The business of America, in a nutshell

American Business History: A Very Short Introduction

by Walter A. Friedman, Oxford University Press, 2020

“History is bunk,” Henry Ford said more than once, helping to cement the impression of business — especially in the U.S., where Ford worked — as crass and anti-intellectual.

In fact, Ford’s critique of history was surprisingly sophisticated. He complained that historians “wrote what they wanted us to believe, glorifying some conqueror or leader” rather than focusing on ordinary people. What’s more, he said, “history is being rewritten every year from a new point of view. So how can anybody claim to know the truth about history?”

The historian Walter A. Friedman, who, as a lecturer at Harvard Business School, is surely familiar with Ford’s views in this department, apparently isn’t buying, as is evident from his pithy new book, American Business History, which has been published as part of Oxford’s ongoing series

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COVID-19, the flexibility stigma, and gender equality

One of the biggest forces holding back gender equality in the workplace is a set of structures left over from what I call the “Mad Men era.” Laws, policies, and stigmas that, in households where there is one male parent and one female parent, push women to do more of the caregiving at home, while pushing men to spend more time at work.

This has been clear in the data for many years. Despite the stereotype of the lazy, uninvolved father, through a combination of paid work, unpaid work, and childcare, dads put in as many total work hours as moms do.

Men want to spend more time at home. A survey by Promundo and Dove Men+Care, with whom I partner on research about dads, found that 85 percent of men in seven countries, including 79 percent in the United States, say they would do anything to be more

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Four ways to reflect that help boost performance

Reflection for seasoned leaders has always been a personal process. Step back. Regroup. Look in the mirror. Push the pause button. There is often an intuitive belief that reflection carries restorative powers and can even be transformational.

In theory, it goes like this: On top of a mountain, a leader retreats to ask him or herself a set of questions about life, stress, and sacrifice, capturing the answers in a beautifully bound notebook. The questions don’t vary much. Where are you going? How are you living your values? What gives you meaning, purpose, or fulfillment? Are all the components of your life managed as you need them to be managed: career, family, friends, finances, health, and spiritual growth?

The power of this reflection comes from digging deep and being in touch with your core. It is very much an affair of the heart. With the insights from this exercise, you

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The hidden value in getting compliance right

For organizations managing through a crisis, trust is paramount. Employees and customers need to know that leaders are able to guide them through uncertainty and make the best decisions possible, and leaders need to know that the people executing their decisions are doing so in earnest, to the letter of the law. Of course, organizations must also look ahead to the post-crisis world, in which trust remains critical, but they’ll also need to identify efficiencies to support recovery.

The good news is that there is a part of the organizational structure that can help build trust and drive efficiency: compliance. The importance of compliance itself

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The power broker

The Inside the Mind of the CEO interview series explores a wide range of critical decisions faced by chief executives around the world. For more insight, see PwC’s CEO Survey.

Where other people see problems, Chantelle Abdul sees opportunities. Abdul, who was born in Nigeria but grew up and was educated in the U.K. and U.S., is the CEO of Mojec International Holdings, a family-owned conglomerate based in Nigeria and West Africa with operating portfolio investments in power, energy, mining, technology, and agriculture.

When Nigeria’s power industry was first privatized in the 2010s, electric bills were rough estimates at best, with no clear link between customers’ usage in a given period and their bill. Not surprisingly, many people refused to pay. In that environment, there was little business value in simply generating more electricity, as those investments couldn’t be recouped. Abdul was among the first to realize that smart

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Five attributes to transform your compliance strategy

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