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Bad Advertising – Wasted Funds

 

When I first started writing these posts, my goal was to share experiences and lessons and not to rant. In this piece I am going to do a little of both because the recent Wells Fargo/Wachovia advertising campaign has my blood pressure up.

On one hand I suppose one could make the case that advertising in the current environment is helping the economy. Being a marketing person, I am all for keeping marketing, advertising and production people employed. I am totally committed to the value and importance of advertising. God knows the media needs every advertising dollar they can generate. But in this case Wells Fargo/Wachovia is spending my money and not very effectively.

Any and every advertising message must communicate a benefit to the consumer. It must be truthful and believable. To be running an almost full-page ad with the headline “One Team, Twice as Strong” is certainly not believable and based upon the amount of money both of these institutions are taking from the federal TARP funds, one could question how truthful it is. I have no idea how much they are spending (between print and TV) on their total media buy but based upon what I have seen it must be substantial. I for one do not see the benefit to consumers in the joining of these two institutions. If there were a benefit than they would have merged long before their collective managements had brought them to the point of total failure. Oh yes, and the benefit is what and for who?

Shouldn’t companies taking taxpayer dollars be using those dollars in a way that will help the economy? Shouldn’t they be loaning money to qualified people whether they are for homes or businesses? Shouldn’t there be some oversight that requires them to be more responsible managers? And if they are going to advertise for goodness sake find a benefit and don’t think you can pull the wool over consumers eyes.

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Silos – The Real Problem

One has to really wonder whether anyone has a clue about the right business model especially for banks. Gretchen Morgenson wrote an excellent piece in the New York Times on January 18th, SundayBusiness section, “The End of Banking As We Know It“. She starts with, “the concept of the financial supermarket – the all-things-to-all-people, intergalactic, behemoth banking institution – bit the dust last week.” She goes on to talk about Citigroup and then talked about Bank of America. While she made some excellent points I do not understand how the Bank of America strategy could be deemed appropriate while Citigroup is deemed a failure but that is for another piece.

Based on my experience the failure of Citigroup can be summed up in one word, silos. Very few organizations have learned how to manage across silos only within silos. I think back to one of my first consulting assignments with New York Life. They like most companies were looking for a silver bullet that would invigorate their business and increase sales and profits. We did our due diligence and discovered what we thought was the Eureka solution. At time New York Life had eight independent business groups, each with its own infrastructure, salesforce, etc. Our specific assignment was to look at the life insurance side of the business, why, because it was the biggest and most profitable. The Eureka moment I speak about involve life insurance but was so much more. What we learned was that less than 20% of all consumers who bought a New York Life life insurance policy also owned more than one other New York Life product.
The solution seemed simple, sell more New York Life products to the consumers who already had a relationship with New York Life. At least it seemed simple at the time. It was when we attempted to communicate this Eureka moment that we began the difficult chore of navigating silo-itis. Getting division managers, never mind the sales forces, to even consider selling one another’s products appeared to be and in fact was an impenetrable problem. As we stood in front of the executive committee presenting what I am sure was a simplistic answer to what they thought was a business conundrum did I came to realize that one does not “force” the division manager to do anything even if it meant building the business. The year was 1984, and it became clear that getting divisions to work together and breaking down the walls that made up the silos was an unsolvable problem.
This lesson was reinforced in spades in the late 80s and early 90s when I worked with Citi which at the time was deemed unstoppable. The bank ever bank wanted to be. This was way before Citigroup, when it was just Citi and basically a bank. Whether it was our work with the bankinf group or the credit card group, it was clear they had their own set of objectives and to a certain degree saw each other as competitors. It was obviously clear that silo-itis would not get solved as they added more businesses, as more consumers overlapped and if those consumers were to be treated as a loyal customer it would only be by one silo and not “everything Citi”.
Let us not think for a moment that this is a phenomenon limited to the financial industry. While I regret to admit that in less than 60 days I will be going on Medicare the experience has been eye-opening to say the least. One does not have to be an efficiency expert to identify incredible duplication and waste in the whole process of signing up for Medicare and Medicare supplemental insurance. One would think that a person who had been successful in business and has a Masters degree would be able to navigate this process. I am getting off subject although I encourage you to look forward to more on this in the future.
The point I want to make has to do with supplemental policies that are required, or at least highly recommended, to pay for those expenses not covered by Medicare. Whether I called Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield or United Healthcare, two of the largest, I learned that the silo effect was alive and well. Again without getting off subject there are three basic parts to Medicare; Part A pays for doctors, Part B is for hospitals, and part D is for drugs. I guess because supplemental insurance is so lucrative it is easy to call an 800 number to get questions answered. In fact, one counselor can actually help with both Part A and Part B but not part D – that is a different department. To make matters worse while the “counselor” could give me an 800 number she should could not transfer me to someone who could either answer questions or sell me Part D insurance.  She made it easy to look elsewhere.
A last example which I cannot resist because it is one of my favorites. Because my wife and I wanted the advantages of an iPhone our cellular provider is AT&T. In Connecticut where we live our landline is AT&T. In Florida where we have a vacation home our landline is AT&T. In none of these cases did we choose AT&T. In each case, we are a customer by default (monopoly is still alive in America.) In fact, we really are not a customer of AT&T at all but Cingular, SNET, and BellSouth. All acquisitions because AT&T could not find a way to successfully grow organically. Like so many companies AT&T wants you to pay your bill online. I have three separate online accounts with AT&T to pay my bills, to get information or reach customer service and none of these “AT&T” sites can talk to one another because they are still years later really Cingular, SNET, and BellSouth . Another case of silos where the customer is inconvenienced and the company loses any hope of leverage either from a cost-saving point of view or cross-selling its consumer because the silos defend their turf rather than benefit the consumer.
Once again we have met the enemy and it is us. If corporations began to look at their silos and dictate their destruction they would grow their consumer base, they would lower their costs and most importantly they would build brand equity..

