The Global Province
As we begin the twenty-first century, we are shrinking the globe by frequent trips to
every continent and every world city, by the insistent growth of cross-border institutions
(from an economic conference at Davos to a merchant banking house in London) and through
the Internet. The discourse in New York and London, cities that are part of the Global
Province, is more similar in tone and content than the dialogue between neighbors in
Texarkana, Arkansas and Texarkana, Texas. This site addresses future business trends and
current insights that arise in the Global Province. These are the business insights that
arise in an increasingly small world.
William Dunk's Annual
Reports on Annual Reports
For better than ten years we have prepared this review of annual reports that highlights
which issues business leaders are stressing in their reports to shareholders and the
general public. We have posted reports here from 1994 to 1998 and will, henceforth, add
new reports as they are issued. These reports, incidentally, have been very predictive
about the direction of equity markets. For instance, leading companies have focused on
growth for the last four or five years. At this time, therefore, "growth" rather
than "value" is driving the performance of equities.
Some companies are responding better to globalization than others, and are learning how to
constantly recast themselves. As we build profiles of some of these companies, we will be
adding them to this section of Global Province. We open this chapter with a description of
Agility Partners which has developed a process and some very useful management software to
make strategy formulation and implementation a realtime activity, involving every key
manager every day.
The Best of Class
In our travels, we visit an awesome number of the world's hotels, restaurants, shops, etc.
When you're in Timbuktu, it's hard to know where to stay, or which doctor to visit, or
where to capture local flavor. In no particular order, we will cite the greatest of
hotels, nostrums to deal with particular complaints, wine charts that will help you in the
United States or Europe. Eventually, we will even cite some critics who will steer you to
good ports, since so many commentators we encounter in the media lead us perilously
The Best of the
We have one of our offices here--in Chapel Hill. Slowly, ever so slowly, we are
learning who can do what.
North Carolina is a beautiful state with mountains and sea,
lighthouses and one-time estates, interesting banking and tobacco, and textile and
furniture traditions. It has an economy that is struggling to modernize
itself. As such most of its institutions (with the exception of religion) are still
undeveloped, but it is full of interesting, creative people who stand ten feet tall.
The Triangle likes to think that it stands apart, but it is
of a piece with the rest of the state. It has a couple of big highways and lots of
plans for more--on the drawing boards. This means massive, unrealized potential.
We can't recount how many plans for 2025 we keep hearing about. Who knows
what it all will become?
Even in this sea of potential, some places, businesses, and
restaurants have made it already. That's what we'll talk about here.
Big Ideas That Will Change
As we move back 2000, there are a host of technologies, products, and services-- now
becoming available--that will profoundly change our lives. But neither opinion makers nor
policy makers have highlighted them. We will be listing them here and citing the people
and organizations who know most about them. These are ideas whose time has not quite come,
but whose time is just around the corner. They're practical ideas ready to happen. Only
inertia stands in the way. For the irony is, the more change happens, the more we resist
change, and what could be today doesn't happen until tomorrow.
A litany of postwar German thinkers devoted their energies to the unknowable, circulating
around all the things we don't know and the void we can never know. This is not as
unproductive an endeavor as it appears at first glance. Again and again we encounter
people who have become dangers to themselves and to all of us, because they don't know
what they don't know. This should be the first assumption of epistemology: "We
don't know what we don't know." It is our duty to know what we don't know.
And it's wonderful to behold what we don't know about the
brain. We have a primitive view of the brain's architecture but only a rudimentary acquaintance
with how it functions. Strokes, alzheimers, all the diseases of aging
centered in the brain--we're at a total loss. Learning and development in the young,
among the middle-aged, and with the old--we don't know much at all despite our
psychologists and pedagogies. Christian Scientists and other religious denominations
still have a better feel than all our scientists for the relationship between the brain
and the rest of the body.
Well, brave buffoons that we are, we shall presume all the
above. We will try to get our arms around the unknowable--the brain--but, like the
Germans, we know that we are charting the unfathomable.
The most fascinating companies in the world are not traded on any stock exchange.
The owners can make truly long bets on the shape of the future markets, since they
are not compelled (except occasionally by their bankers) to deliver quarter by quarter
earnings jolts. In truly private companies, the generation in control acts like
firstclass merchant bankers, figuring out how to create an enterprise that will stand the
test of time, serving as a cherished legacy for the generations to come.
