Wednesday, February 29, 2012

First: Fire All The Managers (Harvard Business Review)

Harvard Business Review:

First, Let's Fire All the Managers

by Gary Hamel

Management is the least efficient activity in your organization.
Think of the countless hours that team leaders, department heads, and vice presidents devote to supervising the work of others. Most managers are hardworking; the problem doesn’t lie with them. The inefficiency stems from a top-heavy management model that is both cumbersome and costly.
A hierarchy of managers exacts a hefty tax on any organization. This levy comes in several forms. First, managers add overhead, and as an organization grows, the costs of management rise in both absolute and relative terms. A small organization may have one manager and 10 employees; one with 100,000 employees and the same 1:10 span of control will have 11,111 managers. That’s because an additional 1,111 managers will be needed to manage the managers. In addition, there will be hundreds of employees in management-related functions, such as finance, human resources, and planning. Their job is to keep the organization from collapsing under the weight of its own complexity. Assuming that each manager earns three times the average salary of a first-level employee, direct management costs would account for 33% of the payroll. Any way you cut it, management is expensive.
Second, the typical management hierarchy increases the risk of large, calamitous decisions. As decisions get bigger, the ranks of those able to challenge the decision maker get smaller. Hubris, myopia, and naïveté can lead to bad judgment at any level, but the danger is greatest when the decision maker’s power is, for all purposes, uncontestable. Give someone monarchlike authority, and sooner or later there will be a royal screwup. A related problem is that the most powerful managers are the ones furthest from frontline realities. All too often, decisions made on an Olympian peak prove to be unworkable on the ground.
Third, a multitiered management structure means more approval layers and slower responses. In their eagerness to exercise authority, managers often impede, rather than expedite, decision making. Bias is another sort of tax. In a hierarchy the power to kill or modify a new idea is often vested in a single person, whose parochial interests may skew decisions.
Finally, there’s the cost of tyranny. The problem isn’t the occasional control freak; it’s the hierarchical structure that systematically disempowers lower-level employees. For example, as a consumer you have the freedom to spend $20,000 or more on a new car, but as an employee you probably don’t have the authority to requisition a $500 office chair. Narrow an individual’s scope of authority, and you shrink the incentive to dream, imagine, and contribute.
Hierarchies Versus Markets
No wonder economists have long celebrated the ability of markets to coordinate human activity with little or no top-down control. Markets have limits, though. As economists like Ronald Coase andOliver Williamson have noted, markets work well when the needs of each party are simple, stable, and easy to specify, but they’re less effective when interactions are complex. It’s hard to imagine, for instance, how a market could precisely coordinate the kaleidoscopic array of activities at the heart of a large, process-intensive manufacturing operation.
That’s why we need corporations and managers. Managers do what markets cannot; they amalgamate thousands of disparate contributions into a single product or service. They constitute what business historian Alfred D. Chandler Jr. called the visible hand. The downside, though, is that the visible hand is inefficient and often ham-fisted.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could achieve high levels of coordination without a supervisory superstructure? Wouldn’t it be terrific if we could get the freedom and flexibility of an open market with the control and coordination of a tightly knit hierarchy? If only we could manage without managers.
The Tomato Business that actually fired the managers -

The Case for Publicly Owned Internet Service

Internet Users by Language

The Case for Publicly Owned Internet Service

By Susan P. Crawford Feb 14, 2012

In cities and towns across the U.S., a familiar story is replaying itself: Powerful companies are preventing local governments from providing an essential service to their citizens. More than 100 years ago, it was electricity. Today, it is the public provision of communications services.

The Georgia legislature is currently considering a bill that would effectively make it impossible for any city in the state to provide for high-speed Internet access networks -- even in areas in which the private sector cannot or will not. NebraskaNorth CarolinaLouisianaArkansas andTennessee already have similar laws in place. South Carolina is considering one, as is Florida.

Mayors across the U.S. are desperate to attract good jobs and provide residents with educational opportunities, access to affordable health care, and other benefits that depend on affordable, fast connectivity -- something that people in other industrialized countries take for granted. But powerful incumbent providers such as AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. are hamstringing municipalities.
At the beginning of the 20th century, private power companies electrified only the most lucrative population centers and ignored most of America, particularly rural America. By the mid-1920s, 15 holding companies controlled 85 percent of the nation’s electricity distribution, and the Federal Trade Commission found that the power trusts routinely gouged consumers.

