Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Team Building: Contributors and Those Seeking Validation

Teams:  Contributors and Those Seeking Validation.

As I read various discussion boards, I notice something not at all unusual. Some people repeat what has already been said--repeatedly.

Other people give evidence of not having read comments posted by others.

As with the Twitters and Emails to News People, some people just want to say something whether or not it is worth anything. Except, perhaps, for the therapeutic effect.  Case in point:  I blog because I can't sing and I'm not cute.

We learn to acknowledge what someone has said, provide some response to it, sometimes ask for amplification, and solicit comments from others. (Of course, I learned that when majoring in elementary education.)

Employees will find satisfaction for contributing something of value--as evidenced by others in the group responding to it as if it were valuable. This is different from positive reinforcement and other "techniques".

Employees who do not contribute something of value will not be satisfied. Team mates may say nice things, but the absence of value in the contribution will become evident.

One thing that may help is to have the challenging members of your virtual team track his or her own development, advancement, improvement to achieve a higher quality of input.

A second is to give the bright ones more challenging assignments; to tell them that it is a more challenging assignment; and letting them know that achievement is the issue. If they fail to pass muster, they must do a self evaluation, find the flaw in their contributions, and fix the problems so the quality of their contribution rises.

Ownership of a project too often causes its own set of problems. People tend to become territorial, possessive, defensive, and hyper-sensitive.  Actually, that can be said better.  Let me say instead, "people tend to become attached to the project.  They may resist change due to that attachment."  Much better.

Sometimes we can have brain-storming sessions, do the fish-bone thing, do consensus building, find a shared vision; however, other times it is necessary for a boss to implement a change--Quickly!--in order to get the project moving again. Despite what some people have to say about the last suggestion, That does have a powerful effect of energizing the whole team and the project. People still do like leaders.

[The Constitution declares the President of the United States to be the Commander-in-Chief of the US Military. It does not declare the President to be the Chairman of the Committee--in-Chief of the Military.



PS. If you find anything here to be helpful, please don't hesitate to send me 

a really tricked-out Mac Book and to tuck a few dollars into the envelope along
with the thank you note.  Sincerely, Slim. 

Bob Asken
Box 33
Pen Argyl, PA 18072


Copyright (c) 2011 Bob Asken
All rights reserved

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

China: The Economy and a Word Beginning with the Letter P

How will China do in the coming years?  Fine.  How do I know?  It is all about three little words. They are not “I love you”. 

They are words that begin the letter P.

Plan.  Process.  Project.

Years back two things happened to me that crystallised my perceptions.

The First:

While working on an Economic Development Committee, I observed that the committee was obsessed with the process.  Whom should we contact, include, discuss this with?  Should we write a letter?  Should we take a survey?  Should we include this in the newsletter?  Whom do we invite to the meeting to discuss this, that, or something else?

As the months passed, we eventually had a plan.  We also had a stroke of good luck. A big, important Government Official, who worked for an agency whose raison d’etre was to give money away, was coming to meet with us.

We made every effort to impress.  We arranged a tour, a presentation, a luncheon.  We even had a helicopter tour of the area.

Long story—very short.  We were told, “We give money away for projects, not plans.”  [We were shot down!]

After the rebuff, we licked our wounds.  We agreed with the one who said, “We got all wrapped up in the big P.” 

Well, no we didn’t.  The big P was project.  We were all wrapped up in the little p.  Plan.

This acceptance of responsibility is actually an abrogation of culpability.  That is correct.  Not to tell tales out of school, but it was similar to what my wife said to me in a discussion about a topic I long forgot.  However, I did not forget her assessment.

“You’re blaming me.”

“I’m not blaming you.  I’m blaming myself.”

“No you’re not.  You’re blaming me.  You’re just taking the responsibility.”
My wife spoke the truth.  That is how I know that our illustrious group member was washing his hands.

We had a plan.  However, that is not the worst of it.  The worst of it was the process.  Another word beginning with the letter P.

The Second:

The County Executive had a project.  Infrastructure.  His administration tried to float a bond issue—very low nine figures:  like $100,000,000.  That is low nine figures.

This was not for warm and fuzzy, touchy-feely programmes.  This was, as stated, for infrastructure.  The purpose?  Make the county attractive to business.

