Page 14 Pharos-Tribune, Logansport, Indiana, Sunday, March 27, 1988 Business Does Business Know What It's Talking About? NEW YORK (AP) - After examining the literature of business, including the expressions of folks who claim to be authorities on the subject, an academic asks: Does business really know what it is talking about? The horrifying thought occurred to Professor Eugene Jennings as repeatedly he heard speakers define certain key words in one way and their listeners another. In practice, he observes, dozens of important business words have multiple definitions or definitions so fuzzy they can mean anything to anyone. "Tell me," he asks, "what is meant by excellence?" The word, as most people know, has become worn with usage in businesss, and now threatens to disappear from the lexicon without ever being understood. But if ever there was a word of multiple meanings, he suggests, it is this one. From his vantage point as a writer of books, teacher — at Michigan State University — and adviser of top business executives, Jennings has viewed an odd phenomenon: People don't like to ask the meaning of these new words. To do so, many otherwise confident business folks believe, is to reveal their incompetence or incredible stupidity. As a consequence, much of the business lexicon today is incoherent babble. Jennings observed this firsthand when he examined the use of key words by institutional and p- ivate purveyors of professional management courses and found them to mean whatever the instructors wanted them to mean. The very meaning of "manager" is among the most vague. Jennings found it is seldom defined but "invariably confused "Much of [he business lexicon today is incoherent babble." —Professor Eugene Jennings with administrator, supervisor, executive and leader, as well as with role, position, title and function." Important words, vital to communication, are thrown about without any precise understanding of their meanings. "By so-called experts!" Jennings exclaims. Strategy is confused with purpose, mission, process and function. Planning is confused with purpose, role, technique and process. Even "business' itself is interchanged with definitions that indicate a confusion with art, science, profession, social system, institution — almost anything but economic activity. Cash flow is interchanged with net profit, money in till, and circulation of money. And, he remarks, attempts to define this and other words sometimes add little to understanding but much to confusion. What is it? "The movement of cash into, through, and out of an entity," says one lexicon. Anther: "The amount of net cash generated by an investment or a business during a specific period of time." Many of what Jennings calls "high-profile" words and phrases began to be bandied about in the early 1960s and, though ill-defined, have remained to protect fux/.y speakers and impress or terrorize insecure audiences. Self-esteem, win-win, decision-making — and, more recently — back-to-basics and just-in-time, the latter a procedure for inventory control. Oddly, says Jennings, some words remain in use because of their mystery. "Their power lies in remaining obtuse," he says. Entrepreneur, motivation, communication, MBO (management by objective), SPC (statistical process control), style, intelligence. Care to define them? Do it, he says, and then compare definitions with the person next to you. The confusion impels Jennings to describe — not define — business "as an activity conducted without a lexicon of basic language directed by individuals for whom a dictionary is an abstract work of art." Ask top executives, as he has, if they regularly use a dictionary and you are likely to search long for a positive answer. Yet, he states, nowhere could a good dictionary be used to better advantage than in the executive suite. Jennings' confrontation with the Babel of tongues became especially frustrating when he found that writers of management books and producers of management training programs were only adding to the confusion. "Much of business jargon today is mere vocal sound," he concluded. "It is the use of words with intensified resonance or nasal dramatics pleasing or invigorating to the senses." He laments that "good old- fashioned meanings classical to our business traditions are being warped around words of convenience." Facts & Figures Retail establishments with highest overhead Overhead as a percent of sales for 1986 Eating/drinking places Jewelry stores Men/boys' clothing 44.3 |j Family clothing 38.4 | Chicago Tribune Graphic by John Bode; Source: U.S. Census Bureau In percent awarded during 1985-86 school year the Law 48% I. Other % 14 Dentistry Theology Chicago Tribune Graphic; Source: U.S, Department of Education Profits Up 8.4% In '87 WASHINGTON (AP) After-tax corporate profits shot up 8.4 percent in 1987, a sharp rebound from the previous year when profits declined, the government reports. The Commerce Department said that after-tax profits rose to $137.4 billion last year, an increase of $10.6 billion from 1986, when profits had actually fallen by 1 percent. Analysts credited the turnaround in profits in part to the weaker dollar, which has boosted sales of American products on overseas markets. In addition, they said that labor wage demands remained subdued during the year. "The increase in profits for 1987 was outstanding, especially when you consider that corporate taxes were substantially hiked during the year because of the Tax Reform Act," said Allen Sinai, chief economist of The Boston Co. "Particularly, for U.S. manufacturing, 1987 was a turnaround year," Sinai said. "Exports rose and American companies benefited tremendously from previous cost- cutting measures." Sinai predicted further gains in-corporate profits in 1988 but he said the rate of increase would slow somewhat. Some of that slowdown was evident in the fourth quarter with after-tax profits rising 1.6 percent following a 5.5 percent gain in the third quarter. Equal Access Ballots Coming ByMARGOMAROCCO Business Editor The time is near for Logansport telephone customers to make a decision on a preferred long distance carrier. Beginning this week, Equal Access ballots will be mailed to all GTE customers. The ballots will contain the names of four long distance carriers: AT&T, LiTel Telecommunications Corporation, MCI Telecommunications, and US/Sprint. Customers are asked to make their selection on the ballot and return the ballot to GTE by May 11. Equal Access — or access to long distance carriers other than AT&T — will be available in Logansport June 25. Equal Access requires telephone subscribers to select one long distance carrier for their "1-plus" long distance calling. Party-line Equal Access Balloting customers are excluded from the Equal Access process. The ballots being mailed this week will be included in a packet of information containing a consumer worksheet and a list of the most frequently asked Equal Access