What This Blog is About

A long time mentor and friend, Cicely Berry, often says: "all we do comes from our need to survive".

Cis is the Voice Director of The Royal Shakespeare Company. Her profound work and deep appreciation of the human spirit has affected diverse communities all over the world.

Will take you to my current work.

This blog is dedicated to the belief that the overall health of a community or organization is a clear reflection of their ability to communicate.

"Cada cabeza es un mundo" - Cuban proverb

"Every head is a world"

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Building Other Kinds of Work Places

Yesterday, I met with someone I have trusted and respected for many years. His work as a learning expert has always been driven with integrity and care. I was interested to hear about his work in School Reform, something he has been involved with for several years.

We talked for hours and frustration drove through the passion and commitment he cannot avoid in anything he works at. Here's one thing he mentioned that I heard, that I hope I am overstating. However, I fear that I am not.

He said that "...if a child does not learn to read by the 6th grade or by nine years of age, it's pretty much decided in our school system , especially if it's a boy, that child will be going to jail. And, budgets and the building of jails in the U.S. are based on the metrics of that expected population". Whether this is fact or his view and experience, I am not certain. But I trust his knowledge.

Now, my mind was racing back to a conversation with a brilliant graduate student in a technology and design course that I had guessed lectured at about five years ago. I remembered him telling me that he wanted to bring his family from India to New York. And, that while he wanted to do very innovative work, he could not refuse the job offers he was getting to create deep programming on school testing standards. He related to me that he felt the kinds of programming he would be involved in might set metrics and standards that would be in place for a long time based on the political will and intentions of the initiatives in place.

Prisons are an industry. Another workplace that often drives the economy of a town, city and related state systems.

However, like the aging workforce, where a startling number of people turn fifty years old every hour of everyday, according to studies by organizations like Watson Wyatt, prisons too, are experiencing an aging population. Not just the muscle bound exercise yard constituency, but a population needing a host of different responses to their realities.

If the danger of the aging workforce to large organizations means a loss of people with knowledge (and it does), causing these organization a dangerous inability to meet productivity requirements in the very near future, what does this aging prison population mean to the economy of their work place?

Once again, I am thinking about the way the ancient Greeks defined economy. As the ability to sustain the life of something for as long as possible. Not about money.

Are we providing for the next generation of prison populations figured by metrics via another form of Demand Fulfillment? And, more cynical, by Demand Creation?

I am not suggesting this as a foolish conspiracy axiom. What I am suggesting is:

Children at any age want and need to change.

It is natural and expected.

What is not natural is to predict that children cannot change. And, therefore, by using these kinds of proposed metrics as indicators of human reality, we can move ahead on the budget agendas in hundreds of offices around a country that is based on free decision making with a dreadful plan and unlimited consequential adjournments supported by fabricated statistic determinations.

Please click on Comment and join in.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Produce, Profitability & Rhetoric

This article in the NY Times Business Section today, tells a world of stories. In the U.S., we are hammered with volatile language everyday, with talk radio and television rhetoric about immigrant labor, global sourcing and related issues.

The Times article is called "The Labor of Raising Fresh Produce". It's an interview with the chief executive of Del Monte Produce (thought of as a classic American brand). His name is
Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh.

Q. In parts of the country in the latest harvest, crops went to waste because of a labor shortage. Do you struggle with finding enough workers?

A. This is a challenge, something that we have to work on. We have a big operation in Arizona, where we produce melons in the spring and fall. And we use a lot of labor in the fields for picking and packing. This, of course, is a situation where we have to live with the new wages that have just been passed on by Congress. And also the issue of having access to labor from Mexico. This is an issue that the whole industry is dealing with. Our prices to the consumer haven’t been raised to handle this increase in labor costs. The additional costs will have to be passed on to the consumer. We won’t be able to absorb the costs for a very long time.

Q. When you recently reported your fourth-quarter and full-year earnings, you said that 2006 was your most challenging year. Why?

