Saturday, June 30, 2007

Tom Peters Times - July 2007

Tom Peters Times - July 2007

What Is It Worth to Understand Culture?

I've given much thought to the whole concept of corporate culture: What is it? Why is it important to understand? How does it relate to strategy and affect business outcomes? I've been in job situations where I recognized "I just wasn't a good fit" and I've observed this phenomenon with others; perfectly talented individuals who don't seem to perform well. It had nothing to do with competency. It had to do with the environment in which I/they worked. As a matter of fact, within the same company with the same job title, I found myself being a good fit and a high performer and a bad fit with average performance depending on where I landed at the end of any given re-org. How could this be?

What is culture? Simply, it is the culmination of shared values, assumptions, and beliefs tacitly and/or explicitly expressed within an organization. Why is it important to understand? Because, it determines how people behave and how work gets done. Let's consider how values and beliefs drive behavior using a consumer analogy: I need milk. The convenience store is closer than the grocery store (I value my time), but it is more expensive (I'm frugal). The grocery store offers more options (I value choice). I decide choice and price are more important than convenience, so I drive to the grocery store. While there, I evaluate my options: Whole milk is tasty, but I am weight conscious so I eliminate that option. While I am frugal, I am also health conscious. Although soy milk is more expensive it has additional perceived health benefits, so I choose soy. While, at some point, these decisions were conscious, as long as all factors remain the same and the reward for my behavior is greater than the cost, I continue to behave consistently and, eventually, subconsciously. What happens when my grocery store discontinues soy milk, the price goes up, or traffic becomes unbearable? Suddenly, I am forced to re-evaluate my behaviors to stay consistent with my values in order to achieve the outcome I find desirable.

What does this example have to do with corporate culture? First, we must recognize that the same values driving individuals' buying behaviors also drive their behaviors at work. We should ask ourselves, then, "Why don't we spend as much time analyzing the values of our talent pool to predict on-the-job performance and satisfaction as marketers do the values and emotional drivers of their target market to determine buying behaviors and loyalty?" Second, employees will behave in accordance with their values, regardless of your business strategy. Hence, the reason culture must be aligned with strategy. If, for example, your aggressive, high growth business strategy creates an unstable environment that requires individuals to take risks, an individual valuing stability, security and consistency will feel anxious and begin to seek ways to remedy their discomfort. In some cases, they are able to adapt and learn the behaviors necessary to succeed. In others, the personal transformation is simply not possible and they fail. The best way to avoid this is to determine "fit" during the selection process. However, just as your strategy changes throughout the life of your business, so must your culture. Changing your culture is not impossible, as many would believe. You just have to carefully evaluate and adjust the factors that influence culture, such as your systems (reward, IT), structure (reporting, physical), policies, HR practices (selection, training), communication, leadership-style, etc ... As Tom says, "Culture change, that elusive goal, can be achieved one project at a time."

Darci Riesenhuber
Transformation Architect

Brand You Road Trip

After the success of our public Brand You session in Boston, we have decided to bring the experience to others as well. You may already know about our session in Denver, CO, on August 1, in which we are partnering with Arapahoe Communiy College. For more information on that event, click here.

Additionally, we are finalizing plans for an event for early October in Dallas, TX. For more information on either event, or the Brand You program in general, please contact Nick at nadams@tompeters.com.

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Cool Friends

Everybody's favorite Cool Friend, Seth Godin, returns to talk about his newest book, The Dip: The Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick), and his latest website success, www.squidoo.com, where you can build a page about your passion in 4.2 minutes or less. Read Seth's third Cool Friends interview here. Welcome back, Seth!

