Respect for the Business and Its Values
The acquisition must be a “temperamental fit.”
No acquisition works unless the people in the acquiring company have respect for the product, the markets, and the customers of the company they acquire. Though many large pharmaceutical companies have acquired cosmetic firms, none has made a great success of it. Pharmacologists and biochemists are “serious” people concerned with health and disease. By the same token, few of the big television networks and other entertainment companies have made a go of the book publishers they bought. Books are not “media,” and neither book buyers nor authors – a book publisher’s two customer – bear any resemblance to what the Nielsen rating means by “audience.” Sooner or later, usually sooner, a business requires a decision. People who do not respect or feel comfortable with the business, its products, and its users invariably make the wrong decision.
ACTION POINT: Take an acquisition with which you are familiar. Was there a temperamental fit between the two companies? How did the companies respect, or fail to respect, each other’s business?
Managing the Boss
There is nothing quite as conducive to success as a successful and rapidly promoted superior.
Almost everybody has at least one boss. And the trend is for knowledge workers to have an increasing number of bosses, an increasing number of people on whose approval and appraisal they depend, and whose support they need.
There are keys to success in managing bosses. First, put down on a piece of paper a “boss list,” everyone to whom you are accountable, everyone who appraises you and work, everyone on whom you depend to make effective your work and that of your people. Next, go to each of the people on the boss list at least once a year and ask, “What do I and what do my people do that helps you do your job?” And, “What do we do that hampers you and makes life more difficult for you?” It is your job to enable each of your bosses to perform as unique individuals according to their working styles. Your bosses should feel comfortable that you are playing to their strengths and safeguarding them from their limitations and weaknesses.
ACTION POINT: Make a “boss list.” Ask the questions listed in this reading to each person on your boss list.
“Eating is an agricultural act.”
“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
“When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized. The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
“The paramount doctrine of the economic and technological euphoria of recent decades has been that everything depends on innovation. It was understood as desirable, and even necessary, that we should go on and on from one technological innovation to the next, which would cause the economy to “grow” and make everything better and better. This of course implied at every point a hatred of the past, of all things inherited and free. All things superceded in our progress of innovations, whatever their value might have been, were discounted as of no value at all.”
“The word agriculture, after all, does not mean “agriscience,” much less “agribusiness.” It means “cultivation of land.” And cultivation is at the root of the sense both of culture and of cult. The ideas of tillage and worship are thus joined in culture. And these words all come from an Indo-European root meaning both “to revolve” and “to dwell.” To live, to survive on the earth, to care for the soil, and to worship, all are bound at the root to the idea of a cycle. It is only by understanding the cultural complexity and largeness of the concept of agriculture that we can see the threatening diminishments implied by the term “agribusiness.”
“All the human and animal manure which the world wastes, if returned to the land, instead of being thrown into the sea, would suffice to nourish the world.”
“It is possible, I think, to say that… a Christian agriculture [is] formed upon the understanding that it is sinful for people to misuse or destroy what they did not make. The Creation is a unique, irreplaceable gift, therefore to be used with humility, respect, and skill.”
“The real cause of hunger is the powerlessness of the poor to gain access to the resources they need to feed themselves.”
Frances Moore Lappé
“Earthworms will dance”
“Agriculture must mediate between nature and the human community, with ties and obligations in both directions. To farm well requires an elaborate courtesy toward all creatures, animate and inanimate. It is sympathy that most appropriately enlarges the context of human work. Contexts become wrong by being too small – too small, that is, to contain the scientist or the farmer or the farm family or the local ecosystem or the local community – and this is crucial.”
“Their hands are tied not by ropes but by the greed of the intermediaries that the system has generated, who eat up the farmer’s income while it is on its way into his hands.”
“[Y]our agricultural revolution is not an event like the Trojan War, isolated in the distant past and without relevance to your lives today. The work begun by those neolithic farmers in the Near East has been carried forward from one generation to the next without a single break, right into the present moment. It’s the foundation of your vast civilization today in exactly the same way that it was the foundation of the very first farming village.”
“Too many people talk about the weather, and not enough people talk about agriculture. When somebody says to me, “Beautiful weather we’re having,” I always reply, “Irrigation and crop rotation.”
“In our day, there are stresses and fractures of the human-animal bond, and some forces at work would sever it once and for all. They pull us in the wrong direction and away from the decent and honorable code that makes us care for creatures who are entirely at our mercy. Especially within the last two hundred years, we’ve come to apply an industrial mind-set to the use of animals, too often viewing them as if they were nothing but articles of commerce and the raw material of science, agriculture, and wildlife management. Here, as in other pursuits, human ingenuity has a way of outrunning human conscience, and some things we do only because we can–forgetting to ask whether we should.”
“Most of us are creatures so comforted by habit, it can take something on the order of religion to invoke new, more conscious behaviors–however glad we may be afterward that we went to the trouble.”