Strategies for Improving Workplace Behavior and Performance

From Leadership Expert Dr. Diane Hamilton

What is Web Scraping?

A scraper site is a spam website that copies all of its content from other websites using web scraping. The purpose of creating such a site can be to collect advertising revenue or to manipulate search engine rankings by linking to other sites to improve their search engine ranking. 

There are now some sites that are working on finding out even more information about you through scraping.

Scraping for Your Real Name

PeekYou.com has applied for a patent for a way to, among other things, match people’s real names to pseudonyms they use on blogs, Twitter and online forums.

Read PeekYou.com’s patent application.

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, they wrote about how scrapers broke into sites like PatientsLikeMe to find out information about patients to sell data about consumers to drug makers. To read this very interesting article, click here.

It is disturbing to think that people are in medial chatrooms pretending to be patients in order to find out what drugs are being prescribed.  That kind woman you are chatting with about your hot flashes just may be a guy keeping track of your medical history.  For information on how to remove some of your personal details from the Internet, check out wsj.com/wtk.

Tainted Tylenol Ethical Issues

I teach several different ethics courses where we look at individual companies and how they handled ethical issues.  Beech-nut selling a product they called apple juice that technically had no apples in it, was a classic case example of a non-ethical way to do business.  

In the 80s, Johnson and Johnson had to deal with tainted Tylenol (The Tylenol Murders) due to product tampering. Their quick and responsive resolution to a potentially imagine-ruining situation has made J&J stand out as a good example of an ethical business. 

Now J&J’s reputation has come into question though as they used bacteria-tainted materials to create their children’s Tylenol.  Although they claim that only the raw material was tainted and the finished product showed no reports of illness, the company had to recall their product. The Wall Street Journal reported, “J&J’s handling of the problem has become a focus of a congressional investigation into manufacturing problems.  J&J has issued more than a half dozen recalls of popular over-the-counter medicines  over the past year.”

Inventions: Good Intentions Gone Bad

In my entrepreneurial and foresight classes I teach, we often talk about how some seemingly wonderful or harmless inventions have unintended results.  I often refer my students to a “Stuff You Should Know” podcast about Agent Orange.  If you are  creating a product or idea, have you considered all future consequences.  I highly recommend reading Jacob Silverman’s article at:  http://www.howstuffworks.com/agent-orange.htm.

Is it OK for Doctors to Use Social Media?

  With Twitter breaking the 20 billion tweet record, social media has shown it is becoming the way for people to communicate.  Businesses are using sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others to get their messages across.  Doctors have traditionally been slow to get into some forms of advertising.  Some feel it doesn’t seem professional.  Others just don’t have the time.  However, there are some things that social media could offer for many physicians such as ability to stay in contact with patients, answering common questions, possible virtual visits, and a general enhanced patient relationship.  

    The question may be where to draw the line?   Is it OK to offer medical information online if there is a demand for it?  The New York Times reported: a survey by Pew Internet and American Life Project reported 61% of Americans will go online for health information.   Doctors are looking for guidance as to what is acceptable in terms of how close of a relationship is deemed appropriate in terms of communication.  This has lead to the first set of guidelines ever published on using e-mail in patient care.   Anonymity is a huge issue when dealing with patients and HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).  HIPAA was devised partly to ensure protecting the privacy of Americans’ personal health records by protecting the security and confidentiality of health care information.

    However, helpful information can be shared through social media if it is general in nature and doesn’t involve specific patient information.  Mayo clinic is even tweeting these days.  Are you ready to be friends with your physician on Facebook? Are there better avenues such as LinkedIn or other more professional sites where contact would be a better option?  Michael Lara, MD recently stated that he felt there are 5 social medial tools for physicians that he considers helpful:

  1.  Facebook Practice Page
  2. Google Reader for Medical Articles and News
  3. YouTube Channel for Patient Education Library
  4. Twitter for Connecting with Colleagues
  5. Practice Blog 

    I know a lot of physicians from my 15 years being a pharmaceutical representative and being married to a plastic surgeon.  From my experience, I see that they have a lot on their plates; learning social media may not be a priority for them.  That is not to say they may not benefit from hiring a social media manager.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see which of your messages gets through to your physician in a timelier manner some day. . . the message you sent where you had to sit on the phone system listening to the recording asking you to push 1 for appointment desk, 2 for billing . . .  or the message that you tweeted to them quickly from your iphone . . .

CEO Ethics

Top ten ethical blunders

Rather than address the causes for ethical problems, companies too often simply create a filter for trying to catch infractions. This reactive approach failed in addressing total quality, and will fail in addressing quality in ethical orientation.

We now have over twenty years of experience with formal ethics structures in business. By and large these have become one-dimensional programs for delivering compliance, with very little impact on actual business strategy or corporate culture. Enron was touted as a paragon of ethical practices even while its executives plundered shareholder value, and its employees adopted ever more ruthless personnel policies. It is important to realize that such failures are not simply from rejecting ethics, but rather from misapplying them.

The Wrong Way to Strive For The Right Thing

In many ways the whole business ethics culture is at fault. Voluntary codes are not rigorous enough. Structures like ethics or integrity offices have become largely legal services grappling with compliance. Rarely do Boards or strategic planners accord ethics the serious consideration given to finance or marketing. And whistle-blowing systems have been adopted without protecting those who take the risk to do the blowing. Business ethics too often pivot on a business case: tolerated for contributing to reputation or protecting against fines, but considered optional if there is a cost to ethical adherence.  

The most common mistakes are in the most common practices:

  1. Adopting formal codes as a tactic rather than as a strategy, assuming rules will catch mistakes rather than addressing the underlying beliefs, motivations and culture.
  2. Managing ethics as a legal or PR variable rather than creating an operational culture that invites the hard questions and uncertainties of moral dialogue.
  3. Instituting systems of accountability to more clearly assign blame rather than to give more depth to the fiduciary duties for care, answerability and due-diligence.
  4. Defining ethics principles as a top-down or internal exercise rather than by means of a dialogue with stakeholders, critics and those impacted by corporate activities.
  5. Assuming that generic terms are enough to inspire employee adherence rather than interacting with them to discover the precise implications for values, attitudes and behaviours.
  6. Downloading ethical responsibility on employees as a parallel deliverable to business results without providing the tools, skills or leadership for effectively managing the conflicting objectives or ambiguities.
  7. Introducing whistle-blowing structures without creating the culture that supports dissent and rewards those who take stands based on ethical principles.
  8. Making ethical commitments without introducing the hard measures for evaluating and tracking the specific dimensions of trust and integrity.
  9. Embracing ethics programs during crisis or scrutiny without unlearning the habits and values that contributed to impropriety in the first place.
  10. Regarding ethics as a binary option without realizing that it is actually a process of constructive and iterative transformation that actually extends and enhances strategy. 

I teach several ethics classes. I think this is a good article written by the Center for Ethical Orientation. Many of my master and doctoral students are considering starting their own businesses. It is very important to have a strong code of ethics set up from the beginning and to be sure that this message is being delivered.