I was asked by an elected official to speak to the council.  Not as a chamber member, but as a citizen.  I spoke for 22 minutes on The Multiplier Effect.  I know this because I received an e-mail from an opposition activist who informed me that no one addressed the council for longer than 5 minutes in over two years.

Nonetheless, my contribution notwithstanding, the bond issue passed.  We had infrastructure.  This helped to blunt the effect of the first recession during the Bush administration, but not the second.  Still, we are better off than we would have been without the bond issue.

This man may or may not have had a plan.  What he did have, though, was a project.  A Project.  As in PMP®   Project Management Professional.  Not, process management profession.  Not planning management professional.  Not, “Strategic Planning.”  Only Project!

Now, what does this have to do with China?

China has a project.  China, in fact, has several projects:  A Dam—hydroelectric power; Housing (Bubbles notwithstanding.); Currency—making the Yuan a global currency.  China is working on projects.  Elsewhere, countries are trying to come up with plans.  Elsewhere, countries are obsessed with “The Process”.

Two articles that will not please the chattering classes.  (Once a phrase having to do with the friends of Truman Capote.)  The Chattering Classes.  Those with credentials.  Okay, so maybe credentials are important.  Still, today, everyone has credentials.  Today, everyone disagrees.  A topic covered in my monograph: on experts.  http://slimviews.blogspot.com/2010/11/experts.html  

Today, China is in the news again.  This time, unrest.  The sad thing is, experts are looking to this unrest as a source of validation for their considered opinions.  They are, after all, in a fencing match with other experts.  Therefore, I offer up two more monographs on the topic of China.

Will the Facebook Revolution Spread to China?  Probably not.

Will the Facebook Revolution Spread to China?  Part 2. Credentialism

The way the world is moving, and I have said this before, we cannot afford to approach global matters as a zero sum game.

To underscore what I’ve just said, I will cite two experts.  (Je vous en prie, remission.)

General George Washington.  A General

Dr. Albert Einstein.  A Physicist.

George Washington, a General Washington said, to paraphrase “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

Dr. Einstein said, “You cannot simultaneously prepare for peace and war.”

In a paraphrase, Washington the General admonishes that to secure the peace we must be prepared for war.

Einstein, the Physicist admonishes, we must fight for peace.

Well, in plain English, we are all quite prepared for war.  Now that we are quite prepared for war, we should be prepared to fight for peace.  This will come when we abolish the zero-sum game mentality of international balance of trade, currency rates, and military one-upmanship.

China has a project.  Other nations have a plan.  Let’s not end up like a chamber of commerce economic development committee and find ourselves shot down.



Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Economic Stimulus, by Metaphor

Slimviews:  Commentary on Global Political and Economic Events by Slim Fairview Please also see also http://sidestreetjournal.blogspot.com/  Please do click the follow button for Slimviews--and please email a link to your friends.  Thank you.


Now to explain. For this, we will need to create that all-important metaphor. Too, I should like to apologise in advance for the one snarky remark I will make about a former President. (One must compare apples to apples.)

For the purposes of this lesson, we will assume that Joy, brown-bags it every day except Friday. On Friday, she takes 10 hard-earned dollars and goes to Whoopi's Sandwich Store for a baloney sandwich.

Now Elisabeth is out of work. However, Jimmy Carter feels her pain. Therefore, he taxes Joy $10 and gives it to Elisabeth so she can buy a baloney sandwich. Joy is not happy. She's being ripped off. Elisabeth is no better off because she still does not have a job. Now, what about Whoopi? She is no better off because she is still selling one baloney sandwich a week.

In response to critics, Jimmy decides to tax Whoopi $10 to train Elisabeth how to make baloney sandwiches. After getting her certificate, she goes to Whoopi's store looking for a job. However, Whoopi tells her, "Sorry, Friday is my last day. Jimmy Carter taxed me out of business."

Now, President Obama comes along and says, "That is not how to do it. I am going to have the SBA lend Elisabeth the money to go into her own business."

Elisabeth opens up a soda store next door to Whoopi's Sandwich Store.

Back to Joy. Aptly named because her tax cut allows her to go back to Whoopi's store and buy a baloney sandwich; and she goes next door to buy a soda.

Elisabeth is happy because she's making money, so she treats herself to a baloney sandwich.

Whoopi is thrilled because she doubled her sales volume and revenue. In fact, she is doing so well; she hires Sherri to help make sandwiches. (Whoopi trains Sherri, as it should be in business.)

