business news in context, analysis with attitude

On Friday, MNB took note of an Axios report on a new poll it conducted revealing that "eighty-two percent of Gen Zers say the idea of doing the minimum required to keep their jobs is pretty or extremely appealing — and 15% of that share are already doing so … 85% of young women find the idea of doing the minimum to get by appealing, and 79% of young men feel the same way.  82% of white respondents, 86% of Black respondents, and 79% of Asian respondents share this view of work, as do 84% of Democrats, 79% of Republicans, and 83% of independents."

In other words, "the desire to work to live, instead of living to work," cuts across gender, racial and political lines.

I commented, in part:

if we accept the basic premise of these survey results, it makes it an even higher priority for business leaders to create organizational cultures that communicate the importance of doing more, not less, in one's work life.  That means creating a culture of caring and acknowledges and addresses this trend, not simply decries it.  That means helping everyone within an organization to understand why their contributions matter, and how their individual roles support the whole, and why what they do is meaningful.

Maybe I'm old fashioned … and maybe I'm just old … but I'm a believer in aspiration, perspiration and inspiration.  But those things don't just happen.  They occur in companies when business leaders actually lead.

MNB reader Phil Herr wrote:

Two comments on this story:

We really don’t have any benchmarks against which to measure these data. For all we know attitudes such as these have prevailed for decades — only no-one sought to do the research earlier.

Within corporate environments many workers are distant from the fruit of their output. Being another “cog in the wheel” doesn’t engender inspiration to go above and beyond. It’s a long time since JFK inspired the apocryphal janitor at Cape Canaveral to claim his job was to “put men on the moon”. 

I guess you have a different perspective, being solely responsible and benefitting from your business. 

I didn't always have this kind of autonomy;  I worked for other organizations for some two decades before striking out on my own.  Now, Mrs. Content Guy will tell you that this move was inevitable because I "don't play well with others," and I can't really argue with that. But I also know that I never worked for great companies, rarely had bosses who had any interest in nurturing my talent and taking advantage of my strengths, and never had a mentor.  The good news is that I'm what a therapist might call "self actualized," and so I always felt invested in my work even if my employers weren't really invested in me (and thought that I generally was a pain in the ass).

Here's the thing.  Even the smallest cog plays a role and has meaning.  When that cog is a human being, it is up to leadership to communicate that meaning to the employee and to help them understand their role.  It is about creating a culture of caring within an organization.

To me, that's the very definition of great leadership.  It focuses on people, not just organizations and spread sheets.

I loved this take on the issue from another MNB reader:

What if Olympic athletes did “the minimum?” What about Ukrainian military doing the minimum? What if ….. I’m 76 years old and I’m most proud of the times I gave “just a bit more.” No pride in doing the minimum. And, yes, family is important. It’s not a balancing act; it’s an act of integration.

I think this is absolutely true.  The things I am proudest of in both my personal and professional lives are the times when I did more, not the times I did less.

We had a story the other day about rethinking "gas stations" as "mobility destinations," in line with changing technologies, needs and expectations.  This prompted MNB reader Rich Heiland to write:

The crotchety old editor in me shakes his head and sheds a tear at the headlione that no doubt is coming…

"Police nab shoplifter at local mobility destination."

We linked to a story the other day in the Wall Street Journal about how "trucking contractors that worked frequently for Amazon were more than twice as likely as all other similar companies to receive bad unsafe driving scores … About 39% of the frequent Amazon contractors in the Journal’s analysis received scores at that level."

One MNB reader responded:

This article is eye opening.  All of us in this industry that put on more car miles for our job than the average citizen knows how more dangerous the trucks have become.  I personally have seen drivers on their phone, swerving on the road, tailgating, just pulling into other lanes, speeding.  Just this week while driving a 4hr trip to part of my market, just about every truck was traveling at 75 or more on the highway.  I was cut off, and as previously mentioned, saw one driver holding his phone.  This is just one trip.  Imagine what goes on every day.  (These were not Amazon haulers either)

Something must be done.  I believe that in this environment, we have people starting up trucking companies to make a quick buck, hire immigrants or younger drivers that have totally different or no driving skills and “supposedly” train them, put them on the road, and turn them loose.   Trucking firms need to be held accountable for their lack of action and this article points to that they are not.  One other point, the company owner that put his 21 year old daughter as the owner of Blue Feather Trucking and says he is not involved.  Should be locked up.

On the subject of Walmart+ now offering to pick up returns at its members homes or offices, one MNB reader wrote:

Walmart customers have a great advantage.  In Panama three days ago I purchased a Dolce Gusto Genio Plus coffee machine at a retailer for $160.  Got home and it was, as we say in the appliance industry, “dead on arrival”.   I called Nescafe customer service and they said that the problem was that the product was on the retailer shelf too long.  They instructed me to lift the water tank and put it back and repeat that twenty times.  I did and it still did not work and they told me to do it again.  I balked and said it would be easier for me to just return it to the retailer for another unit.  They said I could not do that and had to bring it to one of their service centers.

