Business managers and value creation

Posted March 9th, 2019 by russfrazierwp and filed in Business and Economy, Low Snark Kvetching
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There are certain disparities between what business academics teaches and real-world organizational operations. A particularly fundamental difference relates to the conscious recognition of value creation. An MBA is taught that a firm is like a money-making machine, returning value to stakeholders by generating wealth through the act of value creation. Focusing on value creation should be a goal of organizational planning and strategy.

That is far from what business managers think day to day, however.

If, for example, an MBA prescribes the use of forecasting based on historical results, why would a business manager ignore the advice and use guesswork or nothing at all?

The first conclusion is that contrary to what MBAs have been taught, business managers are not interested in value creation, per se. They are far more motivated by a drive for self-determination and ego. I think this translates into the frequently expressed but vaguely defined idea of “freedom” in a business context. Value creation is too much of an abstract microeconomic concept, divorced from the everyday struggles of time and resource management, selling, operational control and career ambitions.

When people feel that their independence is being questioned, the first reaction is to resist. They aren’t ready to listen to an involved explanation as to why they should do things a certain way, supported by a significant body of management research and case studies, even if doing so suggests the result would be a higher probability of value creation. People simply don’t like being told what to do. As in other walks of life, the truth is no match for human beliefs.

My opinion is based on my work experiences in over 40 years with over 20 widely different organizations including the military, large public corporations and small privately owned operations. After all that, I can say with confidence that I can tell the difference between good and bad management. All managers have certain things in common. It is a rare one who considers an objective point of view and asks, “What if I did do it that way? Maybe my results would be better.”

Brookhaven Nature Park Hit by Mad Spray Painter

Posted December 27th, 2013 by russfrazierwp and filed in Low Snark Kvetching
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Does that sound a little hyperbolic? The Brookhaven Nature Park (Junior Women’s Club Nature Park) in Raleigh in the Brookhaven neighborhood near Crabtree is a nice place to take a walk.

Entrance signage

Entrance signage for BrookHaven Nature Park

Being a nature park, it doesn’t have the cars, buildings, concrete and ubiquitous poles and electrical equipment with all the cables and wires you encounter on the streets. It is deliberately undeveloped, having low-profile foot bridges and some narrow asphalt foot paths near the entrance. There are only two places in the Nature park with large man-made structures: the entrance and a low deck over a drainage pond.

I walk here regularly and find that it’s unadorned beauty is a welcome change from the hard-edged and unnaturally-colored man made world I spend most of my time in. So one might understand my astonishment, disappointment and anger when I went for my walk (Oh, back in October, I think) and saw that somebody had spray painted the main trail and a couple of smaller trails.

Green tree roots and a green plutonic rock.

Green tree roots and a green plutonic rock.

Bright, DayGlo green, red and blue. About as unnatural as you can get. If you follow the main trail around, you can see several places where not only roots and rocks were sprayed, but little happy faces on rocks and unsightly, runny spots on trees were added as well. The “work” doesn’t even have a hint of the artistic flair you might see in urban graffiti. Obviously, somebody went around with several cans of paint and went crazy.

I often puzzle over the motivations behind things like this. What were they thinking? If not thought, then what drugs in particular were they on? Did some of the women from the Junior Women’s Club do this, and if so, how many were there? Did they discuss this before they did it? Was this the result of some addled person threatening a law suit after having attempted, unsuccessfully, to text and walk simultaneously? There is Magnolia Glen (A Kisco Senior Living Community) nearby. Was this done for the benefit of elderly people? The sprayer(s) did have purpose, however. It’s apparent that the main trail is green, the trail near the pond going to York Elementary is blue and a shortcut is red.

Blue roots

Blue roots

So we know for sure what the different trails are, in case you wandered 25 yards away from where you were, which is the point of being in a nature park. Now, there are places where a person could trip on a tree root or a rock if they weren’t paying attention. That’s a natural hazard, much like natural hazards one might encounter on a US National Park trail. I have never seen a park trail, national or otherwise, with spray painted trees and rocks. Were the people who did this trying to mark trip hazards? If so, I have news for them. The actual hazards are not the roots and rocks.

The true hazards are the wooden foot bridges, made of fir. Since I go walking in the rain sometimes, I am very, extremely, painfully aware that those bridges become very slick when they are wet. You can slip while walking at a normal pace, while paying attention to the natural beauty around you. If they are concerned about hazards, then why not do something to make those bridges safe?

Slippery when wet footbridge

Slippery when wet footbridge