Enlightened Conflict

Health care in 2017 from a business perspective

March 22nd, 2017

take the extra time to do things right the first time

 

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If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

 

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John Wooden

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American healthcare is getting quite tiring. Shit … I have written about it in 2009 and even recently wrote about it <Healthscare > as recently as January 4th 2017.

it is complicated complex not simple Life world 

All you have to do is turn on the tv or maybe go to some politics driven website and you will see gobs of articles & pundits yapping about the upcoming vote on repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act <Obamacare>.

 

Suffice it to say the new plan is not being particularly well embraced by its own party as they have aspiring to the finish line vote tomorrow.

 

To me this whole discussion and action plan shows the lack of business leadership knowledge which exists in politics and government. And, yes, that includes the President <who should know better if he was truly a business person>.

 

Let me address some key issues from a business perspective.

 

 

Time.

 

30 days.

That’s about the amount of time this repeal plan of action has been discussed <just ignore the last 7 years which they should have been thinking about it … or even the additional month or so if you wanted to begin on inauguration slow down take time do rightday>.

 

30 days for something like this is insane.

 

Okay. It is just stupid.

 

This is unlike how the Affordable Care Act <ACA> was implemented, which – just to remind everyone — was debated for almost an entire year in both houses of Congress with 79 hearings in the House alone and a number of amendments incorporated in the process … and hospitals, associations and insurers were all brought in.

 

But you know what?

 

Any business person with half a brain would tell you trying to build a plan of action which would turn a company 180 degrees around <or at least something that would change maybe 20% of the entire revenue stream> and gain alignment is going to take more than 30 days.

 

Any business person with half a brain would tell you pushing through this kind of change without alignment, education and some aspects of agreement is not only foolish but deadly.

 

Any business person with half a brain would take a step back and say “lets take the time we need to get this right.”

 

Promises delivered.

 

I have noted before business leaders only have to earn this lesson once … a bad promise delivered is never remembered as a promise delivered … just  promise i something bad delivered.

 

Leaders get paid to make good decisions not deliver bad promises. I have made many ‘promises’ <more often ‘plans of action’ than promises> and yet still stood up in front of people and sucked it up and said “I did not know this then, I know this now, and we will not do the plan I said … but rather here is where we go from here” when I had to.

Why? Every business leader knows honesty wins more often than wasted energy.

 

Just doing something because you said you would do it is … well … stupid business.

 

Any business person with half a brain is very careful making promises but exponentially more careful about the promises you choose to fulfill <because one is just words and the other is action>.

 

 

Phased plans.

 

Speaker Ryan has said not to worry — there will be a “second” and “third” phase that will fix everything.

 

Uh oh.

Future plans. Need I remind everyone that the Affordable Healthcare Plan was a plan intended to adapt <have other ‘phases’> to the market and make adjustments to accommodate what happened when the plan actually hit the market?

Everyone should be reminded of this.

 

December 2009 I wrote my first thoughts on the affordable healthcare act and the thoughts remain exactly the way I believe …

 

Sure.

The way it’s conceived – all the weird aspects they had to build in upfront to try and make the system work from the get go,  the complex subsidy system that rocket scientists cannot even explain, odd benefit levels, an unwieldy sign up system, just to name a few, absolutely suck.

But, if we see the program as fluid <which any sane business would do> it will evolve until we settles into better solutions and better affect. As I said back in 2009 … the initial plan ain’t gonna be perfect <any business person worth a shit could have told them that>.

perfection progress

 

Obamacare would most likely be humming along quite nicely if Congress had made the necessary adjustments in real time <like any business person with half a brain would have>. Instead phase 2, 3 … or … well … any phase … never occurred as congress haggled over the plan itself.

 

All I can tell you is that if this American Healthcare Frankenstein of a plan is actually implemented everyone, Republicans & Democrats, better decide this time “in for a penny in for a pound.” That is where the Affordable Healthcare Act stumbled … not everyone invested.