Budgets Tell No Lies

This morning as I read the New York Times and a headline caught my attention, For Homeland Security Nominee, Good Leadership Is in the Details”. The opening paragraph read as follows:

PHOENIX — Janet Napolitano, the Arizona governor and nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, has been busy the past few weeks with a painstaking review of … the department’s budget.

She will tell you understanding the budget is understanding the policy directives of any organization,” said Jan Lesher, her chief of staff who, like several aides, is preparing to join Ms. Napolitano in Washington if, as expected, she is confirmed after a Senate hearing on Thursday.

Brilliant, an absolutely brilliant statement. It reminded me of so many stories of frustration both when I worked for corporations directly and then consulted to them. Ms. Napolitano’s modus operandi is certainly not new but few embrace it.

It reminded me of a situation when I was working for Bristol-Myers in the early 1980s, now Bristol-Myers Squibb. An industry study found its way to the chairman illustrating that Bristol-Myers spend more on new consumer products than any of its peer companies and had the lowest success rate. Needless to say, senior management was not pleased. What did they do, formed a task force of course. Being responsible for new products at the Drackett Company (their household products arm) I found myself on the task force.

Like most diligent employees conscripted to a task force we had long meetings, lots of fact-finding and detailed analysis of budgets and behavior over a five-year period. When we met with management to share our conclusions none of the members of the task force really wanted to speak up. Being too young, too dumb and too ambitious, a terrible combination, I finally spoke up. Gentleman I said, “Bristol-Myers does not want new products or have the stomach for the inherent risks that come from introducing new products. We sure go through the motions but stop well short of getting to the marketplace.” Not exactly the conclusion senior management was looking for.

What we learned was that the people who worked in new products, the innovators, creators and change agents either wanted out of the new products department or the company. The finding was that no one, not one person, had ever been promoted out of new products. All promotions and the higher salary levels went to people who were lucky enough to be assigned to the largest divisional brands. It had nothing to do with how or whether they had grown their brand but everything to do with maintaining their brand, minimizing risk and maintaining the status quo. They were evaluated on whether they made their number. The number which by the way they set and was a sales number not a profit number. Oh, and this magic number that was never intended to be significantly higher than the prior year. Predictability is far more important than innovation. Why would anyone want to work in new products? Fortunately much of this thinking has changed but it has taken far too long.

The other thing we found was that new product P&L’s were compared to those of established brands. For example, Windex and Drano were longtime leading brands at the Drackett Company. The amount of marketing support because of their number one category position was significantly lower than any new brand needed to be. Yet these comparisons on marketing support, cost of goods, you name it where the benchmarks for new products and benchmarks no new product could meet. I am sure you can understand why there were no new products.

Jumping a decade or so to when I left corporate life to begin consulting this lesson of looking at the budget was reinforced. I cannot tell you how many times a client would say, “I would love to do this but I do not have the budget.” The translation, “I really do not want to do it, it just seems too risky and all my funds are committed to doing all the stuff that is not working anyway.” Denis Healey is credited with one of the great quotes “it is a good thing to follow the First Law of Holes: if you are in one, stop digging.”

