Where Have All The Good Leaders Gone?

Is it just me, or do others see the lack of leadership at all levels in our community. It appears that due to our inability to dialog and find shared meaning, our culture has declined to the point where we sue, call each other names, make jokes about the other, or make claims that are patently false. Each of these characteristics reflect a leadership we have seen periodically in the past, but has never helped our country move forward. Let me give you some examples.

Boehner and House Republicans have voted to sue the President. The House feels that the President has overstepped his legal authority “setting up a possible constitutional test.” Is this leadership? Is this an attempt to lead our country in a better direction? Although I am not an Obama fan I do agree with his point, “Everybody recognizes this is a political stunt. But worse than that, because every vote they’re taking like that means a vote they’re not taking to actually help you.” I am not a huge Obama fan, and I am disappointed in his inability to lead congress and this country into a better position. But I think this event demonstrates the lack of leadership on both sides of the aisle. This truly is the least productive administration in recent history. Obama and Boehner have not created shared meaning through dialog, they have created a wall that is so thick it will take an incredible effort to tear down. I may not live long enough to see that reality.

Leadership calling people names is as old as the hills. The latest example involves our illustrious IRS. Lois Lerner (when referring to conservative radio hosts and people who call into their shows) sent emails to folks while she was in England (which is really stupid, you never put something like that in writing) describing conservatives as crazies and assholes. I am sure those were the more tame names. This revelation is a part of the ongoing investigation of the IRS for targeting Tea Party and other grass-root conservative organizations in an effort to slow down their request for tax-exempt status. “On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R, Mich.) released this latest groupings of emails, saying it directly demonstrates Ms. Lerner’s deep animus toward conservatives and shows that her mistreatment of conservative groups was driven by her personal hostility toward conservatives.” Lerner was a leader associated with our country that had chosen to only represent one half of the country. Hmm, doesn’t sound like real leadership to me.

Then there is the latest CEO faux pas. This one came from Jim McNerney, CEO of Boeing. Several days ago Mr. McNerney responded to the question of his retirement. He will soon be 65, which is the age that Boeing usually requires a CEO to step down. He stated he was not going to retire because, “The heart will still be beating, the employees will still be cowering, I’ll be working hard.” Not a very smart statement Mr. McNerney. Now his employees are calling him Mr. McNutty. The Seattle Times ran a story about his apology, and responses from the major unions of Boeing. Tom Buffenbarger, President of the IAM, called McNerney’s comment “unfunny and unnecessary.” And SPEEA published a cartoon depicting a Boeing employee working in a cubicle saying, “If I’m away from my desk, then I must be cowering somewhere. Please leave a note.” McNerney has stated that he was joking about his age and did not mean to slight anyone. Having put my foot in my mouth a few times I can understand, but I think he went over the edge. I am a big believer in what McNerney has done to help the company, but I don’t agree with all of his actions or his comments. His lapse of leadership associated with this comment will taint his remaining years at the helm, and demonstrates that lack of connection with reality.

The last example of poor leadership traits involves California. I love California, I grew up in California, and I have family in California. However, the comments that California has “Comeback,” may be overstated. The state has a 24% poverty rate, a horrible drought, and large numbers of jobless people. So maybe Governor Brown is overstating his accomplishments? Neel Kashkari, who is running for Governor, did an experiment. Over seven days Kashkari “took a Greyhound bus from Los Angelus to Fresno. With only $40 in his pocket (and no credit cards), a back pack, a change of cloths and a toothbrush, he planned to find a job and earn enough money to get by.” Barbara Ehrenreich did something similar and wrote a book about it. “Nickled and Dimed” was an excellent read.

What Mr. Kashkari found out was jobs were hard to come by, people who were out of work and living on the street wanted a job, and there were some good places to get a meal. I am impressed with this gentleman, although I have no idea what his politics are. He slept on park benches and in parking lots. “He walked for hours and hours in search of a job,” which gave him a lot of time to think. Hmm, I wonder how many politicians did something similar? Probably not many.

