Thursday, December 30, 2010

More on Global Management

Global Planning, eh? Did anyone tell the other guy?

Okay, now you are getting ready to plan globally. You are going to discuss:

Strategic Planning
Team Building
Market Penetration
The Visioning Process
Consensus Building
Project Management
and so on.

You will also consider financing, information technology, cloud computing, virtual servers, capital investment. You will achieve consensus the way others achieve nirvana. You will plan your work and work your plan.

You will fail.


You forgot to tell the other guy.

Read on.

Too many of our efforts are designed to fail. We make great plans, however we fail to understand that what we want to do and the way we want to do it is not the way things are done globally. Also, the global landscape is changing faster than we are.

The best analogy I can come up with in such short time is this:

"If you are going hunting, you get up, get dressed, get your gear, and go out into the field. If you are being hunted, you move more quickly." Slim Fairview

Others are on the move. China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, and so on.

Some have not been emerging nations in many years. Then there are the emerging nations. Who will be doing business with whom?

In too many nations, horizontal management does not exist. And there is a reason for this. If you want to debate the causes, effects and remedies, you will be spinning your wheels. Other people don't want to talk about it.

In this country, we are charmed by the promises of horizontal management. In addition, we are always delighted to talk about it. You don't believe me?

Consult. Syn. Confer with, confer, confabulate, confab, and chew the fat.*

We are hunting for business globally. What about people in other nations? Well, what about people in other nations?

In other nations, those being hunted by poverty, disease, unrest, and a fierce competition for food, have found that things move along more quickly with a vertical management style.

People with very limited resources do share with those among them who have equally limited resources. They are not about to share with you.

MicroFinance $10.00 to the road to prosperity

Then there are those in the global community who are coming into their own in a big way. Imagine Russia becoming a capitalist country; China, dominating global manufacturing, sales, finance, currency; India a powerhouse of technology. Just don't sit around letting your imagination run amok.

Our business culture has been transmogrified. The change is the difference between the ideologue and the technocrat. (Do not confuse the technocrat with the techno-pimple. He is more focuses on pedantry.)

Transmogrified: Altered, transformed, or mutated into a form that is grotesque or amusing
The solution, however, is the problem. That is, as we look to solutions we find that the advise we get is descriptive (see above) and not prescriptive. The articles for we are told to read tell us what the problem is. Some go a step further. Some tell us:

This is what you did wrong.
This is what you should have done.
This is what you should do next time.

The tone:

Client: "But I'm in a jam now!"

Consultant: "What do you want me to do? Solve your problems for you?

The aforementioned bulleted list

Strategic Planning
Team Building
Market Penetration
The Visioning Process
Consensus Building
Project Management

has to be handled from a different viewpoint--many different viewpoints. It is necessary to engage many people in the discussions--in the many different discussion.

The expression "The Friendly Way" has been too often interpreted as promoting collusion. People who want to do business with you don't want to compete with you. They want to cooperate with you. (Hint: it takes at least two to cooperate.)

Team building may mean bringing people to agreement. It may also mean bringing agreeable people together. The friendly way would suggest that agreeable people means people who know what they are doing. There won't be consensus building because the goal has been spelled out and each person knows what he or she is responsible for doing.

The visioning process. There is no nice way to say "baloney" unless the word sandwich is attached.

Too often, the visioning process is used to bring different ideas to the fore. The ideas can be discussed. People can agree. Everyone can take his or her share of ownership in the project. This builds commitment to the project and to achieving the goal. (I not only heard this stuff before people started saying it, I heard this stuff before the people who are saying it ever heard it in the first place.)

There is a temptation to believe that people in other nations are naive. However, you are not going to convince them that they were the ones who thought up your idea and therefore should want to work to make it happen.

In this country, when other people listen, we tend to think that they like what we are saying. In other countries, when people listen, it is possible that they are merely being polite. I know this because my parents taught me to be polite.

Instead of the visioning process and shared goals, think in terms of finding out what other people want, the steps necessary to achieve this outcome, and how to make it mutually beneficial.

I am not now purporting to know all the answers. I am merely setting an agenda for action (as opposed to an agenda for discussion) so corporate executives can assign people to the tasks necessary to do business globally.



Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Leadership and/or Management

Leadership is innate. Project management can be perfected, perhaps through practise; however, we all know those who have done things badly for most of their lives and careers.

Perfecting project management skills is a job. You have to work at it. However, those with innate leadership abilities, (...the dunces shall rise up in a confederacy...) will improve their project management skills over time by their viewpoint.

I tend to work best when working alone. I have been looked to, to solve a problem or two, which I did. So much of it is common sense. The rest is in a book. (You can download 300 free project management templates) You can fill in the blanks.

However, the real problem with any project is that it involves dealing with many people each with his or her agenda. Too often, that agenda only includes achieving the goal rather than being focused on achieving the goal.

Consultants and committees seem to be the way to go. To the former, I reference Bob Dylan: "You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns who did tricks for you." The latter I refute with one word. Congress.



Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

GE still talking up idea of bringing home manufacturing. I hope it works.

GE still talking up idea of bringing home manufacturing. I hope it works.

Did the CEO give you a consumer breakdown, or marketing numbers? (I assume we are going beyond washers and dryers, however...for the purposes of discussion...)

How many buyers want innovation?
How many buyers want product differentiation?
What is the cost?
(What about price?)
How long will it take to begin to make a profit?

Any thoughts on market penetration with the new, innovative, and differentiated products?

Brand loyalty?

Having broken even, they are now where they were 10 years ago. Do they have the money to invest?

What innovations have taken place over the past ten years?
Does the public want these innovations or did they buy the item based on price, brand loyalty, pre-approved credit, or other considerations?

Whose idea was it to bring manufacturing back to the U.S.?

Now we delve into the empirical method of analysis:

Did that person do the study and arrive at the conclusion that this will have a positive effect. (More opposed to running the company down and causing more people to lose their jobs?)

Did that person come up with an idea, is now trying to sell the idea, and is out seeking the metaphorical "yes men" to supply the company with the numbers they want to see?

(Did they hire a consultant? :-p) lol


Slim Mail:

ps. just for fun: GE wants to bring manufacturing back to the U.S.

Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Innovation! Again?

All I've read recently about innovation discusses a myriad of subtopics and views. With one exception: Adaptation.

Innovation can be changing a product to improve it. It can be changing the way we do things. It can involve where we do things.

Topics like these are sometimes linked to basic principles in economics: Time/place utility, form utility, and so on.

However, in every article I've read about innovation, competitiveness, even in my own writings, what has been omitted seems not to be conspicuous by its absence.

A new boss once said, in his hello speech, "The ability to adapt is a sign of intelligence." What he really meant is that we would have to recognise the fact that he is the boss now, not the other guy, and that we would have to do things his way. Fair enough.

However, the first thought that came to my mind was this: Intelligent people have the ability to change their environment.

Humanity did not survive based on the ability to grow fur to adapt to the cold. We either migrated or learned to build shelters with a heat source in order to survive the cold. However, I said nothing. I did not want to be pedantic and I did not want to be fired.

As nations go global to do business with others, the question of adapting arises.

First, and foremost, we want to adapt to the environment: Business, Financial, Economic, Social, Cultural, Legal, and so on. However, if there is no adapting by others, this will create a lopsided form of change. True, we can use the term evolve. We can suggest that others will evolve. However, that is condescending, patronising, and rude. The method, subject to much spirited debate, is that others must be aware of the fact that they too must adapt.

Change, for the sake of change, may not satisfy the demands of a new market, culture, customer needs. If we use the word innovate as interchangeable with change we are missing the point. In addition, how much change can we expect will be accepted by a broad range of markets, cultures, and customer needs?

