"Most subsidiaries of multinational organizations in developing countries
are managed like modern-day saladeros, beef-jerking companies where,
in the process of salting beef, workers salted themselves out of life.
In Gaucho Dialogues on Leadership and Management Alfredo Behrens illustrates the
Latin American organizational how-to through a dialogue attributed to two iconic
literary characters, Martín Fierro and Don Segundo Sombra. Fierro—passionate,
nonpragmatic, xenophobic—and Sombra—with a more nuanced affection toward old
ways—comment on the militia-led insurrections from Argentina and Uruguay through
Brazil, Venezuela, Central America and Mexico, and draw lessons about leadership,
strategy and people management in Latin America. While the book’s argument
covers the ethos prevailing in the Americas, Behrens believes it may be relevant
elsewhere among similar societies where people prefer to act as members of clans
than as autonomous individuals. If so, the book’s argument may be relevant for the
vast majority of humankind at work."
Artificial Intelligence may soon make market research more effective
AI Swarm technology is making inroads. It might will soon revolutionalize the polling industry, bringing better market analysis with it. Stay tuned, a revolution in on the way.
Pollsters missed to forecast results in the American 2016 elections. They have come out with many excuses, like the one below.
But it turns out they have been almost consistently wrong over time, like is shown below.
AI might still be in its infancy, but it has already provided us with many surprises. The next one might just be it might predict election winners better than pollsters have.
So far Swarm technology has predicted horserace winners, beating a 540 odds to 1. It might already be better than much polling results and it is likely to become much better. Stay tuned.
Brazil’s President Temer
hangs by a thread.
Brazil’s penchant for win-win solutions suggests the next transfer will also be swift and pacific. This is good for business and quite frankly, for the people as well.
It pays to remember how Brazil got to this sad state of affairs.
President Lula had many qualities going on for him, but he failed on the litmus test of effective leadership: making a successor. This is why Brazil was landed with President Dilma who, lacking a political base of her own, would remain hostage to Lula.
It did not work. I never thought it would, and I said so in 2010 in an interview for Clarín of Buenos Aires (in Spanish).
Since, we learned that not even Lula's workers party was immune to corruption, which now we know to be more widespread, even as it unfolds.
Most heirs of Iberian countries are more concerned with principles than Brazil is. One only has to remember the pragmatic way with President Dilma was shown the door; Temer is likely to be disposed of in a similarly swift way.
Principles are a good thing and Brazil is also likely to justify the choice of the next leader, as it did the last time, barely a year ago. But Brazil´s penchant for win-win solutions also makes the outcome harder to predict, because there are a lot of winners to accommodate. This itself will delay the ousting of Temer, perhaps for long enough to allow him to fulfill his mandate, even at single digit preferences among the electorate.
The choice of a successor is likely to remain within the best known who have not yet fallen in disrepute. Why not Roberto Mangabeira Unger? This would allow for a degree of normalcy, at least until true alternatives have a chance of elaborating a candidacy by the next general elections, literally around the corner.
Managing the lower classes
It takes a lot of hutzpah, perhaps even to the extent of psycopathy, to leave the corporate trove in the hands of a lowly-paid secretary. That is what Brazilian Odebrecht did and the mistake cost the company the largest corruption-related fine in business history: $3.5 billion.
But the mistake was not that miss-match of status and responsibility, which happens frequently in class-ridden Brazil, but not protecting her when she felt threatened by the police on a corruption probe. That was Odebrecht's people management mistake.
Why did it happen?
A heir with an inflated ego took over Odebrecht from his father - hardly an angel either - and multiplied Oderbrecht corporate revenues 130 times; see graph below.
Of course such growth in the real world requires shortcuts and the boss did not hesitate. He structured a bribing operation in defiance of all legislation, national and foreign, and left it to be handled by Maria Lúcia, an employee who had not made much of a career from her early beginings as a typist.
The boss must have believed Maria Lúcia owed all to Odebrecht, to the extent she would never betray him. But jail was too high a price for Maria Lúcia to pay when she felt abandoned by the boss; so she spilled the beans.
Why did Maria Lúcia feel abandoned?Odebrecht has a paternalistic style. They like to speak of themselves as a family. Family members take care of each other; except that close family members come first, particularly on matters of finance. Maria Lúcia's humble origins would have disqualified her to become an in-group within Odebrecht, a corporation which grew out the Brazilian Northeast, where class differences are a birthmark.
Ali Baba's 40 thieves were chicken feedWhen the corruption probe got serious Odebrecht extended its legal protection to almost 80 corporate executives which would take part of a leniency agreement with Brazil's prosecutors. Odebrecht sort of forgot her old time secretary, who must have felt she had been left-out as a piranha steer. This is a legendary Brazilian rural practice consisting of offering a steer to the carnivorous piranhas when crossing a herd of cattle through a piranha infested river. Reckoning her humble origins, the former mechanographer must have thought that the boss considered her expendable. See her below beeing taken in by the Brazilian Federal police.
People management in Brazil, as in most clan-based organizations in emerging markets, bears the sign of class-ridden societies. A paternalistic-style of leadership is preferred, but it must be, or feel, authentic. When doubt is instilled by shady managerial behaviour, employees of humble origins - the vast majority - will feel managed as in a Last In First Out inventory management style - and they will take care of themselves first too.
Brazilian society is remarkably distrustful. Generalized trust in Brazil loses to all in Latin America except for Colombia - which is coming out of a half a century of civil war. See the graph below which, based on World Values Survey data, shows that Brazil's level of trust runs at about 20% that of the American one. That enough should suggest that people management in Brazil must follow a different path than the American one, even in companies not run by thieves.
The level of trust is higher in India and China, but distrust will set in as those countries urbanize and community-based links are eroded in urban annonimity.
There is a lot to learn from the Brazilian experience, not only to manage people in Brazil but also in many more emerging markets.
Read more in Culture and Management in the Americas - Stanford University Press; also in Portuguese by Saraiva, where you may also read Fuzilar Heróis e Premiar Covardes, by Bei. This last book too will be available in English later in 2017.
Ask me for more, or hire me for public speaking in English, Spanish and Portuguese
Fraud and treachery upgraded
Fraud and treachery were the lowest of circles in Dante's Inferno; yet today references to either are only as frequent as gluttony.
I mostly read, but also write and speak on issues related to culture, business leadership and economic development.