Do we trust our doctors if we scan the internet before our appointment?

A new study finds that we don’t scan the internet for health information because we mistrust our doctors, but because we want to be better informed about our own health.

With the good information available on sites like WebMD and MayoClinic it is pretty easy to look up your symptoms and learn more about your own problems.  The study indicates, however, that physicians were worried that we as patients might be doing this because we don’t trust our doctors.  I would agree with the study that it is not a trust issue, it is just that we are so used to getting information about any issue in our life, that getting health information is just like any other ( a car, the best restaurants, etc.).

You can see how this could be intimidating to doctors when we come in armed with new information from internet sources and start asking questions.  Hopefully, doctors will see this as a good thing–patients taking interest in and responsibility for their own health.

The doctors we interview in our forthcoming book indicate that they prefer to work with patients that they know will be compliant–or those who they know will follow their directions, because it means that there is a greater liklihood that they will actually get better and feel better.  This study should reassure doctors that compliance begins when the patient starts learning about his or her own condition–even on the internet.

We trust our doctors and healthcare providers, but in this day and age of 10 minute appointments, we want to be better informed, too.


Image from

RIM/Blackberry Still Struggling with Acquisitions and Employee Fears

I thought this article in today’s Wall Street Journal illustrates the challenges of integrating acquisitions as well as preserving employee morale during crises:

At the time of the acquisitions in 2010, Mr. Lazaridis insisted that both companies stay in their respective home cities of Ottawa and Malmo, Sweden, largely to allow them to continue developing their technology while avoiding the bureaucracy at RIM’s Waterloo campus, according to people familiar with the matter.

This all didn’t sit well with existing RIM employees working on other projects, according to these people. Executives would also often set staffers working on different projects to work against each other, a tactic from

RIM’s early days meant to drive creativity and productivity, but one that often led to resentment and less cooperation, according to people close to the company.

Mr. Heins has tried to remedy that internal strife since taking over by focusing on the BlackBerry 10. But it is still widely believed at the company that RIM employees who are not working on the new device are in jeopardy of losing their job, say current employees and those close to the company.

“Anyone working on [the new operating system] is safe,” said one current RIM employee. “Anyone working on legacy projects is preparing their resumes. I don’t know anyone that isn’t going to take a buyout if they offer one.”

We conducted peer-reviewed research on how leaders can preserve morale and foster innovation during crises, and let’s hope that the new leadership at RIM understands the importance of building the ROCC of Trust if it is to succeed in its goal of taking on the competition from Android and Apple smart phones.


Assessing Culture is Critical

We talk extensively in our next book about how leaders build a trusting culture.  This HBR article is also helpful in understanding what specific questions to ask today when you are interviewing for a job in order to assess an organization’s culture to determine if it is a good fit for you.

Aneil and I have both worked for leaders and companies where we thought we had found a good fit, only later to discover that the fit was not right for us.  We were blinded by either the job or the friend that hired us, only to find out that there were deeper issues at play that kept us from truly trusting that leader and that organization to not only have our best interests at heart, but our customers best interests at heart, too.

We all want to work at a place we can trust to be excellent, care for us and for its other stakeholders, but today, it is a complex proposition.  A recent MetLife survey shows employee loyalty at a seven-year low.  Employees are not loyal because they don’t feel that employers are loyal to them.  There is definitely a trust gap here.

How have you created a more trusting culture at your workplace?

Yahoo needs to work on trust

Update 5-14-12:

In the WSJ today, Thompson is out.  Yahoo has a long way to go to restore trust in the company and its brand.

Update 5-12-12:

According to today’s Wall Street Journal:

Yahoo Inc. YHOO -1.62% CEO Scott Thompson agreed to resign this weekend after the company’s board obtained evidence that contradicted his claim of innocence over his misstated academic record, people familiar with the matter said.

The board is continuing its probe of the matter to determine whether it can fire Mr. Thompson with cause, meaning he would lose out on millions of dollars in severance pay, one of these people said.

Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo’s executive in charge of its media websites, will be named interim CEO with the possibility of the role becoming permanent, this person said. Fred Amoroso also was named Yahoo’s nonexecutive chairman, succeeding Roy Bostock.

The changes at the top of the long-ailing Internet company are a major victory for dissident shareholder Third Point LLC, which brought the matter of Mr. Thompson’s inaccurate academic record to light.

Yahoo’s board plans to give Third Point three board seats to end a proxy fight initiated by the hedge fund, which owns around 6% of Yahoo’s shares. Third Point’s leader, Dan Loeb, will join the board along with restructuring expert Harry Wilson and media-company consultant Michael J. Wolf, this person said.

