Posted by RICH LIEVENSE on 01/19/12
Hear from the founder of Lake Michigan Financial Corporation, Rich Lievense, and his insight on what this blog encompasses.
Posted by RICH LIEVENSE on 01/07/13
We have just watched our elected officials temporarily avoid the financial cliff by increasing taxes and not dealing with imbedded government spending. We have kicked the can down the road again and insured that the drama experienced over the last couple of months will continue well into 2013. The fundamental problem continues to be that we want more government than we are willing to pay for with taxes of one kind or another. This problem is not unique to our national budget but is being experienced at the state and local level throughout the country as well as Japan, Europe, and other countries around the world.
It is easy to complain about our elected officials but what would you do to address our $1 trillion + annual deficits if someone made you king/queen for the day? Attached to this post is a interactive calculator from the Wall Street Journal. See how your ideas work in addressing this ongoing problem. This process will probably underscore the difficulty of the task given politician’s desire to get re-elected and the citizen’s desire to continue government programs that benefit them. Remember, one person’s pork is another person’s benefit or right.
Read the article.
Posted by RICH LIEVENSE on 12/21/12
Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart have written a book titled ‘This Time is Different – Eight Centuries of Financial Folly’ about financial crises and debt bubbles that will considered a classic. It will be required reading in financial circles for years to come. The only problem is that it is 292 pages of deep analytical work and takes a commitment to get through. If you are so inclined to read it, you will not be disappointed. If not, take a moment to read the following interview. It will provide you the high level review of their thoughts and will certainly give you a perspective on our slow recovery from our most recent crisis.
Read the Article
Posted by RICH LIEVENSE on 12/11/12
Frequent readers of this blog know I have a special interest in the economic and political development of China especially as it relates to the United States. China has well over a billion people, is rapidly modernizing their economy, and developing into a world power. We have all watched an erosion of manufacturing in this country as jobs and manufacturing capacity moved to the far East and especially China. Since China is major emerging market for our exports as well as a formidable competitor, I believe it is in our interest to understand the implications of their development. I have recently found a couple of articles that present a new view of our place in a world-wide manufacturing market.
After years of outsourcing manufacturing and production, many large companies are moving manufacturing operations back to the United States. They are starting to fully understand the risks of long distance supply chains. Some developing countries are rapidly losing their competitive advantage on labor prices. There are intellectual property issues associated with state of the art technology transfers to developing countries. The work place environment and work rules in the United States are rapidly becoming some of the most competitive in the world. The United states is on track to be the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world. The result of these transformational changes are making the United States a much more attractive place to make things.
The Insourcing Boom describes the experience of General Electric as they move their appliance manufacturing business from China to Louisville. It is a real story of hope for our country and for Michigan’s manufacturing base. Mr. China Comes to America describes how the compressed development time from idea to prototype to finished good is best completed in the United States. This is particularly important trend in the rapidly changing technological product business.
Take the time to read these articles. I think they might help you look beyond the current political rhetoric and recognize some new opportunities closer to home. We might be on the verge of a transformational time in our economic development.
Click here to read Mr. China Comes to America.
Posted by RICH LIEVENSE on 10/31/12
Since the first blog post on culture was published, I have had a number of comments and questions about this topic. Most revolved around the question of what to do to establish a culture in a company or fix a culture that has been damaged for one reason or another. This seems to be a common problem. Why is the right culture so important yet so elusive?
Culture is defined as “the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent.” Isn’t that something we all want in our lives? Don’t we all want to be great at something?
Those of you who have excelled in something know it doesn’t just happen. It is the result of a clearly defined goal, a strategy to achieve that goal, much work and commitment, and a willingness to pursue that goal when times get tough. It seems to me that establishing, nurturing, and maintaining the right culture in a company is no different.
It starts with clearly defining what we want for our culture. Does it start with product design (like Apple)? How do we want our people treated? Are we willing to spend the time and money to insure our actions live up to our hype? Do we really want our company to be excellent and stand out among others in the industry? Where does profit fit in? How do we want to treat our customers and what promises are we going to make to them? What are we willing to forgo in our pursuit of profit? Is our culture for sale if the price is right? These are great questions to ask yourself and your team. You should also ask these questions to a broad cross section of customers and employees.
After you get some answers to these questions, it is time to really understand where you are right now. Assess what your current culture looks like and figure out where you are succeeding and what areas need attention. This is the difficult part because broken cultures cause people to become defensive, upset, angry, hurt and sorry and always get in the way of excellence. This process needs to be led by the owners/senior managers of the company and should be in an honest and non-threatening environment. If the culture is badly in need of attention, don’t be surprised if this takes much more time than you think and ends up being hurtful for everyone involved.
Once you know where you stand, a long-term process of improvement begins. This same group of people needs to do something to build on the positive traits and establish a game plan for the areas of improvement. Be sure to outline specific actions to be taken. Publish them for all to see. Once these actions are established, get to work on making them happen. Early progress is critical because your people will question if this commitment is lasting and something to be taken seriously. Establish a regular meeting to review your progress, assess what is working and what isn’t, make adjustments, and continue to address issues as they arise. Be honest in your evaluation of what is working and what isn’t. Be sure to celebrate your successes and honestly acknowledge things that aren’t going quite as well. Your employees will be watching carefully.
This process takes time and commitment but like any other business situation, progress can be made if the right process is implemented in an honest non-threatening environment. Are you ready to make the change?