Henceforce, let's relegate the word "innovation" to the same scrap heap of linguistic legerdemain as the term, "strategic planning". Let's use the word adapt. Let's be clear about what the adaptation involves. Then, we can move forward from a different perspective with a different view, and better results.



Copyright (c) Slim Fairview

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Fall and Rise of Empires

Empires rise and fall. The Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and before The Soviet Union was called the Evil empire, Russia had an empire extending down into what is now Poland.

Correct my history if necessary. Russia was beaten back by the emergence of the Polish empire, which extended toward Western Europe. They were driven back by the rise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed with WW I.

However, in each case, the empire, as it grew to include vast and divergent territories, became not merely too large to manage, but too fractious. What played well in Italy, closest to Rome, did not play well in France. Less so in Egypt and England.

In addition, we all remember, The Sun never set on the British Empire. I always wondered how that Sceptred isle set in a silver sea managed to dominate the world. India, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada...It may well have been the delegation of authority.

The Evil Empire collapsed because Eastern Europeans grew weary of a system that destroyed what they had spent centuries to build. The U.S. however, never really had an empire. Too often, we've been isolationist. We have not been networking.

Wouldn't it be lovely if nations had Linkedin accts and Facebook pages? Germany could ask Portugal to join its network on Linkedin. China could friend Brazil on Facebook. Japan could friend India. Pakistan could friend Canada.

Our problem lies not in the empire we don't have. Our problem is conspicuous: our problem is our lack of allies. Our lack of metaphorical Facebook friends. We still have an isolationist mentality.

The delegation of authority? We can't even accept the concept of the 10th Amendment in The Bill of Rights, the concept of States Rights.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

With apologies to Charles de Gaulle:

It's a good thing we have only three political parties. We have only three kinds of cheese.*



* [American, Cheddar, and Cream]

Coipyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monograph on the Population Shift to Cities in Emerging Nations

GLOBALLY, the population is moving to urban areas. Food and Jobs are two topics that arise for discussion. This suggests that by talking about it we will solve the problem. Which problem? The problems suffered by the people who move from rural areas to urban areas. Abolishing farm subsidies in Western countries is not the solution.

Farming is a job. In addition, it is hard work. Moreover, it doesn't pay well even under the best of circumstances. Then, when the population increases, it gets harder because plots get smaller. What helped the decline of Russia was the absence of primogeniture.

Cities had to start somewhere. England and France were emerging nations at one time in history.

The rural populations is moving to cities rather than building cities.

The affluent leave the cities and move to rural areas because they can afford to escape the cities.

Cities are indeed vibrant areas of creativity. This even in emerging nations. (We don't need a new world big city to have creativity. The WSJ published an article:
Why Some Islanders Build Better Crab Traps (about the creativity in commerce of emerging communities. It is well worth reading.

There is a very unpleasant step between reduced subsidies making cheap food available in emerging nations, and farmers in emerging nations becoming 1. Self-sufficient and 2. Being able to produce a sufficient amount of food to feed the large numbers of people.

That unpleasant step is where abolishing subsidies comes up against phasing out subsidies.

(The banning of DDT was a positive environmental move that created the unpleasant step of increased deaths due to the spread of malaria.)

One trendy catch phrase used by the media vis-à-vis our current governmental conundrums is "unintended consequences." That phrase has the moral equivalent of a little boy outside church on a Sunday morning tossing a hand-full of change into the air and saying what God wants he'll take and the rest belongs to me.

There really are no unintended consequences.

True, globally, people are moving en-mass into urban areas. There is no work in rural areas and there are no jobs in cities. Migrations to European countries confound the migrants. "How come in such a wealthy nation the government cannot provide 300,000 jobs?"

However, abolishing subsidies will have consequences. If our leaders stop referring to unpleasant consequences as unintended consequences, they may start to focus on solving the problem--micro finance was one of the solutions propounded by an economist in an emerging nation. That earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.




Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

The Next Generation: Better Than Brand New!

When I was at University, I was having an informal discussion with a dorm mate about the "youth movement" du jour. I said, it wasn't going to change anything. I went on to say, "they will graduate, get jobs, get married, have children--and everything will go on as it has."

The Resident Assistant ( A law student) argued with me. "No, no, no. This is a new generation, we have new ideas, we're going to change everything...and so on."

That was 37 years ago.

Jerry Rubin, the Yippie, became a stock-broker; Sonny Bono, and Tom Hayden ran for Congress, and Jane Fonda ("H*ll no, we won't go.") became a fitness guru and changed her mantra: "One, two, three, four, make another million more....two, three, four, make another million more."

More to the point, even those who are anti-establishment are part of the establishment.

The Hippies became Yuppies, the Yuppies, became the Me Generation, the Me Generation became Gen X and so on.

Plus ca change, plus la meme chose.




Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GE Wants to Bring Manufacturing Back to the US


We are very susceptible to gimmicks. I just adopted a free-range cat. When he first started hanging around, he would eat whatever was put out for him. After I brought him inside, he remained consistent. Then, he became choosy.

If he left what had been put down, I would simply pick it up, stir it a bit with a fork and put it back down. Then he would eat it. I don't expect that to last too long. He still remembers being skin and bones, as it were. He will forget.

We watched Bill Clinton's Presidential campaign. When he appeared on MTV his hair was brown. When he addressed the AARP his hair was grey. This was noted in the press. It didn't matter. People saw what they wanted to see.

"If people like you, they will overlook your faults. If people don't like you, they will overlook your virtues." -- Slim Fairview

We used to teach reading with phonics. Children learned to read. Now, with apologies to Meredith Willson who wrote, The Music Man....

"You've got trouble here, right here in River City, with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for phonics. Yes, my friends, you've got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, vowels in the alphabet. With 21 consonants that give you 9 billion, 63 million, aught '9 COMBINATIONS. No wonder Billy can't read trying to remember all that.

"You don't need to know phonics to speak do you? You just think of a word and say it. That is the whole language approach to reading is the think-method to speaking."

We've fallen for every gimmick imaginable in educating our youngsters. (The character of Harold Hill, in the Music Man is what is known in Americana as the lovable rogue. We know he's a crook, but we love him anyway.)

And it is not simply a question of older employees. Having served on committees in organisations whose functions included the "new hire" problem, consensus is that young people lack basic skills. They cannot add, subtract, multiply, divide, or use simple tools: micrometers, calipers, or even rulers.

In addition, at the initial stages of education, the fundamentals are necessary--crucial.

I am good at math because I memorised the times tables. I didn't want to, it took me longer than my classmates because I didn't want to, but I did it (because I had to).

That, coupled with one small tool in math, 3(a+b) = 3a + 3b, means that I can instantly determine the cost of several cans of green beans in a supermarket and do a cost analysis of 3 small cans v. two large cans. Not important? No, the VP Finance is not buying green beans to bring a covered dish to the next board meeting. However, as he, or she learned this (probably in the 5th grade) the concept was learned along with it.

When it comes to teaching youngsters how to think, not what to think, there is a point in time where analysis will come into play.

GE will need young people who can do what I can do. If they haven't memorised the times tables, they won't be able to do much analysis.

While there may be more than a few youngsters coming out of school who are fluent in technology, that won't meet the demand. Hence, the influx of people from countries who value education highly and apply themselves as a means to financial success and social elevation.

No doubt, the technologically literate will run things in this country through a combination of immigrants and outsourcing, and the rest of the students will be taking jobs that pay just enough to hang out at clubs and party.

BTW: The equation above: The distributive property of multiplication (over addition). I actually had to Google the term to be sure I remembered what it was called accurately. That information I can Google. The ability to use that skill cannot be Googled.

We have become victims of our own success. Good luck to GE if they are using the old business model.

If they want to build it here with workers there. It isn't going to work.

If the want to build it here with workers from there, that won't put the unemployed to work.

