Asimov’s three laws of robotics…

Regardless how far we advance in our pursuit of better robotics, Asimov’s three laws will still apply:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

If I was appointed CEO of Planet Earth, what would be my first decree?

Having grown tired of the double standards that we have chosen to embrace with regard to our ‘Map of the World’ as we know it,  I would remove all political barriers of immigration, educational requirements, visa fees, reciprocal trade and tourism agreements, etc. Anything that makes it difficult or near impossible for someone living in one part of the world to visit and settle in any other part of the world of their choice.

We need to all remember that sometime, not too long ago, our forefathers  were all despised immigrants, who were allowed to settle in foreign lands…only to depose the rightful aboriginal peoples of said lands. So why do we bar anyone from settling in any land of his/her choice?

Who gave us the god given right to do so?

Feeling fragile, insecure about your job?

Remember…this is all the life we have…we will ever have. Do we really want to live in fear and trembling with every passing hour, immersed in a  life-consuming affair with our job. Employers today make for fickle lovers, who will use infidelity like a terrifying Sword of Damocles, imminently poised to drop and separate you from your job.
The only long-term solution is to develop the unique skills and knowledge that make you less dispensable. Continue to re-skill yourself.

Ask yourself constantly: “what am I doing today that makes it difficult for the Organization to replace me?”
If there is nothing that makes your contribution somewhat unique, identify the skills your Organization clearly values, and develop expertise in them.

Bullet-proof yourself.

Focus on doing the things that contribute to your role, and that are within your control – execute flawlessly. Eschew those concerns that are outside  your sphere of control. They can only become a distraction if you allow them to.
Best of luck!

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I find that from a career and professional sense, we end up getting the manager we deserve. If we allow ourselves to become the victim of micromanagement, it means we have either fallen short of our manager’s expectations, or that we have allowed the manager to bully/micromanage us into our current situation and role.

We need to decide – is this a leadership/management style that we can live with or is it something we would rather confront and accept the risk of whatever negative result that may entail.

At the end of it all, we want to preserve our sanity…and that may mean the trauma of sacrificing our job…or the less troublesome outcome, of changing jobs within the same organization.
But the choice is always ours to make!

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There is no such thing as lifetime employment any longer. The sooner we embrace this rather sad, but chilling thought, the better it is. The terrifying reality of today is that Outsourcing is here to stay. Our markets are drying up and most of the commerce is relegated to the new, emerging powerhouse economies like India and China with populations exceeding a billion humans each.  Their combined middle class population alone is likely in the 700 Million ballpark – that is twice the size of the entire population of the U.S. With that burgeoning middle class comes incredibly attractive markets with phenomenal disposable income. So yes, micro-manager driven or otherwise – we will continue to see our jobs erode and head eastward…at least for as long as this current trend to seek out  geographies with the kind of Education, English Language and Technical skills like India and China, remains in vogue.

The Balanced Scorecard…does it have a place in today’s business model

A key point that is underscored in the Japanese TQM or Kaizen model of Change Management is the need to ensure that the Scorecard also measures Business and Financial results based on a Competitive Benchmarking approach.

Here is a rather simplified summary:
1. What is the Q: The quality of the competitor – what is their error rate and the percent of rework required before acceptable Quality is achieved.
2. What is the C: The Cost the competitor incurs to perform the same process
3. What is the D: Delivery time taken for ‘On Time and In Full’ delivery (OTIF index)

I have learned since, that any Balanced Scorecard that does not factor in the Benchmarking QCD factors above – is not worth the paper it is printed on.

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As I have always stated – most of the management ‘discoveries’ (Like the Balanced Scorecard) have already happened…we keep re-bottling them in new bottles. The Japanese TQM movements initiated after WW2 have several practices that foreshadowed the Balanced Scorecard. Consider the Hoshin Kanri or full policy deployment programs that basically looked at a process that would percolate the Organizations Vision, Mission and Strategy down to the middle management planning, and right down to the worker level implementation…with measurements and metrics as part of a PDCA loop. America had more than 70% of the world’s export market – but simply because the rest of Europe and the East were struggling to rebuild after the war. read up on  W Edwards Deming, Joseph M. Juran and many great Japanese TQM luminaries like Shigeo Shingo, Taiichi Ohno, Masaaki Imai, Kauro Ishikawa et al who led the charge for TQM. The rest is history.

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Regarding the Balanced scorecard, it is not new nor can it be simply dismissed as not applicable to our business environment. Drs. Kaplan and Norton were onto something way back in the early 90’s and their initial hypothesis stands today. The BSC is still widely deployed across top fortune 500 companies and finds a place in the management system of organizations in the NA, Europe, East and Far East to date.  It focuses on driving the 4 elements of Organizational learning and growth, Process, Customer and Financial performance – and developing Organization Objectives, Strategy, Measurements and  Initiatives thereof.

With the advent of Big Data and Analytics, it has the potential to become a much more powerful business management system that can render otherwise vast, complex tracts of indecipherable Information into business decision data.

When you really think about it, in business, any business…what gets measured gets done!

Groupthink…

Groupthink is an irrational desire for members in a group to seek conformity and cohesiveness with each other, to the degree of suppressing any dissenting views or opinions from other members. This desire for group cohesiveness  causes decisions to be ratified without any critical analysis/debate, so key to ensure decisions are critiqued and debated before they are approved.
I disagree with some who would suggest that Groupthink is caused by bad leadership? Groupthink is the result of a group of people who yearn to conform with the larger group’s thinking, even if it is detrimental to the group at large.

Read Irving Janis’s ‘Victims of Group Think.’

Here is a pithy quote from Janis that I rather like: “The more amiability and esprit de corps there is among the members of a policy-making in-group, the greater the danger that independent critical thinking will be replaced by Groupthink, which is likely to result in irrational and dehumanizing actions directed against out-groups.”

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In discussing Groupthink, some like to point towards a leader who is happy with all around agreement to his/her decisions, and generally accepting of silence as consensus. In actuality Groupthink is not about an individual exercising his/her will over the team, but more a team so cohesive and conformity driven that they view any form of dissent as dangerous to the team’s general ‘joie de vi·vre.’ A danger that is rapidly snuffed out – which means the team acts against the individual dissenters and closes ranks to effectively shut them out. The opposite of group think is more difficult to obtain – the willingness on the part of individuals to hold their ground and uphold their values, beliefs and critical opinions, regardless of the rest of the groups thinking. But such a stand is taken not just against the leader – but indeed against all of the team, to defend one’s opinion. Like the individual Juror’s dissent that can often cause a ‘Hung Jury.’

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The most damaging outcome of groupthink is often the waste of time and resources that go into a team going into a retreat/closed-door meeting to thrash out some jugular corporate issues, only to come away with a sub-standard quality output as a result of groupthink.
If the team is so fortunate, they can rally their forces and rework the outcome, with a better result, if they recognize that their initial outcomes came out of groupthink’ing. The damage could be vastly more far-reaching if they remain ignorant of the groupthink driven outcomes and go ahead with their actions and decisions based on it.