ABE Lincoln, Business Icon
Just as yuppies were in the 1980s and dot-commers were in the ‘90s, maybe Abraham Lincoln is an icon for business in this decade. No, not the statesman Lincoln, but the middle-aged, corporate lawyer Lincoln who in the 1850s travelled relentlessly around the legal circuit handling cases big and small. “That middle-aged Lincoln represents the sometimes homely but invariable dreamy pushers who are what American striving is really all about,” writes David Brooks in an essay in The New York Times Magazine.
Brooks observes that best-selling business management books today take their tone not so much from Patton or Atilla the Hun but from calmer, less brash sources. He cites one such book, Good to Great by Jim Collins, which investigated companies that outperformed the overall stock market from the 1970s through the 1990s by anywhere from 300 to 1,800 percent, companies that include as Walgreens, Kroger and Pitney Bowes.
“The culture at these companies encourages Lincolnian virtues of simplicity and humility,” Brooks writes, adding that the book’s researchers noted these companies continually talked about themselves using words such as disciplined, rigorous, dogged, fastidious, systematic, accountable and responsible. “These are the classic, staid but unexciting bourgeois virtues,” he writes.
E-mail Under the Microscope
It’s 2003. Does your company have an e-mail policy? Managers who haven’t thought about it before might want to give some thought to it now, given these findings from a new survey of e-mail policies and practices by the American Management Association, The ePolicy Institute and Clearswift:
- The average respondent spends one-quarter of the workday on e-mail, with 31 percent devoting more than two hours a day to e-mail. 90 percent admitted that some e-mail — usually less than 10 percent — is personal.
- 14 percent of companies have been ordered by a court or regulatory body to produce employee e-mail, a 5% increase from 2001.
- Only one-third of respondents have written e-mail retention and deletion policies in place, despite recent crackdowns on regulated industries.
Have Classroom, Will Travel
Here’s a trend in K-12 schools to watch: Limits on class sizes in more school districts nationwide, coupled with growing enrollments and a shortage of funds for new construction, is creating heavier demand for portable classrooms.
For example, a new Florida measure will limit kindergarten through third grade classes to 18 students by 2010; the limit for fourth grade through eight grade classes will be 22. In Palm Beach County, which grows by up to 6,000 students a year, school officials already use 3,200 portables. The new class-size limits means the district is unlikely to ever get rid of them completely, a district spokeswoman told the Associated Press.
Nationally, the American Institute of Architects estimates that about 36 percent of public schools use portables.