It will be interesting to see how Harold Hill explains GE's plan to the people of River City. OOPS, I mean to the shareholders and the stakeholders.




Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Friday, December 10, 2010

Innovation and Crisis

In answer to the question about whether or not we innovate more during a crisis, I pose the following answer.

Yes. We do.

Assume for a moment that there is no crisis. Innovation requires a budget. There will be measurables to achieve. We really don't know what needs innovation without some form of market study. Our resources must be allocated in a manner that will be most cost effective. If we have additional funds, would those funds not be better spent on upgrades, marketing, sales, and so on.

If we have a crisis, we know exactly where to devote our precious funds. We know what we must focus on, and we have some indication of what we must achieve. In addition, the group knows we must achieve these goals to avoid becoming victims of the crisis.



Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Thursday, December 9, 2010

City of Hope: A Children's Story:

I received the following email from a friend.


On Capriole's site, a Non-Profit production company, there is a Pay Pal link asking only for tax deductive donations from $1.00 to $ 10.00. or whatever moves people. (Click the "title link" to go to Capriole Productions)

With that stated: IQ2011 we will travel to BR to shoot a 30 minute short, updating the plight of the BR favela kids [street urchins] whose plight has escalated to 1) drug distribution, 2) sex enslaved kids from 6 to 12, 3) murder-for-hire and so forth. This IS A JUST CAUSE. Our footage from the nineties is tremendously outdated and the numbers of kids caught up in this mess has increased radically.

"City of Hope: A Children's Story" is one of good news. Not only is BR's democracy gaining on the drug lords, but faith-based organizations [NGOs] have increased exponentially as have community watch groups and private contributors.

Most remarkable is the Recovered children are now taking the GOOD NEWS back into their own favelas to open their own 'schools of recovery'.

Any amounts are welcome and all showings ,ticket sales, after expenses to locally use Brazilian film people, will be returned into the community.

Won't you help? Any help, either financial or your experienced advice is greatly appreciated.

Sincere thanks,


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Decline of Science As a Way to Make a Quick Buck

Where is Clyde Crashcup when we need him most?

The latest trend in education is to lament the lack of science performance. (Soon it will be declaimed that this is the result of not spending enough money.)

Science requires focus on a goal, attention over a long period of time, and does not offer instant gratification so much craved by young people. Science means enjoying the process.

We will not improve in science until we learn to delay gratification, focus on the problem we are trying to solve, and be able to offer our attention (span) over a long period of time.



ps. Oh, yeah. Science is empirical as well as methodical--and precise.

e.g. In math, 10 x 10 = 100. 99 is not 99% correct. 99 is 100% wrong. Something some people can't seem to deal with. Desole :-(


Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Cut of His Jib

The Business Decision Making Curve:

In finance we studied the Sharp-Markowitz efficiency curve. The trade-off between risk and return. (Mayonnaise jar, no risk, no return. The fast horse, high risk, high return.)

There seems to be an unspoken curve in business. It is not only a cost curve.

Do we train the guy we've got, hoping he'll be a good manager, or do we hire a good manager who knows little about our operation?

Do we pay for safety upgrades on a hazzard with little potential for disaster, or do we take a chance and simply pay out on the accident?

Do we hire someone safe, with credentials and show little concern for his potential, or do we hire someone with a great potential (or track record) and assume the risks of hiring someone without the bursars stamp on his resume showing he paid his library fines?

The business trade-off seems to be falling on the side of safety the past 30 to 40 years.

When was the last time you ever heard anyone say, "I hired him because I like the cut of his jib?"


Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Monday, December 6, 2010

Slim Fairview's Powerpoint Presentations

The G20 in Good Times and Bad. (The Future of the G20)

Global Management: A Shift in the Paradigm of Corporate America

Fairviews: The Quotations of Slim Fairview.

Click the Title for a direct e-link.



Sincerest regards,


Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Friday, December 3, 2010

JUST ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF A DECENT SORT TRYING TO HELP. TAKE A LOOK AT: City of Hope: A Children’s Story documents the stark life of Brazil’s favela (slums) children, and is a feature-length documentary capturing the lives of displaced children caught in a seemingly unending web of drugs, violence, prostitution, sexual slavery and deliberate acts to exterminate these unwanted children. In a country with an enlightened government, it is also a film of hope and salvation as both government and Brazil’s affluent private sector work to save these children.



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Having Problems With the Hiring Process? I Wonder Why?


A burst of inspiration. It was there right in front of me all the time, hiding in plain sight: "...the hiring PROCESS" op. cit. my remarks on committees and the paradox of management.

We are, and have been for a while, more focused on the process than on the results. Hiring has become a process. Therein lies the rub.

No doubt a consultant came in and convinced the Big Boss that he could solve the problems he didn't have until he had a solution for them (Remember Professor Harold Hill?) simply by engaging a consultant to help his employees understand The Process; The Shared Vision; Team Building; Consensus Building.

Those on the committee told the Consultant what he wanted to hear. The consultant reported to the Big Boss that he (The Big Boss) was indeed a visionary (Does that sound like "Ceo the Executive or The Executive's New Clothes"*?) The Big Boss, not unlike Moliere's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, " surprised and delighted to learn that he has been speaking "prose" all his life..." ca change, plus la meme chose.



* Ceo the Executive or The Executive's New Clothes located here on Slimviews.

Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Paradox v. The Paradigm: Decision Making

The Paradox v. The Paradigm

One good definition of paradox arises from the discussion about decision making. It is the paradox where people say or do what they think others want them to say or want them to do. Thus, everyone (the group) ends up saying what no one believes or doing what no one wants to do. This accurately describes how we've been making decisions in the U.S. lately.

The next step in the paradox comes when we try to solve that problem by continuing to do what caused the problem in the first place.

I read about a consultant teaching groups how to avoid group-think. (Advising them to think outside the box and so on.) In the explanation of how this person leads people to avoid group-think and to think outside the box, this person rewards people for coming up with (very) different ideas.

You don't have to be seven years old to know that if you want positive reinforcement (reward) you tell people what they want to hear.

Thus, the leader (a consultant?) succeeded in shifting the paradigm. (Group members giving looney answers instead of constructive ones. Looney defined as more "out there" than conventional. Some call it, "being creative".) Thus, the consultant tries to eliminate group-think by enforcing and reinforcing group-think. (The group catches on very quickly--all begin making abstruse suggestions. At least to the extent that they do not focus on the problem at hand.)

The result of all this is that the process becomes more important than the goal.

"We must change the process so we can achieve our goal," is the mantra. The result, we never achieve our goal. Why not? This brings us back to square one. Because everyone seeks rewards by saying what they think others want to hear. Except for me. But no one listens to me anyway.

Sincerest regards,


Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Monday, November 29, 2010

EI v. IQ

Time was:

If you did well in school, you were "intelligent".

If you did well at sports, you were "athletic".

If you were good at painting, you were "artistic".

If you played the piano well, you were "talented".

Not anymore.


If you play the piano well, you have musical intelligence.

If you paint well, you have artistic intelligence.

If you are good at sports, you have athletic intelligence.

However, if you are good at school, must have worked very hard.


copyright(c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Impediments to Executing Strategy

I. The first impediment to executing strategy will be others who do not share your vision.

a. Your vision competes with their vision.
b. Your vision contravenes their assumptions.

1. If their strategy is based on their vision, your vision will threaten their position.
2. If their assumptions are repudiated, their reputation will suffer.

II. There will be challenges to the data you use to substantiate your strategy.

a. If you use the methods they use, your results will challenge their competency
b. If you use different methods to arrive at your conclusions their methods will be challenged.
c. Either a. and or b. will diminish either their self image or their image within the company.

1. If you challenge their self-image they will become hostile.
2. If you threaten their image in the company, they will become devious.

All of the above assumes that the people you work with and work for like you.

If they do not, the job of executing your strategy will be even more difficult.




Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Monday, November 22, 2010



Nothing succeeds like success.

It is very encouraging to see people using both quantitative and a qualitative approaches to planning. (I find the word strategic to be a word not unlike words like shared vision, visioning process, avoiding group thing, consensus building and the lot. Each expression worthy in its own right--perhaps when first conceived, but not trite. Also, too often a crutch. "There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labour of thinking." Sir Joshua Reynolds. (A favourite of Thomas Edison.)

Speaking of which, Thomas Edison did not need a committee to invent the light bulb.

Then, too, he fell prey to faulty assumptions: AC v. DC. He was too close to his brain-child to see its flaws.

The greatest strategic risk most often overlooked by Executives is that the person in charge of putting someone in charge of managing a project simply is not qualified. That person then relies on more than assumptions. I dislike the word "toolbox" so I will use the word, template.

As Executives began to move to the shared vision, no I in team philosophy they failed to see inherent flaw. The greatest one: "The Player."

.............................THE PLAYER [In Three Acts]...........................

Here we not only read The Player's mind, we are also that fly on the wall.


Player [speaking to self.] "I have no clue what's going on. I know, I will embrace the concept of horizontal management. We need a committee. I will get on that committee."

[Now, for those of you who are really "into" metaphors:]

Leader: "Okay, group, anyone have any ideas?" [Think outside the box; there are no stupid ideas, questions, etc. Only the stupidity of not saying anything; shared vision; no I in team.]

The Player: "Yes. The world is not round, like this orange. The world is round like this plate!"
[Stolen from a Smother's Brothers skit.]

Leader: "Really? I would like you to share your feelings on that Idea. I think we can all benefit from the discussion even if some on the committee respectfully disagree!"

Player: "I heard it on the Smothers Brothers show!"

Leader: "Anyone else like to comment or share viewpoints? [As long as we are all sitting around wasting time.]

Other Members: "Blah, blah, blah..."

The Player: "You know, after listening to other people, I believe you may be right. The world is round like this orange."

Leader: "Good for you! You see! This method works. We now have a shared vision.!!!! I will tell Mr. Big, upstairs how well we all worked.

Everyone: [privately] "At first we thought he was a real jerk. But we can see he is willing to embrace the ideas of others in the group. He is a team player.

Leader [to boss] "At first I thought he was a real jerk. However, you were right, Sir. This shared vision thing really works. He is a team player willing to embrace a shared vision and see the other members' points of view."

Big Executive: "Great! I always knew I was a great Executive with great Leadership Skills!!!"

End Act I

* Anon. A word often used in literary plays. [Ed. note: We don't want the audience to feel cheated.]



copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview


THINK INSIDE THE BOX! For consideration and debate

Cliches, Slogans, and Platitudes have infiltrated our culture to such an extent that we can no longer think straight; or we are not allowed to. It seems people our age are the only ones who still possess what is no longer legal to possess: Intelligence and the ability to think.

Please share what you've experienced on the subject.

The expression has evolved. Initially, it came across as a tactical manoeuvre which translates, "Surprise! Here I am, I invite myself to your house. What do you mean, you do the inviting when you entertain people in your home? You should think outside the box."

The box became a symbol of old-fashion, draconian, narrow minded, limiting, ad nauseum. Thinking outside the box became the new, hip, trendy, now, together, what's happening way of doing things. The new ways of doing things to meet the new challenges we will confront. Oh, boy!

However, as with many cliches, think outside the box is no longer actually heard anymore. It is like the part of the dialogue in a novel where we see, he said, she said. Those are fine markers for the reader, however, the reader is not actually cognisant of the he said, she said. Only what they represent.

Still, it is very interesting to hear different perspectives from different people.

Just something to consider.



copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Business Gift Giving

Business Gift Giving. How about some general thoughts and a few caveats on the matter?

A few years ago, we'd adopted a free-range cat. (My fault, actually.) This cat was an ideal house guest. When she wanted to thank us, she'd meow outside the door to come back in. When I opened the door, I would find a dead mouse. This is a cat's way of saying, "Thank you".

The dead mouse was a lot nicer gift than some of the gifts I'd received.

First of all, it was sincere.

Second of all, the cat did not become insulted when I did not hang the dead mouse on the wall, nor display it on the coffee table.

Now, there are a few codicils and cavets to the arts and sciences of giving gifts in the business world.

In this country, it is innapropriate to give a gift that the recipient know is more expensive than the giver can afford.

I'd heard, many years ago, that when giving a gift in Japan (e.g. a pen and pencil set), it is more appropriate to give the set in silver than in gold as gold is seen to be ostentatious. ( I need verification on that matter. )

In some Asian countries, you never wrap a gift in white paper. That is the colour associated with funerals.

In some cultures, red is the proper wrapping-paper colour for festive gift-giving.

Perhaps we could open up a discussion to share advice on the matter of gift giving in the business world?

Sincerest regards,


ps. If your cat ever gives you a dead mouse, be sure to make a positive fuss over it. If you can't see how pleased your cat will be, you should not share your accomodations with a cat.

copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Compare and Contrast

You can't compare Communist Bulgaria with free market France.

You can't compare Communist Hungary with free market Portugal.


You can compare Communist East Germany with Free Market West Germany.

You can compare Communist East Berlin withe Free Market West Berlin.

Enought said?



Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Monday, November 15, 2010




For every ten experts who say "Do this!", you have ten experts who say, "Do that!"

Then someone else will come up with ten experts who say, "Do something else."

Another ten experts will say, "They're all right".

Another who will say, "They're all wrong".

Then another who will ask, "Who's to say what's right or wrong?"

Then the facilitator of the group will say, " There's no "I" in team! :-) "

If you don't believe me, ask an expert!




Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Friday, November 12, 2010

Developing Competitive Strategies

For Those In a Discussion Group

As an analogy,

I am new to a role. (Answering your question.)

I want to develop my knowledge in competitive strategy (competing with the others in the group to offer the best answer.)

To be as productive as possible as quickly as possible I would, as was suggested, do a quick industry analysis of my niche market. (Who is answering your question?)
Then, as was said, learn about the market. (Read up on what you do.)

You are in the [Business of].

What is a niche market in a [Your industry]?
A particular country, a particular industry, a particular service? These would be essentials to answering the question.

You can use the old stand-by SWOT test. (strengths weaknesses opportunities threats) but you should probably be more application specific.

Who are my customers?
What do they need?
Why are they buying from me?

Who are my competitors?
What do they supply?
Why are others buying from my competitors?

Who will be my customers?
What will they need?
Why should they buy from me?

What features do my customers need?
What features will my customers want?
Am I able to provide the product?

What are the prices?
What are my costs?

Time place utility. Can I get my product (or service) to where my customer needs it? Can I get my product (or service) to my customer when he wants it?

Form utility. Does my product meet the customers' needs or will it be necessary to modify my product or service.

Just to suggest a few.




Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Friday, November 5, 2010

MicroFinance: $10.00 To The Road To Prosperity

Years ago, in a newspaper article, was the story about a man living in a small village in Western Africa.

This man was a shoemaker.

He made sandals by hand.

Though he did the best he could,

He was barely able to make one or two pair a day.

They sold for a dollar.

If he had a sewing machine, he could make more than one or two pair a day.

But to pay for the machine was too much to pay.

This man could save the money for a machine. The price was 10 dollars.

Still, a princely sum for a man who made a dollar a day.

Since he could support his family on half his pay, in twenty days he could buy the machine.

You can figure out what that would mean.

Still, his village was small. His neighbors were poor. They had no food.

Since the man could not let his neighbours die, he helped support them with the

money he had left after supporting his family. Still, it could not have been

enough to help all the villagers. Some died.

All he neededd was ten dollars.

With ten dollars, he could buy the machine.