Costly and Dangerous
In response, and recognizing that cheap, plentiful electricity was essential to economic development and quality of life, thousands of communities formed electric utilities of their own. Predictably, the private utilities claimed that public ownership of electrical utilities was “costly and dangerous” and “always a failure,” according to the November 1906 issue of Moody’s Magazine. Now more than 2,000 communities in the U.S., including SeattleSan Antonio andLos Angeles, provide their own electricity.
Today, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which advocates for community broadband initiatives, is tracking more than 60 municipal governments that have built or are building successful fiber networks, just as they created electric systems during the 20th century. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, for example, the city’s publicly owned electric company provides fast, affordable and reliable fiber Internet access. Some businesses based in Knoxville -- 100 miles to the northeast -- are adding jobs in Chattanooga, where connectivity can cost an eighth as much.

Meanwhile, less than 8 percent of Americans currently receive fiber service to their homes, compared with more than 50 percent of households in South Korea, and almost 40 percent inJapan. Where it’s available, Americans pay five or six times as much for their fiber access as people in other countries do. Fully a third of Americans don’t subscribe to high-speed Internet access at all, and AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said last month that the company was “trying to find a broadband solution that was economically viable to get out to rural America, and we’re not finding one, to be quite candid.” America is rapidly losing the global race for high-speed connectivity.

Tamping Down Enthusiasm
Like the power trusts of the 20th century, the enormous consolidated providers of wired Internet access want to tamp down any enthusiasm for municipal networks. Last year, telecom lobbyists spent more than $300,000 in a failed effort to block a referendum in Longmont,Colorado, to allow that city to provide Internet access. Time Warner Cable managed to get a North Carolina law enacted last year that makes launching municipal networks thereextraordinarily difficult. The pending measures in Georgia and South Carolina are modeled on the North Carolina bill.

The Georgia bill is chock-full of sand traps and areas of deep statutory fog from which no local public network is likely ever to emerge. In addition to the ordinary public hearings that any municipality would hold on the subject, a town looking to build a public network would have to hold a referendum. It wouldn’t be allowed to spend any money in support of its position (there would be no such prohibition on the deep-pocketed incumbents). The community wouldn’t be allowed to support its network with local taxes or surplus revenues from any other services (although incumbents routinely and massively subsidize their networks with revenue from other businesses).

Most pernicious of all, the public operator would have to include in the costs of its service the phantom, imputed “capital costs” and “taxes” of a private provider. This is a fertile area for disputes, litigation and delay, as no one knows what precise costs and taxes are at issue, much less how to calculate these amounts. The public provider would also have to comply with all laws and “requirements” applicable to “the communications service,” if it were made available by “a private provider,” although again the law doesn’t specify which service is involved or which provider is relevant.

The end result of all this vague language will be to make it all but impossible for a city to obtain financing to build its network. Although the proponents of Georgia’s bill claim that they are merely trying to create a level playing field, these are terms and conditions that no new entrant, public or private, can meet -- and that the incumbents themselves do not live by. You can almost hear the drafters laughing about how impossible the entire enterprise will be.

Globally Competitive Networks
Right now, state legislatures -- where the incumbents wield great power -- are keeping towns and cities in the U.S. from making their own choices about their communications networks. Meanwhile, municipalities, cooperatives and small independent companies are practically the only entities building globally competitive networks these days. Both AT&T and Verizon have ceased the expansion of next-generation fiber installations across the U.S., and the cable companies’ services greatly favor downloads over uploads.

Congress needs to intervene. One way it could help is by preempting state laws that erect barriers to the ability of local jurisdictions to provide communications services to their citizens.

Running for president in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt emphasized the right of communities to provide their own electricity. “I might call the right of the people to own and operate their own utility a birch rod in the cupboard,” he said, “to be taken out and used only when the child gets beyond the point where more scolding does any good.” It’s time to take out that birch rod.

(Susan P. Crawford is a Bloomberg View columnist and a visiting professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School. In 2009, she was a special assistant to President Barack Obama for science, technology and innovation policy. The opinions expressed are her own.)

