Wall Street Journal – Why Exec’s Warming to Climate Legislation

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Alan Murray writes about the recent changed corporate attitudes about global warming. (Why Key Executives Are Warming to Legislation on Climate Change. Unfortunately, you need to be an online subscriber to read his column; however, you get into the conversation at www.wsj.com/talkingbusiness.) 

Part of the answer is that corporate leaders are starting to perceive good business reasons to become “green” or more socially responsible. I wrote about this last month.

The February 2007 edition of the Harvard Business Review has an interesting article by University of Michigan business school professor C.K. Prahalad and Toronto-based consultant Jeb Brugmann entitled “Cocreating Business’s New Social Compact” on the related topic of the convergence between the corporate sector and civil society. (You can access the article for free after watching a brief ad on the HBR website.) This article follows on the heels of the December 2006 HBR article by HBS Professor Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer, managing director of FSG Social Impact Advisers entitled “Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility.”

More great media coverage for CSR.

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Rough Waters for the Independence seaport Museum

Checking through my feeds after a great vacation in Grand Cayman, I came across an interesting post on Maritime Compass about the Independence Maritime Museum in Philadelphia.

In June of 2006 after an “extensive internal investigation,” John S. Carter was “terminated” as president of the Independence Seaport Museum after 17 years at the helm. On January 22, 2007, the museum filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts, Carter’s home state, allegeding the misappropriation of $2.4 million. Ouch! Carter’s lawyer also confirmed to the Philadelphia Inquirer that his client is also under investigation by the FBI.

Ex-head of Seaport Museum accused of fraud – Officials claim John S. Carter defrauded the institution of $2.4 million to support his lifestyle – Philadelphia Inquirer (January 23, 2007)

Enigma who went overboard – Nobody acknowledges really knowing John S. Carter, who stands accused of bilking the seaport museum of $2.4 million – Philadelpha Inquirer (January 23, 2007)

Museum is righting itself, officials say – Philadelphia Inquirer (January 24, 2007)

Seaport museum alleges former president misused funds – Philadelphia Business Journal (January 23, 2007)

Suit alleges $2.4 fraud – Cape Cod Times – (January 24, 2007)

Former Seaport Museum Head Now Accused of Filching $2.4 Million – Wheremostneeded.org (January 30, 2007)

This scandal is tied into a larger one that involves a state senator whose name still appears on the Independence Seaport Museum’s website (as of this post) as a Member of the Board of Port Wardens which appears to be their governing body.

Carter’s salary was reported to be over $300,000 which was more than what the Philadelphia Art Museum, a world class institution, pays its president. While I have never actually visited the Independence Seaport Museum, this seems like a lot of money for a museum that reportedly has had to repeatedly dip into its endowment to shore up operating deficits.

As a former nonprofit executive director, I find this story to be very disheartening. Trust is the commodity on which nonprofit organizations trade; after it is betrayed it is difficult to win back.  With so much competition for philanthropic support, nonprofit leaders have to be ever vigilant in protecting the reputation of their organization and the social investments made in and by their community. This is a significant responsibility that must be shared by staff and board members.

I suspect that there is still a lot that will play out in this story in the coming months. Hopefully, the current leadership of the Independence Seaport Museum will take this crisis and transform it into an opportunity to make their organization stronger. The best place to start would be for the board carefully review their governance model and decisionmaking practices and to recruit a Level 5 Leader for the current president vacancy.

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The Lookout (February 4, 2007)

Look-out (noun): 1. the act of looking out or keeping watch; 2. a watch kept, as for something that may happen; 3. a person or group keeping watch; 4. a station or place from which watch is kept. 5. an object of care or concern. (Dictionary.com)

Five links to blogs, posts, articles or websites that we found interesting, useful or just fun.

1. The World Economic Forum website. Lots to explore. (Leadership)

2. A World Economic Forum session that I found particularly interesting was Wisdom of Youth. Panelist’s included H.M. Queen Rania of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom and the moderator was Jonathan Charles, Correspondent, BBC World Affairs, United Kingdom. The highlight was the participation of 5 youth panelists from around the world. There were also some interesting comments and questions from the audience at 41:20 of the Webcast. (Education)

3. The Work Space on the World Economic Forum’s website. Check out Visualizing A Successful Enterprise in The Future Series.(Interesting)

4. Acronym Finder (Tool)

5. Drip Wars – A Pollock, in the Eyes of Art and Science (NY Times, Sunday, February 4, 2007) Technology vs. intuition. (Essay)

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Book Review – The Go Point by Michael Useem

Over the past week we have been on a family vacation in Grand Cayman staying in beautiful condo in the Rum Point section of the island and minutes walk away from the beach. This is our first trip here and I can’t recommend it enough. (Blog and photos.)

The Go PointIt’s also a great place to read and I finally had the chance to sit down with Michael Useem’s newest book, The Go Point. I am really interested in his work and enjoyed several of his earlier books including Upward Bound: Nine Original Accounts of How Business Leaders Reached Their Summits (with Paul Asel), Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win and The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for All of Us.

Michael Useem is the Wiliam and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, as well as the director of its Center for Leadership and Change Management.

In October 2005, I had the good fortune to participate in Wharton’s Executive Education Program The Leadership Journey which is lead by Professors Useem and Greg Shea. As its name implies, its is a weeklong intensive experience uniquely exploring leadership from academic and personal perspectives. This was clearly one of the most significant adult learning experiences that I have ever had and I was looking forward to reading The Go Point. Continue reading Book Review – The Go Point by Michael Useem