He could make two pair, or three pair, or four pair, or more.

He could pay a villager to sell his extra sandals.

Soon, he could afford to buy a second machine.

He could train an apprentice to run the machine.

You can figure out what that would mean.

Ten pair of sandals, possibly more.

Another machine, and a salesman or two.

Think about all that that man could do.

He could buy a donkey to be ridden to town,

And sell the sandals for what the market allowed.

Then the man could invest, in a neighbor or two.

And they could make money to do what they do.

Reeds for baskets and clay for pots,

And a cart for the donkey, to sell things by lots.

The village could prosper, money for food,

money for schools, and clothes, and tools.

Then the man awoke, to another hot day.

He worked on his sandals, to earn a day's pay.

With the money he made, he stayed barely alive.

And helped a few neighbors to barely survive.

The resources for SME's are a potent force. Or would be if they were available. Think of it as a leveraged investment. Sounds much better said that way, doesn't it?

Sincerest regards,



Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Some people get paid for what they do.

Some people get paid for what they know.

Some people get paid for what they think.

Some people get paid for the way they think.

Slim Fairview

copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Seeking Opinions: A Man, A Boy, and A Marketing Strategy

A farmer and his son, who had fallen on hard times, were leading their donkey to market to sell him.

As they walked they passed someone who said, "Look at those two silly people walking when one of them could ride the donkey." So the farmer put his son on the donkey and they continued.

Soon, they passed someone else who said, "Look at that lazy boy riding, while his tired old father has to walk." So the farmer took his son off the donkey and got on and they continued.

Soon, they passed someone else who said, "Look at that mean old father riding a donkey while that poor little boy has to walk." So, the farmer lifted his son up onto the donkey with him and they continued.

Soon, they passed someone else who said, "Look at those two selfish creatures riding while that poor old animal has to trudge along under the burden. Why they should be carrying him." So they got off, picked up the donkey, and carried him as they continued to market.

When they arrived at the market they were met with jeering and ridicule. Everyone said, "Look at those two coming to the market to sell an animal so feeble they had to carry him."

The farmer and his son put the donkey down and returned home in shame.




Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Future: What About the Path of the Trajectory?

As we plan into the future, are we considering the path of the trajectory?

Case in point. The pendulum swings both ways. The farther it swings one way, the farther it swings back.

Globalisation: Will the path of globalisation eventually lead to a path of isolationism.

Information: Will the information that we are relying upon so heavily, eventually become a curse that will lead people to retrench? An information overload can make the information virtually worthless if too much stuff cannot be accepted as reliable.

Technology: Will the technology that enhances our efforts become so "intrusive" that we are paralysed by its intrusiveness?

Politics: Will the politics of globalisation lead to "Superpower Centers" with a detente between ie: The Asian Center, The African Center, The Middle Eastern Center, The European Center, The Latin American Center, the North American Center?




Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mudpies and Martinis or The Global Hunger Problem

In some parts of the world, people eat dirt to survive. This may sound strange, but when you realize that by the time foreign aid trickles down to the poor and hungry, the only thing left to be had is cooking oil and salt. These, mixed with dirt and laid out to dry mean that people will live to suffer another day.

In this country, when we think of mud pies, we think of little girls' tea parties. But not to worry because mom has that new laundry detergent that makes her whites whiter and her brights brighter.

Not too long ago my wife and I came home from a day running errands. My wife said, "I'm starving." I replied "Me too." Of course, I solved my problem by adding a couple of extra olives to my martini. Now this may be a solution in Beverly Hills or Bloomfield Hills or Bedford Hills, but it does not play well in the South Bronx where a single working or perhaps welfare mother has three hungry children to feed.

Now I understand that in the Hamptons there are people who go without eating all summer. But that welfare mother won't solve her problem by asking her children, "Don't you want to look good in your swimsuits when we vacation in St. Bart's next month?"

Just a little something for you to think about.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Bon appetit!


copyright 2010 Slim Fairview

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Future of the G20 in Good Times and Bad

The Future of the G20 in Good Times and Bad

[Available as a PowerPoint Presentation on SlideShare

1. Establish a Crisis Management team with an established MIS for a continuity of operations plan.

2. Determine potential threats from those outside the G20. Coordinate a defense plan among the G20 nations.

3. Quantify the needs of the people of each of the countries, the resources available from each of the G20 countries and establish a coordinated distribution system for the resources available.

4. Create a forecasting team to create a snapshot of the situation and to plan a recovery strategy.

5. Leave my phone number with the secretary.

Follow Up

A: What are the potential threats?

1. Military invasion
2. Population dislocation
3. Starvation, disease, violence
4. Political unrest
5. Propaganda

(3 and 4 are also internal threats.)

B: Can you please identify the source or sources of threat?

1. Hostile nations
2. Displaced persons
3. Agents provocateur
4. Propaganda

C: What will be your single point defense plan in addition to (3) and (4) which are precisely what the G20 needs to immediately do?

Disseminate information trusted to be authentic:

Disseminate information directly through all available media to the greatest number of people apprising them of the situation and reassuring them of official protection and support.

Disseminate information through pre-determined media to principals responsible for the mobilisation of forces to repulse external attack, and to internal organisations responsible for the protection of civilians.

However, in the event that all goes well:

I will now leave my comfort-zone of being analytical to being philosophical. The economists will know if there is any value in what I have to say on the G20 plan.

A. Link the currency exchange rate to the trade deficit/surplus numbers in a way that would balance out the trade and currency issues. My guess would be that this would:

1. Help to stabilise the playing field discouraging trade wars.

2. Encourage co-operation instead of competition among the nations while at the same time encouraging competition within industries to become more efficient thus cost-effective.

B. Encourage both shared biotechnology and the establishment of a food bank to stabilise the food supply, among the G20 and to stabilise emerging nations by being able to offset political and civil unrest arising from lack of food.

C. Provide for the co-operation among those in the pharmaceutical industry to develop what will be necessary to inveigh against existing and emerging diseases. (Op. cit. B)

D. Establish an intra-G20 agency to inventory energy resources, calculate energy needs, an forecast future energy needs among the G20 nations and among the non-G20 nations.

E. Please, forgive me for my little joke about my leaving my phone number with the secretary.

Warmest regards,



Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Facts v. Opinions in the Corporate World

There are facts and there are opinions. On the other hand, there are facts and there are facts.

Here's the metaphor:

A group of wonderful people are going to rehabilitate a a 16 unit building in a fancy neighborhood. You know: SoHo, NoHo, BooHoo, one of those places.

They invite 16 interior designers (one unit each) to do a complete makeover. Wall treatments, window treatments, floor covering, furniture, accessories, and so on.

Now, the night before the big unveiling, (when no one is around to get hurt) the building collapses. Every hurries down to stare (aghast) at the site.

With his political wisdom and insight, Mayor Bloomberg calls Donald Trump and asks him to come down and take a look at what happened.

Upon his arrival, Mr. Trump asks to see the blueprints. The city engineer shows Mr. Trump the blueprints. Mr. Trump shakes his head.

"This is no good," he says. "Supporting walls were removed. New walls were not able to support the upper floors. The floors that were replaced were not structurally sound. The wonderful people who rehabilitated this building should have called me in first to check the plans and make sure the building wouldn't fall down."

What a shame. Sixteen beautiful opinions and not one fact. Well, not quite.

The fact is, the designers were all brilliant and creative.
The fact is, all the window treatments, floor treatments, wall treatments were tasteful and done with products known to be of the highest quality.
The fact is, the furniture was tasteful, expesive, elegant.

And so on.

All facts. None related to the structural integrity of the building.

The argument could be made that the interior design was actually a matter of opinion. But what cannot be argued is that the structural soundness of the building was not a matter of opinion. It was a matter of facts not taken into consideration. (Evidenced by the fact that the building collapsed.)




