Adaptive Abilities More Important Than Detailed Contingency Plans

The May issue of Harvard Business Review has a special report containing thirteen articles about Preparing for a Pandemic that focus on different areas such as the science behind H5N1, the role of leaders, the importance of communication, and modeling, among others.

However, the article on organizations, Survival of the Adaptive by Nitin Nohria, the Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, is particularly enlightening for PR and and other related professionals counseling clients on crisis management. Nohria writes:

“In the complex and uncertain environment of a sustained, evolving crisis, the most robust organizations will not be those that simply have plans in place but those that have continuous sensing and response capabilities…

We know from complexity theory that following a few basic crisis-response principles is more effective than having a detailed a priori plan in place….

The goal is not to create specific rules for responding to specific threats but to practice new ways of problem solving in an unpredictable and fast-changing environment.”

Nohria recommends that organizations have a global network of people in place that can help out as needed if internal communications systems break down, or as either human or physical resources are compromised.

He also compares the characteristics of organizations that will be less, and those that will be more, successful in surviving an outbreak:

  • Hierarchical vs. networked
  • Centralized leadership vs. distributed leadership
  • Tightly coupled (greater interdependence among parts) vs. loosely coupled (less interdependence)
  • Concentrated workforce vs. dispersed workforce
  • Specialists vs. cross-trained generalists
  • Policy and procedure driven vs. guided by simple yet flexible rules

 


Posing For Playboy At 40 Is Empowering?

Cindy Margolis, actress, former Price is Right model, national spokeswoman for Resolve: The National Infertility Association, and winner of the first Celebrity Cooking Showdown, has agreed to pose for Playboy.

According to the Associated Press:

“The mother of three told The Associated Press that she finally agreed to pose for the magazine when they called on her 40th birthday….

After turning down offers to pose for the magazine in the past, Margolis said she accepted this time because she felt posing nude at the age of 40 is empowering.

‘In the past it would have been for gratuitous reasons,’ she said.”

Right. Now it’s not gratuitous. Because she’ s 40. And that makes it empowering. Would have been gratuitous at 35 or 37 or 39. But not now, not at 40. Hmm.

 


How To Be A Worldly American

In his post on How To Be A Less Ugly American, Paul Holmes refers to Business for Diplomatic Action, Inc.’s guidelines for Americans outside the United States.

In the abridged version of its World Citizens Guide, BDA offers these suggestions (see the PDF for elaborations on the suggestions) for making a favorable impression when traveling abroad:

  1. Look. Listen. Learn.
  2. Smile. Genuinely.
  3. Think big. Act Small. be Humble.
  4. Live, eat and play local.
  5. Be patient.
  6. Celebrate our diversity.
  7. Become a student again.
  8. Try the language.
  9. Refrain from lecturing.
  10. Dialog instead of monologue.
  11. Use your hands. Watch your feet.
  12. Leave the cliches at home.
  13. Be proud, not arrogant.
  14. Keep religion private.
  15. Be quiet.
  16. Check the atlas.
  17. Agree to disagree respectfully.
  18. Talk about something besides politics.
  19. Be safety conscious, not fearful.
  20. Dress for respect.
  21. Know some global sports trivia.
  22. Keep your word.
  23. Show your best side.
  24. Be a traveler, not a tourist.

Paul offers his own suggestion as well:

“Personally, though, the best way to connect with overseas audiences is to explain that you didn’t vote for the current U.S. administration and that you agree that it current policies are, to be as diplomatic as possible about it, misguided.”

Meanwhile, Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm and the new A Death in Belmont, gives these impressions in the article Welcome Stranger in this month’s National Geographic Adventure (print edition):

“An old friend of mine once observed that the arrival of a stranger in a rough town often presents locals with two options: Feed him or kill him. He was referring to some ancient time when the dilemma was literally that stark, but his larger point was that all societies must choose whom they let in and whom they keep out, and letting someone in entails more than just opening the city gates. Once you do that you become to some degree responsible for the stranger’s welfare. Travel, then, at its crudest, is the art of convincing people to take care of you rather than spurn you — or worse. It’s a knife-edge that makes a life spent at home feel not fully lived….

You had to be wary when you traveled, I realized, but you also had to be open. You had to protect yourself, but you couldn’t be so suspicious that you’d lie to avoid giving food to a stranger. These were lessons from the harsher parts of the world, but I started to think that maybe they were applicable anywhere. The starting point was respect; if you didn’t lead with that, even with street-corner thugs, nothing was going to turn out well. So you start with respect and see where that goes; if it doesn’t work, you switch to something else…. things pretty much come down to how you treat one another. There’s a certain liberty in that; there’s a certain justice.”