 

All I can tell you is that any business person with half a brain would be hesitant to offer a phased plan to an organization that has a history of getting stuck in phase one.

 

Look.

 

I certainly know that if you are a 100% free market healthcare believer that tweaking the current plan doesn’t have a lot of appeal to you. But we have a plan, flaws and all, that has a strong foundation which creates the potential for something better than what was <healthcare going into 2008 was shit>.

 

time to do it right do it overI certainly know that the ACA needs to be tweaked.

 

I certainly know that the ACA should have been tweaked years ago.

 

I certainly know that the ACA could be fixed fairly quickly and efficiently.

 

And I certainly know that any new plan will not be perfect and will also need tweaking.

 

But what I absolutely now is that the current plan is not good and any business person with half a brain would stop the insanity, step up to some microphone and outline a reason why giving the American people the best alternative takes time.

 

Slow down.

Stop.

 

Get this right … because this is NOT about keeping your job or eve keeping your promises … this is about people’s live and their healthcare.

 

 

How do you solve a problem when one half absolutely hates the other half?

February 10th, 2017

Polar Opposites conflict

 

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I want people to think about our politics here in America, because I’m telling you guys that I don’t know of a single nation in this history of the world that’s been able to solve its problems when half the people in the country absolutely hate the other half of the people in that country.

This is the most important country in the world, and people in this body cannot function if people are offending one another.

Marco Rubio

 

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Well.

 

Polarization can create some pretty foul conduct.

 

Polarization can bring out the worst in people.

 

Polarization can create stillness within turmoil when movement within teamwork is needed <and desired>.

And.

 

Polarization within leadership is a virus that infects everyone in the organization … not just in leadership.

marco rubio speech on respectful conflict

I was reminded of this as I watched a completely underreported and under the radar speech Marco Rubio gave on the senate floor after <I believe> Elizabeth Warren had been asked to stop speaking.

Warren gained all the headlines where Rubio actually had the words we should have all been listening to. It is maybe 8 minutes long and worth every second.

 

 

Please note that I believe this message is more important than just one directed toward the Senate … it is a message which all Americans should take note of.

We are fortunate to have the privilege of freedom of speech & thought and we should embrace that freedom as one to permit healthy discussion, debate and disagreements … all of which should enable healthy, positive decisions.

 

Freedom is a tricky thing. In the United States of America we have the unique opportunity to “criticize a president without retribution.” <as past President Obama said to a group of military people at MacDill Air Force base>.

 

But our freedoms are being challenge by Trump and his attitudes & behaviors in ways we haven’t really seen in a very very long time.

 

The Trump Affect ripples way beyond simple executive orders and specific friends unfluencers ripples2actions that will have an impact on the people of the country. The more dangerous ripple effect is one of attitudes & behaviors.

Within this dangerous Trump affect ripple,  the freedom to freely criticize is a little less secure … and the way we criticize, debate & discuss in the Trump era appears to be one of not listening, not respecting and not believing that there could possibly be a way to do something differently than the way “I believe.”

 

Trump and his merry little band of morally corrupt liars suggest that there is no middle ground for “ladies & gentlemen to disagree with ladies & gentlemen” <note: this is a rip off of the Ritz Carlton motto>.

 

The Trump Affect has trickled down into his direct organization … the congress.

 

And within that ripple Republicans either embrace the bully opportunity or simply privately watch in horror as leadership decorum and leadership example <which, by the way, IS important as impressionable children and adult seeking cues on how to be leaders watch closely>.

And within that ripple Democrats screech & gnash their teeth in impotent frustration over not only having no power to shift the tides of change but also because, in their heart of hearts, they know this is not the way business should be conducted.

 

Balance has disappeared.

compromise balancing actWhile people can bitch & moan that decorum, in the past, has only encouraged stagnancy & lack of action they should not confuse with what business is conducted and how business is conducted.

Just as I am more accepting of my high school football coach if we have a losing season but the players play with respect & dignity and go to class and show signs of growing up with a healthy personal responsibility … I am less accepting of the coach who permits poor behavior & lack of respectful competition even if they win more.