Update: 5-11-12

Now, Thompson is saying he never submitted a resume.  Well, he may have been hired based on his ability and proven capability, but I think what people are reacting to is that Yahoo in general has had trust issues and now, they have a CEO who has, in the past, lied on his resume.  Even if he did not lie to get that job specifically, it is only semantics–he did lie at some point on his resume.

I have my students write a resume and profile in every marketing class I teach as part of a self-marketing plan.  I always stress (as was stressed to me at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business) that you never lie on your resume–never. There were times I was tempted to change the wording of one of my past job titles to get a job I wanted and I was probably passed over for a job because I did not have the exact wording on my resume that they were looking for, but I knew that I could not change what was true.  If you lie on your resume, it will come back to haunt you when you least expect it.

Thompson might be able to say with a clear conscience that he got his job by his proven track record of ability, but there will always be a glimmer of doubt about how he was able to obtain that experience because of the first time he lied on his resume.

Original Post 5-10-12

Warren Buffett said it–Yahoo has a trust problem.  We agree.  When your CEO is questioned about his credentials, you’ve got a problem.  When Yahoo fired their ex-CEO, Carol Bartz, over the phone, that should have been their first sign that they’ve got trust issues.  We don’t know the ins-and-outs of what is going on there, but obviously, they’ve got some work to do.  Now, it appears they are vetting all board credentials to make sure this is not a wide-spread credential problem.

How can you expect employees and investors and customers to have faith in the Yahoo! product and service when there is so much turmoil going on at Yahoo!?

Yahoo needs to stop for a moment and figure out where they went wrong and what they need to go to regain trust in each other at the highest levels.  There is no way that they can expect customers and employees to be their advocates until they put forth a united front.

I’d like to suggest that the Yahoo board work on the ROCC of Trust and do it soon.

1) Commit to being reliable with each other.  Promise to act in a consistent manner.  That includes sharing information in a consistent manner.  The current CEO can’t say one thing one time and another thing another time.  Either he does have a computer science degree or he doesn‘t.  If he is not consistent about something like his credentials, people will wonder what else he is not consistent about.  This is something HR recruiters will tell you all the time–never lie on your resume–it will eventually catch up with you.

2) Promise to be open and honest with each other.  This is absolutely critical in order to re-build trust.  There is a reason that the board could not fire Carol Bartz in person but felt the need to do it over the phone.  It is not necessarily an indictment of her, but of the inability to be open and honest with each other.  Being open and honest includes sharing the bad news with the good, all in an effort to build the business and make it better for all stakeholders.

3) Prove to all stakeholders that you are competent.  With so much turmoil and mistakes, it makes an outsider wonder who is competent at Yahoo.  The board needs to use their open and honest communication in a reliable way to show its stakeholders that it is truly competent to manage the company.  There are doubts and you can understand why.

4) Finally, demonstrate some compassion.  Despite what they thought of Carol Bartz, it was not compassionate to fire her over the phone, just as it was abhorrent for the PSU Trustee’s to fire Joe Paterno over the phone.  Compassion means having the other party’s interest at heart and your organization’s interest at heart.  Sometimes you have to consider the big picture  and do what is best for the organization, even if it means that the CEO must stepp out of the way so that the organization’s credibility can be restored.

Yahoo has been a pioneer.  It would be a shame for it to all fall apart because of a lack of trust.


Greg Smith Speaks Truth to Power at Goldman Sachs

Update 1-16-12:

Goldman Sachs reviewing conflicts policies for M&A bankers according to the Wall Street Journal.

Original Post 1-15-12:

Occasionally, employees and former employees have the courage to speak the truth about what really takes place in their organizations.  The results are typically not pretty, but such honesty is essential to restoring trust and addressing endemic problems in an organization’s culture.  Given that our country is still dealing with the aftermath of the financial meltdown, we need much more honesty from people like Greg Smith.

Here’s what the Wall Street Journal wrote today:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS +2.40% said it will examine claims by an employee who quit Wednesday that executives “callously” talk about “ripping their clients off” in order to make more money for the securities firm.

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

The pledge was part of a daylong scramble by the New York company to contain potential damage from the public attack. The employee, 33-year-old Greg Smith, wrote in the New York Times that he had decided to walk away from his 12-year career at Goldman because of the firm’s “toxic and destructive” culture—a 1,270-word denunciation that ricocheted around the world in sharply divided tweets, Facebook comments and blog posts.

