What are the biggest challenges facing the U.S.?
Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. Her strategic and practical insights have guided leaders of large and small organizations worldwide for over 25 years, through teaching, writing, and direct consultation to major corporations and governments. The former Editor of Harvard Business Review (1989-1992), Professor Kanter has been named to lists of the "50 most powerful women in the world" (Times of London), and the "50 most influential business thinkers in the world" (Accenture and Thinkers 50 research). In 2001, she received the Academy of Management's Distinguished Career Award for her scholarly contributions to management knowledge, and in 2002 was named "Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year" by the World Teleport Association.
Kanter is well known for her classic 1977 study of "tokenism" on how being a minority can affect one's performance due to enhanced visibility and performance pressure. She is the author or co-author of 17 books, focused largely on business management techniques, especially change management. Her most recent book, America the Principled: 6 Opportunities for Becoming a Can-Do Nation Once Again sets forward a positive agenda for the nation. Her previous book, Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End was a New York Times business bestseller and a BusinessWeek #1 bestseller. The book draws on more than 300 interviews with leaders in business, sport and politics to explore the role confidence plays in the performance of institutions and individuals.
Question: What are the biggest challenges facing the U.S.?
Rosabeth Moss Kanter: I finished a book in the early part of 2007 for publication in October 2007 on current and national affairs. Because I think that the most important overarching thing going on is that the United States has to again become the land of opportunity and the land … and the place that operates according to principles. So it's called "America the Principled: Six Opportunities for Becoming a Can-Do Nation Once Again." And so those six opportunities seem to me to be the most important issues. One is how do we secure our future? And security isn't„¢t simply a matter of watchdogs at airports. It's a matter of economic security. That's how we keep jobs in the United States for Americans. That's how we ensure that we have the technology to make us safe. And that requires investments in innovation. And it requires open minds. So the life sciences are so important. And yet they have been so discredited by an administration that has not cared about science, who are not doing enough to educate people in the U.S. in science and math, which are so important to our future. Most of the engineering and science degrees being given in the United States today advanced degrees, PhDs are going to foreign nationals or people of foreign origins. And as far as I'm concerned they'te welcome here, but I would also like to see our young people get those degrees. So thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a … that's the first challenge. I'm very concerned about the disappearing middle class and the … the problems of balancing work and family that women have. So pursuing happiness was something that's written into our earliest origins called “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. An awful lot of people aren't happy because they don't have healthcare; because they have to take two jobs; they don't … they're worried about their children. So that's an important issue. Clearly the war in Iraq is an important issue currently, but it's part of a larger problem of how do we engage with the world? Is our form of engagement only saber rattling? Or are we making those grassroots investments in the economic development of other countries and the development of their leaders so that we have more allies and friends around the world? That's a major challenge. We are not liked in many parts of the world. Actually, there's a gap between liking Americans as a people and liking the American government. Many more people like Americans than like the American government. We have … And speaking of government, we have a problem with respect for government. In fact in recent years, people have discredited government because so many government officials have done things that are “ethically challenged" to put it in a positive way; but a lot of Washington was under indictment for a while. So if we don't restore respect for government … I'm sick of politicians running against government. I'm running for this office because I believe that we shouldn't have these offices. That's ridiculous. So we need respect so that good people run for office. In turn, they appoint confident people, and they care about how well government is run. It's … It's a traditional American principle to say, “That government is best which governs least. But frankly, it can't govern least unless it governs better. Because it's much more costly to have a disaster like Hurricane Katrina than it would have been to invest in the levees in New Orleans in the first place. And finally I think we need a spirit of service. The partisan divides and the partisan ugliness in America has plagued us. We spend so much time arguing with each other while fighting wars that we canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t possibly win and probably shouldn't have been in in the first place, then we will never heal this nation. We need things that bring us together across partisan divides, as well as divides of race, or age, or … or urban vs. rural. And I think community service and the generosity of American philanthropy are things that can unite us again. So those are the themes that I've been writing about. Those are the things that I want on the agenda for the presidential election in 2008. Those are the things in the news that bother me the most, but also inspire me to think about solutions.
Recorded on: 6/13/07
We don't respect our government, Rosabeth Moss Kanter says.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.