Phil Hauck's TEC Blog

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Alabama Theatre, Myrtle Beach.

Recently, we vacationed in Myrtle Beach and happened upon the Alabama Theatre for a three-hour variety extravaganza. It featured a hilarious comedian whose style was understated country. Among his contributions:
• Things haven’t been so great with the recession and all, so we’re changing the name of the Alabama to the Al-Obama, so that we can apply for stimulus funds to keep our high quality offering featuring world-class entertainers serving our audiences ... at a loss.
• Be careful wandering around our theater building. It’s fairly old, and hasn’t had the benefits that newer buildings have since the government decided it would protect us from stupid people.
• That Pelosi woman. What’s with her? She tells us we need to pass the health reform bill so we can find out what’s in it?
• His recent divorce? We kept arguing about the same things, time and again ... like that commode seat up or down bit? I told her that if it’s causing a problem, we should get rid of it. So, I took the seat off and threw it out. She's a quick learner. She decided I was causing a problem and got rid of me.
• Taco Bell. I’m worried about Taco Bell. I don’t think they’re doing so well, and I’m worried that the government will take them over. Can you imagine Taco Bell run by the government? Taco Bell has a challenge making a good burrito itself. Can you imagine what a government-made burrito would taste like?

Kohler CEO on Economy ...

David Kohler, CEO of Kohler Co., told another St. Norbert CEO breakfast these points:
• The last recession, also a “jobless recovery,” took 49 months to get its job loss back. We’re now 27 months into this one, and just beginning to add jobs. This will be much slower to emerge.
• The New Consumer Mindset, based on recent surveys: 1) 45% have stopped buying from companies they feel operate unethically. 2) 69% have become more environmentally responsible within their homes. 3) 71% will stick to its cost-cutting tactics even as the economy and their household income improves. 4) More are moving towards a “more balanced lifestyle.”
• The Internet interactive communications techniques must be at the center of any consumer business’ stratgegies. Especially with Generation X and Millenials.
• On Sustainability: 1) By 2013, 26 states will have signifricant water shortages that the state must deal with. 2) COs concentration is 35% higher than before the industrial revolution. 3) Innovation is not about massive tradeoffs. We can make it work for all stakeholders. 4) Healthy product sales are increasing fast.
• Global: Kohler is now in 630 stores in China, it’s fastest growing , most profitable market. Right behind: India. They are where the people are.

School Specialty CEO on Education Trends ...

Recently, Dave Vander Zanden, CEO of School Specialty, Appleton, told a St. Norbert CEO Breakfast & Strategy audience these points about the U.S. educational process that are important to School Specialty’s strategies:
• The U.S. educational system is very slow to adopt new ideas, especially technologically-based ones.
• His company’s objective: To help educators engage and inspire students to learn. Increasingly, the initiatives focus on “accelerated learning” techniques. Slowly, he said, textbooks are on their way out as a primary learning resource.
• With only 20% of students going on to post-secondary education, the emphasis of learning must be on “the path to adulthood.”

More on Wellness/Nutrition ...

John Whitcomb, a Yale-educated Chicago doctor who leads Aurora’s wellness education efforts, recently made these points to a wellness-oriented Green Bay business audience sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce's CEO Groups:
• We are “hard-wired” to crave that which is Sweet, Fat and Salty.
• In 1980, a Harvard study declared these to be appropriate elements of a wellness strategy: 1) No smoking. 2) Exercise4 every day (30 minutes of a fast walk). 3) Five fruits and veggie servings. 4) A BMI less than 25. And, 5) a glass of wine daily. If you are 60 years old and doing all five of these, there’s a 54% chance you’ll live to 90. If you’re 60 and doing none of the five, only 5% will live ‘til 90.
• Calories delivered within liquids are the biggest sources of Weight Gain. So, get sodas out of the workplace.
• Low Vitamin D intake causes many, many documented problems, including many types of cancers.. Typically in Northeast Wisconsin, we take less than 10 mg daily ... when we should be taking 60 mg daily. Example: In Japan, breast cancer incidence is 5% that of the U.S. Why, because Japanese women eat seaweed, which contains iodine which retards breast cancer. Another example: This past winter, Aurora gave its employees the 60 mg of Vitamin D, and reduced its flu absences by 50%.

Within the Effort to Reduce Health Insurance, More Mandates

States can impose mandates at will on health insurors regarding what must be covered within all plans, regardless of whether the insured might want to pay for that coverage. During the past session, the Wisconsin Legislature added mandatory coverage of: “mental health parity,” autism, contraceptives, dependent care, hearing aids/cochlear implants, and colorectal screening.
Wisconsin still remains one of very few states not to allow state tax deductions for employer contributions to Health Savings Accounts.