At Goldman, the op-ed prompted anger toward Mr. Smith and new introspection among executives stung by persistent outside criticism of the company since the financial crisis began. Unlike previous incidents in which Goldman seemed to be caught flat-footed, company officials quickly launched a public-relations counteroffensive Wednesday that minimized Mr. Smith’s role at the firm.

In a memo to employees, Goldman Chairman and Chief Executive Lloyd C. Blankfein and President Gary D. Cohnwrote that Mr. Smith was one “of nearly 12,000 vice presidents” among more than 30,000 employees at the company.

This kind of news is only going to make it harder for Wall Street to recruit on college campuses, according to The New York Times‘s Dealbook.

By the way, here’s an excellent whjte paper about speaking truth to power, organizational culture, and organizational change by leadership guru Jim O’Toole.  It also contains a neat discussion of Sophocles’s Antigone, one of the original sources for the concept of speaking truth to power, as well.



Google’s iPhone Tracking Smacks of Big Brother and 1984

Apple took on IBM in its famous ad comparing the computer company to Big Brother in the book 1984.  Now it appears that Apple has another insidious malefactor to battle.  Now, more than ever, I wish it were possible to remove individual cookies on the Safari browser on my iPhone.


Google Inc. and other advertising companies have been bypassing the privacy settings of millions of people using Apple Inc.’s Web browser on their iPhones and computers—tracking the Web-browsing habits of people who intended for that kind of monitoring to be blocked.

The companies used special computer code that tricks Apple’s Safari Web-browsing software into letting them monitor many users. Safari, the most widely used browser on mobile devices, is designed to block such tracking by default.

Google disabled its code after being contacted by The Wall Street Journal.

The Google code was spotted by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer and independently confirmed by a technical adviser to the Journal, Ashkan Soltani, who found that ads on 22 of the top 100 websites installed the Google tracking code on a test computer, and ads on 23 sites installed it on an iPhone browser.

The technique reaches far beyond those websites, however, because once the coding was activated, it could enable Google tracking across the vast majority of websites. Three other online-ad companies were found using similar techniques: Vibrant Media Inc., WPP PLC’s Media Innovation Group LLC and Gannett Co.’s PointRoll Inc.

In Google’s case, the findings appeared to contradict some of Google’s own instructions to Safari users on how to avoid tracking. Until recently, one Google site told Safari users they could rely on Safari’s privacy settings to prevent tracking by Google. Google removed that language from the site Tuesday night.

In a statement, Google said: “The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.”


Google’s privacy practices are under intense scrutiny. Last year, as part of a far-reaching legal settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission the company pledged not to “misrepresent” its privacy practices to consumers. The fine for violating the agreement is $16,000 per violation, per day. The FTC declined to comment on the findings.  An Apple official said: “We are working to put a stop” to the circumvention of Safari privacy settings.

Of the ad companies found to be using the technique, Google has by far the largest reach. It delivers Internet ads that were viewed at least once by 93% of U.S. Web users in December, according to comScore Media Metrix.

Penn State’s Leaders Didn’t Consider Stakeholders in Responding to the Sandusky Scandal

As horrible as the alleged crimes are that Jerry Sandusky is accused of committing, it’s even more shocking that Penn State University’s academic leadership, in particular President Graham Spanier, failed to keep Penn State’s board of trustees fully informed of what may have transpired and what academic officials told the grand jury.  Karen was interviewed today in the Pittsuburgh Tribune-Review about the lack of a comprehensive crisis response:

Other public relations mistakes — such as firing Paterno by phone, inflaming a mob of students who rioted in Happy Valley — suggest the school’s leaders acted before identifying all the stakeholders they needed to appease, said Karen Mishra, a business professor at Meredith College in Raleigh, who focuses on crisis management and is writing a book about that subject. Mishra taught at Penn State in the mid-1990s.

Erickson, the former provost who took over as Penn State president, started to remedy those early mistakes with a promise of openness and transparency and his three town hall meetings last week to answer alumni’s questions, Mishra said.

“You want to let people know, ‘We’re on top of this. Even if we don’t know everything, we’re going to get the answers quickly,'” Mishra said.

Many alumni, however, vented at Erickson about the university’s board of trustees. Erickson said Penn State is creating a website on which it will post online updates on the school’s response, including contracts for Erickson and football coaches, as well as those for outside consultants and lawyers. Those postings were supposed to come this week but are now expected next week, a spokeswoman said.

Full disclosure:  Karen and I were both business school professors at Penn State from 1992-1997, and have some dear friends who played for the football team during that period.