The hardest thing for most corporate managers to do is to stop doing something. An exercise that we used to take clients through was to make lists of every activity on every line in the budget. These were both direct and indirect costs. For example what is the cost of hiring a person to do something that does not need to be done? For each item they were required to put a number between 1 and 10. 1 meant not at all important or critical and 10 meant absolutely critical to the business. From this exercise it always became clear that two thirds of the things in the budget, two thirds of their activities were not directly impacting the growth of the business.

With this learning in hand we could then take them through a stop, keep, start doing exercise. Let us take the things that we believe we need to start doing and eliminate those things that are not impacting the growth of the business going forward. It is absolutely amazing how much money turns up. It is actually amazing how many activities are being perpetuated because no one has the determination to just say stop doing that. It may have been a good idea at one point but its usefulness has long passed. Think about what you could stop doing and how much time and money that would turn up for new ideas, innovation and a more rewarding work experience.

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Indexed – Creative Concept

A friend introduced me to Indexed, one of the most thought provoking creative sites I have seen. After days of pondering Jessica’s insights I offer one of my own which will make more sense after visiting her site.

indexed-conribution1

Any Ideas?

Blogged with the Flock Browser

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Going Where the Puck Will Be

I have been criticized by many of my friends for believing that America will come out of this recession faster and stronger than many believe. In this morning’s e-mail my daughter shared an e-mail she received from a recruiter in the sports marketing business. She shared it primarily because of the hockey metaphor but I read it more for the hope it illustrates. You see I believe it is the entrepreneur, the small business person who has the imagination and instinct to reinvent and they will bring us back.

Happy 2009! After one of the most tumultuous and eventful years we have ever seen, we turn the page and embrace what will surely be another year of more transformation and also of new opportunities to be taken advantage of. At the threshold of the New Year, I am pleased to announce that I am reconfiguring my business and launching Generate Partners. Change does not favor those standing still and, if you’ll forgive me the hockey metaphor, the idea is to always look to skate to where the puck is going to be in order to better position ourselves to help our clients bring the right talent onboard to grow their businesses.

It does not matter whether he knows exactly where the puck will be because he is smart enough to know he can’t score standing still or waiting for it to come to him. His probability for success has increased exponentially by conceptualizing where it will be and going there.

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To Reboot or Not to Reboot

Searching the term “reboot” through a variety of Web services generally gives you the most common definition of turning off the computer or operating system and turning it back on. To reboot your system. We have all learned to do that when all else fails especially when there is a problem we cannot identify or fix. For reasons that none of us can understand, if we turn off the computer when we turn it back on nine times out of ten everything is fine.

In a previous post I referred to Tom Friedman’s use this term in his recent NYTimes opinion piece. Others have picked up on it and a mini discussion on the need for America to reboot has begun. Recently Marian Salzman, a friend and colleague, wrote about and was on CNN discussing the need to reboot.  While I have great respect for Marian and think she is one of the brightest at identifying trends I question her on this one. Is this really what we need to do? Have things gotten to the point where we have no idea what is wrong and we hope that if we turn it all off and then turn it back on all will be fixed. I do not think so. While we may not have common agreement on what is wrong I am hopeful that we could get agreement that more things are right than wrong. Even if that were not true what is it that we are going to turn off in hopes of getting what right?

An alternative to reboot is reinvention. By reinventing something we take what is working and make it better. Reinventing something is needed when the current product, service or behavior is out of sync with the people or situation it is trying to serve or get along with. For example a digital camera is nothing more than a reinvention of the camera that uses film. An MP3 player is a reinvention of the disc player which is a reinvention of the tape player; I think you get my point. In each case a better or more convenient solution has been found that meets evolving consumer needs. If one accepts this definition, there is much that we need to reinvent.

We need to reinvent how we deal with other countries and people so they will work with us not against us. We need to reinvent what and how much we buy so we can maintain a good quality of life and secure the planet for future generations. We need to reinvent how we govern and spend our tax monies so they are not wasted and the purpose for government can succeed. We need to reinvent how business leaders take risk and assume responsibility for their behavior. We need to reinvent how we get along with each other replacing nastiness for civility.