On the Good Side: In March, the legislature enacted a Disclosure of Health Care Costs by Providers that will provide some simple disclosure in the future.

The Awakening of GE CEO Jeff Immelt

“A couple of Fridays each month, Jeff Immelt hosts a sleepover. The CEO of GE invites one of the 185 officers of his company, and only one, to his home in New Canaan, Conn., for a leisurely meal. After a few drinks, some laughs, a plate of pasta, and a wide-ranging discussion of what’s going on in the world, the two executives part. Immelt, 54, stays home while his guest heads to lodging at GE headquarters in nearby Fairfield.
“When they reconvene the next morning, things get personal. ‘We spend Saturday morning just talking about their careers,’ says Immelt. ‘Who they are, how they fit, how I see their strengths and weaknesses -- stuff like that.’
“‘The personal connection is something I may have taken for granted before that I don’t want to ever take for granted again,’ he says.
In addition ...
• He’s holding monthly dinners with ten executives and an external “thought leader” to debate leadership.
• He launched a pilot program to bringin in personal coaches for high-potential talent.
-- Fortune magazine

Our Future Workforce: Kids

At a meeting recently of the Bay Area Community Council, we heard some eye-opening statistics about the importance of Birth-to-5 education from Sue Vincent, exec. dir. of Encompass child care and head of Start Smart:
• Brain (i.e., learning) development has to be actively nurtured beginning at birth ... or it’s very likely development will be stunted and never catch up later on! If a child’s vocabulary is “behind” at age 3, it will be behind in First Grade ... and will most likely still be behind at 11th grade. The U.S. ranks 21st in developed countries in supporting this development. “According to literacy expert Andrew Biemiller, ‘Vocabulary at age 3 predicts first grade reading success; first grade vocabulary predicts 11th grade reading level.’”
Some stats:
• By Age 3, children of parents on welfare have a vocabulary foundation of about 500 words, of working class parents, 700 words, and of college-educated parents, 1200 words. Reading to your child matters!
• By Age 5, a child’s brain reaches 85% of its adult weight, developing 700 neural synapses (the connections that help learning) every second.
• Of 50 children who have trouble reading in first grade, 44 of them still have trouble in fourth grade.
• Children who are chronically hungry (think at risk schools, students using the federal free breakfast/free lunch funding) are more likely to be in special ed, to repeat a grade, to get into fights, and to have lower test scores. It can cost up to four times as much to educate a child who doesn’t have enough to eat compared to one who does.
• “Researchers ... found that ‘extra talk’ -- where parents ask questions and use a large vocabulary to elaborate and extend what children are doing or saying -- is strongly connected to emotional and social growth, and creates a positive relationships with the child. The richness of language children are exposed to appears to be a cornerstone of emotional, social and intellectual development.” (Hart & Risley)

Some other learnings:
From Green Bay School Superintendent Greg Maass:
• He wrote his graduate thesis on leadership. Today, he is “strongly challenging our accountability measures within schools. I am now looking for better leadership capability at the school principal level. There’s a difference between being a good administrator and a leader. We need to develop and emphasize the latter more.”
• He’s gone to a “professional learning communications” model, where teachers meet regularly with their grade and/or specialty peers, share results, share practices, and make changes.

From NWTC CEO Jeff Rafn:
• A quarter of his 43,000 students come from each of these age brackets: 18-25, 26-35, 36-50, and 51+. Very surprising. A much older skewing “student’ body than suspected.
• Only 17% of jobs today require only a high school education. Fully 83% require learning beyond high school.
• NWTC”s English Language Learning program supports over 39 different languages this year.

Monday, May 10, 2010

More on CEO Ineffectiveness ...

Cleaning out my computer archives, I found this summary which I find enlightening, and in sync with the premises and solutions of the book that Ken Utech and I wrote together:

Rationality May Not be on the Job Description
Diane L. Coutu with Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries*

"If you study executives, you quickly see that they don't behave rationally all the time. Indeed, irrational behavior is common in organizational life. It was my realization of this-and my desire to understand that irrationality-that led me into the fields of psychiatry and psychoanalysis.
Once I started, I found that business leaders were much more complex than the subjects most psychologists studied. People in mental hospitals are actually easy to understand because they suffer from extreme conditions.
The mental health of senior executives is much more subtle. They can't be too crazy or they generally don't make it to senior positions, but they are nonetheless extremely driven people. And when I analyze them,
I usually find that their drives spring from childhood patterns and experiences that have carried over into adulthood. Executives don't like to hear this; they like to think they're totally in control. They're insulted to hear that certain things in their minds are unconscious.
But like it or not, people have blind spots, and the nonrational personality needs of decision makers can seriously affect the management process."