Would you say that your organization has a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ culture? Don’t bother. It makes no sense to evaluate a culture as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. What matters is whether it is effective at producing the outcome you want.

Organizational culture is effective if employees can do their work without worrying about the support of colleagues. This is called horizontal effectiveness. You have it when different individuals can blindly co-ordinate their activities and save on communication costs.

Vertical effectiveness happens when followers can guess what to do without having to wait for instructions. When this happens, you save on the costs associated with delegating and monitoring.

Always remember that culture is simply the way we do things here. If you are not clear about the outcome you want, then the way you do things here might instead result in a lot of bad things happening around here.


I’m james@nonsenseatwork.com

Copyright: 2007 James Henry McIntosh

James can be heard on Public Radio, 88.9 FM WCVE, Richmond VA.
Monday – 7:19am and Saturday – 8:19am

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Much is written about income inequality. Yet, the distribution of wealth is far more unequal. Income is the flow of money to you; wealth is what you have accumulated.

Figures just released by the World Institute for Development Economics Research for the year 2000 show that more than half of all wealth is owned by just 2% of the world’s adults. This equates to a world where for each person with one-thousand-dollars, there are nine with only one dollar each.

If you had more than two-thousand-one-hundred-and-sixty-one dollars in the year 2000 (as measured by official exchange rates), you belonged to the wealthier half. If your wealth amounted to more than five-hundred-and fifteen-hundred-thousand dollars, you were in the top 1%.

The funny thing is this: Although many people in poor countries own almost nothing, a lot of people in rich countries have less than nothing: they owe more than they own.


I’m james@nonsenseatwork.com

Copyright: 2007 James Henry McIntosh

James can be heard on Public Radio, 88.9 FM WCVE, Richmond VA.
Monday – 7:19am and Saturday – 8:19am

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Today, the term ‘worker’ has little to do with manual or industrial-type work. It has more to do with the way managers perceive and treat the people who are at the lowest output producing level of the organization.

At this basic level, workers are mere commodities, because they are plentiful, cheap, inter-changeable and disposable. When there is more work to be done, more workers are hired; when there is less work to be done, workers are discarded until the number of workers more closely matches the amount of work to be done.

This insidious practice stems from the industrial revolution when, for the first time, large groups of workers were paid by the hour. And to this day, workers carry the cost of ‘saving’ the organization from financial ruin.

No wonder debates on the minimum hourly rate for workers still raises tempers on both sides of the divide.

I’m james@nonsenseatwork.com

Copyright: 2007 James Henry McIntosh

James can be heard on Public Radio, 88.9 FM WCVE, Richmond VA.
Monday – 7:19am and Saturday – 8:19am

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Adam Smith pointed out that the division of labor leads to greater productivity because it allows people to specialize and become very good at what they do. What Adam Smith did not know is that women invented the division of labor.

Many years ago, men hunted and women gathered. According to Drs Kuhn and Stiner of the University of Arizona, this division of labor originated in a warmer part of the world, where plant foods are gathered all year round. So, when humans moved into colder areas, females gave a significant advantage by providing fall-back foods when big game was scarce, and by making clothing and shelters. Humans expanded, Neanderthals did not.

Now I wonder, if women established the foundation of modern economics, and so launched the process of growth that continues to this day, why did Mrs Pelosi take so long to arrive?

I’m james@nonsenseatwork.com

Copyright: 2007 James Henry McIntosh

James can be heard on Public Radio, 88.9 FM WCVE, Richmond VA.
Monday – 7:19am and Saturday – 8:19am

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Last week I suggested that leaders, by making their intentions clear, don’t waste their followers’ time.

We know that we lead by example, but we cannot do that with intentions. Until acted on, intentions remain unfulfilled objectives. Words are the next best thing to express our intentions.

However, words can be ambiguous, assuming a different meaning in the mind of the listener. For example, what does ‘bi-monthly’ mean? ‘Twice every month’ or ‘every second month’?

