Management Is A Privilege

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So some people have this notion about management that is all wrong. 


– Management is not a right or entitlement.


– Management is a wonderful privilege!


The privilege comes with responsibility and is earned by knowing how to manage and treat your people right.


That means:


– Acting with integrity


– Treating people fairly, with dignity, and respect


– Showing you value them


– Helping to develop them


– And of course, achieving results together!


I heard it said well like this:

“If you don’t treat people well 

you won’t be a manager for long.”

Again, it’s a privilege, not a right, to manage and lead others. 


Those who abuse their privilege and people–it’s like the cycle of life. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Trump Nailed It

Washington DC

(Washington, DC. Our Capital of This Great Nation, 2016)

Trump is a long-shot, but IMHO here’s a top 20 why I believe he is nailing it:


1. I’m with you vs. I’m with her.


2. I will be a voice for you and will fight for you vs. I really want this so bad for me. 


3. I will re establish law and order vs. I am above the law.


4. I will appropriately name the enemy, stamp out ISIS, and do it fast vs. I won’t even say the word radical Islamists, ISIS is the “JV team,” and absolutely “no boots on the ground.” 


4. We will secure America from terrorism vs. it’s just some more “workplace violence” and “what’s the difference at this point,” anyway.


5. We have a ballooning $19 trillion national debt and $900 billion trade deficit vs. the economy is doing just dandy (for now). 


6. I will tell you the truth vs. I will hide the truth and lie, but profoundly claim transparency. 


7. I will hire and recognize the best and brightest vs. I will hire and promote my friends and cronies.


8. I will invest in jobs, education, and infrastructure vs. I will invest in pork-barrel politics and lobbyist-controlled agendas. 


9. Fairness and equality for everyone vs. I’ll pick and choose and you know who you are (at least until after the election).


10. We’re going back to space, discovery, and innovation vs. we are canceling the shuttle program and riding on Russian rockets. 


11. We will bring manufacturing and jobs back to America vs. we will continue to send them, by the millions, overseas.


12. We will get a good deal for America vs. we will get a personal sham legacy.


13. We will be true to our friends and allies vs. we will embrace bitter “Death to America” enemies.


14. Over half the executives in my company are women and get paid equally to men vs. vote for me because I’m a women.


15. I build amazing city skylines vs. I destroy entire regions around the globe.


16. I am the son of a great builder and am a successful family and business man vs. I am the former First Lady of the 2nd impeached president of the United States. 


17. I work and earn my money vs. I take donations for my foundation and oversized speaking fees for myself.  


18. I am a political outsider in a system that Bernie Sanders himself admitted is rigged vs. I am the system and adept at doing the rigging. 


19. I will lead and make America great and respected again vs. I will lead from behind, with a policy of disengagement, withdrawal, and appeasement, and dishonoring this great nation. 


20. I and our children are the future vs. I am from the past and will bring more of it to you.


In latest polls from 13 July, 73% of Americans are unhappy and dissatisfied with the direction this nation is heading in!

But there is sunshine lighting up the lies of the last years. 

I have hope again for this amazing country. 

Greatness, freedom, human rights, fairness, equality, security, and prosperity. 


Oh and BTW…Ivanka is a total star on the Trump team!


(These are strictly my personal views and do not represent those or any organization.)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Equality Is Human Rights

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I was most impressed recently with the organization (including the marketing and branding) behind the LGBT movement. 


The new bumper sticker with the yellow equal (=) sign.


The people on the street in yellow “Equality” t-shirts wanting to talk and promote themselves.


The tablet computers they are carrying equipped with slide presentation on equal rights (and their association with the larger issue on their website for human rights).  


The on-the-spot electronic sign up for either monthly donations and/or petition for the Equality Act to amend the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation. 


Religious beliefs aside, and as long as you don’t hurt others, people are people and should not be discriminated against. 


All people should be treated fairly and protected from disparate or unfair treatment, bullying or worse. 

Equality really is human rights. 😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Parole By Analytics

Parole By Analytics

Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about parole boards using software to predict repeat offenders before letting someone go free.

What used to be a decision based on good behavior during time served, showing remorse to the parole board, and intuition is being augmented with “automated assessments” that include inmate interviews, age of first arrest, type of crime, and so forth.

At least 15 states have adopted “modern risk assessment methods” to determine the potential for recidivism.

Individuals are marked as higher risk if they are:

– Young–age 18-23 (and impulsive)
– Offense was drug-related
– Suspended or expelled from school
– Quit a job prior to having another one
– Single or separated
– Diagnosed with a mental disorder
– Believes that it’s not possible to overcome their past.

Surprisingly, violent criminals (rapists and murders) are actually considered lower risk those guilty of nonviolent property crimes–the thinking being the someone convicted of robbery is more likely to repeat the criminal behavior because the crime is one that “reflects planning and intent.”

Honestly, I think it is more than ridiculous that we should rank violent criminals less risky than thieves and release them because they had what is considered an “emotional outburst.”

