Friday, October 29, 2010

Sometimes, a poem by David Whyte

Post 578 - David Whyte is one of my favorite poets. He grew up in Yorkshire, studied Marine Zoology in Wales and trained as a naturalist in the Galapagos Islands. He's also worked as a naturalist guide, leading anthropological and natural history expeditions in various parts of the world. He's one of the few poets to take his perspectives on creativity into the field of work and organizational development, conducting workshops with many American and international companies. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest. I find he's always worth reading.

Sometimes by David Whyte

if you move carefully
through the forest

like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

that can make
or unmake
a life,

that have patiently
waited for you,

that have no right
to go away.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A summer in the country - part nine.

Post 577 - One of the most exciting events during my summer visit was going with my grandfather to the fair in the village of Campile. Here local farmers brought their animals to sell (mostly pigs as I remember) and the beasts and their owners all clustered around the village street for the best part of the day. The men ducked in and out of the pubs for a quick drink on a fairly regular basis and many were quite merry by late afternoon. This helped to liven up the commercial proceedings and resulted in noisy bargaining. Agreement on a price was followed by a spit on the hand and a handshake to confirm that the deal had been struck. Of course this then had to be celebrated by a visit to the pub once more. So one of the few times I saw my grandfather the worse for drink was when he returned from the fair, much to the disapproval of the women in the house. On Monday, August 26th 1940, the year before my visit, a German aircraft bombed the creamery at Campile and three local women were killed. It’s still not clear why this tragedy occurred.

Another exciting event in the village as far as I was concerned was the showing of movies on a very irregular schedule in a corrugated shed very near my uncle’s grocery store. Seating was set out on wooden benches that radiated back from the screen. The farmers who attended usually brought their dogs with them, and the dogs didn’t always get on as well as their masters. So, every now and then, a great noisy battle erupted beneath the patrons’ legs and the film would have to stop until peace was restored. This added some local color and quite an air of excitement and uncertainty to the proceedings. The door to the building moved on a big metal rail and made considerable noise when it moved back and forward to let people in or out. So there was no sneaking around without being heard and everyone turned to see what was happening whenever it rolled back with a noise like thunder. Since I had no money to pay for admittance, I joined some of the local lads throwing stones on the metal roof until we became enough of a nuisance that we were let in for free. As you can imagine, it was never a dull evening.

Another trip I really looked forward to was taking our corn to the mill at a place called Mulinderry so that the wheat could be ground into flour. This was a water-driven mill and it looked like a Constable painting. Like most other such adventures, it was usually an all-day affair to go there and back. My grandfather was pretty self sufficient as the farm provided his family with their own corn, barley, oats, flour, eggs, milk, meat, sausages, fruit and vegetables. He also had his own fowl and my aunt Stasia made the butter and bread. Fish were delivered every Friday, usually fresh mackerel caught earlier that morning by the fishing boats in Ballyhack nearby, and then brought around for sale in the back of a horse and cart. If fresh fish wasn’t available, we ate salted cod from the village shops instead. I also remember poaching salmon at night with my cousin, Matt Hart, on a neighbor’s land. We used a carbide underwater lamp to attract the fish to the river bank and then forked them out with a big Neptune-like spear. This was a very adventurous escapade as the word was that the neighbor had been known to chase after poachers with a shotgun. And so the potential danger sharpened the pleasure of the evening’s pastime considerably.

More later

Monday, October 25, 2010

After the sale is over.

Post 576 - "One of the surest signs of a bad or declining relationship is the absence of complaints by customers. Nobody is ever THAT satisfied over an extended period of time," according to Theodore Levitt, who was the editor of the Harvard Business Review and was considered one of the world's greatest marketing experts.

While many of us cringe at the thought of our customers and clients complaining about our products and services, those complaints are, in reality, the lifeblood of our business relationships. Consider these findings from McKinsey, the global consulting firm:

* Customers who have major problems but don't complain about them have a re-purchase intention rate of about nine percent.

