Archives: July 2004
The entire health care establishment has been slow to jump aboard the IS train. Though it's starting to get better. At any rate, for a great discussion-review of the topic see this week's U.S. News & World Report's "Special Report," titled "A High Dose of Tech." The lead line is a quote from HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson: "Some grocery stores have better technology than our hospitals and clinics." I'd disagree. I'd have said "most grocery stores ..." Needless to say, there's a high correlation between this issue and the criminal patient-safety statistics I blogged about a couple of days ago. Perhaps I'm super sensitive about this because I'm considering some minor elective surgery: Who in their right mind would voluntarily go near the Killing Fields ... umm ... hospitals?
Let there be (health care) kudos as warranted: It's a "little thing," but then most great "customer service" is an accumulation of so-called little things. I had an interview with a prospective surgeon. Upon finishing an exam, he prepared to discuss his hypotheses about my options. "Why don't you get dressed first," he said, "and then we'll sit down in my office." I enquired why I needed to add the extra steps of dressing and going to his office. "Well," he explained, "I have you at a disadvantage when I'm in my white coat and you're half-naked, in a gown, and splayed out on a table. When you're dressed, and I've taken off the white coat, then we can have a professional discussion as equals about your case. After all, it is your case." How refreshing! How rare! (In general, and especially among docs-surgeons!) How brilliant!
I offered my views on wellness in a long blog last week. I revealed that I'd bought the Whole Act about the importance of good breathing practices. (Wow do they work, on the fly, in stressful situations! And the great news—you always have it with you! Your breath, that is.) At any rate I have discovered a brilliant book on the topic, the best I've read so far. Namely, Free Your Breath, Free Your Life, by Dennis Lewis (Shambhala, 2004). No dogmatism. No mysticism. Practical, do-able practices. TP: Learn to breathe! Get a life!
You think the Chinese boom has us (USA) on the run, pity poor Europe. That's the view of Yale B. School dean and BusinessWeek columnist Jeffrey Garten. "Europe: Staring Into the Abyss" is the title of his screed in the August 2nd issue of BW. Later in the same issue, there's another gloomy piece titled "Productivity Paralysis: If Europe Doesn't Boost Spending on Tech, It Will Fall Further Behind." Sky-high wages, miniscule work weeks, interminable vacations, and still recalcitrant unions in "Old Europe" are not a pretty mixture as true globalization—from Shanghai to Bangalore to Prague—picks up steam.
I love Mark Stevens' Your Marketing Sucks. (I admit it, I start by loving the title.) Clear language. Strong point of view. Actionable as the dickens. And ... extreme. (My favorite word.) "Extreme Marketing" is the author's mantra. Book came at the perfect time for me. I'm having a knock-down, drag-out tiff with the CEO of a mid-size company over whether or not he needs a fulltime CMO/Chief Marketing Officer. I say yes ... unequivocally. He says "others" (unspecified) can "pick up pieces of your precious marketing thing." I say he's full of crap. I am a champion of inspired, intense, radical marketing—for the one-person accountancy, or mega-corp. I have at least one surprisingly new convert-ally: GE CEO Jeff Immelt just hired that firm's first "CMO." Hooray. (And ... 'bout time.)
Ever read the magazine-journal Foreign Affairs? As pragmatic businessperson, not statecraft aficionado, I suggest you do. Consider the July-August issue. It starts with editor James Hoge's "A Global Power Shift in the Making: Is the United States Ready?" Which in turn ominously begins: "The transfer of power from West to East is gathering pace and soon will dramatically change the context for dealing with international challenges—as well as the challenges themselves." Other good stuff includes a remarkable piece by BP* CEO (and pro environmentalist!) John Browne: "Beyond Kyoto." Starting point: "Global warming is real and needs to be addressed now." (*In their new logo, BP now stands for "Beyond Petroleum." P.S.: Skepticism merited? Of course. But I 90% buy their act.)
On my studio wall is a framed card that reads, "The pen is mightier than the sword, but nothing compares with the vocal chords." Four days of gavel-to-gavel convention watching have reminded me, a professional speaker, of the difference between bad, mediocre, good, and great speechifying. There was a lot of "not nearly ready for prime time" dross ... and some truly magical moments. I'm also reminded that although I am an avowed "action fanatic," ideas do matter. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both said the 2004 election is a "battle for the soul of the nation." Obviously, they'd both like you to vote for John Kerry, but the point is that this vote is, whatever your political persuasion, about a turning point concerning nothing less than the idea of what America is all about.
More Barack Obama: Loved his phrase "audacity of hope." As in: "the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs ... the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name [Barack Obama] who believes that America has a place for him, too." Audacity of Hope ... NICE!
A French economic advisor's tongue-in-cheek attack on corporate culture went largely unnoticed when published in May. Corinne Maier's Bonjour Paresse (Hello Laziness) is subtitled The Art and Necessity of Doing the Least Work Possible for Your Employer, and her employer is not amused. The author's upcoming disciplinary hearing has both the press and the unions coming to her defense. One U.K. article calls the book "an elegantly written call to arms to the 'neo-slaves' of middle management ... condemned to dress up as clowns all week and waste their lives in pointless meetings." (If you parlez francais, this article in Ici will tell you more.) Mme. Maier's next book may well be Bonjour, Reprint: The Art of Letting Your Employer Prove You Were Right.