As management consultants, we've been inventing rules of thumb for businessmen for almost
35 years. I guess we pretty much believe that if you can't figure out a short way of
saying something, you better not say it. I had a partner once who told chief executives
that the way to talk to investors is to boil it down to a conversation at Oscar's (a Wall
Street Restaurant)--4 brief bullets that knock out an analyst at 10 paces.
Global Wit and Worldly
Our friends send us 300 jokes a week. We want to share a few of the best ones with
you, to tease your mind and soul, as well as your funnybone. We will be frequently
adding to this page, so come back and visit often. More importantly, send us some global
Gods, Heroes, & Legends
Heroes and tall tales were so much a part of growing up that it is hard to imagine an
existence without the great and the good. In the nineteenth century, at least in
some parts of the world, the very purpose of history was to partake in nation building,
creating new icons, drawing parallels to the Greeks and the Romans, urging average men and
women to climb mountains. As we begin the 21st century, our discourse worldwide
is a little trivial, with some ladies bearing instead of beating their breasts to create
excitement. Here we'll be looking for stout hearts and new myths to celebrate.
We don't know any person of quality who does not read, who does not read books, many
books, every day all year. The idea of quality still lies in the Gutenberg
Galaxy, where books and people fuse to produce big ideas, secret imagings, and dreams of
perfection. "People don't read anymore." Those who say
"don't" probably don't read. But the global people we want to bet on
do read. We want investors who read, not stock traders. We want teachers who
read, not trainers. We want leaders who read, not politicians. We want journalists
who read, not mouthpieces.
All about this Global Province you will find books that illuminate
the topics under discussion. And most days of the week Global Visitors send in new
titles we all might consider.
In this section, we pull all the books together for you with a word
or two to point out their worth. And yes, they are all linked to Amazon.com so you can easily capture anything that
strikes your fancy. We
will keep adding new titles regularly to stretch the imagination and carry you light years
away from your impersonal computer and virtual limitations to boundless places where
thought runs free.
It's hard to find broad and deep information about publicly held companies on the
Internet. Or anywhere else. Analyst reports don't do the trick, since
investment professionals generally have an axe to grind, and it's not your axe.
Company-by-company, we will be adding depth, since the basis of efficient, fair markets is
good, thorough information.
Global Province Network
We created this section because we have noticed that the best things in life
are hard to discover. The fellows who do the truly great things in life
don't spend the huge dollars on marketing that are expended by all the
run-of-the-mill people who specialize in average products and commodity
ideas. If you happen on one of the companies or institutions located in
this area, you will find a link that will lead you to the other nice,
effective, ethical quality people who have made it into our network.
Letters from the Global
The Global Province is a stealth website. It tries to spread quality around
the world by quietly sending its electric messages into the virtual ether.
Now read in over 30 countries, we reach a community of globalists who share
a passion for the best things, the best ideas, and the biggest people.
These weekly letters, which often deal with the snarls and puzzles we
encounter in our management consulting practice, focus on the quest for
excellence that makes the efforts of any and all of us seem worthwhile.
We’re calling this section Monongahela,
perhaps because it sounds like the title of a James Michener novel (he liked
sweeping geographical titles that threatened to tell us what a locale was
really all about) or because we’re hoping some reader will tell us why many
spell it “Monongahela,” but a determined, simpler, plainer cohort espouses “Monagahela,”
which we ourselves prefer. Or because of a host of other reasons that will
emerge in God’s good time.
The Monongahela comes
out of the Allegheny range and works its way north into Pittsburgh, a bit
original both because of its direction and length. Three rivers converge on
Pittsburgh, part of the reason it became such an industrial colossus, so we
might just as well have called this work of art Confluence. But we didn’t.
produced a rash of simple, direct, somewhat witty, usually earthy writers
who hang out all the laundry they know about from their hometowns. To
escape a hand-to-mouth existence, they usually go elsewhere but always
remind us of their days in the Quaker State. Michener has a museum named
after him in Doylestown. O’Hara comes from
Pottsville that has had a mink
farm in the neighborhood and, we think, a former training camp of Mohammed
Ali’s on the outskirts. In and out of Pittsburgh, from his early days,
Michael Chabon now hangs about in Berkeley and other spots in California (www.michaelchabon.com).