Animal Legal Defense Fund Releases Ranking of State Animal Protection Laws

Earlier this year the Animal Legal Defense Fund released a 3-page report ranking all fifty U.S. states and the District of Columbia based on the strength and comprehensiveness of their state anti-cruelty laws.

Although ALDF makes it clear that all the states’ laws need to be strengthened, the states that ranked best were California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan and Oregon, while those that ranked worst were Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, North Dakota and Utah.

The latter five states fell into the worst category because, among other things, they either did not have any felony anti-cruelty provisions or because, in the case of Kentucky, felony provisions applied only to select situations.

ALDF also provides a list of Jurisdictions with Felony Animal Abuse Provisions and the year of enactment.

By way of quick definition, a felony is “a crime sufficiently serious to be punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison… [or] a crime carrying a minimum term of one year or more in state prison,” [note: given the legal status of animals, whether wild or designated as “property,” the death penalty has never been, not is unlikely ever to be, imposed in any animal cruelty case], while a  misdemeanor is “a lesser crime punishable by a fine and/or county jail time for up to one year… [and]are tried in the lowest local court such as municipal, police or justice courts.”


Gary Goldhammer Comments On The Zacarias Moussaoui Verdict

Gary Goldhammer wrote a thought-provoking post about the Zacarias Moussaoui verdict. Gary isn’t just your ordinary blogger writing about what is undoubtedly one of the most high-profile death penalty trials in United States history. He’s also the author of Dead End, a 1994 book that examines the financial and human costs of the death penalty.

For anyone who wants to learn more about the death penalty and how it is administered in the U.S., go to Pro-death penalty.com and the Death Penalty Information Center.

Here are some quick links of interest:

And to test your knowledge about the death penalty, follow this link to DPIC’s 10-question Death Penalty Quiz.


Roger Hargreaves’ Mr Men Debuted 35 Years Ago

Are you looking for books to read to your pre-schooler? Ones that will make your child — and you —  feel happy and silly and giggly all at the same time? Then consider the entire series of 40 Mr Men and 30 Little Misses created by Roger Hargreaves.

BBC News reports that Hargreaves created the first Mr Men, Mr Tickle, thirty-five years ago. Looking at the exhibition recently opened at the Animation Art Gallery in London, it’s no surprise that Hargreaves is apparently the third best-selling children’s author of all time.

Here is the link to more pictures of the Misters and Misses, and here is the link to the official Mr Men site.

My all-time favorite? Mr Bump.

 


DePaul University Offers Minor in LGBTQ Studies, Angering Some Catholic Groups

Chicago’s DePaul University is offering a minor in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer studies. Assistant Professor Gary Cestaro, an instructor in DePaul’s Modern Languages department, is the program’s director and, according to Out in Chicago, the minor is built around courses in English literature, comparative literature, American Studies, psychology, women and gender studies, as well as an introductory course.

As Newsweek points out, DePaul isn’t the first university to offer a LGBTQ minor, but as the nation’s largest Roman Catholic university, its decision is drawing attention.

According to LifeSite, an organization that “emphasizes the social worth of traditional Judeo-Christian principles but is also respectful of all authentic religions and cultures that esteem life, family and universal norms of morality,” Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, stated:

“Why would a university fund a programme based on a field of study that in mainstream academia is relatively unimportant?…Even aside from the Catholic perspective it is very clear that this is motivated from a politically correct perspective.

If we want to have programmes in deviant sexual behavior… why no minor in prostitution? Other than a need to bow to political correctness, why homosexuality particularly? Why no minor in heterosexual activities?….

All of that suggests that aside from the question of whether the course content will directly oppose Catholic teaching, the entire enterprise is intended to affirm the legitimacy of what is called the ‘gay’ subculture or lifestyle….

It seems clear that the programme itself would lead to affirmation of gay lifestyle and homosexual activity. This programme is entirely inappropriate for a Catholic institution.”

Meanwhile, AgapePress reports that Karl Maurer, vice president of Catholic Citizens of Illinois, said:

“What DePaul is doing… is really falsely characterizing itself as both being Catholic and being inspired by St. Vincent’s spirit, which is a fraud.”

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property argues that DePaul’s decision to offer this minor is indicative of a greater problem.

