Fighting Corruption

Fighting Corruption

Sadly I have been looking to see what’s being said about Corruption and Anti-Corruption. I made a wiki post which includes some links on management strategy, which includes an article from McKinsey’s Journal which offers a brief taxonomy of corrupt practices, this is augmented by Transparency International’s tool kit, to which I link. TI also note that, “The UK Bribery Act, which was passed in 2010, introduces an offence of corporate failure to prevent bribery.”. There are also some specific action plans inc. current advice from the MoJ. Interestingly, to me, the action plans share many ideas from risk management practices and IT Security controls that I have been working with for many years, and that having a robust programme of controls is the only defence against the aforementioned corporate crime.

Construct a taxonomy, develop controls, measure the effectiveness of the controls and fix those that are broken.

This costs money and time, and companies may lose business because of it. No-one says it’s easy.

I have now made a post on my linkedin blog, which while repeating some of that I say here, looks at the MOJ Guidance and their six principles and offers some important definitions of pertaining to bribery.  I highlight the concept of ‘improper behaviour’ from within the legislation. …

Theory matters!

Theory matters!

I have just posted a blog on linkedin about business and IT strategy.  I say a bit more here! This was provoked because I was doing some research for a job application which involves IT strategy. I was considering the alignment of business strategy with that of the IT department and what I might say. I outlined three models, although they were all developed a while ago, I think they all have relevance today. The three models address business strategy, software portfolio management and architectural pattern selection. Business strategy should drive portfolio and project management choices. While business strategy will outline how to do what must be done, it also defines what will not be done.  Portfolio management determines the allocation of development funding, priority, maintenance funding, project risk appetite, people skills, project governance and software sourcing policy and as result of choices made, one can select the appropriate platform super architectures, of which you may need more than one. I conclude that theory matters. See more below/overleaf … …

Confusing

While there is not a lot of theory for HR professionals, one piece of good practice is to separate performance management systems from pay assessments in order to encourage employees to admit their weaknesses. I wonder why no-one does this? …

Keep a diary

Just looking at my Union diary for next week and considering the documentation arms race between managers and workers. If you think you are in trouble or getting into trouble at work, write down what happened and how you feel. It’s no good several months later relying on memory; there is little doubt that management will have a written copy of what happened. …

Abolish Performance Reviews

I recieved in my inbox an article on Adobe’s experience on abolishing their annual appraisal process. One reason was cost, they calculated it took the equivalent of 40 FTEs to run the process which illustrates the distraction of management time. The article quotes quality guru W. Edwards Deming who says,

It nourishes short-term performance, annihilates long-term planning, builds fear, demolishes teamwork, nourishes rivalry and politics.”

They replaced their previous stack ranking system with a more flexible and empowered system, divorcing formal performance from salary/bonus decisions.

It proved to be more popular with managers and staff, with one employee reporting

… that a feeling of relief has spread throughout the company because the old annual review system was “a soul-less and soul crushing exercise.”

One side effect was that involuntary terminations increased but voluntary terminations reduced, It ought to be a happier place to work. …

Search Neutrality goes to Parliament

Earlier this week I attended the @pictfor meeting advertised as about “Search Neutrality”. It had entered my radar when Alec Muffett who had been invited to speak, announced his attendance on twitter and his Computer World blog, “The Google Dialogues : Search Neutrality”. The speakers were Alec, and Shivaun Raff, the CEO of Foundem and Mark Margaretten, Professor at U. of Bedford. Foundem is one of the complaintants to the EU provoking an EU monopoly investigation into Google. This is covered in the Guardian, on the 20th November, in an article called “Google search investigation sparked by complaint from British site”.

Shivaun argued that Google manipulates its sort order to benefit its own alternative properties, particularly the price comparison sites. (Foundem is a vertical price comparison site.) They argue that over 90% of European search is fulfilled by Google, and that when Google chose to discriminate against them, their traffic fell off to a business breaking trickle.

Alec and Mark took a similar line to each other, Google is one click away from failure, relevance including sort order is subject to competitive pressure & no-one has a right to a place in a search engine’s sort order. Alec in his blog post points at James Grimelmann’s article,“Some Skepticism about Search Neutrality” who makes similar points, although Grimmelmann argues that vertical search sites are rarely useful or usable. Margaretten dealt with this less judgmentally by pointing out that Google also prefers sites with original content, which is why aggregator sites do less well. He reinforced the point that there are good reasons to devalue vertical search sites, although Foundem can prove that they were specifically penalised. Grimmelman distinguishes between regulating for “Search Neutrality” which he opposes and anti-trust law which he argues is different and has its own theory and practice. The meeting missed this dichotomy between monopoly regulation and search neutrality.

