Monthly Archives: May 2011

Patton, Twelve OClock High and Gettysburg

On this Memorial Day weekend I am thinking of those who have given their lives in the service of our country, and what all of that means. Thoughts are scrambling through my mind: the horror of war, the families of the fallen, patriotism, the freedom that has come from a strong U.S. military, the use and abuse of the military, the veterans’ needs that are not being addressed, the commercialization of holidays, how Rolling Thunder feels about Sarah Palin stealing some of their thunder, etc.

Sounds like I have had more than my share of caffeine this morning, doesn’t it?  So let me move on to my main point.

One thing I often do in leadership and goal-setting retreats is a play a clip from a movie, and then have the group discuss its meaning.  I encourage participants to put themselves in the role of each individual in the scene and talk about the scene from the perspective of that particular character. “Perspective” is a big thing with me because I have come to the belief most people have an opinion about things and most people are right in their opinions from their perspective. After one particular leadership retreat – Selected to Serve – I noticed that I had used scenes from Patton, Twelve O’Clock High and Gettysburg.  Patton’s opening scene speech is a great example to use to discuss the elements of oral communication by leaders, General Savage and Colonel Davenport are classic examples of Theory X and Theory Y managers and Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain provides an opportunity to discuss decision-making under pressure.

I wondered if I was using too many military leadership examples.  After all, there are plenty of leadership issues in other movie scenes.  And then it dawned on me why the military scenes were so powerful.  The stakes in military leadership scenes are so high. The decisions that military leaders must make are so often literally life and death.

Lest we forget.  Happy Memorial Day.

“Was LinkedIn Scammed?” asks Joe Nocera

New York Times columnist Joe Nocera offers an intriguing and enlightening insight into the LinkedIn I.P.O., saying that “.. hundreds of millions of additional dollars that should have gone to LinkedIn wound up in the hands of investors that Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch wanted to do favors for.” His column is entitled “Was LinkedIn Scammed?

Local store closures reveal need for strategic planning.

(May 18, 2011)  Those of us in the strategic planning business regularly point out that one of the better reasons to do strategic planning at least every three years is that the ever-changing environment can fundamentally affect businesses or organizations.  That point was illustrated clearly with one closure and one announced closure of two businesses in my neighborhood shopping center.  The local Blockbuster video store closed its doors about a month ago, and now BeBop Record Shop has announced that it will be closing May 28.

Blockbuster was affected by online movie rentals and Netflix.  Interestingly, Blockbuster put the local Mom and Pop video rental stores out of business. Mom and Pop could not keep up with Blockbuster, and it seems that Blockbuster could not keep up with Netflix.  Keeping up with technology was also a factor in the coming demise of BeBop Record Shop, which name says it all.

These are examples of a technology change in the environment.  Many other changes – consumer tastes and legal issues, for example – in the environment can cause a business to go out of business if it does not keep up.

Ahh, the management of change.

CBS Evening News Story re Natchez and Vidalia

Take a look at this:

What some say about Mississippi economic development.

The following  appears in an article entitled “Economic specialist: Local development needs to be more than new factories” in the May 16, 2011 online edition of the Portage (WI) Daily Register:

What makes a good business climate?

A U.S. state once touted itself as a place with an optimal business climate. Its taxes were low. Regulations were lax. Land was cheap, and so was labor.

That state was Mississippi, and the year was 1936.

Steven Deller, specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension Center for Community Economic Development, said politicians still tout low taxes, lax regulations and cheap land and labor as necessary for creating a business-friendly environment.

“But if that were really true,” Deller said, “Mississippi should be doing pretty darn well. They’re not.”

U.S. Passport Ownership Per Capita, by State

If travel is the best teacher, then passport ownership per capita may reveal something.  The best educated states are as follows:1. Vermont, 2. Connecticut, 3. Massachusetts, 4. New Jersey, 5. Maine, 6. Minnesota, 7. Virginia, 8. Wisconsin, 9. Montana and 10. New York.  Here’s the passport ownership map for your review and discussion:


Interesting Juxtaposition: Troubled economies, $3K hotel suite and 1st Class.

The international financial world is pondering the implications of the possible attempted rape charges against International Monetary Fund (IMF) leader, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The media coverage has not been kind.  According to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, Strauss-Kahn “… is expected to step aside because of the gravity of the charges.”

One cannot help but wonder what citizens in countries with troubled economies think of $3,000-per-night hotel suites and first class airfare when the stated mission of the IMF is as follows:

The IMF’s fundamental mission is to help ensure stability in the international system. It does so in three ways: keeping track of the global economy and the economies of member countries; lending to countries with balance of payments difficulties; and giving practical help to members.