You can have all the good in this case. But balance has been lost.

 

In fact.

 

We should face the fact that balance deserted us the day Trump stepped onto his golden Trump Tower escalator last year to announce his candidacy.

 

And that is why Rubio’s speech is so important. Without actually saying it he suggests that we shouldn’t let Trump drag us down into some dysfunctional squabbling amorphous blob of indignant jerks.

 

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“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.

Both are nonsense.

You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

 

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Rick Warren

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I like conflict and I think conflict is healthy.

creative spark light bulb

It is a basic Life truth that conflict is the positive friction that often creates innovations and new thinking and new ideas.

But, as with most things in life, there are degrees of conflict.

 

The kind of conflict we need now, more than ever, is the productive type.

 

We need to better embrace the valuable contradictions in life.

Things like:

 

Smart and funny.

Silent but says a lot.

Liberal conservative.

Cynical optimist.

 

Oh.

 

And enlightened and conflict of course.

 

We need to better embrace the fact that contradictions are powerful.

They create a chemistry ending in positive friction <when done right> and the fire for innovative thinking and thoughts.

 

In general I believe contradiction not only make life & people interesting but they also forge the kind of decisions that become the iron construct for a solid culture, civilization and country.

 

We need to embrace that conflict is part of life and not treat it as only a negative thing.

 

void embrace the unknownHumans are neither passive nor stagnant. We move. We do. We think.

 

Combine that fact with individuals are unique <although they may group together> and inevitably there is some conflict. It can simply be healthy competition or it can be staggeringly evil intended activity <i.e. there will be conflict because your point of view and thoughts shouldn’t exist and I am going to extinguish them>.

 

We need to embrace the fact that conflict can be “managed”.

Maybe call it competitive camaraderie. I call it enlightened conflict. I believe if people know more about stuff <I don’t really believe it needs a technical term> then conflict will be conducted with knowledge.

 

I would suggest that ignorance, and being close minded, guides conflict toward evil interactions … while knowledge guides conflict to responsible interactions.

 

Lastly.

 

We need to embrace that enlightened conflict is really some version of pluralism.

A pluralism in that it encourages, and embraces, freedom to learn and freedom to think different thoughts.

 

In the end I imagine what I really care about are people’s actions. They can remain mute as far as I am concerned as long as their actions respect others opinions and others lives and meets global responsibilities.

 

Look.

 

enlightened conflict ideasIt is silly to think that conflict doesn’t exist as part of our natural behavior <I apologize to all the “why can’t we all get along” groups>.

 

It is silly to think that friction between beliefs and causes is not the spark for something better.

 

It is silly to think conflict and friction is not good.

Good conflict leads to positive friction and ideation and evolution of ideas.

 

But it needs to be conducted with respect. Respectful disagreements & debate lead to two things:

 

  • Positive friction.

 

  • Enlightened conflict.

 

 

The first is based on curiosity plus friction equals better ideas and thinking.

The second is lack of ignorance plus conflict equals respectful competition.

 

We here in the United States have an incredible privilege … a freedom to say what we want and disagree and criticize whomever we want. We shouldn’t abuse that privilege by not understanding that it creates good conflict which enlightened conflict thinkenables ‘gooder’ ideas.

 

Marco Rubio did something in his speech which I endorse wholeheartedly … he tried to make an impact on his own little corner of the world … encouraging positive friction for enlightened conflict.

 

 

Marco Rubio had a stellar enlightened conflict moment … and more people should see it and listen.

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“Enlighten the people, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

Thomas Jefferson

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the death of the mall and a divided america

November 28th, 2016

  just-came-from-the-mall

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The impression left after watching the motions of birds is that of extreme mobility – a life of perpetual impulse checked only by fear.

 

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Richard Jefferies

 

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“My fundamental philosophy is that you owe it to society to transfer to them any knowledge you have that might be useful.”

 

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Leroy Hood

 

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Well.