His conclusion, “Five days into my search, hungry, tired and hot, I asked myself: What would solve my problems? Food stamps? Welfare? An increased minimum wage? No I need a job. Period. I have often said the best social program in the world is a good job.” Hmm, sounds like a good idea.

Having political leaders that are trying to do the best for the people of this country would be good leadership. Having CEO’s that thought about all the stakeholders that they served and not just shareholders, would be good leadership. Instead, we have political leaders that only care about holding on to power., and we have CEO’s that only care about lining their pockets with great amounts of money. The CEO’s decide that Inversion is the way to go, and politicians decide that the people need welfare. Everything is working against people. They are being driven to a life of dependency on the state. Maybe 1984 will occur in 2024. You can’t see me right now, but if you look at Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” you have a sense of what I look like and how I feel.

And that is my thought for the day!

Corporate Inversions

Wow, I hope I can still write. Not that I am that good of a writer, but it has been a while since I have written and posted a message. It has been a good summer, but it is winding down. August 1st is Friday, our trip to Ashland is next week, and when that happens we know that summer is ending and school is beginning. I do think our school is going to see more change this year, some will be exciting and many with be challenging.

However, what I want to write about is change and the corporate tax rate in this country. A dear friend of mine wrote on Facebook yesterday about how horrible corporations are for leaving the United States and merging with companies in other countries. The term used to describe this process is Inversion. The reason these corporations are doing this has nothing to do with Partriotism, per se, but it is an economic one.

Our President, instead of dealing with an antiquated tax system, has chosen to attempt to create law that would inhibit company head quarters from moving to greener pastures. I used the phrase antiquated tax system. Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, “recently called the American tax code a rotting mess of a carcass.” So instead of condemning corporations for acting according to their nature, maybe we need to look at governmental drivers that are pushing these companies to leave our shores

Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to defend all corporate actions. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you know how I feel about some of the actions taken by corporate management, Jim McNurney has just made another mistake mentioning how employees are cowering. However, in this situation, I think our leaders need to look at what is happening from a systems thinking perspective. What are the system drivers that are producing the current results and are there needed changes that could improve performance of the system?

As the WSJ reported this morning, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Even France has a rate lower than our country. “While U.S. corporations face a combined federal statutory tax rate of 39.1%, our competitors in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) face an average rate of 25%.” The need to deal with our tax system is not just a Republican perspective. Remember Ron Wyden is a Democrat. Laura Tyson, former chairwoman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors, has stated that “America’s relatively high rate encourages U.S. companies to locate their investment, production, and employment in foreign countries, and discourages foreign companies from locating in the U.S., which means slower, growth, fewer jobs, smaller productivity gains, and lower rewal wages.” Can you say high unemployment rate and lower workforce participation rate.

I do agree with Walter Glavin’s final point in his article, Why Corporate Inversions Are All the Rage, “It’s time for Congress to reform a tax system that mainly benefits other countries. Other countries have learned this lesson already – both Japan and the U.K. have adopted a modern hybrid international system and lowered their corporate tax rates in recent years. The U.S. needs to learn from their examples, and fix the broken tax system now.”

On top of that we have a personal tax system that is not providing the necessary resources to provide needed safety nets for our citizens. Those that are super rich find loop holes to not pay taxes, and those who are poor don’t make enough money to pay taxes, so those of us in the middle pay the lion’s share. Whether that is a completely accurate statement could be debated, but those in the Middle Class feel this reality.

Thus, we have a tax system that is horrible all around, and an inept Congress that will leave for its August break providing just enough governance to keep our country open, that’s it. The tax system needs work, immigration needs a workable solution, Veterans Affairs need some work done, and on and on it goes. We need some leadership here people. Come on this is getting ridiculous.

And that is my thought for the day!

