Organized Religion is Big Business– Too Big to Fail: Rediscover the Mission, Morph, Adapt, Reinvent for New Morality…

Organized religion is typically characterized by an official doctrine, dogma… a hierarchical, bureaucratic leadership structure, and codification of rules and practices.The term organized religion is frequently used in the mass media to refer to the world’s largest religious groups…

According to Luke Muehlhauser; What is religion? Everybody knows what religion is before you ask them; but then when you ask them; what is religion? They find it very hard to define! A dictionary might say; religion is a belief-in and reverence-for a supernatural power… Another definition might suggest– religion is that system of beliefs directed toward that which is perceived to be of sacred or spiritual value with transforming power…

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Throughout history, economics and religion have been inextricably linked. Today, globalism and religious pluralism are facts of life. Enterprise, invention, and the complexities of faith create synergies. Around the world, religious traditions shape the perceptions of consumers and guide corporate decision-making, e.g.; religious tourism, hotels, important religious places, religious symbols… Globally halal products comprise a US$2 trillion industry… The kosher industry has certified more than 100,000 products, which total approximately US$165 billion in sales annually… in the souks of old Damascus modestly clad plastic dolls lie alongside carved wooden Koran stands… in Cairo and other Islamic capitals, vendors tout calligraphic renderings of devotional texts, bookmarks with the 99 names for Allah and strings of colored prayer beads… E-rugs are prayer mats with an alarm for the five prayer times and a compass that points towards Mecca…

Religions rarely praise consumerism; but 2.2 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims are big markets, e.g.; sales of books on the world’s two biggest faiths are soaring, with interactive Korans and Bibles among the innovative products. Last year sales of religious books grew by 8% in a declining industry… According to Sammy Said; many people believe in the existence of a god that will help save a person’s soul, however, preserving the institution that can help you believe in God requires a lot of money… Here is a brief summary of a few of the richest organized religions in the world:

  • Protestantism probably represents over 33,000 Protestant denominations, and research shows that Protestants are in the ‘middle-levels’ in terms of wealth accumulated by its believers…
  • Televangelism relies mainly on advertisements, donations and merchandise; all these are done free of tax– it’s estimated to be a US$2.3 billion business..
  • Church of England, also known as Anglicanism, it used to be the biggest landowner in Great Britain. It sold off most of the land to build up an investment portfolio of US$6.7 billion that earns more than US$255 million each year. It also gets more than US$320 million in donations and US$400 million through its events and services…
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is considered to be one of the fastest-growing and richest religions in the world. Its members are called Mormons and at the turn of the 21stcentury, Mormon assets were being estimated to be at over US$30 billion. It also has an annual revenue of US$6 billion, with nearly 90% of the amount coming from member contributions called tithing, in which members are required to give 10% of their entire income…
  • Judaism is said to have accumulated the most wealth among all believers in all religions in the U.S…
  • Islam is a monotheistic religion that is the second largest and one of the fastest growing in the world… Some of the richest countries in the world follow strict Islamic laws. Estimates in 2012 put the assets of the Islamic financial industry alone to be at nearly US$1.6 trillion…
  • Roman Catholic Church owns some of the greatest art works ever made, it has vast gold deposits and billions of dollars in assets… it earns a significant amount of income from tourism… it has more than a billion members around the world… According to Economist; it estimates US$170 billion in annual spending, of which almost US$150 billion is associated with church-affiliated hospitals and institutions of higher education. The operating budget for ordinary parishes is about US$11 billion a year…

In the article Organized Religion is Big Business by Martha Woodroof writes: Many large corporations roll along unabated because they are too big to fail. And if there truly is a business that’s too big to fail, it’s probably the Organized Religion Industry (ORI)… Think about it. In real estate alone, the ORI controls gazillions of dollars. And it’s not just property ownership that has economically entrenched the Organized Religion Industry; it’s all the jobs attached to these properties and not to mention all the auxiliary economic activities generated by what goes on in ORI-owned buildings, all training facilities for the people who run these activities, all the people employed by the hierarchical institutions who decide what these activities should be… Talk about marketing! The ORI has sold its message brilliantly, concentrating on such talking points as– fear of death, answers to the unanswerable, moral certainties delivered in God’s name…

religion thCANA7RB6In the article Organized Religion Management Problem by Gary Hamel writes: Organized religion has not been doing too well recently, at least not in the developed world… and, what ails ‘the church’ probably ails many organization, as well… Yes, church attendance may be lagging, but nine out of ten Americans still claim to have faith in a spiritual being– a number hasn’t changed much over the past two decades. And only 9% describe themselves as neither religious nor spiritual. Interestingly, though, nearly a third say they are spiritual, but not religious… In other words, though many people may have become less religiously observant, they have not become any less spiritually inclined… Organizations lose their relevance when the rate of internal change lags the pace of external change, and that’s the problem that besets many churches…

Today we live in a world that seems to be all punctuation and no equilibrium, where the future is less and less an extrapolation of the past. And many conservative, hierarchical organizations are not up to the challenge– they’re simply not adaptable enough… In this environment, you’re either going forward or backwards– but you’re never standing still– and at the moment, many organizations, churches included, are going backwards. Historically, business leaders and church leaders didn’t have to worry about fundamental paradigm shifts. They could safely assume that their basic business models would last forever… In the case of church, this meant loyal pew-warmers who would show up every week, sit passively through the same unvarying church service, drop $20 into the plate as it passed, and politely shake the pastor’s hand as they headed off for lunch…

But business models are not eternal– and their mortality rate has been rising. In industry after industry we’ve witnessed profound paradigm shifts, and of course there are paradigm shifts in churches as well, with the move from small community churches to mega churches to multi-site churches, the emergent church, home churches, and whatever follows that… Most organizations, though, end up shackled to one business model– and when it atrophies, so does the institution… Over time visions become strategies, strategies get codified into policies, policies spawn practices, and practices become habits. That’s organizational entropy– and it’s why success is usually a self-correcting phenomenon… And it’s also why the hard thing– the really hard thing, isn’t inventing a brilliant strategy, but reinventing it!

Given all of this, the most critical advantage a church (or any other organization) can build is a ‘evolutionary advantage’– an ability to constantly morph and adapt… Sadly, it usually takes a crisis to set an organization on a new path… Over the centuries, religion has become institutionalized, and in the process encrusted with elaborate hierarchies, top-heavy bureaucracies, highly specialized roles and reflexive routines (kinda like your company but only more so). Religion won’t regain its relevance until church leaders chip off these calcified layers, rediscover their sense of mission, and set themselves free to reinvent ‘church’ for a new age… Doing this is going to take a management revolution. Back in the first century, the Christian church was organic, communal and mostly free of ritual– and it needs to become so again– as does every organization, public or private, large or small…

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In the article Business of Religion by Arup Nanda writes: Religion is a very dangerous double-edged sword. On one hand it brings discipline, moral values and for the lack of a better term– ‘humanity’ to humans… Consider this; Why would you not steal from thy neighbor? If you did, it would make you more profitable and your actions immensely more efficient (i.e., much gain from small effort); but you won’t, because it’s against established morality. Belief system, whether in the form of religion or otherwise is the very foundation of morality… However, belief systems adapt to varying situations making the process of acceptable behavior (or religion) highly fluid and devoid of specific direction… And that can make the business of religion highly dangerous…

Organized religions have been very successful by any measure of modern capitalism. The biggest among them are global enterprises with thousands of employees, Boards of Directors, multiple revenue streams… But while corporations spend millions of dollars and dedicate teams to study the latest consumer behaviors, cultural trends, organization theories… these large religious organizations have maintained a status quo and lost touch with their customers (church-goers)… hence they have missed, to their detriment, timeless lessons on how to grow, strengthen, endure…

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Organized religion, broadly defined, is a central part of human history: It’s older than nation-states, it’s older than capitalism, even much older than the Internet and social media… and it will outlive them all. In addition, these organizations have shown to be antifragile expanding across borders, cultures, millennia… enduring through revolutions, pandemics, wars…

However, organized religion is truly at ‘infliction point’ for survival… and the religious organizations that can best change with the times, rediscover their mission, market their message, stay relevant… are the organizations that will best embrace customers (parishioners), best balance financials, best sustain growth, and endure…

Business Rules That Make Companies Truly Great… Business Rule #1: Swim Upstream– Ignore Conventional Wisdom…

Business rules are intended to assert business structure, to control or influence the behavior of the business… Business rules describe the operations, definitions, constraints that apply to an organization. Business rules apply to– people, processes, workplace behavior, computer usage, smartphone etiquette… business rules are necessary to better achieve goals, remove obstacles to market growth, reduce costly mistakes, improve communication, comply with legal requirements, increase customer loyalty…

