This post was published in the Rochester Business Journal on July 17, 2020.
The pandemic has knocked a surging economy flat on its back. Predictions on its recovery range from the V-shaped curve we’d all like to see to the forecast by the Congressional Budget Office that implies it will take a decade to return to our former glory. Many, including Wall Street Journal columnist John Stoll suggest we put our green dreams on hold saying, “businesses that were trying to save the world are now simply trying to save themselves.” It’s a fair point. But it ignores some fundamental principles of how we should analyze our businesses at the bottom of the cycle and make strategic investment decisions.
Guiding a company out of distress into a stable and competitive future is no small task. Survivors will have spent time reevaluating their companies with an eye toward eliminating unproductive activities and unprofitable products and services. The outcome for those who succeed will no doubt be a leaner, more efficient enterprise. A disciplined approach to restructuring balance sheets and operations will yield an opportunity to develop new strategies for the future. And, those new strategies should include green energy and carbon neutrality.
We all know the big picture. Nicely summarized by the Trump administration’s National Climate Assessment, “Human-induced climate change means much more than just hotter weather… These changes… [will] affect human health, water supply, agriculture, Continue reading “Now is the time to invest in green energy”
A poor attempt at humor by someone in the JPMorgan Chase marketing department led to my faceoff with the co-founders of the Rochester Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) on live radio. Chase’s tweet made fun of those who can’t figure out how to keep their bank accounts out of the red. In our debate, I maintained that people should take responsibility for the consequences of their own actions while the DSA crowd advocated that people are victims of marketing and should get some relief from those who impose unreasonable costs on them.
You shouldn’t be surprised that we didn’t reach agreement. But it was something that I said to the younger of the two that stopped him in his tracks (although we didn’t explore it). I am on record as predicting that Millennials will save capitalism (see The Fourth Turning: How Millennials Will Save Capitalism) and cited the Conscious Capitalism Continue reading “It All Started with a Tweet”
Have you ever repeated a phrase so often that you find you’ve forgotten what it means? In a group meeting this week, I referred to a company’s “mission” using a phrase that I’ve repeated for years. A new member of the group challenged me and threw me off balance. What I was really referring to was the company’s purpose.
Simon Sinek, author of “Start with Why” and a speaker whose TED talk is among the most watched in history (over 41 million views), Continue reading “Mission vs. purpose: the what and why of doing what we do”
The effort to help Japan rebuild after World War II included sending leading American management guru, W. Edwards Deming, to embed his Total Quality Management (TQM) ethic into that country’s manufacturing industries. Perhaps if Detroit’s Big 3 had simultaneously embraced Deming, we would see more Chevys and fewer Toyotas on our highways today.
TQM is based upon the idea that the performance of workers is dependent upon the system within which they work. Deming believed that managers apply all the wrong Continue reading “The management guru that time forgot”
The following are the author’s remarks at the Financial Leader of the Year (FLY) awards dinner on October 4, 2017, sponsored by the McCracken Institute and Rollins College. This is Part 4 of 4.
To read Part 1, click here.
To read Part 2, click here.
To Read Part 3, click here.
But suppose you’re not a Millennial with the inclination to travel to Outer Mongolia to do business directly with goat herders. (I can tell you that’s not on my bucket list.) Suppose you work for a big company. Let’s say a global corporation… like Nestlé.
Nestlé is an $89 Billion food and beverage company. The company’s mission statement is “Good Food, Good Life.” If you’re an espresso drinker, you may be familiar with one of their products: Nespresso. Perhaps you’ve seen a TV ad that features these guys:
Nespresso follows the old Gillette razor blade business model. Nestle doesn’t exactly give away Nespresso machines like Gillette gave away razors. However, selling coffee in little pods is a very profitable business for them. And, it enjoyed 30% annual growth in its first decade on the market. It’s fair to say that Nespresso expanded the market for premium coffee and, simultaneously created a huge problem for Nestle:
Where would they obtain a reliable source of coffee to feed the demand they had created?
The traditional playbook for procurement managers is to commoditize the supply and Continue reading “Succeeding Without Losing Your Soul (Part 4)”
The following are the author’s remarks at the Financial Leader of the Year (FLY) awards dinner on October 4, 2017, sponsored by the McCracken Institute and Rollins College. This is Part 2 of 4.
To read Part 1, click here.
Now, you might say that pursuing such a virtuous course is a bit easier when you start with the end in mind. The founders’ firm belief that great damage is caused by burning fossil fuels is the driving force behind the creation of this great company.
But, what if you’re part of an organization whose original purpose was not so high minded. An organization like – oh, I don’t know – an accounting firm.
What would that look like?
Perhaps you’ve heard how KPMG recast its culture to reach new levels of engagement by Continue reading “Succeeding Without Losing Your Soul (Part 2)”
The following are the author’s remarks at the Financial Leader of the Year (FLY) awards dinner on October 4, 2017, sponsored by the McCracken Institute and Rollins College. This is Part 1 of 4.
Our prosperity is like oxygen.
Every moment, we breathe in and we breathe out. We never think about it. We simply take it for granted that each breath will allow us to keep living.
Yet, if we were to be deprived of it – oxygen, that is – oxygen would be all we could think about. We’d be gasping for our next breath.
Our prosperity is like that too. American prosperity, that is. We take it for granted. We expect that our infrastructure will support a healthy lifestyle, that our military and Continue reading “Succeeding Without Losing Your Soul (Part 1)”
First published in Rochester’s daily newspaper, the Democrat & Chronicle, on September 5. Click here.
On the heels of the release of a landmark report on poverty by ACT Rochester and the Rochester Area Community Foundation, I wrote an essay for this paper titled ‘Just Tell Me What to Do About Poverty.’ In it, I expressed my frustration at, yet, another report decrying the depth and breadth of poverty in our community without offering a prescription for what we, as a community, can do about it.
As it turns out, the response to my complaint is right here in our own backyard. The Democrat & Chronicle’s Patti Singer reported last week on four companies that are actively addressing Rochester’s greatest challenge. The companies – TruForm Manufacturing, ENEROC, Genesee Brewery, and Green Visions – are piloting programs to hire and train less fortunate members of our community. Tyrone Reaves, owner of TruForm, has gone an extra step, founding and managing a non-profit to train people on both the job skills and the social skills to succeed in the workplace.
Solutions such as these address local challenges in the context of a global economy. The Wall Street Journal story on September’s monthly unemployment report outlined the Continue reading “What businesses can do about poverty”
The Conscious Capitalism movement made a big splash last week in our small city. A half-day conference featuring a keynote by Trader Joe’s founder Doug Rauch attracted over 100 local business leaders. The appeal to make business decisions in the context of community needs is long overdue.
Those of us raised in a business culture characterized by a focus on bottom line results to the exclusion of all else are having our consciousness raised. We must retrofit a new way of doing business or face consistent societal pressure for government to further regulate business activities.
Most often, companies wishing to burnish their brand donate to charities and participate in highly visible community activities. The public relations benefit is undeniable but the Continue reading “Retrofitting Conscious Capitalism”