And that is my thought for the day!And that is

The Old Friends Of Summer

I love the summer, especially when it gets hot. Today is a warm one, a good day for sitting on the back porch in the shade waiting for a nice cool breeze. I will not complain about the heat, because it is sunny. Having lived in the Northwest for many years now I have come to appreciate the sun.

The summer is when you usually get reacquainted with old friends. What I mean by this is I will usually buy the latest Jason Bourne or Tom Clancey book and read it. In other words I get involved with either Jason or Jack. It is like catching up with an old friend. The latest book written by Eric Van Lustbader is titled “The Bourne Retribution,” and is following the formula of all of the Bourne books ending with Jason saving the day.

Summer is also a good time for going to the moving theater, if there are any good movies out. There are not any movies we are interested in, but we did watch “Age of Valor” today. We had taped it earlier, and it was very good. A Jihadist was trying to smuggle suicide vests into the United States using underground drug smuggling tunnels. Our Navy Seals saved the day though. Good movie and very heart wrenching.

The film did a good job of highlighting the violence in Mexico and South America. And we have all been reading lately about the difficulty other Central American countries are having. It makes me wonder if I will be taking students to Honduras over Christmas break? There is a crisis South of the Border, one that must be dealt with. I have visited Honduras several times, and love the people there, but many children from the central part of the country are making the horrible trek to the United States. It is not only dangerous, but when they are arrested they get sent back to Honduras.

Peggy Noonan wrote about this travesty on Saturday. She used words like chaos, collapse, and crisis to describe the problems. She also described how our politicians see this as a political problem and not a real one. This adds to the chaos, because no one is seeking positive solutions, they are pointing at each other saying how the other doesn’t care. I’d like the words of Noonan to describe this horrible situation. “There seem only two groups that view the situation with appropriate alarm. One is the children themselves, dragged through the deserts to be deposited here. To them everything is a swirl of lights, color and clamor, and shouting and clanking.” Reporters have written about the lost look in these children’s eyes.

The other group, according to Noonan, is “normal Americans.” The normal, non-political, folks see this as lawlessness that has terrible implications for the country.” Noonan uses the metaphor of a house to describe the fiasco we are in. “Children looking lost, no one is taking care of them. Older ones settling in the garage, or working a window to the cellar. You call the cops. At first they don’t come. Then they come and shout through a bullhorn and take some of the kids and put them in a shelter a few blocks away. But more kids keep coming!”

Politicians are letting this event grow to demonstrate the other party’s inability to deal with the problem. So far we have had 50,000 children come to this country illegally, while some are predicting that number will rise to 90,000. “The little children in great danger, holding hands, staring blankly ahead, are pawns in a larger game. That game is run by adults. How cold do you have to be to use children this way?”

I agree, how cold do we have to be to use children in a political game to ensure one party over the other maintains the control. What a horrible way of doing political business. Whatever happened to our ability to be compassionate leaders of the free world? Whatever happened to our ability to make good and sound decisions? There was a political cartoon the other day in the paper that displayed President Obama in the middle of falling down, burning buildings, and the caption said, “At least I am not playing a fiddle.” I think all of congress should be in this picture with him.

The time is now for strong leadership, not political gerrymandering.

And that is my thought for the day!


Noblesse Oblige And The Entrepreneurial Age

Class conflict is as old as human history. Very early in history we see the emergence of kings, emperors, pharaohs, and sultans. These leaders would rule over various types of kingdoms creating what Nancy Milford would eventually call “U” and “Non-U.” In 1955 she wrote a series of articles for Encounter Magazine discussing “The English Aristocracy.” U was the symbol for Upper Class, and Non-U was for, you guessed it, non-upper class. Today we distinguish these folks with 1% and the other 99%.

Between the 9th and 15th centuries “a class structure of nobility, clerics, and peasantry developed due to decentralization of an empire.” This was not just an economic system, but a security system too. Adam Smith “used the term feudal system to describe a social and economic system defined by inherited social ranks, each of which possessed inherent social and economic privileges and obligations.” This was an agricultural economic system where the landowning nobles gained wealth through the labor of serfs.

