Spying is fun, but only in a movie

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Photo of a human eye as that of a spy.
While I am proud to say that I work (and have worked) with some of the brightest people on the planet, like any other executive, I have had my share of idiots, retards, morons, and simply obnoxious colleagues, clients, and associates. In my professional career, whenever I have run into these people, I have wondered how could they get to a C-level job in some cases. In case you are wondering too, the Hewlett-Packard drama shows that even at the very top of corporate America we have people who should have never been there in the first place.

I have some competitive intelligence background, but what happened at HP was not only unethical and criminal, but stupid. From what I know, even real spys and private investigators have some ethical standards, but the top management at HP got so obsessed with finding the source of the leak that they ended up making a fool of themselves.

While competitive intelligence and employee monitoring are fairly commonplace (though not always ethically and legally executed, and many companies confuse competitive intelligence and corporate espionage, which is illegal), leaks are hard to stop and even harder to investigate. Even governments all over the world struggle to maintain secrets.

Many of us love spy thrillers and I would love to be James Bond for a day, but your place of work is not the place for your spy fantasy.

BRIC countries disappoint as growth targets

Do you know how to speak Kannada yet? You might very well have to learn it if you want to speak to any of those customer service folks based in Banglore (a city in the state of Karnataka, India). At a meeting with a group of business executives of Indian origin yesterday, I learned that the government in that state has banned the use of English in schools. Well, I am just kidding about us having to learn Kannada. Hopefully, we can find enough English speakers in The Philippines.

In any case, this development highlights while the so-called BRIC countries have failed to live up their expectations. Except India (which is still at a depressing #43), all other countries fell in their global competitiveness: Brazil and Russia by 9 positions while China by 6 positions.

Brazil

I had hoped that the pace of reform in the country would be faster, but bureaucracy, red tape, and debt levels are dragging it down.

Russia

The country has not made much progress in erasing its image as just a difficult place to do business – the corruption simply makes you sick.

India

The only country in the group that has improved its rank but the corruption, red tape, and bureaucracy make India a depressing place to do business and raise the stakes since infrastructure is non-existent and whatever little exists, is unreliable. The hype about India may actually be doing more harm than good because it does not put pressure on the politicians to speed up reforms.

China

I had expected China to translate its manufacturing success into becoming a technological powerhouse, but instead it showed a scary drop in the quality of China’s institutions. In other words, investors must exercise caution while dealing with Chinese institutions and factor it in their ROI and risk calculations.

And finally, the drop in American competitiveness had been expected by me when I wrote about it two years ago, except that tax policy, deficits, and rising healthcare costs have happened faster than most of us expected.