Copyright(c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Friday, September 24, 2010


Are you looking to a leader who shares your vision? Are you looking to become a leader? Who shares your vision?

Here is an exercise:

1. Look around your company. Find a leader who has formal authority. Make a list of reasons why you want to be led by that person.

2. Look around your company. Find a leader who has referent authority. Make a list of reasons why you want to be led by that person.

3. Imagine you are a leader. Which list is attached to your name?

Now put that questionnaire aside until later.

To do business in emerging nations, it is essential for western leaders to understand that England, France, and Germany were at one time emerging nations.

England, as an emerging nation, was analogue. Mechanical. Aside from mobility, is there a substantive difference between a sundial and a wristwatch? Is there a difference between hammering a piece of iron into a horseshoe and bending it into shape on a press brake? Is there a substantive difference between writing a letter and sending an e-mail?

Today, society has moved from analogue to digital. From mechanical to technological. We now have vastness, speed, mobility, and efficiency that did not exist when England was an emerging economy.

Today, a thousand lives can be saved with a vaccine made 10, 000 miles away. While 1000 people with shovels can’t produce results as efficiently as one person with a bulldozer, with the technology of: irrigation, water purification, fertilization, sanitation, and the study of geology those 1000 people with shovels can elevate a larger segment of the population in a shorter amount of time than people in feudal societies could imagine.

Additionally, the way the industrial revolution changed Europe and the world, the technology revolution, is changing emerging nations, and the world—with one exception. The rise is higher, faster, and more egalitarian.

France: One cheval, one chevalier.
Malaysia: One computer, five work stations, a C-level operation (CEO, COO, CFO, CTO, CIO) is up and running with all the information in the world available to them within minutes if not seconds.

Now, why don’t leaders in industrial nations understand leadership in industrious nations? It has a lot to do with our education. Do you have an MBA? Fine. Did you have to study Anglo-American Legal History; Medieval Lit; or read Hans Christian Andersen, Grimm’s Fairy Tales or Aesop’s Fables to get your degree? No? That is so sad.

Managers and leaders in western nations won’t understand Leadership or Followship (sic) in emerging nations without understanding “The Emperor’s New Clothes” or “Stone Soup”.

Did you study England in the early years? Knights, armour, horses; noble yeomen; hue and cry; the Shire Reeve; the witenagemot; the posse comitatus; trail by compurgation? [We still have trial by compurgation. Today, we call it the “celebrity endorsement”.]

When trouble arose, the yeomen did not form a committee. They looked to the Shire Reeve who called a posse comitatus. Before that, they looked to the Knight: the person who could afford a horse and a suit of armour. No horse? No armour? You become a vassal to the King. He supplied the horse, the armour, the land and in return your led the army of serfs when called upon. We still do much of that today. Do you remember King John at Runnymede? (The Barons are not on your side today, either. However, today we call it shareholders’ interests.)

In a crisis people look to a leader.

Now, go to an emerging nation. Now, try to pick out the leader. His people will follow him, not you.

Oh, yes. Do you remember that test you took at the beginning of this article? Well, it has no direct bearing on the lessons in this monograph—but this will:

Repeat the test. Are your answers the same as they were before reading the article or are they different?

Good luck in the technosphere.




copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The New CEW (Chief Executive Woman)

This may appear to be a minor quibble, however, after having listened to a wide range of discussions over the years, I've come to understand that generic terms are generally used to soften or blunt the discussion not to sharpen it; and that as the number of people included in the group discussion increases, the more diffuse the discussion becomes.

"More people, more words. More word, more bad."  The Quotations of Slim Fairview

Case in point: (metaphorically speaking) The fastest way to gender balanced leadership is to appoint [fill in your name] CEO. (Slim Fairview's four rules of communication: Precision; Concision; Enumerate; Specify.)

Some 25 or more years ago, Cosmopolitan ran an article about an ambitious woman who attended a regular weekly meeting at the company where she worked. The boss, a man, frequently turned to a male member of the group for affirmation or an opinion.

One day, this woman decided to arrive early and sit in that man's chair. The understanding being that he would be too polite to ask her to move. The result seemed to have been such that because the boss was so accustomed to looking to that man in that chair for affirmation, that he began looking to that woman for affirmation and opinions. (Which she offered.) The result being that she moved up in the company.

That tactic is not so far-fetched. Also, we are talking about CEO's.

Still, to move forward it is necessary to entertain some marketing strategies in addition to declaiming qualifications. (Many have said that Beta was better than VHS--too, that technology is becoming obsolete. There was a time when I would have only AT&T long distance. (land line) Now, Verizon!!! (Cell phones)

I read in an article that Equal Opportunity was "push" marketing. I had to point out that Equal Opportunity was "demand pull" marketing. (Used effectively by the manufacturers of Lestoil, a cleaning product back in the later 50's and early 60's.)

Too much of the effort to move women into the C-level and Board-level jobs has revolved around advertising and not around marketing. (Marketing: Find a need and fill it.)

While I cannot guarantee a change in the "Old Boy" attitudes of the Old Boys, I can predict that the "Young Boys" will be just as competitive when looking for upper level jobs as the "Young Women" will be. However, in a rapidly changing global economy, marketplace, and what I shall refer to as (in coining a phrase for myself) the "Technosphere" I think I can safely predict that women who compete using the marketing approach and offering a versatile, high tech, high quality, application-- specific product (Their skill-set and experience) will indeed reach the board room--and that will help to move women into the CEO corner office.



copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Monday, September 20, 2010

Managing Projects in the New Millennium

What are the challenges for the New Managers in the New Millennium?

For now, Transition.

From analogue to digital. From mechanical to technical. From older bosses with younger employees to younger bosses with both older employees and younger employees.

A faster pace. From the letter, to the fax, to the email, to the iPhone to the iPad.
A faster pace in the barrage of questions and a demand for a faster reply with answers.

Precision. Then, a little more, a little less, a couple of shims and a few extra screws. Now, a digital answer with the engineer's zero. 6.54 is not acceptable. Now the answer must read 6.540

A compelling necessity for senior level expertise. Sometimes you cannot delegate responsibility. With the abundance of expertise, recognising the quality among the quantity is crucial. Now find the person on your team capable of doing it.

Global interface. With so much coming from so many different people in so many different places, try to find someone capable of working with them.

Technological compatibility.

Just to mention a few.




copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Management is teaching your children to behave.

Risk management is putting fragile items on the top shelf.

Crisis management is when your in-laws suddenly show up unannounced with their children, and you have to herd them into the play-room while you lock fragile items in the closet. -- Slim Fairview



copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Business of Wisdom in Global Affairs--A Fable

The Business of Wisdom in Global Affairs

About 50 years ago, my father told me a fable. I don’t know its origin. I believe it may have originated in Turkey or in the Middle East.

No doubt, he’d heard it from someone much older than he was when he heard it. And older and wiser when he shared it with me. Thank you, Dad.

A long time ago, there lived a powerful king. He ruled vast lands with firmness and fairness. However, the many city-states and principalities were ruled by selfish and greedy men. They were constantly fighting wars over petty grievances to disguise their true motive—greed. Therefore, the king issued an edict banning such unjust wars. If they defied the edict, he would send his troops in to vanquish the offender and seize his lands.

In one of the small countries, the young people had gathered to come up with a plan to better the lives of the people. They concluded that the old people were a burden and that they should all be put to death.

One young man, unable to allow his father to be killed, led him from the city in the dead of night and hid him in a cave on the outskirts of the city.

The word spread to a neighboring land where a greedy prince called his advisors together to discuss a plot to wage a war against the other land to grab their wealth. They wrote the following letter:

Five generations ago, our people lent to your people 25 units of rope woven from sand which you promised to return. Yet with each passing generation, your promise has gone unfulfilled. Therefore, we must demand return of this rope or we will be forced to send our armies to your land to retrieve it along with just restitution.