Karl Marx described feudalism as a precursor to capitalism. “For Marx, what defined feudalism was that the power of the ruling class (the aristocracy) rested on their control of arable land, leading to a class society based upon the exploitation of the peasants who farm these lands, typically under serfdom.” This led to the new class structure of capitalist and proletariat.

Today we have a different type of economic structure. There are landowners, and these people struggle to make a living by purchasing hundreds and thousands of acres to farm and provide food for the world. However, people choose to work for these landowners, not out of servitude but to earn a wage. We have a multifaceted economy that has led to an incredible amount of wealth being generated via manufacturing, and other industries throughout the world. This has created a managerial class that some have called the new aristocracy.

The Phrase Noblesse Oblige is a French expression meaning nobility obliges. The concept was found in Homer’s Illiad, but Le Lys dans la Valle, when writing about behavior standards for a young noble, used to the term to make a specific point. “Everything I have just told you can be summarized by an old word: noblesse oblige!” Hi point was that a noble has a responsibility to behave a certain way. What is interesting the National Honor Society uses this phrase as its motto, with a purpose of fulfilling obligations through service to others. I have also learned that in the movie Mary Poppins Mr. Banks sings a song “The Life I Lead.” He sings, “I treat my subjects, servants, children, wife/ with a firm but gentle hand/Noblesse oblige.”

This noble phrase was to demonstrate how the nobility of the past had an obligation to give back to the Non-U’s in a paternalistic manner demonstrating to the Non-U their benevolence, and because God had blessed them they had a responsibility to give back to the little people. They must take care of the Non-U because they are in need of someone to help them due to the fact that they cannot take care of themselves. In the modern day and age I don’t think the paternalistic emphasis is still relevant, but I do think the concept is still important.

Who is the managerial class? It is the Larry Ellisons, Ursula Burns, Jim McNerneys, Mary Barras, Allan Mullalys, and Jelf Immelts. They are the new lords of the class. They intern then provide the noble designation on many of their sub managers, the vice presidents, directors, general managers, managers and supervisors who report on up the chain. These are the individuals who run organizations in a manner that they are effective and efficient. The owners of the capital are often the same people. They have invested in their companies in such a manner that they have made millions of dollars. This is the new managerial class.

The managerial class has had opportunities to create an incredible amount of wealth, for the owners of capital and for themselves. Therefore how they use that wealth becomes the question. Obviously they are entitled to the wealth they worked for, but there needs to be a humble recognition that good fortune has smiled upon them. As I wrote the other day, each of these individuals both male and female have a noblesse oblige when it comes to the use of their wealth and opportunity. It is not a paternalistic recognition of the proletariat not being able to take care of themselves, it is a response to the changes they have made to how business is done in the United States today.

The work these folks had once done has moved to other countries and now these folks need to learn how to work the new way. That is the noblesse oblige of today. The managerial class, instead of rewriting rules for their own good, needs to create rules that benefit all and then create the training systems needed to move the workers of today into the 21st century.

And that is my thought for the day!


Tolstoy And Modern Economics

I really like the town of Sisters, OR. My wife and I are camping just outside of town, and drove in today to shop and relax. We are in the town park, she is on the blanket sleeping and I am thinking about a book I purchased today in a used bookstore. I love going into stores that sell used books because you never know whether you will find a treasure. Today I did find an incredible golden nugget hidden in the philosophy section of the store.

The book’s title is “The Kingdom of God is Within You,” written by Leo Tolstoy. I think it is a treasure because of what it did to human history. A Mr. Coates, who was a Quaker, gave a copy of this book to Mohandas Gandhi, who in turn was profoundly impacted by the words. “In Gandhi the book certainly ignited an explosion; and its impact on others around him spread like the bombardment of particles in an atomic pile, so that before the chain reaction was over, the British Empire was blown open and India was a free country, under the aegis of nonviolence.” The person who wrote the forward to this edition mentioned that it is good to read the conclusion before your read the rest of the book, which is what I have done. It has definitely got me thinking.