On a personal level according to Scott Peltin; in business there are three types of workers; Sinkers, Floaters, Swimmers…

‘Sinkers’ are over-whelmed, over-worked, over-tired, always in crisis…

Floaters’ are too often comfortably numb as they fail to realize their true untapped potential, they just manage to stay afloat…

‘Swimmers’ are full of energy, resilience, vision, commitment to excellence, strategy for success, habits that energizes themselves, the organization, the brand… Swimmers are high performers, full of passion… and without them companies don’t succeed… Hence, Rule #1; be a ‘swimmer’…

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Business rules exist whether or not they are ever written down or talked about… they are part of an organization’s consciousness… However, rules do not dictate specific worker behaviors, and they are not strategies… there function is to create a foundational concept on how to build a great company… but whether a company becomes great or not, well that all depends on many factors…

Realistically, there are no rules that exists (real or implied) that will build a great organization; there are only ‘articles’ written by pundits that are titled– ‘rules for building an organization that is truly great’… According to Michael E. Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed; business rules can be a useful antidote to intuition, and that can take the form of either a single leader’s vision or the collective hunch of the top management team (which often comes with a veneer of post-hoc rationalization)…

Having formal work rules in business even if they’re not required is a good idea, because they help protect the business from litigation and maintain a higher quality of work-life in the workplace… Management and workers must understand what is expected of them, and not only in the work that they do, but also in behavior… When rules are carefully selected, clearly defined and communicated, and fairly enforced they provide a stable and more manageable workplace…

Having clear work rules ensures that both workers and management understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not… A clear definition of what is required and the consequences of failing to comply make it easier to respond consistently to workplace disruptions… An ambiguous rule, or no rule, or uneven enforcement of a rule… opens the potential of a remedial action being challenged as arbitrary or discriminatory…

In the article Three Rules for Making a Company Truly Great by Michael E. Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed write: Most strategies and management advice that business leaders turn to is often unreliable, impractical… Hence, frustrated by the lack of rigorous research, we undertook a statistical study of thousands of companies, and eventually identified several hundred companies among them that had done well enough for a long enough period of time to qualify as ‘truly exceptional’. Further, we discovered something startling; many of the choices that made some of these companies truly great were consistent with just three seemingly elementary rules:

  • Better Before Cheaper: Every company faces a choice; it can compete mainly by offering superior non-price benefits, such as; great brand, exciting style, or excellent functionality, durability, convenience; or it can meet some minimal acceptable standard along these dimensions and try to attract customers with lower prices… Hence, we labeled– ‘miracle workers’ as overwhelmingly adopting the former position… and ‘average Joes’ typically competing on price… and ‘long runners’ that showed no clear tendency to one way or another…
  • Revenue Before Cost: Companies must not only create value but also capture it in the form of profits. By an overwhelming margin, exceptional companies garner superior profits by achieving higher revenue through either higher prices or greater volume. Very rarely is cost leadership a driver of superior profitability… There’s nothing startling about the notion that higher prices can lead to higher profits, but we were impressed by the range of contexts in which companies have built business on this idea… Just as companies can lower prices while adhering to ‘better before cheaper’, they can also drive out inefficiencies and lower costs while following the ‘revenue-before-cost’ rule. But companies cannot achieve superior profitability through cost leadership…
  • There Are No Other Rules: This underscores the uncomfortable (or liberating) truth that in the pursuit of superior profitability everything but the first two rules should be on the table. When considering all other determinants of company performance, e.g.; operational excellence, talent development, leadership style, corporate culture, reward systems… you name it– and there was a wide variation among companies of these performance types… also there is no doubt that these and other factors affect corporate performance, but there was no clear and consistent pattern of ‘how’ they really mattered…

In addition, it was found that the companies that had remained ‘exceptional’ (i.e., superior profitability) had done so despite changing their approaches in a number of the critical determinants of performance: The reason? The changes they made kept them aligned with the first two rules. In other words, top-performing or ‘exceptional’ companies are persistent in seeking a position unrelated to ‘low price’ and adopt a ‘revenue-driven’ profitability formula, while everything else is up for grabs…

However, the absence of other rules does not give permission to shut down thinking… Companies are responsible for searching actively, flexibly for ways to make and follow rules in the face of what may be wrenching competitive change… and, it takes enormous creativity to remain true to first two rules… Bottom line; if companies want to beat the odds they must concentrate on ‘creating value’ with– ‘better before cheaper’; and on ‘capturing value’ with– ‘revenue before cost’…

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According to Sam Walton (in his book: Sam Walton, Made in America: My Story); running a successful business boils down to few simple rules. These rules helped Walmart become the global leader it is today. They continue to apply them to every part of their business:

  • Commit to your business: Passion, commitment, and truly believing in the purpose and value of the business is the first step to success… You must be a believer more than anybody else– you must show it every day by doing your best, and soon others around will catch the passion, it’s like a fever…
  • Share your profits with all your associates and treat them as partners: Partners have a vested interest in the business and whether an associate or management as partners working together, everyone has incentives to perform above expectations…
  • Motivate your partners: Money and ownership alone aren’t enough; set high goals, encourage competition, keep score… and, don’t become predictable…
  • Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners: The more partners know, the more they understand… the more they understand, the more they care… and once people care, they strive for excellence…
  • Listen to everyone in your company: Listen carefully to all the relevant parties; associates, customers, suppliers, everyone in the value chain… push responsibility down the organization… force good ideas to bubble-up from within…
  • Exceed your customers’ expectations: Delight customers with what they want and exceed expectations… fix mistakes, don’t make excuses, make it a great customer experience…
  • Swim upstream: Innovate, create, counter conventional wisdom… If everybody else is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find a better niche by going in a different direction…

In the article Rules for Breaking Rules by Gwen Moran writes: No one likes to be thought of as a conformist who is afraid to take a chance and break rules every once in a while… But breaking rules for the sake of doing so– or without at least a good understanding of what is at risk– can lead to bad decision-making and lamentable consequences…

Like it or not, there are some ‘rules to breaking the rules’… and when you should go for it, and when you should not… Before you go maverick be sure the situation fits these criteria; know and understand the real value of breaking the rule(s), calculate the risk, breaking a rule(s) should aligns with values that matter, prepare for consequences of rule breaking…

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According to Mark McMillion; when you know enough to realize a rule(s) does not make sense, or it bogs down, e.g.; innovation, creativity, customer service, productivity… it’s often a good time to break the rule(s)… According to Julie Austin; if a rule is telling you to do something that’s against– ethics, morals… then act accordingly. But even in morally sound situations, you must think through consequences of your actions and be prepared to own them, whether they go the way you intended, or not…

In ‘making’ rules company’s must be sensitive to the needs and circumstances for those affected, and ‘enforcement’ must be consistent and fair… But with ever- increasing diversity in workplaces making and enforcing rules that are ‘fair’ for all is problematic…

Refugees is Big Business; It’s a Growth Economy: It’s a Mass Exploitation of Human Suffering…

The world is in the middle of the biggest mass migration of refugees since the end of the World War II, and as distasteful as this may sound; it’s a huge business opportunity. It ranges from– housing refugees, to selling ‘fake’ passports, to bribery and extortions, to selling people into slavery… it’s taking advantage of vulnerable populations…

According to Louise W. Holborn; there is no single definition of ‘refugee’… however, all refugees have characteristics in common, e.g.; they are uprooted, they are homeless, they lack national protection and status. The refugee is an involuntary migrant, victim of politics, war, or natural catastrophe… Every refugee is naturally a migrant, but not every migrant is a refugee. A migrant is one who leaves his residence (usually for economic reasons) in order to settle elsewhere, either in his own or in another country…

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A refugee movement results when conditions for normal living and personal safety become so acute that voluntary exodus becomes virtually compulsory. The uprooted become either internal refugees, that is ‘national refugees’ (persons who have been displaced in their own country), or ‘international refugees’ (persons outside their country of origin). The latter are designated refugees in legal terminology when they lack the diplomatic protection granted to nationals abroad… Hence the questions: How far would you run if you really had to?

