• Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Quiz

    Managers and employees of global operations must be familiar with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). It is illegal to accept or offer a bribe.  

    How well do you know the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)? Take this quiz, published by the Wall Street Journal. It was adapted from guidance published by the Justice Department and the SEC. 

    1. Gas Corp. is a large energy firm based in New York and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It enters into a joint venture with a private European company, Euro Gas Ltd., to bid on a contract to develop an oil field in Nigeria.

    Senior vice presidents at Gas Corp. and Euro Gas meet in New York and decide to hire a consultant, Middleman Inc., to funnel payments on the joint venture's behalf to a deputy oil minister with influence over the bidding process. The payments are invoiced as consulting fees, but Middleman Inc. passes most of the money to the deputy minister. The joint venture wins the contract.

    Which entities are liable under the FCPA?

    A) Gas Corp.

    B) Gas Corp. and Euro Gas

    C) Middleman Inc.

    D) All of the above

    Answer: All of the above. Gas Corp. is both based in the U.S. and listed on a U.S. stock exchange, either of which means it is bound by the FCPA. Euro Gas is liable because its executives made the decision to pay the bribe while they were in New York. And Middleman Inc., even though it never took any actions in the U.S., could be charged with conspiring with the other two companies to violate the FCPA. (Euro Gas could be charged in the same conspiracy, even if its executives had never stepped foot in New York.)


    2. At a trade show in Shanghai, Widgets Co., a Kansas City, Mo., company that wants to expand its presence in Asia, invites current and prospective customers out for drinks and pays the bar tab. Those invited include midlevel executives at companies owned or controlled by the Chinese government.

    Is this a violation of the FCPA?

    Answer: No, the FCPA doesn't prevent companies from promoting their businesses or providing legitimate hospitality. However, be mindful that the Justice Department and the SEC consider employees of state-owned enterprises to be foreign officials, meaning it is illegal to bribe them under FCPA.


    3. After drinks, Widgets Co. executives invite executives at one of China's state-owned utility companies to the U.S. to talk about a lucrative contract with the utility on which the American firm is bidding.

    Widgets pays for the officials to fly first class with their spouses to Las Vegas and puts them up in a casino hotel for a week before meeting with the Chinese executives on the final day of the trip to discuss the contract.

    Is this a violation of the FCPA?

    Answer: Yes. The trip can barely be said to have a legitimate business purpose. It is extravagant and clearly meant to curry favor with the Chinese executives, who have influence over whether Widgets wins the contract.


    4. Mining Corp., a mining company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, just identified a new mineral deposit in Afghanistan. The company needs to build a road from the deposit to a nearby port and hires a local agent to help it secure the necessary permits from Afghan authorities.

    The agent informs Mining Corp.'s international vice president that he plans to make a one-time small cash payment to an Afghan clerk, so the clerk will stamp and file the permit applications quickly. In the past, the clerk has sat on such applications for months. The vice president authorizes the payment.

    Does the payment violate the FCPA?

    Answer: No. The FCPA contains an exception for "facilitating payments"-a euphemism for grease bribes-that are paid to obtain a routine service. In other words, Mining Corp. is paying the clerk to do something the clerk is supposed to do-file applications for permits. A note of caution, however: Facilitating payments may be illegal in the country in which they are paid, and they have to be recorded accurately in a company's books and records.


    5. A few months later, the agent tells Mining Corp.'s vice president that he can't get an environmental permit for the road because the planned route would cut through protected wetlands. Mining Corp. could build the road around the wetlands for about a million dollars more. Or, the agent says, the company could make a $3,000 cash payment to the director of the country's natural-resources department, who in return will sign the permit so the road can be built on the wetlands. The vice president authorizes the payment.

    Is this a violation of the FCPA?

    Answer: Yes. The payment is clearly designed to influence the director, a foreign official, into using his power improperly. Unlike the clerk, the director has discretion to approve or reject the application.

    Your score

    5 out of 5: You're practically a compliance officer.

    4 out of 5: Your company provides good FCPA training.

    3 out of 5: You ignored your company's FCPA training.

    2 out of 5: You've probably paid a bribe without even knowing it.

    1 out of 5: You've been living under a rock. In Antarctica.

    0 out of 5: Seriously?

    Source: "Is It a Bribe...or Not?" by Joe Palazzolo, Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324021104578551251640574378.html



  • The Change Cycle

    Graphic Source: http://www.changecycle.com/changecycle.htm

    Ann Salerno and Lillie Brock wrote The Change Cycle published by Berrett-Koehler.

    Change creates emotion, commotion, and stress.  Why?  People fear loss of control, divorcing themselves from their old habits and ways, dealing with the “new,” questioning their future, and pondering what the New Year will hold. 