The next day I went to the center (25 minutes) and had to wait 5 minutes outside the building for someone to come and get the unit.  I mentioned that the unit probably was in a container for 30 days and in their warehouse for who knows how long and why are they blaming the retailer when it is obviously a design problem.  I had read the Axios article about Walmart+ and showed it to them and said that is how a multinational should act.  They called me later and said they would deliver the fixed unit to my house.  I checked the retailer website and they had a notice saying that they could not accept returns of that product.  I also found out that the problem is happening around the world.  And slow movement by retailers is probably being blamed.

I did a FaceTime video on Friday in which I discussed and found business lessons in three major changes planned by Major League Baseball for the 2023 season - larger bases (to prevent injuries), a pitch clock (to speed up the game), and a ban of the shift.  My argument against a ban of the shift quite simply, is that teams could get rid of it themselves, just by hitting the ball away from the shift.  Hit the ball where the defense isn't, and you get a hit;  in retailing, you have to do things that your competition doesn't if you want a hit.

Got a number of emails on this subject.

One MNB reader wrote:

Wee Willie Keeler said, “Keep your eye on the ball and hit ‘em where they ain’t.”

Keeler had 13 straight seasons in which he batted over .300 and he reached the mark in 16 of the 19 years he played. He had a lifetime average of .345 and for seven straight seasons he also had an on-base percentage that was above .400.

MNB reader Chris Zook wrote:

On the subject of pitch clock I think they should put back into play that the batter has a clock on them to get back into the batter’s box which they tried to do many years ago but it went away after a season.

Regarding the shift, when it first started it was only used on your top power hitters then it started being used on guys in the bottom of the order or just up from the minors. The art of bunting isn’t a thing anymore , how often do you see someone bunt and have it be a good bunt? Nowadays everyone is into launch angles and home runs.

There are Triple A teams out in the Pacific league using the “Robo-Ump” so it will be coming soon. I want to say I remember seeing a story about a batter getting thrown out of the game for arguing the strike zone that the “robo-ump” was using.  I’ve tried to keep an open mind with the new rules of baseball but the one that needs to go and I think it won’t be around next year is the man on 2nd in extra innings.  Steve Stone who’s a broadcaster for the White Sox says if you’re going to use a runner in extra inning then they should start at 1st instead. 

Good Luck to your Mets.

Thanks…and I agree with you about the 10 inning starting with a man on second.  Stupid rule, and I hope they go back to the way it used to be.

MNB reader Glenn A. Cantor wrote:

If pitchers know that hitters will try to beat the shift by hitting the other way, the pitchers will them jam them inside to force them to pull.

Exactly.  I think that's the very definition of baseball.

And finally, last week we had a story on a cultural/societal shift  -  a new Pew Research indicates that "Christians could fall below 50% of the U.S. population by 2070 if recent trends continue."

Which prompted one MNB reader to write:

Very interesting article on Christians and religion.  As I move through life and the aging process, I see more and more of a lack of morals and ethics in the younger generations.  Hmmm…could that be because of the decline of Christianity?  

And I replied:

Your question assumes that people who define themselves as Christian are inherently more moral and ethical than people who define themselves as being part of non-Christian religions, or not part of any organized religion at all.  I would argue that this isn't even close to being true.

I'd also challenge the notion that younger generations are less moral and ethical.  I think there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, not to mention plenty of evidence that their elders are perfectly capable of acting in immoral, unethical ways.

MNB reader Suzanne M. Shriner chimed in:

Full stop.  I may have to frame this answer.  This made my day.

And, from another reader:

And the congregation said AMEN!


Case in point…

I am a 1972 graduate of Iona Preparatory School in New Rochelle, a Catholic institution.  A couple of years ago, the Prep sent out a fundraising letter to alumni for what it called the Brother Harold H. M. Delaney Hardship Relief Fund, which it said was designed to "address the myriad negative repercussions" on the Iona family that are a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  The fund was named after a former principal at the school.

I had a problem with this.  This was the same Harold Delaney who was implicated in lawsuits as having been in charge of Iona Prep at a time when young men were being molested by faculty members.  When he was moved into a leadership role with the Christian Brothers, he was implicated in the moving from school to school of brothers who were engaged in this despicable misconduct.  In other words, he was in positions of responsibility during a time when members of the Christian Brothers were committing acts that were nothing less than a terrible breach of trust - not to mention crimes for which they all should have gone to jail.

And yet, Iona decided that this the person after whom they should name a hardship fund.  I was, and remain, appalled.

And one other thing.  When I was at Iona Prep, between 1968 and 1972, Delaney was principal.  I knew him.  (Though, to be clear, I personally was never molested by him or any other member of the clergy.)

I wrote to the president of the Prep to explain my disgust.

I never got a response.

Two things did happen, though.  One was that they changed the name of the Hardship Fund.  (I guess we can count that as a win). The other was that they (apparently) took my name off the fundraising and alumni rolls, because I've never again received any communications from the school.

You want an example of a "lack of morals and ethics?"  There it is, and it has nothing to do with a decline in the number of Christians in the country.  In fact, I think we'd be better off with a lot fewer of these "Christians."