Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Power of Stories: We Were Made to Be Free Cont.

Stories have the power to guide companies, organizations, and people to elevated levels of engagement. Here is a story that engages me to fight for democratic workplaces:

"Three stone cutters were asked about their jobs. The first said he was paid to cut stones. The second replied that he used special techniques to shape stones in an exceptional way, and proceeded to demonstrate his skills. The third stone cutter just smiled and said: "I build cathedrals."

How much more happy, and productive would our companies be if we made it our first priority to engaged people in a euphoric purpose.

(Quote taken from Ricardo Semler in the book Maverick)

Monday, February 23, 2009

"...We Will See the Day When We Live on What We Produce" -- Marion G. Romney

Every year, Americans import $731.214 billion of goods more than they export. If foreign trade stopped, we would be forced to consume less than half of what we currently consume. This is the root cause of our current "economic" problems.

In order to buy almost 60 percent more than we produce, we have accepted loan after loan from foreigners. Currently 45 to 50 percent of our federal debt held by the public (the debt issued to fund annual, federal deficits) is owned by foreigners. 70 percent of all our new debt is being purchased by foreigners. This is the equivalent of mortgaging a cow to a stranger to buy more milk.

What is the solution to our problem? Stop mortgaging the American cow, and drink less milk. It appears that foreigners will force us to do just that. For the first time, foreigners are curbing their appetite for American IOUs, and soon, we will be forced to consume what we produce and pay down our $56 trillion mortgage for many years to come.

(Statistics taken from government websites and former U.S. Comptroller David Walker)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Company that Let's Employees Choose their Own Pay?

How do you turn a near bankrupt company around and make it one of the fastest growing companies in the country? How do you create one of Microsoft's "best schools in the world"?

The answer is high expectations and near unadulterated freedom (ee.gg., allow employees to choose their own pay, and allow children to choose whether or not they attend school)

Watch this clip and be AMAZED!

Monday, February 16, 2009

We Should Learn about Democracy from the Chinese

There is very little authoritative difference between a government and a bank. To understand that all centralized power is dangerous and should be democratized is to understand that centralized economic power (like political power) must be democratized and must serve the entrepreneurs that create wealth.

In the same way that the Federal government and State governments are supposed to serve the people, the Federal Reserve, local banks, and Wall Street must serve entrepreneurs. The benefit of these institutions is to provide funding and diversify the risk to entrepreneurs. Arguing that free market policy should apply to Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, and local banks is as silly as saying that the Federal Government should be free to make it's own rules.

The best, current example of a democratic economy is the Chinese economy. While the Chinese are politically oppressed, their democratic economy is inspiring entrepreneurs and creating the fastest, sustainable economic growth ever seen. Maybe we can learn a thing or two about democracy from the Chinese.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Democracy & Valentine's Day

I know it is a stretch to find a link between democracy and Valentine's day. I decided I wanted to write a post about my wife and I needed a justification for putting it on a blog about democratic business--so bare with me while I attempt to link the two:

My wife is a lot of the reason I have an optimistic outlook on life. Spending time with her makes me realize that even though an oligarchical Wall Street is destroying our economy and will make a profit at the expense of individual rights, there is a lot of reason to have hope in humanity.

I have learned, from my wife, how important it is to nurture the goodness in people. I see her with our son and it is all too obvious to me how much greater this world would be if more women were given the voice they deserve.

My wife has taught me the importance of the democratic principle of keeping my sights fixed on a euphoric purpose. We have so much fun together. I can't think of a day of our marriage when we haven't laughed together at least once. Our common goals and ambitions inspire me to making our marriage great and not simply good.

Being married to my wife has taught me that the principles of democracy (i.e., transparency, limited power, ownership, and euphoric purpose) are just as important to every aspect of life as they are to government.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Power of Stories: We Were Made to Be Free

Stories have the power to guide companies, organizations, and people to elevated levels of engagement. Here is the number one story that engages me to fight for freedom and democracy:

"That Satan...is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.

But, behold, my Beloved Son...said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.

Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him...I caused that he should be cast down;

And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will..." (Moses 4:1-4)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

High-Engaged Workers Are 7 Times More Profitable Than Low-Engaged Workers

In 2006, Gallup estimated that disengaged employees cost the American economy $350 billion per year. A study done by Kenexa Research Institute found that of 4,000 worldwide companies, the top 25 engaged workplaces outperformed the 25 lowest engaged businesses 7-to-1--based on shareholder return, on a five-year basis.

If engaging employees is the driver of productivity, what can a company do to engage its workers? Kenexa Research Institute suggests that there are four main drivers that help create engagement in the workplace:

(1) "Leaders who inspire confidence in the future of the organization."
(2) "Managers who respect and recognize employees."
(3) "Employees are inspired and engaged by exciting work that they know how to do."
(4) "Employees are inspired by organizations that demonstrate genuine responsibility to two critical stakeholders groups: employees and communities."

It may seem counterintuitive that putting engagement above productivity leads to greater productivity until you realize that engagement is what creates productivity. Maybe the answer to our economic crisis is not to create more money, but to engage the American workforce.

(Information from http://www.kenexa.com/getattachment/8c36e336-3935-4406-8b7b-777f1afaa57d/The-Impact-of-Employee-Engagement.aspx)

How Will You Measure Your Life?

I recently read this article by Clayton Christiansen out of Harvard entitled, “How will you measure your life?” It is what he tells his students on the final day of his class.

One of the items that he mentions sticks out to me. It reads as follows:

“One of the theories, . . . . . how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more [people think] that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people."

I’m sure you can see why it sticks out.