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Posts Tagged ‘Ethics’

A colleague of mine was just fired

June 25, 2014 1 comment

A colleague of mine was just fired, and I’m hurting. I feel awful. I believe it happened because of petty personal differences, and the other leaders went along with it because they don’t understand the value of some of their employees – and at this time – one in particular.

Let’s call him “B” as in “The Bird.” He came to us a broken man 3 years ago. His wife had just left. She was cheating on him – and once she got caught – she served him divorce papers. Right afterwards, he lost his job of 20 years at a Fortune 500 company. Divorced. Unemployed. Really down on himself. Borderline depressed. (That’s my non-clinical diagnosis – I’m good at those.)

What did the 3 years at our company do for him? He re-learned that he has a ton to offer.

He and I designed a product from scratch – working with doctors – and it has been purchased and is in use by some of the leading medical institutions in North America. From nothing we learned a market, created prototypes and suggested solutions, designed the interfaces and worked with programmers to develop the product … and after some alpha and beta releases, it has been adopted by multiple top tier organizations around the US.

He trained multiple co-worker(s) in the art of requirements gathering, specification writing, and many of the skills needed to develop products … so much so that one particular colleague has developed the skills and experience to have a completely new career path.

He developed the training curriculum and performed online training for our customers.

He did a lot of the research and documentation that a company that broke off from us is utilizing as the basis for their product … and he wrote a ton of the use cases and requirement specifications that are the basis for their flagship product.

In short, even though he was never valued very highly by the leadership within our organization, he came to realize his value intrinsically. When they needed a new concept developed, who did they come to for requirements and specs to get the process started? The Bird. And every time a customer would comment “Oooh, it’s so easy to use” or “I really love how simple it is” or “Boy you guys sure got that right”, he would absolutely beam. He knows that we nailed it. And the fact that he could cobble-together a way to support the product from his office – using his own cell phone – without the requested diagnostic tool sets or adequate logs to help understand what was happening whenever there was a problem also showed him how innovative, creative, customer-oriented and problem-solving he really could be.

I’m proud of him. I don’t imagine he’ll stay unemployed for long.

Update: He was unemployed for about 4 weeks. He landed on his feet at a job paying him almost double what he was making with us. Oh – and the new company delivered his stock options the week he started.

Pun’s Conspicuous Gallantry Cross

June 2, 2011 5 comments

Love it. One soldier holds off an attack from 30 taliban fighters, saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. And he comes through unscathed.

He has received Britain’s second-highest award for bravery, the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. Wow. How would you like to have that hanging on your Class A’s or Sunday Best? Cool beans.

This just goes to show — when it’s not your time, it’s not your time. I have read other stories about leaders in battle in times past that would walk through withering fire to inspire their men, and nothing hit them. The story says Pun was under constant fire throughout the battle, and even used his rifle tripod to keep the guys away from his position.

Wow, what a stud.

Acting Sgt. Dipprasad Pun of the Royal Gurkha Rifles

Categories: Politics Tags: ,

Finally! Someone ELSE is saying what I’ve been saying for YEARS!

January 20, 2011 5 comments

OK. I like Lance Armstrong as much as the next guy. Or at least as much as the next Non-French guy. What’s not to love? He went over to France and kicked all their butts in their bike race for 7 years in a row. How sweet is that? Sounds like a Great American Hero.

I hope he didn’t dope. I hope all the smoke that surrounds Lance Armstrong doesn’t mean that there is a fire. But that’s not the way it usually works out, does it?

Here’s the logic I have been using for years with my friends, my email groups, and anyone that will listen: OK — you mean to tell me that Lance’s biggest rivals and even some of his teammates have been busted for doping — and the only guy that was winning the Tour de France during those years was the ONLY ONE NOT doping?

Let’s look at the list. And this is all I can remember from the top of my mind, without doing internet research:

1998 tour winner Pantani is now dead cuz of his doping, couldn’t touch Lance during his 7 year stretch

1997 tour winner Ulrich out of the sport for doping, finished 2nd to Lance many times, but couldn’t beat him

former teammates Hamilton (banned for doping) and Landis (banned for doping)

I’m sure there are many more that a more educated cycling fan can tell me about Lance’s teammates, connections with blood-doping doctors, etc.

Here’s where the logic fails for me: Either doping doesn’t work, or Lance just figured out a better way around the system. How could one man — the only man to win during those hugely doping years — beat all of the rest of the field of blood dopers?

And now finally someone else is saying the same thing. And it’s in America. I imagine they have been saying this stuff in France for years.

Categories: Politics, Travel Tags: ,

Cicero still teaching us today

May 13, 2010 5 comments

Cicero was an ancient Roman Consul. He served in the Roman government for many years. John Adams said that “all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united than Cicero“. In his works The Republic and The Laws, Cicero explains his thoughts on good government and leadership.

Two of my favorite points he makes are:
1. People should learn to do of their own accord what they are compelled to do by the law.
2. There is no other occupation in which human virtue approaches more closely the function of the gods than that of founding new States or preserving those already in existence.

In his time, many of his wealthy friends wondered why he would waste his time in politics. His answer is that good, brave, and high-minded men get involved in order to not be ruled by wicked men, and not to allow the republic to be destroyed by them.

There are so many people in our time that want to focus solely on making money and living “the good life.” For the most part, I have no complaints about this. But we also need to make sure and preserve the government that protects the freedoms and liberties we enjoy, not just try to get away with whatever we can and leave it to future generations to pick up the pieces.