The historical answer is provided by the refugee who is literally running for his/her life… But the iconic image of a refugee is that of someone in much greater distress; people who flee to ‘anywhere’ they believed to be a place of safety, although these places are often illusionary… but their near-term goal is simply to survive and get out of the path of immediate danger…

The lead international agency coordinating refugee protection is the ‘Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR), which estimated the number of refugees to about 38.2 million at the end of 2014… The ‘durable solutions’ to refugee populations, as defined by UNHCR and governments are: voluntary repatriation to the country of their origin; local integration into the country of asylum; and resettlement to a third country… According to streiff; although UNHCR posts some interesting statistics on the refugee crisis but they are on the low-side… because they don’t count thousands of ‘fake’ passports that are issued to beat the system; ‘fake’ passports is a big business…

Fake passports are purchased in order to claim asylum at the end of their journey… According to Fabrice Leggeri; there is a big traffic in fake passports and it’s extremely lucrative for smugglers… hence in many cases, it’s not a humanitarian issue or non-combatants fleeing war; but it’s economic or even more sinister… While there is no doubt that there is a humanitarian crisis underway in the world, there is equally no doubt that no more than half of the refugees are mostly young men seeking jobs, opportunities for a better life… There is equally no doubt that within this flow of young military aged men there is the likelihood of ISIS fighters included in the flow…

In the article ISIS Creating Refugees for Trafficking Business by Ryan Mauro writes: ISIS is cashing on people smuggling– they in fact create refugees in order to smuggle them to other places, for a fee… ISIS has turned people smuggling into a big business, reportedly making millions from trafficking refugees to Europe… ‘Time Magazine gained access to an intelligence report on the ISIS’ finances and wrote; ISIS needs between US$523.5 million and US$815.3 million a year to run its operations in order; pay its fighters, run social services, buy weapons and ammunition… Reduced income from oil production has pushed the ISIS into diversifying its revenue streams– ISIS oil production has been cut in half since last year when the UN estimated it to be making-up to US$3 million/day…

ISIS’ other income are: US$22 million to US$55 million taxing antiquities smuggling… US$168 million to US$228 million taxing residents and businesses in ISIS’ territories… According to a ‘Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime’ Report; people trafficking is big business and ISIS is maneuvering to exploit the trade by deliberately creating refugees and attacking refugee camps in order to create more refugees to smuggle… this refugee trade is worth between US$255 to US$323 million per year in Libya alone… The value of refugee trade dwarfs any existing trafficking, smuggling business, and the tactic is being used to finance terrorist groups worldwide…

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In the article Refugees Fake Their Way into Europe by Daniel Greenfield writes: Passports for sale! Passports for sale! The official story is that all those poor refugees are fleeing Assad’s oppression, but Assad seems eager to help them go… Relaxed rules handed down from Damascus allows passports to be issued abroad with virtually ‘no checks’ for just a fee of £250… Experts say that this system, which allows Syrian citizens to get passports without applications… is being used and abused by terrorists, smugglers…

The staggering numbers of passports being issued without proper checks and the growing illegal trade in identity documents is being fuelled by German and Swedish pledges to house any refugees from Syria. A communication sent to all Syrian embassies in April raised the specter of mass fraud by non-Syrians by appearing to show that those without any form of existing ID could buy the vital paperwork allowing them to leave the country and head to the EU… In the memo, embassy staff were told passports should be issued to Syrians ‘even if they left in an illegal manner or they hold non-official passports or travel documents’… Why is Assad doing this?

  • Obviously money: Refugee smuggling is big business and his regime is happy to take a cut… In Jordan alone 10,000 passports were issued in August and that adds up to about US$4 million… Hence, just by multiplying the numbers and you end-up with half a billion dollars– not bad for a few pieces of paper…
  • Russia: Assad is an Iranian/Russian client and Moscow is obsessed with disrupting Europe, particularly the big three players, UK, France and Germany. A flood of Muslim refugees will eventually get that job done. Muslim refugees will also disrupt Russia but it’s not like anyone is thinking rationally there. Instead the various Western nations keep using Muslims as weapons against each other. But that was also true back in the ‘Gates of Vienna’ days…
  • Refugees as a Terror Weapon: Historically, there is a long-record of countries using refugees dumping to destabilize and damage other countries, e.g.; Gaddafi used these same tactics…

The refugee problem is a phenomenon of the modern age: It’s a product not only of the most destructive wars of history, i.e.; World War I and World War II, modern dictatorial regimes, national awakening of peoples… but also of the closed frontiers characteristic of the twentieth century… Yes, there were refugees in earlier centuries, but nowhere near the numbers of refugees in this modern era… Modern refugee movements have given rise to a new class of people– who are homeless, stateless, and who live in conditions of constant insecurity…

Unfortunately, some of these refugees movements have caused grave political, economic issues for the countries that provide sanctuary… in some cases its proven to be extremely burdensome for– administrative facilities, financial resources, and communities at large… Furthermore, while in earlier stages refugees were seen as temporary, requiring limited accommodations, but now it’s acknowledged as being a continuing, recurring, worldwide movement…

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According to Anton Troianovski; managing refugee camps is a growth business… one refugee camp operator had revenues of over US$100 million, last year… which is triple of where they were in 2007… many of these refugees were middle class citizens in their countries of origin, and now they are paying for hotels, food, and other necessities… Some businesses see refugees as a large group of new consumers…

According to Natasha Tsangarides; pirates are attacking boatloads of refugees searching for money and valuable items, it’s becoming a big business… Stealing from refugees is a big business… Many refugees leave their home countries with money they pay to smugglers to illegally enter other countries (e.g., it can cost around €7,000, depending on the route and smuggler)… Refugees come from all types of backgrounds– professionals, middle-class, skilled workers, criminals, terrorists… and many have sold everything they own including their homes and all their possessions… they carry tens of thousands of euros with them… They are thousands of people leaving their homelands in search of a better life…

According to Edwin S. Rubenstein; the refugee influx is fast and unexpected and small relatively homogeneous communities are forced to absorb individuals who often do not speak their language, are uneducated, lack marketable skills…The federal programs designed to help places cope with this situation are short-term in nature. They do not extend beyond an initial reception period. At that point, local communities must use whatever scarce resources they have to support refugees…

Refugees are a drain on state and local resources, particularly schools, social service agencies, emergency rooms… To be sure refugees are good for business– they buy stuff, they rent housing, they travel… But for ordinary indigenous workers, refugees represent competing workers that lowers wages, increases taxes…

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According to Megan Bradley; there are not enough resettlement places to go around, and there are many unintended negative consequences that often accompany resettlement programs… A recent review of refugees resettlement, concluded; that while it’s a ‘brilliant idea’– but it has not lived up to expectation… and often resettlement is based on hopes and good intentions, rather than reality and evidence of success for both refugees and hosts. Resettling refugees can be one of those feel-good activities that ends-up harming more people than it helps…

Shaping Advertising for a Different World– Burst Bubbles, Push Edges: Step Outside of Old Frame of References, See Things Different…

It’s a different world and advertising is no longer about shouting at consumers with bold text and direct copy, but about seamlessly engaging, entertaining, informing… Twenty years ago, the first banner ad went live on ‘hotwired.com’ and for over four months 44% of those who saw it clicked on it. Today, research shows that banner ads are clicked by less than 0.1% of viewers, while video ads are 8-25 times more likely to generate a response…

In the 1990s the banner ad worked for the following reasons: 1) it drove curiosity online… 2) very act of a ‘click-through’ was a new experience… 3) it was well-intentioned as a consumer experience… According to Róisín Kirby; today the novelty has worn off– you are either annoyed by a banner ad that takes-up your screen, or you totally disregard the ads that sit on the page– you are ‘banner blind’… According to Google’s DoubleClick research; click-through rates on banner ads are at less than 0.1%…

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Research group GoldSpot Media; found up to 40% of clicks on mobile banner ads are accidental! According to Robert Lyle; changing technologies and consumer behavior are reshaping the world of advertising… It’s the digital age of constantly changing media contact ‘touch-points’. Some call it media fragmentation but others just see it as extended ‘choice’… These contact touch-points are available and expanding, include; outdoor advertising in all its standard formats, TV now joined by smart TV, newspapers, magazines, radio and podcasts, cinema, direct mail, online, social media, apps, banners, search, gaming, branded content, mobile, sponsorship, experiential, events… and the list goes on, it’s exhausting…

Technological change in media is accelerating rapidly and especially– mobile: Mobile broadband is growing very fast with smart phone ownership, and it brings with it the possibility of engaging consumers– at anyplace, at anytime… but also it brings with it a paradox; it has allowed consumers to become increasingly spontaneous– they can make plans, or change them with the press of a button… You should remember that consumers engage with ideas, not media… and not only is it important for placements in the right place, at the right time… but it’s important to fill the placements with persuasive content.

Advertising must continue to change in its delivery both by media, and through the ‘creatives’ it employs. It must adapt to technology change and consumer behavior change. Great advertising must be able to demonstrate both economic and social value in real tangible monetary terms…

In the article Changing Face of Advertising by Mohammad Al Farei writes: Traditional forms of advertising and marketing have transitioned from a top-down messaging model, whereby messages move in a largely one-way direction, to a networked world where everyday people take on an active role in brand discussions and are becoming increasingly involved in the formulation of new products, services… and who have a larger voice in the future direction and strategy of an organization… In this connected reality of– tablets, smartphones, and immersive media… consumers are bombarded with brand messages at an unprecedented rate…

‘Brands’ in an ever-changing world are seen differently, with the meaning of ‘brand’ moving far beyond the mere functionality and perceived value of a product, service… Brands have become friends or sometimes enemies, they are trusted companions, or a badge of honor, or sometimes even a source of inspiration… People identify more personally with brands than ever before and require from them a social commitment that goes beyond the point of sale. Social media has accelerated this trend as it pervades many aspects of everyday life and creates a new bond between brands and people.