    To understand and overcome these fears, the authors explain the six stages of The Change Cycle: 


    • Loss - Think about specific losses that change might create.  Then, start problem-solving.
    • Doubt - When change hits, it usually comes with information gaps. That is why employees speculate.
    • Discomfort - It is only natural to feel overwhelmed when change arrives.  Discomfort opens the door to the upside of upside down.  This is an opportunity to learn to work smarter, not harder.
    • Discovery -  Working smarter changes your perspective.  Play on your strengths.
    • Understanding - What you have learned puts you back in control.
    • Integration - Thriving during changes requires flexibility.


    How could knowing each stage of change assist you in navigating through the changes in your life? How could it help your employees when you are a manager?


  • Online Job Interviews

    Have you been interviewed online? Chances are that your next job interview will be virtual. Review positive and negative body language in the graphic above. What are you doing now that you will quit doing in the future?

  • Employee Engagement

    “Engaged employees who successfully represent the company brand provide a competitive advantage and impact the bottom line – a crucial benefit in today’s competitive global business environment” according to Mike Ryan of Madison Performance Group, a global web-based workforce recognition and employee incentives solution provider.

    Engaged employees are motivated. In other words, they give the company their full attention. They believe in their company's values. They are brand ambassadors.

    The graphic above shows that motivated employees are more productive and creative.

    How can managers recognize employees to keep them engaged and positive about their professional contributions to the organizations? What motivates you?

  • McDonald's and Visa Help Employees Manage Money

    McDonald's partnered with Visa to develop a "practical money skills for life" web site to help employees manage their money. A Budget Journal (attached) is offered "to help you make financial goals, build budgets and track your spending." 

    That sounds very similar to the functions of management of planning and controlling. A budget is a plan for spending money. Tracking is control because it determines what was spent and compares it to the financial goals.

    In addition, guidelines are given for writing goals. In management class, we refer to these as "objectives," because "you cannot do a goal." Semantics aside, the guidelines below can help you write objectives.

    A realistic goal is SMART (in more ways than one)


    Specific - Smart goals are specific enough to suggest action.
    "Example: Save enough money to get a refrigerator, not just save money.

    Measurable - You need to know when you've achieved your goal, or how close you are.
    Example: A refrigerator costs $600, and you have $300 already saved.

    Goals which aren't measurable, like "I'd like to have more money," are much harder to achieve - and you don't even know when you get there.

    Attainable - The steps toward reaching your goal need to be reasonable and possible.
    Example: I know I can save enough money each week to arrive at my goal within one year.

    Relevant - The goal needs to make common sense. You don't want to struggle or work toward a goal that doesn't fit your need.
    Example: You don't need to save money for 18 pairs of shoes.

    Time-related - Set a definite target date.
    Example: The repairman says my refrigerator won't last another year. I need a new fridge in the next six months.

    McDonald's has been criticized for the sample budget journal

    Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progess wrote, "Not only does the budget leave a spot open for 'second job,' it also gives wholly unreasonable estimates for employees' costs: $20 a month for health care, $0 for heating, and $600 a month for rent. It does not include any budgeted money for food or clothing."

    A McDonalds spokesperson provided this statement to ThinkProgress:

    "In an effort to provide free, comprehensive money management tools, McDonald's first used the Wealth Watchers International budgeting journal when this financial literacy program launched in 2008.

    As part of this program, several resources were developed including a sample budgeting guide, an instructional video and a web resource center that had additional tools and information.

    The samples that are on this site are generic examples and are intended to help provide a general outline of what an individual budget may look like."


    How important is it for employees to develop 'practical money skills for life"?

    What do you think about the Budget Journal? Does it help employees develop practical money skills? How could you improve the sample?

    rite a management objective that a first-line supervisor at a McDonald's restaurant could use to encourage employees to develop money skills for life. 



  • The Success Indicator

    Most people successful in a job eventually become managers. What makes some people more successful than others? Mary Ellen Tribby identifies characteristic traits of successful people and unsuccessful people in the graphic below.

    The Success Factor Indicator

    Successful People

    Have a sense of gratitude
    Forgive others
    Accept responsibility for their failures
    Read everyday
    Keep a journal
    Talk about ideas
    Want others to succeed
    Share information and data
    Keep a “to-be” list
    Exude joy
    Keep a “to-do/project” list
    Set goals and develop life plans
    Embrace change
    Give other people credit for their victories
    Operate from a transformational perspective

    Unsuccessful People

    Have a sense of entitlement
    Hold a grudge
    Blame others for their failures
    Watch TV everyday
    Say they keep a journal but really don’t
    Talk about people
    Secretly hope others fail
    Horde information and data
    Don’t know what they want to be
    Exude anger
    Fly by their seat of their pants
    Never set goals
    Think they know it all
    Fear change
    Take all the credit of their victories
    Operate from a transactional perspective

    Where are you on the success indicator? Where do you need to improve? Which unsuccessful people traits will you make a conscious effort to eliminate?