Sherri is happy because she has a job, and, please forgive my little joke, her compensation package includes a free lunch. However, no beverage. Therefore, Sherry goes next door to Elisabeth's soda store to buy a soda. Well, with all this soda being sold, Elisabeth hires Barbara to work in her soda store. Now Barbara is thrilled because she has a job.

Back to the Oval Office:

The President's economic advisor comes in.

"You wanted to see me, Sir?"

"Yes, I have some money for you. It is part of Sherri and Barbara's benefits payments. They are out of work. I want you to send the money to Sherry and Barbara."

However, the advisor says to the President, "But Mr. President, Sherri and Barbara don't need that money anymore. They have jobs."

"That's great," the President says. "The government is saving money."

The advisor continues. "It's better than that. Since they are working, they are paying income taxes. So, I have some money to give to you from Sherri and Barbara."

"Wow", the President says. "I save money because Sherri and Barbara are working, and I bring in money because they are paying taxes. This stimulus package is great."

This is how economics works. It takes a little time, but this is how the system works.



PS.  I am not Paul Harvey.  Still, I am open to becoming a paid blogger, columnist, or commentator.

In the meantime, if anyone finds the monographs on my blog to be especially helpful, please do not hesitate to send me on of those tricked out laptops and few dollars tucked into the envelope with the thank you note.



Copyright (c) 2011 Slim Fairview

The Side Street Journal Daily Update Linke




Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Launch.

First Day Issue:

The Side Street Journal

The Side Street Journal


Monday, June 6, 2011

Food, India, and Growing Global Influence

Food: The Price is the Crisis

At the risk of sounding trite, the law of supply and demand still functions. To solve the price crisis in India, supply must be increased. This is a matter of "time place utility"; "form utility"; "economies to scale"; and direct foreign investment. I mention the last consideration because the advice to some can also be considered advice to another. In short, if you know where and how people are being advised to invest, you can position yourself to be the where and the how.

I've included "Having Problems with Foreign Direct Investment?" to give insight into what investors can look for. This can also give insight into those who want to benefit from the investors. I've included The Marketing of India. I've included a metaphor: Starving Nations and Food Equations: A metaphor. This is not to be interpreted as reference to people actually dying. It is to discuss the economics of agriculture.

Having Problems with Foreign Direct Investment?

What are some of the barriers?



It is easy to see that start up costs in some countries are much lower than start up costs in another. If the other country does not have the physical plant for example, it will be cheaper to build that plant in the other country.

Currency considerations are another factor

Incentives from a country with little industry are greater than they are from a country where you will compete with the locals.

Market penetration. Would people in countries in the region be more inclined to buy from countries in the region or from western nations.

Partnering. It is easier to partner with business in some countries where western technology is not readily available by making that technology available.

Just a few thoughts.

Now, for a few more thought.

The Marketing of India

Find a need and fill it.

Who has a need for what you can produce?
Partner with that (nation's) companies.

In addition to the profits, offer a minority interest in the company. (This will give investors an incentive to succeed.)

Offer a profit share to the suppliers. (This will give the farmers(?) an incentive to join in the venture.

In addition to money, offer other incentives. [Prestige]. For example: Build schools in the areas where the people are most enthusiastic.

If one or two small companies cannot find the funding (through govt. funding--a bad idea) go to the marketplace.

Economies to scale.

Create a marketing group for the several smaller companies, so they can pool their resources.

In Vermont there is a joke:

Q: "Do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?"
A: "Not if they're in cans."

If produce spoils before it hits the market, set up a joint effort to can the produce at the source.

Roads are a government responsibility.

Just a few ideas. (Call me old-fashioned)

Anyone care to amplify, amend, or correct?

Sincerest regards,


PS. Read The Caste Busters article in the NY Times:

Mail slimfairvew@yahoo.com

Copyright (c) 2011 Slim Fairview

Starving Nations and Food Equations: A Metaphor

[This metaphor does not refer to people actually dying. This refers to the discordance in the economy of agriculture specifically and in the economy as a whole.]

If one person in the group does not have enough food to eat, he may die.

For a while, that means more food for the rest of the group. However, that also means one less person to work the farm. That means less food to eat. Less food to eat means someone will die.

For a while, that means more food for the rest of the group. However, that also means one less person to work the farm. That means less food to eat. Less food to eat means someone will die.

Soon, there won't be enough people to work the farm. That means there won't be enough food to eat.

