They were all highly educated people

Posted by Robert Merrill on March 12, 2009 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

So said Tony Shearer, former CEO of British merchant Bank Singer and Friedlander, founded in 1907, purchased by the Icelandic bank Kaupthing in 2005, and destroyed in the collapse of the Icelandic financial system in October 2008.

Iceland? In Wall Street on the Tundra, Michael Lewis, writing in Vanity Fair, tells how the Icelanders figured out how to turn cod into Ph.D.’s, geothermal energy into an aluminum-smelting industry (provided the factory site could be certified free of elves), and everyday Icelanders into hedge-fund traders and currency speculators, until it all came crashing down in October 2008.

It’s a long article, but take the time to read it. There are lessons for us all.

Gleanings from Fusion 2009

Posted by Robert Merrill on March 9, 2009 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

I was privileged to be able to attend WTN’s CEO-CIO Fusion 2009, themed “Innovation and Business Transformation,” with the inevitable subtitle, “during economic uncertainty.”

From Jeff Post, CEO of CUNA Mutual Group, I learned that about one-half of America’s private wealth—25 trillion dollars, primarily in stock and real estate—has evaporated in the past year, and the unwinding of about 12 trillion in debt is about one-fourth complete. This is a very big deal, both for our businesses and our communities.

(IMO, our current national character is being revealed, and we may not like what we see. Can we get beyond pointing fingers and begin saying, “How have I helped get us where we are? What can I do differently to help shape a better future for us all?”)

Rob Roy, CIO of CUNA Mutual Group, affirmed my beliefs that small projects with quick returns, and an ability to stop initiatives that aren’t paying off, are the best way to proceed under the present conditions. Roy says, “If a project is to take more than six months, you have a lot of explaining to do.”

(IMO, this mindset may be part of what’s driving the agile methods of software development rapidly into the mainstream. Read more of this article »