Hearing Yourself Speak

If I raised my hand and said, I want to hear myself talk, it would be viewed as a poor use of time.  But if I raise my hand and just start speaking with the purpose of hearing myself talk, it’s viewed as somehow acceptable.

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Infidelity and Executives – Not a military problem

Several days ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called for a review of military ethics training.  Now I’m all about fidelity and commitment, I just don’t buy that the problem is a military one.

Executive infidelity is not as much as a problem, which presumes a solution, as it is an unsavory reality about top executives in all sectors.  Let’s face it, with power comes opportunity and access.  Ben Franklin, a notorious philanderer, once wrote, “Now I have a sheep and a cow, everyone bids me good morrow.”  Franklin may have said it well and pursued some liberties himself, but he was surely not the first powerful man to enjoy the privileges of his office, and David Petraeus will not be the last.

Here’s a sample of this year’s sex scandals:

  • Christopher Kubasik – CEO, Lockheed Martin
  • Bobby Petrino – Head Football Coach, University of Arkansas
  • Nicholas Martinelli – Teacher, Triton High School
  • Abhishek Singhvi – Member, Indian Parliment
  • John Travolta – Actor
  • Scott DesJarlais - Representative, US Congress

And let’s not forget about some classics like Presidents John F. Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson, and   William J. Clinton.

When you get down to it, infidelity is not a military problem.  The military is largely full of well-meaning, family-oriented men and women who maintain solid spousal relationships, and don’t have any more indiscretions than their civilian counterparts.  They do not need any extra training in addition to the ethics training that I suspect already far exceeds that of the private sector.  Let them focus on the task at hand.

In the end, it just comes down to when men get power, they get more temptations and more access.  And before any of you women take one step up the staircase of your ivory tower, let’s remember that without the requisite, complicit female, these would all be cases of masturbation.  For those women who still feel righteous – Lisa Karabinus, Sheliah Cull, and Andrea Conners.

I’ll close with a question.  If it takes an incredible amount of drive to achieve the professional heights of these scandalous executives, what fuels their drive and is it linked to their extracurriculars?

Teambuilding

I look at teambuilding in a completely different way than most.  I was a pilot in my first career, so effectively working together as a crew was essential to survival.  I try to apply those same crew concepts in my business life, but the team dynamic doesn’t seem as highly regarded in the corporate world.  Sure, teambuilding is popular and fun.  As a teambuilding facilitator, I have fielded countless calls from people wanting to book social events and call them teambuilding.  Most executives are the all about having a focused teambuilding event in the planning meetings, but once they arrive they are just looking to go out and “race”.  When it comes down to it, it is way more fun to just have fun.  No need to bother with trivialities like learning.  Well, the good news is that the market responds and the “teambuilding” world is dominated with scavenger hunters, trust-fall experts, and Papier-mâché yacht design-build firms.  This is not teambuilding; it’s PE class for adults.

Teambuilding, according to BusinessDictionary.com, is a philosophy of job design in which employees are viewed as members of interdependent teams instead of as individual workers.  It’s a methodology just like Six Sigma or Lean, and in order to use it effectively, your staff needs training.  You’re likely thinking to yourself, “So what? I know the difference between good teams and bad.”  You might, but the skill is in knowing how to foster good group dynamics and then harnessing them for productivity.  Beyond that, the career focus and objectivity of an outside consultant give critical insight into your organization’s inner workings and greatly speed the synergy of your staff.

I think sailboats are great tools to illustrate the need for good team dynamics.  You cannot pull over, there are no brakes and no engine – and you need to work the problem to completion, even if you get into a series of compounding errors.  Sailing crews, much like flight crews, are forced to work together.  Inshore, boats are a much cheaper more forgiving than planes and large groups are capable of working through a wide variety of inter- and intra-boat problems.  For the more adventurous, the offshore environment offers all the team-oriented excitement anyone could ever want.  Every decision is laced with risk; it is critical to apply the right resources to the task at hand; and individual mistakes burden the entire crew.  Even sleeping off-watch in heavy seas requires the trust and confidence in the crew on-deck to do the right thing.

On a boat, it’s very obvious why one person needs to be in charge and micromanagement comes with a big penalty.  Both the boat and the corporate team go slowly, navigate poorly, or otherwise move inefficiently toward their destination when an empowered manager and staff are not aligned in their mission.  In my next post, I’ll talk more about the crew concept and teambuilding.

 

Stathouse Letters

Model Search

I’m a simple, homoscedastic model and I’m not afraid to say it.  All I want is a nice primary dataset.  I’m not into multicollinearity or getting multiple independent variables together for wild regressions that iterate all night long and leave me nothing but a mess of residuals to clean-up.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for some tiny dataset with so much error it can’t even get a hat on its Y without extrapolating to back to other models about bikinis and swimming pools.  Just because I’m not into heteroscedasticity, doesn’t mean I don’t need a nice Z-score.  I’m just saying that a good data set isn’t all about size.  So if you have nice t-stats and aren’t ashamed of your p-value, come on over and give me a big F.  But don’t bother if your forecast doesn’t project well.  I need the total package; and for that dataset, I’ll have you smoothed and deseasoned before you can get one standard deviation away from the mean.  And then I’ll reseason you and do it all again.

Santa Barbara Teambuilding Event