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Rodrigo González Fernández
Renato Sánchez 3586
telefono: 5839786
Escribanos, consultenos, opine

Legal Blog Watch

Legal Blog Watch

Avvo Files Motion to Dismiss

A few weeks ago, I participated in this discussion at Avvo, a new lawyer directory and ratings system. Mark Britton and Avvo didn't participate in the show, but now, their position was clarified with the filing of this 34-page, footnote-packed Motion to Dismiss

From my brief read of the Motion, it seems that courts have previously addressed the legality of ratings systems and generally concluded that they are protected by the First Amendment. In this post at Avvo's Blog, a press release states that:

"Americans have the constitutional right to rate everything from restaurants, beers, books, and movies to colleges, law schools, architecture, and airlines," said Bruce E.H. Johnson, partner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, and Avvo's counsel. "Lawyers routinely exercise their right to rate judges. It's a wonderment these particular lawyers seem to believe that Americans shouldn't rate them."  Noting cases involving the California Bar Association, Martindale Hubbell, Esquire Publishing and The El Paso Times in which opinions about attorneys constituted protected speech, Avvo's Motion to Dismiss cites extensive case law protecting media outlets' First Amendment rights and rebuts the allegations in the Class Action Complaint. That complaint, filed in U.S. District Court on June 14, was initiated by Seattle attorney John Henry Browne whose Avvo Rating exposed a recent disciplinary action he received from the Washington State Bar Association.

Avvo isn't just fighting in the courtroom but on the PR front as well. As this post describes, Avvo has made some changes to its site that address some of the complaints raised in the lawsuit.

After reading the Avvo Motion, it seems to me that if lawyers are going to continue to oppose Avvo, they're going to have to come up with better arguments than, "I just don't like my rating." And moreover, as a recent op-ed piece by Thomas Friedman points out (excepted in this post from the Moderate Voice), the Internet is forcing all of us to change not what we do but how we do it. With bloggers and self-publishers abounding, we all have to zealously guard our online reputations. Whether Avvo and its ratings system survive or not, there will always be information out on the Web about us, some of it positive, some not so much. That's a reality of today's Internet Age -- and one that I willingly accept in exchange for all of the benefits and possibilities. Do you?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 29, 2007 at 02:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Supreme Court to Hear Detainee Case Next Term

In a brief but highly unusual order issued this morning, the Supreme Court reversed course and agreed to hear the Guantanamo detainee case, concerning  the constitutionality of the administration's policy of detaining so-called enemy combatants without allowing them to challenge the legality of detention through use of a writ of habeaus corpus. The New York Times covers the story  here. According to the article, the reconsideration -- which required support from five justices -- "signaled that [they] had determined they needed to resolve a new politically and legally significant Guantanamo issue, after two earlier Supreme Court decisions that have been sweeping setbacks for the administration's detention policies." 

Lyle Denniston offers additional insight on the Court's change in course:

Under the Court's Rules and precedents, it would have taken the votes of five Justices to grant rehearing, compared with the requirement of four votes to initially grant an appeal. When the Court denied review in April, only three Justices voted to hear the cases. But two of the other six, Justices John Paul Stevens and Anthony M. Kennedy, indicated they wanted the detainees to first attempt to get legal relief in the D.C. Circuit. Under the Detainee Treatment Act, the Circuit Court has the authority to provide limited review of military decisions to continue holding Guantanamo prisoners as "enemy combatants." Friday's order was an indication that those two Justices had decided that the Court needed to change its approach, and so provided the votes needed to grant rehearing. (It is a fair assumption that Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., was not in favor of rehearing; in an in-chambers order he issued on an earlier procedural matter in the detainees cases [applications 06A1001 and 06A1002] on April 26, Roberts opined that "possible court action" in the D.C. Circuit Court would not be enough to justify a grant of review in the face of the April 2 denial.) Under the Court's rules, a rehearing is granted only if there has been a change in "intervening circumstances of a substantial or controlling effect" or if counsel can cite "substantial grounds not previously presented." The new order did not state what changes had come about since the denial in April. The detainees' lawyers, in their rehearing petition, had said that the unfolding of the review process in the D.C. Circuit Court would soon provide them with an argument for rehearing, since the process would be shown to be inadequate. More recently, the detainees' lawyers had told the Court that information from inside the Pentagon detainee-review process confirmed their claim that the process was a "sham."