  • Traditional versus Collaborative Leaders

    In the past, managers could "tell" employees what to do. Now, managers collaborate with employees by focusing on mutual problem solving.


    • Scenario: Your organization is concerned that its managers may be too authority-oriented (task centered) and this may be affecting productivity. The responsibilities of a traditional, authority oriented manager are listed in the infographic below under Traditional Leaders. Your organization is considering implementing participative leadership concepts in its manufacturing plants. These are listed in the infographic below under Collaborative Leaders. You have the responsibility of introducing participative leadership (people centered and collaborative) to the floor managers. Explain the role of manager under the participative management concept.


  • Future Work Skills 2020

    The Institute for the Future and the Apollo Research Institute published the report Future Work Skills 2020 to increase understanding of the skills workers will need over the next decade in a technologically advanced and changing world. 

    » Sense-making: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed 

    » Social intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions

    » Novel and adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based

    » Cross-cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings 

    » Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning

    » New media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication 

    » Transdisciplinarity: literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines 

    » Design mindset: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes

    » Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques 

    » Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team

    Which skills do you have? Which ones do you need to develop? How can you develop these skills?

    How might the quote from the late Dr. Louis Pasteur help you prepare for the future?  "Students, as you go through life, take your life preserver with you.  Your life preserver is curiosity." 


  • Innovative Thinking

    Roberta B. Ness, dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health and the vice president for innovation at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, studied innovators and innovations and wrote a book about it, "Genius UnMasked," published by Oxford University.

    Ness identifies 11 tools that you can use to concentrate on ways of thinking and working.

    • finding the right question
    • observation
    • analogy
    • juggling induction and deduction
    • changing point of view
    • broadening perspective
    • dissecting the problem
    • reversal
    • recombination and rearrangement
    • the power of groups
    • frame shifting

    Bess writes, "What this book hopes to demonstrate is that some of the most creative minds in science have used devices that any of us can learn to use, and which can improve our creative abilities."

    Which of these tools would you like to learn to improve your creative abilities?


  • Independence Day is Big Business

    Happy 4th of July! Independence Day is big business. Many Americans will buy an American flag, patriotic apparel such as a t-shirt or hat, and patriotic decorations. They will cook out or barbecue and watch fireworks. But, most of the 4th of July products are not made in America. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that American 4th of July standards are changing. "Budweiser, the signature American beer, is owned by a Belgian company; fireworks are made in China; even the big summer song is by two French guys."

    In addition to these outsourcing and importing decisions, most managers decide to keep the business open on July 4th, rather than taking a holiday. Spending for the July 4 holiday averages $191 per person, according to a Visa poll. So, most retail employees will work while most office employees will take off.

    The Statue of Liberty is an American cultural icon. Many businesses use 'liberty in their names or ads to associate themselves with freedom.

    How did you celebrate July 4th? Did you shop? Did you buy new patriotic merchandise, apparel, decorations, or accessories? What did you eat and drink?

    What would you tell managers about the holiday?

  • Steve Wozniack Tells the Auto Industry

    The Apple II, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad are very innovative and successful products. The Street asked Steve Wozniack, entrepreneur and co-founder of Apple, "What would you tell the automotive industry?" His answers are below.

    "Try to build quality products that are way above the competition."

    "Try to build things that didn't exist before -- that were not possible - that are very different inventions. Don't try to innovate and make things a little bit better. Try to think of a totally different solution to the problem. In this case, it might be electric cars instead of gas cars or self-driving cars. Those are very different solutions. But, when a product is different, it still has to make sense economically."

    What would you tell managers in the automotive industry? How could they sell more cars?



  • Ads for IBM Help Neighborhoods

    IBM's slogan or tag line is to "build a smarter planet."  They want their customers to use their services to turn data into valuable insights about customers, operations, and pricing. Instead of making decisions on instinct, IBM wants managers to make decisions using analytics.

    Cities are an important market segment for IBM. In addition to IBM helping cities (People for Smarter Cities) get smarter when using computers and data, it has aligned its outdoor advertising to do the same. As seen in this video, outdoor ads function as a bench, a shelter and a ramp over stairs. 

    FastCompany reports, "The goal of this campaign, created in collaboration with Ogilvy & Mather France, is to encourage forward-thinking citizens and local leaders to consider how to make their neighborhoods "smarter" and, therefore, better.

    What type of ideas to improve neighborhoods might citizens suggest?

    How could your neighborhood be "smarter"? What would improve your neighborhood?