A simple rumor about Steve Job’s health sent Apple Stock lower today by 32 cents, December 30, 2008, reported many newspapers including the L.A. Times
. No objective facts, just conjecture about his health status suggested to enough investors that there was a human capital threat to shareholder value at Apple to sell shares.
It’s a high-profile example of the importance of one facet of Human Capital, that of “presenteeism” and poor health. Presenteeism is the presence of sick employees on the job, who are unable to perform at their normal peak because of health problems. It’s a serious threat to the livelihood of a firm who, in Apple’s case, depend heavily on the leadership of their founder and current CEO, Jobs. If Jobs is unable to perform fully – or horrifyingly – if he’s unable to work at all, it would have a material effect on Apple’s ability to continue to produce iPhones, iPods, iTunes and the plethora of profitable innovations released recently under his watch.
It’s also a special case example of why leadership due diligence is a necessary part of Enterprise Risk Management. Jobs ability to work at full performance is a material risk to the longevity of the firm.
Posted in Evidence-based Management, Leadership, Leadership Due Diligence
Tagged Absenteeism, Apple, ERM, Health, Human Capital, iPhone, iPod, iTunes, Jobs, Leadership, Presenteeism, Risk, Stock
In a previous post, I noted the presence of cargo cults who actually worship an World War II American as their religion. I’m very grateful to a friend, Gilbert Kporku, for sending me these two videos that go into greater detail on the cargo cult phenomenon, and especially the current John Frum example.
As someone born in the US, and well traveled, I’ve often wondered about the variation in sentiments about leaders from America. I often felt treated as a prototypical American. People assume I fully support every action the politicians from the US government make, frequently false. The feelings of people in Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Pakistan, and Iraq about US Government Leaders are well known to be fairly negative. I recall as a 16 year old living in Norway, that Europeans would often deride me because of their dislike of US government policy – though I wasn’t old enough to vote. With the US Government meddling in others domestic affiars, and breaking its’ own rules frequently, I don’t like but understand the term “Great Satan” used in parts of the middle east to describe the USA.
But I’ve also experienced a sort of American “halo bias“. In my frequent trips to India, I’ve found Indians extremely happy to meet an American. I have had random strangers want to shake my hand, have me hold their baby for a picture, or buy me a free soda. Yes, I often am offered free Coca-Cola at shops in India.
What I didn’t know until this article, is that there is actually a religion that worships the US. The BBC reports that every February, the people of Vanuatu celebrate John Frum day with US army uniforms, wooden weapons and the Star Spangled Banner. They paint “USA” on their chests. Village Chief Isaac Wa, says “John is our god”, and believes that an American from World War II will be returning to Vanuatu’s 30,000 Frum worshipers. This group of people in the small micronesian country are part of a “cargo cult“.
A cargo cult appears sometimes in tribal groups upon their first interaction with technologically advanced alien groups of people. These cults are focused on obtaining material wealth of the advanced culture through magical thinking, and religious rituals. In Vanuatu’s case, they believe an American GI named John Frum helped them rebel against the aggressive teachings of British and French missionaries and colonial masters. They believe the American helped them retain their culture by throwing off the oppression of a foreign state, not unlike the original patriots who founded the US. Vanuatu people celebrate annually, hoping and praying for the return of the man they call their “Jesus”.
David Calderwood’s article about these Cargo Cults reminded me of Richard Feynman’s critique of 1960’s-era psychology. But Calderwood makes a compelling case for the current lack of understanding of US natives optimistic about government intervention turning around the US economic crisis. He notes that Americans have naive, and unsophisticated views of how wealth is created, and so they, like those from Vanuatu, have a sort of Cargo Cult worship of government-intervention in economics.
Business leaders would do well to consider how we’re perceived when we do business in other countries. Most globe trotting leaders with whom I’ve worked with are already concerned with security. But they often are relatively insulated from the root cause of the sentiment about the US – positive or negative. Even though business leaders are not responsible for foreign policy decisions, they often take the brunt of it, with some being kidnapped or killed for their iconic status as an American. As we are seen as prototypes of our entire homeland, we must be ambassadors for goodwill with other free people to do our best to change inaccurately positive or negative views of us and similar others.