Most of all we need to reinvent what the agenda should be going forward. Leadership institutions whether they are businesses, universities, charitable organizations or governments succeed by having a clear agenda or purpose. A clear agenda leads to a common culture and a mutual desire for success. General Motors is in a heap of trouble because they chose not to reinvent. Apple is one of America’s most admired corporations because it understands and executes on a continual basis the concept of reinvention. A clear and executable agenda for the next decade will allow Americans to reinvent themselves into a stronger and more prosperous society.

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Where Are We Going?

I cannot remember the circumstance that elicited the following advice but I try to follow and share it. Always be sure you are going to something and not away from something. This has helped me evaluate job changes and make personal decisions. It seems so appropriate right now. One cannot pick up a newspaper, listen to a television talking head or contemplate what appears to be the insanity in government without asking where are we going.

The other day, Michelle Obama sent me an e-mail suggesting I make a donation to a food bank or charity. Great idea but I have gotten so many requests from the Obama organization to give money that I just moved her e-mail into the trash. You have to give the Obama organization credit for trying to keep us involved but it is almost always about giving money to something. From retiring Hillary Clinton’s debt to Obama’s inauguration committee. There was an exception that made a lot of sense, they invited me to go to a local meeting on what needs to change. At least the new administration wants to keep involved those people who they have e-mail addresses for. What about the rest of America?   How are we going to reach them and what are we asking them to do?

Tom Friedman, the New York Times opinion writer and author, continues to challenge his reader with the concept of America needing to retool or reinvent itself. In almost everything he writes he makes a compelling case for how the rest of the world is moving ahead and we seem to be stuck in a 9/11 fear. It raises a question when one contemplates the current cause of our economic situation and position in the world if in fact is not our focus on the past, especially the events of 9/11, versus the future. Is America going to something or are we just trying to go away from something?

I am happy to admit being an unabashed Obama fan. His message of hope is what America needs. I remember Jack Kennedy and remember sitting with my grandfather who had never voted for a Democrat in his life explaining to me that America needed hope far more than party loyalty. From the first time Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention to his early primary speeches he made the words and pictures of hope go together. That America could do better if we wanted it to. He was able to prove over and over again that civility was a better course than negativism.

Even with that said I have a growing concern with O and he is not even president yet. He has put together a diverse, intelligent and innovative Cabinet. He appears to have a Cabinet that is not only balanced in a classic diversity sense, but combines experienced “bureaucrats” with highly motivated individual thinkers. He has set a positive mood while being honest with America. “Things are going to get worse before they get better.” It is always good to set expectations that you can exceed. But my growing disappointment is in the fact that at least to date he has not put forth what it is that he wants me, my family and my neighbors to do so we can all make America better.

Last week J. Walker Smith who has long been with the Yankelovich organization gave his annual presentation on the outlook for 2009. Yankelovich has been tracking consumer attitudes for over 30 years so he has a solid analytical database for his predictions. What I found most interesting was his discussion on not where we are going but what we (as marketers) had to do. Whether one might agree or disagree, Walker made a real case that marketing organizations had to get consumers back out in the stores buying things. We owe it to the country to encourage consumers to stimulate the economy. Who knows whether he was right or wrong or whether marketing organizations have the confidence to move on programs which might seem politically incorrect when the country is so overspent. What I found important and resonated was that Walker was asking all of us as marketers to do something.

Tell us O what should we be doing? What behavioral changes do we need to make? What is your plan for us and how can we be part of the solution? Please stop asking me to give money to things. You said it yourself throwing money at things is not a solution. I remember growing up as I would walk down into our basement right by the door was a gray helmet with a CD emblem on the front, a whistle and a flashlight. Even though where we lived the houses were pretty spread out my mother was a local civil defense leader. The Cold War required us to be ready and everyone had a role. Who is ready to be an economic defense leader and what should we be asking them to do?

I agree with Tom Friedman we need to reboot, retool and reinvent but the operative word is we. Washington needs to quit doing and start engaging. Washington needs to show leadership and give out assignments and stop asking for money and throwing money at the problem, assuming they know what the problem is. Leadership needs to lay out, as Jack Kennedy did in his inaugural speech, where we need to be going. We must stop this reaction to where we have been. This will be my hope as I watch Barack Obama on January 20th.

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Auto Industry “Problem” – Revisited

So what about the auto bailout?President-Elect Obama keeps stating this cannot be just a financial bailout but a solution that includes fixing “the problem”. Unless I have missed it, there appears to be little agreement on what is “the problem”. What do you think the probability of success will be when there does not appear to be an agreement to what the problem is, there is significant political grandstanding and an unrealistic time frame? The scary part is that at least General Motors understood the problem back in the early 1980s and spent billions of dollars attempting to solve the problem. It is ironic that the proposed solution is now a candidate for elimination.