 

Because USA just faced is heinous tradition called ‘black Friday’ <a made up sales day to encourage people to buy things they most likely don’t need under the guise of ‘early start for Christmas shopping’ — this is a made up day beliefs divide people doubt unitescreated by retail sellers solely to sell more shit early> I started thinking about how the ‘death of malls’ was a reflection of the American rural/urban divide.

 

Ok.

 

Maybe the death of malls is a metaphor.

 

Regardless.

 

A long time ago I wrote about the convenience economy. Malls were most likely the first step into the larger convenience economy <it had actually existed with the general store – one stop for everything – but malls took it to a new level>. Under the guise of ‘saving time’ convenience and consumption are inextricably linked.

This meant that as malls crept out of suburbia and into rural America it warped the existing attitudes & behaviors affecting the soul of what made rural America <and I could argue what actually made America> what it was – in terms of time, convenience, consumption and , unfortunately, economy.

 

Joan Didion wrote in 1979: “malls became cities in which no one lives but everyone consumes.”

 

Now?

 

Malls are almost like ancient ruins … and yet the population still lives in the ruins.

That is what happens when no one consumes but they still have to live.mall-dead-rising

 

Sprawling malls were a natural product of the post world war 2 as Americans with cars and money spread to the suburbs.

They were thrown up at a furious pace as shoppers fled cities, peaking at a few hundred per year at one point in the 1980s <Paco Underhill author of Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping>.

 

From there they naturally expanded their reach farther into rural America spreading their ‘urban wares’ to a population who could only have seen those things on tv up until that point.

 

This all came at a cost.

 

Yeah.

 

Rural America paid a price for large retail … the mom and pop small business and down town general stores lost the battle … and a part of the soul & heart of rural America was also lost to malls and large retail. Yeah. In the short term it appeared like jobs were created, tax revenue increased and the local economy improved.

 

And, yet, in gaining short term economic reasons … culture was lost, some values were lost and … well … local ideas were lost.

 

This has left us in a farther divided America as malls crashed and burned not only leaving a mall overstock in their wake but as they left <because economics writing-on-the-walls-of-the-mallsuggested they should step back from rural America> they left a ‘less grounded’ landscape behind.

 

Malls tore out the soul of middle America and never replaced it with anything worthwhile while there … and never placed anything behind when it left.

 

I have driven across the United States several times. I have seen small businesses in places I could never imagine and seen dying, or dead, shopping malls dotting the landscape most often in locations where there are severe socioeconomic shifts. I don’t know the exact numbers but the last ones I saw suggested that closings of existing malls will number somewhere between 15 to 50%.

 

It is fairly easy for me to suggest that while artificially bloating the financial economy when there  … their actual success was dependent upon the slicing, dicing and stripping away what was built up over generations.

I would suggest, on a side, note, we have been doing this to rural America for years <not just with malls>.

 

And I don’t have to suggest because it is fact … that the departure of malls from rural areas has simply exposed the obscenity of their existence. The holes they leave behind  showcase the years of neglect, exploitation, abuse, poor local government decisions, and short-sighted policy which transformed a thriving rural landscape into a hollowed out long list of small towns and cities.

 

In many of these areas their existence had masked a steady decline <which they had actually contributed to> and their departure put a spotlight on a way of Life shutting down <albeit leaving a population which doesn’t want to shut down yet>.

 

I would also say, sadly I may add, that spotlight forced a local population to face a pervasive sense of fear and loss.

terror lose meaningful

Having done it … I can say that just driving through town after town of dead malls, closed factories, shuttered stores, abandoned mines, empty schools, roads in need of repair and empty homes … and you can feel their loss.

 

If you want to get a sense of divided America explore the decline of malls.

 

Simplistically, Malls are a reflection of eating our own. Just as online shopping is making brick & mortar increasingly irrelevant the malls made the once thriving local business communities less relevant.

 

But their cost is even deeper than that.

 

The economy has fundamentally shifted because technology has decreased the costs of entry and performance by businesses. This means business models are quickly shifting because of changes coming faster than ever before.