Would you rather have some thieves back on the street or murders and rapists–rhetorical question!

But it just shows that even the best of systems that are supposed to help make better decisions–can instead be misused or abused.

This happens when there is either bad data (such as from data-entry mistakes, deceptive responses, and missing relevant information) or from poorly designed decision rules/algorithms are applied.

The Compas system is one of the main correctional software suites being used, and the company Northpointe (a unit of Volaris) themselves advise that officials should “override the system’s decisions at rates of 8% to 15%.”

While even a 1/7 error rate may be an improvement over intuition, we need to still do better, especially if that 1 person commits a violent hideous crime that hurts someone else in society, and this could’ve been prevented.

It’s certainly not easy to expect a parole board to make a decision of whether to let someone out/free in 20 minutes, but think about the impact to someone hurt or killed or to their family, if the wrong decision is made.

This is a critical governance process that needs:

– Sufficient time to make important decisions
– More investment in tools to aid the decision process
– Refinement of the rules that support release or imprisonment
– Collection of a broad base of interviews, history, and relevant data points tied to repeat behavior
– Validation of information to limit deception or error.

Aside from predicting whether someone is likely to be repeat offenders, parole boards also need to consider whether the person has been both punished in accordance with the severity of the crime and rehabilitated to lead a productive life going forward.

We need to decide people’s fates fairly for them, justly for the victims, and safely for society–systems can help, but it’s not enough to just “have faith in the computer.” 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Drone Warfare: Integration At Its Best

Drone Warfare: Integration At Its Best

I learned a lot about Drone Warfare reading and thinking about “The Killing Machines” in The Atlantic by David Bowden.

The benefits of drones for military use are numerous:

– Stealth: Drones can be relatively small (some are now even the size of bugs) and they can survey from vehicles that are aerial, terrestrial, underwater, or I would imagine, even subterranean. In a sense, even a spy satellite is a type of drone, isn’t it?

– Persistent: They can hover unmanned over enemy territory for not only hours, but also days at a time, and switching in replacement drones can create a virtually continuous stream of surveillance for months or years, depending on the need.

– Powerful: The sensors on a drone can include high-definition cameras, eavesdropping devices, radar, infrared, “and a pixel array so dense, that the device can zoom in clearly on objects only inches wide from well over 15,000 feet above.” Further, with features like Gorgon Stare, multiple cameras linked together can view entire cities in one feel swoop.

– Long-range: Drones can function doing reconnaissance or surveillance far away and deep into enemy territory. With drones, no one is too distant or remote as to be untouchable.

– Lethality: Drones can carry missiles such as The Hellfire, a “100-pound antitank missile” and other weapons that can act expediently on information without the need to call in additional support.

– Precise: Drones can hit targets with amazing precision–“It targets indiscriminate killers with exquisite discrimination.”

– Safety: Drones carry out their work unmanned with (or without) controllers stationed at safe distances away–sometimes thousands of miles back at the homeland.

– Expendable: Drones themselves are throwaway. As with a bee, a drone is more or less useless when disconnected from the hive. Similarly, a military “drone is useless as an eyeball disconnected from the brain,” since drones function only as an extension of back-end satellite links, data processors, intelligence analysts, and its controller.”

Overall, the great value of drones is their integration of technologies: vehicles, global telecommunications, optics, sensors, supercomputers, weapon systems, and more.

To me, between the questions of fairness, legality, and privacy–drones are being given a bum rap.

– Fairness: Just because one side has a technology that the other doesn’t, should not mean it’s wrong to use it. This is what competition and evolution is all about. I remember learning in school, when children would complain to the teacher that something was unfair, and the teacher would reply, “life is unfair!” This doesn’t mean we should use a shotgun approach, but rather use what we got, appropriately.

– Legality: Is it legal to kill targets rather than apprehending them, trying them, and otherwise punishing them? This is where sincere deliberations come in on whether someone is a “lawful target” (e.g. enemy combatant), “imminent threat” (e.g. self-defense), whether other alternatives are viable (e.g. collateral damage assessments), and will killing them do more hard than good to foreign relations, influence, and even possibly breeding new hate and terror, rather than quelling it.

– Privacy: The issue of privacy comes less into play with military matters and more with respect to domestic use for law enforcement and other civilian uses (from agriculture to urban planning). The key is protect citizens from being unduly monitored, tracked, and scrutinized–where freedom itself is under big-brother attack and we all become mere drones ourselves in a national hive of complacency and brainless obedience.

Rather than scaling back drones use, I liked Mary Ellen O’Connell vision of new drones “capable of delivering a warning–‘Come out with your hands up!’ and then landing to make an arrest using handcuffs.”

This is the promise of technology to learn from mistakes of the past and always bring possibilities of making things better in the future. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Don McCullough)

Why Can’t We All Be As Happy In Our Jobs As This?

Why Can't We All Be As Happy In Our Jobs As This?