questions and answers. The packet also will include the telephone numbers for the four long distance carriers listed on the ballot. This is for the convenience of customers who wish additional information about the carriers, according to Mike Berry, Communications Manager for GTE. Telephone customers who do not make a selection on the ballot will continue to be served by AT&T when the system converts to Equal Access. However, they will, within a month after Equal Access goes into effect, receive a second mailing that lists the name of a long distance company randomly selected for them by GTE. Each Long distance com- pany is allocated a percentage of "non-choosers" equal to the percentage of customers it attracted during the sign-up process. Those customers for whom GTE assigns a long distance carrier may make one free choice to select a different carrier within six months from the time Equal Access starts. However, after any customer picks a company, any change costs $5. GTE's role in the Equal Access process is to provide the connections linking customers with the long distance company of their choice. That role includes acting as a neutral party in the selection process. Berry said. GTE's new digital switching service, bringing the availability of Custom Calling features such as call forwarding and call waiting, will go on line in Logansport April 9. Small Business Workshop Set April 28 A workshop on "How to Start a Business" will be conducted from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 28, in the Holiday Inn. The workshop is being 1 sponsored by the Logansport/Cass County Chamber of Commerce and the SCORE and ACE counselors of the Small Business Administration (SBA). The program will begin promptly at 6 p.m. with an introduction by Max Brandt, counselor with the local SCORE chapter and chairman of the workshop. Paul Wyatt, SBA business development specialist from Indianapolis, will discuss "The SBA's Role in Assisting Business." Richard W. Cassidy Jr., president of Security Federal Savings Bank, will discuss "A Business Plan and the Role of Bankers in Business." A discussion of "Advertising and Sales Techniques" will be led by Norman Wilkins, of Montgomery, Zukerman, Davis, Inc., an advertising and public relations firm. David G. Wihebrink, CPA with Smith, Thompson, Wihebrink & Co., Inc., will discuss "Taxes and Accounting Information." Attorney John R. Hillis, of Hillis, Hillis & Maughmer, will discuss "Forms of Business Organization/Insurance & Legal Structure. There will be a break from 7:30 to 7:45 p.m. with complimentary coffee and cookies available. Each presentation will last approximately 30 minutes, with a wrap-up session scheduled to beginat8:45p.m. Cost of the workshop is $10 per person. Reservations may be made by calling the Chamber at 753-6388 no later that Wednesday, April 27. Investors' Guide By William Doyle Commission: PSI Must Lower Rates Bad Debt Must Be Totally Worthless Q. I have given up on collecting one personal loan to a man and another to a woman. How do I tell this to the Internal Revenue Service when I file my income tax return? A. You report nonbusiness bad debts as short-term capital losses on Schedule D of your Form 1040, where you also list capital gains and capital losses resulting from the sale of stocks and other "capital assets." To be deductible, nonbusiness bad debts must be totally worthless. You cannot deduct a partially worthless nonbusiness bad debt. For a bad debt to qualify as a capital loss, there must be what the IRS calls "a true creditor- debtor relationship" between you and the person who owes you the money — a legal obligation. If the revenooers question your bad-debt capital losses, you'll have to prove you made every effort to collect. To take a bad-debt capital loss, you are required to report it on the income tax return you file for the year in which the debt became worthless. With a bad- debt capital loss, you can file an amended federal income tax return — Form 1040X — back for three years. That makes bad debts different from worthless securities on which amended returns to claim capital losses can be filed for seven years. Capital losses can be used to offset capital gains realized in the same year. If your capital losses exceed your capital gains or if you have no capital gains, up to $3,000 of capital losses can be used to offset ordinary income. In the unhappy situation where your net capital loss tops $3,000 the excess can be carried over and used to offset capital gains and/or up to $3,000 of ordinary income in each future year until the capital loss carryover is used up. Either way, capital losses reduce your taxable income and your federal income tax bill. Doyle is a syndicated columnist with King Features Syndicate, Inc., New York, He welcomes writteen questions, but can provide answers only through the column. INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The staff of the Utility Regulatory Commission recommended Friday that Public Service Indiana reduce its rates by 13.2 percent, the amount covered in two Marble Hill-related emergency increases. The recommendation said the financial crisis that the abandoned Marble Hill nuclear power plant caused PSI was over and that no harm would come to the state's largest electric utility if emergency rates were removed. The URC had granted the company two emergency in- creases totaling 13.2 percent to help it recover from the financial strain brought on by the failed power near Madison. The staff had not calculated how much individual customers would save, said Wayne Lash, URC's chief economist. Lash recommended that the new rates go into effect by June 1. PSI's 1987 annual report showed profits of $240 million. However, a company spokesperson said that while the utility's financial condition was improving, the conditions that created the emergency hadn't all disappeared. New Building Will Be Tallest In Kentucky LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's tallest building will be home to Captial Holding Corp. when the proposed 40-story, $100 million structure is completed in 1992, company officilas said. Capital Chairman Thomas Simons said Friday that construction of the company's corporate headquarters is to start in late 1989 and take three years to complete. Simons said an architect will be chosen later to design the tower. Plans call for five curved levels of retail and parking fronting Fourth Street in downtown, just across from the Commonwealth Convention Center. Meeting rooms for conventions will be included and an overhead walkway will connect the building with the convention center. The tower will be built above the northern portion of the retail area. Although it is planned to have the same number of floors as First National Tower, the ceilings will be higher in the Capital building, making it taller, said Jack McCabe, Capital's vice president for real estate.'
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