 

For example.

 

Would you invest in a factory that made anything but it took 3 years to build the factory? …..I’m guessing no, because how would you know the thing would still be in demand?

 

Or that your method of manufacturing would still be the most cost effective way?

Or that your raw materials would be affordable to make the product at a certain price?

Or that your labor costs would allow you to hit certain price points?

 

 

What this means is that even a rural economy seeking to refind it’s ‘American mojo’ is faced with an uncertain business landscape which makes it more difficult for a rural community to rebuild a successful local economy based on what they knew, and know, is successful.

american hands

And, yeah, this is more than about money.

 

Because, yeah, rebuilding a thriving rural economy is not just about money & profits & jobs. It is also about heart & soul & the intangibles.

 

We urban/suburban folk forget that.

 

Let me be unequivocally clear <and I hope some politician reads this> … rural American prosperity is not just found in the wallet but in the soul.

 

In other words … I can place a general store in a small community and the owner doesn’t dream of wealth beyond anything he/she can dream of but rather comfortable earnings and a gathering place so that the community thrives.

 

Our ‘urban objectives’ are often different than ‘rural objective.’

 

And maybe that is part of my point on the divide in America.

 

Equality comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.

 

An urban idea, malls, stripped parts of America of its soul. And what that meant is while rural America could always stand tall with unequal, as in better, values & soul versus the high falutin’ intellectual urban/suburban folk … malls stripped them of the main portion of what permitted them to remain ‘equal’ even though incomes may not have been equal.

 

Look.

 

I disagree with some experts who suggest that retail often mirrors the natural life cycle of the surrounding community and it is about demographics.

I believe retail is an organism in and of itself driven by profit not by humanism.

 

And I believe retail, at its heart, is driven by an urban ‘heartbeat’ which is constantly trying to reapply it to rural America <it is fairly rare to have a rural idea expand to dominate urban>.

 

I say that because we don’t talk about it often but ‘progress’, which is most often associated with a healthy economic metabolism, is mostly visible in urban/suburban America and not rural America.

 

Which is … well … kind of nuts.

 

Why? Because I could easily argue that, in a stark judgement, that America’s achievements were built upon rural America … and, yet, the rising levels of material well-being, education and health actually reside in urban/suburban America.

 

Add in some fairly shocking statistics on life expectancy and social mobility and the crumbling mall retail structure in Middle America becomes symbolic for many of their woes.

 

We all know that while the economy may not be robust that wealth is certainly being generated, and often displayed in some gaudy ostentatious ways <see Trump tower as an example> and amazing technological innovations have become common in households and certainly prosperity exists, though almost exclusively in a sliver of America, all of which suggests that the economic infrastructure is visibly changing even while it is semi-working.

 

And by ‘semi-working’ I go back to malls as an example … it is mostly a system of cannibalism. It is a system and society that is devouring its own.

Urban America has been picking prosperity from the slowly decaying carcass of rural America. This carcass is symbolic of the hollowing out of rural America.

 

For some long time now, the economy has been driven by investment banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, real estate developers, insurance goliaths and a whole range of companies and industries that make nothing but rather make money off of money.

 

In the end.

 

I purposefully used ‘stripping’ and ‘cannibalism’ and ‘eating our own’ because that is what we have done to a significant portion of America … and, more significantly, a portion of America who believes they created America AND believes if anyone would ask them … they could help rebuild America.

 

I use malls, and their death, as an example of what we ‘innovators of progress’ have done. And while many of us may have acted with real best intentions … it america one heartbeatwas a failure. And, worse, we have failed a significant portion of America.

 

We don’t owe portions of America because we have taken away their malls … we owe them the assistance to let them rebuild the America they know should be built.

 

And am I suggesting going ‘back’? Only partially.

The general stores will most likely never return. The mines will never reopen. Some schools are shuttered forever. But to rebuild a community you give them their soul back first & foremost. Anything built with soul will make America great and will last for generations.

Enlightened Conflict