And in a later post, SCOTUS Blog summarizes the questions presented in the detainee cases. The main questions from the lead case are:

1. Whether the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-366, 120 Stat. 2600, validly stripped federal court jurisdiction over habeas corpus petitions filed by foreign citizens imprisoned indefinitely at the United States Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay. 2. Whether Petitioners? habeas corpus petitions, which establish that the United States government has imprisoned Petitioners for over five years, demonstrate unlawful confinement requiring the grant of habeas relief or, at least, a hearing on the merits.

With only two years left in Bush's term in office, the Court could have easily avoided these issues and left the potential for change in policy to another administration. By stepping in now, the Court will clarify these issues not just for this administration but for those to come.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 29, 2007 at 02:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Marketing Idea: Become a Trial Groupie

So what if your firm wasn't selected to represent a defendant in a big-time trial? You can still gain benefits by becoming a "trial groupie" -- hanging out at the courthouse, observing the trial (perhaps even live-blogging it at breaks) and getting yourself interviewed as an expert commentator on TV. That's a strategy that worked big time for one law firm, as described in this piece,  Perkins Coie Finds Marketing Opportunity in Conrad Black Trial Commentary, The National Law Journal (6/29/07).

From the article:

Chicago Perkins Coie partner Hugh Totten and one of the firm's public relations specialists, Lori Anger, hatched a plan at the beginning of the criminal fraud trial to see what kind of publicity they could drum up by making Totten available to comment on the case for the 400 registered U.S. and international press personnel covering it. Many of the law firms in town weren't able to comment publicly because they were representing one of the defendants or witnesses in the case.  So, Totten, a litigator specializing in complex civil cases and co-chair of the group's construction and design team, started sitting in on the trial at the federal courthouse, conveniently located across the street from the firm's Chicago office. It's the same kind of trial he typically works, just with a different burden of proof, he said. Mixing with reporters was natural for him given his journalism studies at Purdue University and his former editor position at the college's newspaper.  To say the plan was successful is an understatement. Totten, a former Kirkland & Ellis attorney who has little experience in criminal defense, got comments into newspapers and wire services all over the world, including the Chicago Tribune, the Financial Times of London, the Globe and Mail in Toronto and Bloomberg News.

The goal of Perkins' plan was to help lure new lawyers to the firm's 3-year-old Chicago office. Currently, the office has 70 lawyers, but the firm expects to grow it as large as 200.

Could this strategy work for your firm?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 29, 2007 at 02:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Could Video Resumes Violate Employment Law?

Ah, leave it to lawyers to put the kibbosh on what seems like a terrific way for law students and lawyers to stand out from the crowd when job hunting and marketing. As this blog post by Dave Lefkow of Director of Recruiting discusses, the legal profession's opinion of online video resumes hasn't been favorable.

According to this article from The National Law Journal, legal employers are cautioned to stay away from video recruiting. From the article:

If a video résumé comes across your computer, hit the delete button. That's the advice labor and employment attorneys are giving employers and human resources professionals about video résumés, the latest job-searching trend that has employers nationwide both intrigued — and scratching their heads. But lawyers are warning employers that video résumés can open a slew of discrimination claims.

One lawyer quoted in the article had this to say:

Cheryl Behymer, a partner at Atlanta's Fisher & Phillips, is advising employers to return video résumés with a request for a traditional résumé. "Just let them know, 'We don't use video,' " said Behymer, who strongly advises against opening up video résumés. "You're opening yourself up to a potential that someone could claim, 'Well, the reason I didn't get hired is because you could see my gray hair and you could see that I'm over 40.' "

Lefkow anticipates that law firms' attitudes toward video resumes might have a slipperly slope effect. He wonders whether law firms will start relying exclusively on phone interviews to avoid the legal hassles of meeting someone in person.

