Archives: January 2006


Yup. Tom does get off on taking gratuitous whacks at business schools.

The latest. Remember, a couple of days ago, my "Sales90"? Now, it's "Sales111." It got me thinking: Why don't B.Schools (or, at least the so-called "elite") teach ... SALES ... anymore? We've got marketing up the gazoo—and marketing is indeed important—but by and large no bloody sales. Obviously sales are important. (Duh.) And we do "know some stuff."

'Nuff said.

(Whoops: and, remember, no Innovation to speak of, no Creativity, no Implementation (à la Bossidy's book/Execution), no Presenting & Listening/Interviewing ... the two most important practical Tools. 'Nuff said redux.)

So: Please explain the above. Anything Goes: "Sales is a given." "Sales can't be taught." "There's not one bloomin' prof who'd know his left foot from his right on the topic." Etc.

Premature Aging

A rather prominent pal who usually goes to Davos [The World Economic Forum] didn't this year, but he's pretty closely following the proceedings by WEB TV. When I caught him he was watching a panel with "Chambers [Cisco], Gates, and a Google guy," as he described it. His take: "The Google guy is great; the other two are like old industrialists." He said that he'd just gotten off the phone with another hot shot, who is in attendance, and had labeled the attendees in general "globalization's dinosaurs."

Who knows ... but an interesting commentary.

Breakthrough!!! (For me.)

Thanks to my noodling prior to my Dubai speech last week ("Arab Health Conference 2006"), I have come to a "definitive" conclusion:

STOP ... using the term "healthcare."
START ... using the term "health."

Better HEALTH is the goal—and if we did "it" (focus on "health"), then "healthcare" would be far, far, far less necessary. (Understatement.)


A Fruitless, Nay Dangerous, Search

Read two superb articles in the Arts section of the New York Times yesterday. One, on the playwright-director David Mamet (whom I've loved since Glengarry Glen Ross). The other, "Ms. Monk's Master Class," on the successful composer Meredith Monk. Both are indeed supremely successful, and both have moved beyond solo paper-and-pencil work to leading artists who perform their works. Forget the details, the two have very different "leadership styles." Which got me thinking about Francis Coppola, Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, TR, FDR (cousins no less) and the fact that the pursuit of the "one best way" of leadership is sheer madness, and a great disservice. Jim Collins and I agree about a lot of stuff but depart over the leadership issue. He prefers "quiet, humble, stoic" (though determined) leaders. I lean toward the Welches, Gerstners, Churchills, and those for whom words such as "quiet" and "humble" are rather inappropriate. Well, obviously, there's room—lots of—for both. But surely there are some constants—e.g., the way the winners treat people. Well, I'd love to think so, but even that's far from the truth. Lord Nelson was beloved. Gerstner was feared. The same guy is different—even in the eyes of those closest to him. The two most famous people who died with Robert Falcon Scott in Antarctica were Titus Oates and Dr Edward Wilson. Oates on Scott: "I dislike Scott intensely. He is not straight. It is himself first, the rest nowhere, and when he has got what he can out of you, it is shift for yourself." Wilson on Scott: "There is nothing I would not do for him. He is a really good man. He is thoughtful for each individual, and I have never known him to be unfair." Try to distill "Scott's Leadership Principles" from that!

And the point? Just this: Beware of "universal prescriptions" for anything—but perhaps leadership topping the list. (But you knew that already—it's just that these two NYT articles, and my re-immersion in Scott following my Christchurch NZ visit, led me to remind myself; so I thought I'd pass it along.)

If You're So Smart Why Aren't You …

If Drucker and Bennis and Collins and Peters and Co. (charter members of Guru Nation) are/were so damn smart-wise, why is corporate performance so shabby in general? Hint: "'They' [biz leaders] don't listen" is no kind of answer. If "they" don't listen, then the "solutions" were not actionable by "real people" under stress.