* Those who do complain, regardless of the outcome, have a repurchase intention rate of approximately 19 percent.

* Customers who have a complaint resolved have a repurchase intention rate of 54 percent.

* Customers who have their complaints resolved quickly have a repurchase intention of 82 percent.

Note that simply feeling comfortable enough to complain more than doubles repurchase rates - and further note what a tremendous opportunity results when customers can quickly resolve issues that bother them. Levitt points out that customers are either not being candid or haven't been contacted when they don't complain - probably both. An absence of candor reflects the decline of trust and the deterioration of relationships. Impaired communication is both a symptom and cause of trouble. Bad things accumulate. Things fester and get worse. When they finally erupt, it's usually too late or too costly to correct the situation.

Handling complaints properly allows you to turn lemons into lemonade. Here's how:

* When you have irate clients or customers, address the complainants face-to-face and LISTEN! Avoid being defensive and THANK the customers for bringing these matters to your attention.

* Be proactive in seeking feedback. Tell the customers how anxious you are to improve service, and that their feedback would be very helpful. AT&T once had a slogan: "If it's an emergency to you, it's an emergency to us." This meant that even if customers didn't think the complaint was that important, it was probably very important. Otherwise, why would they bring it up?

* A more significant problem or opportunity than complaining customers are the "irate customers." An irate customer is frustrated because previous complaints haven't been successfully resolved. Yet, these customers are still giving you the chance to resolve their problems.

Similar to seeking out and resolving complaints with existing customers is the process of seeking out and resolving objections in the sales process. Objections here are important buying signals. Like the complaining customers, the objecting prospects are inviting you to show them why they should buy from you. If the prospects have no interest in your product or service, they'd terminate the sales call. By raising objections, the customers are looking to get further information to justify a buying decision. By encouraging these objections, you gain valuable insight into the customers' needs.

So don't ever feel smug when customers don’t complain. Because when they stop complaining, that's when you're most likely to get in trouble!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The author to her book, a poem by Anne Bradstreet.

Post 575 - Anne Bradstreet was born Anne Dudley in 1612 in Northamptonshire, England. She married Simon Bradstreet, a graduate of Cambridge University, at the age of 16. Two years later, Bradstreet, along with her husband and parents, emigrated to America with the Winthrop Puritan group, and the family settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts. There Bradstreet and her husband raised eight children, and she became one of the first poets to write English verse in the American colonies. In 1644, the family moved to Andover, Massachusetts, where Bradstreet lived until her death in 1672.

The Author to Her Book by Anne Bradstreet.

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th' press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
The visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run'st more hobbling than is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save homespun cloth i' th' house I find.
In this array 'mongst vulgars may'st thou roam.
In critic's hands beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known;
If for thy father asked, say thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some ideas about creating the future.

Post 574 - Reflections on how to think about the future:

We need to step back and learn from history, then learn to manage complexity with simplicity using more general ideas.
Learning from the past gives people security to be able to change. The challenge of learning to be able to go fast slowly.

We need to develop a new kind of complexity rather than just simplifying organizations by downsizing. Organizations must develop a capability to manage complex on-going change at all levels - pretty sophisticated stuff relative to traditional reactive change. This will require a whole new way of teaching employees so it becomes a never-ending ongoing exercise. Strategies now have to be developed on many levels and short term initiatives is as important as long range ones. There's a need to reinterpret the past to make it a part of the future - that is, to integrate the past and the future so people can resolve the split in their head which polarizes their choices between one or the other. A new world view should integrate both. This means reordering of how we in the west view the concept of time, differentiating between where M-time and P-time are appropriate to use, rather than using M-time all the time.

Our most cherished myths are often freely sculpted truths. For confirmation and comfort, we often turn not to a verifiable recording of the past but to a loose rendering of it. That fuzziness is our heritage, the other merely a record of what happened.