In this environment, brands are under intense scrutiny and are required to demonstrate ethical behavior and ideals like– honesty, integrity, social responsibility… ideals which are very important to the future success of any organization… Companies now face a clear choice; either, isolate yourself or reveal your human side, and welcome transparency and forge new relationships with customers…. Four important shifts in this different social engagement model are: From ‘trying to sell’ to ‘making meaningful connections’: From ‘large campaigns’ to ‘small acts’: From ‘hard to reach’, to ‘available everywhere’: From ‘image controlling’, to ‘being honest’…

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In the article Future of Advertising is Polite Interruptions by Marc Guldimann writes: ‘Interruptive’ advertising has been the foundation of the media business since it’s inception. Historically; TV, print, radio… have all been monetized by ‘interruptive’ ads and today using, e.g.; in-feed, in-read and other in-line formats are capturing the lion’s share of new ad dollars… The trick with digital advertising is to drive an interruptive experience in a way that respects the reader, hence this is called– ‘polite’ interruptive advertising… Politely interruptive ads have three characteristics: they are interruptive, persist for an amount of time controlled by the reader, using behavioral native engagement…

Most ‘politely’ interruptive ads are behavioral ‘native’; this means that the ad is shown using the same behavior as content consumption, e.g.; you page through magazine articles and ads, you tap and hold to watch a snapchat message and a snapchat ad… Think of media as a conversation between publisher and audience: If the advertiser is going to capture attention, even with the blessing of the publisher, it’s important that they do so in a ‘polite’ way. The ideal scenario is probably something like walking up to someone as the publisher steps aside, apologizing for the interruption, offering them your message and moving away, if they would rather not hear more about it. This is a ‘polite’ interruption and is what advertising should strive for…

Every medium has its version of ‘native’ advertising– from the advertorial in Reader’s Digest, to the soap opera, to the infomercial on TV… The idea with ‘native’ advertising is that an audience will start consuming an ad because they cannot discern it from regular content, and the hope is that they won’t feel offended or tricked… In the long run it becomes harder to fool people who when combined with the publisher’s brand equity being lost, is why ‘native’ advertising tapers in every medium… The best opportunity to capture attention in an authentic and positive fashion is to create great content… but it’s very difficult to plan and produce at scale and replicate, whereas; adjacent advertising, such as, 300x250s or billboards have massive reach and scale, but not very efficient at capturing attention…

More important, for the most part, adjacent ads are not very ‘polite’. They rely on distracting readers from content or surroundings to capture attention. It’s been shown that more obnoxious adjacent advertising causes people to spend less time with content… Hence interruptions involves placing an advertiser message in the stream of content that an audience is consuming, such as; social feed ads, 30 second spots on TV, full-page print advertising… in most cases these interruptive ads are ineffective and counter-productive… Although interruption is the best way to capture attention at scale, but it must be adapted for the digital era and it must be ‘polite’ interruption…

In the article Future of Advertising: What 2025 Will Look Like? by Amy Kean writes: The consumer is hard to impress and advertising in this different world must rely completely on customers buying into the largely tech-driven, utopian vision of making every single advertising message relevant to them… Without doubt, you are going to witness a shift from obsessing over what advertising looks like, to what advertising feels like. And in 2025 we’re going to have the technology to make people genuinely happy…. Customer service operatives will be; a) holograms and b) created based on what each individual finds attractive… Content and advertising will become so interlinked you won’t know which is which. People will step into brand experiences and ads, and advertisers will know how much you like their ads because ‘pulses’ via your smart-watch will tell them…

And because of this close relationship with brands, every ad you see will be based on who you are… Screens and posters will display different images based on the information on your mobile, e.g.; your purchase history, brands you like, who your friends are, as well as; your gender, age… Already 75% of consumers expect and want retail experiences to be personalized, and over the next 10 years most marketing will become more like the ‘Amazon Recommends’ feature on steroids… Expect the unexpected; and the key for advertisers is to– thoroughly know and understand the consumer, e.g.; who they are, where they live, how they buy, what they buy, when they buy… their likes and dislikes…

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Advertisers need to understand the nuances of different cultural… But also they need to recognize that there is a fusion between the predominate or mainstream lifestyle/culture in a society, and a particular target audience’s group culture within that society… it’s a strategy of looking for similarities rather than differences between a target audience and the mainstream culture within a society– it’s about finding common ground but also a personalized, relevant, engaging message…

The advertising industry is entering a new era: Never before have brands, advertisers and marketers had the opportunity to both reach-out and better understand their target consumers– through data based-services, location, mobile advertising… brands must find ways to personalize messaging to individual customers, offering them access to– real-time offers, local services, personal recommendations…

Advances in technology allow for more innovative approaches to out-of-home advertising, with location technology used to offer more– immersive, interactive experiences for consumers… Sometimes consumers don’t want what’s right– they want what feels right, and sometimes advertisers must be brave enough to burst consumers’ bubbles… sometimes the best routes to success is not just about the shiniest… sometimes you must step outside your own frame of reference and see things from the perspective of others…

McKinsey summed it up well when they said; at the end of the day, customers no longer separate advertising from the product, service… it is the product, service… They don’t separate advertising from the in-store or online experience… it is the experience… In era of ‘engagement’, advertising is the company…

Revisiting Taylorism– Neo-Taylorism Vs. Anti-Taylorism: Permission-to-Think Vs. Prohibition-to-Think…

Taylorism is a management system developed in the late 19th century to increase efficiency by evaluating every step in a work flow process, and breaking down production into specialized repetitive work tasks… and this process is also known as ‘scientific management’…

Taylorism was conceptualized by Frederick Winslow Taylor in his book ‘Principles of Scientific Management’… Taylorism promotes the idea that there is only ‘one right way’ to produce ‘things’– essentially, Taylorism breaks down work tasks into small steps and focuses on how each person can do a specific series of steps most efficiently…

According to Taylorism; this ‘division of work’ process produces the optimum overall efficiency in the flow of work… According to Eizabeth Eyre; Taylorism’s extreme specialized ‘division of work’ is contrary to modern ideals about how to– motivate and develop an efficient workplace. Modern methods prefer to examine work systems more holistically in order to evaluate efficiency, maximize productivity…

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Taylorism separates– ‘manual’ from ‘mental’ work– whereas modern productivity methods seeks to incorporate worker’s– ideas, experience, knowledge… Taylorism, in its pure form, focuses entirely on ‘mechanics of work’ and fails to ‘value workers’– as the key element for efficiency, productivity in the work flow process… Taylorism is often criticized for giving management an extreme form of domination over workers, which leads to repression in some workplace– it track every workers’ ‘motion in work’– watch, study, control…

The basic tenets of Taylorism is centered on belief that ‘maximum efficiency’ is the primary goal… To achieve this end, workers are viewed as replaceable ‘parts’ in work flow, and each ‘part’ performs a specific task… When the ‘part’ slows down or breaks down, it must be immediately replaced with another ‘part’ in order to maintain maximum efficiency…

Taylor used ‘time and motion studies’, involving stop-watches, slow-motion photography, in order to determine the ‘most efficient’ means of doing things. In fairness to Taylor, he was working at a time where labor practices were not well studied and he believed that scientific management would benefit work by increasing the wages of the ‘best’ workers…

As time went on, however, Taylor and his followers became more fanatically obsessed with efficiency and division of labor until their recommendations resembled workings of military institutions. This eventually led to factory strikes and Congressional investigation into Taylorist practices… To achieve efficiency, Taylor argued that all decisions should be made by management with no input from the ‘parts’, either individually or collectively…

Evolving from the Taylorism debate are two movements; anti-Taylorism and neo-Taylorism… Anti-Taylorism is based on a rejection of the basic Taylor principles, while neo-Taylorism is more of modification of Taylor’s principles… Anti-Taylorism promotes more worker responsibility and seeks to push decision-making through all levels of an organization… The idea is that workers are given as much autonomy as possible so that they an use the most appropriate work method for a given situation...