Lapham’s Quarterly (5 June 2013) put up a matrix of the “Worst Jobs In the World,” but the problem is that is completely misses the mark!

The worst jobs matrix has four dimension based on the functions of jobs being treacherous, tedious, difficult, and disgusting.

The matrix has some doozy jobs listed, such as the food taster for the emperor (i.e. testing for poison) and the banquet attendant who cleans up guests vomit and holds the pot for partygoers to urinate in.

However, while this infographic provide some interesting job tidbits, it completely misses the point of what it really means for a job to be bad or worst.

What doesn’t necessarily make a bad job?

– It is not how treacherous a job is, because treachery can be in the name of patriotism (such as someone who works in the Intelligence or National Security community and may commit treacherous deeds, but they are for a noble cause to protect our people and country).

– It is not how tedious a job is, because many jobs are tedious but they are necessary and important, such as working “on the line” in many traditional manufacturing jobs producing goods that people want and need.

– It is not how difficult a job is, because often the more difficult a job is, the more rewarding it is, such as a surgeon, scientist, social worker, teacher, and so on.

– It is not how disgusting a job is, because many jobs involve blood, guts, and gore, but are jobs that save lives such as doctors, fire and rescue personnel, and even our warfighters.

What does necessarily make a bad job?

– If you work for a cruel boss, you have a bad job. A bad boss–one that is bullying, arbitrary, unfair, egotistical, mean, and abusive–can ruin even the best of jobs. When you work for a great boss, you can learn, grow, and are well treated and for a boss like that, you will go the extra mile.

– If you perform meaningless work, you have a bad job. One of the most important factors in worker satisfaction is whether you perform purposeful and meaningful work. If you do, then you have a reason to get up in the morning, and that is a great feeling, indeed.

– If you work and are not fairly compensated, you have a bad job. Most people don’t mind working hard as long as they is a fair performance management system, where they get rewarded and recognized for their contributions. However, if you aren’t fairly compensated and can’t make ends meet to provide for your family, you have a bad job.

– If you have a job that doesn’t provide for work-life balance, you have a bad job. Generation Y really appreciates this, and they have taught us all something about the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This means working to live and not living to work. If you have a job where you miss your kids’ ballgames, have no intimacy with your spouse, and don’t have time and energy to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually, you have a bad job.

Many people work in jobs that are challenging–whether they are treacherous, tedious, difficult, or disgusting–but they are in good jobs. Other jobs are for cruel bosses, doing meaningless work, and are not fairly compensated and don’t have work-life balance, and they are in jobs you would never want to have in a million years. In fact, food taster and banquet attendant may sound pretty darn good in comparison. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Coworker to Killer

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People are people, but there are some who walk a fine and dangerous line.

Some are stable, rational people–those, that we hope we can depend on.

Others are prime time wack jobs–they are not “safe” and everyone knows to beware of them.

Finally, there are those who are like firecrackers, one step away from explosion–and these can pose a nasty surprise.

These last two perhaps invoke the fear of someone in the workplace “going postal”–a reference to the 1986 killing by a postal worker of 14 people and then himself.

In light of the workplace shooting this week in front the Empire State Building, Newsweek (3 September 2012) asks “How to Spot a Workplace Crazy?”

Their default answer–see the Department of Homeland Security’s Active Shooter Booklet, which includes a list of 16 “indicators of potential violence by an employee” (page 10) from addiction to depression, over reactions to mood swings, unprovoked rage to paranoia, and more.

Perhaps, their more genuine answer is that anybody can be the next workplace shooter–and that it is hard to really tell what demons lay in wait inside a person’s head or heart or what can set them off.

They reference  the book, Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion, which states: “it can be anybody who’s getting completely screwed in the workplace–so that’s most workers in this country.”

When people feel a “perceived injustice” or they are “grievance collectors”–harboring hurt and anger at their mistreatment day-in and -out, they may be one step away from dangerous.

As leaders and managers, we cannot control for everything that people feel or for all their personal struggles and life’s circumstances, but we can do our best to treat others fairly, with compassion, to listen to them, and try to accomodate genuine needs.

I was reminded of this again, recently, when I went with my daughter to a car dealership.  At one point in negotiating for a new automobile, I asked a question about the current odometer reading.

The Manager yells over to a worker and tells him harshly to get on it and quickly.  It wasn’t what he said per se, but how he said it–ordering his subordinate around like a thing, not like a person.

My daughter turns to me and she is clearly uncomfortable with what she saw.  I asked her about it.  And she whispers to me, “Did you see how they treated the worker? It’s not right.”

I couldn’t agree with her more. And when the man came back with the information–we thanked him so much for helping us and told him what a good job he was doing getting everything ready–the paperwork and the vehicle.

Is he going to “go postal” today, tomorrow, or never…I don’t know–he seemed nice enough, but if people get pushed too far and their mental state is frayed, anything is possible, and we shouldn’t tempt fate–more importantly, we should treat everyone with respect and dignity.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Charlie Essers)