Friday, April 24, 2009

Transparency and Limited Power Stop Corruption

"The Church committee (named for Senator Frank Church) looked at a period starting with Franklin Roosevelt and running through Richard Nixon...In every single administration you had failures of control by all the presidents and misconduct by the intelligence agencies...Under all the administrations—six different administrations, both Republican and Democrat—there were misuses of power...(that were) inconsistent with the law and the Constitution.

"The single most important finding of the Church committee was that, if during a time of crisis we ignore the wise restraints that have been put in our constitution and laws to keep us free and keep us strong, we are not only going to make ourselves less free, we are going to make ourselves less safe.

"We’ve slipped as a country into not being as open as we historically (have been) and instead into more and more secrecy, and I think that is one of the underlying root causes (of corruption) that needs to be examined and dealt with." -- Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr. (Chief Counsel to the Church Committee)

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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.