“A glimpse at DePaul’s web site flags more trouble:

  • DePaul recognizes two openly pro-homosexual student clubs: Outlaws, for law students and Spectrum. Spectrum’s web site promotes a “Coming Out Ball.”
  • Under “Gay/Lesbian Studies,” DePaul features links to notorious pro-homosexual advocacy groups, including Act-Up….
  • DePaul created “The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Allies (LGBTQA) Student Services.” The stated goal of this department is to encourage “acceptance and awareness around LGBTQ issues and concerns.” The office helps students deal with cases of “homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia…”
  • On February 18-19, the immoral play “V-Monologues” staged on campus. At least 1,000 students protested by e-mail, letter and phone, asking DePaul president, a priest, to cancel the lewd production. Apparently, these Catholic students’ concerns were ignored.
  • A pro-homosexual activist and professor spoke at DePaul on Feb. 20. The title of his lecture was: “From Sodomy Laws to Marriage: The History of American Sexual Identity.” Writing about the event, student newspaper, DePaulia, said: “The lecture itself was an example of progress for the homosexual community as one of the first events hosted by DePaul’s new minor program…”
  • Finally, DePaul’s web site displays a confusing quote by Rev. Edward R. Udovic, C.M., senior executive for university mission. The statement reads: “DePaul’s Vincentian identity isn’t a Catholic thing per se, or even a Christian thing per se, but a human thing.”

Maybe it’s time to revisit yesterday’s post.


Ambitious Media Campaign Fights Anti-Gay Religious Prejudice

Faith In America’s introduction:

“Throughout our history, religious teachings, shaped by ignorance and fear, have been used to justify prejudice, discrimination and even violence against minorities within American society. We now look back and agree that such teachings were misguided, with consequences beyond tragic. Authentic religion inspires compassion and respect for everyone, especially those who are different. It unites and uplifts, rather than tears down and divides. Religious teachings should never exclude anyone, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons from enjoying equal rights and protections promised by the Constitution of the United States. Faith in America appeals to and honors both the authentic religious and democratic ideals that rest in the soul of the American people.”

Founded in December 2005, Faith in America, Inc. is a non-profit organization working towards “the emancipation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from bigotry disguised as religious truth.”

Led by executive director Jimmy Creech (formerly senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska, Creech was defrocked in 1999 for performing a covenant service for two men) and supported by its largest contributor Mitchell Gold of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, the organization rolled out a hard-hitting, national, multi-million dollar campaign on February 4th.

Gold described the campaign’s goals in the March issue of the Advocate,

“Our attitude is that this is a one-year project. I want to change this country in one year…

If we don’t do it in one year, that’ll be OK, but what I don’t believe in doing is having a five-year strategy with no accomplishments….

The only voice people down here [in fundamentalist regions] hear about religious beliefs is that of James Dobson and Jerry Falwell. There folks very rarely hear the voice of Gene Robinson. You tend to believe what you hear.”


One-Stop Shopping for Blawgs: A Taxonomy of Legal Blogs

Ian Best, whom I first wrote about here, e-mailed me this week to let me know his Taxonomy of Legal Blogs is complete.

Ian has compiled a fantastic list that I know I’ll be turning to many times:

I. General Blogs
Advice for Lawyers and Law Firms
General Legal Blogs
General Blogs — Law and Culture, Economics, Politics, etc.
II. Blogs Categorized by Legal Specialty
Specialty Blogs
   
III. Blogs Categorized by Law or Legal Event
Case Blogs
Statute Blogs
Trial Blogs
    
IV. Blogs Categorized by Jurisdictional Scope
State Blogs
Federal Circuit Blogs
U.S. Supreme Court Blogs
    
V. Blogs Categorized by Author/Publisher
Anonymous Blogs
Association Blogs
Blogs by Judges
Book Supplement Blogs
Class and Student Group Blogs
Institute Blogs
Law Firm Blogs — Listed by Blog
Law Firm Blogs — Listed by Firm
Law Journal Blogs
Law Professor Blogs
Law Library and Librarian Blogs
Law Professor Blogs
Lawyer Webjourals
Newspaper Blogs
    
VI. Blogs Categorized by Number of Contributors
Group Blogs
    
VII. Miscellaneous Blogs Categorized by Topic
Blogs about Judges
Event Blogs
Fictional Blogs
Humor Blogs
    
VIII. Collections of Legal Blogs
Blog Post Collections
Legal Blog Collections
Legal Blog Networks

Aside from his actual taxonomy, he seems to have the blogging thing down. Ian has a page dedicated exclusively to responses to criticism. And he has dedicated pages requesting reader feedback on Organizational Method, Categories, Legal Blogs and General Comments and Questions.

Please check out his site.