Get the idea?


Mail: slimfairview@yahoo.com

Copyright (c) 2011 Slim Fairview

Food, India, the World

According to the large article in the Sunday New York Times, global food production is on the brink of disaster. This, of course, is not news to people who are starving. This is news to those who are engaged in the pretext of helping starving people to stave off the guilt of being well fed if not over fed. I call it the Ebenezer Effect. (More about that later.)

We learn from the article by Mr. Justin Gillis that the problem is multi-faceted. Increased demand from rising population and affluence coupled with a series of disasters—natural and man made have been used to create a graph whose trajectory is not good, but that there is hope.

The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus made a similar prognostication. It went like this. Food production increases arithmetically: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... The Population increases geometrically: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16… The Reverend Malthus went on to point out that, population growth is checked by famine and disease. An austere position but one that must be heeded.

After filtering out the echoes of Al Gore and Global Warming, indeed a problem (Global Warming and Al Gore) the good news spells out good news for the poor, the hungry, emerging nations and struggling economies; and, the good news goes beyond food.

Global warming and flooding have renewed the interest in agro studies. Two advances looming are flood resistant rice and drought resistant wheat.

However, as is often the case with most science, the discussion ignores many questions.

If global warming is encroaching on cooler months, will the growing season at least shift if not lengthen?

If sunlight is an issue, will that influence the type of plant modification that will become necessary?

If flooding and drought are problems, why don’t we use floodwaters to fill underground reservoirs to irrigate drought stricken fields? Hydroelectric power can run the pumps. Solar powered UV systems can disinfect the water. The reservoirs can be located beneath land that frequently suffers from droughts.

The Cost? Perhaps it would be astronomical. Plan B? No Food. People die. As plan B is not an option, let’s consider reservoirs for the floodwaters. (This, too, could ameliorate the damages caused by floods.)

Would this approach offset the negative impact of floods and droughts in Australia converting Australia into a global breadbasket?

The next issue is pricing. Food, too often, is too expensive for those with a modest income. The poor, the working poor, the middle class, all going hungry. In addition, as it is illegal for both a rich man and a poor man to sleep under a bridge, neither a rich man nor a poor man can buy food when there isn’t any.

Farmers respond to higher prices by planting more food. This drives the prices down. This cuts into farm income. This causes a cutback in food production. This causes an increase in food prices. All of this, of course, assumes that the weather has co-operated.

The platitudes of Government officials are not reassuring. Statements about “…days of cheap food being over” or “…our mindset was surpluses.” is analogous to “…the days of cheap gas are over.” Jimmy Carter, 63¢ a gallon—outrage! George W. Bush, $3.00—lament. Barack Obama, $4.00—resignation. The days of cheap gas are over. That does not translate well to food. You don’t have to drive. You don’t have to drive a gas-guzzler. You do have to eat. There are energy alternatives. There are no alternatives to food.

Some positive statistics (Caveat!): The percentage of starving among poor nations 40 years ago was 1/3 of the population of poor countries. By the 1990’s it was 20%. (Fraction to decimal?) The drop from 34% to 20% is a drop of 14%. Next: The population going hungry was 800 million. Now, it is 925 million. 925 – 800 = 125 million people. That is a 15.65% increase.

However, the world population is growing. In addition, hunger is spreading to industrial nations. That includes the U.S. Yes, the US. Yes, US!

Research budgets to find solutions are tight. In the West there is a different mindset” “If we run out of food, we just go to the supermarket to buy more.”

Another problem is contrived science.

Greenhouse gasses will fertilise the crops offsetting the decline in water and rise in temperature. Wrong. They may work as a complement to water and good weather, but as substitute, no. These ideas were propounded by experts. Does that make you feel better?

I called this contrived science. Actually, this is sad science.

Then there is social and economic policy. We converted land to grow food for people into land to grow food for cars. (Ethanol.) The problems with that:

1. There was no major benefit to the environment.

2. It drove up the cost for food.

3. It disrupted the markets.

4. It was made moot by the switch to electric or hybrid automobiles.

Number 4 will have an effect on the oil industry. This will push down the price of oil. Countries that rely on oil money to buy food will have less money to buy food. The result will be food riots, toppled government, instability, and so on.

The best we can do to forestall disaster is to have a global consortium that cannot distinguish between consensus and groupthink. A bigger problem lies in the fact that a fresh look will be taken by the people who got it wrong in the first place.