We need to learn about the future from the past and the present by looking for the patterns (principles) behind the patterns - these are the principles that endure. There can be no viable future that doesn’t have its roots somewhere in the past. New futures won’t spring into being without honoring the continuities that people value in their lives and their previous work habits. Examining the past is a way to appreciate these continuities in the present and provide a platform to evaluate the current system. The history of a system is as much part of its future as its environment. Strategy development can’t be detached from the system’s culture and history. Examining the past is a way to start dreaming about the future.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A summer in the country - part eight.

Post 573 - One aspect of spending time in the country that I still remember was the apparent absence of time. Time seemed endless - and very few people ever seemed to be in a hurry. My grandfather used to yoke up the pony and cart and meander off into the village of Campile to do some shopping about every other week. I would usually go along with him. As we went along the road, coming and going, he would stop to talk with other farmers who were working in fields near the road or who were coming in the opposite direction. There seemed to be no hurry to these conversations and the shopping trip to the village usually took the best part of the day to complete. Time in general was viewed as an outcome, as a measure of what had happened, rather than as a criteria for what should happen. Everyone seemed to live according to my grandfather's philosophy that "When God made time, he made plenty of it." I never remember there being a clock in the house although grandfather had a pocket watch that he wore on Sundays. We judged time by how bright or dark the days were depending on the seasons of the year.

We listened to the news on the radio most evenings at about six o'clock. Since there was no electricity, the radios of that time used quite large separate wet and dry cell batteries to supply the vacuum tubes with needed voltages. The news was of particular interest to people because my summer visit took place during the early days of second world war and while I wasn't very aware of what was going on, there were rumors of German spies parachuting into the local area from time to time and then escaping to England. I remember my aunt Stasia took me to the seaside at Tramore for a week's holiday towards the end of the summer. This was a special treat, both to spend time with her like a grownup and to be able to play on the sand for a whole uninterrupted week. On the next to last day, I still remember a dog-fight over the beach between a German plane and two British spitfites. After dodging back and forward for some time, the spitfires broke off and the German plane headed inland trailing black smoke from each side. Going home the next day, we stopped to visit some friends in the nearby town of Waterford. He was a policeman there and told us how he had followed the German plane to where it eventually landed and was instrumental in capturing the pilot. He told me the pilot was wounded and had a bullet lodged between the bone of his finger and his wedding ring. Needless to say, this image made a striking impression on me at the time and I stayed awake many nights thinking about it.

Another distinctive feature of country living at that time was the ready acceptance of supernatural events. My mother, who was normally a very down-to-earth woman, always claimed to have seen someone walking on the road from New Ross shortly after he died, although she didn't know he was dead until she got home later on that night. This wasn't considered a terribly strange occurance as I remember - unusual perhaps but certainly not outside the realm of possibility. My grandfather explained to me that there were four kinds of spirits, starting with those who had just died and I presume were spreading the word, so to speak - anyway, they were generally harmless and didn't stay around long. The second class were those spirits who were called away before they were ready and still had unfinished business to attend to - and they seemed to be able to hang around for quite a long time. While they could cause property damage (think of poltergeists), they too were in general harmless to people although they could be quite scary. The third class however, were evil and were usually viewed as some manifestation of the devil. These were always nasty and dangerous, could cause people to go mad and/or commit suicide, and they had to be exorcized to get rid of them. The fourth kind were the fairies and these could be either good or bad - it was difficult to tell which. Anyway, it was wise never to cross them. My grandfather had a field for grazing cows and horses at the top of the lane that was never tilled in my memory. I was told this was the site of an old fairy fort and that breaking the soil could bring all sorts of trouble - so it was left alone. I saw no reason not to believe it.

In general in those days, my relatives and their neighbors seemed to have a much greater tolerance for ambiguity and variance in both people and events and were prepared to be open to a much wider range of behaviors than we are today.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Looking for luck in Bangkok, a poem by Maxine Kumin.

