Nation Building

Here I am sitting in a bed and breakfast in Limerick, Ireland. My wife and I are wondering why we agreed to 2 1/2 weeks of traveling in Ireland. This has been a tough trip. Lots of rain today, and very narrow roads. On the other hand, we have met so many wonderful people, both from Ireland and the USA. There is a woman staying at the same B&B from Miami. We met some folk in Adare today from Colorado. We met Joseph who was an accountant in Cork, Ireland now retired and helping his wife run a B&B, and we have met Thomas who is running our current B&B while his wife is in England helping their daughter. Traveling is good and bad. As you get older, travel gets tougher on your body. You need to be in shape to travel. Enough of the whining about travel, this is a blog about business.

I have a growing fondness for the Irish Times, the main paper here. It tells it like it is. I love the passion that is displayed in the editorials, especially about the Irish government. But I also like what I can learn from the Times about us, the good old US of A. My favorite editorialist is Lara Marlowe. She has an article in today’s paper entitled “Obama turns focus to nation-building . . . at home.” In this article she refers to the recent announcement by President Obama to remove 10,000 US troops from Afghanistan. She pointed out that the body language of the President gave the indication that he would have rather been upstairs having a pillow fight with his daughters than making the announcement.

Obama is walking a very thin tightrope between the needs of the Afghans and whether we can trust Karzi, and all of us who want the US out of there as quickly as possible. So this decision to start with 10,000 by the end of this year, and then 23,000 by the end of next summer is huge. Obama is attempting to manage the situation the best that he can. He has a plan, and is attempting to organize the people involved to save lives and meet the plan. He is moving to a more centrist position to better hear both sides of the issue, and subsequently lead the parties involved to higher levels of performance. And lastly, he is trying to find those measurements, controlling mechanisms, to determine how fast to move.

This is what management is all about. Plan, organize, lead and control are the four functions of management. They are all critical for the success of any endeavor. Jeff Immelt is attempting to run GE. McNerney is trying to run Boeing, and Mullaly is attempting to direct Ford. They are all using the same tools to some extent as Obama is trying to use in Afghanistan. In this case I hope Obama is extremely successful due to the high level of risk in the death of our soldiers.

And that is my thought for the day from Ireland!


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