Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. One can argue that this next manager leads to a lot of his/her staff developing and growing their capabilities. One just wishes it were a little more organized.

MOTW: Turbulence Manager

Considers the best way to keep things creative is to make everyone work outside their comfort zone. Assigns tasks in a challenging yet haphazard manner (i.e., without giving it a lot of thought). Has everyone wondering what is coming next. Keep your seat-belt fastened!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Weekend Haiku

Crescent moon-
bent to the shape
of the cold.

Issa (1763-1827)

Friday, March 25, 2011


The music video of Holiday from Green Day's American Idiot. Enjoy and happy Friday!

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. We have all encountered this next manager at some point in our lives. One wonders whether they are as rigid in their personal lives as well.

MOTW: By the Book Manager

With zero flexibility in his/her toolkit this manager insists that everything be done, managed and evaluated according to policy and procedure. Although a very distant relative of Bureaucratic Manager, By the Book Manager’s approach is not so much about CYA (Cover Your Anatomy) as it is about being a good corporate soldier.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Weekend Haiku

Tilling the field;
the man who asked the way
has disappeared.

Buson (1716-1783)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Heading for a fall

A Belgian band with a Spanish name and a wonderful jazz-pop sound. Here is Vaya Con Dios performing Heading for a Fall, and that is the incomparable Dani Klein on vocals. Enjoy and happy Friday.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. At some point in our lives we have all run into this next specimen. The trick is to run away from them as fast as possible.

MOTW: Do Nothing Manager

This manager’s name figures prominently on the masthead of any successful presentation ever given to Senior Management. However, the only thing he/she ever contributed to the effort was showing up late at an occasional project meeting. Do Nothing Manager is coated with Teflon, so nothing sticks when responsibilities are assigned for specific project tasks and milestones. He/she has an eel-like ability to dodge all serious accountability and thus contributes only marginal effort (if any at all) to the task at hand.

When the time comes for recognition however, Do Nothing Manager blends in effortlessly with those team members who actually did the work and basks in the limelight, flourishing in the extensive praise received from Senior Management.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Weekend Haiku

Coming back-
so many pathways
through the spring grass.

Buson (1716-1783)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Corners Of Your Mind

The smooth, balanced pop sound of the indie trio Ivy. A recording of Corners of your Mind. Enjoy and happy Friday.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

El Heat tiene frio

In fact they are downright frigid. The Miami Heat dropped its fifth straight game, this time losing to the visiting Portland Trailblazers by 9 last night 105 - 96. There has been much hand-wringing, wailing and gnashing of teeth in Miami, while the rest of the league and country watches with a certain amount of schadenfreude. There has even been mention of tears in the locker room, causing jocularity, consternation and a certain amount of WTF was Erik Spoelstra thinking when he made that revelation.

There has been a plethora of analysis about what is wrong with the Heat such as: they can't close out games, can't win against over .500 teams, Wade and James aren't meshing well together, neither one knows whose team it is and thus neither is as effective as they should be, the bench isn't scoring enough, there hasn't been effective enough play out of the center position, Mike Miller has been injured and hasn't come around, they have been unlucky and not been able to convert the last second play to win, the coaching doesn't take advantage of the unique makeup and talents of the players of the team, and blah, blah, blah ad nauseam.

Well, allow me to inject my analysis. The problem is DEFENSE. These guys are playing long stretches of lackadaisical defense. In fact, there are some stretches where they play no defense at all, confident that since they have such good players they can score any time they want and just match up bucket for bucket, ultimately winning the game. Well, that is not the case as their lack of victories against over .500 teams proves. You have to work for every possession in the NBA (even the bad teams are too good for that mindset to work) and stifle the other team until they just can't wait for the game to be over so they can get out of the gym.

