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A Clarification on “Mandates”In the article entitled “Can Technology Heal the Health Care Industry?”(March 2006), you attributed a quote to me that was taken out of context and may give some readers a wrong impression. The issue was federal mandates, and for the record, I see no reason or need for the federal government to …

A Clarification on “Mandates”

In the article entitled “Can Technology Heal the Health Care Industry?”(March 2006), you attributed a quote to me that was taken out of context and may give some readers a wrong impression. The issue was federal mandates, and for the record, I see no reason or need for the federal government to impose mandates on the health care industry to force industry participants to cooperate in the introduction of new health IT innovations.

Many of us in the industry, including leaders across the nationwide Blue Cross and Blue Shield system, are collaborating with federal, state and local stakeholders and government officials to speed the introduction of new information standards and technologies that will improve health care quality, efficiency and affordability. For example, I am pleased to serve on the American Health Information Community, a federally chartered commission working with the Department of Health and Human Services on advancing health information technology, including electronic health records.

I think industry leaders are showing we can get the job done in a collaborative fashion-without the need for government mandates.

Scott P. Serota
President and CEO
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Assn.
Chicago



Best States, and Worst

In the January/February 2006 issue, you published a brief report noting that 339 of your readers ranked California as the worst state in which to do business. Perhaps you would be interested to know that in a survey by the Bay Area Council, a group which represents CEOs in the greater Bay Area of California, 56 percent of the 549 local executives polled actually said that they expect the economy to improve in the next six months. The same survey also showed that Bay Area executives were over eight times more likely to plan work force increases than work force reductions (42 to 5 percent.)

I’ve also had the opportunity to speak with CEOs from San Diego and Los Angeles and they are very
bullish on the state of California’s economy, which has been growing at a healthy and sustained pace. Our unemployment rate is at 5.1 percent, and Governor Schwarzenegger has recently proposed a strategic growth plan that will improve our transportation network and goods movement, and help continue long-term economic growth and development.

Sean Walsh
Director
Governor’s Office of
Planning and Research
Sacramento, Calif.


As executives representing some of Missouri’s corporations, we would like to express  our disappointment in your recent article entitled “50 Best and Worst States to do Business.” While we understand this survey wasn’t based upon specific scientific information, but based on your subscribers’opinions of Missouri as a place to do business, it is our pleasure to share with you some exciting facts about Missouri.

Missouri, as the fifth most diversified economy in the nation, has had steady economic growth in recent years. We have enacted significant changes to our workers’ compensation system and reformed tort litigation laws to keep our market competitive. Additionally, the recently passed Quality Jobs Act provided numerous advantages to companies deciding to locate in Missouri. Finally, our incentive programs are continually being reviewed and updated to maximize the benefits to prospective Missouri businesses.

When considering the average cost of doing business, Missouri has been recognized as being 13 percent below the national average. This exceptional value for businesses is due to wage costs, a highly skilled and productive work force, a low tax burden (48th lowest business tax burden per worker), low electricity costs (14th least expensive state for electricity), and low industrial and office rentcosts. Moreover, in 2004 the U.S. Economic Freedom Act ranked Missouri 10th overall for our policies, programs and incentives that promoted economic freedom to start business.

In addition, our high quality of life indices offer many opportunities to business people and their families. Missouri has a low cost of living, lower cost of housing, multiple art and entertainment venues, amultitude of outdoor recreational opportunities and a strong education system for our children. Our higher education system has also received recognition for its contribution to research and education.

We believe your survey doesn’t accurately reflect what the “Show Me State”offers.  Our challenge is to transition the opinions of CEOs around the country to a point where their perception of Missouri’s business climate meets reality.

Andrew C. Taylor
Chairman & CEO
Enterprise Rent-A-Car

David N. Farr
Chairman, CEO & President
Emerson

Richard H. McClure
President
UniGroup


Reaching the Young

Ohio State President Holbrook’s solution to the education dilemma (“Thought Leader,” March 2006) simply will not work.

As the world’s top expert in the science of disruptive technobusiness systems, and as a former professor of electrical engineering, computer science and chemistry, I have heard about the same initiatives throughout the country. This is the first clue to failure-that every college and university has similar solutions. Where’s the innovation? Innovators need not copy anyone, for any reason, at anytime. Remember the dot.com meltdown? It should have served as a lifetime lesson for academic and business leaders.

The solution now for industry is to go global and make other nations smart, instead of cultivating youthful talent here at home.

Wilbert Q. Murdock
Retired professor
New York City Technical College
New York, NY


Making Innovation Happen

I want to respond to your ideas about innovation (“Editor’s Note,” November 2005) and what there is still to be learned.

As a fan of innovation, I have seen many organizations stunted because their people are not ready to let go of the old. There is a fear factor in beginning something new and having to change what they know and do.Many people start a job learning and growing and then hit a place that is comfortable.Then they innovate in other ways-start a family, hobbies, etc.-and lose interest in growing their skills in the workplace. This creates a stagnant atmosphere where innovators are less than likely to stay or succeed, as innovation requires a team effort.

Also, some leaders have developed egos that are so dependent on the current system that they will fight to maintain it and look for ways to sabatoge the changes that are necessary to move an organization forward.A top performer is not necessarily an innovator. He or she will give you suggestions on how to make the existing system better, but remember, they like it the way it is because they are succeeding in the current system. The pain is not as great for them to innovate. There is an attitude of “Don’t let it go until you have to.” This is where accountability is critical. The company is not innovating if the majority of staff are not experiencing success.

I would agree with you that innovation has more than one definition, however. It is the people who define it, and the sooner leadership can help employees see the value in change for not only the organization but for them personally, and help them feel secure in the process, the sooner they will gain the necessary followers to make change happen.

Brenda Vester
Vice President
Lee Hecht Harrison
Pittsburgh, Pa.

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