Read more opinion online from Bloomberg View.

To contact the writer of this article: or @scrawford on Twitter.


Diane Rehm's enlightening interview with David Rothkopf, author of "Power, Inc.: The Epic Rivalry Between Big Business and Government - and the Reckoning That Lies Ahead."


All That We Share is a great book about the restoration of The Commons, which, I believe, is "the future."

All That We Share: How to Save the Economy, the Environment, the Internet, Democracy, Our Communities and Everything Else that Belongs to All of Us

Jay Walljasper (Author), Bill McKibben (Introduction)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Common Sense, Uncommon Sense, Paradox and Irony

Dear John,

Check out "Romney calls Santorum's robocall a dirty trick" -

If I got a robocall from Rooster, I'd vote for him.  

Obama will cream Santo.

Romney on the other hand...


Here's what's "in play."

The puritanical wing of The Republican Party must decide between its "Impossibly Pure Principles" and winning.

Keep in mind that if The Puritans succeed in nominating Santorum, the Dems will certainly"keep the Senate" and could even "get the House back."

This scenario mean that Obama -- re-elected and unfettered by 2016 re-election concerns -- would control both houses of Congress, in addition to making 2-3 Supreme Court appointments thus undermining conservative interests for the next 25 years. 

Nor does the Republican nightmare end there...

Judging by this year's Cast of Clowns, Hillary will be an overwhelmingly popular candidate in 2016, a circumstance that plausibly leads to 12 more years with a Democratic president. 

Merton was dead on. "The terrible thing about our time is precisely the ease with which theories can be put into practice.  The more perfect, the more idealistic the theories, the more dreadful is their realization.  We are at last beginning to rediscover what perhaps men knew better in very ancient times, in primitive times before utopias were thought of: that liberty is bound up with imperfection, and that limitations, imperfections, errors are not only unavoidable but also salutary. The best is not the ideal.  Where what is theoretically best is imposed on everyone as the norm, then there is no longer any room even to be good.  The best, imposed as a norm, becomes evil.”  Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton -


What are The Puritans going to do?

Will they cling to their Impossibly Pure Principles... and lose?

Or will they "contradict their conscience" -- in effect, deliberately choose to do "The Wrong Thing" -- and thus have a shot at preventing a Democratic tsunami?

In other words, will American neo-puritans become fully human? 

Or, will they prolong the pretense that they're God's vicars on earth?

"Where what is theoretically best is imposed on everyone as the norm, then there is no longer any room even to be good.  The best, imposed as a norm, becomes evil.”

The profoundest truths are paradoxical.

American conservatives think it's "all" about "common sense." They believe that anorexic austerity, radical de-regulation and "No new taxes!" will bring about "The Second Coming" because these three traits are divinely ordained and the conservative "vision" of God never fails. 

And so, blinded by the light of Common Sense, conservatives are unable to see "The Big Picture." 

But it is not about "common sense."

It is about "uncommon sense."

The paradox at the heart of things trumps every simplistic battle cry mouthed by The Right.

Pax on both houses


PPS Here's a twist: "A New Low? Romney Has Admitted Voting in Other Party's Primaries" -  Santorum and Romney: two guys in white hats... each of them closet "pots calling the kettle black." And the rank and file Pharisees suck it up.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Firearm Usage by Police in the United Kingdom