Here workers are given more responsibility, e.g.; encourage to participate in decision-making, less rigid standardization, encourage to contribute in the development of the work flow process… Whereas, neo-Taylorism is a modern version of the classic Taylorism and it’s based on maximizing efficiency by– standardize, routinize… plus– tools, techniques for doing a  the designated work… and most important, there is more recognition of the human element in the work flow process… also, it involves the use of technology to monitor– workers, process, efficiency, productivity… in order to ensure desired level of outcome…

The origin of anti-Taylorism is predominantly European, while neo-Taylorism has spread from Japan… According to Gary Hamel; if you read Frederick Taylor works; there are three fundamental things he taught: 1.) Find the best practice wherever it exists… 2.) Decompose the task into its constituent elements… 3.) Get rid of things that don’t add value… According to Frank Michael Kraft; Taylorism is neither good nor bad; it’s good when used for the right purpose, but it’s bad when used for the wrong purpose… and there are many examples of both…

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In the article Scientific Management (Taylorism) in 21st Century by Sean Priestley writes: It’s not difficult to find examples of scientific management in the 21st Century, e.g.; cars, computers, electronics, food products… as well as, many of the work environments people go to everyday, such as; hospitals, restaurants, fast food… and many service organizations use some form of Taylorism… In fact, variations of this method is so commonplace and logical that it’s almost impossible to accept that these principles were developed over 100 years ago…

However, scientific management is an incomplete system and its principles are purely authoritarian, e.g.; it assumes that decision-making is best done by management only, because workers lack the skills, competence to make decisions… This style of management for many modern organizations is a recipe for disaster– when workers feel as though they are being treated without– respect, trust… most are demotivated and either leave the organization or refuse to give their maximum effort… In addition, the rapid rise of technology and changes in worker behavior and expectations has greatly impacted the modern workplace… hence, many of these earlier management techniques just don’t work in the 21st Century…

However, scientific management is still a very relevant concept in contemporary work organizations… Scientific management has proved that it has a place in a post-industrial economy and within many organizations, albeit in a hybrid form with a more human worker relationship model… Its strength in creating a divide between management functions and worker functions are employed widely at all levels and in all industries…

In addition its strength in making organizations efficient through the replacement of the ‘rules of thumb’ with scientific facts has both insured its widespread application, and ironically bred the conditions that make it less applicable to modern organizations… Hence perhaps as a complete theory Taylorism may seem invisible in some workplaces, but many of its elements are deeply ingrained in modern organizations…

In the article Repaint, Modify, Smash Taylorism by Hans Pruijt writes: The first principle of scientific management (Taylorism) is the decoupling of the work flow process from the skills of the workers; managers must assume the responsibility for overall work flow process, e.g.; classifying, tabulating, reducing… and similarly it’s managers responsibility to completely evaluate workers knowledge and abilities, and develop the appropriate– rules, laws, formulae…

The second principle is that all the work that involves ‘thinking’ should be removed from workers and centered in management… The third principle is that management should prescribe, exactly– how, and how fast each work tasks must be performed by each worker… It interesting to note that all of these principles  are just a refinement on the detailed ‘division of labor’ management strategy…

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It’s important to draw a sharp distinction between detailed ‘division of labor’ and ‘specialization’… Through specialization people can develop themselves further in their crafts or professions; whereas detailed ‘division of labor’ reduces people to performers of routine tasks… Detailed ‘division of labor’ (or Taylorism) entails analyzing a work flow process and breaking it down into a multitude of work tasks performed by different workers…

It’s interesting to note that this methodology was a craft-based flow process that was once controlled by the workers themselves, and is now segmented into pieces into a work-flow process that is under the control of managers… The financial advantage of this latter strategy is that it becomes possible to hire less skilled, lower-paid workers…

Taylorism tends to carry the detailed ‘division of labor’ to new extremes, where work cycles are measured in very fine clock times, e.g.; seconds… it also implies a low-trust relationships between workers… This control question urges managers to find ways of managing workers on specific work flow issues, e.g.; what the worker must do, how it must be done, what time frame it must be done, what pace it must be done… also managers must evaluate the workers’ detailed work performance and apply corrective actions as necessary…

At the time of his death in 1917 Taylor’s work was the subject of much debate, both ‘pro’ and ‘con’… And it must not be forgotten that Taylor was a man of his times and sought solutions to problems of his times. He was one of the first true pioneers of management methods through appying scientific examination– for the way work is done… His work led directly to the achievements of other management gurus like; Max Weber, Henry Ford…

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The main criticism of Taylor is that his approach is too ‘mechanistic’– it treats workers like machines rather than human beings, and it treat workers as ‘stupid’ things to be trained like animals, rather than people to be motivated… According to Harold Jarche; between Frederick Taylor and Elton Mayo were the organizational gurus of the 19th century and these men carved-up the world of management theory to represent their points of view– Taylor being the ‘rationalist’ and Mayo being the ‘humanist’… 

And the Taylorite, or ‘rationalist’ are saying: Be efficient!!! And the Mayo-ite, or ‘humanist’, are replying: Hey, these workers are people that you are talking about!!! And still today, in the modern digital age; the debate rages on– between ‘rationalists’ and ‘humanists’…

 

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Re-Imagine BRICS: Its Scramble For Africa: Can Humpty-Dumpty Be Put Back Together, Again?

Humpty-Dumpty is a character in an English nursery rhyme/riddle and although not explicitly described, humpty-dumpty is typically portrayed as an anthropomorphic egg. The character is also a common literary allusion, particularly referring to a person or thing that is in an insecure position and once broken, it would be difficult to put it back together again…

Here are the lyrics: Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall; Four-score Men and Four-score more; Could not put Humpty-Dumpty back together again… Similar to humpty-dumpty the BRICS countries (i.e.; Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) had a great fall, and the question is– can they ever be put back together again, or is that even desirable?

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The BRICS countries were supposed to redraw the map of global business and for a short while they did, but in recent years they have begun to lose some of their luster… Each with its own distinct economic risks, political structures, demographic groupings: Clearly, Russia is in the midst of a genuine economic and geopolitical crisis; Brazil has suffered from endemic declining growth patterns for a number of years; China is coming to terms with an increasingly stagnated economic forecast for the first time in decades; India has suffered mightily with a slow economy…

Furthermore, the rise of other economic blocs, such as; the MINT nations (i.e.; Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey) and CIVET nations (i.e.; Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey); as well as, the resurgence of developed economies… have called into question the BRICS’ potential as a world economic leader…

The BRICS countries collectively represent almost 3 billion people (43% of world pop­ulation), with a combined nominal GDP of $14.8 trillion (about a quarter of global income), 17% of world trade, and an estimated $4 trillion in combined foreign reserves. They occupy over 20% of world territory and, over past 10 years, their aggregate income has more than quadrupled.

By 2018, overall economic output in the BRICS may overtake that of the U.S. By 2020, 33% of world GDP may be accounted for by the BRICS. By 2027, China’s GDP is expected to equal the U.S., and by 2050 the BRICS economies may absorb about 50% of global markets. Consumption in the BRICS countries has grown steadily and, in the next decade, 70% of global car sales growth is projected to occur in these emerging economies…

The BRICS group had high expectations when South Africa was officially invited to join the group in 2010– despite criticism that it didn’t belong there. According to O’Neill; South Africa is a smaller economy and its GDP growth doesn’t quite match-up to the other players in the group… Hence, South Africa is seen by many as a mere symbolic representative, and more important as a gateway into the now much sought after African market…

In recent years, BRICS have expanded their involvement in Africa, and their share in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows and trade volume has surged rapidly, e.g.; trade volume between China and Africa increased from US$10 billion in 2000, to US$190 billion in 2012. The partnership between India and Africa has significantly promoted the development of small-and-medium-scale enterprises… Meanwhile, Brazil and Russia have been heavily involved in the mining and energy industry through public-private partnerships…

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The BRICS are now Africa’s largest trading partners with trade expected to reach more than US$500 billion by 2015, with 60% from China. The BRICS are becoming significant investors in Africa, especially in the manufacturing and service sectors… and through foreign direct investment (FDI), BRICS countries have strengthened their presence in Africa compared with traditional partners, such as; U.S. and Europe…

Currently, BRICS trade more with Africa than they do among themselves… The reasons behind BRICS countries’ involvement in Africa include; their appetite for its natural resources, its large and untapped agricultural sector, and opportunity for investments, transfer of technology and knowledge, and targeting growing middle-class which is estimated to include more than 300 million people…

Moreover, BRICS are major players in the exploitation of natural resources in many African countries including; Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Sudan… Brazil and China are very active in exploring and exploiting– gas, oil, other minerals resources… However, natural resources are not the only BRICS investment in Africa… According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); 75% of the value of BRICS’ FDI projects in Africa between 2003 and 2012 are in manufacturing and services. While the BRICS are consolidating their positions in Africa through investments, they are also creating important new source of funding for the African governments…