In the mid-1980s General Motors started a project which I was lucky enough to work on as a consultant.In abbreviated terms it was to reinvent the auto industry or at least General Motors and how they would go to market. The key problems that management had identified were the changing marketplace and competing against smaller Japanese imports. In essence we were solving for what would be ideal mass consumer car of the future, how should it be built (where geographically, next-generation labor force, utilization of technology) and most importantly how should it be sold. It was on this last point that I had the opportunity to offer input.What was interesting was that the innovation team for sales and marketing could not see the product.This was to be all about finding a way to more successfully fulfill the consumer’s need. Remember we were addressing what the ideal would be.

If it is not apparent, this project was the conceptualization of what became Saturn. After looking at all the competition, segments and subsegments of consumers and doing our best at ignoring history and conventional wisdom we were able to identify some opportunities to work against.Women were being summarily ignored and ill treated at the dealerships.While some consumers thought you had to haggle on the price of cars many did not, especially women.Single women and first-time buyers (primarily women) would be a growing potential cohort.How cars were sold at dealerships only added to complexity and cost.Clearly there was a big opportunity to change the sales and marketing of automobiles.

While it is now shocking that Saturn is being considered for elimination that is not the issue.But it would be nice if somebody went back and did some analysis on why Saturn went from being the innovator in the automobile industry to just another unprofitable car brand?Someone should find and talk to Don Hudler who was the head of sales and marketing and the true innovator at the time.It would sure be nice to know what he thinks after having fought the war to try and fix “the problem”.The press has reported over and over again that the “Saturn solution” was a money-losing venture and always would be.Would it not be valuable to learn something from those lost billions of dollars? Especially before we invest more.

Listening and reading all of the rhetoric about accountability and the need to reinvent the automobile industry only talks to after-the-fact metrics and totally ignores any consideration to what needs to be done.Developing a reinvention plan requires the combination of analytical rigor with creative thinking.Why is it that Congress appears to be so dissatisfied with the “plans” that the automobile manufacturers have offered up?The answer is actually very simple; Congress got exactly what they asked for because they didn’t know what to ask for.Had they asked, what would the ideal American based automobile industry look like in 2018 and what would we have to do to get there, they would have gotten a very different plan.

From my limited exposure to the automobile industry which consists of working for two GM brands some time ago, one being Saturn the other Saab, I would suggest with confidence that more than enough information exists that would allow for the analytical rigor and creative thinking necessary to answer that question.If I were President-elect Obama, my request would be for an innovation team to determine what does the ideal industry look like.This team would consist of industry experts inside and outside the automobile industry as well as some people who have the proven skills to contribute to finding a solution.There are many companies that do this every day.The processes and skill sets required are proven.From experience I would guarantee a solution to the “problem” and it could be achieved in no more than 30 days.

Is it not about time we started to ask the right question and spend our money on a solution with a higher probability of success?

My associate Kevin Hoffberg has some additional thoughts worthy of consideration.

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Time to Work Together

So much for change and a new beginning.  Nancy Pelosi is giving directives to the auto industry to come back with a plan.  This morning I read that David Axelrod has joined the “us versus them” camp rather than the “we” camp.  As I read about the new appointees to government and the change that Barack Obama hopes to bring to Washington, hope grew.  But the statements or better the directives to the auto industry causes my hope to quickly fade.

Why is it so hard to work together?  There is no question that a healthy domestic auto industry is critical to a healthy economy.  Why are we making the industry pass some test?  Why can we not be working together to find a solution that is good for the taxpayers (the government does represent the taxpayer right) and the industry as a whole?  Should this not be about we the people?

My disappointment and fading hope for change is heightened not only by this “us versus them” but by the auto industry’s inability to communicate and share what should be available work product.  It is incomprehensible that the big three have not completed long-range plans.  And that these plans would not include detailed scenarios covering financial, competitive and future economic outcomes.  And that these plans would not include a simple “sources and uses” exhibit.  What funds they would need, where would they come from (not just from the government) and how would they be used.  A common and most basic business planning document has to exist.

Why are members of Congress and the Obama transition team not sitting down with a strategic planning team from the auto industry and working on a plan that is a win-win for the American public.  It seems apparent that everyone knows what the problem is and it is not just a problem with the auto industry.  People cannot borrow money even if they want to buy a new vehicle.

