Computer infection leaps to humans!

27 03 2010

Just kidding? Not so fast. Health experts at NHS Hartlepool in Britain claim that Facebook the culprit in 4x increase in syphilis in Teesside, Durham and Sunderland. The Telegraph published the Director of Public Health  saying sites like Facebook “making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex,” and that of the syphilis cases he saw, “several of the people had met sexual partners through these sites.”

What’s next? Keyboard condoms?


Any Last Samurai Left? The Death of Trust in Institutions

20 03 2010

In book The Code of the Executive, I found honor and integrity essential leadership qualities of the Samurai. I assumed many of our leaders today still aspired to these values. Imagine my shock when Christopher Hayes (an editor of the Nation) proved me wrong in his article.

“nearly every pillar institution in American society — whether it’s General Motors, Congress, Wall Street, Major League Baseball, the Catholic Church or the mainstream media — has revealed itself to be corrupt, incompetent or both . . . after a cascade of scandals and catastrophes, that implicit social contract lies in ruins, replaced by mass skepticism, contempt and disillusionment.

For more than 35 years, Gallup has polled Americans about levels of trust in their institutions —Banks were trusted by just 32% of the populace . . . And Congress was the least trusted institution of all, with only 12% of Americans expressing confidence in it. The mistrust of élites extends to élites themselves. Every year, public-relations guru Richard Edelman conducts a “trust barometer” across 22 countries, in which he surveys only highly educated, high-earning, media-attentive people. In the U.S., these people show extremely low levels of trust in government and business alike. Particularly distrusted are the superman CEOs of yore. “Chief-executive trust has just been mired in the mid- to low 20s,” says Edelman. “It started off with Enron and culminates in Citi.”

But all my clients are CEOs. And almost all I found to be honorable and exhibit integrity. Several deserve not to be trusted, and are no longer clients, but for many their issues don’t resemble the catastrophes above.  Could the death of trust occur only when the size of companies approach “institutional” levels? Is there a limit to size? Perhaps the research of companies like W. L. Gore or of prehistoric tribes limiting their groups to 200-300 makes sense. Is this a biological indicator? I’m keeping my eyes open for new insights. Perhaps we can save Samurai after all.

Read more:,28804,1971133_1971110_1971117-1,00.html#ixzz0ilC6bltq

Health Care – Stealth Care: Can We Keep a Secret?

23 02 2010

As rhetoric heats up on the final compromise, I realized that as a citizen I haven’t heard a politician answer a simple question – Why is the US paying more and getting less for healthcare? Or, more importantly, why are international papers clearly publishing the answers when the US media is not? Why all the stealth?

As a scientist I try to seek answers. The “other” media provides some interesting data. Consider the work of Andrew Kennis, a PhD fellow, investigative journalist, an adjunct professor and researcher in International and Political Communication from the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The stats from his research I found overseas but missing in US media are simple:

  1. The US continues to be the country with the highest proportion of uninsured people in the developed world.
  2. The US  has the distinction of spending a greater portion of its total economic output on healthcare than any other developed country – just over 17 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) last year.
  3. The US spends on average twice as much as other developed countries on healthcare.
  4. The US results show a lowly 37th place ranking among healthcare systems in the world, according to a study by the World Health Organization based on quality and fairness.
  5. The US has an infant mortality rate, a common marker for the overall state of healthcare systems, outranked by all of the following countries according to the CIA’s World Factbook: Sweden (3rd), Japan (4th), France (7th), Norway (10th), Germany (14th), Israel (17th), Denmark (21st), United Kingdom (31st), Canada (35th), Taiwan (39th), Italy (41st) and even a few underdeveloped countries, including Cuba (43rd).

Why stealthily hide that US spends the most and gets the least for its healthcare? Even when the US has the world’s largest economic output? Fair question.

Andrew’s report uncovered some clues. Claudia Schaufan, an Argentine physician and professor of comparative health policies at the University of California in Santa Cruz –  healthcare systems in the developed world have universality of coverage and the lack of for-profit entities. “Everyone has health insurance and there is no significant for-profit aspect in any part of the medical sector … nobody in these systems ‘makes a buck’ at the expense of the health of patients,” she says.

Ooops. Lack of profit? Are they saying the sacrilege of removing profit for health keeps solutions invisible to lobbyists? Even if these blasphemous systems all outperform the US in terms of infant mortality rates, administrative costs, the extent of population with coverage and the proportion of GDP spent on healthcare?

As a capitalist myself, I like profit. But when 17% of my GDP is going to producing healthcare, which I can’t export, then when do I pull the plug? When 95% of our GDP is used for healthcare of patients? So our contribution to the world goes to zero? And this will provide food for how long?

But, surely our politicians have evaluated all these other country systems to arrive at the best solution, right? Not so fast. Asked what the proposed US reforms show in terms of learning from other examples, Naoki Ikegami, a leading Japanese healthcare economics professor, says simply: “Not much, because there has to be a willingness to learn and if anything, US leaders have isolated themselves from learning about other healthcare systems.”

What? They never checked? And they’re getting ready to vote?

Unwillingness to learn and sustained isolation is a good recipe for StealthCare. What bill is the government really passing? We may never know.

Can We Americans Really Be Internationally Savvy?

21 02 2010

Just flew back (after great R&D session with Harvard researcher for new paper-stay tuned) and saw airport crowd glued to TV on Tiger Woods’ statement. Huh? Dutch cabinet collapsing, Darfur truce signed, Niger coup, Guinea massacre. . . and American news dominated by golfer sex apology!

Ummm. I thought, thank God we aren’t the people who vote in politicians to set international strategy.

Then I realized, Uh oh.

OOPS! America’s Management Failure Exposed. Mintzberg Pulls Back the Curtain.

15 02 2010

While teaching at Johns Hopkins MBA program I promoted Mintzberg’s work to my students often. Can his views now breakthrough our arrogance permafrost before it’s too late. The old saying “the truth shall set you free but first it will piss you off” applies.

While the head of Toyota apologizes humbly in public forums, many in the US wonder how many finance exec have apologized for the global financial collapse? Or how many politicians have apologized for neglecting oversight responsibilities, or ignoring the warnings of the few for bad policies? How many CEOs have apologized for bonusing those who were part of the problem?

I did a quick review. Zero.

We published “arrogance” in High Altitude Leadership because this is a common danger. So is denial.

And if Mintzberg is right, then what happens when a few in control continue to make selfish, greedy decisions at the suffering expense of the masses? Revolution. I even remember a few guys starting a country because of it.


Future Crisis From The Historic 2010 Blizzard!!!

11 02 2010

I just had a deranged thought: If 1 out of 3 Americans are now inside a blizzard situation (so many high-population cities hit at once), why has no one reported what this REALLY MEANS?  1/3 of Americans stuck in their homes for days leads to . . . massive crisis from hospitals being unable to handle the needed capacity  in November 2010 for historic high birth rates!!!

Contrarian View: Recession Reconsiderations

7 08 2009

bigstockphoto_Handshake_with_Money_Sign_820521Back in March ’09 I wrote this for amusement. Now with the current data I’ve been asked to reprint here. (I wish all my predictions looked like this . . . note to self: reread chapter on luck in High Altitude Leadership).

In more than one city some CEOs feel differently about the recession. Being as pessimistic as everyone, I first thought it was an anomaly.  But are there hints of success leaking into our pessimism?

I’m on several boards. At one meeting a CEO asked other members if they were feeling the trauma of the recession. Of course the CEOs related to the finance or real estate industries were hurting, but others shyly admitted they were actually doing OK. They had made some adjustments in hiring levels and programs but nothing tragic.

Then, recently when speaking to an audience in the Pacific Northwest I heard CEOs talking about when they should start spending again. They had plenty of cash! But are waiting for a green-light.

Speaking in other cities a mortgage broker reported having applications surge from 4 applicants/month to 8/ week!

Finally – gulp – my wife,  in a family business called Ron Zimmerman Realtor, now runs into multiple bids on properties she’s securing for investors.

What? I expected to hear these stories 2nd half 2010. Not now. Maybe there’s more trauma ahead, especially as we bail out and bonus the incompetent. But what if people start spending cash earlier? What if the fear stopped faster than predicted?