In the article New Scramble for Africa by Pádraig Carmody writes: According to the International Monetary Fund; Africa hosts six of the top-ten-fastest growing economies in the world in the last decade… it also has the fastest growing mobile phone penetration rate in the world… and much of the high-levels of economic growth across Africa has been largely driven by the BRICS countries… In recent years, China has emerged as the largest commercial investor in Africa…

According to Evariste Ngarlem Tolde; China has great indirect influence for many of Africa’s governments policies– China is filling economic and political void left open and neglected by Western countries… China has used education effectively to deepen its foothold in Africa, e.g.; China has a policy of granting educational scholarships to thousands of African students… Along with political and diplomatic activity, China has also begun investing in Africa militarily… China is the partner of choice for much of the African countries weapons and military equipment…

According to David Shinn; 25% of conventional weapons in Africa (not including small arms) are of Chinese origin, which is up from about only 5% in the 1960s… China is also involved in several peacekeeping operations in Africa China is the primary contributor of peacekeeping troops, with over 2,500 Chinese peacekeeping personnel deployed in countries, such as; Mali, South Sudan… Through these policies, China has succeeded in imposing political and economic dominance that ultimately serve its interests… According to the World Bank; business ties between China and Africa have seen extraordinary growth, with bilateral trade rising by 30% annually in recent years reaching US$222 billion, a new high in 2014…

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Since 2012, China has also granted numerous loans to Africa– worth a total of US$30 billion– to support development projects in numerous fields, including; infrastructure, agriculture and manufacturing… along with special loans for the development of local small-and-medium enterprises… Between 2001-2009, it established the US$605-billion ‘China-Africa Development Fund’, while also writing off $3 billion in debt for 35 heavily indebted African countries, according to the World Bank… China is currently involved in more than 1,000 projects in Africa, while more than 2,500 medium-size Chinese firms are operating– in a variety of sectors– in more than 50 African states… China has opened Africa to the global economy and has no plans to stop…

However, the ‘New Scramble for Africa’ has been a mixed blessings; it brings Africa higher levels of economic growth, tax revenues to fund social and infrastructural projects… But it has also strengthen international support for incumbent regimes, which often are un-democratic… and it has also accelerated the pace of environmental degradation, e.g.; the deforestation process in Mozambique is known locally as the ‘Chinese take away’… and, copper mines in Zambia’s when gone will be problematic… Even the much vaunted mobile phone revolution in Africa, many of which involve BRICS companies… and where profits often flow offshore…

According to some experts; while there are similarities between the ‘Original European Nineteenth Century Scramble for Africa‘ and the ‘BRICS Twenty-First Century Scramble for Africa‘, there are also differences. Both are/were driven by desire to access natural resources, markets… However, African countries in the twenty-first century are now more juridically independent, which means that the BRICS and other countries must negotiate with African governments… which is very much different from nineteenth century version when the Europeans were dealing with tribes and mostly had an unfair advantage, and free-for-all access to the treasures of Africa…

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 So is Africa the salvation for BRICS, or is the BRICS story past its prime? Some observers believed that the whole notion of a grouping of BRICS– Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa– never made any sound sense because beyond having a lot of people, they didn’t share anything else in common, e.g.; two are democracies, two are not, obviously– China and Russia. Similarly, two are major commodity producers, Brazil and Russia, the other two, not… also, their levels of wealth are quite different…

Hence questions remain; can BRICS be re-structured as a re-imagined humpty-dumpty with all its pieces put back together again? Apparently, there is no clear consensus among experts, but most agree– there will probably be a few missing pieces…

Cheating, Cheaters– It’s Global Business, Societal Phenomenon: It Works, It Rewards, It’s Boundless…

Cheating is an epidemic and it’s everywhere; business, schools, research institutions, venerable newspapers, best-selling authors, well-known politician, clergy… cheaters are omnipresent… We are a society of cheaters and it’s becoming part of business and social culture…. Does it really matter?

According to Richard Perez-Pena; cheating has become easier and much more tolerable… Internet access has made cheating easier and it has changed people’s attitudes; it’s a world of instant downloading, searching, cutting and pasting, it has loosened ideas of ownership, authorship… people are surprisingly unclear about what constitutes plagiarism or cheating…

According to Dan Ariely; there is a fudge factor that is created by people’s ability to rationalize just about anything, hence when people think about morality, they cheat less. But, when they rationalize the issue, they cheat more. An analogy is that a CEO of a company will never take $100 from petty cash, but he or she might backdate stock options…

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There is a conventional wisdom that says; winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing…  With that in mind, plenty of business and societal leaders believe ethics and honesty are all well and good, as long as they don’t get in the way of winning… With this frame of thinking, unethical behaviors, e.g.; cheating customers, outsourcing to slave labor, scam government, evade taxes, lying to investors… are all good business strategies, as long as, you don’t get caught…

However studies by Robert B. Cialdini; suggests that cheating by top leaders generates huge hidden costs, even if leaders think they’re getting away with it.. and even if they appear to ‘win’ through cheating; when in fact they are making their team less effective, driving away best workers, setting themselves-up to be cheated-on, in turn… According to Dr. McCabe; in business it’s the bottom line that matters and it’s not how you get there; this has long been the credo of business success.. cheating flourishes because the perceived ‘low’ risk of being caught leads many leaders to conclude that there is a ‘positive’ cost-benefit…

In the article Culture Suggests Cheaters Prosper by Kirk O. Hanson writes: It’s time to face up to dirty little secret; players who use steroids in professional baseball, college coaches who have others take exams for their star athletes, students who cheat on test, scientists who fake the results of research, CEOs who cook the books… all do it because of a simple reason: It’s worth the risk… Today there is so much to be gained by being just a little better than others, i.e.; hitting a few more home runs, getting to very top of a company, being the absolute best in any field. Because society is obsessed with ‘winners’, and cheating helps some people to win…

Cheating has always existed but it seems worse now, and it shows-up in most every corner of life, plus it’s tolerated more… Some blame the media; they say that media has created the image of the ‘icon’ model, i.e.; the ‘super leader’, the ‘rock-star’… and emergence of a ‘super-star’ society… hence, the ‘cheating society’ that has resulted from it… How can society build a culture of trust when almost everyone is cheating to be a winner? Every society depends on a mix of legal enforcement, voluntary compliance, basic honesty… to make all business and non-business organizations work better… But when society must constantly have– surveillance, drug tests, threats of severe penalties… to discourage or catch cheaters; the business and social culture is fundamentally flawed…

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In the book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely writes: Most of us are 98-percenters: 1% of people would never steal, another 1% would always try to steal, and the rest of us are honest, as long as we’re not easily tempted… Key-locks remove temptation for most people; and that’s good, because research found that everybody has the capacity to be dishonest and almost everybody is at some point or another…

  • We’ll happily cheat, until it hurts: Greater the reward, the greater the likelihood that people will cheat. But, the biggest driver of dishonesty is ability to rationalize actions so that you don’t lose the sense of yourself as a good person… Most people are able to cheat a little because they can maintain the sense of themselves as basically honest people. They won’t commit major fraud on tax returns, or insurance claims, or expense reports, or resumes, but they will cut corners or exaggerate here or there, because they don’t feel that bad about it…
  • It’s no wonder people steal from work: The willingness to cheat increases as you gain psychological distance from the action. So as you gain distance from money, it becomes easier to see yourself as doing something other than stealing. That’s why many of us have no problem taking pencils or a stapler home from work when you would never take the equivalent amount of money from petty cash. And that’s why there is some concern about becoming a cashless society. Virtual payments are a great convenience, but research suggests you should worry that the farther people get from using actual real money, the easier it becomes to steal…
  • Beware the altruistic crook: People are able to cheat more when they cheat for other people. In some experiments, people cheated the most when they didn’t benefit at all. This makes sense if your ability to be dishonest is increased by the ability to rationalize your behavior. If you’re cheating for the benefit of another entity, your ability to rationalize is enhanced. So yes, it’s easier for an accountant to see fudging on clients’ tax returns as something other than dishonesty. And it’s a concern within companies, since people’s altruistic tendencies allow them to cheat more when it benefits team members…
  • One dishonest thing leads to another: Small dishonesty matter because they can lead to larger ones. Once you behave badly at some point you stop thinking of yourself as a good person and at that level, you say: What the hell. This is something many people are familiar with in dieting; you are disciplined until you lapse, and if you can’t think of yourselves as good person, then you figure you might as well enjoy it… Cheaters start with one small step…

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In the article World Without Integrity by Victor Dorff writes: The modern world is full of role models pointing in the wrong direction… The mandate to succeed has overcome the concept of ‘fair-play’ in so many worldly endeavors… You have watched (or participated) as colleagues have succeeded by cheating. You have seen the lines blurred between proper, improper behavior, as success takes on more objective measure, e.g. having more money, power, prestige, fancy ‘things’… and perhaps without intending to do so, you have raised a material-result-oriented generation, and now find yourself wondering: What went wrong?

