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Nancy Lublin from Do Something wrote a great column in this month’s Fast Company on overhead as the bogeyman of the non-profit sector.

She’s right.  There is nothing inherently evil about overhead.  Of course, some types of overhead are wasteful (think: auto execs, private jets, and Obama).  However, other overhead is good and extremely worthwhile. IT spend in a telecommunications company, for example, is not only necessary but can be a source of strategic differentiation if applied appropriately (think: 3G).

My day job is in HR and leadership consulting.  There, we struggle with this issue on a regular basis. While “people are our greatest asset,” they show up in only one place on the financial reports.  That would be under expenses.  So how do we tend to manage people?  That’s right, as liabilities.

The good news is that the earth is moving in HR.  Companies are finding increasingly accurate ways to measure  the productivity and capacity of the workforce as opposed to just payroll expesnse. Let’s hope that we start to see a similar shift in the NGO world.  Because simply viewing overhead as a necessary evil is not only flawed thinking but can severely constrain our organizations in their ability to grow and more effectively serve their constituencies.


Georges Doriot, the purported father of the venture capital industry, firmly believed that there was no shortage of good ideas out there, but rather a shortage of individuals capable of carrying them out.

My own conversations with modern-day venture capitalists confirms that one of biggest challenges for VC firms continues to be predicting the capacity of the entrepreneur to successfully startup and manage the business.

Startable blog has a great post, complete with advice, echoing these sentiments here:

YOU are the problem: the reason why so many startups don’t get venture funding | Startable.

It turns out that even medical doctors are subject to the whims of irrationality and the phenomena of behavioral economics.

This would come as no surprise to Nassim Taleb (whose next book I fear will not be very kind to the medical profession –, but is likely to be a bit disturbing to the rest of us who tend to be guilty of assigning god-like status to our physicians.

If you ever wondered whether pharma companies are effective at influencing the behavior of doctors, please read the linked article below.

The Ethical Taint of Post-It Notes — and the Power of a Company Policy « Lead Good

I recently had the pleasure of returning to my college workplace – a resort in northwestern MN – for an alumni reunion.

The work at this resort was far from being inherently satisfying or intellectually stimulating. Yet, the job brought an enormous amount of joy to my life. The people I worked with were intelligent and talented, and we were given and created opportunities to play, take risks, and put our minds together to solve all kinds of problems – large and small. Those interactions engendered levels of both enjoyment and interpersonal trust that I have yet to find in any other employer.

Play is vitally important to self-actualization in our personal and professional lives, and yet somewhere between childhood, adolescence and adulthood we seem to forget how to play.

The following three TED talks pay tribute to this idea in amazing and inspiring ways. Please watch and have fun with them!

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June 2009
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