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