Wise leaders are deliberate in their use of language. They choose words carefully, selecting specific words for the exact meaning they wish to communicate.

The problem is that we have allowed slang, and our innate human laziness, to shrink our vocabulary. And so the gap of mis-understanding is increasing between what the wise are saying and what we are hearing. And as we become tone-deaf, intentions remain unfulfilled.

I’m james@nonsenseatwork.com

Copyright: 2007 James Henry McIntosh

James can be heard on Public Radio, 88.9 FM WCVE, Richmond VA.
Monday – 7:19am and Saturday – 8:19am

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The hi-tech revolution has outstripped management evolution.

In the mid 1980′s, a friend of mine and his colleagues at a regional office of a multinational company were fired by fax sent from head office. The company is still a world leader in fax machines and communications technology.

In 2001, I was shown an email in which the owners of an IT company informed employees that their services were no longer required.

And then, in May 2003, many of the 2,000 employees at The Accident Group in England were sacked via a text message on their mobile phones. The text message linked recipients to the following voice message: ‘All staff who are being retained will be contacted today. If you have not been spoken to you are therefore being made redundant with immediate effect.’

From fax to e-mail to instant text message – you’re fired.

I’m james@nonsenseatwork.com

Copyright: 2007 James Henry McIntosh

James can be heard on Public Radio, 88.9 FM WCVE, Richmond VA.
Monday – 7:19am and Saturday – 8:19am

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At the start of a new year, I want to make a prediction: The age has come when people will judge their time spent at work as time wasted or time not wasted. And they will blame their so-called leaders if they feel their time was wasted.

I have seen people so angry, once they thought their time had been wasted, that not even financial rewards could sweeten the bitterness with which they remembered those they held responsible for a loss they could never recover.

Time is the greatest scarce resource of all. This is why I say that true leaders don’t waste your time.

So, dear leader, how do you not waste our time? Make your intentions clear. That way followers can decide whether they want to be part of the outcome you have in mind…., whether they want to invest their time with you.

I’m james@nonsenseatwork.com

Copyright: 2007 James Henry McIntosh

James can be heard on Public Radio, 88.9 FM WCVE, Richmond VA.
Monday – 7:19am and Saturday – 8:19am

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At the start of a new year, start worrying about the looming world-wide talent shortage. Unless, of course, you are talented and available.

The Corporate Executive Board recently surveyed senior human resources managers internationally. 75% said that attracting and retaining talent was their number one priority. 62% worried about a company-wide talent shortage.

The Board also surveyed 4000 hiring managers in more than 30 countries. These managers reported that the average quality of candidates had declined by 10% since 2004, and that the average time to fill a vacancy had increased from 37 to 51 days.

Just in case your wondering, the surveys were not of the high-tech industry. It seems the shortage is now everywhere, to the extent that one in three employees had recently been approached by another firm hoping to lure them away.

Is that your phone ringing or mine?

I’m james@nonsenseatwork.com

Copyright: 2007 James Henry McIntosh

James can be heard on Public Radio, 88.9 FM WCVE, Richmond VA.
Monday – 7:19am and Saturday – 8:19am

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You’ve made your New Year’s resolution. That’s the easy part. Making it stick is not.

The first reason for the difficulty is that a resolution is a mental intention. Although you have ‘thought’ a resolution for next year, you are still stuck in last year. The trick is to move all of you into the new year.

One way of doing so is to act on the other meanings of resolution. Resolution also means:
‘separation into components’;
‘causing discord to pass into concord’;
‘boldness of purpose’; and
‘solving problems’.

In other words, you should understand the components that make-up your resolution; remove discord that prevents commitment; be bold in execution; and learn to solve problems that crop up.

The other reason resolutions don’t easily stick is that new year’s resolutions tend to be about virtuous conduct. Maybe a resolution to behave badly would stick more easily.

I’m james@nonsenseatwork.com

Copyright: 2006 James Henry McIntosh

James can be heard on Public Radio, 88.9 FM WCVE, Richmond VA.
Monday – 7:19am and Saturday – 8:19am

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