Police use of firearms in the United Kingdom has been a slow, controversial[4] and developing process as senior officers wanted their forces to still have the "British Bobby" or Dixon of Dock Green effect on the community.[4] During the Second World Warfirearms were only carried while protecting 10 Downing Street and the Royal Family, but police were given many firearms in case of invasion.[4] They were never taken on general patrol, partly because a revolver was usually issued without a holster,[4] as holsters were in short supply because of the war.[4]Training for the Webley & Scott Revolvers usually consisted of firing six shots and to pass, it was required that three shots had to be on target although loading of the actual weapon was not taught.[4] In 1948, after the Second World War Concerns were aired by the Home Officeof the police forces role of another war or nuclear attack,[4] to combat this it was decided that some of the forces would be loaned Sten Gunsby the Ministry of Defence and a number of Lee Enfield No4 Mk 2s. These, along with revolvers and ammunition, were kept in secret depots around the United Kingdom so every force had the weapons close and could get access to them when and if the time should come.[4]
Historically, officers on night patrols in some London divisions were frequently armed with Webley revolvers. These were introduced following the murder of two officers in 1884, although individual officers were able to choose whether to carry the weapons. Armed police were rare by the turn of the century, and were retired formally in July 1936. Although, after the Battle of Stepney in 1911, Webley semi-automatics were issued to officers. From the 1936 date on, firearms could only be issued by a Sergeant with good reason, and only then to officers who had been trained in their usage.
The issue of routine arming was raised after the 1952 Derek Bentley case, in which a Constable was shot dead and a Sergeant severely wounded, and again after the 1966 Massacre of Braybrook Street, in which three London officers were killed. As a result, around 17% of officers in London became authorised to carry firearms. After the deaths of a number of members of the public in the 1980s fired upon by police, control was considerably tightened, many officers had their firearm authorisation revoked, and training for the remainder was greatly improved. As of 2005, around seven per cent of officers in London are trained in the use of firearms. Firearms are also only issued to an officer under strict guidelines.[5]
In order to allow armed officers to respond rapidly to an incident, most forces have patrolling Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs). ARVs were modelled on the Instant Response Cars introduced by the West Yorkshire Police in 1976, and were first introduced in London in 1991, with 132 armed deployments being made that year.
Although largely attributable to a significant increase in the use of imitation firearms and air weapons,[6] the overall increase in firearms crime between 1998/99 and 2002/03[6] (it has been decreasing since 2003/04, although use of imitations continued to rise)[6] has kept this issue in the spotlight. In October 2000, Nottinghamshire Police introduced regular armed patrols to the St Ann's and Meadows estates in Nottingham, in response to fourteen drug-related shootings in the two areas in the previous year.[7] Although the measure was not intended to be permanent, patrols were stepped up in the autumn of 2001 after further shootings,[8] after which the firearms crime declined dramatically.[9]
As of September 2004, all forces in England and Wales have access to tasers, but they may only be used by Authorised Firearms Officers(AFO's) and specially trained units. The Police Federation have since called for all officers to be issued with tasers, with some public support.[10]
In 2010, following the serious injury of an unarmed officer in a knife attack, the chairman of the Police Memorial TrustMichael Winner stated that he had put up memorials to 44 officers and that he believed, "It is almost certain that at least 38 of those [Police Officers] would be alive had they been armed".[11] In response, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation Peter Smyth said, "A lot of police officers don't want to be armed. We don't want a call to arms, I don't think that's necessary."[12]
Police Federation surveys have continued to show police officers' considerable resistance to routine arming. In the Federation's most recent (2006) Officer/Arming survey, 82% of respondents were against the routine arming of police, although 43% supported an increase in the number of officers trained and authorised to use firearms.[13]


Unless people have sufficient faith to dis-arm, there will be no disarmament.

Any collective movement in the direction of peace is always predicated on acts of faith: someone decides to run a definable risk by behaving faithfully rather than fearfully.

Absent faith in disarmament, people will (if law permits) arm themselves in ever greater numbers.

The experience of British law enforcement embeds a value system that is essential for Civilization, whereas Americans' passion for firearms -- whatever near-term benefits may accrue -- inclines the United States toward barbarism.

In my view, the 2nd Amendment should remain intact but it should be read literally: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Read literally, a citizen's right to bear arms derives from the prior political need/mandate to maintain "a well regulated militia." 

Since The Founding Fathers were uniformly opposed to the maintenance of "standing armies," they perceived need for well-regulated citizen militias which could be quickly mustered in time of menace. 

Outside the overarching domain of "a well regulated militia" there is no constitutional authorization that individuals have a right to bear arms.

The stated intent of the 2nd Amendment (embodied at the outset of the amendment) is that arms-bearing citizens be integrated first into "well regulated militias."

Furthermore, prior integration into "well regulated militias" was the contextualized intent of the Founding Fathers as well.

"Security is mostly a superstition.

It does not exist in nature,

nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

-- Helen Keller

(1880-1968) Blind-Deaf Author

Source: The Open Door, 1957