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Office Behavior: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

If doing good makes us feel good, why do people at work reliably resist the urge? The fact that people talk to journalists still fills me with childlike pleasure and surprise. There are so many risks — being misquoted, talking to someone whose skepticism is jaundiced rather than healthy, inadvertently letting some secret slip out. Sometimes people talk to pitch a product or a viewpoint, sure, but most people talk — amazingly enough — because they’re

Growth Still Happens (Even in This Moribund Economy)

The best growth opportunities are in businesses that exploit the intangible assets you already have. In my last two columns, I wrote about how companies can grow at a time when the economy wants to expand in a macro way — as the gross domestic product and consumer confidence index seem to suggest it does — but when individual businesses are hemmed in by all manner of micro obstacles. Mergers and acquisitions? A stratagem whose generally

Two Lessons To Take From the Enron Debacle

Just about everyone was fooled by the company’s shiny, polished exterior. But with the business now in ruins, a few points are worth noting. Just over a year ago, I had breakfast with Jeff Skilling, president and CEO-designate of Enron (ENE). The occasion was a Fortune magazine conference celebrating America’s most admired companies. Enron was ranked high on that list, and Skilling had come to share some of the company’s secrets for managing people. What a

The New Economics of Security

It costs money and time to protect your company right now. Look for unconventional solutions to the problems. Last week I was in Caracas, Venezuela, at a conference on knowledge management run by PDVESA, a Venezuelan oil company. The petroleum industry is one of the biggest beneficiaries of knowledge management. It has a lot of highly technical expertise, many expensive, complicated machines and processes, and extraordinary geographical reach. Because Murphy’s Law is internationally enforceable, you can

Knowledge Management & Learning From the Future

At long last, business is no longer ignoring the past. But the real challenge for managers is learning from what is yet to come. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, George Santayana said, and he was right. Henry Ford, on the other hand, said, “History is bunk,” and Ford was the better businessman. Most companies act according to Ford’s (F) pronouncement. They change cultural icons — as Carly Fiorina did at

Right Now, the Only Capital That Matters Is Social Capital

Working for others — instead of merely for oneself — is what keeps employees motivated in the wake of tragedy. Randy Scott’s home phone rang at about 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11. His parents wanted to know if he was home in the San Francisco Bay Area or on the road, as he often is. They told him what was happening in New York, and he turned on the television. “I just stood there and
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