Moreover, even written resumes send signals of their own. Many employers scrutinize candidates' names to guess at race, year of graduation to determine age as well as clubs and activities (e.g., Hispanic Law Students Association or Lambda) to figure out race and sexual orientation. The point is that firms intent on discriminating will find a way to do it, whether based on a paper resume, a videotape or an in-person visit. So why cut off a potential recruiting mechanism that offers the positive benefits of viewing the person as a whole:  an individual with a gender, an age and a race but also an individual with personality and mannerisms that might make him or her a good fit for a firm?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 29, 2007 at 02:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rodrigo González Fernández
Renato Sánchez 3586
telefono: 5839786
Escribanos, consultenos, opine

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Quick Links

Jun 27 - Jul 10

What's Hot
(Podcast with Transcript)
David Marshall: China's 'Wake-up Call' for American Real Estate

David G. Marshall, CEO of Amerimar Realty in Philadelphia, has made a career of seeking out bitter lemons and turning them into sweet -- and profitable -- lemonade. Through the years, he has taken over distressed properties -- such as The Rittenhouse in Philadelphia, Pier 39 in San Francisco and Denver Place in Colorado -- and made them into successful enterprises. Marshall recently went to Shanghai as part of the Wharton Fellows program and came to the conclusion that what is happening in Chinese real estate ought to be a wake-up call for the U.S. market. Knowledge@Wharton spoke to Marshall about his visit to China and other issues.


Innovation and Entrepreneurship
(Podcast with Transcript)
Finding That 'Sweet Spot': A New Way to Drive Innovation

Larry Huston was vice president of knowledge and innovation for many years at Procter & Gamble. During that time, he was the architect of its Connect + Develop program, the creator of P&G's Brand Bootcamp operation, and innovation leader for the company's global fabric and homecare business, among other initiatives. He is now managing partner of 4INNO, and recently joined Wharton's Mack Center for Technological Innovation as a senior fellow. Knowledge@Wharton asked Huston to talk about innovation and its role in the global economy.

Strategic Management
Many Family Firms Rely on a Largely Invisible CEO -- Chief Emotional Officer

When your family business involves an extended network of 52 family shareholders, as it does for Bukit Kiara Properties, a Malaysian real estate development firm, simply pulling everyone together for family dinner can be hard work. But N.K. Tong, who co-founded Bukit Kiara with his father, says there's just one person to call: "My auntie." Tong's aunt plays a role some scholars describe as "chief emotional officer," an informal position usually filled by a family member or close advisor. But the topic is not as warm and fuzzy as it sounds: Not only can the job be stressful, it can fall by the wayside as businesses are passed on to succeeding generations.

Finance and Investment
'Getting the Models Right': How to Value Hard-to-Price Assets

Trying to determine what things are worth is a huge challenge in today's business world, where companies are increasingly being pressed to account for the changing values of complex financial instruments -- from insurance policies to employee stock options to exotic derivatives. Consequently, firms are turning to ever more intricate financial models that attempt to deduce values using an array of indicators, even though such models are complicated and can be easily manipulated. This dilemma was the topic of the Tenth Annual Wharton/Oliver Wyman Institute Risk Roundtable held on May 31-June 1.

Health Economics
'Harry and Louise,' the Sequel? The Universal Health Care Debate Is Back

In 1993, a television ad featuring "Harry and Louise" -- a "typical" American couple dismayed by the Clinton administration's universal health care proposal -- helped to kill health care reform in the U.S. for the next decade. With the 2008 presidential election in sight, the debate has resurfaced, but are the prospects for universal health care any better today? In an ongoing study of health care systems spanning five countries, Arnold J. Rosoff, Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics, has identified a set of factors that, in one combination or another, come into play when a country commits to adopting universal health care. This time, he says, one thing seems likely: Instead of a health care "revolution" in the U.S., change will come in increments.

