Baruch-Zicklin lectures on ethics · business · business ethics · education

Duff McDonald is looking back

© Tamara Beck

Those in positions of primacy are obligated to lead with well-thought out discretion.

Duff McDonald is the author of analyses of influential business entities, The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School, the Limits of Capitalism, and the Moral Failure of the MBA Elite, Last Man Standing (about Jamie Dimond post financial crisis 2008) and The Firm (about McKinsey & Co.), which could be treated as a triumvirate on power. He has also written for a wide range of publications, including for Vanity Fair, Fortune, Business Week, GQ and The New Yorker.

In researching The Golden Passport, McDonald discovered the long connection between the consulting group McKinsey he had previously spotlighted and HBS. The two have had close ties for the past 50 years of their 100 year history, with The Firm hiring MBAs from HBS.

McDonald’s talk at Baruch’s Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity on October 12th,   is entitled “Don’t Look Back,” in tribute to Bob Dylan. Duff McDonald’s contention is that HBS, and BSchools in general, don’t pay enough attention to walk has come before and to the consequences of their present positions and actions. They do not live by the goals they set themselves, McDonald says. “Influence of a certain scale can be dangerous.” HBS, like McKinsey, rely on their reputation for the influence they have.

This can lead to great inequalities and many corruptions of the mission of a business entity. Ethics is often overlooked in the context of business training, even when it is paid lip-service.

McDonald acknowledges that not all the ills promoted by the financial industry, an industry which has drawn managers, CEOs, and business leaders from the ranks of Harvard’s MBAs, can be traced to HBS. There are other culprits, such as Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics, for instance, who feel that the only role of corporations is to create profit, even at the cost of community and other values.

McDonald has another pet peeve with HBS and other institutions that seek to educate in business: the idea that conflates management with leadership. He wonders why schools of business, finance, accounting should be the ones who determine who is a leader?

What HBS does do is create capable managers, but their influence and reputation has been enduring and often negative. Be mindful of the hidden influences that can bloom from large, sometimes inflated, reputations when we are not paying attention to consequences.

Paying it forward: Mary C. Gentile will discuss Giving Voice to Values on October 31st.

admiration · better choices · business · culture · fancy foods · lattes and umbrella drinks · local coffee drinking · neighborhood stores · new · New York City · organics · soft drinks · soft drinks and soda pop


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Adults have been given permission to enjoy pop for many more years than you imagine. In the soda market space, there’s the old standby, Orangina, a product I have always found equal to my maturity. Its proximate competitor is the very amusing San Pelligrino Aranciata, available in small bottles or cans.

While in many ways the ultimate in adult beverages for my money is seltzer water, whether it be Perrier, Pelligrino, Polar, Saratoga Sparkling or Poland Springs, the flavored arena is a fulsome one. It also makes for a nice change.

GuS (aka Grown-up Soda) is pretty much a new kid on the block. A family owned business, these soft drinks have wide distribution in bodegas and fancy food stores.

Recently, I was introduced to another drink of “Sipperior” quality at the York Social, where Sipp is in the fridge. Like GuS, Sipp prides itself on its natural and organic flavors and recipes. The variety made with pear is an especially lovely blend, but the Berry Mojo drink is also lovely.

business · point of view · riff


Disrupting the disruption

Uber, plagued by internal meltdowns in management and human resources, has pressures from without as well.

Lyft uses an app to pick up riders and provides competition, as does Via which offers a rideshare twist and a cheap fare.

Uber’s problems may have started, however, with the archival grandiosity of their corporate name. Branding yourself with a somewhat tainted word that conjures some not happy WWII images of dominance, or would-be dominance, may have been its first misstep.

At the very least it suggests an arrogance of vision. Wouldn’t you rather get a lift from Lyft? It appears that the arrogance is systemic it seems from what one reads about Travis Kalanick’s company.

Who’s driving this…?

Is everyone completely comfortable with driverless cars?

Is this concept– from 1950s cartoons, it seems to me– well thought out?

Is it possible the machine is smarter than the human? Will it make better decisions in  critical moments in traffic?

Granted, it’s not always clear how well a driver handles him/herself in crises on the road. There are plenty of accident statistics to refute the idea that men and women should control the steering wheel.

Nonetheless, the image of a car turning with no one in the driver’s seat gives me pause.

Hi, my name is Hal

Will we all be consumers with none of us being providers? Will work be something only androids and robots do?

Should we all just sit back and enjoy the ride?

More disruptive

Cooperation is preferrable to a lack thereof.

#love-story · #marriage · #observation · associations · better choices · business · Daily Prompt · inspirations · love · riff · sharing · what if

In sync

500 Posts500plusvia Daily Prompt: Partner

It’s not easy navigating a partnership. Admit it, you and your beloved are not always in sync. Love and marriage are the ultimate alliance, the pinnacle opportunity to cooperate and collaborate.

There are other such connections we get to make. Early on, we form friendships which may resemble alliances we will have later in life. We partner with the cute little boy in our kindergarten class. We are assigned to a team-often of two- to dissect a frog in high school; we sense an affiliation with our lab partner.

On the disstaff side, as it were, there was an adage that said, “Take a partner, get a gun.”
I was reminded of this once while driving past 9 Partners Road somewhere in suburban New York. How many guns would these unfortunates need to settle their situation?

Law firms may have an answer to this cunundrum. Judging by the names on their marquees, they are accustomed to large syndicates. It’s always a good plan to allow an attorney to parse a state of affairs that might involve firearms.

The adage quoted above, despite the many jokes about matrimony, does not apply to your union with your life partner. At its best, the conjugal is an idyllic condition.

#history · business · Daily Prompt · riff


via Daily Prompt: Apprentice

Public Domain,

Once upon a time, you learned a trade, the one that once upon a time would last you your lifetime, by standing beside a master. Those times are gone, but we still apprentice ourselves.

We intern for the summer in the hopes that XSZ Corp. will hire us in the fall after graduation. Apprenticeships are about learning how the world of work operates and how we can work with that world.


business · business ethics · corporate integrity · ethics · presentation


1ethicsEthics in business seems quaint in our dystopian moment. Since I have feathers, I still have hope. I am not completely alone. They still teach this old-fashioned concept in B’Schools.

Baruch is especially aggressive in pursuit of matters of good governance, particularly at its Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity where programs like Ethics in Entrepreneurship are shared with students, alumni and public alike.

On March 7th, Scott Stern, the David Sarnoff Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management presented The Foundations and Ethics of Entrepreneurial Strategy
at Baruch’s Newman Vertical Campus. His presentation brought up many questions about the intersection of good business and the good, as it should.

Dr. Stern’s premise is that when entrepreneurs make choices in their business paths, they will also be making value choices. He suggested that when they choose to pursue a business plan, they will choose an ethical path because acting with good intent is ultimately better for business.

This may also be a quaint premise in our dystopian times, but it gives me hope.


associations · business


"Anastasiya Markovich Time" by Creator:Anastasiya Markovich - by email from the author. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Anastasiya Markovich Time” by Creator:Anastasiya Markovich – by email from the author. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Institutional memory becomes an issue for organizations as they age, and the successive leadership is further removed from the roots of its establishment.

History is there to preserve the mission and maintain a heritage for the group. Your association need not be hamstrung by unwanted fetters of custom.  Groups need to evolve and grow. They also have to honor their procedures and precedents.

Institutions should build on those precedents when moving forward.

In reinventing, modernizing and transforming, your group shoul d be sure it doesn’t stray from its mission. That mission, of course, can be simply seen as serving the needs of its constituency.

Sometimes it takes a reinvention to completely fulfill that mission.