During this recent slide the Heat had large leads (one as big as 24 points) which they let slip away and ended up losing. That just does not happen without defensive lapses. I can understand if you lose because the shots aren't going in, but what is unacceptable is a poor defensive showing night after night. The Heat look befuddled and frustrated and seem to not know what to do to stop other teams from scoring. With the talent they have this should not be an issue. I am surprised that Pat Riley (a man whose entire emphasis when he was coaching was defense) has not stepped in and said or done something up to this point.

Miami, you better start playing some DEFENSE when the other team has the ball or your run in the playoffs will be short and not sweet, but extremely sour.

UPDATE - 3/11/2011: All is not lost, they beat the Lakers last night 94-88. Let's see if this starts a trend.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What do you call it?

Motivation, leadership, management? What is the appropriate word? After all, Major League Baseball calls them managers, not coaches like many other sports. Whatever you label it, many a CEO could learn a lesson or two from the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Scioscia. His unique style during spring training has his club buzzing.

It was John Wooden, another legendary sports coach (college basketball) who once said, "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." Scioscia's assignments keep his players learning and puts them all, veteran and rookie, on an equal footing. I don't know how this will translate to performance on the diamond, but I can't help thinking that his players are better off for it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. This next manager may or may not believe what he/she is saying, but says it anyway to try to keep the staff placated. Like the boy who cried wolf, once the staff hears the story one too many times and things do not turn around, they cease buying into the script and things go downhill.

MOTW: Myth Propagator Manager

Myth Propagator Manager’s motivational techniques rely on describing scenarios for his/her staff which depict much better working conditions in the very near future. Such speeches are usually filled with phrases like, “transitory phase, temporary rough patch, better times ahead, turning the corner soon, etc.”

Unfortunately, while this approach may have been effective in the past, today’s corporate drones are much more jaded, impatient and far less loyal, especially when the company is doing extremely well and the staff does not see these results translated into any benefit for them. Suffice it to say that either Myth Propagator Manager’s techniques or days are numbered, whichever you prefer.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Weekend Haiku

Zealous flea,
you're about to be Buddha
by my hand.

Issa (1763-1827)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Our government in action

This is unconscionable. Read the whole thing. It belongs in a Fellini movie and even there would be questionable as a cinematic plot or device.

Emotional Weather Report

From his album Nighthawks at the Diner, Tom Waits tells you about his precarious emotional state in his memorable, gravelly, whisky-soaked voice. Here is the incomparable Emotional Weather Report with a nice supporting slide show. Enjoy and happy Friday.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A realization hits home

This is an Onion piece, but it really hit home. Such realizations have a tendency to hit you in moments when you least expect them to. I identify with Blake Richman, but then again, I have been accused of being a misanthrope on more than one occasion.

The money quote from the article, "Richman said. "I was nodding my head like an a#$hole and saying ridiculous things like, 'Right,' and, 'I see your point, Dave,' when I should have just said, 'Dave, your idea isn't good and you are wasting our time and you need to shut up right now.'"

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Take a walk on the wild side

Indeed. Happy birthday to Mr. Lou Reed, he of The Velvet Underground, Sweet Jane and Heroin fame, as well as many other tunes. It is hard to believe he is one year shy of 70.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Inside Job

Filmmaker Charles Ferguson, who won the Best Documentary Oscar this week, for Inside Job says people should be going to prison for what transpired during the financial crisis but are not. He was interviewed about this subject by Speakeasy from the WSJ after he used his acceptance speech at the Academy Awards as a platform to make this claim. I have not seen the documentary yet but plan on doing so, and I agree with Mr. Ferguson. I believe there was quite a bit of malfeasance on the part of people in financial institutions leading up to and during the meltdown.

As I have stated before when speaking about the Madoff scandal, you can look at it in one of two ways. Either there were certain people in certain financial institutions that deep down knew or suspected this was happening and/or were actively participating, OR, the bankers (especially the sales and risk management folk), investment gurus, analysts and other drones at the regulatory agencies were incompetent and uninformed. Either way, it doesn't fill one with confidence about our financial system.