It’s Freedom, Stupid!

Democracy is simultaneously overrated and under-appreciated. Freedom is taken for granted, but often misunderstood and easily lost. We need to be vigilant so as to protect both.

Just in Time?

At some point in the 1980s, the Japanese mastered a manufacturing strategy known as “just-in-time” inventory. During that decade, there were great fears that the Japanese would come to completely dominate manufacturing and JIT was just one of the many weapons they had in their arsenal at the time.

“A republic, if you can keep it.”

Not in my lifetime have I been so concerned as I am now about our ability to retain the freedom our nation has enjoyed for over two centuries.

The Declaration

We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In this single, beautifully composed sentence, America’s Declaration of Independence captures the essence of a then radical proposition that is today largely, but not universally, seen as a simple truth.

A Failing Court

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve always thought the Supreme Court was designed to be the apolitical leg of our democracy. Of course, it is impossible to remove interpersonal “politics” from any institution, but here I am talking about public politics. With lifetime appointments and a small working group of what should be eminently qualified legal scholars, one would hope that they would use the power at their disposal to rise above the political fray and truly serve the very best interests of the public at large.

Sustainable Energy is Not a Partisan Issue

Ideological purism has been on the rise for at least a decade now and does not appear to be abating. Which is a true shame as it has inflicted massive damage on our nation’s, and possibly the world’s, political stability and productivity. In doing so, it has unnecessarily held back human progress which, again, is a shame as we’ve probably never had such great technological potential on which to base another generation or two of remarkable peace and prosperity.

Just 27 Words

Every once in a while you have an educational experience that has a profound influence on your life. Often the most important learning we do comes unexpectedly and has little to do with what we’d ordinarily be learning. And, even more unexpected is that decades later you might be using what you learned to analyze the wording of the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Something Real. Anything Real.

Like so many people over this past Christmas break, I spent 468 minutes (nearly eight hours) watching Peter Jackson’s “remix” of the video footage taken in January 1969 as the Beatles created the music that ultimately became their Let it Be album in 1970. I will admit that I found the first episode a little bit of a downer. The sessions have long been considered one of the darkest periods in Beatles history and the original Let it Be documentary that resulted from the footage in 1970 is likewise considered to present an unhappy band on the verge of dissolving. At perhaps the lowest point, George Harrison leaves the band and needs to be convinced to return.

The Prince’s Playground and the Pauper’s Peril

The First World War, better known now as World War I and referred to by those who fought in it as the Great War, was a truly “stupid” war. By using the word “stupid” I do not mean to imply that it was inconsequential, nor do I mean any disrespect to those who fought on its battlefields. The Great War is clearly a contender for history’s most consequential conflict and I am quite confident that we still feel its repercussions today. Similarly, history records that the combatants were profoundly impacted by the horrors to which they were witnesses and I’d never diminish their sacrifices, nor the sacrifices of their families, by trivializing the war.

...people are hard!

People are funny. Or, perhaps more accurately, not particularly logical.

Technology is easy, but...

At some point I will stop working, though I am not ready for that yet. I actually like what I do. At some point, too, I may have a grandchild or two. If I do, I will probably be guilty of telling them a story that goes along the lines of, “I was present as the Internet was being created and played a part in its creation.”

Celebrating George’s Wisdom, Humility, and Breakfast Habits

I can, indeed, be a horrible creature of habit, both for better and for worse. One of the better aspects of my dedication to certain routines and interests is how I start out almost every day of my life. After I wake, I wander downstairs to the freezer from where I retrieve a chocolate bar and break off a small piece and consume it. Chocolate is, without question, something of an addiction and in the interest of not ballooning my weight to an unhealthy level, on most days I limit myself to just this one piece. Some days, if there’s a bit of chocolate lying around, I might be tempted to indulge a second (or third) time, but I try not to.

Miracles Should Not Be Taken for Granted

If we are fortunate, there are a handful of “big” things we accomplish in life that have great meaning to us. They may take years or decades to achieve, probably seem impossible when we start, but invariably involve the assistance of people we’d never otherwise have had the opportunity to know, but who enrich our lives and make us better people.

“I’m a job creator and I’m here to help.”

Our seemingly never-ending pandemic, like all such crises, will at some point be behind us. It will also, like all pandemics, usher into place historic changes that will probably seem obvious in hindsight, but are more likely than not completely unseen by us today.

Competence, Character, and Curiosity

There are lots of different ways you can separate personalities and, by extension, management styles into two distinct groups. One of them is what I refer to as “process versus product.” Process means that people are invested in getting the order and structure of things set in such a way that good results are achieved. Tim Cook at Apple came to his CEO position from being unbelievably good at processes, first at Compaq and then at Apple.

If people really are the most important resource…

Disagreements between senior managers should not be uncommon. Of course, the nature of the disagreements is crucial. A certain level of ego is required to want a senior position, so there will be some conflicts that simply arise from clashes of personal pride, self-interest, and self-regard. This type of friction is generally unproductive and, naturally, needs to be minimized.

In Praise of Capitalism and Socialism?

By the late 1980s, the prevalence of the counter-culture attitudes of the 1960s had dramatically faded, though they’ve never disappeared. Many of the hippies of the 1960s seemed by the 1980s to have turned into “yuppies”, which is short for “young urban professionals.” Seemingly, the collective anti-establishment spirit of youthful Baby Boomers had morphed into a more self-centered focus that desired the maximization of financial well-being.

“Quality is a Management Decision”

Without question, those are the five most important words I learned in college. While I wish I could remember for sure, I am not totally positive which of my professors was responsible for imparting that piece of wisdom. I think it was Cecilia Falbe, a management professor, so in the absence of other information, she’s going to get the credit. I think it was brought up during a management course in the first year of my two year MBA program. I am certain that I recognized the trueness of the statement at the time. I am equally certain that I did not at the time grasp just how important was the observation, otherwise I’d be positive from whom I had heard those words.