Olympus “Rotten to the Core” By Biting Off Bad Debts Secretly One Bite At a Time

Add this to pile of Olympian-scale corporate scandals.  To quote Casey Kasem,  “the hits just keep on coming”:

TOKYO—The secret held for a quarter-century, quietly passed among senior executives. Within Olympus Corp. the goal was clear. Hide some $1.5 billion in investment losses from public view.


The toll on Olympus mounted as time went by. “The core part of the management was rotten, and that contaminated other parts around it.”

So concluded a 200-page reported issued Tuesday, the most complete account yet of a scandal that routed money through more than a dozen banks, funds and investment firms around the globe, ultimately leading to the departure of several top executives and putting the respected optical-equipment maker on the bubble for a stock delisting.

Starting in the mid-1980s, Olympus, along with other Japanese exporters, turned to speculative financial investments as a way to ease the sting of a surging yen with what they believed would be easy profits.

At Olympus, that strategy set in motion a chain of events that were the heart of the company’s accounting scandal, according to the report, written by a six-member outside panel appointed by the company last month.

“The situation was an epitome of the salaryman mentality in a bad sense,” said the panel, referring to Japan’s culture of corporate loyalty.

The four men devised a plan to transfer the bad assets off Olympus’s books to firms that weren’t officially connected with the company and so wouldn’t appear in Olympus’s accounts, the report said. The intention was to unwind those transactions gradually, allowing Olympus to take the losses secretly, over time. This type of operation had been employed by so many Japanese companies in the 1990s that it was widely known in Japan as tobashi, meaning, to send something flying away.

Employees in 2011: Take This Job and Shove It!

Right Management has found additional evidence that employees don’t trust their bosses or companies and have very little loyalty as a result:

Workers continue to feel trapped in their jobs and want to find new employment elsewhere, according to a new poll of more than 1,000 employees in North America by Right Management, the talent and career management expert within ManpowerGroup.

Eighty-four percent of the employees polled said they plan to look for a new position in 2012, reflecting the very same level of discontent in the workplace as the 84% reported ayear ago in Right Management’s survey. Like last year, only 5% said they intend to remain in their current position.

Do you plan to pursue new job opportunities in 2012?
Previous years surveyed:                                             2011     2010     2009
Yes, I intend to actively seek a new position.        84%    84%       60%
Maybe, so I’m networking.                                           9%      8%        21%
Not likely, but I’ve updated my resume.                     2%      3%          6%
No, I intend to stay in current position.                    5%      5%        13%

“The survey findings reflect a lot of employee dissatisfaction across North America,” said Right Management Executive Vice President Bram Lowsky. “Employees are restless and feel they are lacking in options. The prolonged period of economic uncertainty has meant much less job mobility than usual, and employees understandably believe they have fewer career opportunities, either internally or via a new position.”

According to Lowsky, the findings serve as a barometer of worker distrust in management as well as job commitment. “It’s a workplace equivalent to whether or not ‘the country is moving in the right direction.’ Sometimes called ‘flight cognition’ by behavioral psychologists, intent to leave is far from an unusual phenomenon but when it applies to four-out-of-five employees for two years running it has to be of top concern to senior management.”

There is plenty of peer-reviewed research over the past decade, including our own, that demonstrates that employees’ lack of trust in their management leads to lower commitment to the organization and greater voluntary turnover, i.e., quitting.  You would think that managers would recognize this, but I’m sure they will when the economy improves and it becomes easier for people to find another job.


CNN Lays Off Employees During Employee Appreciation Week

I’d categorize this as ironic except for the sickness of the event:

By Chris Ariens on November 11, 2011 4:54 PM

Breaking: Layoff notices are being handed out across CNN/U.S. today. Photographers, editors and other staffers in Atlanta, New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles and Miami are being let go. In all, at least 50 positions are being eliminated. As many as 12 staffers in the Washington, DC bureau alone, four of whom are longtime photojournalists.

CNN Senior VP Jack Womack writes in a note to staff that the cuts come after a 3-year analysis of the company’s work processes.

The CNN Library, which houses CNN’s archives, is centralizing in Atlanta. The library in CNN New York is closing, while there will be cuts in staff at the library in Washington, DC. New positions will be added to the CNN Library in Atlanta.

“As a result of these technology and workflow changes, CNN is reducing the number of media editors in our work force in Atlanta,” Womack writes, adding, “Some photojournalists will be departing the company.”

“We cannot begin to thank these individuals enough for their service to CNN. They leave with our respect and our sincere best wishes.”

Even with today’s cuts, CNN anticipates adding staffers in the New Year with overall staff levels at this time next year, around the same.

I’d hate to see what CNN does during Staff Appreciation Day…