Mysteries of Pittsburgh got made into
Wonder Boys, the only good movie that Michael Douglas has made so
far. Vernon Hardapple asks: “Why did you keep writing this book if you
didn’t even know what it as about?” Grady Trip (Michael Douglas), creative
writing professor and one-novel novelist, replies: “I couldn’t stop.”
Fortunately, we learn
from Grady, the “Monongahela River swallowed my never ending opus.” And
that’s what we’ve got here. A never ending novel, each chapter authored by
a different talent, that starts out in the very Bay Area to which Chabon has
migrated. We hope, but can’t predict, it will make its way to Pittsburgh,
Pottsville, Doylestown, and
other places that have a lot of pepper and raw taste in their food, since
California, the land of image, has fallen into the Pacific.
Other Global Sites
For now we've posted the sites of a few management consultants and information providers
here. They know a bit about globaliztion. We'll get better about this. Our goal, in time,
will be to post sites that offer valid research on economic and business transformation,
rather than capability outlines. This will take time, so be patient.
For years we have talked about business men who are closet poets. Wallace Stevens
by day was a Connecticut insurance executive, but--by day and night--he was an
accomplished poet. These days we find many CEOs who write poetry and even more who
love it. We suspect, too, that you will be seeing more poetry in business documents,
as men and ladies of substance try to defy the world of spin that puts such a pall on
discourse throughout the darkened world. Poetry, for sure, is the best way we've got
of banishing euphemism and the world of words without meaning.
Scenes from the Global
Twenty years ago in New York there was a wonderful restaurant, a hideout from
Manhattan, that took each of us to our favorite spot in the world. For Richard it
was Portugal; at that time the kingdom of Henry the Navigator had more romantic places
than anyone else in Europe. In fact, I spent an absolutely marvelous honeymoon
there. Leslie favored Easthampton, and probably still would--Easthampton on Long
Island as opposed to my boyhood Easthampton, Massachusetts. Oddly enough, for me it
was Nantucket, the nearest place where you could feel away. But, of course, that was
before all the Fat Cats arrived and turned it into a Mecca of social mobility.
The talented Steven Murtaugh, who is doing our scenes,
asked me what we should picture in this domain. I said, "We're after 1950s New
Yorker, before the Newhouses thought they knew something about publishing."
Let's hope he invokes that whimsical world.
A Stitch In Time
Healthcare is America's most interesting misadventure, proving and disproving the
worth of a supply-side economy. The U. S. has the best health resources in the
world, and spends a huge percentage of its GNP getting well. This produces miracles,
but it does not secure the best health: other developed nations do better with less.
The biggest mistake of all is that we try to cure things
(that's where the money is spent), rather than looking at preventing things. Any
quality control guru that the best results and the least costs occur when the problem
never happens. A stitch in time saves nine.
This chapter is anti-cure. Prevention is its theme.
It's talking about staying healthy in several dimensions--personal habits, public
health, and now, public policy. Only this, we're convinced, can vaporize America's
40-year healthcare crisis.
China and the U.S. each carry on an uneasy relationship with the rest of the globe.
Despite their vast and important coastlines, their interiors--often defined by river
civilizations--cause them to look inward on most days of the week. While the trade
component of their economies has risen vastly during the 90s, each country is still its
own best market in several respects.
But steadily the economic flow between these two giants
increases. Inevitably, those big markets will relate to each other, no matter how
provincial their governors or their managers. Here we will look hard at their
growing economic relationship .
Curiously, the biggest obstacle to growth and stability in
each country is the central government. Right now, officials in China are debating
whether government has to change (or not) for economic development to go forward.
But there is no debate that State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) have to change rapidly and
In the U.S., the debate about Federal constitutional reform
has not been joined. Yet it seems self-evident that low-return government activities
are sapping the economy and not increasing the social capital that promotes
well-being. This inertia is interesting when compared to China. Though we are
different, so many of our opportunities and our problems are similar.
In this area we shall look at Greater China and Asia as a
whole and particularly at both the parallels between Asia and America as well as the ways
they are affecting each other. But we will stress that they are not as different as
one might think.
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