Posted in Leadership
Tagged Cargo Cult, Cuba, India, Iraq, Jesus, John Frum, Leadership, Pakistan, Palestine, Patriot, Satan, Saudi Arabia, Savior, USA, Vanuatu, Venezuela
With the Bernie Madoff being the latest in a series of massive financial frauds caused by leaders who misrepresented themselves, the time may have come to broaden the financial world’s definition of “transparency”. I’d like to offer a broader view to include publicly reported reports on leadership knowledge, skills, abilities, traits, values and interests. Would you have invested in Madoff’s Ponzie scheme if you had previously reviewed a report from a trusted authority on leadership assessment that noted he is low on conscientiousness and prudence? How would a board view this same report on a founder-CEO?
How well do you know your leaders?
Poor leadership is common, but leaders rarely fail in such a public way. In one study of nearly 400 Fortunte 1000 companies, 47% of executives and managers rated their company’s overall leadership as fair or poor; and only 8% rated it as excellent (Csoka, 1998). Personality traits predict both performance and ineffective leadership. For example, conscientiousness is one of the “Big 5” factors of normal personality that has been shown to consistently predict both job performance and dishonest behavior in the worklpace. Former professors of mine, Robert and Joyce Hogan have written extensively about this area, and have authored some of the better classical test theory instruments for normal personality, the “dark side” or disfunctional leadership, and leader motives, values and preferences. None of these sorts of assesments are typically used systematically to plan CEO development in private by the board. And it is entirely unheard of for these reports to be shared publicly with prospective customers, partners and shareholders. Perhaps we should reconsider making these transparent, systematically, given the risk and lack of confidence in markets of late? The free paper I drafted, “The Three Stooges of Operational Risk: Advances in Leadership Due Diligence and Rasch Measurement” proposes a way of improving our leadership assessments. If desired, they could be used for this transparency purpose. I welcome your feedback.
Special thanks to Alexei M for inspiring this idea.
Csoka, L. S. (1998). Bridging the Leadership Gap. New York: Conference Board.
Hogan, R., Curphy, G., & Hogan, J. (1994). What We Know About Leadership: Effectiveness & Personality. American Psychologist 49(6), 493-504.
Robie, C., Brown, D., & Bly, P. (2008, March). Relationship Between Major Personality Traits and Managerial Performance: Moderating Effects of Derailing Traits. International Journal of Management, 25(1), 131-139.
Posted in Assessment, Enterprise Risk Management, Evidence-based Management, Human Capital, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Item Response Theory, Leadership, Psychometrics, Rasch Measurement
Tagged Computer Adaptive Testing, Fraud, Industrial Psychology, IRT, Item Response Theory, Leadership, Organisational Psychology, Organizational Psychology, Personality, Psychometrics, Rasch Measurement, Reporting, Transparency
I was pleased to discover a new instrument in the Journal, Psychiatry that uses Rasch Measurement to better assess Catatonia. Catatnonia is a psychiatric condition that groups a number of pathologies ranging from bipolar disorder to drug abuse and schizophrenia. The authors use a partial-credit Rasch approach that allows for ratings along a behaviorally-anchored rating scale. An example of one of the scale’s partial-credit items appears here:
This research did not benefit from the Electronic Health Record (EHR) or Electronic Health Information Systems that are universally starting to be used in healthcare. It seems inevitable that as EHRs become ubiquitous in healthcare, that computer-adaptive Rasch scales like the author’s new KANNER scale will be come commonplace. Whether for patient pain measurement and consequent medication, or psychopathology, or occupational therapy/science, Rasch Measurement has a long history of successful use in these areas – but without the benefit of seamless integration in a CAT in your health record. I foresee CAT-based assessments being combined with Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Fuzzy Logic to better track patient conditions over time. In hospital settings, I suspect this will happen first as patients with acute and potentially fatal ailments already are tracked continuously. But non-acute patients, through wireless devices, could easily benefit from these approaches. This is particularly true if medicine were to use one of the patents I authored while at Motorola, still pending, that combines computer-adaptive assessment and wireless devices.
This is a good example of the power of interdisciplinary innovations combining for something significantly better. Rasch Measurement comes from Psychometrics; Statistical Process Control was developed by Industrial/Systems Engineers and Statisticians; Wireless technology comes from Computer Scientists; and the content comes from the various health sciences including medicine, nursing, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
Posted in Assessment, Computer Adaptive Measurement, Computer Adaptive Testing, Industrial Engineering, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Leadership, Psychometrics, Rasch Measurement
Tagged BARs, EHR, Electronic Health Record, Evidence-based Management, Evidence-based Medicine, Fuzzy Logic, Healthcare, Innovation, IRT, Medicine, Partial Credit, Patent, Psychiatry, Rasch Measurement, Research, SPC, Statistical Process Control, Therapy, Visionary