Post 572 - Maxine Kumin (1925 - ) was born and raised in Philadelphia and educated at Radcliffe College. She taught English from 1958 to 1961 and 1965 to 1968 at Tufts University, and from 1961 to 1963 she was a scholar at the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study. She has also held appointments as a visiting lecturer and poet in residence at many American colleges and universities. Kumin was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1981-1982. Her many awards include the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize for Poetry (1972), the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1973) for Up Country, the Aiken Taylor Prize, the 1994 Poets' Prize (for Looking for Luck), an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award for excellence in literature (1980), an Academy of American Poets fellowship (1986), the 1999 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and six honorary degrees. She has also published several novels, collections of essays and short stories, and more than twenty children's books.

Since 1976, she and her husband have bred Arabian and quarter horses on their farm in Warner, New Hampshire. The farm, a craggy, heavily forested 200-acre spread, most of which is now in conservation, is the locus of many of her poems and essays. Clearing pastures, building fences, exploring the overgrown trails that wind through the Min Hills, foraging for wild mushrooms, and weeding the beach that fronts on their pond are the physical tasks that free her mind to construct its own paths. "Allegiance to the land is tenderness," she says in one poem.

Looking for luck in Bangkok by Maxine Kumin.

Often at markets I see
people standing in line
to walk under an elephant.
They count out a few coins,
then crouch to slip beneath
the wrinkly umbrella that smells
of dust and old age
and a thousand miracles.

They unfold on the other side
blessed with long life,
good luck, solace from grief,
unruly children, and certain
liver complaints.

Conspicuous Caucasian,
I stoop to take my turn.
The feet of my elephant are stout
as planted pines.
His trunk completes
this honest structure,
this tractable, tusked,
and deeply creased
endangered shelter.

I squat in his aromatic shade
reminded of stale bedclothes,
my mother's pantry shelves
of cloves and vinegar,
as if there were no world of drought,
no parasites, no ivory poachers,
My good luck running in
as his runs out.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A summer in the country - part seven.

Post 571 - One of the most anticipated aspects of my summer in the country was whole days spent on my own visiting nearby relatives. One of my favorites was my mother’s sister, Nanny, who lived in the village of Campile. Her husband, Mikey Shannon, had a butcher’s shop and general grocery store and all kinds of goodies awaited when I visited there. The Shannons had no children of their own so I got very special treatment. I always looked forward to the time I got to spend behind the counter in the shop being introduced to the customers. Another big attraction was the ready availability of lemonade which only seemed to be available at Nanny’s and was a special treat. They had a big collie called Shep who was great fun to play with (strangely enough for farmers, my grandparents never had a dog that I can remember). They lived next door to a handball alley where I could watch the local men practice in the evenings. I had some cousins who were particularly good at this sport – in fact one that I was particularly close to growing up, Matt Hart, went on to become a national champion in New Zealand during the time he lived there.

Like many young men of his time, his father’s farm went to the eldest son. Unless the younger children could buy a farm or a business or marry into one, their lot in life was usually to work for one of the others who had made more advantageous arrangements. Matt went to New Zealand to earn enough money to set him up with some land when he returned but he could never make a go of it and ended up living with one of his sisters who had married a big farmer in the nearby county of Waterford. His initiative to leave Ireland and seek his fortune in a strange land where he knew no one and no one knew him was a very inspirational example to me when I was young. It drove home the message that you were never trapped in whatever predicament you might find yourself in if you took the initiative to do something positive about it. And it increased my awareness of a whole other world outside of Ireland full of opportunities to be explored and enjoyed.

