Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ethics in everyday life

These days we are surrounded by lapses of ethics. Frankly, I suspect that they have always occurred, but were less visible. However, as a result, people see poor role models every day. We see authors such as James Frey, Clifford Irving and many others fabricate material they claimed was non-fiction. Today we read that David Edmondson, CEO of Radio Shack, fabricated a degree. Well, he was not original, Ron Zarella, CEO of Bausch & Lomb fabricated one, and even though it was discovered in 2002, he remains CEO. So, while it is one thing to see a leader in the community, fabricating a key fact, we see that the people in the community don't seem to care. It makes it more difficult to hold young people to a higher standard.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


This week the Wall Street Journal has been running a column of readers' comments on Wal-Mart. Even in the WSJ, most readers have been questioning Wal-Mart's motives, and others have doubted that Wal-mart can be both socially responsible and highly profitable based on their low cost model. When a generally pro-business, conservative group such as this have started questioning Wal-Mart, it is clear that Wal-Mart has some growing challenges on its hands. The skills which made it successful are being challenged as socially undesirable. Its focus on "backroom" efficiency is seen as contrary to the new need for consumer facing skills. In order to continue to prosper, Wal-Mart will have to make some substantial changes.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Energy - the great vulnerability

In the West we use an enormous amount of energy. The USA uses most of it. If we keep using it in this way, we will accelerate global warming, raise the sea level so much that many people will be homeless, run out of fossil fuel, and give the least stable, dictator prone parts of the world great power over us. Simply slowing growth is not enough. We must stop and reverse it. We need a set of policies which encourage sensible alternatives and penalize continued use of fossil fuels.

I have worked in the energy industry at a high level. We need to eliminate oil and coal powered plants, which are also dangerous in terms of lives lost mining coal. We must build more safe and moderate cost nuclear plants, hydro and wave powered plants can be helpful. We have to switch as much automobile fuel use to renewable fuels such as ethanol, or at least replace gasoline by clean diesel.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Why a wide perspective is needed to be successful

In developing countries, there are many opportunities. Are local entrepreneurs or outsiders more likely to be successful? In practice we find that both are often successful. One of the most attractive ways is by "the transfer of success."

This means that the entrepreneur identifies an opportunity which has been successfully addressed in another country, and translates the solution to the developing country. The translation is key. In most cases, you cannot simply implement it unchanged. As in any translation, you need to be fluent in both cultures. Since the solution could come from any of many countries, the most likely to be successful is someone who knows the culture of the developing country, and many other cultures. Is what made it successful based on a cultural uniqueness?