• AMONG THE MOST CRITICAL ASPECTS OF COMPANY CULTURE is ensuring that employee conflict – an inevitable reality – doesn’t significantly impact productivity. The ‘I just can’t work well with XYZ’ excuse for problems can be mollified by a culture which encourages people to work through issues on their own, supported by “a collective mindset which encourages empathy and promotes the desire to understand the position of others… Many organizations allow friction to perpetuate because too much stuff needs to get done on the work calendar, as employees continue to get put on the same team without understanding each other’s processes and finding a workable middle ground, with discord popping up again and again.” Management’s job is to create a culture where there is no excuse for allowing that “parasitic mindset” to continue. DCG can help. [INC.COM – July 17. 17]

• ANOTHER CRITICAL ASPECT OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE IS ‘CUSTOMER-CENTRICITY’ – for many businesses now “becoming a matter of survival… The digital age is forcing companies to get close to their customers who, accustomed to best-in-class user experiences both on- and off-line (such as with Amazon or Apple), increasingly expect companies to respond swiftly to inquiries, to customize products & services seamlessly, and to provide easy access to the information they need, when they need it.” The good news is that, albeit forced, customer-centric focus can “become a unifying cultural element that drives all core decisions across all areas of the business… including anticipation of emerging patterns in the behavior of customers, to then tailor relevant interactions by dynamically integrating structured data (such as demographics & purchase history) with unstructured data (such as social media & voice analytics).” Building culture requires proactive direction from owners and management. DCG can help develop and implement these strategies. [McKINSEY QUARTERLY – July 17]

• AMERICA’S POWER GRID runs on roughly 2,500 extremely high-voltage transformers, each of which is uniquely designed, takes a year or more to build & install, weighs up to 400 tons, and is roughly 40 years old on average, and at risk of blowing out. Concern for risk from a transformer-wrecking Electro-magnetic Pulse (EMP) is realistic as potential sources increase, including: (1) ‘coronal mass ejection’ aka Solar Flares – one of which took down Quebec’s entire grid for nine hours; (2) hacker cyberattack – one of which cut power to nearly a quarter-million Ukrainians 18 months ago; (3) terrorism – which knocked out 80% of San Jose California’s transformers a few years ago; and (4) nuclear explosion above the clouds – whether intentional or accidental. The Emergency Management Dep’t of Los Angeles “estimates that, with the grid down, the city would be foodless in less than ten days… The scale of potential impact is staggering, including utilities unable to treat nor pump water or sewage (i.e. no toilet flushing); inaccessibility of gas, medicine, cash, and any type of transportation needing fuel; absence of fire or police protection; even military units stuck in place. According to the Pentagon’s ‘Defense Threat Reduction Agency, “critical military systems have been EMP-proofed, but other agencies have done ‘precious little’ to safeguard civilian infrastructure… Prolonged loss of electricity is a low-probability event, but the scale of potential impact is mind-concentrating.” [THE ECONOMIST – July 15, 17]

• U.S. BORDERS ARE “VIRTUALLY AN OPEN DOOR” FOR FOREIGNERS WHO PRETEND TO ABIDE by Immigration Law when entering the country on a legitimate visitor visa, but simply opt to ignore departing when it expires. According to the latest Homeland Security Inspector General’s report, “less than 1% of those who overstay ever get arrested – meaning that some 522,000 of the 527,000 who came in 2015 and should have left by now are still here. Beyond the whims of political appointees in charge, the excuse of investigators for lax enforcement and a currently twelve million case backlog, is “antiquated and inefficient technology” with up to 27 different computer systems needing to be consulted to verify visa status. [LEVINE BRIEFING NOTES – July 21, 17]

• ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS NOW CHALLENGING ATTORNEYS. A free ‘Robot Lawyer’ now provides legal counsel in over a thousand areas, ranging from landlord disputes to airline or faulty product claims, maternity leave issues, and parking ticket appeals (over $4 million worth so far). Essentially a chatbot, the platform (https://donotpay-search-master.herokuapp.com  ), now programmed for all 50 states plus U.K. laws, was developed by a Stanford undergraduate Computer Science student in order to “help people lead easier lives and to stop having to pay exploitative lawyers”; its next iteration plans to cover marriage, divorce & bankruptcy matters. [DIGITAL TRENDS.COM – July 13, 17]

• THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK: “99% of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” – George Washington Carver

“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”

“A happy relationship is one in which each partner grants the possibility that the other may be right, though neither believes it.”