Week of June 16, 2003
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IAMC's Boston Lineup:
Making Ethics, Agility, Prosperity Part of Industry's Genetic Codeby JACK LYNE, Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing
NORCROSS, Ga. Agile, ethical and - oh, yes - profitable.
A highly desirable business profile? You bet. And that profile is a big part of the programmatic picture rapidly taking shape for the Industrial Asset Management Council's (IAMC at www.iamc.org) Fall 2003 Professional Forum, which is on tap Sept. 7-10 at metro Boston's Sheraton Ferncroft Golf Resort.
IAMC officials in suburban Atlanta have unveiled a high-profile speaker roster that strongly supports the fast-growing group's distinctive niche. IAMC has set itself apart from the real-estate-association pack by focusing on executive-level managers in the industrial and manufacturing sectors who're responsible for corporate real estate and asset management.
The Boston conference promises to deepen IAMC's niche, as well as its firm real-world focus. That promise is implicit in the conference's programmatic theme: "Agile Leadership for the Bottom Line: Dealing with Corporate Governance, Ethics and Economic Reality."
IAMC's speaker roster in Danvers, Mass.,for example, will include Harvard professor Donald Sull; Enron whistle-blower Lynn Brewer; New Mexico State University economist and futurist Lowell Catlett; and high-profile corporate ethicist Richard Schroth.
In addition, the Boston Forum sessions will draw on IAMC members' considerable first-hand experiences in enhancing corporate value. Members who'll share their insights include Honeywell's Phil Hammel, BASF's Bill Pearson, Pfizer's Chuck Manula, Pharmacia's Mert Livingstone and Masco's David Hirsch.
Boston Ethics Theme Particularly TimelyIAMC's ethics focus in Boston has particular relevance. The entire business world continues to grapple with the aftermath of the moral meltdown that decimated the likes of Enron, WorldCom and countless others.
Opening-session keynote speaker Richard Schroth is supremely well-known in corporate circles for tackling just such issues. The co-author of How Companies Lie: Why Enron is Just the Tip of the Iceberg, Schroth has been advising some of the world's most prominent companies on technology and ethics for more than 30 years. His client firms include Banc One, Computer Sciences Corporation, GE Capital, KPMG, Marriott Corporation, Monsanto, Volvo, Perot Systems, Pfizer and Royal Dutch Shell. Schroth will draw on that voluminous background for his IAMC speech, "Understanding Reality: The Fear of All Sums."
He will advise IAMC attendees on the ethical aspects of many features of today's business environment, including technology shifts, global terrorism, privacy and security concerns and public distrust of corporations. Recently featured as one of the nation's leading chief technology officers in Inside the Minds: Leading CTOs, Schroth will also discuss how changes in management and management priorities are altering the very foundations of the performance demands that are being placed on real estate leaders.
The Enron Exec Who Toppled the 'Crooked E'Brewer, on the other hand, brings a particularly deep and painful knowledge of ethical dilemmas to Boston. She came to Enron in 1998 with a spotless and solid record in accounting and law. Her charge at Enron, though, was to analyze the off-balance-sheet deals for then-Chairman Kenneth Lay and then-President and CEO Jeffrey Skilling.
She didn't like what she analyzed. In particular, she didn't like the $172 million in bank fraud that she discovered in her first three months at Enron.
Brewer tried to right the situation by going through the obligatory "appropriate channels." That failed. Inside the company, she was repeatedly rebuffed. So Brewer finally went outside, turning to U.S. government regulators and members of Congress. And she failed there, too - at first, at least.
Initially, no government figure deigned to return her phone calls and e-mails. But Brewer persisted, eventually triggering the toppling of Enron's house of cards, which was stacked with fraud, espionage, power-price manipulations and gross financial overstatements.
Brewer will tell her IAMC audience about the lessons she learned from the Enron experience (recounted in her book, House of Cards, Confessions of an Enron Executive). Brewer, who now chairs the International Society of Ethics Examiners, has become a strong backer of annual "business ethics examinations" for public firms (along the lines of CPA audits). She's also an advocate of establishing confidential channels to facilitate straightforward communication to top corporate managers and board members.
Sull Will Tackle Competitive Edge;
Author of Revival of the Fittest: Why Good Companies Go Bad and How Great Managers Remake Them, the popular Harvard professor will discuss how IAMC attendees can help sustain their organizations' competitive advantages. Many corporate leaders sow the seeds of their organizations' doom during their companies' most successful eras, he contends. They make commitments - whether to strategies, customers or manufacturing methods - that become terribly constricting as change inexorably moves onward.
Sull will also present a three-step "transforming commitments model" to demonstrate how to avoid that and other common managerial mistakes. In addition, he will outline how managerial commitments can provide both internal and external benefits.
Resisting transformation, on the other hand, is a very risky business, Sull maintains. As he says in Revival of the Fittest , managers often become so committed to one style that they can't adapt to the next wave of change; instead, they're left behind as victims of "active inertia."
Sull will also make a bonus appearance at the Boston Professional Forum, moderating IAMC's second Research Roundtable on Saturday, Sept. 6.
New Mexico State professor Catlett's insights will drive the Tuesday morning macro-economic session - consistently ranked among the Professional Forums' most popular sessions.
Winner of New Mexico State's highest teaching award, Catlett will discuss how the 1990s' raging bull market prompted many to believe that economics' "old rules" no longer applied. Instead, the bear market of the last three years has underscored those rules' validity with a vengeance.
At the same time, Catlett, a consultant to the U.S. departments of Labor, Defense, the Interior and Agriculture, will bring a deep knowledge of new-wave realities to IAMC's Boston conference. His work as a futurist has demonstrated a deep grasp of cutting-edge technologies and their substantial impact on how we work and live.
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