Just a [crappy] thought. (It came to mind when I took part in a Drucker tribute last week. "Ahead of his time" was a constant refrain—well, if you're so far ahead of your time that few do anything with your stuff, then ...)

Location, Location, Location

No, it's not just real estate. Despite cyber-this and virtual-that, "location" remains perhaps the most under-rated variable-tool in the boss's kit.

Last week in New England was mostly devoted to "Theo's return"—that is, the return to the Boston Red Sox of recently dis-affected "Boy Genius" General Manager Theo Epstein. One of the things that had most irked Epstein, and prompted his earlier departure, was that in his mind the business side of the franchise was given more consideration than the player side. In the negotiation for re-entry, a host of changes were made. One of which was, per the Boston Globe: "Before, baseball operations was situated in the basement. Now, it will move upstairs and join the rest of the business operation." As I said, this was hardly the whole story, but it was/is a reminder that such stuff matters. I'm a design freak. So where does the design group, and especially the chief designer, nest? Is design's Main Man/Woman on "executive row" with finance and marketing, or on the "7th floor," light years from the Big League action? In my experience, the answer to these questions is the answer to a lot of the "strategic direction" issue. In days gone by, the HR folks lived planets away from the Big Boys. As talent takes a front seat, the HR chief is within screaming distance of the power players.


One implication of this is that it really is worth going to the mat politically for the political position/space you think you deserve. Or the opposite: If you are up to something subversive, getting several galaxies away from the power center is (professional) life & death—in my case, In Search of Excellence only passed conception because Bob Waterman and I were 3,000 miles from "corporate" HQ at McKinsey (and even that was almost not enough). For the Big Cheese, pouring over space design, the smallest details thereof, is worth the effort times 100 at times of transformation. Want to underscore innovation? The product-developers and their boss should be brought in from the cold.

Think about it.

H5N1: More Sunday New York Times

I recommend "Why Revive a Deadly Flu Virus?" in the magazine section of yesterday's Times.


I am becoming "health-obsessed." No. Not (just) my own, but the centrality of health-writ-large to our "survival of civilization" concerns today and in the years ahead. Concerns range from ... H5N1; to the acute-care quality catastrophe; to wellness M.I.A. (e.g., the diabetes, obesity plague in developed countries); to man-machine genetic re-engineering; to more-or-less near term, accelerating environmental degradation; to the aftermath of a WMD event. These are, mostly, multiplicative problems. (Also, from a crude business sense, incredible market opportunities—witness Immelt at GE.) Am I late to the party on most of this? Yes, alarmingly and embarrassingly so! Nonetheless, I do believe heartily in "better late than never." The following, in absurdly shorthand form, is my "starter list." (It's also attached, what else from me, as a 2-slide PP.) I've titled it "Health: Century 21, Job #1," or "HC21.J1":


"Evidence/Outcomes-based" medicine
Med-school re-orientation
"Public health" emphasis
Mind-boggling 15-(20-?) year social-moral-technological impact of life sciences ("the Singularity"?)
Environmental degradation
Risk assessment (private, public)
Public vs/+ Private responsibilities & partnerships

Tulipmania & Football

With one week to go, Superbowl advertising is nearly sold out at $2.5 million for 30 seconds.

I'm in the middle of a great book, Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire, which gives us an interesting take on what might cause this kind of absurd spending. We've always looked at the domestication of plants and animals as a symbol of humanity's power over other species. Pollan turns this idea on its head, showing how four species of plants have exploited different human desires to help them thrive. The four plants and the related desires are the apple (sweetness), tulip (beauty), marijuana (intoxication), and potato (control). We have to ask, who is the domesticator, and who is the domesticated? Makes me think of Superbowl advertising. (Read on ...)


Replay: Drucker Tribute

As you may know, Tom took part in a Tribute to Peter Drucker presented by Microsoft©Office Live Meeting on Wednesday, January 25. The talk is now archived on their site, and you can get to it through this link. If you have any difficulty, you can use my detailed instructions for getting to the recording by going to "read more" below.