Shivaun Raff was backed up by a spokesperson from Streetmap, who provided some evidence that Google had manipulated their sort order when they launched Google maps in order to better compete with the established players. I hope that they have made a submission to the Commission. The talk in the bar after was that streetmap lost out due to Google Maps technical superiority particularly features such as navigation, user generated content, personal customisation and world wide coverage; however even if this is true it doesn’t necessarily mean that the allegation of malicious action is unjustified.

I’ll be interested to see if the Commission come to consider Google to be a monopoly. It dominates in search, and its maps and mail are wildly popular but it’s definitely second choice for microblogging (g+) where it’s outgunned by twitter and facebook, identity assurance where Google Profile trails behind twitter and facebook, picture blogging (Yahoo), bookmarks (delicious and reddit) and blogging (wordpress). It’s interesting to consider this in the light of some changes made by google to their user experience over the last couple of months where they are staring to build walls around their services to make it harder to share one’s data with other companies services. For instance, they have wrecked Google Reader for me since I can now only share news via Google+, there is now no open XML feed for these. I’ll explore this in another post soon. …

The chilling effect of global copyright enforcement

And on to the EU’s attempt to implement strong copyright enforcement. I’ll return to the UK in the next week or so, but the European Commission signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) a couple of days ago. This proposed trade treaty has been negotiated in secret amongst a group of governments from the developed world. The US agenda was to strengthen international enforcement of intellectual property laws, and the original European agenda was similar, but orientated more around the protection of a number of geographic brands, such as champagne or cheddar. The Open Rights Group talks, on their blog, about the secrecy and how we have came to this point. …

Turd Polishing, the Coalition and executive pay and accountability

While Labour turning it’s back on Keynes is a bigger story, the coalition’s attempt to act as ‘responsible capitalists’ is easier to write about.

A coalition government appointed commission reports that executive pay is out of control (really?) and that there should be trade union and/or workers representatives  on board pay committees, and that shareholder votes on pay should be binding. (You mean they’re not!) However the government decides that allowing workers to vote on the bosses pay would be ‘tokenism’. Hardly! Shareholders can sell up, Trade Unionists might actually fuck things up! Since Labour introduced the shareholder advisory vote in 2003, only 18 companies have rejected board pay agreements. Assuming that, its FTSE 250, over 9 years, that’s under 1% of company AGM’s have rejected a pay committee recommendation. Shareholders that think a company is badly run, sell up,  they do not hang on for the AGM and vote against the pay board recommendation, they don’t even hang on and replace the board. They sell up; that’s what Equity Liquidity means.

This’ll make a huge difference. Not!

In case you hadn’t noticed, there was a banking crisis four years ago, and in the UK two failing banks were nationalised and a third was merged with a successful bank to prove the old adage, “What happens when you hit a duck with a failing bank?”, “You get two dead ducks!”. Despite, that anyone saving with Nat. West., Halifax, Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland, or whose savings banks and pension funds had been lent to them should be bloody grateful to Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and the Labour Government; they saved the UK banking system and everyone’s savings! Despite the catastrophe, no one has been prosecuted, no-one’s in gaol and all the current government is talking about is taking Fred “the Shred” Goodwin’s knighthood away from him. I bet he’s worried about that. Ed Balls took Sharon Shoesmith’s pension from her; not that I approve of that really, but allowing the government to focus on the Fred’s gong is taking the piss. Who’s going to gaol?

The coalition’s campaign for responsible capitalism is all camouflage.

And while I don’t really believe there can be a responsible capitalism, the right are running scared of Ed Miliband who first reminded us of the idea that the corporate private sector was ripping us off; it’s just a surprise that people needed reminding.

No government with the Tories in it are going to help. …

My first Blackberry, bit late I know

It seems that my announcement that I have adopted a Blackberry and in doing so abandoned my Android based HTC aroused some interest. On the one hand you have an open source based operating system, java based apps, produced by an agile company that does no evil, on the other hand you have the epitome of the corporate suit’s pocket billiard cue rest. (Although I am informed that it’s IM app is the chat carrier of choice for today’s yoof!). …