Research suggests that the cheating culture is not just a capitalistic phenomenon but that basic attitudinal differences are being driven by enormous social pressure to be winners. Hence, future business and social leaders, worldwide, are being shaped by reports of scandal, cheating, unethical and immortal, greed, lavish life-style, expose of rich and famous… but at the same time future leaders are being taught the fundamentals of operating in business, while living in age of the ‘cheating culture’ whereby everybody cheats because everyone else does it…

Hence, future leaders are learning to inextricably combine a cheating culture with best business practices… All this adds up to a frightening picture in terms of the future workforce and next generation of– parents, politicians, police, executives, journalists, clergy, military leaders…

In the article The Art of Cheating by Jessica Dorfman Jones writes: Whether we want to admit it or not, cheating is an inescapable part of the human condition. Some of you are more comfortable than others acknowledging this fact, but it’s still fact, plain and simple.  Despite best efforts, most everyone is a cheater in their own way… That’s right, folks, you are cheating; and don’t even get started trying to justify– the time you claimed the dog as a dependent on your tax return; that was cheating too…

Getting away with it, whatever ‘it’ may be, is cheating… while the justification might be that a life without artful cheating isn’t a life worth living… According to Shelley DuBois; in certain situations– when the rewards are high and the risks are low– your brain tell you that it’s okay to cheat. You figure out a way to rationalize behavior that may not otherwise align with your values– it’s a powerful psychological forces behind rule-breaking for personal gain, whether it’s– business, financial, social…

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Everyone’s doing it and because everyone sees everyone else doing it, hence they keep on doing it… According to David Callahan; it’s a brutally competitive economic and social climate, which rewards results and looks the other way when it comes to the ethical and even criminal transgressions of those who come out on the winning end. Certainly there is no shortage of examples of cheating from the business community, and it extends out to the educational system, amateur and professional sports, news media, and even the lives of common citizens who, while they would never think of themselves as being cheaters, are nevertheless inclined to commit the occasional act of beneficial fudging…

Cheaters– cheat because, contrary to oft-repeated axioms, cheaters win and the chances of being caught are low and the benefits of a successful cheat far outstrip any potential risk. Further, upright folks who would not cheat are drawn into the practice out of fear that they simply won’t be able to make it, unless they are cheater too– this all sound like an epidemic, it looks like an epidemic, and walks like an epidemic… hence, it must be an epidemic.

 

 

Social Exchange Theory Shaping Organization Culture: Relationships Value– Comparison of Benefit-versus-Cost…

Social exchange theory proposes that social behavior is result of an exchange process that ‘maximize benefits’ and ‘minimize costs’… According to the theory; people weigh potential benefits (rewards) and risks (costs) of social relationships: When ‘risks (costs)’ outweigh ‘benefits (rewards)’, then people tend to terminate or abandon the relationship. Here ‘costs’ involve things that are seen as negative to a person (or organization), such as; having to spend money, time, effort… in a relationship…

‘Benefits’ are the thing that a person (or organization) receives from the relationship, such as; money, prestige, support, friendship… Essentially, social exchange theory takes– ‘benefits’ minus ‘costs’ in order to determine how much a relationship is worth. Positive relationships are those in which the benefits outweigh the costs, while negative relationships occur when the costs are greater than the benefits…

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All relationships have give-and-take, but balance of the exchange is not always equal… Hence, in deciding what is fair or worthwhile a person (or organization) develops a comparison level against which they compare the give-and-take ratio (benefit-and-cost ratio). This comparison level will vary between relationships with some being more giving and others being more receiving from the relationship. They also vary greatly in terms of what is given (type or level of costs) versus, what is received (type or level of benefits)…

In workplace, exchanges may be very different both in balance and content, e.g.; one person may give valuable work support… whereas, another reciprocates by just being a social friend… Social exchange theory explains how a person might feel about a relationship with another person (or organization) in workplace or social setting, and that typically depends on their perception of the following:

  • Balance between what you put into the relationship and what you get out of it…
  • Kind of relationship you think you deserve…
  • Chances of having a better relationship with someone, or some things else…

Social Exchange theory has served as a theoretical foundation to explain different situations in business practices, e.g.; it contributes to the study of organization-and-stakeholder relationships… According to Caryl Rusbult; investments serve to stabilize relationships and from this perspective a customer becomes an investment, but if a customer decides to choose another competitor, then the investment is lost…

Often people (or organization) try to salvage a relationship by investing additional resources into the relationship, which puts the ‘benefit-versus-cost’ of the relationship out of balance, and over time that leads to failure.  According to Lambe, C. Jay, C. Michael Wittmann, Robert E. Spekman; organizations evaluate economic and social outcomes from each transaction and compare them to what they feel they deserve… The initial transaction between companies is crucial to determine if the relationship will expand, remain the same, or dissolve…

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In the article Culture Shaping by Tim Felmer writes: Corporate cultures are the byproduct of its social exchange framework, e.g.; behaviors, attitudes, values… Culture directly impacts the trust, engagement, confidence… at ‘grassroots’ level (e.g., workers) for their leadership; and it can be the most powerful asset for the organization, or it can be its greatest weakness…

Leaders often make the mistake of believing that an organizations results can only be elevated merely by implementing strategic planning, or enhancing revenues, or re-organizing its internal organizational structure… While all of these are very important for success… experience validates that focusing on only these areas and ignoring the social exchange and culture shaping of the organization is akin to delaying an organization’s ultimate failure…

Cultures are the fuel that propel companies, e.g.; praise workers rather than treating them as a necessary business resource… Companies that have emphasized culture shaping and positive social exchange, generally, display the following characteristics:

  • Safety:  Workers feel respected, valued, and are treated with dignity…
  • Consensus: Worker input is sought actively and considered as part of the decision-making process…
  • Transparency: Information, both bad and good, is shared without spin, or manipulation of facts… Workers trust their leaders because their leaders trust them with information…
  • Focus: Workers understand clearly the major priorities of the organizations…
  • Accountability: When workers are engaged appropriately in the decision processes, they feel responsible for the results of the company.  Positive peer pressure enables workers to fulfill their commitments to high standards…
  • Innovation: Workers are not afraid to take risks and are encouraged to fail forward…

In the article Social Exchange in the Workplace by Casey Reader writes: Social exchange theory is a model of human behavior that has been developed to explain the processes by which people make relationships and maintain them. According to social exchange theory; people (or organizations) evaluate their relationships by analyzing the benefits they feel they might receive through them and comparing it to alternatives… Social exchange theory is often applied to the workplace to explain employee interactions, for example:

  • Rationality: Social exchange theory posits that workers make choices about their relationships based on rational decision-making. They evaluate their decisions by ordering their priorities. The priorities that different employees embrace makes a great difference in the kind of workplace relationships they have. If you have a group of employees who are prioritizing factors, such as; group achievement, teamwork… it’s much more likely that the organization will be successful and achieve positive results…
  • Rewards: One way of reinforcing positive relationships in the workplace is by providing incentives that reward employees for skills, like; teamwork, creativity… According to the understanding of social exchange theory, workers are more likely to seek out relationships if they feel there are rewards for doing so. The investment that a person (or organization) puts into relationships is directly proportional to its payoff…
  • Friendliness: Social exchange theory also posits the importance of maintaining a friendly atmosphere in a workplace. If workers feel that an environment is hostile to them in any way, it gives them much less of an incentive to be engaging and seek out relationships. The motivation that workers have for seeking out relationships is directly proportional to the payoff…
  • Socialization: People (or organizations) orient themselves in the world through the relationships… The extent to which workers are satisfied in a workplace and wish to continue working in an organization is predicated to a large extent on the kinds of relationships they form. Fostering positive relationships is crucial to employee retention and organizational success…

In the article Social Exchange Theory by Gillian Fournier writes: Social exchange theory can be viewed as the– mathematical and logical side of relationships, e.g.: You add and subtract points for the following: How much effort are you putting into the relationship, versus: How much effort the other party is contributing. Or, What you feel you deserve in the relationship, versus: How likely is it that you could find a better relationship…

Often if a worker feels that their organization takes advantage of them or they are not appreciated… then, the worker might go out and find another job; that is, if they think they deserve it… or, if they think they could find a better alternative for same amount of effort…

Core assumptions embedded in the social exchange framework are about the nature of people (or organizations) and about nature of relationships, e.g.; people seek rewards and value self-worth… When interacting with others, people seek to maximize benefits for themselves while minimizing costs… However, since it’s not possible to know the actual rewards and costs involved in interacting with another person (or organization) before the interactions occur, people guide their behavior through their expectations for rewards and costs…