The theme of the final chapter, at least as how I see it, involves the relationship between the haves and the have nots. Tolstoy describes an event where a privileged landowner wants to divert a stream from an area where the common folks benefit to where his land will reap a bountiful harvest. He will make more money, but the common folks will suffer and lose the water they use to irrigate their fields. The result of this travesty is the common folk protesting and the governor sending in troops to punish the protestors. Sound familiar?

Tolstoy raises a couple of questions. First, “how are men capable of doing deeds directly opposed to their principles and their conscience?” In other words, how does someone who states they believe in good, act in a way that is contrary to that good? A modern example is Kenneth Lay who taught Sunday School, but was involved in one of the largest corporate swindles in the history of business.

Second, he raises the question of the fallacy of self-importance. “Under the influence of this intoxication, men imagine themselves no longer men as they are, but some special beings – noblemen, merchants, governors, judges, officers, tzars, ministers, or soldiers – no longer bound by ordinary human duties, but by other duties far more weighty – the peculiar duties of a nobleman, merchant, governor, judge, officer, tzar, minister, or soldier.” How can they do this? I can think of many managers I have worked with that believed the fallacy of self-importance, subsequently not doing a very good job.

So far I have only told you what Tolstoy is saying, but now I’d like to tell you what I am thinking. While my wife was shopping I was laying on the blanket in the park reading this book. As I read Tolstoy’s words I thought about economic systems, inequality, poor, rich, and commerce. As I read his words I kept thinking that they probably had an impact on Paulo Freire ending up in the Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Eventually my thoughts went to economic systems, and I wondered if there was an economic system that would be better than what we have today? The landowner of Tolstoy’s day is the large capital investor of today. (I am thinking about buying another book while I am in Sisters. Its title “The Flash Boys.” It is about how our investment systems are designed to benefit the insiders not the average investor.) Nothing has changed, so the question is how do we do this differently?

I don’t have the connections, or the energy, to create a new economic philosophy, but I can give an opinion on what must be done differently. I can say I worked hard, and I can say I have done ok, but I am not having lunch with President Obama or Mitt Romney, not that I would want to have lunch with either of those gentlemen. I did have some wonderful opportunities that others did not have, like working for a large corporation that paid for all of my education. I do believe in the Horatio Alger philosophy of being able to start poor and yet make it, And I do believe in hard work. I also do not believe all of the rich meet at a yearly convention where plans are made to make sure they get most of the resources and the poor get just enough to keep the revolution at bay.

However, I do believe that though a series of powerful relationships laws are constructed in a manner that allows certain people in our society to gain more than others. I am not too sure that can be changed, but I do know that those who are recipients of those benefits have a responsibility to do good.

I don’t think we need to throw away our current economic system and replace it with even bigger government, but I do think we need to recognize how destructive self-importance is. As scripture says pride cometh before a fall, and if we start believing our own importance we are heading for trouble. What I do think we need to do is take care of our brothers and sisters. Those people we try and isolate on the other side of the tracks want to make a living, they want to have food on their table. The also want to have a TV in every room, but they may not have the job skills needed to be able to make that kind of money. They may not have the personality required to be hired for the job, because they grew up in an area that rewarded being street smart with a certain street language. Or maybe they were a crack head and broke the habit but lost their teeth in the process, and cannot be hired for a job.

I still think capitalism is a better economic system than socialism, but I also think that those who are followers of Jesus Christ, and our wealthy, have a responsibility to help those with less. This may not mean giving them money, but giving the poor the skills they need to be employable and enjoy a livable wage. I think caring for one another is still the best economic system out there.

And that is my thought for the day!



