Friday, November 28, 2008

Leave the UW Band Alone

When you have a problem at work with your coworkers, do you go to your immediate supervisor or do you go to the president of the company? When you have a problem with one of your teammates, do you go to your coach or to the general manager? In both cases, I would hope you would answer with the former.

So why did two UW marching band parents go all the way to the Dean of Students instead of the director, Mike Leckrone? All of this business should have been handled internally instead of through the media.

While I feel somewhat bad for these kids to have go through what they did, at the same, they need to learn to handle things themselves. I know for a fact that within the band, you can always say no (seriously). Plus, joining the band is voluntary; it's not like they were drafted into the army or they need the class to fill any requirement for graduating.

I especially appreciate the letter to the editor in Thursday's Wisconsin State Journal, written by a former band parent:

"What is more humiliating, an upper classmen asking you to do stupid stuff, or having your mom contact the UW chancellor and say the big kids are picking on you?

"My son was in the marching band for five years. Was he hazed? I don't know -- he didn't tell me because he dealt with things himself.

"What's next, the chancellor's office getting involved because a parent complained about an athletic coach not being fair, or a professor not giving the desired grade?

"Part of growing up is solving problems yourself, not having your parents run interference for you."

Well put. So please, leave the band alone and let the members solve their own problems. Hopefully the UW's media relations efforts will drastically improve, too, so we can start reading positive things about the band.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TomoTherapy Needs New Leadership

Last week Avalon Portfolio wrote a letter to the board of directors of TomoTherapy, criticizing them for the loss of stock value and squandering a "once enviable market position."

For the uninitiated, TomoTherapy is a Madison company that makes specialized cancer radiation treatment machines. It went public last year and saw its stock climb to more than $27 in July 2007. Today, the stock is hovering around $2 a share.

Avalon, which owns four percent of TOMO, suggests the company should sell, and I agree. TomoTherapy had the advantage of being one of the first on the market, but the management for some reason didn't strategize on how to deal with the inevitable competitors, who have sprouted up and taken over much of TomoTherapy's market share.

Avalon's other suggestion--starting a joint venture or licensing deal--also has merit but unfortunately is not in TomoTherapy's mindset. This can only be a result of ego and cockiness (and shortsightedness).

In a way, TomoTherapy reminds me of a worse version of Apple: innovative but didn't improve on or license its product when others came out with similar (and better) ones.

Read the news article.