There has long been a law prescribing it is illegal to shoot someone in the back. But that law did not save Walter Scott. Although unarmed and not threatening his killer, he was shot in the back by a South Carolina policeman while running away during a routine traffic stop. It is certainly appropriate to ban chokeholds by the police in the wake of George Floyd’s death. But I doubt the law will save anyone’s life. Laws by themselves haven’t been shown to protect people of color. Hence the call for “systemic change.”
But what is systemic change? And, how will it change the outcomes for millions of African-Americans who have suffered not only the abuse of police officers but also ongoing discrimination in their pursuit of economic opportunity – from housing, to banking, to employment.
This post was published in Rochester’s daily newspaper, The Democrat & Chronicle, on June 21, 2020
Will Hurd is the only black Republican in the House of Representatives. In a Wall Street
Journal op-ed, he laid out his proposal for reforming the police. Included was the implementation of best practices for police departments to be eligible to receive their portion of the $2 billion the federal government provides to police departments annually. Implicitly, Rep. Hurd is saying Congress will defund police departments that don’t meet federal standards.
The clarion call to defund the police sounds like one end of a binary choice: either eliminate police department budgets or leave things as they are. Of course, neither of those options are acceptable.
About every three months, I join a group of colleagues for dinner followed by an all day meeting. Our goal is to share best practices, bond with one another and have some fun. Nothing unusual about that, right? What makes it different is that there is no corporate sponsor. It’s an Ad Hoc group of people who share a profession and a common interest in getting better at what we do. Most of us hop into our car and head to a central location within an area bounded in the north by Toronto, the south by Pittsburgh, the east by Rochester and the west by Indianapolis.
We’re flush with new college grads this month. This crop has graduated into a rare economy – one in which employers are challenged by the dearth of candidates to fill the jobs they’re offering. Contrast that to ten years ago when even those with advanced degrees from top schools were kicked to the curb.
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.
The mission of my first assignment in the corner office was to turn the business around. Bleeding cash, lacking sustainable IT and other infrastructure, and having suffered through a bad leadership episode, the company was teetering on the brink of failure. My first impression as CEO of the company (Lifewatch, then called Cardiolife) was that there were some quality people on the management team who lacked a sense of direction. Most odd was that the hallways were plastered with motivational quotes – framed posters of great photographs adorned with lofty phrases about teamwork or exhorting people to “Make It Happen.”
When I asked people about them, they all shrugged and said my predecessor had hung them to motivate the staff. It was clear that their presence was widely viewed as a joke. So, I removed them. A big part of my job was to change the culture. Lofty phrases not Continue reading “So, What’s Your Story?”→
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?
At its root, shared value recognizes that the competitiveness of a business relies upon the health of the community surrounding it. Businesses need not only economically healthy customers to buy its goods and services but also a community that is willing and able to provide critical public assets like roads, schools, and police protection. The surrounding community needs businesses to provide jobs and wealth creation opportunities for its citizens.
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.