When the leaders of the council received and read this letter, they panicked. None had ever heard of the rope woven from sand nor knew anything about it.

The man who’d hid his father in the cave outside of town asked for the letter and said he would return with a solution to the problem. He went to see his father.

His father said, “Write back. Say to them, we have many coils of rope. Some are woven from sand but each is different. Send us a sample of your rope so we may match it up with the rope that is yours and do justice by returning your rope.”

The young man returned to the council and they sent just such a letter.

When the evil prince received the reply, he turned to his advisers and said, “There is still one old man left in their land. We will wait until he dies and try again.”




Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Ceo the Executive or The Executive's New Clothes

Ceo the Executive or The Executive's New Clothes will be available on Kindle in a few days.  Please look up the tale at (It was uploaded on 2 July.  It will be available next week.

Thank you.



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Coming of Age: A Novel by Slim Fairview , Sample Chapters.



Slim Fairview


Québec is a city in the Province of Québec in Canada. It is a walled city. Québec was built at the top of the steep cliffs rising from the St. Lawrence River. It was once a fort. When Québec was a fort, Canada was only a part of what was once known as the New World.

On the plains above the cliffs, the Plains of Abraham, overlooking the St. Lawrence, outside the walls of the fort, the British General Wolfe, defeated the French General Montcalm and claimed all of Canada for England.

However, while the French army was defeated, the language was not; the culture was not; and the religion was not. Québec is now two cities. One is Upper Town, Haute-Ville, on the upper banks. The other is the portion of the city huddled on the sliver of land at the foot of the cliffs. Lower Town.—Basse-Ville.

Though the city is no longer a fort, the wall is still intact. Cannons still stand guard along the ramparts. Canons still stand guard along the rampart. However, the city has grown both in size and in population. It now extends beyond the walls to the St. Charles in the north. To the west, it pushes back the frontier; it abuts the unknown. Its population swells with the arrival of immigrants and with people from the countryside looking for work during hard times. It swells as the heart swells with tired blood; and, as with the heart, it pumps the people, the lifeblood of the New World, out again, into the body of land that will become a nation.

It is a Catholic city. Its sections proudly bear such names as St. John Ward, St. Lewis Ward. In

St. Sauveur Village, the streets run: St. Michel, St. Augustin, St. George, and on and on.

In Québec, in Upper Town, in winter, the steel blades of the cariole cut effortlessly through the snow. The windows of houses are frosted; warm air in candlelight frozen, glistening in the cold. Through the windows of these many homes, when the frost is wiped away, the snow can be seen glistening.

In Lower Town, Basse-Ville, in winter, on any of the narrow winding streets, there are few if any tracks in the snow made by the runners of a cariole—only many footprints. Along the sides of these streets, the snow is piled high with only a narrow path leading to each doorway. In the evenings as the light fades, the snow turns grey, glistening only beneath the gas lamps. In the snow, the many footprints seem to lead everywhere: to homes, to jobs, and to taverns; and to nowhere.

When the seasons begin to change, the snow disappears, but the temperature at night still drops to very low, dry cold that numbs the senses without chilling the body—that stiffens the outer layer of flesh. Footsteps are crisp echoes trapped inside little boxes; and now, there are millions of unseen footprints—and the cold. A silent waiting death.


Robert Duval stands alone on one of the narrow streets of Québec Upper Town feeling the chill of the evening as it settles into the fibre of his clothes. Lamplighters are beginning their rounds. The crowd of those heading home from work is beginning to thin out.

Robert Duval scrapes the last few flakes of tobacco from a crumpled packet, carefully sprinkles them over the small piece of paper he holds carefully between his grimy, calloused fingers, and with the skill of a surgeon, rolls the paper into a very thin cigarette.

“Damn wind,” he mutters as he huddles close to the grey stone wall of a building to light the cigarette. “I’d better get something out of this.”

He inhales deeply, then sits down on the bottom step of a stoop and pulls a newspaper from his coat pocket. The newspaper is two days old.


Arson Suspected

Robert rereads the story. Long, difficult words he says aloud. Slowly. He goes up there looking for a job when new houses are being built; but there he is told what everyone is told. There is no work.

He thinks about the fire and feels reassured. He is not alone. There are more who feel the way he, Robert Duval, feels. He is so deep in thought that he doesn’t notice the arrival of the man he is waiting to meet:


Robert jumped up. Though he was standing up one step, he still had to look up to look into the chiseled face framed by a shaggy mane of black, curly hair—the face of Tom Priou.

He felt threatened by Tom’s height, broad shoulders, and piercing, coal-black eyes.

“Yes.” was all he could utter.

“I’m here. What do you want?”

Robert looked up and down the street. “Can we go somewhere to talk?”

“About what?”

“I—I want to join.”

“Join what?”

“Your organisation.”

Tom Priou’s face was blank.

“You do have an organisation,” Robert stated, attempting to sound sure of himself; to convince Priou he was worth considering. “Don’t you?”


Robert failed. He felt his stomach sink. He felt like a plod of manure stuck to the heel of Priou’s boot, something about to be scraped off against the curb.

However, as Tom Priou turned to leave, Duval grasped at the sleeve of his coat and blurted, “St. Sauveur Village.”

Priou stopped, turned his head, and started down at Duval.

“What about it?”

Robert felt desperate. He thrust his jaw forward and squared his shoulders. “That organisation.”

Tom knew it was possible for Duval to know that an organisation existed, but not that he was connected. He’d argued with Pierre about this meeting. The election was too close.

“Come. Let’s go where we can talk.”

Robert walked quickly, attempting longer strides and a faster pace to keep abreast of Priou. Up Rue St. John, through the Gate of Hop, Robert watched as they walked, hoping to memorise the directions to a secret hide-away; but the brisk walked ended at an alley. At the end of the alley was a large oak door bearing a sign: Le Baptiste. A tavern.

Inside, Le Baptiste is one large room. Windows to let in light are too high to see though to the outside. In the middle of the room is a large, wood burning stove. Around the stove is a cluster of tables. Around each table is a cluster of men. The bar is to the left—the length of the room. Waiters in leather aprons carry pitchers of ale, loaves of bread, and wedges of cheese to the patrons. The mood of the patrons, unlike the mood of those in the street, is happy. Troubles are left at the door. Here, for a few cents, each man can fill his belly and drown his sorrow. Tom held up two fingers. A waiter nodded. When they found seats at the edge of the crowd, Tom spoke. “Now then, what is all this about an organisation?”

Robert Duval took a deep breath. The beer arrived in time for him to pause, to think, to drink. Tom Priou waited. Finally, Duval spoke.

“I was at La Rouge. I was there with a friend. I heard you talking in the meeting room.”

Tom lit a long, narrow cheroot and puffed. “Was that friend Jean Duffet?”

Robert nodded. He sipped his beer. A mistake, he thought, mentioning Duffet’s name. Still, Tom had to have checked to know, but it was the only way to get Tom’s attention.

“I remember what you said about joining together.”

Tom remembered the speech. A unity speech. He had been trying desperately to gain support from the conservative Catholics while trying desperately to get money from the Anglais

Tom looked at Robert’s large, beefy hands, thick neck, and broad chest. His worn coat was stretched over him. Expensive but worn. Too small. Duffet’s coat.

“There are many organisations; but I am not the leader of some secret society. I was telling the privileged few at La Rouge that divided we cannot stand. It will hurt us all. I am sure you know that better than your good friend Duffet.”

Robert was quiet. He drank. Tom Priou slid a packet of tobacco and some papers across the table. Robert muttered a barely audible ‘merci’.