It is not in anyone’s best interest to keep testing the industry.  If they do not have any of this work done it will become immediately apparent and then that problem could be solved by getting management teams that can assemble the appropriate information.  Why are we wasting time pretending this is not everybody’s problem to be solved?  It is strange that we want so much change but cannot work together for a change.

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Reinventing Social Responsibility

Like so many Americans the events of this past week have been cause for reflection and generated hope.  Election night took me back to the fall of 1968.

Seeing Barack Obama in Grant Park brought back memories that honestly have always been troubling.  In 1968, I was working for then Vice President Hubert Humphrey and a very different event was taking place in that park.  It was a strange event that at the time I did not understand and did not know how to process.  The event this past week I do know how to process and I find that like so many other Americans has lifted my spirits unlike 1968.

Remembering 1968 also brings back memories of hope.  At the time I was completing my MBA in business-government relations at the American University.  I was fortunate enough to have a Whirlpool Fellowship which allowed me access to working with the National Alliance of Business (NAB.)  The organization came to being partially because of the riots in our cities, the unemployment situation and the realization by leading businesspeople that the problems in the country would only be solved if business and government work together.  The buzzword at the time was social responsibility.  As it turned out the concept was more of a fad than a trend but that’s another discussion.

Nonetheless the spirit of cooperation was certainly not a waste because for even a brief period business and government at least attempted to work together to solve the country’s problems.  What they may have learned from each other is a whole other story.  This reflection on 1968 gives me the hope that organizations like the National Alliance of Business will resurface.  In his Chicago acceptance speech President-elect Obama spoke of each and every American being part of the solution.  The question will be who will take the initiative to make that happen.  Could the Chamber of Commerce put its partisan perspective aside to lead the charge?  Is there a role for universities and their students who clearly got involved this year to take that energy to the next step?

My career has been built on a simple premise that everything is a reinvention.  (One simple example of reinvention would be cave drawings led to illustrations which led to pictures on film which led to digital pictures.  e.g., how to capture and save an image.)  Could the basic intent behind social responsibility be reinvented?  Could the principles and processes of quality decision-making be brought to bear?  Could business and government actually work together?  We are facing real life-threatening problems, social problems, business problems they are not just government’s problems to solve.  If workers are worried about where they are going to be living or how they are going to feed their families, and how can they be productive.

Successful businesspeople from the one-person entrepreneur to the giant corporation have a common goal.  They must be overachievers when it comes to identifying what is the real problem and how to solve it.  Larger organizations have bigger problems so they require more sophisticated techniques to analyzing them and ensure that in the end they are making quality decisions.  They cannot rely on conventional wisdom (i.e., emotional or political solutions).  Those that collect the most facts, broaden the potential for solutions and weigh the alternatives in an objective fashion will win.

Is this not what we need right now?  Saying that we have a problem with the economy or the housing market or the financial markets is far too broad.  We need to map out what are all of the symptoms in each of the trouble areas and determine where there are common touch points.  I think of the game at the arcade where the mole sticks his head up and you try to hit it with a hammer only to have him go away and come up someplace else.  A business manager would separate out what are causes from the effects to determine the solution with the highest probability of success.  This is what our new government can do, must do.  Yes we can!

It is important that collectively, all of our institutions from business to academics to government, work together to map out all of the issues because solving just one will most certainly have some positive impact but would also have a negative impact on those problems which were not addressed.  Nothing should be addressed in isolation.  As the cliché goes, we must measure twice and cut once.  We can learn a lot from Obama’s campaign.  In the words of David Axelrod many people had a voice but there was one decision-maker, Barack Obama.  He also ensured that there was never any drama.  Things were looked at on a very factual basis and that once a decision was made everyone marched forward together never looking back.  Can we learn from this?  Yes we can!

There many things about the last eight years which in hindsight have had less than positive impact on we the people.  One that comes to mind is the exclusion of different points of view.  Some would call it a loss of freedom, transparency, but mostly we the people abdicated our responsibility to participate and we had a government that was happy to exclude us.  This cannot continue if we are to succeed.  We the people must be part of the solution.  The business community has the tools and the skills to be part of the solution.  We cannot, they cannot, continue to abdicate responsibility and then sit back and see what’s going to happen.  Finding the right solution is far too important.  Can we reinvent the NAB and the concept of social responsibility?  Can we find the right solutions together? Yes we can!.