Winston County Mississippi Scholars Recognized

(May 6, 2011) Thirty-five Mississippi Scholars from Winston County were recognized Thursday evening at a banquet in Louisville. At the event students announced which colleges or universities they planned to attend and what their major course of study would be. Louisville Mayor Will Hill welcomed the students and challenged them to represent their communities well as they go out into the world. Mary Snow, emceed the program and represented the local business community and Phil Hardwick of The Stennis Institute was the keynote speaker.

The celebration was just one of the outcomes of the “Getcha Head in the Game,” a project of the Louisville Municipal School District, the Winston County Economic Development Partnership and The Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University. “Getcha Head in the Game” is a program of the Mississippi Higher Education Initiative (MSHEI), which is funded through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

The Mississippi Scholars program requires students to take four English courses, four upper level mathematics courses, four science courses, four social studies, one art, two advance electives like foreign languages, 20 hours of community service, 2.5 grade point average and 95 percent school attendance. It began as a national program to utilize business leaders to motivate students to complete a more challenging course of study in high school.

Creating livable cities in a rapidly urbanizing world

If you have anything to do with urban planning, or any type of community development for that matter, I commend to you the report entitled Livable cities in a rapidly urbanizing worldissued by the Urban Planning Advisory Team (UPAT) of the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) For the Philips Center of Health and Well-being Singapore July 25-31, 2010.  Among the ideas discussed in the report are principles and practical solutions for so-called transforming cities to actually be livable.  The more I looked at these principles the more I realized that most of them really apply to any community attempting to make itself a better place.  Here are the principles listed in the report.

Strong regional governance
Stable, credible, passionate regional leadership is essential to take responsibility for the whole region and the long term.

Regional leadership must have sufficient legitimacy and credibility to transcend fragmented layers of government, short term and parochial priorities, competing interests and a lack of strategic responsibility for a rapidly urbanizing region.

Natural capital It is imperative that in future the natural resources of a region are understood, conserved and recovered as urbanization proceeds.

Maximising biodiversity in a rapidly urbanizing region requires a landscape framework to be designed based on excellent science, before indiscriminate development takes over.

Local energy Urban areas should maximize the local generation of low-carbon energy, through the efficient use of local energy resources.

All rapidly urbanizing regions have a unique endowment of potential energy resources distributed unevenly across the region, which can be fully employed only if researched, mapped and protected ahead of development.

Urban agriculture Food production, and agriculture generally, should be integrated throughout the urban environment.

Minimizing the separation between food production and urban living reduces energy use, improves urban metabolism, enriches daily life and improves well-being

Strategically certain, and tactically flexible Livable cities need strong strategies for the large scale patterns and networks, with greater creativity, flexibility and responsiveness at the smaller scale.

The planning of rapidly urbanizing regions is often typified by weak strategic regional frameworks but detailed local plans and rules, which are often used to simplify or standardize local development, usually by segregating land uses which might have negative impacts.

The more urban, the more innovation Cities generate innovation, through the intensity of interaction, the rate of change, and the market for creativity and art.

Rapidly urbanizing regions need to support the arts and enrich the cultural landscape, in order to create environments which attract and foster creativity and build stronger communities.

Mobility at all scales From local high-quality pedestrian spaces to international bullet trains, livable cities provide high mobility without compromising equity or environmental quality.

In the 1×1 urban living areas of rapidly urbanizing regions, the quality of the pedestrian environment should come first, with all other modes, including private cars, performing their optimal role and interconnecting effortlessly.

Actively engaged citizens Livable cities foster health and community connectedness by providing multiple destinations and opportunities within walking and cycling distance of where people live, work and play.

To counter the tendency in rapidly urbanizing regions for important urban functions to be segregated and even inaccessible, the many destinations of ‘daily life’ should be co-located, and where possible integrated, in places of high accessibility.

Equity and social mix Livable cities improve life chances, health status and well-being by minimizing social division, exclusion and income inequality.

Whatever the level of inequality in income and opportunity in society, well- planned social mix in rapidly urbanizing regions can improve levels of trust and well-being.

Corporate citizenship Large corporations can play an increasingly creative role – through their products, their operations and their partnerships with governments and communities – to help make cities livable.

In rapidly urbanizing regions, corporations can be instrumental in driving innovation and raising standards, through their own developments and through direct relationships established with a local community for mutual benefit.