“Let me buy you another.” Tom signaled the waiter. He could see Robert was visibly shaken. Humiliated. Tom knew that in a moment this would turn to resentment, then to anger, and then boil to the surface. Tom drained his beer. The waiter brought two more. Robert fooled Priou. His response was controlled. Measured.

“I know you have to be careful; but, I can be very useful.”


“The fire in St. Sauveur.”

“What about it?”

“I could have set it.”

“Did you?” Tom knew the answer.

“No, but I could have.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“I was planning it. Someone got to it first.”

Tom was quiet. He could have asked Duval why he didn’t start another. He didn’t.

“That is why organisation is important. The workers can’t do it alone.”

Tom recognised the words from the Manifest of Marx being circulated privately among the students at University.

“And what would you want in exchange for this support you are prepared to offer?”

Duval spoke slowly. “A job. Food. A warm coat.”

“You planned to burn down a house. Why not plan to steal a coat?”

“Would that find me a job?”

Jesuits, Tom thought. “Jobs are hard to find.”

“I know there is an organisation. Are you going to help me or not?”

Tom paused to contemplate Duval’s sincerity and stupidity. Then, he leaned back and laughed. “Salue.” He raised his glass and swallowed up its content. Then he leaned across the table.

“To deny it is useless. You wouldn’t believe me. But to announce it to the world is foolish. It’s how men get killed. I will tell you this much. There are many organisations. Perhaps I can find someone willing to admit it and to put you up for membership; but I can’t make you any promises. I can’t find you a job that does not exist. Jobs are scarce. That is why there are so many organisations. People are busy not working. Be patient. It will take time. Trust me. Tell no one you spoke to me. Not even Jean Duffet.

Outside, Robert Duval stood erect, squared his shoulders, and strolled boldly back the way he came. He passed again through the Gate of Hope; but from there went to the Esplanade, to the Gate of Louis Quatorze, to Rue St. Louis, to D’Ursule, to Rue Ste. Genevieve, to the house of Jean Paul Duffet; but Jean Paul was out. Robert left a message. I was here. I will be home. That was all he wrote; but as he walked away, he hoped it would be enough to get him a decent meal; and with the taste of beer still in his mouth—more to drink. Robert walked across the park, past the Haldimand, and down the hill, braced against the cold wind blowing from the north.

* * *

Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

My Comments on the Hiring Process Today #8

It is not a zero sum game and the two are not mutually exclusive.
You run two firms. One is a mold-making firm. One is a consulting firm. For the purposes of this discussion, I apply for a job. One of two ways:

1. I submit a resume, cover letter, etc. I seem to have the qualification for the job. Experience in running machines and for the most part keeping them running. If this is an analogue operation, I need years of experience to develop the skill. If this is a digital operation, I need sufficient knowledge to programme the computer for the machine to produce products to spec. Assume I am qualified for the latter. The HR process "processes me." Evaluates my credential, checks my references, sets up an interview or two (the foreman, the maintenance supervisor) discusses my application, sends me a letter of acceptance, and invites me in for orientation and explains the benefits package to me. Fine. HR did it's job. You have a safe hire.

Plan B.

You and I meet here on Linkedin. (We will assume I live nearby.) I tell you I did this work. (We will assume I did) You invite me in, we chat. You have a problem similar to a problem that had to be solved at a company I worked for. They were bidding a job to manufacture a part that didn't work properly for the customer. Think of a long, triangular tube. Into it, another triangular tube had to slide easily in and out. It didn't. The engineer could not solve the problem. The man with many years of experience showed me the blueprints, the spec sheet, and the proto-type. There was a + or -- .50 degree tolerance. 60 degrees + 60 degrees = 120 degrees. However, 60.50 degrees and 59.50 degrees also = 120 degrees. 60 + 60 produces a part that does not function. 60.50 + 59.50 produces a part that does work. Why? I don't know. I am not an engineer. (I do come from a generation that taught us to say, "I don't know," when we don't know, but that is a social issue.)

Now, why bring this up? I might get a job working as a mold maker in your mold company (If I have some credentials.) if I go through the HR process. I am a safe hire. However, if you and I chat (assuming I am the "other guy") you will hire the better
candidate for the job. HR hires me. You hire the other guy.

HR give you the safe hire. You, management, end up hiring the best employee. Does your HR. person have engineering qualifications? (I am not saying this to disparage your or anyone else's HR dept.) Let HR do the benefits thing, and so on. Hiring, in your profession, requires that you, the foreman, the engineer, the maintenance supervisor (keeping the fancy machines functioning because the safe hires can't and it would definitely be cost prohibitive for you to duplicate skills) interview and decide on the applicants.

My Comments on the Hiring Process Today #7

Post war Japan built a gobal economy through the efforts of people and what we here refer to as cottage industries. (Thomas Edison in Orange, N.J. Microsoft in a friend's garage.) If you subtract the 3% from the 14% call unemployment 11%, project job growth by extrapolating the the growth of small businesses (The backbone of our economy) and don't scorn the informal economy--while it may not provide taxes and limit the ability of the Govt. to "help" people in the informal economy make fewer demands on Govt. services and create less of an economic burden on the Govt.

Improved workplace environments will draw people into the more formal economy and productivity will aid the bottom line.

One thing I remember from my school days is that Argentina's economy is resilient. With productivity, success breeds success and based on your information, Argentina has much to look forward to.

Ultimately, with the global economy gravitating to new opportunities, multi-national is no longer a word triggering fear of losing control, but of different people from different nations gaining control over an increasingly larger and more complex economy.

Good luck to you in Argentina. Thank you for the data. And, not to let Scott feel neglected, while News Channel experts may seem to behave like a dog with a bone, the real problem is that the marketing strategy (read advertising strategy) of news today is like the old communist aphorism about bread and circus. Unfortunately, watching people juggle loaves of bread has replaced eating bread as a national pastime. However, fear not, when the masses get hungry enough, they will turn away from the clowns and back to the bakers.

My Comments on the Hiring Process Today #6

Please allow me to offer a translation of what people here in the States and in other places understood you to have said.

"On the other hand...they might believe that somehow, they are doing what's politically correct."

There are many who believe the term "politically correct" (A term used derisively by the extreme conservatives) is coded language for hiring minorities who are unqualified. It is used here, by some, to disparage minorities.

Case in point: I put up a post here at Linkedin, Understanding Group Norms in the corporate world. It evolved due to the postings by others into the worthy topic of discussing different cultures. Whereas Linkedin is a global meeting place, this will help us to understand how different people around the world feel about different issues.

In another posting, I pointed out that here (US) HR has become a separate "industry within an industry". If HR would be content to limit its responsibilities to employee benefits, workman's comp, compliance with laws and regulations covering employees, ie: OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), discrimination complaints, harassment complaints, etc. while allowing "corporate" to fill leadership positions through a personnel dept. that processed the paperwork and allowed "corporate" to do the interviewing and hiring, the hiring process would be much improved. Corporate leaders would no longer be hiring the safest, but would be hiring those people who are conspicuously qualified to do the job.

The main difference: The Boss hires on the basis of qualifying while HR hires people on the basis of quantifying.

Great to hear from someone from Argentina. After the New York Times came back from its strike back in the late 70's. (Circa 1978), there was an article on the Argentine economy. The first third of the article avoided telling the readers what the article was about, the second third of the article began discussing the Argentine economy, and the last third of the article offered no conclusions. (25% of the article was taken up with a picture of an oil tanker sitting offshore. Not pertinent to the article, but to explain that oil tankers, like the one in the photo, sit idle off the coast of Argentina.)

It had been my understanding that among the many understandings of the Argentine economy, 40--35 years ago, was insufficient capital reinvestment during boom times that would have helped to streamline or upgrade the infrastructure, perhaps reduce debt, and "cover the costs during lean times."

What is the perspective of the corporate leaders in Argentina? (On the economy, not on the quality of the New York Times writers.)