To Increase Charitable Donations, Appeal to the Heart -- Not the Head

One pitch for charity described the needs of Rokia, a young girl in Africa who is desperately poor and faces starvation. Another pitch talks about food shortages affecting more than three million children, many of whom are homeless. Which pitch is more effective? Not surprisingly, it's the first, but Wharton marketing professor Deborah Small and two co-authors delve deeper into the issue of sympathy and how it relates to charitable giving. Their paper is titled, "Sympathy and Callousness: The Impact of Deliberative Thought on Donations to Identifiable and Statistical Victims."

Leadership and Change
Good News about Bad Press: For Corporate Governance, Humiliation Pays Off

In 2000, Bill Browder, manager of The Hermitage Fund, sifted through reams of obscure Russian securities registration data to piece together a presentation outlining how managers of the Russian oil company Gazprom were shifting corporate assets to entities controlled by friends and relatives. Browder shared his findings with journalists who then wrote about the case, leading to the firing of the firm's CEO and subsequent reform. Hermitage's role in the Gazprom shake-up is the basis of new research exploring the role of public shame in corporate governance. The research was presented at a recent Wharton Impact Conference sponsored by the Weiss Center for International Financial Research.

Leadership and Change
Turning Around the London Subway System: From Terrorism to the Olympics

The bombs rocked the London Underground within 50 seconds of each other near the end of rush hour on July 7, 2005, killing dozens of passengers and injuring hundreds more. It was the worst attack on London since World War II. But the majority of the Underground, or the Tube, as it's known locally, was operating again by the next morning, according to Tim O'Toole, the Underground's managing director and chief executive, who spoke at the recent 11th annual Wharton Leadership Conference. What made that possible, O'Toole said, was the response from the Underground's frontline employees, not just at the bomb sites, "but across the entire network."


Articles from Around the Network

Universia Knowledge@Wharton
Latin America Confronts the Strength of its Currencies

Latin American currencies have appreciated a great deal since the beginning of this year because of a strong influx of U.S. dollars into the region. The currencies that have performed the best this year are the Colombian peso -- which has risen 17% relative to the dollar -- and the Brazilian real, which has risen 10%. This hurts the region because products lose their competitiveness in the world market. The Mexican peso is the one exception: Its currency is losing strength due to the decline in remittances sent home by Mexican immigrants.

India Knowledge@Wharton
Do Highly Educated Immigrant Entrepreneurs Help the U.S.
Maintain Its Edge?

Emma Lazarus's words at the base of the Statue of Liberty -- "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses" -- are well known. According to new research by Vivek Wadhwa, executive-in-residence at Duke University, "highly educated" and "entrepreneurial" should be added to the list. Following a survey of 28,000 U.S. startups, Wadhwa and his coauthors found that a vast majority of immigrant entrepreneurs have strong educational backgrounds, especially in the so-called "STEM" areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The U.S. depends on these immigrants "to maintain its global edge," the researchers argue, and that calls for a relaxation in U.S. immigration policy. Other experts who are familiar with the study aren't so sure.

China Knowledge@Wharton
Private Equity Summit in Beijing: An Upbeat Affair, but Words of Caution as Well

At the Finance and High-Tech Industry Summit held on May 25th and 26th in Beijing, Chinese investment bankers, private equity fund managers, stock exchange reps and Chinese entrepreneurs debated the current state of private equity in China. The summit, organized by the China Beijing International Hi-Tech Expo, was an overtly upbeat affair -- not surprising, given the boom that China's PE sector is experiencing. Speakers specifically highlighted industries such as pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and solar power as being ripe for PE attention.
Rodrigo González Fernández
Renato Sánchez 3586
telefono: 5839786
Escribanos, consultenos, opine

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

test News CORRUPTION: Bandar Bribery Case Crosses the Atlantic

Wednesday, June 27, 2007   20:25 GMT    
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CORRUPTION: Bandar Bribery Case Crosses the Atlantic
By Emad Mekay

WASHINGTON, Jun 27 (IPS) - The U.S. Justice Department is investigating allegations of bribery by the British defence contractor BAE Systems to Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, a high-ranking member of the Saudi royal family with wide contacts and relations here.