Mixed-Income Housing And Mixed Social Innovations

Yesterday I had a first world problem; at least that is what one of my students told me. I took my little RV to Oil Can Henry to get the oil changed and have it ready for a camping trip that starts today. I do love summer. As I pulled into the facility to get my oil changed, I saw there was a line. The attendant approached me and said there was a bit of a wait. I then posted on Facebook, I had to wait and had not brought my Ipad that had my books on it to read. I wrote Arrgh. The more I think about my student’s comment the more I realize just how ludicrous my statement was.

This is the way I feel sometimes with comments I read in the WSJ. Two stood out to me this morning because of their Pollyanna perspective. “Mixed-Income Housing Won’t Spur Upward Mobility,” and “The Civil Rights Act At 50,” both have positive and not so positive statements that I would like to address this morning.

Howard Husock explores the positive elements of tenements in urban centers, which really does amaze me. Husock argued that between 1880 and 1930 Brooklyn, New York had built over 520,000 multi-family residential units. This allowed “smaller, denser structures for poorer neighborhoods.” He then discusses the positivity associated with another 299,000 units in Philadelphia and Chicago’s “bungalow Belt.” I have not, nor would want to, live in a tenement such as those mentioned above. I think they are horrible expressions of impoverished isolation, but Husock does make a good point when he argues that the proposed mixed-income, as proposed by New York Mayor Blosio will not produce the results he thinks.

The argument is a good one based upon empirical data. In 1994 the Housing and Urban Development program called “Moving to Opportunity” was started. Many people from poorer neighborhoods were moved to the suburbs with the assumption that there will be better educational opportunities, more economic integration, leading to the alleviation of the previous problems associated with mass public housing.

However, in 2004 and again in 2006 social science researchers observed these mixed-income housing experiments and found there were “no significant overall effects on adult employment, earnings, or public assistance receipt.” Also, researchers found there was no evidence of, “improvements in reading scores, math scores, behavior or social problems, or school engagement, overall for any age group.” Although I am wondering what was the purpose of the research, I do think that Mr. Husock is not telling us the whole story here.

This event does provide some evidence of what I think is important for us to remember.: Social mobility does not occur because the government gives someone vouchers, it occurs because someone works hard for it. “A better zip code is the result, not precursor, to a better life.” A better life comes from hard work and learning, not because the government gives you something. Please don’t assume that I think people are poor because they are lazy, because that is not what I think. Some people are poor because they refuse to work for anything, but many are in that situation because of circumstances outside of their control. They are just trying to do the best they can.

The other editorial I was interested in involved civil rights. We are at the fifty-year mark, and many people are discussing the positive results and warning about losing ground. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964. This was a “large and comprehensive bill with eleven sections (or titles) covering racial segregation and discrimination in places of public accommodation, schools, voting and employment.” I remember the racial problems of the 50’s and 60’s, and to do my part in ensuring we won’t forget, I take my students through a little ghost town where there is a sign on the outside of a building that says “no Indians allowed.” Many of our young people today don’t know what it was like in the United States in our early years, and sometimes reading it in history books is not enough.

My fear is that many recent judicial decisions will undo the hard work that advocates for racial equality have fought for. People seem to think that we don’t need laws to ensure fair treatment because we don’t think that way anymore. That is a horrible assumption that will make an ass out of you and me.

Why am I discussing civil rights and housing in one blog? It is because of the lack of leadership associated with this short term thinking in both cases. The worst thing we can do is isolate the poor. We do this so we don’t have to feel guilty for our prosperity, when there are others who do not have the same things we do. We force people who are poor to live on the other side of the tracks so we can keep them away and we don’t have to see and experience their problems. We think we have problems of our own and God knows we are not our brother’s keeper. Although I may disagree with Blosio’s reasons for encouraging mixed-income neighborhoods, I think it is important that we have them. The neighborhood is where we help each other. It is where we get to know our neighbor and if they are having trouble we help them as they would do for me. We have lost this.

