Drucker on Corporate Social Responsibility

From Peter Drucker’s Management:Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices’, after noting that expectations are placed on corporate entities not because they’re disliked, but because they’re one of the only institutions left that can effectively work towards their interests…so, the public thinks, let’s make our interests their interests.

Clearly, the demand for social responsibility is not as simple as most books, articles, and speeches on the subject make it out to be. But it is not possible to disregard it, as such distinguished economists as Milton Friedman of Chicago have urged. To be sure, Friedman’s argument that business is an economic institution and should stick to its economic task is well taken. There is danger that social responsibility will undermine economic performance and with it society altogether. There is surely an even greater danger that social responsibility will mean usurpation of power by business managers in areas in which they have no legitimate authority.

But it is also clear that social responsibility cannot be evaded. It is not only that the public demands it. It is not only that society needs it. The fact remains that in modern society there is no other leadership group but managers. If the managers of our major institutions, and especially of business, do not take responsibility for the common good, no one else can or will. Government is no longer capable, as political theories still have it, of being the “sovereign” and the “guardian of the common good” in a pluralist society of organizations. The leadership groups in this society, and this means the managers of the key institutions, whether they like it or not—indeed whether they are competent or not—have to think through what responsibilities they can and should assume, in what areas, and for what objectives. If there is one moral to these cautionary tales, it is not that social responsibility is both ambiguous and dangerous. It is that social impacts and social responsibilities are areas in which business—and not only big business—has to think through its role, has to set objectives, has to perform.

Social impacts and social responsibilities have to be managed.

Now We Just have Gamefaqs

On the Chrono Trigger Strategy Guide from Michael P. Williams’s Chrono Trigger book:

This Player’s Guide was released by Nintendo in October 1995, a few months after the game’s North American debut. Billed on the cover as “the complete guide to the past, present and future—straight from the pros at Nintendo,” the large-format guide in fact leaves much unsaid. Unlike the colorful early strategy guides from Japan, Chrono Trigger Player’s Guide is a mostly no-nonsense document. There are no illustrated bestiaries, no bonus comics, no interviews, and no mail-in prize giveaways. And a later unofficial guide from BradyGames published to coincide with the PlayStation port feels more like a technical report than a companion for playtime.

One of my high school friends had a brother playing through Final Fantasy 3 with those HUGE BradyGames guides – I think it had a table of EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF ARMOR AND WEAPONS in the game – it took about something like 100 pages.

Autocratic Management

Neither the Japanese, nor Zeiss, nor IBM practice “permissive management.” Management in Japan is notoriously autocratic. No one has ever mistaken an order by a Japanese company president for a polite request. Abbé, according to all reports, was not permissive either. While a kind man by all accounts, he was very much the German “Herr Professor” and was used to unquestioned authority. Thomas Watson, Sr., was a tyrant. Abbé and Watson demanded excellence in performance and did not accept good intentions as a substitute.

- Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, and Practices

Sound familiar?

You’ll Fail If You Don’t Feel Like It

Been reading The Anditode: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman and have been getting some good nuggets out of it.

The routines of almost all famous writers, from Charles Darwin to John Grisham, similarly emphasize specific starting times, or number of hours worked, or words written. Such rituals provide a structure to work in, whether or not the feeling of motivation or inspiration happens to be present. They let people work alongside negative or positive emotions, instead of getting distracted by the effort of cultivating only positive ones. ‘Inspiration is for amateurs,’ the artist Chuck Close once memorably observed. ‘The rest of us just show up and get to work.’

“Speaking Truth to Stupid”

It’s deliciously cynical, or disturbingly delusional, to frame the news such that your ideology is the source of all enlightened truth and progress, and your opponent’s is the fount of all terrible, retrograde and corrupt, and call that “inform[ing] a debate worthy of a great nation” and “return[ing] to what’s important.”

Put The Excuses Aside

Regarding people’s poor financial education.

Listen up, crybabies: This isn’t your grandma’s house and I’m not going to bake you cookies and coddle you. A lot of your financial problems are caused by one person: you. Instead of blaming “the economy” and corporate America for your financial situation, you need to focus on what you can change yourself. Just as the diet industry has overwhelmed us with too many choices, personal finance is a confusing mess of overblown hype, myths, outright deception—and us, feeling guilty about not doing enough or not doing it right. But we can’t just blame corporations and the media: With both food and money, we’re not taking personal responsibility to step up, learn this stuff, and get started.

- Sethi, Ramit (2009-03-23). I Will Teach You To Be Rich (p. 7). Workman Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I struggle to think of a better alternative for retirement savings than the 401(k)/IRA model.

“iOS 7 is a fucking mess”

Garrett Murray:

There are probably a handful of people who have spent as much time as I have in the past 6 years with this UI and this environment, and to say that I don’t get why it’s necessary for Apple to throw it all out only to introduce a worse version for “the future” is like someone taking a scalpel away from a doctor mid-surgery and saying, “Hey, we have a robot that does this now and he’s crazy and ends up cutting a lot of limbs off but shut up you don’t understand the future of medicine.”

Don’t hate the player, hate the game

Tell me a politician who is up here and doesn’t try to minimize his taxes… Tell me what Apple has done is illegal. I am offended by a government… that convenes a hearing to bully one of America’s greatest success stories… If anyone should be on trial here, it should be Congress. I frankly think the committee should apologize to Apple.
Rand Paul

OOOOH. Snap!

Senator Paul, you can apologize if you wish but that isn’t what this hearing is about.
Levin

OOOh – another snap! Politicians are so catty and passive aggressive.

Third Industrial Revolution

“Do you suppose there’ll be a Third Industrial Revolution?” Paul paused in his office doorway.

“A third one? What would that be like?”

“I don’t know exactly. The first and second ones must have been sort of inconceivable at one time.”

“To the people who were going to be replaced by machines, maybe. A third one, eh? In a way, I guess the third one’s been going on for some time, if you mean thinking machines. That would be the third revolution, I guess—machines that devaluate human thinking. Some of the big computers like EPICAC do that all right, in specialized fields.”

“Uh-huh,” said Katharine thoughtfully. She rattled a pencil between her teeth.

“First the muscle work, then the routine work, then, maybe, the real brainwork.”

“I hope I’m not around long enough to see that final step…”

Kurt Vonnegut – Player Piano

Put the computer away

From Managing Humans by Michael Lopp:

Ask Larry to put his computer away. I mean it. If you can’t vivaciously participate in a meeting you were invited to, you should not be there. “Rands Rands Rands … I take notes on my computer.” No, you don’t. You take notes and when I use some proper noun you don’t recognize, you surf Wikipedia. If notes must be taken, designate one person to do it; I want you asking me what the proper noun is … not consulting Wikipedia. A useful meeting is not a speech; it’s a debate. If I’m up there flapping my lips and you disagree or don’t understand, I don’t want you to nod, I want you to yell at me.

Emphasis mine.