Aunt Nanny was a great fan of British royalty, and she took a lot of static from the rest of the family for her devotion to the queen. However, since she was the official family photographer (as she was the only one with a camera), her royal idiosyncrasies were readily forgiven. I used to spend a day now and then with another relative, Aunt Jo (Mrs. Henehan), who had a shop and a public house at the other end of the village. On one of these occasions, I spent an afternoon alone in the bar mixing and imbibing drinks using the various liquors available. The result was far from pretty – a very young drunk who was also quite sick. Aunt Jo probably figured that that this was lesson enough as she never reported my transgressions to my parents or grandparents, but just let me sleep it off before sending me home. She was right - I had learned my lesson and never did it again ... at least not until I was much older!

To be continued ...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

HP employee morale hits an all time low.

Post 570 - I used to take pride in working as a consultant to Hewlett Packard some twenty-five years ago. There was a company that was economically successful while treating their employees in an enlightened fashion by following a humane philosophy called "the HP Way." However, that's all in the past these days and employee morale must have hit an all time low, judging by this employee comment about support for the new CEO which was recently posted on the web:

"What do I or any of us think of the new HP CEO, Leo Apotheker? What does it matter? HP has stopped caring what any of its employees think or how we feel about anything that is done. We are no different than printers or laptops, just covered in flesh. The underlying problem here is unbridled greed - greed of the board, greed of the executives, greed of the shareholders. Did anyone care that when Mr. Hurd was hired by Oracle, its stock rose? Mr. Hurd was responsible for over 50,000 layoffs and massive pay cuts. Does anyone actually believe that morale at HP has been anything but abysmal for a number of years? How can anyone expect "quality" work from such people?"

"From reports and past performance, Mr. Apotheker appears to be a "cost cutter" (yes, some of us do read more than technical journals). We may not be rocket scientists, but please give IT professionals a bit of credit - we know exactly what that means. More layoffs and pay cuts via reorganization. When HP bought EDS and "moved" some HP people to EDS/ HP Enterprise Services, THEIR pay was cut using the justification that they were being placed into new roles. Of course, this is what HP has been known for - just ask those former Compaq employees who are still around."

"Certainly, a pay cut is better than a layoff, but it is like a water torture. Drip by drip, dollar by dollar, we await the next slash with dread. Customers are starting to feel the difference, although they may not care, at least not yet. IT work still requires "brains," which I think requires some level of enthusiasm. When you cannot afford to care for your children or pay your mortgage, it is difficult to be enthusiastic. The value loss is immeasurable - how can one determine what someone might have been able to do if his heart was in it? I see many employees trying, but only they know if is their "best work."

"Of course, Mr. Apotheker would know nothing about this. A $1.2 million salary, plus a $4 million signing bonus, PLUS a $4.6 million dollar "relocation package"? I won't even get into the tens of thousands of restricted stock he'll be getting, and he's not even started work yet. For those of us who've gone for years with no raises and worse (pay cuts of 25-30% and more after years without raises) despite quality performance, it is clear signal that things will not be getting better, at least for us. But who cares, as long as stock values rise?"

I know that there are many other 'wounded giants' in the same boat as HP. It's time for another industrial revolution to lead our executive class back to the first principles that America was founded on.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Planters Daughter, a poem by Austin Clark.

Post 569 - Austin Clarke (1896 – 1974) was one of the leading Irish poets of the generation after W. B. Yeats. He also wrote plays, novels and memoirs. Clarke's main contribution to Irish poetry was the rigor with which he used technical means borrowed from classical Irish poetry when writing in English. Describing his technique to Robert Frost, Clarke said "I load myself down with chains and try to wriggle free."

Born in Dublin, and educated by the Jesuits and at UCD, he fell unhappily in love with the playwright Geraldine Cummins, and suffered a mental collapse. On New Year's Eve 1920, he and Cummins married in a registry office, and he lost his post at UCD, apparently because of the civil marriage. In 1922 Clarke left for London and worked as a book-reviewer there for fifteen years. In 1937 he returned to Ireland with his then wife Nora Walker. As he had failed in a divorce action against Geraldine Cummins, his marital position was irregular, and he suffered another nervous breakdown. Clarke then began a prolonged silence as a poet, not broken until Ancient Lights (1955). He later wrote two volumes of autobiography, Twice Round the Black Church (1962) and A Penny in the Clouds (1968).

