert.)

I will listen to the Meet the Bloggers interviews with the candidates before the primary in May, or at least skim the transcripts, so that I can cast an informed vote... but I do find it amusing that a reporter at the Cinncinnati Enquirer was able to find this angle on analyzing Strickland's declared campaign donations. Kudos to Andrew Welsh-Huggins. I wonder what other interesting patterns might be discovered in the candidates' donor records?

What does it say about me that I found it vaguely reassuring to learn that Ted Strickland has an advanced degree in counseling psychology?

Postscript: If you still don't understand why I'm upset about warrantless wiretapping, here's a really clear explanation of how the NSA is probably eavesdropping on US citizens who have made overseas calls to numbers they suspect are affiliated with terrorists.

ethics in medicine

Today the Plain Dealer reported on the Cleveland Clinic's efforts to update its conflict-of-interest policies and I think this is a great example for this organization to set. Medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies are largely unregulated, and can have just as much influence on the cost of healthcare as can Washington lobbyists. I especially hope this this will mean that pregnant women will be less exposed to infant formula advertisements, so that their desires to breastfeed are not undermined by staff with connections to formula companies. (I also hope the other hospitals in the area will follow the Clinic's lead.)