Bill Gates and his foundation are leading the way into the future. Question? Who is going to follow? While governments bump up the commitment to solving the problem, (spend money), when the problem goes away, so does the commitment.

Another issue seldom addressed is storing food. If America produces twice what we need, we can store half of what we produce. Other countries, those who are blessed to produce enough, cannot afford to store enough to offset the impact of natural disasters in addition to man made disasters--and I am not talking about global warming.

1. Drought

2. Floods

3. Crop Disease

4. Population rise

5. Food Hoarding

6. Food Riots

7. Government Collapse

8. Anarchy


China has a population of 1.35 Billion people. China must deal with a flood here and a drought there. What happens when China has 2.35 Billion people?

India is emerging as a technological superpower. It won’t be long before a clear sighted, market driven, goal oriented approach takes root and flourishes. In addition, India is developing flood resistant rice. Soon, food processing will help get food to markets rather than rot in the field. Farms will evolve into agro-business. There will be improved channels of distribution, cash crops for export, and commodity futures investments. This will have a two-fold effect. Affluence will drive up the demand for food. India may become more vulnerable to disaster.

If you refer to comments I made about oil price declines and natural disasters having a negative impact on the people of oil-export nations, you will see that the Arab Spring could turn into an Arab Winter.

If the population of the US increases by 10%, we add another 30 million people. If India (with a population of one billion people) has a population increase of 10%, India will have to feed an additional 100 Million people. Op. cit. my comments on food storage.

In addition to the food crisis turmoil, we will see population migrations that will redefine the matrix.

Can Australia become a breadbasket nation to the world? Can India? Will China be able to feed itself? Will Africa?

All of this so far has ignored another looming problem. Energy. Germany and Switzerland are ending their love affair with nuclear energy.

CNN reported that China is planning to build 400 nuclear power plants compared (contrasted) to the 400 new plants being built in the rest of the world. Rather than predict a nuclear disaster—that is the easy part—I will predict a depression in oil prices.

True, clean energy initiatives may help to advance the hydroelectric, solar, and wind powered energy industries. In addition, Canada may resurrect the hydroelectric project shelved when Mario Cuomo (New York Governor) decided not to buy Canadian Power.

Then there is the possibility of political backlash in the United States. There may be a power shift in Washington. The Tea Party out! The Lunch Crowd in! What would happen if we elect Food Hoarding Agro-isolationists?

The world can no longer play a zero-sum game.

The Future of the G 20 in Good Times and Bad


Then there is the issue of people simply not understanding economics. If you listen to economists you will know why. With so much disagreement among them, one isn't certain if economists understand economics. Thus:


Then, “When the tide comes in, all boats in the harbour rise.”

Now, “When the boat sinks, everyone on the boat drowns.”




Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Middle East. Problem? Solution!

The Middle East

With approximately 5,000 years of wisdom and culture to build upon, the question is not, what is happening in the Middle East, the question is why?

I ask this question not from the Western Perspective. We had our revolution. The French have Bastille Day. The English have Runnymede.

While the American style government may not suit the people in the Middle East (The Arabs don’t want Western Government, The Arabs want Western Freedom.), and while citing The English may be poor salesmanship, there must be something within the Arab culture and history that will allow a peaceful transition into the future that is preferable to the efforts now being made to change the course of history.

It seems axiomatic. You can change the course of history but you cannot stop history from happening. You cannot stand in the way of history. It is coming. The conundrum: you won’t know what happened until it does.

Now, you can say, “You cannot predict the future.” However, that is not an appropriate rebuff to the person who says, “Get off the tracks, the train is coming.”

Then, too, there is the failed policy of shooting the messenger.

All this begs the question, ‘What can be done to smooth the transition?”

Arab leaders working from a propter hoc position. (Because of the fact that there is no immediate precedent for what is happening in the Middle East.)

Each leader, each nation, is attempting to come to an understanding of what is going on in his nation, with his people and how best to respond? True, there are religious differences. There are different economic circumstances. There are different global alliances—both historical and expedient. This, however, ignores the old saying; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Leaders of all the Middle East nations would do well to follow the example of some of the Middle East nations. That example would be to have a conclave (A Private Meeting) of the Leaders of the Middle East nations and the Reform Movement Leaders. Look to a nation like Turkey to host the meeting.


The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

Omar Khayyám



Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview