Saturday, December 06, 2014

Corruption Perception Index 2014

(By Transparency International, first published on 3 December 2014 at the following site: http://www.transparency.org/cpi2014/results)

The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A country or territory’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). A country or territory's rank indicates its position relative to the other countries and territories in the index. This year's index includes 175 countries and territories.

 

N.B. Transparency International represents one global movement sharing one vision: a world in which government, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption.
In 1993, a few individuals decided to take a stance against corruption and created Transparency International. Now present in more than 100 countries, the movement works relentlessly to stir the world’s collective conscience and bring about change. Much remains to be done to stop corruption, but much has also been achieved, including the creation of international anti-corruption conventions, the prosecution of corrupt leaders and seizures of their illicitly gained riches, national elections won and lost on tackling corruption and companies held accountable for their behaviour both at home and abroad.

Monday, April 15, 2013

8 Core Beliefs Of Extraordinary Bosses

(By Geoffrey James, Sales Source, first published at Inc.com on 23 April 2012 at the following site: http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/8-core-beliefs-of-extraordinary-bosses.html)

The best managers have a fundamentally different understanding of workplace, company, and team dynamics. See what they get right. A few years back, I interviewed some of the most successful CEOs in the world in order to discover their management secrets. I learned that the "best of the best" tend to share the following eight core beliefs.

1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield. 

 Average bosses see business as a conflict between companies, departments and groups. They build huge armies of "troops" to order about, demonize competitors as "enemies," and treat customers as "territory" to be conquered. Extraordinary bosses see business as a symbiosis where the most diverse firm is most likely to survive and thrive. They naturally create teams that adapt easily to new markets and can quickly form partnerships with other companies, customers ... and even competitors.

2. A company is a community, not a machine. 

Average bosses consider their company to be a machine with employees as cogs. They create rigid structures with rigid rules and then try to maintain control by "pulling levers" and "steering the ship." Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose. They inspire employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers and therefore to the community–and company–at large.

3. Management is service, not control. 

Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they're told. They're hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the "wait and see what the boss says" mentality. Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.

4. My employees are my peers, not my children. 

 Average bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can't be trusted if not overseen by a patriarchal management. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their behinds. Extraordinary bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person in the firm. Excellence is expected everywhere, from the loading dock to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels take charge of their own destinies.

5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear. 

Average bosses see fear--of getting fired, of ridicule, of loss of privilege--as a crucial way to motivate people. As a result, employees and managers alike become paralyzed and unable to make risky decisions. Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they'll be a part of it. As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization's goals, truly enjoy what they're doing and (of course) know they'll share in the rewards.

6. Change equals growth, not pain. 

Average bosses see change as both complicated and threatening, something to be endured only when a firm is in desperate shape. They subconsciously torpedo change ... until it's too late. Extraordinary bosses see change as an inevitable part of life. While they don't value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible if employees and organization embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business.

7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation. 

Average bosses adhere to the old IT-centric view that technology is primarily a way to strengthen management control and increase predictability. They install centralized computer systems that dehumanize and antagonize employees. Extraordinary bosses see technology as a way to free human beings to be creative and to build better relationships. They adapt their back-office systems to the tools, like smartphones and tablets, that people actually want to use.

8. Work should be fun, not mere toil. 

Average bosses buy into the notion that work is, at best, a necessary evil. They fully expect employees to resent having to work, and therefore tend to subconsciously define themselves as oppressors and their employees as victims. Everyone then behaves accordingly. Extraordinary bosses see work as something that should be inherently enjoyable–and believe therefore that the most important job of manager is, as far as possible, to put people in jobs that can and will make them truly happy.

N.B. Geoffrey James writes the "Sales Source" column on Inc.com, the world's most-visited sales-oriented blog, which features the best ideas from dozens of sales experts and executives, along with James' unique take on the business world. To get column updates, sign up for his weekly "insider" newsletter or follow his @Sales_Source Twitter feed. His newly published book is Business to Business Selling: Power Words and Strategies From the World's Top Sales Experts.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Random Thoughts: First Off...

