The Set-Up-To-Fail Syndrome – Harvard Business Review

Two questions came to mind as I read this article.

1. How do you determine how much of an employee’s failure is the responsibility of the employee and how much is due to the manager?  The article does not address that question.

2. Is this article part of the broader movement to coddle and entitle people?  That is, support blaming someone else for your actions when outcomes are bad and claiming credit for your actions when outcomes are good?

I think the answer is simple.  Both subordinate and manager are responsible.  Both would be better served communicating their concerns to each other.  Both should be responsible for doing all they can for success.  Neither should play the blame game.

This reminds me of my 11+ years of university schooling in three different states.  I had some above average, average, and below average professors.  At times I blamed the professor and did poorly in the class.  Other times I acknowledged I wasn’t learning from the professor and spent more time on the library with more books.  In those cases I did well in the class.

The third case is not something I tried in those 11 years:  suggesting, politely, how the professor could improve the learning environment while simultaneously spending more time in the library with more books. 

Why didn’t I try that?  I believe it is due to traditions, practices, and values that I have.  I was raised to do what you are told and not to question authority.  I was also taught to take responsibility for your own actions, not the actions of others.

So my recommendation to students specifically and subordinates in general?  Don’t complain, take responsibility for your own actions (grades for students other metrics for employees), and choose words that contribute to harmony if you have suggestions to improve the environment.  Actually, those suggestions apply to professors and managers as well.

Oh, and for students, I believe more time in the library with more books is a good thing no matter what.  Kind of fits the job title “student” eh?!

Revamped home page, financial crisis presentations

First, I would like to thank all of those who follow my blog.  I hope you find the material interesting and thought provoking.  To make material more accessible to students, businesses, and curious readers alike I have revamped the homepage.

After a discussion regarding the debt ceiling this weekend I asked myself: “didn’t I write something about this before?”  It turns out I did!  You will notice a “2011 Debt Ceiling Crisis” presentation under the “Seminars” column on the home page.  That presentation was created two years ago.  It turns out the debt ceiling is in the news again.

If you like the debt ceiling presentation also take a look at “The Cadence of Finance” and the “2008 Financial Crisis” presentations.  It appears that observations and concerns in those presentations keep coming up again and again.

Enjoy the reading!

LA Times – At a Rio favela, Pope Francis’ upcoming visit brings side benefits

So when the Pope visits one slum in Brazil some basic services are established.  Specifically, the road the Pope will travel on is repaved,  the electrical grid is fixed to allow lighting on that street, and more electrical work is ongoing to restore power to the chapel he will visit.  This brings a few questions to mind:

  1. Do more “VIPs” (and I use quotes intentionally there) need to visit every street of every slum in Brazil to get basic services restored?
  2. Does the fact that so much work being done so spur of the moment negate the “we don’t have the resources” argument?
  3. What about the schools and hospitals?  Are they just as important as the street and chapel that will host the Pope?

Brazil, with all of its recent economic growth, is leaving the masses behind.  This smells a lot like the widening wealth gap going on right here in the United States  See slides 14 and 15 of The Cadence of Finance for example.

Make no mistake, Brazil has a 99%/1% problem as does the United States.  Hopefully the U.S. will win the race towards shared prosperity.  Hopefully we will be the first to begin reversing the widening wealth gap…

Here is the LA Times article.

Mexico more obese than the US?

This was a surprise to me at first.  After reading further in the article you will note the involvement of agribusiness and lobbyists.  No longer a surprise.  Sacrifice the health of the 99% so the 1% can increase their wealth.

Food is another major front on the battle of the 99% vs the 1%.  It may be the most important front.  With a poor diet comes poor health.  With poor health comes medical expenses. So, in the end, those who buy junk food transfer wealth to big companies.  Then those who get sick transfer wealth to big pharma and doctor co-conspirators (yes, I said it!).

Try to eat healthy my friends.  Try to buy from local farmers.  In so doing you may live a healthier life and do your part in reducing the wealth gap.  Circulate money within your community and minimize doctor office visits.  Win-win.

$350 million renovation of NYPL’s Fifth Avenue branch will endanger iconic Rose Reading Room: suit  – Daily News

Renovations to the New York public library’s 5’th avenue location will result in the removal of 2 million books.  Is that a problem?  Possibly, given there was no mention of making those books available in digital format at that location.

I must admit I am a late adopter to e-books.  But after my recent move, where I carried countless boxes of books, I could not help but wonder “what if I had all my books in my iPad?”  No more dragging books around from state to state.

Nevertheless, I am concerned about the state of libraries as centers for learning.  For example, while at the University of Memphis I watched the administration fund a $50M university “center” complete with a donut shop.  Meanwhile, the library was underfunded and losing subscriptions to resources.  Why isn’t the library the “center” of a university?

I suspect the goal has shifted from educating young people to drawing them in with a social “center,” capturing and raising their tuition, and funding faculty research on topics that won’t help the students at the school where they “teach.”

So, NYPL plans to remove up to 2 million books from the 5th avenue location without making them available digitally.  The University of Memphis chose to fund a party center over a learning center.  How many out there have seen similar patterns in their respective locales?

P.S.  Don’t get me started on questioning who decides which books go and which books stay…