When I read “good, brave and high-minded men get involved in order to not be ruled by wicked men”, it made me think of my brother Greg. He’s a guy like most of America: he has a family, a job, hobbies and interests, etc. But he also gets involved in protecting our republican form of government.

When the US Representative that represents Greg wasn’t voting the way most of the people in their district wanted based on their polls, he and his friends got involved. They made phone calls. They set-up websites and blogs. They called on their Rep for explanations of her votes. Their efforts were noticed by national media outlets and brought enough pressure on their Congressional Representative that she was finally forced to respond.

I asked him about the purpose of his involvement. Was he planning on running for office? Other political aspirations? His answer was that he just couldn’t sit by and let the elected officials keep doing whatever they wanted, and not be held accountable. He just couldn’t sit by and let it happen.

Shades of Cicero, perhaps?

Is this Cicero ... or my brother Greg?

Is this Cicero ... or my brother Greg?

The Power of Virtuous Communication

April 21, 2010 2 comments

Most if not all progress happens through conversation. New ideas need to be brought before colleagues. Concepts get discussed around boardrooms and back rooms. How we communicate with each other regarding ideas and concepts makes a big difference in their success or failure. How companies discover, discuss and implement solutions to problems ranging from implementing new technology to providing better customer service often makes or breaks the business. One could say that the most progressive companies can identify issues, and find solutions through communication and adaptation, quicker than their counterparts.

Successful communication is also the key to happy relationships. In a relationship with a spouse or significant other, the manner in which we resolve differences through communication can mean the difference between happiness and heartbreak.

The successful resolution of problems hinges on how we communicate. It is more than the words we say. What is the motivation behind our communication? What is our end goal as we communicate? Do we resist great ideas from colleagues because of petty rivalries? Do we undermine those around us because we want credit for new ideas and for finding the best solution? These kinds of attitudes are real and present in the workplace. It costs untold millions of dollars in lost opportunities and lost customers for businesses when company leaders remain focused on personal agendas rather than the ultimate good of the company. Do we resist honest communication with our significant other because we would rather defend our position to the bitter end than see it through their eyes and move forward together?

One definition of virtue is to fulfill the purpose we were created for. To help a company or spouse achieve their stated goals – their unique level of excellence – should be the end goal of our communication with those we communicate with. But how can this be accomplished?

Aristotle has provided a recipe to help us discover how to understand our world better, and achieve more progress, by communicating on a higher plane. This can be used to improve a relationship with a spouse, or to assist a particular company achieve new levels of success. Aristotle says that the best communication comes from those who can see things as they really are. And, the ability to see things as they truly are only comes to those of a good, moral character. The ability to contemplate things as they really are brings bad thinking to a stop, and lets good thinking begin. The key to this type of communication is to have what Aristotle calls “the beautiful” as our motivation.

The “beautiful” is not specifically defined by Aristotle, but he uses the Greek phrase “to kalon” (translated as “the beautiful”) to mean a certain moral rightness. It is what someone that has “right desire” and “right thinking” working together truly desires for himself and those around him. According to Aristotle, “the beautiful” is the end goal of virtuous actions. Therefore, those that can create the habit of virtuous action in their lives, keeping the end goal of the moral rightness and righteous desires – “the beautiful” – in mind, will be able to communicate on a higher plane. They will see things as they truly are, not through muddled, habitually bad thinking.

Working within this framework allows us to break out of bad habits. Instead of already having made our judgment based on our habitual way of looking at things, it allows us to wonder at the situations we find ourselves in. We wonder because we need to get away from our animal, instinctive responses of already knowing. With “the beautiful” as our motivation, there is no more defensiveness and self-preservation in our communication. It keeps us from forcing everything into supporting our self-serving opinions and our preconceived theories. Following Aristotle’s method frees us to stop thinking in a habitually bad way, and lets real thinking begin. We slow down our knee jerk reactions, and allow for time to find the communication that is truly lifting. Stephen Covey speaks about the short instants between environmental input and the response we choose to make. This means we have a reaction time in which we can choose to communicate in the best possible manner, reaching for “the beautiful.”

We can’t couch our communication behind hidden agendas of “what am I going to get out of this”, or “this will make me look really smart”, or “I’m going to prove I’m right no matter what.” When we have motivation other than “the beautiful” behind our communication, people can sense our lack of sincerity. Aristotle says that “the beautiful” is perceived by the senses: it is simply ‘just known’ when it exists or occurs. When we communicate within our hidden agendas, people can sense whether or not you truly have their best interests in mind. It doesn’t matter if you are using all the correct words. If the right motivation is not present, it can be sensed. Right reasoning and right desires both need to be present. The things we say and the stands we take depend on our moral virtue to make our aim right.

Following this pattern enables us to find the best path forward through our conversations. If our motivation is genuinely good, we will repair and maintain good relationships even if our choice of words is not always the best. We will also be able to find the intersection – the common ground – between different parties goals and purposes. Finding this common ground allows us to reach resolutions quicker, build bridges faster, and repair strained relationships that so often limit progress.

Russell Kirk says that order in the world starts with order in men’s own hearts. If there is right order in our own hearts – morally virtuous thoughts and desires – it will be manifest in our actions and communication because, as Aristotle states, virtue manifests itself in action.  Keeping “the beautiful” as the motivating factor in our interactions with our spouses and colleagues will allow us to reach new levels of progress and live happy, fulfilling lives.