Social exchanges are characterized by inter-dependence, that is; the ability to obtain benefits in a relationship is contingent on the ability to provide others with same rewards. Social exchanges are regulated by norms, e.g.; reciprocity, justice, fairness…

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Social exchange theorists see every interaction as a transaction, i.e.; ‘something for something’it’s the ‘theory of individual self-interest’… when a person takes any action, they  does so with the prospect of gaining benefit for themself. Often it’s the intangible benefit, such as; respect, satisfaction… Social expert postulate that people measure relationships based on weighing the costs and rewards that might result. They also argue that any human relationship require efforts from the individuals involved, e.g.; the time needed to maintain a friendship is a cost that might be spent on other matters, such as; work, study… On the other hand; relationships also give its parties rewards: A reward can be a feeling of belonging to a group, emotional satisfaction, and support whether it’s; financial, moral, social…

According to social exchange theory; as people (or organizations) interact over time, they experience the need to reciprocate the support and assistance of each other, if they wish to preserve relationships, and that is the ‘norm of reciprocity’…

Hence the basis for a trusting and loyal relationship is founded; first, each party must know and understand their own self-worth, and protect their own self-interest… second; each party must faithfully and in equal measure, practice the mutual action of ‘reciprocity’…

Big Business of Poaching– Art of Trophy Hunting: Whether It’s– Animals, People, Friends, Things… It’s Ubiquitous…

Poaching is a multi-billion dollar business– but more so in the horrible example of wildlife where it’s a dirty business involving the unlawful harvesting and trading of– animals, plants… and parts, products derived from them. Wildlife is traded as skins, leather goods or souvenirs; as food or traditional medicine; as pets and many other forms…

Illegal wildlife trade runs the gamut from illegal logging of protected forests to supply the demand for exotic woods, to the illegal fishing of endangered marine life for food, and the poaching of elephants to supply the demand for ivory…and in many cases it’s being conducted by sophisticated transnational organized crime syndicates and even some terrorist networks, posing increasingly serious threat to international security…

It’s a global phenomenon threatens some of the most endangered animals on the planet… Wildlife crime is the fourth largest global illegal trade, after drugs, counterfeiting, and human trafficking…

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Although not as hostile, poaching in business is widely practiced: It accounts for over 30% in the movement of labor… it’s the biggest source of competitive advantage in the current era of cut throat competition… It has been defined as– the intentional actions of recruiters in one company to identify, contact, solicit and hire a currently employed individual or group of individuals away from another companyHowever, among many business leaders it’s generally accepted that poaching, or hiring a competitor employees, or customer employees, or partners employees, or suppliers employees… violates an unwritten rule of business and many see it as unethical…

Whereas, proponents say– as long as actions, activities are not deceptive or illegal, companies that intentionally identify, contact and offer employment to a rival firm’s employees are within the bounds of ethical behavior… A few reported examples include; Tesla and Apple competing over engineers; Uber poaching Carnegie Mellon University’s entire robotics center to build self-driving cars… Apple, Google, Adobe, and Intel allegedly made secret agreements to not woo away (poach) each other’s employees, they reportedly paid $415 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by workers who felt these agreements hurt their salaries, job mobility… Hence, whether poaching– wildlife, people, friends, things… at best it’s– bad for reputation, unethical… and at worst– it’s illegal, destroys entire species of living things…

In the article Time to End Poaching by Richard Branson writes: An elephant is murdered every 15 minutes. More than 30,000 elephants are killed by poaching every year, and if nothing is done, elephants could be extinct in just 11 years. Hence, this poaching must end… The problem with poaching is not simply one of animal conservation, but terrorist groups all use the sale of illegal ivory to carry out attacks. There are direct links between poaching and terrorism that have resulted in atrocities around the globe… Trafficking in endangered species is the fourth largest illegal business in the world after drugs, weapons and human trafficking…

The stats are no better for rhinos. Ninety-five percent of the world’s rhinos have been lost in the past 40 years. In 2007, 13 rhinos were poached in South Africa, and in 2013, more than 1,000 were killed, and in 2014, over 1,020 rhinos had been killed… Demand for rhino horn comes over-whelmingly from Asia, where many people wrongly believe it has medicinal properties… Huge sums are spent on studying and protecting rhinos in the wild, however very little has been spent on addressing the root of the problem– eliminating the demand for rhino horn… Let’s be clear; this problem is of human-making, but it’s one that people have the power to change. It’s up to all people world-wide to ensure these magnificent species do not disappear from the earth forever…

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In the article How to Master the Art of Poaching Employees by Elaine Pofeldt writes: It’s a struggling to find great talent– there are superstars out there–although they may be working for another company at the moment. In this tough hiring market, poaching employees from the competition often seems inevitable… The situation is particularly challenging in the tech industry, where high-quality developers are in short supply.

The good news is that according to a recent survey by Dice.com; 65% of technology professionals are confident they could find a new, better position… According to Jaime Klein; talent tends to attract talent, so snagging a hotshot engineer from a rival or, if you get lucky, a high-profile company such as Apple could be the magnet that you need…

But before you start cold calling those folks, you should seek legal advice; in many states, there can be repercussions for poaching, e.g.; the first thing a responsible employer would want to do is to find out whether the talent they seek has a non compete agreement… and even if the non-compete isn’t enforceable, the case may still end up in a legal battle… Also be realistic; as you are looking to poach talent from companies there are companies to poach your company, as well… So, as you proceed with your poaching, it’s very wish to make your team poach-resistant…

In the article How to Make Your Top Talent Poacher-Proof by Benoit Vialla writes: Talent poaching is among the most irritating forms of flattery… When you run a solid business with strong talent long enough, and you can count on a poacher to dangle opportunities and higher pay in front of your best employees. To keep your talent (without breaking the law), you need to defeat would-be poachers well before they arrive… According to Richard Branson; train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to… To hold onto talent, you need to defeat would be poachers well before they arrive… Here are three strategies you can use to ‘poacher-proof’ your business:

  • Compete on Culture: Culture is what makes your company different from other companies. It’s the set of characteristics that would surprise competitors if they could shadow your staff for a day… Make your company a unique place to work… Be a little unconventional, it’s the only effective way to be authentic…
  • Have a Vision Worth Sticking Around for: To keep employees, make a plan that is your industry’s equivalent of ‘landing on moon’– it should be realistic, seductively exciting, somewhat daunting… Vowing to grow your customer base 50% is not inspiring; on the other hand, when Bill Gates said; a computer on every desk and in every home… it was. Top talent will stick with you because they want to be around when your vision is realized. Once you ‘land on moon’, come up with an even bolder idea. Find fresh ways to generate the same suspense and anticipation that kept everyone along for the journey…
  • Give Employees Voice and Power: Give employee a voice and the means to enact change when they need to. Top talent will stick with you because they want to be around when your vision realized… When an employee’s voice matters and they can choose what they want to work on, why would they change jobs? The very best talent won’t sacrifice an outstanding culture and compelling vision for a few extra bucks. Those that will can be replaced… Poaching is the most aggravating but sincerest form of flattery– it’s a sign that you’re doing something right…

The world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife trade, threatening to overturn decades of conservation gains. Ivory estimated to weigh more than 23 metric tons– a figure that represents 2,500 elephants… Poaching threatens the last of our wild tigers that number as few as 3,200… Wildlife crime is a big business. Run by dangerous international networks, wildlife and animal parts are trafficked much like illegal drugs and arms. By it’s very nature, it is almost impossible to obtain reliable figures for the value of illegal wildlife trade. Experts estimate that it runs into hundreds of millions of dollars…

Some examples of illegal wildlife trade are well-known, such as; poaching of elephants for ivory and tigers for their skins, bones… However, countless other species are similarly overexploited, from marine turtles to timber trees. Not all wildlife trade is illegal: Wild plants and animals from tens of thousands of species are caught or harvested from the wild and then sold legitimately as– food, pets, ornamental plants, leather, tourist ornaments, medicine… Wild-life trade is escalating into a crisis, which is threatening the very survival of many species in the wild…

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Poaching is a prevalent practice in recruiting (or, some say stealing) workers who are already employed elsewhere. Economy-wide it represents the primary mode by which workers flow directly from one firm to another… The art of luring talented workers away, sometimes from– competition, or partners, or suppliers, or customers… has a darker or shady side with respect to the actions of a few that can cause considerable damage to the business of others… and to their own professional reputation and good standing…

Poaching other organizations’– management, workers, customers… should not be taken lightly: There is ‘fair play’ way of doing business, and there is ‘dirty way’ that you should never accept as professional. Poaching workers, managers… whether ethical or not, companies and/ or people who practice this behavior must be prepared to accept its consequences, such as; a hit on reputation, credibility, trust… as well as, themselves becoming targets of similar activities…