I just love the last two lines in this poem of his.

The Planters Daughter by Austin Clark.

When night stirred at sea,
An the fire brought a crowd in
They say that her beauty
Was music in mouth
And few in the candlelight
Thought her too proud,
For the house of the planter
Is known by the trees.

Men that had seen her
Drank deep and were silent,
The women were speaking
Wherever she went -
As a bell that is rung
Or a wonder told shyly
And O she was the Sunday
In every week.

A summer in the country - part six.

Post 568 - There was no electricity in our part of the country that summer – rural electrification didn’t come to Campile until about 1947. So I always went to bed by candlelight and my aunt Stasia read to us at night using the light of an oil lamp. Later on that summer, we got a Tilley paraffin pressure lamp which was a big improvement since it gave a much brighter and more intense light. There was also no running water in those days and my grandfather was always looking for somewhere close to the house where he could sink a well. He had many water diviners come to visit to locate where to drill. Some used hazel twigs and others used two bicycle spokes tied together at one end. They’d walk around the yard holding the twig or the spokes in their hands parallel to the ground and we'd watch and wait for it to dip down when they located water below the surface. They always found water but could never figure out how to get it to the surface economically.

The conventional wisdom at the time was that my grandfather’s house was perched on top of a hill of solid granite and so drilling through it to the significant distance required was a very difficult and expensive feat. However, there was a good well by the road across a neighbor’s field and one of my tasks was to draw water from that well as often as it was needed using two white enamel buckets. So I fetched the water across Ned Cahill’s field several times every day, rain or shine, and tried not to spill it. Some years later when I lived close by with my parents in a haunted house called Silvercrest, I still had the water duty and this time the well was about half-a-mile away. But that’s a story for another day . . .

Since nobody had a phone in those days, it was quite normal for people to drop in unexpectedly for a visit, usually on weekends. Sometimes, they came in quite large numbers too – whole families of them – and the custom was that whenever people came to visit, you had to feed them. So my aunt Stasia would have to bake some bread and my grandfather would kill a chicken for dinner. In addition, the men drank Paddy’s whisky and Guinness’s stout while the women and children drank Sandeman's port wine (I still have a soft spot for port today and like a glass regularly after dinner). Of course, we sometimes went out to visit others as well – usually relatives of one kind or another. So I guess it all evened out in the end. I always looked forward to these visits because it usually meant I had someone my own age to play with.

Living in the country was a relatively solitary experience that summer since neighbors with children my own age lived quite a distance away. As a result, I spent quite a bit of time entertaining myself, often by climbing some very big trees that grew in the lane at the entrance to the yard. In retrospect, this was quite dangerous as a fall of 50 – 60 feet or more was indeed a possibility. I remember when a visitor pointing this out to my mother once, she replied, “Sure if he falls once, he won’t do it a second time.” Thus I was encouraged to grow up adventurous, self-sufficient and unafraid. And thank goodness, I never fell out of the trees.

To be continued....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Multitasking - a short cut to poor performance?

Post 567 - Is the power of multitasking a myth? Is multitasking a short cut to poor performance and disappointing results? It seems likely.

In an article by Joeann Fossland, “Multitasking: Smart or Dumb?” published
on line in, a few revealing studies are presented that
clearly indicate multitasking could be the way to serious problems. For
example, in a study by Carnegie Mellon University subjects were asked to
listen to sentences while comparing two rotating objects. This research
found the resources available for the brain to pay attention visually
dropped 29 percent and the listening brain activation dropped by 53 percent.
Another study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology revealed that the
more complicated the tasks, the more time was lost.