The news brings a high-profile investigation initially launched in Britain to the United States, where the political influence of the Saudi royal family is well-known.

Although the British government dropped its own probe last December, citing national security considerations, U.S. prosecutors determined that BAE could be investigated under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act because it used U.S. banks to allegedly transfer payments to accounts controlled by Prince Bandar.

The Justice Department involvement has had immediate ramifications, with the company's shares losing eight percent of their value Tuesday.

"BAE Systems has been notified by the U.S. Department of Justice that it has commenced a formal investigation relating to the company's compliance with anti-corruption laws, including the company's business concerning the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," BAE Systems said in a statement sent to IPS.

It is not clear yet what prompted Washington to get involved the case, given its close relationship with both Britain and the Saudis, but the decision comes after weeks of lobbying by some European officials, and development and anti-corruption groups around the world who denounced the decision by the Tony Blair government to close its own investigation.

In a letter campaign, they urged Blair to reopen the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) inquiry into allegations of slush funds surrounding the 80-billion-dollar Al Yamamah arms deal between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia, a transaction that dates back to 1985.

They argued that future efforts by Britain to prescribe governance and transparency standards for developing countries receiving aid and debt relief are likely to be viewed with scepticism.

The anti-bribery committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development had also demanded an explanation from the British government and decided to conduct a further examination of Britain's efforts to combat bribery.

The SFO is still examining corruption charges involving BAE contracts in Romania, the Czech Republic, Tanzania and South Africa.

Meanwhile, an investigation by the British BBC earlier this month found that BAE paid nearly two billion dollars in bribes to the Saudi prince, a charge that both Prince Bandar and BAE vehemently deny.

Many activists say that the British government succumbed to political pressure both from BAE, Europe's' leading defence company, and from Saudi officials who threatened to cancel future lucrative arms deals.

Last year, Saudi Arabia signed an expanded military agreement with Britain, including a commitment to acquire at least 24 Eurofighter Typhoons to replace its air force fleet of Panavia Tornado Air Defence Variant (ADV) fighters.

They were part of the multi-billion-dollar Typhoon order that would provide the cornerstone of a third phase to the bilateral Al Yamamah arms agreement.

This agreement has already covered the delivery and support of 120 Tornado ADV and Interdictor Strike (IDS) aircraft, BAE Systems Hawk and Pilatus PC-9 trainers and other equipment.

The 2006 agreement also seeks to further develop Saudi Arabia's national aerospace industry through the transfer of technology from BAE, the main contractor, and the establishment of additional in-country support facilities.

BAE says it is in the process of promoting an extensive upgrade of Saudi Arabia's Tornado IDS aircraft in an effort to further boost the value of its Al Yamamah business activities.

But the expanded deals are just one factor in the investigation. Prince Bandar wields enormous political clout -- even more so in the United States, where he spent much of his career and developed close relations with many U.S. politicians, including the Bush family.

He also recently endeared himself to U.S. foreign policy circles, including the powerful pro-Israel hawks in the U.S. Congress, with a rapprochement between his conservative kingdom and Israel, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.

After he came to serve as Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's national security advisor, he made unprecedented advances towards Israel.

In the past, U.S. citizens have reported they were refused a Saudi visa because their passports reflected travel to Israel or indicated they were born in Israel. This has not happened recently.

Bandar bin Sultan is also widely credited for forging an unprecedented front made up of his country, Jordan and Egypt, which rallied against Hezbollah in Lebanon during its war with Israel last summer.

The position won him praise in Washington and was heralded as a new era in Arab-Israeli relations.

Saudi Arabia is also likely to be a major player if the U.S. decides to take military action against Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme.

U.S. lawmakers have yet to make a statement on the case.

Rodrigo González Fernández
Renato Sánchez 3586
telefono: 5839786
Escribanos, consultenos, opine