A. Higher costs from energy. That affected packing and plastics and logistics in every way. Prices for everything went up, and all of a sudden. At the end of 2005, when we projected for 2006, we never expected energy and fuel prices to shoot up by 50, 60, 70 percent. Also, the dollar has weakened over the past year. And the currencies in our producing nations have shot up.

Q. How will you turn things around in 2007?

A. We closed operations that were not so profitable, like some potato operations and onion operations in North America, and sold some others. We also closed some pineapple operations in Hawaii, where costs were extremely high. We will see benefits from these actions. We are also working on some pricing, like with bananas, in North America.

Q. Where do you see the most opportunity for growth this year?

A. We are focusing on our new markets, Middle East and Africa. Countries like the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, where we have a successful poultry operation.
In Africa, we are focusing on North Africa; Algeria is a strong market in particular. We have just opened a state-of-the-art plant for processed meats in Jordan, and we will market the products throughout the whole region.
We are also now entering into ice creams in Europe. We are experiencing high growth rates in volumes, and we are intending to expand that into new markets as well.

And this from me, Sal.

In the U.S., the average life expectancy of a migrant farm worker has been consistently placed to be under 50 years old for many years now, from sources like the Center for Disease Control.

And this, from
http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/migrants.html NOW, Bill Moyers and PBS.

Children who work on farms are governed by different rules than those in any other occupation. They can start work at age 12 if accompanied by a parent. Child farm laborers can also work longer hours.

According to the General Accounting office more than 100,000 children and teens are injured on farms each year.

The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs has found that half the youth who regularly perform farm work never graduate from high school.

Back to Sal.

Some will view this post as "liberal" in nature and just more rhetoric. Others may see it as cynical or even as a clue to what makes a country trustworthy of financial investment and forgo the humanity angle.

Economies are driven by "foreign" investments and cash flow especially at times of war when cash is critical. The trade offs for cash flow are often surprising to the non-initiated.

To understand the geo/economic/business decisions that are made and to connect the dots between the NY Times article and what people in the produce workplace really experience requires a deeper discussion than the nonsense we are fed everyday.

We are all powerfully involved as owners, managers, consumers and laborers of the food work place.

I am exhausted from the useless family type arguments about politics while this work place embodies the very survival instincts of everyone in a world where distribution is so blatantly unfair.

And, it's become just too easy to accept the conversation of the food industry. Starvation in our cities and country sides around the world is commonplace at the same time we think about what's for dinner as some political agenda is radiated through an infotainment format.

What formats do you believe affect our perception of these kinds of issues? Radio? Television? Print? Internet? Conversation? Social Networking?


Friday, March 23, 2007

What's In An Aspect Ratio?

What changed in our buying behaviors that drove us to wide screen computer and television screens? When and why did our preferences move from square to rectangle?

Wide screen was radical only a few years ago and thought to relate only to certain technologies like High Definition imaging.

Painters have always created to have us sense the image beyond the dimensions of the canvas that we see in front of us. Stage directors always attempt to create a realm beyond the stage we see.

Is it possible that today, since we are hammered with repetitive images on television and computer screens, that wide screen may offer us a sense that more exists beyond the repetition we see and hear?

Or, is wide screen a true example of Demand Creation? Something that has been initiated for us to embrace and buy?

Perhaps, gaming and a sense of bringing home what people once had to go to a movie theater to experience, provides us a sense of safety and control of the entertainment and information we encounter. Often, the information we get on our screens is intolerable from a human point of view and yet, it becomes almost like Teflon in the way we don't quite feel or acknowledge the experience of receiving it.

What is this change to wide screen? This stretch of image. What do you think it represents?


Friday, March 2, 2007

How Do We Co-Design Development?

"Everywhere you find innovation today, a community is involved."– Patricia Seybold, author of Outside Innovation: How Your Customers Will Co-Design Your Company's Future (Collins, October 2006).


Check this article out for the fundamental reality that in today's environment the workplace and the marketplace are often one and the same.