Monday, February 4, 2019

The Quarterback is Not the Team—Part 2

In a previous post, I discussed how if the quarterback is the only one who knows the team’s goal is to move the ball past the appropriate end zone goal line, the team won’t be very successful. The whole team needs to know the score, how well they’re doing (i.e. how well the processes are working or not) and what the strategic priorities are. Another take on this: a single player cannot win on their own. In American football, running backs realize they aren’t successful if the offensive line doesn’t do a good job blocking and creating gaps for them to run through (and several MVP running backs have been known to reward their front lines).

In business, we rewarded everyone that was part of the organization. I expressed thanks to the custodial staff when revenues when up because we know that doesn’t happen if our customers don’t appreciate the appearance of our facilities. Everyone, in small and big ways, contributes to the success of the organization. In one study, conducted to modify the profit sharing bonus, we rated the number of decisions against the impact of those decisions. Many of the front line people made hundreds of decisions each day while executives made a mere tens of decisions each week. The impact of those decisions was not the same: each executive decision was worth 1,000 front-line decision. When we looked at the frequency and the extent, executive decisions didn’t have the greatest impact overall; the middle managers and engineers made significantly more decisions than executives and their moderate impact could create significant opportunities for success or put the company at significant risk. So we modified our bonus plan to recognize that all employees do contribute to the success and should be rewarded accordingly.

A friend recently shared a photo of him wearing a Super Bowl championship ring. When asked which player let him wear the ring, he said that it was a person on the team’s maintenance staff. Everyone in the organization gets a championship ring because it’s known that everyone helped make the team successful.

If the NFL, which pays for 150 rings, and the team management, which may buy more rings for more of the organization’s members, think it’s important to recognize everyone...not just the stars...why wouldn’t we?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Commerce by Any Means?

Sheryl Sandberg has been a darling of the evangelical community, speaking at several Christian leadership conferences. She has a compelling story regarding grief and ‘leaning in’. However, as COO of Facebook, you wonder why she’s a darling in spite of the multiple scandals related to data privacy. What are her values? How true are the public statements being made about Facebook ‘doing better’ at protecting users’ privacy when it’s her responsibility to implement policies and policy changes?

Wired noted 21 scandals in 2018 alone. It wasn’t just Cambridge Analytica at the heart of them. or the 2018 revelation of stuff happening in 2015 about a bikini photo app. And Facebook continued to sell data long after they promised to change. The most recent scandal is the transmogrification of Onavo, who paid users—many underage—to bump up usage and access their phones’ data in order to bypass Apple’s prohibition of putting the app on their App Store.

How much is Sandberg responsible? An early investor, friend of Zuckerberg and former board member, Roger McNamee put her right in the midst of everything positive and negative about Facebook for a Time cover story. So it seems rightly so that Sandberg is tarnished. In fact, the Buzzfeed article by Anne Helen Petersen says this:
The reality of Silicon Valley is that it’s commerce by any means necessary. And the reality of Sandberg is that she’s excellent at it.
So, it seems that the value of making money is more important than any other ethical considerations, including promise keeping. If an organization’s goal is to increase revenue and (positive) notoriety, they could use Facebook’s standards...and then end up as a paraphrase of the Babylon Bee’s satirical headline—“Majority of Evangelicals Would Support Satan If He Would Run as a Republican Candidate”—“Majority of Evangelicals Would Jettison the 10 Commandments If They Could Get More Donations to Their Church”.

A recent Intelligence Squared debate—“Has Silicon Valley Lost Its Soul?”—during the debate seemed to imply that Silicon Valley never had a moral soul. From the beginning, tech startup founders were always trying to make money. Facebook’s Zuckerberg and Sandberg are no different.