(Taken from the comic strip"Pearls Before Swines" by Stephen Pastis: http://stephanpastis.wordpress.com/

Yes, "First Off" is unlikely to accompany anything which you would really want to hear under normal circumstances. How nice it would be if we could nip it in the bud as Rat had done...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Medical Journals: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

(Taken from Investment Moats - Stock Market Investing by Drizzt first posted on 18 December 2012: http://www.investmentmoats.com/stock-market-commentary/myers-briggswhich-are-you/)


The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is designed as psychometric questionnaire used to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. These preferences were first established as typological theories by Carl Gustav Jung. Jung theorized that there are four principal psychological functions by which people use to experience the world. They are sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking. One of these four functions would be dominant most of the time. 

The original developers of the MBTI were Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. They turned their interest of human behavior, after studying extensively Jung's works, into a devotion of turning the theory of psychological types to practical use. They began creating the MBTI during World War II, believing that a knowledge of personality preferences would help women who were entering the industrial workforce for the first time to identify the sort of war-time jobs where they would be "most comfortable and effective". The initial questionnaire grew into the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which was first published in 1962. The MBTI focuses on normal populations and emphasizes the value of naturally occurring differences.

Friday, March 01, 2013

RSA Animate: The Secret Power Of Time

(By Professor Philip Zimbardo, published at RSA Animate on 24 May 2010 at the following link: http://www.thersa.org/events/rsaanimate/animate/rsa-animate-the-secret-powers-of-time)


Professor Philip Zimbardo reveals how our individual perspective on time affects our work, health and well-being. This RSA Animate is adapted from Zimbardo's lecture at the RSA.

N.B. Professor Philip Zimbardo is an internationally recognised scholar, educator, researcher, winning numerous awards and honors in each of these domains.  He has been a Stanford University professor since 1968, having taught previously at Yale, NYU and Columbia.  Zimbardo's career is noted for giving psychology away to the public through his popular PBS-TV series, Discovering Psychology, along with many text and trade books, among his 300 publications.  He was recently president of the American Psychological Association.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Humour: Useful Work Phrases

As another departure from the topics on which I normally post, I have included the following phrases which one might consider using in their respective work places or other relevant circumstances where one might need to deal with less than pleasant people.

Although I really wouldn't encourage frequent use of these phrases, their use in situations where it is apt and precise can nonetheless be highly gratifying.
  1. Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view. 
  2. The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist. 
  3. I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce. 
  4. Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental. 
  5.  I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don't care. 
  6.  I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid. 
  7. What am I? Flypaper for freaks!? 
  8. I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant. 
  9. I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth. 
  10. I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you. 
  11. It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of karma to burn off. 
  12. Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial. 
  13. No, my powers can only be used for good. 
  14. How about never? Is never good for you? 
  15. I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to worship me. 
  16. You sound reasonable...Time to up my medication. 
  17. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Random Thoughts: A Violinist in the Metro


A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing? 

P.S. The following comments were reproduced from Urban Legends, which confirmed that this event actually took place. The website is provided as follows: http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/music/a/violinist_metro.htm

For 45 minutes on the morning of January 12, 2007, concert violinist Joshua Bell stood incognito on a Washington, D.C. subway platform and performed classical music for passersby. Video and audio of the performance are available on the Washington Post website.

"No one knew it," explained Washington Post reporter Gene Weingarten several months after the event, "but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made." Weingarted came up with the experiment to see how ordinary people would react.

And how did they react? For the most part, not at all. More than a thousand people entered the Metro station as Bell worked his way through a set list of classical masterpieces, but only a few stopped to listen. Some dropped money in his open violin case (for a total of about $27), but most never even stopped to look, Weingarten wrote.

The text above, penned by an unidentifed author and circulated via blogs and email, poses a philosophical question: "If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?"

Which is fair to ask. The demands and distractions of our fast-paced workaday world can indeed stand in the way of appreciating truth and beauty and other contemplative delights when we encounter them. But it's equally fair to point out that there's an appropriate time and place for everything, including classical music. Was such an experiment really necessary to determine that a busy subway platform during rush hour might not be conducive to an appreciation of the sublime? Probably not, though it makes for an interesting story just the same.