When it comes to civil rights, I think we still need an external judge. This is where the government comes in. Everyone screams because someone has an opinion different than our own. A company that is privately owned by a family is told it does not have to provide abortion inducing contraception. Everyone gets upset, but the fact is Hobby Lobby is willing to pay for sixteen other types of contraception methods. They are just against the type that produces an abortion like result. While people are screaming, this company is anti-women’s rights. This company is not trying to take contraception away from its employees, this privately owned company only wants to operate within its values.

We cannot detract from civil rights which means we still need an arbiter to keep these nutty extremists from either taking us back to times before 1964, or creating a liberal government controlled commune where we all have to think the same, and that is not a conservative mind set. We need middle of the road thinkers who are willing to see both sides and work for compromise. Not these people that see evil or communism around every corner.

And that is my thought for the day!




Feeding The Beast And The Ugly Baby

What a great name for a chapter in a book. Creativity, Inc has turned out to be a very informative read. Learning about the inner workings of Pixar and Disney has been interesting and instructive. The authors of the book write in chapter seven about what success can do to a company. It creates this need to feed the beast. As I am pondering what this means, I immediately go into my memory banks and smile as I think about the “Little Shop of Horrors,” and the plant that kept singing “Feed me Seymour, feed me.”

The beast in the context of the book, refers to any large organization “that needs to be fed an uninterrupted diet of new material and resources in order to function.” This is what success will do; it will drive the desire for more success, which can lead to compromise and decline. One of the most profound comments in this chapter is “originality is fragile.” If we focus too much on what works, while attempting to create a formula, we will lose the creative element of our business. When that happens sometimes it is just best to stop, turn around, and start all over again. Easier said then done. If entertainment companies had done this we would have been saved from movies like Robocop 3, and other horrible sequels that destroyed the social capital associated with the original offerings.

Also, I think this starting over is what the authors mean when they describe the ugly baby. I don’t think there ever is such a thing as an ugly baby, but in the case of some creative endeavor it usually starts out pretty ugly before it gets pretty. The wonderful movies of Pixar did not start perfect, it took time and creative collaboration to turn each of the movies into masterpieces. This means that formulaic success had to be ignored.

Large organizations are always trying to cut costs, which means they are always attempting to create formulas for getting things done. This allows the organization to reduce its cost. This lack of creativity may be good for the bottom line, but it is horrible for keeping the business moving forward. Cost management is more of a defensive strategy than a growth one.

The large organization will also seek to protect the status quo. They will use terms like we have always done it this way. Leaders will argue, “Don’t disrupt what already is.” They also hold to the philosophy that recognizes “as the business becomes successful,” conservatism need to gain strength, thus creating “energy directed toward protecting what has worked so far.” Bottom line don’t need to change.

The idea that we don’t need to change is common. Those in charge are usually the ones who made the organization the way it is, so they are unwilling to change it. On the flip side though, there is just as much trouble when we change for change sake. So what is the answer? It is thoughtful leadership committed to constant improvement. This means recognizing what works well and committing to making the ugly baby pretty. It also recognizes the importance of knowing when to feed the beast and when to slay it. Success for success sake is not necessarily a good thing, especially if we lose who we are along the way.

Even though the authors of Creativity, Inc seem to criticize the importance of process, I think process helps to produce good checks and balances. However, I do agree that relying too much on process and not enough on creativity can be detrimental to progress.

My wife and I wanted to go see a movie the other night, but could not find anything we wanted to spend $10 each just to get in (we both get the senior rate now). And I always need to buy popcorn, which is another $20. We were also watching a TV show a couple of nights ago, and came to the conclusion we had watched the same story line previously on another show. It seemed to us at the time that there is a lack of creativity in the entertainment industry, thus sequel after sequel. Movie manufacturers are just like other corporations, they need to feed the beast and produce only was has proven to be successful, because it is about cost control and profit, not creativity.

It seems that with all the problems surrounding us we need a shot of creativity leadership. Maybe Creativity, Inc should be a mandatory read for all leaders in business and politics.

And that is my thought for the day!