Fossland reports that according to David Meyer, a psychology professor
(University of Michigan), “Intense multitasking can induce a stress
response, an adrenaline rush that when prolonged can damage cells that form
new memory.”

In a nutshell, Fossland concludes, “multitasking is actually inefficient and
will, in the end” waste time, adversely impact quality of results, and
undermine employee well being.

One can argue that multitasking is an unavoidable consequence of the
heightened level of competition. But this raises the question of whether or
not forcing employees to engage in multitasking is the right approach to
meeting competition.

Additionally, we should recognize that there is an enormous range of degrees
of multitasking. And that you need to look at what is meant by multitasking
in a given situation. Context is critical. That said, multitasking still
should not be assumed to be working in the best interests of the
organization. Research and experience suggest it may very well be an
appealing road to follow to unexpectedly costly outcomes.

Those who have some say in organization planning, staffing or work
design, should take stock of the research findings. It seems that as
organizations try to streamline and become ever leaner, they are walking out
further and further on thin ice.

For much of the work in organizations, research evidence, hands-on
experience and common sense shows that focusing on one thing at a time
remains the way to get the most out of people, as well as giving them the best
opportunity to enjoy their work and to give their all.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Some more strange facts and figures.

Post 566 - Some more strange facts and figures…….

Shawn Tully has been trying to popularize his acronym: HENRYs, for “high earners, not rich yet.” Only about 2% of American households take in more than $250,000 a year in taxable income, so while there are many words that can be used to describe this income group, "middle" clearly isn’t one of them. Somewhere in the top 1% (those making more than $410,000 in adjusted gross income as of 2007) things start to turn regressive because the top federal income tax bracket of 35% kicks in at an adjusted gross income of $373,650. So if you make $20 million a year, you probably pay out a smaller percentage of your income in taxes than if you make $500,000. This is because investment income - capital gains and dividends - is taxed at lower rates than earned income. If you want an up-to-date rundown of effective federal tax rates at the top end of the income distribution scale, check out:

Several private universities have endowments that would be the envy of many national treasuries. Harvard, has the largest with $27.4 billion. Last year, it lost more than the entire endowment of Cambridge University, Britain’s largest at $1.5 billion. The current return for Harvard is 11 percent, while Cambridge reports it made 19 percent on it’s investments.

Dr. Tom Hill reports that based on the percentage of citizens who are overweight, the U.S. ranks number one out of the 33 most advanced countries in the world. The next four are Mexico, Chile, New Zealand and the U.K. Who are the healthiest based on the same criteria? The least overweight of course - Japan followed by Korea, Switzerland, and Norway.

Marriage rates among young adults have been dropping for decades. But data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau show that for the first time the proportion of people between the ages of 25 and 34 who’ve never been married exceeded those who were married in 2009 - 46.3 percent versus 44.9 percent, according to Mark Mather, at the Population Reference Bureau in Washington DC. The long-term slide in marriage rates has pushed the proportion of married adults of all ages to 52 percent in 2009, according to the Census, the lowest share in history. In 1963, when I came to America, 72.2 percent of adults over 18 were married. I remember being very surprised at how difficult it was to meet single women in Los Angeles. However, as marriage rates have fallen, the number of adults living together has skyrocketed, according to Mr. Mather's analysis. Men and women are living together as an alternative or a first step towards marriage. The probability of getting married at some point in life still remains at about 90 percent.

The worsening economy in Ireland has again raised the specter of emigration with workers fleeing to the UK, Australia, USA and Canada in search of a new life. Excluding non-nationals who moved into Ireland during the boom years and who are now returning home, the number of Irish citizens leaving has risen dramatically to over 27,000 annually, up by 42% since 2008.

Five things alone are necessary for the sustenance and comfort of the children of the earth according to Zuni belief:
The Sun, who is the Father of all
The Earth, who is the Mother of men
The Water, who is the Grandfather
The Fire, who is the Grandmother
Our Brothers and Sisters, the Corn and Seeds of growing things.